Tag Archives: travel tips

Miami My Second Home

I spent an amazing week in Miami, Florida, and literally enjoyed every minute of it.

Miami South Beach, bringing the heat, Party in the city where the heat is on hands down, haha one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been to. The first step is checking in at W Hotel Miami. The service is impeccable and they have world-class amenities as is usual with the Marriot hotel chain. I even got a very nice surprise when they sent balloons and champagne to celebrate My 31st birthday.

The hot weather Five-hundred degrees really suited the carefree party vibe that I feel everywhere that I went to. The whole of Miami doesn’t seem to sleep at all! Party in the city where the heat is on
All night. I was riding the ca with the ruff down listening to will smith I just loved it it was during corona but well it was still poping out doors..

Nature’s Bounty

Miami is also a paradise for the adventure lover’s heart. There are literally tons of activities that you can do and places that you can visit to get one in nature.

There are state parks all around and it ranges from geological marvels, historical and cultural sites, spectacular gardens, and beach habitats. Whether you want to stroll the magnificent floral architecture of the Maclay Gardens or swim with the manatees at Blue Spring State Park, you will have endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. In addition, explore the awesome stalactites and stalagmites at the Florida Caverns State Park.  Enjoy boating at the Biscayne National Park which is almost completely covered in water and can only be reached by boat.

Of course, you cannot talk about Florida without mentioning The Everglades. Aptly called “the legendary river of grass”, it is comprised of millions of acres and is home to hundreds of bird species, alligators, crocodiles, and the Miami panther. I am truly amazed at this World Heritage Site, which also happens to be an International Biosphere Reserve and a wetland of international importance.  If you’re ever in there, try air boating to experience the wonder of the Everglades in the fastest and safest way to travel.

Adrenalin Rush

For those who are really craving to get their heart rate up, go to The Canyon’s Zip Line & Adventure Park in Ocala. They have a zipline between 15-story cliffs as their main attraction. Yes, that’s not a typo – zipline. Between. 15-story cliffs. Amazing! I don’t think there’s any other place in the world like that! Imagine the incomparable view with only the sound of the whistling wind and probably, your scream when you go over 40mph. Surely, your adrenalin will be at an all-time high even hours after that unforgettable experience!

Closer to my heart is diving at Key Largo. Self-proclaimed as the diving capital of the world, it is home to the largest artificial reef in the world. The best-known site is the John Pennekamp Coral State Park and it is dubbed Miami’s Grand Canyon with its wide clear water that’s home to fish, lobsters, and all kinds of colorful marine life.

Lost in Space travel

I’m sure you’ll all agree on one thing when it comes to travel – space is the ultimate travel destination. But since we still don’t have the means to go there right now, Miami’s Kennedy Space Center is the next best thing.

The center has endless activities for everyone! From the impressive Rocket Garden to the US Astronaut Hall of Fame to the Ad Astra Per Aspera where they paid tribute to Apollo 1, there is still so much more to enjoy. Grab the opportunity to be inside the actual Apollo 8 Firing Room and experience the thrill of a launch. Everything will just make you wide-eyed in wonder.

You can even have a chance to join the astronaut training simulator inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And as a treat, you can experience a simulation of the space shuttle’s ascent into orbit! Even veteran astronauts say that it is the next best thing to an actual launch, can you imagine?

If an adrenalin high is not in the cards for you, immerse yourself in the experience via the Hubble Space Telescope Theater. You’ll learn how this immense structure orbiting over 300 miles above the Earth has helped us answer a lot of questions pertaining to the vast universe. You can also watch space-themed movies in their own IMAX Theater or explore a full-scale replica of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Red Planet

Space news wouldn’t be complete without hearing about the leaps and bounds that happened with the exploration of the planet Mars. Explore the Red Planet with an interactive multi-media exhibit detailing what’s happening in the exploration right now. As an awesome treat, you can get up close to the Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator. The replica was commissioned by the Space Center to show this high-tech mobile laboratory that was built to withstand travel over the dunes, rocks, and other terrains of our next-door neighbor planet.

I will not be surprised if a visit here would inspire someone to be the one to eventually find life on Mars and other planets someday!

You’ll also have your fill of the sand and sea in South Florida with kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and exploring marine life by scuba diving. There are endless resorts and hotels that can accommodate all your requirements. Certainly, websites are overflowing with choices that can suit your budgets, dates, family members, and any special needs for the differently-abled.

The next day’s highlight was dining at the posh Villa Casuarina at the former Versace Mansion. Every fashion-conscious person in the world knows the flamboyant style of Versace and it is so evident here. Everyone was wearing Versace outfits, of course! Colors are everywhere and I absolutely love the mosaic walls and the lush greenery everywhere. I had the ‘Cacio e Pepe’, a tasty spaghetti served with pecorino cheese wheel for dinner. It is simply the best spaghetti I’ve had eaten so far.

The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion

Seafood is the heat food

It is not a surprise that Miami is the fishing capital of the world. Of course, when there’s an ocean on your doorstep, you have got to have a ton of seafood restaurants to showcase your bounty.

