Quebec City is a travel destination that you will want to visit because of its charm and historic picturesque sites. We visited for 2 days and were certainly impressed by how nice the French speaking natives were and the food did not disappoint. In this small town, no car is needed as can walk everywhere. During our 2 day stay we didn’t even use public transportation. In this blog you’ll find the essential travel tips for Quebec City.

Tip: On Sundays and even on Mondays some restaurants/shops are closed.

Currency

1 USD = $1.33 CAD
Though most establishments accept credit cards, I do recommend making a one time withdrawal from a bank ATM to have a little cash on hand.

SIM Card

SIM cards are very expensive in Canada. According to my research, a SIM costs approximately $40 USD for 6gb of data. Luckily I have Verizon and they charge $5/day however downfall is that after using 500 mb, the the data is slowed down to snail speed.

Tip: Download the google offline maps and bookmark all the locations you want to visit. The app will give you driving directions but NO walking directions. This should be suffice to get around town.

Travel Cost Breakdown for Quebec City

BCN –> YUL (Montreal)  Air Transat $308 but we booked through the Chase UR Portal for 30,820 points. If you’re checking a bag for this particular airline, be sure to purchase it online BEFORE 24 hours. I didn’t do this so I was charged $66 USD when it could’ve been bought at the time of purchase for $42 USD

Train from Montreal to Quebec CityVia Rail
ViaRail: $35 USD each way. You want to take the train to Québec Gare Du Palais. The trains are pretty nice with wifi and overhead storage for carryon suitcase. If you are departing from the Montreal station and have a big luggage, you can check it in for free! Also, they offer storage at the station for $6 CAD. You don’t need to print out the tickets – a boarding pass on your mobile device will work.

Accommodations
AirB&B – $48/night It’s a 23 minute walk from the train station. If you’re looking to splurge, stay at the famous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

What To Do in Quebec City

Like every city, you can find a range of free walking tours or go on a food tour starting at $50 USD.

I like to go on my own time and I know what I like to eat so with that being said, here are my recommendations:

Places To Eat In Quebec City

If you’re looking for a cozy cafe to take a break or kill time before checkin or train ride, check out these two:

So that’s it for my 2 day travel tips for Quebec City. If I were to return, I definitely want to check out Montmorency Falls and other off the beaten path gems. Also, if you can deal with freezing temperatures, check out Quebec City during Christmas time to experience a magical holiday spirit.

Want to explore Toronto? You can read more about it here.

jenny chu in front of drift wood secret beach hidden beach matinloc shrine star beach helicopter island el nido philippines

After spending 3 days in Coron, it was time for us to move onto our next destination to El Nido. Hopefully you’ve read my Ultimate Coron Island Travel Guide. I’ve planned it strategically due to scheduling and the limited amount of flights flying out of El Nido. Here you’ll find my Ultimate El Nido Travel Guide.

Compared to Coron, El Nido is more developed town in terms of paved streets and cleanliness.

How To Get To El Nido From Coron

  1. First option is to take a shared van back to (USU) Busuanga airport and fly to (ENI) El Nido which is expensive
  2. Second option is take a shared van back to (USU) Busuanga airport and fly into  (PPS) Puerto Princessa. Although cheaper, you would have to arrange for a shared van to get to El Nido with a travel time of around 6+ hours and the cost is 600 – 700 php ($12 – $14 USD)
  3. Third options is to take a tuk tuk to the Coron Port (20 php) per person and then take a 4+ hour ferry for about $35 USD.
Ferry Ultimate El Nido Travel Guide

In conclusion, choosing the ferry option was easier and convenient. Consequently, if the seas are a bit choppy, you may experience getting seasick. With this in mind, if you more susceptible to seasickness, have a strategy plan to avoid motion sickness.

  • Montenegro Fast Boat departs at 12:00 pm – $35 USD
  • Phimal departs at 8:20 am – $35 USD. I chosse this earlier departure time to make it to the zipline in El Nido for sunset.

***Schedule subject to change depending on season***

What To Expect On Your Ferry Ride
Phimal Ferry
  • Print your boarding ticket
  • A tuk tuk ride from the hotel to the port was about 20 php per person
  • A 20 php (cash only) exit fee must be paid when checking in
  • All bags will be searched for illegal contraband buy a trained dog.
  • Snacks and refreshments (no hard alcohol) are served on the ferry
Hotel In El Nido

Mansion Buenavista 

Given that a nice hot breakfast is included everyday for a rate of $90 USD/night + taxes makes it a steal! All rooms had air-conditioning, a balcony and large beds.

How To Get From The Port To The Hotel

After arriving at the port in El Nido, a surplus of tuk tuk drivers will be waiting. A tuk tuk fits 2 comfortably, however,  3 would be a tight squeeze. As mentioned before, please negotiate a price before allowing them take your bags. The cost from the port to the hotel costs 50 php per tuk tuk.

What To Do

Boat Tours

Although Coron had an office down at the pier, unfortunately no similar main office exists in El Nido. The basic tours of El Nido are Tours A, B, C or D. Certainly I did thorough research and after reviewing 13 different tour companies, I decided to go with HelloElNido because of its positive reviews.

Gani, a kind representative, helped set everything up. Tours A & C were the most popular and HelloElNido offered hidden gems that weren’t on the usual mass tours. To avoid mass crowds, it was advised to start at a later departure time at 10am.

Included are entrance fees, food and kayak rentals. It’s advised to notify them should you have a person in your group with dietary restrictions. In brief, they do understand the difference between vegetarian and vegan meals. In essence, the only thing suggested for this tour is to bring your own alcohol and tip for the captain and crew.

Cost

Average $55 USD per person for BOTH tours. Paypal 50% deposit + 5% PayPal fee and then the other half before arriving.

Contact: gricarte@helloelnido.com, helloelnido@gmail.com

Zipline to Depeldet Island (9am – 5:30pm)
  •  500 php ($9.74 USD) for one way sitting in the “regular” position and then you walk down and back to Las Cabanas beach by walking across the sandbar
  •  700 php ($13.70 USD) if you want to ride “Superman” style
  •  900 php ($17 USD) for round trip

How wondrous does this sound? Ziplining to another island while watching the sunset. I recommend getting there around 4:30 pm. Ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to the zipline at Las Cabanas Beach past the McDonalds (about 150 php – $3 USD per tuk tuk.) After seeing the sign for zip lining, you’ll have to trek up a steep hill and then a set of stairs (about 10 minutes) to the very top.

As soon as you arrive, check in with the staff and let them know which you decide –  to sit “regular” or “Superman.” Cash payments only. The staff will help get you geared up. Wear shoes that won’t fly off and if you have a backpack, you can wear it as you ride. There are no lockers so you therefore you must take everything with you. I suggest doing the one way so you can walk across the sandbar to experience this magical sunset.

MassagesThe Organic Spa El Nido – This spa surpasses any of the massage places I went to and is the cleanest one. It’s pretty popular so drop in beforehand to make reservations or call +63 917 377 8608.
Philippine Traditional Massage was the best one (600 php – $12 USD)

Where To Eat

ArtCafe – cool hip restaurant with live music on designated days but rather expensive in my opinion

Angel Wish – in my view, the best restaurant in El Nido with a lengthy menu of choices

Happiness Beach Bar – cool bar with swing seats and vegetarian friendly food options

Stix & Cones – “Love on a Stick” popsicles. Ube flavor was my favorite

Transportation To The Airport

The flights are quite limited out of (ENI) El Nido Airport. Air Swift is the airline company you want to look at when booking and it doesn’t show up on Google Flights so you’ll have to go direct to the website.

