Faraway Friends

One of the benefits of travel is that I get to meet faraway friends. Every time I travel I meet at least one new friend. When I was in Santorini, I met two nice Filipina ladies traveling together. One was a local from Athens, Greece and the other one was from Canada. They have become my Facebook friends since then. 
I flew straight to New York from my Venice/Santorinitrip and from there took the taxi to New Jersey to start a new life there. Soon, I learned through Facebook that two of my schoolmates from high school live not too far from me, one in New Jersey and the other one in New York. 

We got together eventually. It was strange in a good way. I have not seen them since I was in high school in the Philippines, so it was like I was getting to know them again, but at the same time it was like we picked up where we left off. I didn’t get the chance to see Brooklyn Bridge …

Caribbean Dream

My story started earlier than I thought, even before Venice. I used to see those Sandals Resort commercials on TV and just seeing that white hammock by the crystal clear turquoise blue water, gave me that longing to be there. I have not seen water that beautiful before. I never expected it would actually come true. It’s funny how things happen when you least most expect them. 
I won a free trip for two to Cancun. Of course, there was a catch. It was one of those timeshare trips. My new business was struggling and I didn’t have any extra cash to spare for a trip. (Like I said, it happens when you least most expect it). It was year 2008 and it was the first time I traveled abroad since I came to live in the US 23 years earlier. I went with my boyfriend. When we got there, the water looked even more beautiful in person than on the screen. It was like looking at a post card. 

We didn’t book any tours, we just planned to endure the timeshare seminar, stay on the beach and enjoy the all-inclu…

Filipinos Everywhere

When my mom and I were in Milan, we saw a Filipino flag across the street from the hotel we were staying at. It appeared to be some type of business or an office. I realized then that everywhere we went, we saw at least one Filipino, even in the less crowded, less touristy areas. 

We took the train from Paris to Mulhouse. It’s not a popular destination. It’s a small town in eastern France, away from the Paris crowd. So we were a little surprised to see a Filipina there, walking a dog in the town square. 

Mulhouse, France
While we were in Mulhouse we also visited another town called Colmar. This one had more crowd, mostly Europeans, Americans and Chinese. Nevertheless, we managed to see at least a couple of Filipinos, probably a husband and a wife, having their pictures taken by the fountain. 

Colmar, France

When we were done with France, we headed for Switzerland. We took the train to Basel and one of the train conductors was a Filipino. In Basel, we met a nice Filipino man from Maryland w…

A Prison Trip in Milan

I’ve realized, every time I did something I was afraid of, the outcome was always great. Like when I lost my passport in Stockholm en route to Barcelona, and when I was about to go to prison in Milan ― I didn’t mean it like it sounds, or like it reads. Let me explain... 

When I wrote Tour Away, I mentioned that the man I was looking for worked at InGalera in Milan, but what I didn’t mention was, InGalera was a restaurant inside the prison. I know it’s unheard of, but it’s true. They try to reform their prisoners by teaching them skills and giving them jobs. In galera, in English, means “in jail.” If you didn’t know it was a prison, you wouldn’t believe it. 

The restaurant interior looks nice and elegant. The prisoners are dressed formally and they look professional. But I knew it was in prison, that’s why I was afraid. Although in the end, the result of my trip turned out to be unimaginable, more than I could ever hope for. No wonder Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Always do what you are afr…