I had a wonderful time eating at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant. Wonderfully located at Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, this iconic restaurant has been operating since the 1920s – that’s a hundred years of operations! So, you can imagine how they’ve succeeded even with the different changes and trends in the gastronomic world. I read that the original Joe was a New Yorker who was suffering from asthma and came to Miami for its fantastic climate.

Curiously, the original menu featured fish and not really the crabs that it’s famous for. The crabs came after he was asked what can be done with the bountiful stone crabs in the area. The rest, as they say, is history. 2019 saw them being lauded as the highest-grossing independent restaurant in the US. 

What I love most is that the restaurant features sustainable methods to help the environment. Apparently, the popular crabs’ legs are the only ones cooked and the main body of the crab is placed back in the ocean for them to regrow their limbs. That will surely help to keep the crabs from being depleted. Way to go!

By the way, there are other seafood choices other than crabs. They have yummy clam chowder, lobster tails, and crab cakes. Add on sides like the fried green tomatoes, coleslaw, and hash browns to make your meals complete. To round it off, have the Key Lime Pie for that perfect tart dessert to cleanse your palate after all the seafood goodness.

In addition to crabs, Miami boasts a healthy supply of grouper, shrimps, squid, oysters, clams, mussels, prawns, and of course, you can always have various grilled fish fresh from the sea. A lot of restaurants have their own fresh seafood markets where you can buy your own stock to cook at home if dining out is not in your itinerary.

Travel tips

The best time to travel to Miami is during the Spring – that’s from mid-February to May. You’ll have warm weather and not the merciless hot summer sun by then so it’s going to be perfect to go around.

Be aware though that there are still some travel and safety measures being enforced in a lot of places. So check out your destinations first before you book tickets to make sure they’re open or if they still have restrictions.

Safe travels everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel to Hong Kong

What makes Hong Kong so popular?

Shopping!

Without question, Hong Kong is the ultimate shopping destination in Asia. This city state is small but packs a really big punch with its fast-faced economy co-existing with its ancient Chinese culture. International labels can be found in its famous shopping district in Nathan Street. Trust me, you can shop American and European brands here with ease.

If you’re looking for bargains, Hong Kong has night markets that sell everything from souvenirs to bags to clothes to decorations to scarves to calligraphy tools and tons more than you can possibly think of. There are more than a dozen night markets in Hong Kong but the ones I liked best are the Ladies Market in Mong Kok and the Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei. What’s more, the sellers expect you to haggle prices so be prepared to charm them if you really want something.

Travel tip:

The night markets start at around 7PM so be sure to come early to get good bargains. Better bring your own big shopping bag as its super hassle to carry small bags of things you bought.

World class

Hong Kong’s famous skyline boasts really tall buildings in the business district. This tiny city state is home to all the industries in the world. Their economy is stable enough to make them one of the world’s first class cosmopolitan centers.

Check out the breathtaking view from our hotel room in the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed for three days.

As in any small state, housing seems to be answered by the tall condominiums that I saw everywhere. Some of them are as tall as 40 stories high from what I can estimate and the towers are so closely built together. You can imagine the amount of people inside this compound!

Travel tip:

Always check a guide or a map wherever you visit especially in Hong Kong where the buildings are all tall in most places and the sidewalks are really crowded and narrow. You can easily get turned around and get lost in the side streets. Although English is fluently spoken in the business district and the high end shops, some of the smaller stores and restaurants as well as taxi drivers are still predominantly Chinese speaking so be sure to travel with a local for those out of the way areas or get your translations written by and ready.

Dianaqeblawitravel.com

Ancient Culture

One of the best things to do when visiting a country is to learn about its culture. Reading about it is good and being able to see it for yourself is even better. I make it a point to visit a temple or a church whenever I visit a new place to get a small glimpse of their history. In Hong Kong, I had the chance to visit the Big Buddha Statue or Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island. This is the view from the cable car ride in Ngong Ping that I took going there. From HK$135 to HK$213 round trip, you can experience a very scenic view for about 30 minutes till you get there.

 

 The Big Buddha is really amazing! It’s almost 35 meters tall and it sits on a very green forest so walking up the stairs to see it up close is worth it. I took this perfect chance to pose in this circular stage/entry when no other tourists were around. I love that the statue is directly above me making it a perfect shot.

 

 

The long walk upwards is worth it to be able to see the ancient houses, the temple and light incense sticks for your wishes in the altars around the base. The Po Lin Monastery sits on the base of the enormous statue and its monks preserve the sanctity of the temple. I was fortunate enough to see the monks around and observed their activities while going through their prayer rituals.

Travel tip:

Going up to the statue is free. Check the weather forecast even before going to Hong Kong. When it’s foggy and raining, going up to the Big Buddha is not worth it as you won’t be able to see the magnificent views going there and even the Buddha itself will be covered in fog. The best time to go to Hong Kong is from November to February when the sun is shining but the cold winds from China travels down to its small sister state. You can check accuweather’s website for this valuable info.

Hiking in Hong Kong

Hiking is a popular sport here in Hong Kong. Dragon’s Back Hike is one of the most famous trails here. It has one of the most scenic views around the island. Then you can swim or sunbathe in Big Wave Bay after a long mostly downhill trek afterwards. I hiked in Lantau Island and the trek and view was breathtaking in a really nice way.