Flight from (ENI) El Nido –> (MNL) Manila on AirSwift $111 USD including a 20kg check-in bag
You can also fly out of PPS (Puerto Princessa) for cheaper but add the extra 6+ hours of traveling there by a shared van. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra $ to fly out of ENI.
air swift

You have 2 options to get to the airport

  1. A really uncomfortable tuk tuk ride with your luggage about 300 php (half of the roads to the airport were unpaved)
  2. Or a 20 minute ride in an air-conditioned van for 1000 php ($20 USD.) Your hotel will arrange this for you.

Traveling with a good group of friends is the best epic experience and can help bring the price down for shared rooms and tours. Palawan is very safe, even for solo female travelers. There are many hostel options to choose from if you’re looking for something that is more budget friendly. I love the culture, the people and the food. Philippines, I shall return and do a different adventure on another island.
friend group photo el nido

If you enjoyed this Ultimate El Nido Travel Guide, please check out my latest travel blogs.

Palácio Nacional da Pena Sintra & Cascais DIY Itinerary

If you’re in Lisbon and you have an extra day, I highly recommend a trip to visit Sintra & Cascais. Get away from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon and follow my Sintra & Cascais DIY Itinerary to avoid the crowds as it can get very busy.

Day Trip to Sintra and Cascais

This was my favorite day out of the whole trip. It was a really magical place! I saw many bugs and mosquitos so remember to bring insect repellant.

Train to Sintra

How to get to Sintra. I took a (40 minute) train from Rossio station. Just follow the signs for Combos Railways. Your green Viagem card will work and it costs 2.25€. Once you exit the train station, you can order an Uber and go straight to Palácio Nacional da Pena (6.85€) or you can take the 434 Tourist Bus that does a one directional loop for (6.90€) per person (in my opinion Uber is faster). Or…walking is an option too but it’s quite a hike and will take about 50 minutes.

Suggestion: I advise you go early and arrive around 8:30am to Sintra. During peak times Uber will do a surge price and the lines for the 434 tourist bus will be endless.

Palácio Nacional da Pena – A Romanticist Castle

Buy your tickets here online for 7.13€. You don’t have to select a date and once you purchase the ticket it’s good for any day. This place opens at 9:30 am and by 10:00 am it’s swarming with people. I was one of the first ones in and I was able to get tons of photos without people in the background.

After this, Castelo dos Mouros is right next door (15 minute walk) but we decided to skip it since we wanted to catch some rays at the beach in Cascais.

Quinta da Regaleira – UNESCO World Heritage Site

I fell in love with this place. It’s so beautiful and surrounded with lakes, wells, benches and grottoes. You cannot purchase a ticket online. The entrance fee is 6€ and credit cards are accepted. I came here by Uber (4.28€) from Palácio Nacional da Pena.

From there it’s a 12 minute walk to the popular bakery Casa Piriquita. Be sure to order a “Travesseiro”.

How to get to Cascais from Sintra

Sintra Bus Stop

Walk (11 minutes) back to Sintra Train station and you’ll find the bus stop. Next destination was Cascais. It’s CASH ONLY and the bus driver will have change. Can’t use your green Viagem card unless you purchase a special 24hr ticket for this area.

Option 1: Bus #417 Fast Bus to Cascais 30 minutes 4.25€
Option 2: Bus #403 Scenic Bus to Cabo da Roca 4.05€ and another 4.05€ to Cascais (1hr 15 minutes.)
Cabo da Roca is a stop along the way and it’s the most western point of continental Europe. I didn’t stop here so I just stayed on the bus all the way through to Cascais. If I had to do it again I would take the fast bus because this scenic route was really windy and scary (we came close to hitting a couple vehicles).cabo da roca

Masala Indian Restaurant (in Cascais) – sad to say but this meal was better than any of my meals in Lisbon. Get the cheesy garlic naan, chicken Tikka Masala, and the mango lassi.

Praia

Catch some rays at the beach at Praia da Conceição.

From Cascais Train Station catch a train back to Lisbon for 2.25€ using your Viagem card.

If you’ve enjoyed my Sintra & Cascais DIY Itinerary, then make sure to check out my Travel To Lisbon On A Budget Blog.

At this very moment with the pandemic happening, I feel it’s a scary time to live in. You’re probably wondering how COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients.

March 31, 2020 (Day #18 of Quarantine in Spain)

4 years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Time has gone by so fast! Every year, I go back to the US and do a photoshoot for myself so I can feel beautiful and show to the world how confident you can be after a double mastectomy. Now with the pandemic COVID-19, you’re wondering how the risks can affect breast cancer patients.

Photos by Rey Trajano
Instagram: @thephotographer
MUA: @makeupbyjulian
COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patientsCOVID-19 impacts breast cancer patientsCOVID-19 impacts breast cancer patientsCOVID-19 impacts breast cancer patientsCOVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

Recall

recall has been issued on the breast implants received during my reconstruction. The recall on allergen textured breast implantsletter was sent out to all patients that had BIOCELL textured great implants Style 115 Natrelle. This certain implant shows an increased risk of breast implant-associated anapestic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) I’ve contacted my surgeon but haven’t heard back due to the current situation. Even though the changes are low, I’m guessing that I will have the option to do another surgery and replace them with another set of implants. After all the procedures endured in 2016, I’m not sure that I’m ready for another one. I’ll be sure to follow up with my doctor and see what she recommends.

COVID-19

Today, the world is forever changed with the Corona pandemic.  Living through a pandemic is something I never thought I would experience in my lifetime.

How does COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients? Patients that are going through or have covid-19completed chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy and radiation have a higher risk and can weaken the immune system resulting in lung problems. Taking the hormone drug therapy, Tamoxifen does NOT affect your immune system. You can read the article here.

I am lucky that I didn’t have to do any of these treatments. When I opted for the double mastectomy, my team of doctors said no chemotherapy nor radiation was needed. Every year I come back to the states, I have a visit with my oncologist and we do a blood test. For the past two years, my blood tests have resulted in low white-blood cell counts and we can’t figure out why. Could this possibly mean that I’m more prone to infection – yes.

Precautions I’ve Taken

After Italy’s lockdown, Spain soon followed. The kind of lockdown that we are experiencing  can’t be compared to the states. We’re only allowed out for essential things such as going to get groceries, hospital, pharmacy or to walk the dog. People are getting fined for taking a stroll. Police have been checking ID’s so if you’re walking your dog more than 1km for your apartment, you can expect a fine for that too.

Grocery stores only allow a certain amount of people at a time and when you enter, you have to sanitize your hands and wear gloves. People are starting to disinfect groceries before coming into the house. We certainly do not wear our shoes in our apartment and I change my clothes immediately when I get home. To add to that, I clean my dog’s paws before he enters the house after a walk.

The majority of Spain is obeying this lockdown rules because we’ve seen the number of new cases and deaths rise. We’re all working really hard to flatten the curve and I know all of us long for social interactions. I feel for the ones that live alone, but that’s what video chatting apps are for – FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and HouseParty (my favorite because you can play games.)

People that still believe this is a hoax are the ones that think they are invulnerable. COVID-19 is killing people of all ages. Most of the people that live in my apartment building are elderly, so I have to be extra careful and wipe down door handles and elevator buttons.

