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Seven Days of Family Fun in Bali

Bali in Indonesia is one great southeast asian island to visit while vacationing in the Philippines . It is  only a 4 hour flight from Manila to Denpasar. A week in Bali spent  with my husband’s family is definitely one for the books. Traveling with kids, elderly and extended family is not without  some challenges; but it was special and unforgettable.

My sister in law did most of the arrangements: transportation, accommodation and activities. It is amazing how transportation can be pre-arranged via Whatsapp or Viber. It was easy. We rented a van/coaster for at least 10-12 people. The drivers were recommended by friends and  family who have previously availed of their services. It was nice to not worry at all about navigation and driving. We would message ahead of time if we needed it for the day. Taxi service like Grab is also a nice option for those short trips.

I love Bali. The people, most specially. Despite the traffic and the “busy-ness” , the Balinese people seem like calm and peace loving people; as if   they are not easily affected by the chaos around them and I mean that in a good way; not apathetic, but patient and  tolerant. I also  love how religious they are, offering food and prayers every day to their gods. Their dishes are tasty and the availability of tropical fruits reminded me so much of my province in the southern part of the Philippines.

Visiting Bali  mid- June is not a bad idea. Weather was great and it was not as humid as Manila this time of year.The   occasional rain showers  served to cool us down even more.

So here’s what we did in Bali for a week.

*First two days were spent in Kuppu Kuppu Jimbaran, a Hotel, Beach Club and Spa by L’ Occitane.  

Natural elements like bamboo and rattan were used to decorate some parts of the  hotel. The pool is gorgeous. It was close to the beach and a golf cart was always available to take us to and from the Jimbaran beach, for free! The free breakfast buffet  had decent  selections. I just wish coffee was unlimited.

Sunbathed and relaxed by the pool.

Enjoyed a Balinese massage treatment at The Bamboo Spa by L ‘Occitane

Frolicked and watched  the sunset by the beach

Ate fresh seafood al fresco, for dinner

Rented a  6 bedroom villa with a pool and a butler for a week.

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Barcelona in Three Days

 

We will be back! for sure. A quick tour of this beautiful region in Spain and three days is never enough to explore this city. I lost my cellphone to a pickpocket in Barcelona, but even that is negligible compared to the wonderful experience we had there.

We took the late night flight from Marrakech, so we arrived Barcelona’s  El Prat  at around 2 in the morning. Utilizing the not so comfy airport benches, we tried to catch some zzz’s while we waited for the car rental to open at 6:00  in the morning. It was uncomfortable, but it was one of those money saving efforts we did for this trip. We rented a car via Costco for 2 days which cost us 27 euros per day, saved us a hotel cost for a night and allowed us to visit other places in the Catalunia region at our own pace.

First stop so early in the morning was the beautiful city of  Tarragona.

The Castle of Altafulla or Castell dels Montserrat is a castle palace of the Tarragonès dating from 1059 . It is not open for public viewing.

Esglesia de Sant Marti d’ Altafulia is built between 1701 to 1705

Clear skies with a few clouds,a gorgeous view of  the Mediterranean sea from the Tarragona amphitheater ruins, a plate of black seafood paella and just walking aimlessly in the the alleys of the city square was our idea of a good time.

Tarragona Amphitheater

Tarraco Arena Placa

Pont del Diable

After devouring that delicious black seafood paella, we headed back to Barcelona to prepare for our most awaited activity of the night. We really worked hard to get tickets for this game and even cancelled our booking in Cadaques just to watch Messi and the FC Barcelona play against Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou. Every night we checked the website for ticket availability. Finally got a couple of tickets  2 days before the match. This is when I lost my cellphone in the train (we took the train from our hotel so we didn’t have to worry about parking, etc) and DSLR battery died! Photos here are from the Iphone but I’m glad we decided to watch them.  Just being in the crowd of passionate soccer fans, joining them sing and cheer for Barca, hearing the curses and praises; that was a great once in a lifetime experience.

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Four Days In Marrakesh

It was supposed to be just Barcelona and other parts of Northeastern Spain, but upon learning that the plane fare from Barcelona is the same price going to Seville,  we decided to add Marrakech  to our itinerary. It cost 231 euros for  2 people which included a 23 kg baggage allowance on the way back via Vuelling airlines. We arranged for a transport service to pick us up at the airport and bring us  to our riad  which cost 15 euros. Our flight was scheduled late in the afternoon  so we arrived in Marrakesh around 10:00 pm. Without this pre-arranged pick up, We’d probably get lost as our riad was located near Jemaa el-Fnaa. It was great to see it at night though, a nice way to start our Moroccan adventure.

Lots of trust and faith here. We were dropped off by the taxi driver near the old square as it can’t pass through the alleys and narrow roads. This guy from the riad picked us up from the drop off point and accompanied us to Riad Tasneem. It was  a good 10 minute walk.

We booked Riad Tasneem via Airbnb for 64 euros. I loved  the design of tiles on the walls.

Early morning view from the rooftop. The weather was perfect during our time here. Mostly cloudy with a few minutes of rain occasionally which  was just right, to cool us down. Locals said that in summer, it’s terribly warm.

We started Day 1 early to meet up with our tour group. We booked a 3 day tour to Merzouga  with Go Adventures Morocco.  Abdel is a sweet and attentive tour guide. The 3 day Merzouga semi private  tour is all inclusive (transportation, accomodation and meals) at $175 per person. He also provided us with scarves and a local sim card. Though our mobile company provided a free data roaming service, the local sim card was quite fast and efficient.

Ait Benhaddou

A UNESCO World Heritage site; it  is a village located between the old caravan route of Sahara and Marrakech. A lot of great movies were filmed here, Gladiator, Prince of Persia, Alexander, etc.  It was also featured as the city of Yunkai in the season 3 of Game of Thrones. Love the pop of vivid colors from the different merchandise sold by local artisans.

Gorges Du Dades

What a sight! The Gorges du Dades are a series of rugged gorges carved out by the Dades River in Morocco which originates in the High Atlas range of the Atlas Mountains.

We spent the night at at  Hotel La Gazelle which is located near the gorges.

A Berber Village

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