Enjoy a Fun-Filled Holiday in Colombia

Written by Amrita Barnwal

One of the most beautiful countries of the world, Colombia is an ideal destination to have fun with friends and family. This tropical country shows incredible diversity bestowing a real world charm to its visitors. It has an ever-changing topography and rich historic backdrop that appeals the tourists for exclusivity and matchlessness. Loaded with mystery and adventure, cultures of this country have enthralled the world since centuries.

Colombia is famous for its excellent coffee and the purity of emeralds. Besides, it also features several things that one would love enjoy during his holidays. It is a country to relax and discover the history and culture of a wonderful place. With amazing natural biodiversity, it features several sites to visit during your holidays. See what this country has to offer you for fun, sightseeing and adventure.


More than just Cruising the Danube River in Vienna

It's my first trip to Vienna and I don't think it will be my last. 

Air Berlin has always been one of my favourite airlines.  I fly with them more often than any airlines. It is a little over an hour flight from Zurich to Vienna.  

As always, it is a relaxing and comfortable travel experience. I never question the level of their comfort and the ticket prices are very reasonable. My one-way ticket costs Cdn$170 equivalent roughly around 130 Euro. A good deal for great service.

The first thing that come to my mind before flying to Vienna is my impression of a regal atmosphere associated with great composers like Beethoven and Mozart.  Though I am not into museums, I am obliged to make my stay memorable by visiting some of the hundred museums known to attract many visitors to the city.

The Inner City is known for its most famous attractions like the St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg palace
The St Stephen’s Cathedral was originally a basilica that was built on a Romanesque sanctuary in the 12th century. Today the Cathedral is known as a premier Gothic structure in Europe that is filled with spectacular sculptures, paintings, wood carvings and altars.

The Innere Stadt, the Old Town of Vienna,  is perhaps the most popular accommodation choice for visitors.

It offers convenience along with numerous sight-seeing opportunities. The Landstrasse lies close to the Inner Stadt and is home to several churches, monuments and palaces like the magnificent Schwarzenberg Palace, the Belvedere Palace and Konzerthaus.

Vienna’s many splendid tourist attractions are concentrated at the city centre.

These attractions include magnificent palaces, more than a hundred museums, gardens and unique cultural attractions. The Schönbrunn Palace is one of the prime attractions in Vienna.

See Vienna in a completely new and relaxing way with their Hop-on Hop-off bus tour where you can set your own pace.  

You may get on and off at any of the 15 or more stops, and as often as you want.  The ticket which is valid for one day costs approximately US$26.00 or €20.00 only. 

If you want a more sophisticated tour of Vienna, you may take the Original Oldtimer Bus that will take you not just the ordinary sightseeing but a nostalgic experience to tourists of any age.

Vienna has a temperate continental climate which is characterized by warm, sunny summers and cold, frigid temperatures. 

The hottest month is Vienna is July when temperatures usually register between 60F and 75F (15C and 25C). These temperatures are considered to be ideal for sight-seeing in this gorgeous city. Accordingly, the summer season in Vienna is the most heavily tourist trafficked season in the city.

Going around Vienna is very convenient. 

The city is usually accessed by visitors via the Vienna International Airport which lies 11 miles (18 km) to the southeast of Vienna. 

The airport is connected to the city centre by local trains, taxis and buses as well as a City Airport train. 

Transport within the city is provided by Vienna’s excellent public transport system which is made up of old world trams, buses, a fast U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (suburban railway). 

Taxis are also easily available but are quite expensive so I don't recommend you to use it. 

For a romantic vacation, you may want to indulge your better-half with a ride on a horse drawn carriage, which is also offered as a mode of transportation in the city.

Thinking of renting a car to go around?

Forget it.

Parking within the city limits is quite expensive and the city is a maze of one-way streets that are quite difficult to navigate. 

However, if you are travelling outside the city, renting a car will be a good choice.

Vienna is renowned the world over for its many culinary delights. 