Difference in Lockdowns

The difference in lockdowns between the US and Spain are very different. I don’t understand why the US hasn’t enforced a FULL LOCKDOWN. Even though the bars and clubs are closed, I still witness gatherings on social media. THAT IS NOT QUARANTINING. The point of this is to sit your ass at home to reduce the spread of the virus. People acted as if this was a vacation so of course numerous people went to crowded parks, beaches and popular hiking trails. Do you think you’re safe if you’re outside? Check out this article about cough and sneeze projectiles.
COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

The scary part about COVID-19 is that it has an incubation period of 2 weeks and is highly contagious and worst, you don’t know you have it because you can be asymptomatic. Imagine bringing that virus home to your friends, family and just anyone you’re around. How would you feel being responsible for their deaths? Here’s a good article to read about why some people may think that this doesn’t effect them.

And if you’re one of the selfish assholes like this girl who licked a toilet seat and said that Dr. Phil is part of the Illumanati, go fuck yourselves. This video makes me so furious.

Till this point, I still don’t believe American has started THE OFFICIAL LOCKDOWN yet.  The US will suffer the most and god knows for how long. The hospitals in New York are already overwhelmed and there is a shortage of ventilators. Will the US be like Italy and have to choose who lives and who dies? The photo below is from an overwhelmed hospital in Manhattan, New York. You can read the article here.
Overwhelmed NY HospitalMost of us should be very lucky that we have a place we can quarantine in. We have a roof over our heads, fast internet, sunlight, backyard or terrace, our computers, Netflix and other streaming services. The reality is that people in other countries can’t afford the luxuries that we have. Look at the photos below (from Hong Kong/China) BE GRATEFUL!

Hoarding

I can’t believe that people are still hoarding in the US like crazy. What is it with toilet toilet paper memepaper? It’s sad that a lot of people can’t get the basic essentials. Also, the people that are buying up all the toilet paper and disinfectants and then selling it for an absurd amount of money? SHAME on them! This is illegal in the US at a time of a crisis, so if you see any postings or any stores that are overcharging for these, report them! Depending on the states, the fines can start at $10,000.00 (in CA.) Here’s the website of the fines for price gouging.

The hoarding of masks and gloves needs to stop. The lack of these items have put our frontline healthcare workers at risk. How can they help us if they don’t have the right protective gear and are falling ill to this disease?

In Spain, no one is hoarding anything. The grocery stores are usually stocked at night time and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, there’s another grocery store down the street. People here aren’t fighting over rolls of toilet paper like in the US.

Balcony Police

In Spain we have our own problems in which I’m not proud of. These people are known as the “balcony police” insulting people who are on the streets. How do you know if these people aren’t the doctors and nurses fighting to save the lives everyday? How do you know if these aren’t the staff at grocery stores working day and night, risking their lives being exposed to numerous people everyday just to replenish the goods. We all need to be a little less judgmental and work together to help everyone out in our community.

Racists Attacks Against The Asian Community


There has been in increase in incidents of racial attacks to people of Asian decent for simply just being Asian. This shows you how ignorant people can be. Earlier in March when I was riding the metro system, I got some weird looks, but luckily nothing ever escalated to confrontations.
iamnotavirusThe latest story I heard was a man that stabbed a family because he thought because they were Chinese and  were spreading the virus. Read the article here. Please, if you witness this, jump in and help out.

Healthcare

When the US announced that American should return back home, some of my friends told me that I should fly home. Reasons why I chose not to:

  • I have FREE public healthcare in Spain (and I’m not even a resident) and I have private health insurance in which I pay a whopping 40€/month.
  • I also have health insurance through my job in California but my deductible is high. For example, my last blood test cost me $500. I’m scared of what my bill is going to be when I go in for an MRI this year.
  • The healthcare system in Spain is amazing. If you’re a tourist and you get sick, the hospitals here will NOT deny you. In fact, if you’re a tourist, you’re probably better off not going back to America in case you get sick. Here’s an article about a teen that was denied at Urgent Care because he didn’t have insurance. Pathetic.

People in the US that have medical insurance now – you’re still not safe! I’m sure many of you have been laid off. Can you afford the premiums of COBRA insurance? Most of Americans don’t even have health insurance. Do you want to know what the average cost is for someone that had to be treated at a hospital for COVID-19? The bill was about $35,000.00. You can read the article here. How can a 1st world country not be able to take care of their own people?
healthcare bill

America needs universal healthcare. I don’t care if you have a healthy lifestyle or that you eat very healthy. In the end, it doesn’t really matter because you never know when you’ll need it. No one is invincible. I never expected to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30. No one does!! Had I not had insurance, my bill would have been almost half a million dollars. Do you have that kind of money?

Did you know that in Italy and France, the government have already decided to stop rent payments etc. England is paying 80% of people’s salaries, Denmark is paying 75% of people’s salaries. Canada is sending everyone $2,000 CAD for the next 4 months. You can read the article here. I’m still waiting for the Spanish government to help assist its people. The US is issuing a one time $1,200.00 stimulus check….and that’s it? That check won’t even cover rent, mortgage, utilities and groceries.
Stimulus

Outcome

Will this pandemic ever end? Yes but it everything won’t go back to normal like how it used to be. Vaccines will be made in the near future but not soon enough. Corona virus will be something that will be around for a very long time. How about re-infection rates? China has closed its borders again.

This will forever change how we travel, re-evaluate our hygiene practices, our social habits such has shaking hands, hugs and kisses. This is a true test of a relationship, ones’ patience and ability to make the best out of the situation. We must find a way out of this economic crisis and find ways to improve the health care system.

For now, the answer is to #StayTheFuckHome

COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients

boat tour Ultimate Coron Island Travel Guide

The Palawan Islands in Philippines have certainly become a trending hotspot for adventure seekers on a budget. Above all, choosing which accommodations along with searching for an excellent rated boat tour operator in Coron and El Nido is time consuming. Given that I spent many hours of research, I wanted to share with you my Ultimate Coron Island Travel guide and recommendations in order to get a better idea on how to plan your trip.

jenny chu and friend smiling on an boat excursion in palawan philippines

Back in 2018, after exploring Manila and Cebu, my heart was set on returning to the Philippines. With this in mind, I strategically planned an ultimate 6 day trip starting in Coron and then to El Nido.

Tips:

  • Best Time To Travel To Palawan

October through May is dry season however, with climate change who knows that the weather will be like? Given that June through November is rainy season, there’s a fair chance it can develop it into a typhoon. Expect to find cheaper accommodations and tours during this time.

  • Currency

$1 USD = 50 php. The majority of restaurants and bars are CASH only. In this case, exchanging money at Manila airport during your layover is the best solution as since ATM machines are scarce on the islands.ultimate palawan island travel guide

  • SIM Card

Notably, the Wi-Fi on the islands are a bit spotty. In fact, picking upbrand globe sim card let with Philippine flag
a SIM card at Manila airport during your transfer is highly recommended. There are 2 major companies: “Smart vs. “Globe.”  In general, the “Globe” SIM card works performs better in Palawan. The cost is approximately $12 USD for 8gb of data.

  • Brownouts

Ultimately, during some point of your trip, a brownout will occur. A brownout is an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in an electrical power supply system. Intentional brownouts are used for load reduction in an emergency. The reduction lasts for minutes or hours, as opposed to short-term voltage sag (or dip) per Wikipedia.

