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Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi

I told myself that we will go to this amazing palace even for my last time as you now know… We are now going back to New Zealand for good. There’s a lot of photos actually but I cannot put it here as I don’t have enough space.  I made sure that we will experience all the beautiful places in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  FYI, as some of you get confused with the two Cities… both have their own interesting places but Abu Dhabi is more of a family-oriented place.  No traffic unlike in Dubai and more parks.  It’s a year of tolerance too!

I got a neck ache as I keep on looking up!  Even the ceilings are amazing!  So if ever you want to go in transit via Abu Dhabi make sure that you get the chance to get out.  It is so worth it.  FYI, Emirates Palace is also just a few minutes away from this place.  Though this Palace is located at the back so a van is included to bring you to Qasr Al Watan. It’s that big!  Cheers!

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Canton Schwyz, Ibergeregg pass

Winter wonderland?! Where else but in Switzerland 🇨🇭

We came just after Christmas to be with my son’s grandparents & relatives. Spent the New Year with them. Yes, beautiful sunny weather up in the mountains!

The one in between mountains is not snow but clouds or thick fogs. 2nd of January and people trying to get all the last day of holiday as some will go back to work the next day or so.

It’s dry winter here so it’s not as cold as you think compared to New Zealand humid winter weather if you happen to be in Nz from July – August winter. Of course, the temperature is much lower here in Zurich compared to Auckland. It can get -1 or 0 zero degrees or much less. The air is crisp but fresh. Inside the house is a lot warmer & can wear one layer of normal clothes compared to Nz houses you have to double up the layer of clothes as it’s not properly insulated (unless you turn up the heating that you get a shock when receiving the power bill) unfortunately compared to Switzerland houses (underfloor heating) which is mostly run by gas or oil for heating so it’s more energy efficient.

We’re in the Canton of Schwyz with the link connecting to famous Einsiedeln where we went last year with friends (see older post) and went to Ibergeregg pass mountain overlooking the famous Rigi mountain. Beautiful sceneries and long winding road. Lot’s of cabin style restaurants overlooking the mountains. It’s worth the trip more or less 1 hour from Zurich.

Passing towns are interesting and you may stop and see what they offer. Lot’s of tourists and locals either biking around or walking as they have to park from far away distance as parking nearby is impossible in peak hours or important days so be prepared. Get comfy warm reliable shoes for walking from roadside to snow. Don’t worry even seniors do it.

I’m writing this via my iPhone. More places and pictures to come. So FOLLOW ME while we travel around ZURICH and nearby towns, villages and other Cantons in Switzerland. Tschuss!!

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Back to home base in Auckland

Neststarlingeggs, vinnevefoto

After our July holiday in Abu Dhabi leaving hubby there to continue working, we went back to our daily routines including going places around Auckland to be reacquainted after long years of absence in Nz.  And yes this nest of eggs is just propped beside our house on top of an old garden mat, reminding me that this is where we started out as a family.

Western Springs – we love this Park. It brings old memories. This is just 20 minutes drive away from home with normal traffic. A big public park for everybody.  All the birds and other animals here mostly are tame and you can feed them with your leftover bread then they start to follow you that sometimes it can freak you out too haha! 

WesternSprings, vinnevefoto

Auckland Zoo – this is just beside Western Spring Park so it’s two in one either you go to the Zoo first or the Park then your whole day and night outing are full-on.  The Zoo is very big as well so wear a comfy shoes and your good spirit with or without a kid in tow.

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AKLZoo, vinneve

Auckland Art Gallery – my son and I love museums and art galleries.  For locals, it is free to enter here so I just have to show my ID. It is located in the City Center and just a walking distance from the famous Queen Street just beside Albert Park.

AKLArtGallery, vinneve

Auckland City – yes the harbor is very busy in summer months from both tourists and locals alike.  To go across another island like Waiheke or if wanting a ferry instead of driving to Devonport or Coromandel you can get to ferry easily except when you have to go on a long queue when there are some cruise ships docked at the port. Most tourists coming from cruise ships tend to go to the little islands.  Unfortunately, an incident of a sudden volcanic eruption in the White Island (NorthIsland) the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas (we were there when it was docked in AKLport) some passengers were having their tour of the volcano when it suddenly erupted. Click the link above and this  (update: 8 now dead etc.) Condolences to those families who have been affected. So sad.

AKLHarbour, vinneve

Albert Park – Just beside AKL Art Gallery.  You will be amazed that there is a park-like this in the middle of the City.  They used to celebrate CNY (Chinese New Year festival) here and we had very nice memories with the whole family before our fate changed.  