The many excellent restaurants in Vienna offer a wide variety of cuisines that include Austrian and French fare, along with Serbian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, Russian, Italian and Asian cuisines. 

Additionally the city also has a well developed coffee house and café culture. 

A must-do culinary experience on any visit to Vienna is the sampling of its world famous contribution to the world of desserts, the calorie-laden chocolate cake, Sacher Torte

This much loved dessert was invented at the luxurious Hotel Sacher by celebrated chef Franz Sacher. The Sacher Café, which is located in the hotel, serves this delectable treat along with many other delicious Austrian pastries and coffees.

I have good memories of Vienna

And I consider meeting new friends very fulfilling.  

I met Wilson Tan Ho for the first time. 

A Filipino-Austrian who works at the United Nation Headquarters in Vienna. 

I came to know him when I read his story on feeding the homeless in Vienna every year at Christmas season. I eventually wrote about him in one of my websites about his good cause. Wilson is an active member of the Folklorico Vienna. 

Another Filipino-Austrian that I have brief conversation is Norman Bacal, a young entrepreneur and a travelling businessman. 

The last but not the least is a Cambodian-Austrian part-owner of Kaori Japanese Restaurant. 

I simply call him Andy. 

A very young fellow who is so accommodating from the day we first patronized his restaurant until the last night when we had our on-the-house dinner with his family. 

Kaori is a stone-throw from the Park Inn by Radisson Hotel where I stayed. It is located at the banks of the Danube River, adjacent to the United Nation Head Office. 

So, if you happen to be in Vienna, try Kaori. I love their Bulgogi (marinated beef, rice) and miso soup. 

And, say hi to Andy for me!

Oh, and speaking of the Danube River.... 

This is one of the reasons why I am so eager to visit Austria ~ cruising the blue Danube. 

It is a dream come true. 

Cruising the Danube River is the best way to experience the famous landscapes, cultural heritage and very old architecture. 

During the cruise, you will see from afar the impressive architecture of the United Nations buildings, the multi-coloured Kunsthaus and the Prater. 

It's amazing!

Little did I know that Danube river passes through ten countries: Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ukraine and Moldova.  

That means you will have an experience of a lifetime cruising these countries on the blue Danube. 

It's priceless!

See more amazing photos of the people of Vienna and the surrounding history ~ taken by the author himself.....

From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send a message @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail(dot)com.


Where on Earth can you find the Little Big City of Bratislava

Where on earth can you find Bratislava?  

This is the question most people ask me about. Not many of them know this capital city of Slovak Republic (also known as Slovakia). This made me wonder how this infamous place looks like. How it differs from other countries I have visited.  That must be the reason why I decided to include Slovakia on my journey to England, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Austria.


The Psychedelic City of Las Vegas. The Best Place to Spend the New Year if You Want to be Entertained

Viva Las Vegas! The entertainment capital of the world. 

It was one new year's eve when I spent part of my 4-night stay in this psychedelic city that 'never sleeps'. New Year celebration is just like the other three nights, the only difference are the fireworks and the many happy faces. It is more like a street festival.

Although the main attraction in Las Vegas continues to be gambling, it is becoming a family-friendly destination suitable for all ages. This glitzy, glamorous city also offers famous attractions like theme parks, golf courses, mega mall shopping and fine dining opportunities along with spectacular live shows and performances by famous names in show business.

Aareschlucht in Switzerland is a Treasure

Not long ago, I had the chance of exploring a place I never thought I would.
It is an unbelievable experience! I consider this adventure a once in a lifetime.  

Why did I say this?  

It's mainly because the couple who made our trip to Aareschlucht possible, are travellers and my visit to Switzerland is actually long overdue.  It is not because of them, it is my unavailability.  

Paul and Pacita travels a lot.  Our Swiss couple are real travellers in their own right. They are always out enjoying life.  In a minute they are up in the mountain, after a while she would send me a message that they are back on the road to another country.