  • Drink From Bottled Water Only
  • Malaria Pills

Check the CDC website. Definitely consult with your physician. ultimate palawan island travel guide

 

Essential Packing List

  • Large dry bag/waterproof bag with cell phone case (Size 20L bag should suffice) $17 USD
    ocean pack brand 20 liter dry bag along with a waterproof cell phone case for iphone
  • Water Shoes – around $14.00 USD ultimate palawan island travel guide
  • Snorkeling Equipment (you can rent….but sharing mouth pieces….no thanks!)
    • Price depends on what quality you want to get. I also carry with me a bottle of the Anti-fog spray $7.00 USD
  • Environmental friendly sunscreen ultimate palawan island travel guide
  • Mosquito repellant – a high quality repellant preferably with DEET. Mosquitos love Brand Repel mosquito spray with protection up to 10 hours 4 fl ounces 118 ml
    my blood so as an extra precaution, I bought mosquito bracelets and the mosquito plugins for my hotel room.

Coron 

Previous to arriving to Coron, we were in Hong Kong during the protests. Under those circumstances, we arrived at the airport extremely early due to public transportation shutdowns.

Travel Cost Breakdown

Flight
(HKG) Hong Kong –> Layover in (MNL) Manila –>(USU) Coron
CebuPacific Airlines: $135 USD including 20kg check-in bag
white and yellow cebu pacific airplane flying in blue skies
Hotel ultimate palawan island travel guide
Coron Bancuang Mansion: $76 USD/night + tax

Transportation

There are NO taxis in Coron. In that case, the usual method of transportation is riding a tuk tuk however airport pickups and drop-offs are not permissible.

How To Get From USU Airport To Your Hotel

Drive time approximately 45 minutes from the airport to the town center. With this in mind, arrange a pickup through your hotel. Furthermore, the rate is 150 php (about $3 USD). Upon exiting the airport, look for drivers holding whiteboards with your hotel name. The cost of transportation was added to my tab. Just tip the driver.

How Much Does A Tuk Tuk Ride Cost?

The cost of a tuk tuk ride around town is usually 10 php per person. While this vehicle comfortably seats 3 people, it’s possible to squeeze a 4th person.. Rather than jumping into a tuk tuk and telling where the driver to go, PLEASE agree on a price up front or you may be charged an exorbitant price after reaching your destination.
bright colored tuk tuk and motorcycle in a land in the phiippines

Scooter Rental

Rent a scooter for 500 php/day ($10 USD.) Certainly bring your Driver’s License & passport. From experience, the rental company did not ask for an International Driver’s Permit.

Booking Your Boat Tour Excursion

Group Boat Tours

Certainly you’ll soon find a plethora of brochures in your possession. After all, the most popular tours are Coron Island Tour, Island Escapade Tour, Reef & Wrecks Tour, etc. These typically costs around 1600 – 1700 php ($33 USD.) Furthermore, this includes pickups, entrance fees and food. Not a bad deal, huh? It’s important to realize that these tours will be packed with 15-20 random strangers. In conclusion, these tour operators will follow a specific route hence major crowds in all locations.

Private Boat Tours

What if I told you that you a private boat for hire is achievable for a reasonable cost? Above all, you can choose your destinations, avoid the crowds and go at your own pace. With this in mind, here are the details below.

Calamian Tourist Boat Association +63 920 403 7965 (Office closes at 5pm?)

This is where you will need to go in person to book the tour. With this in mind, DO NOT go to any other tour companies. Since I had initially walked into the wrong tour office with a similar name, I was quoted $75 per person for a private boat! 

The Calamian Tourist Boat Association is located at the pier across from the market. Upon arriving, we were welcomed with a warm smile from a local named Kirt.The group chose to do the most popular tour – Coron Island Tour which includes Kanyangan Lake, Skeleton Shipwreck, Banol Beach, and Twin Lagoon. Altogether with a 500 php cash deposit, we were all set for an early start at 7am for grocery shopping. To point out, this is CASH ONLY. To emphasize, please make sure to bring enough money for the boat tour, tip for captain and crew, entrance fees and groceries.

Kirt: +639069235045

 

2019 CALAMIAN TOURIST BOAT ASSOCIATION PRIVATE TOUR RATES
(All Prices Are Total For The Group Not Per Passenger)
Destination 2-4 People 5-8 People 9-15 People
Coron Island P2700 P3250 P3800
Sangat/Lusong Gunboat P4350 P4900 P7100
Banana / Malcapuya Island P4350 P5450 P7100
Culion Municipality Island P4350 P4900 P7100
Dibatok Island P3800 P4350 P5450
Calumbuyan / Pass Island P4900 P5900 P7650
Diwaran Island P4350 P4900 P7100
Tara Island P9300 P10900 P1700
Coral Bay / Evergreen Resort P6000 P7100 P8200
North Cay or South Cay P6000 P7100 P9300
Calauit National park P9300 P10400 P17000
Panlaitan / Black Island P7100 P8200 P11500
Linapacan Island P9300 P11500 P1700
El Nido / Taytay Municipality P14400 P19800 P28000

Note:

  • Additional 500 php for Tour Guide, and tip extra 500+ php for the crew
  • Coron Public Market is a 5 minute walk from the pier
Entrance Fees: Approximately $2-$4 USD Per Person
  • Banol Beach: P100/ person
  • Banana Island: P200/ person
  • Barracuda Lake: P100/ person
  • Bulalacao Island: P200/ person
  • Calauit Wildlife Safari: P250/ person
  • Calumbuyan Island: P150/ person
  • Coral Garden/ Lusong Sangat Gun Boat: P50/ person
  • Culion Museum: P250 local/ 350 foreigner
  • CYC Beach: no charge
  • Dalawang Isla: P100/ person
  • Ditaytayan Island: P200/ person
  • Kayangan Lake: P200/ person
  • Malaroyroy Island/ Bulog Island: P100/ person
  • Malcapuya Island: P150/ person
  • Maquinit Hot Springs: P100/ person
  • Pulang Lupa: P100/ person
  • Sangat Island: P200/ person
  • Siete Pecados: P100/ person
  • Skeleton Wreck: P100/ person
  • Smith Beach: P100/ person
  • Twin Lagoon: P100/ person
What To Get At The Market?

Meeting your captain is suggested before going grocery shopping. For that reason he was able to help us with all of the purchases. We bought meats, fish/seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t forget to pick up rice, limes, ice and alcohol. Lastly, get the rum that’s usually 50php ($1 USD.) The boat should provide re-usable cups along with plates and cutlery.

What To Do Besides The Boat Tours

Mt. Tapyas (free admission)

As shown below, Mt. Tapyas is one of the most stunning sunsets. Prior to this experience, be sure to check when the sun sets. In this case, 1.5 hours should be enough time and don’t forget to bring water. The entrance to the hike can be reached by a short tuk tuk ride. All in all, 721 steps later and you’re at the top of this hill. Bring water! 

