Oh, Calgary

Toni and Me
With my soul sister, Toni, while having dinner at Taiyo Restaurant at Symons Valley Rd, Calgary

The first week of February 2017 saw me landing in the new Calgary International Airport.  Every time I visit I get excited weeks ahead of my flight.  You can’t blame me, really.  My family is there – my mom and dad, my sisters and their kids now all live in Calgary.  This time, I came home to attend Thea’s debutante party (18th bday) and make her cake.  This will be a bit nostalgic for me and Thea’s mom – my bestfriend Toni, because we became good friends when Thea was only about 2 years old.  As the years went on, we got to be really close, like sisters, and I am so happy that she bonded the same way with my other two sisters. So, I will say that Thea’s coming of age is definitely a milestone for her mom and me.

In 1996, Toni’s family, myself, and most of our friends’ families all arrived in Canada as immigrants at the same time.  During those years, Calgary was already a cool city what with it being the oil and gas hub of the whole of Canada. Downtown boasted of oil corporate headquarters – PanCanadian, Chevron, Shell, PetroCan, Suncor, Talisman, etc., their buildings stretched high up to the skies.  But even tho the city was bustling enough, it was still lacking in variety and diversity. There was a limited number of restaurants with just a few choice for assortment.

Back in the heydey (I wonder where Toni was when this was taken)
Back in the heydey (I wonder where Toni and the others were when this was taken)

There was the usual Chinese restaurants because, luckily, it has its own version of Chinatown, plus one or two other Asian joints, not much European cuisine places and that was about it.  There were not too many places to go to or hang out in either.  But my group of friends still enjoyed what we had and we had the company of each other.  It was all that we needed.

So fast forward to 20 years after and here I am, this time coming out of the new and bigger international airport meeting up with my mom and dad who’re picking me up.  They then drove me to my sister and her husband’s new house higher up the northwest quadrant Calgary in Citadel.  I was telling my parents that the places we were driving on used to be boonies and empty lands.  And now they’re slowly being filled up with beautiful subdivisions.

At Thea's debut with me, Toni, Lani and my two sisters
At Thea’s debut with me, Toni, Lani and my two sisters, Pis and Gretchen

Not that these improvements just happened.  Eversince I started working in the US and got married to my husband and settled in Maryland, I try to come home once a year, at the least. And every time I do so, looking around the city always gives me the impression that this city is changing so fast and for the better.  In the past five years, I’ve seen sooooo many restaurants serving so many different cuisines, it’s a haven for a foodaholic like me.  Name a specific county and you’re sure to have a taste of their food in a restaurant somewhere.  And the constructions – new bridges, a diverse group of establishments offering an endless variety of service and goods, a now extensive +15 skyway connecting all the buildings in downtown, new malls and shopping areas – so worthy to be called a bustling metropolis.  But what city wouldn’t be?  The population of Calgary when we all first came was about 768,082.  It has now doubled to 1,571,100.   And despite the slight downturn of Calgary’s employment rate in the recent year, it is still the fastest growing metropolitan area.  It ranks 4th after Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal with the highest immigration population, mostly coming from the Philippines, China, and India. Immigrants constitute 20% of the city’s total population.

Black and white rendering of Calgary's downtown skyscrapers along Stephen Avenue, a popular pedestrian mall on 8 Avenue SW.
Black and white rendering of Calgary’s downtown skyscrapers along Stephen Avenue, a popular pedestrian mall on 8 Avenue SW.

To see a city as diverse as Calgary is a breathe of fresh air.  To see all these people going around the city, without a fear of being prejudiced against their race, appearance or gender gave me a sense of security.  They welcomed one another.  They were interacting with one another.  Not minding the color of their skin, all just working harmoniously together.  And as I immersed myself in the crowd, amidst all the steel architectures and new towering buildings, I felt the same way I did 20-something years ago – I will always be in love with this city.  I will always be proud to be a naturalized Canadian citizen.

 

 

And before I say goodbye for now, here is my niece and one of my nephews enjoying the almost 1 meter of packed snow in my sister’s backyard.  This is the snow we got while I was there and I enjoyed it so much!

