reminiscing Czech and Vienna

It’s the season for photo ops again hence its just but time to finally free up my SD cards and organize the photos we had during our trips ever since September. Was reminded again of how many blog-worthy photos I haven’t posted yet, especially during our trip  in Czech Republic and Vienna and during our New Year celebrations in Takamatsu. Of course we weren’t able to browse everything. Yet there were tons that I could easily identify as favorite photos. Among of which (all unedited and taken using our ever dependable Canon G12)….

Me, walking along Kärntner Strasse, Vienna. Pardon, I just love back shots. 😀 😀

Me, so color-coordinated, atop a castle tower in UNESCO World Heritage Český Krumlov. Kakulay ko ang mga bubong! (My attire is of the same color as the roof!)

Goodness, how thin was I six months ago!

This is one of my fave Atsushi photos (among so many!). Taken in front of the Statue of Maria Theresia in front of Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History).

I so hope I can post more blogs about that trip!

Hotel Gold (Cesky Krumlov)

Vienna was a dream ever since childhood. And Prague was a dream ever since we started planning our Italy trip. But Cesky Krumlov was a dream when we started our planning for the Eastern Europe trip. True, I wouldn’t have known about the place had our travel agent didn’t recommend it. And the moment I learned about it, I was more excited about it, compared to finally visiting Vienna and Prague. Why so? Because of every girl’s fairy tale dreams. This place has retained its charm from the medieval times up to now. Mark, Cesky Krumlov is one of the few, if not the only one, who wasn’t bombed back in World War 2 hence it’s just but logical for UNESCO to mark the whole town a World Heritage.

But I’ll save my post of the place for later. This post will be about the place we stayed in on our 1 night and 1 day stay in Cesky Krumlov – Hotel Gold.

We’ve only been to a handful of cities in Europe so it may be different with other cities. But at least with the cities we’ve been to, this I can surmise – a four stars hotel is an equivalent of two stars in Asia.

Our Vienna hotel was four stars yet the size of our room is just equivalent to a six-tatami-mat room. Our kitchen at home is twice that of the hotel bathroom. No toiletries except for a 3-in-1 soap/shampoo/rinse (although I really don’t want to complain with this because the shampoo was good for my hair). No bathrobe nor slippers.

Our Prague hotel was even worse – the hallway is reminiscent of a sanatorium or hospital. We’re thankful though that the staff gifted us with two bottles of sparkling wine to celebrate our honeymoon/anniversary with.

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But we are most thankful in that our hotel was best where it should be best – at the charming and medieval town of Cesky Krumlov.

We arrived at the town just when it was getting dark. And it was raining. There was only one taxi in the station so we shared the taxi with another Japanese couple (I had to urge hubs to go approach the couple to have the ride with them otherwise we’ll be out in the cold for a long time, waiting for another taxi). As expected, and really almost all guidebooks warned us of this, the taxi driver cheated us; charging us 200czech crowns with only a 5 minute ride.

Wet, cold, hungry, cheated on, we really didn’t feel welcomed. But our moods changed the moment we got inside the big doors of our hotel.

It has a courtyard!

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So unlike the hotels we’ve stayed before and even unlike some of the hotels we saw in the area (we dropped off the other Japanese couple earlier and their hotel didn’t have the same courtyard as ours had).

As hubs filled in our info, I was giggling right beside him, taking in the delicious aroma of the food wafting from some part of the building.

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The guy showed us to our room and carried our luggage hence he saw me squealing with delight as I saw our charming attic suite room. It’s like a little girl’s dream come true – I’ve ALWAYS dreamed of having a room in the attic even when I was already an adult. Room was about 2.5 times the size of our room in Vienna.

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Was taking the pictures from the landing where we laid our luggages. Yes, even the landing was sizable.

The room was traditional. But the bathroom is certainly modern. And big. Twice the size of the bathroom of the room I stayed in in Makati Shangri-la.

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And they have the proper toiletries. and we have slippers!

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The bathroom has its own heater by the way hence even during winter, you wouldn’t mind staying inside the bathroom for a long time.

Which reminds me. It was already pretty cold during our stay in Cesky; almost like the place is already transitioning from autumn to winter. Yet our room was comfortably warm. Despite the fact that we didn’t use the heating system. The room is sooo comfortable it was quite difficult to get up the following morning to explore the place. And oh, it wasn’t only the room that was warm. The people as well. Will be sharing our story of that warmth in another post.

Charming. And rustic. Typically Bohemian.

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Bohemian crystal chandelier is just about everywhere.

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I love their key holder.

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From the outside, the hotel looked like a farmhouse, similar to the ones you can see in the Bohemian region, as you cross the boundary of Austria and Czech Replublic.

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I wish there’s a Philippine flag in there. But at least Japan flag is up so we’re happy.

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Small acts of thoughtfulness doesn’t escape me. Hence I’m really happy with these chocolates they’ve put on our pillows (the pillows are the softest I’ve had by the way – in fairness, the pillows in Vienna, Praha and Cesky is just pure heaven).

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Cesky. English. German.

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Of course, half of it is advertisement. The chocolate was really good, in fairness.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here so much so that I so wish we can come back here again.

And that wish was granted just this evening, actually.

I was so happy with the hotel and how the hotel staff treated us in that I dutifully filled out their questionnaire re: our stay in the hotel which promises the chance of winning in a raffle if I completed the form albeit I was just so happy that I actually didn’t pay heed to this promise.

Now, three weeks after our visit, hotel staff emailed me, informing me that I won below enumerated perks.
Package for two persons including
– A romantic accommodation in the castle-style room for 1 night
– Candle-light dinner
– Relax massage
– Breakfast in your room
– Parking

Arrghhh. But validity is only within six months. Curious because the last day of validity falls on our wedding day anniversary hehe. Of course, much as we’d like to visit the place again, it’s insane to go back there only after six months. We’re not exactly overflowing with money.