Maquinit Hot Springs (8am – 7pm; 200 php – $4 USD entrance fee)

This natural hot spring accessible by tuk tuk. A round trip typically costs around 450 php ($9 USD for the entire ride, not per person.) After 30-40 minutes, you will arrive at your destination. In the meantime, the driver will WAIT 1 hour for you to return. Although towels can be rented for an extra charge, I suggest bringing your own. The ground surface of the hot springs is a bit rocky so bring water shoes if your feet are sensitive. For fear of water run off going back into the ocean, no showers exist for these environmental reasons. Ultimate Coron Island Travel Guide

Night Tour with Fireflies & Bioluminescense Plankton – 950 php ($18 USD)

To begin, this tour includes a pickup from the hotel. After a 45 minute ride in a large battery operated golf cart, we finally arrived at the mangrove. The guides handed out life vests and without delay we hopped into the double seat kayaks. At least one guide accompanies the group so don’t worry about venturing out too far in the dark. As soon as we kayaked to the spot, I put my hands in the water and watched in delight as the water glowed. In short, 20 minutes went by quickly. Now it was time for dinner and a ride back to our hotel. Ultimate Coron Island Travel Guide
Bookings available on Klook.com
Or contact Asriel Roan via Whatsapp: +63 975 114 9824
fireflies in mangrove just after sunset

Massages – Kalipay Spa

First, this place is a gem! Second, don’t make the same mistake I did wasting time trying to find the cheapest place. As a result, I experienced a crappy massage place with dirty beds and no air conditioning. Not only is Kalipay Spa is by far the best massage, but also reasonable prices starting at 600 php ($12 USD).
Kalipay Spa Coronkalipay spa menu coron

Where To Eat

Lolo Nonoy’s Food Station – outstanding & inexpensive meals in a cafeteria setting. This place gets packed during dinner time really quick.

Buzz Express – superb place for brunch and dinner

Trattoria Altrove Coron (accepts credit cards) In reality if you need a break from Filipino food, try the best pizza on the island. For one thing, there is a no shoes/sandals policy, hence there are cubbies in the entrance way.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my Ultimate Coron Island Travel Guide. Ready to move on to the next destination? You can check out my Ultimate El Nido Travel Guide next.

 

Jenny Chu at Wailua Iki Hike waterfall road to hana in reverse

The Road to Hana is a must do when visiting the island of Maui however, if you hate the crowds and hate the traffic, then driving The Road To Hana in Reverse is the best way. All things considered, I spent a total of 4 days in Maui in which 2 of the days were dedicated to Road To Hana. Further, if you don’t already know, that road is 52 miles long with 620 curves and 59 bridges.

Map Road To Hana Reverse

As a teenager, I remember doing this trip with my family in a little sedan. We tried to do the drive from Paia to Hana and all the way back in one day leaving no time for hikes or anything remotely interesting. In addition, there was a lot of traffic so Imagine being stuck in a car for 8 hours.

The Road to Hana in Reverse is not for the faint of heart. Prior, I was really nervous about driving because I hadn’t driven in 9 months. There are some sketchy unpaved roads hugging the side of a cliff with no guardrails. Just remember to take it SLOW. If you see someone tailgating you, chances are it’s a local so pull over when it’s safe and let them pass.

Logistics

Flight:

HNL (Honolulu) –> OGG (Kahului)
Southwest Airlines: 3,556 points + $5.20

Car Rental:

Hertz: Mid-size SUV (recommended) for 4 days = $162.50
Use autoslash.com to find a rental. Once you book it, “track” your rental on the website. Consequently, if there is a lower price, autoslash will automatically send you an alert email. Just so you are aware, most rental companies will say that your coverage is void should you choose to drive in prohibited areas (such as the reverse way to Road To Hana). Based on the blogs I read, the car companies just don’t want to be responsible if you get stuck because of towing. In my opinion, just as long you’re not driving irresponsibly that you should be fine. As you’re driving, you’ll see many abandoned cars on the side of the road.

Accommodations:

Home base was an Airbnb in Kihei – $99/night for 4 nights and includes parking. I was airbnb in kihei queen bed road to hana in reversedoing an Around The World Trip and I had large suitcases with me and I did NOT want to have that in the car while doing Road To Hana. Hate to say it but car break ins are quite common so leave NOTHING of value in your rental.

I didn’t want to spend a fortune on food so I went to Safeway in Kihei and loaded up on snacks and drinks. Did you know that Safeway has a large selection of fresh poke for a reasonable price?!?!

Day 2

This was the start of our Road To Hana in Reverse trip so I figured Hana would be my halfway point so I booked an Airbnb there. It’s $101/night – cheap and reasonable priced stay although the walls were a bit thin so you can hear the neighbors. It was perfect rest stop.

Day 3 & 4 – Back to our apartment in Kihei

Preparing for Road To Hana in Reverse

Shaka Maui App – $9.99 for the Reverse Route. I cannot stress how important it is to have shaka maui appthis app. At first I thought that I could drive the reverse and have my co-pilot spot out the mile markers. WRONG. The mile markers aren’t really in order AND it’s hard to read especially since the signs are a bit faded. This app was a true life saver. There were many parts of the trip where there wasn’t cell service. This app is able to work without cell service (it downloads an offline map) and based on your gps this app can continue to guide you and tell you exactly where to park to get the full experience. This app must be downloaded before the start of your trip.

What To Bring:

  • water shoes
  • sandals
  • swim suit
  • towel
  • battery charger
  • dry bag
  • waterproof cell phone case
  • snacks
  • water
  • bag for muddy clothes
  • insect repellant – the strong kind!
  • sunscreen
  • CASH – not much – just in case you want to buy some snacks here and there
  • car charger for phone

**NOTE** Do not leave any valuables in the car. I left off my valuables back in the apartment in Kihei and only took the necessities mentioned above

Road To Hana *Favorite* Stops

I was lucky to experience Road To Hana in Reverse in November with no rain. Many of the waterfalls I dipped my feet in were freezing cold. Although it could be raining up in the mountains,  please be cautious of flash floods and use good judgment before jumping into a waterfall pool. I started the drive at 8am. Depending on your interests, you can drive right past or stop at any stops your heart desires! Although there are many suggested stops on the Maui Shaka app, below are a list of my favorite stops. I’ll be sure to explore other parts of Hana next time I return.

1st half of Road To Hana in Reverse

  • Haleakala National Park – Parking is $30 as of year 2020 – a $5 increase from last year. Credit cards are accepted in this parking pass will allow you 3 days here should you wish to come back. Here you can hike the Pipiwai Trail and see the Oheo Pools (aka 7 sacred pools) We spent probably 2+ hours here.
  • Venus Pool – you have to walk through a ranch to get here
    Venus Pool
  • Hamoa & Koki Beach – beautiful views although it’s not advised to swim here due to strong currents
  • Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach – Please be careful trekking to this area
  • Grab some food at Ae’s Thai Kitchen Food Truck
    AE's Thai Kitchen
  • Check in at Airbnb in Hana.

2nd half of Road To Hana in Reverse

  • Black Sand Beach – there are trails, caves and blowholes
  • Nahiku – I parked in front of the church and walked through. As you walk down, there’s a home made swing into the water on the right side. Beautiful viewsNahiku road to hana in reverse
  • Lava Tube Cave – bring your cellphone for flash light
    Lava Tube
  • Pua’aka’a State Park – for bathroom break, waterfall
    Pua'aka'a State Park
  • Wailua Iki Hike
    Wailua Iki Hike
  • Waikani Falls (3 Bear Falls)
  • Keanae Peninsula – Stop for Aunty Sandy’s banana bread. $6 per loaf and $10 minimum. One of the best banana bread ever made
  • Na’ili’ili-haela Waterfall – 20 minute hike through the bamboo forest. Do not come here at night time as it can be hard to navigate. The first 2 waterfalls are easy to get to and there are 2 more that are a bit more challenging to reach.
  • Ho’okipa Beach – great for watching wind/kite surfing. You can see the sea turtles chilling on the right side

     

    I was so bummed that all my photos didn’t transfer when I upgraded my phone to the iPhone 11. I’ll be coming back for sure. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Want to do a layover in Waikiki? I’ve got some suggestions for you here.