 

An Afterword on the Skin Care

So some of my lady friends ask me how I do my skin care and repair routine and I show them the actual products and I show you here in my blog via my previous two entries (here and here) what I use and how I use them.  But just in case you still want more clarifications, here are my rules of thumb in undergoing my ritual:

  1.  Be gentle on your face.  No harsh pulling  or scrubbing.  I do exfoliate just to gently take off dead skin cells about twice a week, but that’s all.  All that tugging and pulling is harmful for skin that isn’t as elastic as it used to be.
  2. Which leads to patting.  When you dry your skin with a towel, don’t scrub, just pat the towel onto your face.  Even when applying the creams, do a circular massage or gently rub upwards.  Remember, gravity isn’t as forgivng as the days of youth.
  3. Your ampoules, emulsions, moisturizers are applied from the thinnest consistency to the thickest.  And wait till the previous formulation is absorbed and dry before applying the next one.  Massage and pat. Your skin may not be as absorbent at first but as you go on, day by day, you will notice that it doesn’t take that long for your skin to absorb the creams anymore.  Patience is a virtue.
  4. Research on the product, read the ingredients. If and when you can, do a test on the products on the underside of your jawline or on the inside  of your arm to make sure you won’t react harshly to the products.  I am fortunate to not have a big history of allergies on anything growing up, but if you do, do a test first.  Red spots are not  flattering on any type of skin.
  5. And finally, I know that it looks like it takes so much of your time to go through this routine but consider this ritual time, your own “me” time. I’ve gotten to the point where I sometimes plan on some things for myself, while i go through my skin care.  Or think of it as your gift to yourself.  Your regiment doesn’t have to be this long, but just take a few minutes from your busy day to clean, tone and moisturize.  Once you get to feel a more supple facial skin or you see your skin color even out or the pimples or white and blackheads seem to lessen or vanish, you know you’re doing yourself a big favor.
  6. Face the facts.  Your skin will never be the same as that of a younger woman in her 20s or 30s.  That’s life.  But if you can be able to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and your skin appears to have a glow, even just for a bit, take it and own that!  You are a woman who has experienced life and there is so much more ahead of you.  You thank your divine God for every day He gives you the gift of a morning and you live that day.  You still have so much more to offer the world.  Take pride in that fact!

Till next post 🙂

My face sans makeup and after my skin routine.
My face sans makeup and after my skin routine.

Skin Care for Mature Women (Part 2 of 2)

Previously I’ve touched on the topic of how I adore those glowing, luminous and dewy Korean women’s complexions.  I’ve mentioned that I’ve discovered a lot of websites that talked about this and they’ve been raving about this 10-step Korean ritual for some years now.  i don’t have a lot of choices here in Maryland so that one store I know that sells these products  sure got a rainfall from me.

The cosmetics store at HMart carries a few Korean name brands.  My reasearch has told me a lot about these brands but, alas, my budget can only get me far.  So I settled for a less expensive brand but also was getting good reviews.  Most of my products were from Missha Super Aqua and they do work!  So let me get down to my own Korean skin care and hope you do get some tips from my list.

Step 1. Cleansing Oil.

I’ve never realized what I was missing in my clelansing routine until I used a cleansing oil! Cleansing oils work for any type of skin – even oily skins.  When massaged onto the face, it blends with the oils already on your skin.  The oils in your skin could be naturally produced by your body and from your makeup and other products.   So the cleansing oil binds with the impurities on your skin, pulling out the dirt and gets rinsed away when you wash your face.   Because oil-free cleansers strip the skin of natural oils ans leaves it unbalanced, the skin produces more oil to rebalance it.  The excess causes more oils and this leads to problematic skins.  Oil cleansers keep the skin’s natural ph balance thus preventing too much oil to be produced.

My cleansing oil, and I’m on my second bottle now, is Missha M Perfect BB Deep Cleansing Oil.

MISSHA M Perfect BB Deep Cleansing Oil
MISSHA M Perfect BB Deep Cleansing Oil

 

Step 2.  Cleansing Foam.

Washing your face with a cleansing foam is the second part of the double cleansing routine.  This is important because foaming cleansers remove water-based debris.

Doing the double cleansing actually leaves your skin smooth and hydrated.  I noticed that by the time I get to toning my skin, my face is so clean, without any dirt or trace of makeup on the cotton ball I use.