10 Best Places to be Born in 2013 revealed. Will you travel to any of these countries to deliver?

A revelation has been going around the globe.  These days, it's not only the gender of the baby that the high-tech facilities can predict.  Now, you can choose the country where you want your precious angel be born and see the first light. If you are on the way and you believe that there really are good places to go and deliver, then you should by now heading to the countries listed here.


Now you can fly direct from Toronto to Manila ~ It all begins the moment you board Philippine Airlines

Photo courtesy of Philippine Airlines
To serve the travelling public in Toronto and its neighbouring towns and cities, Philippine Airlines fly direct from Toronto to Manila in the comfort of their new B777-300ER. Whether you are flying as a 'balikbayan' or as a tourist, this is the best time to visit your dream destinations in the Philippines. 

Starting November 30 and every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday thereafter, Philippine Airlines will depart via PR 119 from Toronto at 7:36 p.m. and arrives at Terminal 2 of  Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 5:45 a.m. two calendar days later.

How to Enjoy Sabah in a Day

Written by Shaiya Ong

Sabah is the island paradise of any diving enthusiasts, but what if you wish to visit the region but is not interested about diving? Is there another way in which you can enjoy it?  

Most definitely! The allure of Sabah does not only rest in its diving spot, but its flora, fauna, and rich culture. You may wish to make a reservation at the best five star hotel in the island, because this will ultimately make your stay a memorable one. Moreover, it will give you easier access to the following must see destinations in the region.


15 Friendliest Countries revealed. Are they really that friendly?

Friendly People of Austria
Once again, the World's Friendliest Countries has been released for 2012.  While I quite agree with the results, am just not sure for the rankings that these countries got out of the 15. I have visited 10 of the countries listed and yes, most of them do deserve the honour. They are indeed friendly. I have not been to Cayman Islands, Spain, Bermuda, South Africa and Mexico, so I cannot talk about them in this blog.  

In my opinion, the countries  who should get the Top 5 Friendliest spots are: (1) New Zealand (2) Canada (3) Australia (4) Malaysia  (5) United States.  The rankings I have here is based solely on my travel experiences to these countries; pleasing local people, polite, helpful, honest and welcoming.


Review: Porter Airlines' Ultimate Convenience

Yes!  Fly via Porter Airlines on your short air travel to Canada and the U.S. Their standard of service is amazing. Their brand promise "flying refined" is all in there. It's seamless!

Photo Credit:  Porter Airlines
It was my first trip to Sault Saint Marie in Ontario. The purpose of my travel is to experience the taste of the breathtaking view of Agawa Canyon in Algoma.

I normally take the Via Rail on my local journey which is equally convenient, but because the train has no route to this city, I used Porter Airlines instead.  I'd been hearing good reviews of this airline from friends and colleagues months back, so I thought this is the chance for me to give it a try.


The Joy of Walking a Mile in Kobe

I find Kobe a memorable experience. Streets are busy and the city is between mountains and the oceans. The mountain seems close to the city. And the streets will give you a picture on how downtown Kobe looks like.

Come along with me. Let's take a walk.

Oh yes, I had fun wandering the streets of Kobe, especially the shopping and the entertainment areas. It was nice to see a different view - something new! I had to go up and down the steps of too many overpasses.

I already did a lot of walking, didn't I?


Mohamed Amine Bouhouche of Algiers ALGERIA

23. Featured Traveller 

Mohamed Amine Bouhouche
Student at KFUPM : Founder/CEO/Project Programmer : Traveller 

(Algiers, ALGERIA)
Travel is all about making memories that will last forever

From A Traveller's Desk finally had the chance to interview MoeAmine (Mohamed's nickname) in spite of his busy schedule in his university, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He hopes to finish his Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering in the year 2015 which is five more semesters to go. Aside from being active as a student, he is the Founder, CEO and Project Programmer of KFUPM Resources, a project he believes will be the main source for the university, KFUPM students in particular but will definitely be a useful reference to staff and instructors in general.

MoeAmine is from Algiers, the largest city of Algeria which he said still is his favourite place to be.