Fortunately, it is transferrable and hotel informed us that we can give it as a gift to a friend. And fortunately again, I do have a friend who’ll be having her nth honeymoon as well early next year. Lovely. Inggit na ako sa inyo Rezza! Haha. But I’m really happy that I could share around a possibly great experience like what we had. 🙂

Can’t wait for the voucher to be sent to us! And I hope we don’t loose it like how we lost the postcards we sent ourselves from Vienna. 😦

El Nido’s Lagen Island

Atsushi and I have no plans of having our honeymoon right after the wedding. We both agreed to settle a bit first after all the wedding excitement and wait for a few months before planning on a honeymoon. But then considering we have a couple days free after our families fly back to the hometowns, hubby asked me if we can go someplace in the Philippines at that time. (Yes, we didn’t realize we were on for a more hectic schedule).

Anyways, when hubby asked me about the trip, luckily, DealGrocer was offering a 50% off promo for a 3D/2N stay at El Nido’s Lagen Resort that fell just right smack into our schedule. So yes, naturally, given how this is a once in a lifetime discount knowing how famous El Nido is, we made a go for it.

Downside though is that I made my booking only 3 weeks before our wedding hence our attention was focused on the wedding and ergo we absolutely were not prepared for the El Nido trip. Proof of how we didn’t have the time to look forward to the trip:

  • When I was preparing to go back to Manila for the wedding, I made sure I didn’t leave behind in Japan anything that is essential for the wedding. However I forgot to bring my swimsuits. Not even one. So even with the crazy schedule we had a week before the wedding, we still had to squeeze in some time to shop for my swimsuit when we got back to Manila
  • We didn’t have underwater camera with us. Not even just a waterproof one. We even had to borrow Otosan’s camera because Atsushi’s camera fell in the water during our Boracay trip last December
  • El Nido resort is by far one of the most stringent resorts i’ve ever been to; almost tantamount to going out of the country considering the documents I need to fill out and IDs I need to scan and send to them. Considering I didn’t have a printer and scanner in Manila and hence had to go to the internet shop, there were times that I’m almost exasperated with El Nido and was muttering under my breath in near frustration “this place better be good!!!”

Our flight to El Nido was just hours after Atsushi’s family’s flight back to Japan hence we barely had enough time to rest. Still though, the experience was one unforgettable one.

Chartered plane, anyone? They have three flights to-fro El Nido everyday. One does feel like a celebrity riding these chartered planes what with the red carpet provided when embarking and disembarking the aircraft.

El Nido flights share the same hangar as the Amanpulo ones although each have their own lounges, of course.

Both Lagen and Miniloc Island guests share the same El Nido flight hence guests are given stickers for ID.

Eighteen-seater chartered plane.

So yes, given the capacity and built of the plane, I think nobody would blame us if we hold on all the more with each other. Yihii. 😀

One thing really convenient with our El Nido trip is that after checking in your bags before boarding the plane, the next time you’d see them is in your room already. Hence, the bag tags. It was just so convenient not having to cart your heavy bag along as you ride the boat transfer.

On board the yacht, on our way to Lagen Island. Yep, this is not Titanic.

The pictures doesn’t do justice on the place. But trust that I was squealing with delight the moment we caught sight of the place. It-was-just-so-beautiful.

First day was more on exploring the island by snorkeling, trekking and kayaking. Second day was island hopping and more snorkeling and kayaking. The underwater life is by far the most interesting I’ve seen so far, even after Bohol and Coron.

The snorkel, fins and lifejacket are provided by the resort. What I loved with how they do it though is that you just need to select once. Before having your first activity, they will help you select the right size of gear for you (my first with the fins!), put it on a plastic box and they will carry it for you, even during island hopping. So if you’ll be staying in the island for a week, you don’t have to go and borrow gears in every activity you’ll be having. You’ll be using the same gear for the whole week! Well, unless you want to change it for something else. Anyways, totally convenient. Plus you don’t have to cart wet gear inside your room – they’ll keep it safe for you, till your next activity the following day. Swell.

We were blessed with a very beautiful sunset on our first day in the island. This by far is one of the most beautiful sunset i’ve ever witnessed. It’s so beautiful you can almost taste its sweetness on your tongue. This is fully unedited, mind you, save for the text.

If the weather permits, dinner is by the pool, under the stars, with romantic lighting, complete with a serenade by the island’s crooner, afterwhich there’ll be some program showcasing traditional Filipino dances. Atsushi even tried Tinikling; he wasn’t able to try back in Boracay. After a few hops, says he, once is enough. haha.

If there’s one thing I was reminded of during our El Nido trip is that people are intrinsically good. As I said, Hubby and I weren’t able to bring waterproof cameras. On our second day, there were intermittent showers and we had to get off the boat to kayak to the lagoons. Hence we had to leave behind the camera we borrowed from Otosan. The Small and Big Lagoons were just so beautiful and romantic in that when we were inside the confines of the small lagoon, Hubby and I were really having some misgivings on not being able to bring waterproof camera. Thankfully though, another couple offered to take our pictures and send it later to us, by email. Thankful. So now, we have some mementos of that enchanting Small Lagoon thanks to kindhearted strangers.

Three words to describe our trip to El Nido: opulence, convenience, luxury. And yes, good food!

One thing though. The place looks a lot like Halong Bay. And Halong Bay is considered a UNESCO World Heritage. We hope though El Nido would also be tagged as one.

PS

The next time you go out to the beach and you see garbage, please try help in making our beaches clean by picking up garbage. A small effort can go a long way.

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