And like my oil cleanser, this is now my second tube of Missha’s Super Aqua Refreshing Cleansing Foam.

Missha Super aqua refreshing cleansing foam
Missha Super Aqua Refreshing Cleansing Foam

 

Step 3. Toner.

I always thought that toners were not important, considering that you’ve cleaned your face with soap already.  But reading about it more and with more than a year now of using it, it actually moistens and preps your skin to easily absorb the other formulation coming next.  Also, it refreshes your skin’s pH balance.

Missha's Super Aqua Hydrating Toner
Missha’s Super Aqua Hydrating Toner


Step 4. Essence.

Essence hydrates the skin to better absorb the next formulations.  But other than that, it also enhances the skin’s cellular renewal process giving your skin elasticity and firmness as well as brightens it. This is also a very important step in the routine.

Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Boosting Essence
Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Boosting Essence

 

Step 5. Ampoules, Serums, Emulsions

This is the part of my routine where I apply the formulations that I need for my skin.  Anti-wrinkle? Acne? Oily or Dry? Pigmented? The only thing that you have to remember is that you apply them from the thinnest to the fullest consistency.

Gel Serum

The gel serum I use, Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Gel Serum, is a clear agent which I use on my face and neck.  It has age-defying ingredients that work as antioxidants, peptides and skin brighteners. They have a light texture that quickly penetrates the skin.

Super Aqua Ultra Waterfull Gel Serum
Super Aqua Ultra Waterfull Gel Serum

 

Repair Cream

This product is one of the 3 latest formulations I have bought that I now include in my arsenal.  All three are made by Mizon and they’re from the Multi Function Formula Snail Repair.  Yes… snail.  Snail extract, most specially in this repair cream, which composes 92% concentration of it, promotes skin repair and resolves skin problems.  There are so many wonders it does, that you might as well read it here.  But to give you a hint of what it can do:

The slime or mucus secreted by these little mollusks that helps protect their exposed bottoms against cuts, bacteria, and UV rays contains a potent combination of elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid — all known beauty enhancers. Snail mucin is said to do everything from fading dark spots and scars to plumping creases and battling acne. The venom found in ocean-cone snails (as opposed to the garden variety) paralyzes its prey and is thought to relax muscle fibers that play a role in creating wrinkles.

Mizon Multi Function Formula All In One Snail Repair Cream
Mizon Multi Function Formula All In One Snail Repair Cream

 

Ampoule

This is the 2nd product of the snail repair trio.  Ampoules  target dark spots or sagging skin.  They’re very concentrated and very powerful that just a few drops does the job.  The Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule contains 80% of the snail filtrate that helps reduce the appearance of acnes scarring, fine lines and troubled skin.

Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule
Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule

 

Emulsion

Emulsions, applied after serums, seals in all the previous serums, ampoules, etc.  They have a consistency that is lighter than moisturizers.

Super Aqua Hydrating Emulsion
Super Aqua Hydrating Emulsion

 

Step 6. Moisturizer.

I have 2 pair sets of moisturizers I use either for morning or evening.  In the morning,  I apply Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkler Repair for daytime and Super Aqua Ultra Waterfull Clear Cream.  At nights, I put on Neutrogena Rapind Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer for Night and most specially during winter, Super Aqua Ultra Nutritious Cream.

Super Aqua Ultra Water-full Clear Cream
Super Aqua Ultra Water-full Clear Cream
Super Aqua Ultra Nutritious Cream
Super Aqua Ultra Nutritious Cream

 

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer for Day and Night
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer for Day and Night

 

Step 7. Eye Cream.

This is the last thing I put on.  This is the 3rd snail repair I use – the Snail Repair Eye Cream by Mizon.  The cream hydrates and eliminates the look of fine lines on the skin around the eyes.  It also lightens the dark color of the skin under the eyes.

Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Eye Cream
Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Eye Cream

 

So I hope this gives you an idea on how you want to come up with your own skin care regimen.  Just remember, do your research, and read as much reviews as you can.  Some stores might actually give you samples prior to you buying the full bottle.  This actually helps you test on the products first and make sure you won’t have any bad reactions to them.  This is actually a good idea when you think that altho they might not cost much individually, but buying in total, it is still significant.  But when “the shoe fits”, the results can be very rewarding.  Trust me, you will love it.  We can’t stop ageing from happening, but we can delay it much, much longer.