The Three Most Visited Sanctuaries in Italy

Written by Shaiya Ong

Vatican City remains to be the most visited religious sanctuary in the world, with over 1.1 billion Catholics flocking the place all year round; not to mention other religious denominations who are intrigued by the place.  In any case, there are other religious destinations in Italy that are also gaining prominence among tourists and local travellers.  This is a list of them.

Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel

Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel 

This is located near San Giovanni Rotondo, a place where the archangel apparently appeared in the years 490, 492 and 1656 allowing it to become a consecrated shrine.  Popular persons in the religious realm were also noted to have visited the place, which includes St. Gerard Majella, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. William of Vercelli.  This and news of being miraculous site has made this sanctuary one of the most popular in Italy.

Padre Pio Shrine 
Padre Pio Shrine  

Padre Pio is known for his supernatural powers, particularly his stigmata in the year 1919.  His body was exhume in April 2008 and eventually placed in display at Santa Maria delle Grazie sanctuary in a glass coffin before it had its final resting place at the crypt of the church.  Due to the large volume of pilgrims who go and visit the shrine, architect Renzo Piano designed a place for worship that allows 6500 people to sit and another 30,000 to stand outside and hear daily masses, but it is still not sufficient to the seven million pilgrims who visit this place annually. It is open to the public and remains free up to this date.

San Gabriel Sanctuary

Sanctuary of San Gabriel

Approximately two million visitors go to this place each year.  It is located at the foot of Gran Sasso Mountain in Teramo and is dedicated to the young saint that exhibited uninterrupted supernatural experience during his lifetime.  It is in proximity with other two popular sanctuaries in the place.  Loreto, and San Giovionni Rotondo.  Many who come and visit also include these other two sanctuaries to complete their pilgrimage.  The place is quite popular because of the 300 year old painting of the Our Lady of Sorrows.

Most visitors of Italy remain to be religious pilgrims who vowed to see up close these sanctuaries.  Many of them prefer arriving at Rome airport to begin the journey with a mass at St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican City.  So if you haven't decided on your Italy itinerary yet, why not add a few of these sites in your list and experience why some prefer to spend money just to fulfill a pilgrim to this places.

Author Bio: 
Shaiya is a freelance writer in the Philippines who once endured the extreme task of becoming an educator to university students. She is happier to have been given the liberty to take time at her own pace. She is now enjoying moments travelling to places she dreams of visiting and cherishing precious time with her family. 


Thailand: Touristy Tigers and Happy Elephants

Written by Cindy Chang

Travelling to Southeast Asia was my first big overseas holiday. I went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand with my boyfriend at the time, who I will call Mario for the purposes of this blog.  Having grown up watching movies like "The Lion King" at every possible chance I got (every day of the school holidays, until I could recite the whole movie line for line...), I loved animals.  I wanted to be Jasmine from Aladdin, and have a pet tiger.

18kg snake at the floating market
So my trip to Thailand, to me, was an opportunity to find me a tiger.  And an elephant.  In Thailand, there are two main places that you can go pat a tiger. In Bangkok there is the Tiger Temple, which is supposedly a 'temple' where Buddhist monks rescue tigers. It was an absolutely awful experience.  Overall, we spent about eight hours crammed in a tiny minivan and were herded through a number of other mediocre tourist attractions before finally stopping at the Tiger Temple.


Wesam Shaker of Baghdad IRAQ

22. Featured Traveller 

Wesam Shaker
Business Owner : Independent Representative : Traveller 

(Baghdad, IRAQ)
There are days when I intentionally don't write.  For instance, I never write when I'm travelling, because travel is a situation where I can learn more by looking and listening than by working

We are featuring a lad who is passionate about travels at the young age of 26.  Wesam holds an office in Baghdad that pertains to tourism.  

It took this author a while to have this interview finalized due to Wesam's busy schedule on running his office and travelling most of the time. 