MtAlberPark, vinneve

Auckland Viaduct – Families with children love to go across this bridge. There are some free entertainment here (free movie night & playgrounds) plus the restaurants and bars lined up so you won’t get hungry!  A free library in nearby giant benches if you want some reading in your spare time while in the City or just a walk for some fresh sea air or watch some rich people sailing their expensive yachts and big boats, or perhaps if you can afford to rent it.

AKLviaduct, vinneve

There’s a lot more to visit and for sure will post it here.  Follow me as I will show more of each place in my next post.  Soon it’s another holiday and yes another travel adventure awaits!  Guess where we will be for Christmas and New Year?… wait for it or better FOLLOW ME.  A LIKE and a comment would be great.  Cheers!

 

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Melbourne Streets

This is a long-overdue travel backlog since July as for some reason I didn’t get the chance to write about this beautiful city in Australia.  The last time we were here my son is only 4yrs old and very impressionable as what most children are. He is now 11.  So yes, Melbourne is one of my fave cities in Australia.  Each City has its own identity.  So without further ado, I just pile some photos of each street we went and just a walking distance to our hotel which is IBIS Swanston.  It is a good location and just a walking distance to Melbourne Central.

IBIS Swanston, vinneve foto

RMIT, vinneve foto

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vinneve foto

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Melbourne Central, vinnevefoto

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I will always LOVE you!!

 

MOA Eye, vinneve foto

I found this quote and somehow it is true for me.  “A HOME is not a place, it’s a feeling!” which is why I keep coming back to my birth Country, THE PHILIPPINES.

No matter where I go and lived, I keep coming back to my roots and of course, my old friends and remaining family and relatives are mostly living here.  This is where I experienced a very good childhood though we are not rich!  A childhood that was gadget-free but full of real knowledge about the world we lived in.  A warm welcome every time that I keep coming back for more!

Taal Volcano, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

Wind Residences, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

We spent our time in Tagaytay province in Southern Luzon.  Just 2 hours away from Manila depends on traffic.  It’s always my destination for relaxation and family bonding where my father can spend his time with his only grandchild.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the City.  Manila is BIG. Where I grew up PARAÑAQUE (click the link to know more) also a big city that is part of Metro Manila.  Tagaytay weather is cooler than Manila.  Fewer people, less traffic.  I love the feeling of being in the provinces because of their laidback way of life.

Rhapsody Residences, Muntinlupa City, vinneve foto

After 10 months of temporarily living in Muntinlupa City (above and below photos), I felt connected with this City (South of Metro Manila).  So yes, obviously I came back here for the second time. I found new friends in 2017 that make it worthwhile to stay here.

Landmark/Festival mall Alabang, vinneve foto

“HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS…”

S Maison mall, beside MOA, vinneve foto

I recently discovered this mall which is very handy connecting to a Convention Center, Conrad Hotel and SM MOA (one of the biggest malls in the World).  It’s smaller compared to other malls but it is spacious and lots of branded products.  They are hosting 2 tourist attractions which are:  DESSERT MUSEUM and LAKBAY MUSEO (will post next time!)

SkyRanch, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

Aerial view of Manila, vinneve foto

I cannot understand why I feel sad that soon I am leaving again as this is only a quick vacation (with a purpose).  I guess I will always love this country no matter what.  I agree with our national hero JOSE RIZAL quote He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.”  

So for all former FILIPINOS whether legally you are not entitled anymore, surely will agree with me… I will always love you, my Philippines!  We are happy and proud when we hear something good about you and sad when we hear bad words about you.  There is no perfect in this world.  Even to a place where I will come back to after this.

PAALAM, Adios!!

 

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Destination: Azerbaijan 🇦🇿

“I wish travel therapy was covered by my health insurance!”  by anonymous

Sightseeing, discovering other culture, taste their foods are always our agenda every time we go travel. But we’re surprised to know so little of this country.

Azerbaijan was under USSR and like other neighboring Countries they became independent.  So many places to discover and here I show you some.

Baku Airport(HeydarAliyev), vinneve foto

Discovering around the City of Baku

  1. The Flame Tower

2. The Maiden Tower.  Discover what’s inside.

3.  Discover the old world inside their medieval walled inner City.  Every alleys speak of history.  You will be amazed there are some similarities in Europe!