Ski Les 3 Vallées on A Budget

panoramic view ski les 3 vallées on a budget

golden

Is it possible to ski Les 3 Vallées on a budget.? Having had the Epic Pass for years now, this 2019/2020 season was the first time I finally worked up the courage to venture out to Europe to snowboard with a friend. Making this a budget friendly trip was my goal!

Les 3 Vallées Resort

Les 3 Vallées is included on the Full Epic Pass along with 7 days of riding. You can tell this place is massive by just taking a look at the map. My Local Epic Pass auto-renews at the end of every season ($699 USD). With 10 buddy passes and 6 ski with a friend passes, this is a great deal considering a day in Vail costs $200+. After confirming my flight details for the trip, I called customer support and was able to upgrade to the FULL Epic Pass for an extra $340. Nevertheless, if you plan on skiing for more than 7 days, an individual day pass is approximately 63€. Click here for the price sheet for Les 3 Vallées.

Travel Cost Breakdown

Flight from LAX –> GVA (Geneva)
Air Canada Business Class: 55,000 aeroplan points + 202 USD tax

Where To Stay On A Budget

There are many places to stay to ride Les 3 Vallées – Courchevel, St. Martin De Belleville, Meribel, Les Menuires, and Val Thorens.

AirB&B in Saint-Bon-Tarentaise near Le Carrey Shuttle Stop -$99/night for 7 nights = $795
Out of luck, I found this sweet budget friendly AirB&B which comfortably sleeps 4. Within 3 minutes walk to the FREE shuttle stop, you can reach Le Praz after a short 10 minute ride up the mountain. This particular stop will give you access to the resort. After a quick google search for hotels in Courchevel area, it seems the  going price was about $500/night.

Even though our location was budget friendly, the area lacked restaurants and night life. For this upcoming season, Val Thorens area is where I’ll be.
airbnb4

Transportation from GVA

Option 1: Rent A Car

But is it really worth it? You will need an international driver’s permit, know how to drive manual, and be comfortable with navigating through windy roads. Parking at the resort is costly. Furthermore, gas is insanely expensive.

Option 2: AlpyBus 

Seems like this is the best budget friendly transportation service from GVA airport. In order to reach the AirB&B in Le Carrey, book the ticket stop for Moutiers. Finally, after a 15 minute taxi ride you’ll reach your destination.

Here are the estimated prices for the following routes in Les 3 Vallées from the airport.

Destination:

  • Moutiers: 52.50€
  • St. Martin De Belleville: 52.50€
  • Les Menuires: 52.50€
  • Val Thorens: 52.50€
  • Courchevel: 375€ (Private Transfer Only)
  • Meribel: 395€ (Private Transfer Only)

The bus ride to the 1st stop Moutiers is approximately 2.5 hours depending on weather conditions. There are no bathrooms on the bus however there’s a bathroom break at the first drop off.
Moutiers drop off is at a bakery:
Boulangerie Marie Blachére
fbg de la Madeleine, 73600 Moutiers, France

Book a taxi in ADVANCE. When we got dropped off, there were no taxis. Due to that reason, don’t make the same mistake. Here are some contacts for taxis in that area:
Marie: +33 6 29 57 53 57
Soditra Taxi Moutiers: +33 4 79 24 45 55
Cost from bakery to the Airbnb is 40€. (P.S. not sure if the accept credit cards because I didn’t bother to ask but make sure to have some cash in hand)

Free Shuttle

Although a free shuttle is a great thing to have, it seems like the shuttle doesn’t run as often as it should. I free shuttle courchevelalways had to carry the schedule around with me. Sometimes the bus can be late, therefore wait the extra 5 minutes. If you’re staying at the Airbnb I suggested, the shuttle stop “Le Carrey” is just a 3 minute walk. The first night we arrived, we went to the SPAR grocery store in Bozel – meats, cheeses, wine, cracker and granola bars – basically survival food for the week. Don’t forget to push the stop button so the driver knows when to stop. It’s located up on the hand rail or on the side of the bus.

Hitchhiking

Every single local that we met told us hitchhiking was pretty common. In fact, we did hitchhike after missing the bus in the evening. If you decide to do this, please be safe!

Skiing/Snowboarding Les 3 Vallées

Want to read about which areas are best for which type of riding? You can read more about it here.
Le Masse

To get to the resort from the Airbnb,  take the bus from Le Carrey and get off Le Praz (10 minute bus ride) Go inside Alpinium Center.

Lockers

Lockers starting at 15€/day. The longer the rental period, the lower the rate. Because I rented for 6 days, my total was 63€. This locker fits up to 4-5 pairs of skis. Furthermore, there are dryer racks for your boots.

Lift Tickets Office (9am – 6pm)

As an epic pass holder, the physical card is REQUIRED to be present. The associate will issue another card of their own. After that, keep the card on the left side of your body away from any other credit cards and your phone. DO NOT LOSE THIS because every lift requires a scan.

Trail Map Key

Download Les 3 Vallées app on your phone. You’ll find this app very helpful while navigating your way around.

If you’ve only been skiing in North America, you’ll notice that the symbols in Europe are different. Below is an example of the different symbols.

ski trail color symbol legend

Les3Vallees Trail Map

NOTES:

  • This place is predominantly 90% skiers.
  • Sundays are usually the busiest day on the mountain
  • A lot of people do not have a respect for personal space. Therefore, while waiting in line for the chairlift, don’t be surprised if the person behind is pretty much straddling you
  • Once sitting down on the chairlift, expect the safety bar to come down right away. People don’t even give you a warning
  • Thirsty? I couldn’t find a place with a water fountain so either bring your own bottle or buy a water which will cost around 3.50€
  • Traversing from Courchevel all the way to Val Thorens is approximately 1.5 hours. Above all, don’t get stuck after the gondola closes. A taxi back will be costly and that is if there are any willing to take you.

Après

The wildest après-ski party is La Folie Douce on the Val Thorens side. The energy starts to really pop off around 3pm and closes at 5pm. All bags will be checked therefore no liquids are allowed. The best bang for your buck is bottle of the rose wine (40€) to share with friends. A drink will cost about 15€ and a beer is 10€.

Tandem Paragliding

If this is something you’re interested in take a look at the price sheet. Prices are negotiable.

Where To Eat

No one wants to pay 28€ for a pizza or 16€ for an Irish coffee. Those are prices if you want to eat in Courchevel – INSANE.

After riding all day, we would always stop by The Drop Inn for drinks and have dinner at L’Elephant. These two places are located in Le Praz (about a 5 minute walk from the Alpinium building.)

The Drop Inn (9am – 1am)
Here is a snap of their weekly specials. Tuesdays is 3€ wine night AND FREE TAPAS. Drink prices are reasonable here.
drop in specials

L’Elephant (3pm – 2am)
We ate here everyday and never got tired of it. It’s a cool spot to chill, listen to live music, play darts and foosball.