He has travelled to United Arab Emirates, Syria, Malaysia and Turkey and will continue visiting other countries like Italy, Egypt, Greece and Thailand.  He finds UAE very interesting and reveals that he wants to go back and explore more of Dubai and its neighbouring towns and cities.


September: The Perfect Month to Visit Sabah

 Written by: Shaiya Ong

Sabah is quite close to the Philippines, so it only takes a few hours before you reach it by plane. If you are more adventurous, then you may wish to go to Labuan, Zamboanga in the Philippines and take a boat trip to reach Sabah.  It is a perfect destination for anyone residing in Southeast Asia and a trip worth engaging for anyone who loves adventure and nature.  You will appreciate the beauty of the wildlife more once you set foot in the island.  It may be small, but it is an advantage to anyone who wishes to explore several areas offered by the region.

Sabah in September
Why visit during the month of September?


Sharon Bijo of Geneva SWITZERLAND

21. Featured Traveller 

Sharon Bijo
Journalist : Editor-in-Chief : Traveller 

Travel where your heart leads you. We grow from our journeys no matter what they are; all of them have secret destinations that we're not aware of.  that's what makes them exciting!”

No matter how busy Sharon is in travelling and blogging, she still finds time responding to our request for an interview so that this blog can share her journey.  At the time of writing, Sharon is in Israel.  It is not her first.

She'd been visiting the country a lot of times and she blogged about her trip on all her destinations for the information of the travelling public.

Sharon tends to travel with her entire closet stuffed in suitcases. Not anymore! She realizes that it is not worth the back pain.  Her advice to fellow travellers is to pack only the essentials; enough clothes to look great on photos.  Travel light, that is!


Review: Himeji Castle is beautiful ~ but be prepared!

Yes, this is either a good review or not-so-good situation to any tourist. Himeji Castle is a castle in its own right. There are so much to see and explore. You will spend so much time going around depending on your curiosity and interest. Prepare yourself for a minimum of an hour and a half to complete your tour. You need to walk a lot and climb the stairs. Not a single elevator is installed within the castle as almost everything you will see are preserved and original.

Moreover, as I mentioned above, it takes more than an hour to spend in the castle. You will spend another one and a half hours wandering around the vicinity like the Nishioyashiki
Garden, Shirotopia Memorial Park, and the three museums namely, Literature, History and Art.


Marysia of Warsaw POLAND

20. Featured Traveller 


(Warsaw, Poland)
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” ~ Maria Bean

I am glad to feature Marysia who has been travelling most of her life. Literally, she has travelled the world and more often than not, she is out of town discovering the countries that comes to her mind.  She has explored Austria, Belgium, Benin, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Luxumbourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Vatican City.  She reveals that she will continue her journey to the rest of the world without much planning.

When asked about her favourite country and city of destination, she hesitated at first but eventually revealed that it was Spain and Tel-Aviv.

Safety Tips for Children While on a Cruise

Cruising is more often luxurious with awesome onboard activities, delicious dining choices, nightlife, and the chance to explore one destination to another.  We hope you will keep your cruise pleasurable with lots of unforgettable memories. 
While on a cruise, parents cannot rely solely on the security measures that is implemented on the cruise ship.  They should be vigilant especially to their children's safety so as to fully enjoy their vacation.


Cescille Tuazon of Glasgow SCOTLAND

19. Featured Traveller 

Cescille Tuazon
Singer : Traveller  

(Glasgow, Scotland)
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”
~ Saint Augustine 

Ces as she is fondly called,  is a native of Pampanga in the Philippines. She has been residing permanently in Scotland with her family for more than fifteen years now.

I am so thankful that she agreed to be featured in our blog to highlight some of her travels and to give tips that will be of help to fellow travellers. Ces is not new to travelling as she has been to Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Rome, United Kingdom, Spain, Gibraltar, France, United States, Canada, and Thailand. Her future travel line up are Japan, South Africa, Greece and Australia to name a few.