 4. Around Fountain Square.  Yes so many fountains around though I don’t show it here but I save those for later.

5.  The View on top  6.  Heydar Aliyev Museum. More of this awesome structure on my next post as it deserves it’s own limelight. Please wait for it.  Cheers!

7.  Milli Park at night is full of people with friends & families enjoying the sights and foods with so many restaurants around catering to locals & tourists.

8.  The Carpet MuseumYou will see this inside Milli Park. Beautiful architecture!   9.  And these are the places we haven’t got the time to explore, sad to say.

10.  The foods are mixed with some Asian and Arab spices.  Although mostly a Muslim Country, you can order some alcohol even in some restaurants inside the Park.  Surprisingly, they also produce their own wine!  They had a thriving wine industry dated back in the old days, second millenium BC.  Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to taste it but I read from one blogger that it has a sweet taste and she likes it very much!

Will I go back to Azerbaijan?  I would love to!!  But for all those who knows my “life story” so far I cannot say when, as our life seems in constant change!  Be it fortunate or not it depends on the person reading all my posts.  For now… I am grateful to be a wanderer.  My love for travels cannot keep me in one place only.  FOLLOW me and you will see some of my adventures ahead.  Thanks for all the follows and the casual checking from other bloggers.  I do appreciate it.

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Surprisingly! Azerbaijan

Not many people know this Country, they called “The Land of Fire”  unless you’re aware or good in history or geography like Mr. Hubby. Anyway, it’s never in our plan but yes surprisingly this place is AMAZING. So many things to discover!  If you for some reason can’t go to Europe, this is an affordable & nearest destination to be coming from the Middle East or Asia and AustralAsia or for us… we ticked all these boxes!

This is one of the best option when it comes to budget and travel time as it’s only 3 hours flight from Abu Dhabi.  Yes we came back just for a visit (school holidays) as hubby still working here.  It didn’t dissapoint us as this is our quick family bonding since March.

Azerbaijan is in Central Asia actually but the feeling when doing sightseeing is like you are in Europe! Amazingly I can see some similarities of every cobbled alleys to Italy and Switzerland. Their strip of boutique stores & hotels are similar to Paris as well as their hilly leafy side roads. Their building structures are both European and Russian influences as this Country used to be part of USSR. There’s more that surprises me is that majority is Muslims but they’re more open as if you are in Europe itself (within reason, no short shorts of course!) Sure, there are some women in their abayas but mostly they come from the neighboring Arab Countries and they also love to visit Baku according to some.  Their money is called Manat while in the UAE is Dirhams. So we always convert whatever we buy into dirhams to differentiate each and we found that some items like foods are a little cheaper in Baku than Abu Dhabi. Taxis are also cheaper but it’s not metered you need to haggle (just like in some parts of Asia!) or better ask the hotel reception or a local how much is the usual fare to and fro and agree with the driver before you enter their quaint cute violet cab or a converted normal car to a taxi. There’s Uber of course but we won’t be staying longer so if within 3-5 days we are ok to go and pay the usual taxis everywhere. They are either stationed outside hotels or tourist spots otherwise you can easily hail them anywhere. If you are planning to stay longer than 10 days asked the hotel or anybody to help you register otherwise you will be banned to come back here. I find that some tourist go Countries hopping because Azerbaijan is in the middle bordering Georgia, Armenia & Kazakhstan.

Baku City is surprisingly beautiful both old & modern architectural design adorned the City. Lot’s of historical sites within the City as well as the developed huge Milli Park where locals and tourist like us enjoyed strolling by day and night as there’s a huge modern mall and some themed Park fun activities for kids to enjoy! They have a very  long stretch of  bayside to stroll.  At night the Park becomes vibrant and lively with full of different colorful lights and landscapes and yes it’s relatively safe as long as you have your wits with you! It is interesting to discover Azerbaijan particularly Baku City. You must come to experience this yourself. Do not be afraid to explore other Countries you never heard before. Besides, there’s a blogger always there to discover it first so better check any information so you’re not totally ignorant about it.  I did, but I’m still surprised about this beautiful place, not to mention the Summer weather is so good. I can tolerate the peak hours heat and when the night falls it’s cooler that you may need a scarf or shawl otherwise it may be too cold for comfort especially strolling along the bay facing the Caspian Sea.  It can get very windy!

Stay tuned for more information on my next posts. I will feature every spots we went to and their significance. Thanks for the likes and comments if you have done so. Please click the FOLLOW button if you want to know more of our adventure Life as an expats, repats & travel addicts!