If you do decide to stay out late, the last bus is at 2:30am. Ski Les 3 Vallées On A Budget

Returning Back To The Airport

Book with the same company – Alpy Bus. Again, you’ll have to call a taxi and arrange a ride from the Airbnb to the bakery in Moutiers. A hotel night in Geneva was booked just in case there was a snow storm. I hope you enjoyed my Ski Les 3 Vallées On A Budget guide.

Curious in other Epic Pass Destinations? Check out my blogs on Whistler and Tahoe.

Budget Travel To Paris

pont alexandre budget travel to paris

Dream of going to Paris but don’t want to break the bank? Generally speaking, Paris is an expensive city. With no doubt, you’ll find my Budget Travel to Paris itinerary helpful. My first time traveling to Paris, I was 14 years old and did not appreciate it. To put it in another way,  my family and I were in one of those Chinese tours with about 50 other tourists. My second time in Paris was 4 years ago. After partying for 2 weeks in Ibiza & Barcelona,  I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy my time exploring the city. You can say 3rd time’s a charm! I went to Paris prepared for the site seeing, croissants and French cuisine. I spent 2 full days and it wasn’t enough time to enjoy this stunning city. The weather in October was perfect, not too hot and not too cold.

Travel Cost Breakdown

FCO –> CDG (I was flying from Rome) Vueling Airlines: $39 USD
Hotel: Les Boulevard: $246/night (split between 3 people)
Located in the 2nd arrondissement, this hotel was nestled in a lively area with many bar and restaurant options

Transportation budget travel to paris

How To Get From The Airport To The City
RER Train

From Terminal 3,  take the RER train to Gare Du Nord.Then continue with the metro/bus from there (10.30€)

Taxi

Since we were 3 people, we opted for a taxi. I’m pretty sure we got ripped off from the airport to the city. According to online research,  taxis are supposed to charge a flat rate of 53€ to destinations in the “right bank” (above the river) and 58€ to the “left bank” (below the river). See page here. 

From our experience, this particular taxi driver started the meter and charged us extra for the pickup fee and our luggages. In total we paid a little over 70€. On the way back it was a different story. Our hotel arranged for a taxi pickup and from the beginning the meter was already set to 55€. Then when we got to the airport we were charged another 7€ for an airport fee? **TIP** If you do decide to take a taxi make sure to ask about the flat rate since they seem to scam unsuspecting tourists. ALSO, not ALL taxis take credit cards so ask them before getting in or make sure to always have cash on you.

Public Transportation
  • Taxis: Remember that some only take cash only so ask before getting in.
  • Metro: You may purchase a 10 trip cartet for 16.30€. Otherwise individuall tickets are 1.90€. Tickets can be purchased at the automated kiosk or at any of the information desks down in the subway.
  • Electric Razor Scooters: This was my favorite way of getting around. Lime seems to be among the most popular brands and I saw plenty of them in the city. Please be aware that you can be fined up to 135€ for riding on the sidewalk, so make sure to use the bike lanes.
    **TIP** Bring your gym arm band for your phone case and wrap it around your arm so you don’t have to stop and pull out your phone every time for directions. Oh yeah, and anti-bacterial soap.

What To Do/Places To See 

Day 1
  • Arc De Triomphe – Most famous monument built between 1806 – 1836
  • Trocadero Gardens – for views of the Eiffel Tower
  • Eiffel Tower – Access the top by taking the elevator or by walking up the stairs. Tickets sell out VERY fast. In this case, purchase in advance.
  • Champs De Mar – Green public space (when I went it was under construction)
  • 228 Rue de l’ Universitè – For this view
  • Rue Saint Dominique
    Rue st Dominique budget travel to paris
  • Pont Alexandre III – Charming Parisian bridge that connecting Champs Elysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower.
  • Dior/Louis Vuitton in Champs Elysees (Flagship stores) Bring your passport if you plan on doing duty free shopping.
  • Moulin Rouge – The feeling of nostalgia came over me as this is where I first consumed alcohol. To add to that, I also adore the movie Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Cabaret show tickets start around 87€.
    Moulin Rouge budget travel to paris
Day 2
  • Galerie Vivienne – beautiful covered passage built in 1823
  • Les Deux Palace – controversial art installation by Daniel Buren
  • Louvre Museum – Closed on Mondays. Buy your online tickets here 17€
  • Catacombs – Sadly, we were unable to visit the catacombs hence learn from my mistake. I arrived an hour after opening. The line was wrapped around the block. Even ticket holders were waiting about 1 hour. Avoid this mishap by reserving the earliest time slot and arriving there early. Ticket information here.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral – Most of you already know about the fire that broke out on April 15th. As much as I wanted to see the glimpse of the progress, the entire area was blocked off.
  • Hôtel De Ville – City hall
  • Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann – This department store carries several big named brands and is known for its beautiful interior.
    Galerie Lafayette budget travel to paris
  • La Maison Rose – “The Pink House”

     

Surprisingly, there were still many more sites to see. Rather than trying to cram more activities into our schedule, I’ve decided that another trip back to Paris is a must.

Places To Eat – Budget Travel To Paris

Here are suggested budget friendly restaurants that got the most bang for your buck.

  • Le Bouillon Chartier: Casual restaurant open until midnight. Large selection and reasonable prices. For that reason, this place is VERY busy during the day.
  • My most memorable croissant from the chain “Eric Kayser” was a pleasurable experience that will not be forgotten. As a matter of fact, I had bought 25 croissants to fly back home with me to Barcelona.
    eric kayser croissants budget travel to paris
  • L’As du Fallafel: You know it’s good when this is at the top of the list for one of the most reviewed restaurants on TripAdvisor and Google. Dine in sections are tiny however you can get most of these items to go.
  • Sacree Fleur: Reservations highly suggested.

Seb’on: Reservations highly suggested.

Special thanks to Cindy & also to Colin for being my instagram photographer and making this experience so exhilarating and full of laughter.

I hope you enjoyed my detailed Budget Travel to Paris blog. Please check out my guides to other European destinations.

San Sebastian Food Guide

san sebastian food guide

This year for my birthday I revisited San Sebastián. Having been there last year (you can read my blog here), I knew what to expect and I had a better idea of how to plan my very own San Sebastian Food Guide. I also learned that no matter how much research you do, sometimes things don’t work out! For example some restaurants were closed, either because of renovations or maybe because of the season.

As you know, San Sebastián is the food capital of Spain, and it has the most Michelin star restaurants per square meter in the world! I did not visit any of the Michelin star restaurants though. Instead I went bar hopping for my 2 full days in this lively town.

San Sebastian Food Guide Tips

  • Order pintxos of course (what’s on display), but most importantly there is a hot menu, so ask always for the specialties of the restaurant.
  • Arriving on a Sunday or Monday? Some restaurants will be closed so don’t forget to check the hours.
  • Go with friends! The more the better so you can order different plates to share.

Travel Cost Breakdown

San Sebastian Airport

BCN –> EAS (San Sebastián) Vueling Airlines: Booked with Chase UR Portal for 5,860 points
Hotel Pension Peñaflorida: $113/night
Bus from San Sebastián to Santander (next destination): $15 via omio.com

How to get from the airport to the city center

  • Taxi – around 40€ (via google search)
  • Bus – use your google maps for this. You’ll have to exit the airport and walk along a busy highway for around 11 minutes (kinda scary but there is shoulder room). Cross the street and it’s bus E#21 for 2.65€ – Cash only!