Enjoying 'chocolat chaud' in Nice
Scotland Flag
I will let Ces tell her story as I believe she can give justice to her travelling spree in spite of the fact that she is going through a lot of personal issues lately.

Well, that is a story that I cannot share with you in this column. If you insist and you are still interested to know more about her life story and what she is going through, I will be giving you a hint at the end of this blog on where to find more information about her. In the meantime, here is her travel story....
* * * * *
I do a lot of research before I head off to a foreign country especially if my destination is of different culture than where I am at.

I've lived in the Middle East for many years so I am aware how conservative the people of these countries are, and how they strictly follow the laws of the land.

It is here where I learned to practice the old sayings, "When in Rome, do what the Romans do". Oh yes, my life in Saudi Arabia is the total opposite of my life here in Scotland.

Apart from essentials like shoes and clothes, I always carry sufficient medicines when I am on a journey. Do not be stingy with your travel insurance; make sure you always have one, because you do not know what can possibly happen. I always purchase insurance; an advice that I believe is very important when you travel.

My passion in travelling started when I joined a musical band as a singer.  I go with the group of musician to cities and towns and from one country to another. This is one thing that I always like to do - entertaining people through music and at the same time travelling for free.

Waiting for the train in Bangkok
Being a single parent and a working mom, I am saving some cash to go on holiday after an exhausting, but very rewarding job.

I recently went on a 7-day Mediterranean Medley cruise via Thomson Dream Liner where I had the chance to explore Italy's Corsica, Livorno, Pisa, Nice and Antibes, after which our cruise ship headed to France's Toulon and Barcelona, Spain.

Mediterranean Cruiseship
Mediterranean Medley ~ Is it my Dream Cruise?  This is the question I asked in my blog. Whether it is a dream come true, or not, I still can say that going solo on a trip  is all I want to do in my present situation.

Did I enjoy the cruise? Yes, I did!  I am trying my best to move on with my personal life. It is not easy to ignore those jolly Filipino crews on the ship.  They are a bunch of very respectful hosts and good singers in their own right.  These young men serenaded me with beautiful Philippine music that brought back memories of my happy days in the Philippines.  

Aboard the Thomson Liner Cruiseship
I had a hard time communicating while in Nice, France.

Though I attempted to talk clearly in English, not even one staff in the snack bar understood what I was trying to say.

There is a serious language barrier here. All of them don't speak English. The only French words that I could speak and understand are Bonjour, merci, au revoir and je' taime.  Not even one of these words could be used in ordering what I wanted.  I almost gave up.

But wait, a customer close by who understood both languages came to my rescue.  He told them, "this lady want the chocolat chaud". So, I got my chocolat chaud.  Very easy!

I should learn how to use my fingers to do the talking.  I think it would help.  It was truly a learning experience.

For details of my Mediterranean cruise, I invite you to visit my blog, FliPinay Wee Blether. It is not only my journey that you will be reading here. I also shared my thoughts as a single parent and how I struggle to raise my two kids.  I've tried my best to put some humour on the personal side of my story to make it lighter and easier to accept the realities.

Below you will see some of my photos during my recent trip. I'd been alone and cannot pose to have my pictures taken but managed to shoot some beautiful views by myself.

Comment if you like. That will make me feel better! To connect with me, you may also visit my Facebook page, KwentongSingleMom.

From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send a message @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail(dot)com.

Seaside in Corsica ITALY

Ancient town of Antibes FRANCE

Taken from my cruiseship ~ Toulon FRANCE

Spanish Village ~ Barcelona SPAIN
Costa del Sol ~ Barcelona SPAIN
Cathedral ~ Barcelona SPAIN

Leaning Tower ~ Pisa ITALY
Are you a traveller who would like to share your travel story with our blog and our readers?  Then, I'd love to hear from you! 
Please email me at

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Watch for these blogs! 
They all have been travelling for many years and I can guarantee that all of them have travel tips that all of us can learn and benefit from.  I have to thank all other fellow travellers who have responded to my invite.  I will definitely publish your stories as soon as I have completed the details.