Travel tip:

Check the weather before going out hiking to avoid any accidents. Water bottles, towels and snacks are necessary for these treks so bring as much as you can. Insect repellents are also a good thing to have at all times just to be sure.

Disneyland Hong Kong

A visit to Hong Kong is not complete without visiting Disneyland. Smaller than its sibling in Tokyo, Hong Kong’s Disneyland is still a paradise to indulge the Disney princess in me. Walk around the park and join the various theme rides and booths. The theater shows are really at world class levels with professional performers on stage. I love the music and the songs, of course, are very nostalgic.

Disney shopping is a must

If you want to get gifts to take home, get it all inside Disneyland. The shops are all full of very nice high quality products for kids and also for adults. You can find not only souvenirs here but also really nice toys, clothes, household things and even jewelry to remember your stay. I love my Minnie Mouse ears and I’ve just got to pose in Main Street here!

Travel tip:

Hong Kong Disneyland is a very popular tourist destination specially on weekends and holidays. Check their website for day passes you can purchase online to avoid the long que for tickets going into the theme park. Each day pass costs about HK$630 inclusive of a meal ticket. You can also get lots of savings if you stay in the Disney hotels of course. There’s Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorer’s Lodge and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and all of them will steep you in all things magically Disney.

Hong Kong is a very memorable destination and really worth going to.

From Manila, there are around six airlines going to and from Hong Kong everyday. Philippine airlines has the most number of direct flights everyday followed by Cathay Pacific with three direct flights daily.

Have you been to Macao?

Macao = Casinos

My first impression of Macao is that they really love casinos here. It seems that almost the whole place is just one big casino. The lights are so bright and you can feel the energy of the place especially at night.

Check out my pictures here. Aren’t they a sight to see?

A simple Google search and I found out that Macao is at the top of the gambling destination in the world. It even earned the title “The Asian Las Vegas” and gambling is still the main source of income in this small Asian territory.

Macau was under Portugal’s rule for hundreds of years and was only returned as a province of China in 1911. It is the first and last European colony in the world. Today, you can still see how European some of the buildings and structures are all over Macao. To visit there is to find a perfect image of East meets West with its mainly local Chinese population mixing their culture like food and traditions with those of their European beginnings.

Tourists like us flock to Macau by the millions every year. Luxury resorts, good food and a great climate are great reasons to visit this vibrant place.

A small bit of Paris in Asia

I stayed in the Parisian Macau Hotel and I fell in love with this small bit of Paris. You can see the murals in the ceilings and it impressed me so much as its so classic! The red lobby of this hotel is really gorgeous, right? The gold accents on the walls and ceilings is so rich and positively screams luxury. I can’t help but take pictures of the chandeliers that lights up the hotel so warmly and so welcoming.

I can’t say enough about the amazing views from this hotel and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to visit Macau. The Parisian Macau is truly world class.

I cannot resist dressing up and of course taking pictures! 🙂

For a dinner at The Kitchen, Grand Lisboa, I wore this long black dress that made me feel so gorgeous. I also had to take a picture beside these gold murals in the hotel pool. Don’t you think it looks perfect as a background to me and my black swim suit? 🙂

Visit Venetian

The Venetian is also a great place to visit in Macau. Just looking at it from the outside is already impressive as its so big! A little search and I found out that its the worst largest casino and hotel. Imagine having 3,000 rooms? No, that wasn’t a typo, it’s not 300 but 3,000. The lighting at night and its very unusual shape are both Instagram-able.

Check out the first pics on top. Super impressive, right? Wait till you see the inside. It looks and feels like you’re walking in a street in a shopping district somewhere with all the designer shops and restaurants inside. You can even ride a gondola right inside this hotel’s man-made flowing river. There’s also the very tall ceiling painted in sky blue and what looks like clouds on it. You can easily forget that you are actually inside a huge casino!

Macau’s local sites

When I travel abroad, visiting historical sites is always on my mind. You learn a lot of the country’s culture that way. In Macau, the most famous site is The Ruins of St. Paul. The façade or the front of the church is the only thing remaining of this church from the 17th century. A fire destroyed it in 1835 and damaged almost the whole building.

Another must see in Macau is Senado Square. I love the mosaic colored stones paving this place in a fabulous wave pattern. The work that must have been done to get that laid out must have been staggering! The buildings surrounding it are also a very pretty with all its pastel colors.

There are other places to see in Macau but I didn’t have enough time to visit. There’s the A Ma Temple, Guia Fortress and the Statue of the Goddess of Mercy in Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre. I will surely include them in the next time that I get to visit Macau.

My travel tips

The best time to visit Macau is from October to December where they’ll have their autumn and winter season.

To visit, I highly suggest going there from Hong Kong riding the ferry. It’s about an hour away and costs about HK$200. Luckily, most nationalities do not need a visa to go to Macau and the immigration processing in the port area is really fast. The ferry also leaves every 15 minutes so you can be sure to be on schedule every time.

Until next time everyone! Happy travels!