San Sebastian Food Guide

To accompany your food I suggest ordering Txakoli (pronounced chah-kuh-lee), which is a white wine. The demonstration is kinda cool because the server will pour it from high up to give the drink some bubbles. If you don’t like white wine of you simply get tired of it, then you can always order a Rioja (red wine) or a cider.

Txcali
This is how they pour the Txacali

Bar Sport

My # 1 place to go because it opens early, so if you need time to kill before check-in, flight, train etc. definitely come here. Their displays of pintxos are beautiful. From the hot menu order the foi, beef cheek, and stuffed calamari with crab meat.

Bar Sport 7
Foie
Bar Sport 8
Beef Cheeks
Bar Sport 6
Calamari Stuffed W/ Crabmeat
Bar Sport 9
Jamon & Cheese Pinto
Bar Sport 5
Pintxo with Sardines
Bar Sport 4
Pintxo Shrimp & Crabmeat
Bar Sport 3
Sardine w/ Tomato Salsa
Bar Sport 2
Smoked Salmon & Crabmeat

Borda Berri

(Closed Mondays) CASH ONLY!

This place gets packed really quick so yes..I am one of those people who goes and waits

Bordaberri Waiting
Early Bird

before the restaurant opens. There’s standing space inside or 2 outside standing tables. Did you know that every time I left this place I was craving their sheep cheese risotto? Nothing can compare. They offer the risotto in small, medium, or large portions. Save yourself and order at least a medium. The pig ear is so crispy and mouth watering. The cod tripe on pil-pil was a new dish that I tried and I loved it (very gelatinous). Try also the pork ribs kebab and the veal cheek. This time they didn’t have the gazpacho (boo), and the “spider” fish was alright but not as good as the other dishes.

Borda 3
Risotto (small)
Borda 5
Cod Tripe on Pil-Pil
Borda 7
Crispy Pig’s Ear
Borda 2
Veal Cheek
Borda 6
Entrecote
Borda 1
Spider Fish – least favorite item

La Cuchara de San Telmo

(Closed Mondays)

I went right at 6pm when they opened to snag an outside table. The inside of the restaurant is incredibly small and narrow. This restaurant serves the biggest foi that I have ever seen and for such a great price. Also, get the octopus and the suckling pig.

La Cuchara 3
Foie
La Cuchara 2
Suckling Pig
La Cuchara 1
Octopus

Atari

Not the best customer service but whatever. It’s Spain. I came in the morning when the pintxos were fresh and back in the evening to eat the beef cheeks and the pork belly. The dessert Torrija is a MUST HAVE (kind of a mix between French Toast and creme brûlée).

Atari 4
My Morning Crabmeat & Salmon Pintxo
Atari 2
Pork Belly
Atari 1
Veal Cheek
Atari 5
Torrija – MUST GET!!!

La Vina

(Closed Mondays)

Not too many pintxos on display but don’t worry. You’re not here for that. This restaurant is known for its cheesecake! We decided to have a full on lunch so we sat in the dining area in the back. The rib-eye (txuleton or chuleton) was pretty big and quite good. The Spanish tortilla was juicy, jamón croquettes exploded with flavor, and my little salmon/shrimp pintxo was alright. Don’t forget the cheesecake for your final treat.

La Vina 6
Chuleton (Rib-eye)
La Vina 3
Spanish Tortilla
La Vina 5
Bacalao (Cod Fish) Wrapped in Pastry
La Vina 2
Pintxo Salmon & Shrimp
La Vina 1
Their Famous Cheesecake

Gandarias Jatetxea

This place is always popping but we managed to get one of the outside standing tables. We were quite full so we didn’t order as much: duck bruschette, scallop and shrimp bruschette, beef skewer, and beef cheeks.

Gandarias
We were so full at this point

Let Downs

Before traveling to San Sebastián I watched a youtube video of new places to eat on the other side of the bridge, where the locals supposedly eat. I was so excited but the food itself was a disappointment. Not only that, some of the places were closed 🙁  I’ll write about it anyways so you don’t go there and waste your time.

Hidalgo 56

  • Morcilla (blood pudding) with egg – not tasty at all
  • Ravioli with mushrooms – missing flavor and salt
  • Beef carpaccio – decent but nothing out of the ordinary
Hidalgo 3
Morcilla “Lava”
Hidalgo 1
Raviolli with Mushrooms
Hidalgo 2
Beef Carpaccio

Bar Begara – closed for renovations. I heard the chalupas are the thing to order.

Bar Zeruko – no idea why they were closed. I checked the hours and everything. Anyways…if you do go and they’re open, I heard the cod is the best thing to get.

I can’t wait to return next year with a list of new restaurants to try. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

San Sebastian Anchor
Peine Del Viento – 30 minute walk from Old Town

Plan on exploring more of Basque Country? Check out Bilbao which is a short bus ride away. For more travels throughout Spain, you can check out my blogs here.

Explore Montepulciano In Tuscany

My gf Cindy invited me to go to Italy to get the chance to explore Montelpulciano in Tuscany.It was a special occasion for her friend’s special birthday. I’m down to travel, so we booked our flight 3 weeks prior to the celebration. She said that I didn’t have to worry about planning anything which is a relief because I needed a break. All I had to do was book my flight to Rome and take a train to Chiusi Chianciano Terme Montepulciano. Piece of cake.

We got in late so her friends Giorgio & Simon picked us up from the station and drove us straight to the villa. It was dark so I didn’t get a chance to see anything on the way. The next morning when I woke up, the views took my breath away. I didn’t even know I was in Tuscany and I was in for a real surprise.

Montepulciano is a Medieval Town and it’s gotten popular over the years because Twilight “New Moon” was filmed there. Away from all the hustle and bustle and over crowded touristic spots, you can really enjoy this towns’ scenic views. Here in this blog, you’ll find out how to explore Montepulciano in Tuscany.

Travel Cost Breakdown

BCN –> FCO (Flumicino) AlItalia: 5,036 points in the UR Portal ($75.55 USD)
Vueling & Ryanaiar also fly for around $40 USD

How To Get From The Airport To Termini Station

Bus from FCO to Termini Train Station.7 €. As you exit the airport follow signs for the bus. Tickets are sold at the machine or there’s a window with a sign showing when the next bus is. The trip is about 50 minutes – 1 hour.
Another option to the Termini Station is the train: 15 € and it takes 32 minutes.

How To Get From Termini Station To Montepulciano

Train to Chiusi Chianciano Terme Montepulciano via trainline.com: 9.95€
If you arrive during the day time there are very few taxis, however there is a bus you can take from this station to the bus station at Montepulciano (about a 50 minute ride). Renting a car is also and option but be aware of the hours. For example, Hertz rental car is open Monday – Saturday, 9:30am – 12:30pm, 3:00pm – 6:30pm and closed on Sundays.

Accommodations:

Villa Martiena is a beautiful B&B and Giorgio & Simon are the best hosts ever! The villa can accommodate up to 14 guests and has the most spectacular views of the hills in Montepulciano. Each spacious bedroom has its own bathroom and pleasantly thought out amenities. Every day the room is serviced with fresh towels. The outdoor area is nicely decorated and there are so many places to sit and just chill while enjoying the peace and quiet and listening to the sounds of nature. A short walk down and you can lounge by the infinity pool to watch the sunset. During our stay we were spoiled with delicious foods, made by their personal chef Felice and his wife Maria. Explore Montepulciano in Tuscany