 

Skin Care for Mature Women (Part 1 of 2)

I remember the days when I was in my tween age and we lived with my maternal grandparents for a year while we were waiting for our own house in Rizal to be finished.  It was a two-level apartment in Pasay City and all 5 of us were living together with my gramps, my grandmother’s sister, my 2 aunts and 2 uncles.  It was  a two-bedroom apartment but we managed to all fit in and honestly, I never considered it cramped.

I mentioned about my aunts and my grandmother being skillful makeup artists, right? Together with that, they also maintained their beautiful skins – my grandaunt included.  I witnessed them slathering cleansing liquids, facial creams, mud packs almost every night and then in the morning they’d clean their faces,  apply a different kind of moisturizer and put on their makeup and be on their way.

My younger sister, who was 9 at that time, and I found this ritual fascinating that sometimes we mimicked what they did.  We knew we were not allowed to go thru their arsenal of Ponds, Beautifont and Avon products because that meant the end of the world for me and my sister in our mom’s hands, so we came up with our own.  We, instead, got our baby powder, put in some water and we put that paste on our faces and we had that on till the paste dried out then we clean our faces.  We felt like divas.

My grandma and her sister were probably close to my age now at that time when we lived with them and I still remember their beautiful, smooth, light-colored skins.  I remember my aunts talking that my grandma and her sisters had been doing these rituals even when they were younger.

Do Ji Won (50years old as of 2016)
Do Ji Won (50years old as of 2016)

I know I should have taken heed of that fact at a much younger age.  But who had the time?  But at 45 years old and a vertical dented line appeared in between my eyebrows I panicked! I had to do something to eradicate that awful wrinkle before it multiplied.

I first tried over the counter cremes but they gave me pimples and it felt so greasy.  I did more research, tried out some more, but I still forgot the continue with the regimen or they didn’t work.  The vertical wrinkle was still there.

About 2 years ago, I came across an internet post explaining about Korean women’s 10-step beauty ritual.  And you’ve seen this pretty Korean women, with radiant almost transluscent skin, right?  You would think that only the younger girls look like this but so do the mature women.  Most were the same age or 2 or 3 years younger but their faces glow!  That and a lot of beauty sites convinced me that the Koreans are doing something good.  And a week  later I was at the asian HMart talking to a beautiful Korean girl at the cosmetics counter.

In the coming days I’ll be telling you about my version of the 10-step Korean beauty regimen and explain why you have start your own skin care routine.

Stay in touch!

 

 

“I’ve Learned My Lesson” – Chanel

So now that I’m fuelling up the new blog, I have to start chronicling the outfits I wear.  So last Sunday, after church, that’s what I did with the help of Cez and Anna.

We dropped by Cez’ place for my husband’s rehearsals for their number at a big event at church next Sunday.  So while the sun was setting, I asked Anna if she can take pictures of me outside.  She’s a photo-enthusiast and maybe she can take good pictures of me, emphasis on the MAYBE and the phrase “good pictures of me” – now put those together.  While we were at it, I had a big realization tho that despite seeing and ogling a lot of fashion blogs, I ran a blank on how I should pose in front of the camera.  But I guess that would be forgiven – I have, like, a total of 40 years to undo?

But enough of the excuses!  Here are some of the more “likeable” photos taken by our “little sister”, Anna.  Oh, and maybe next time would even be better – I bought a remote for my camera.  I am about to take my selfies into the next level.

The usual "by the wall" photo.
The usual “by the wall” photo.

Looking at these pictures, I know some of the lessons I learned:

  1.  Take closer attention to the details – that means your accessories, your purse – the little things.
  2. Be more natural.

Till next time!  Ciao!

The right sunlight makes wonders
The right sunlight makes wonders

The Make-Up Rehabilitation

I’m a lover of make-up.  ‘Been putting it on since I was 15 when I started college.  We start early in the Philippines – college, I mean, not make-up.   I learned applying make-up from my maternal grandmother and aunts who used to work as make-up artists for Avon and Beautifont (oh myyyy, does anyone still remember that brand – Beautifont?)   Anyways, they were very good make-up artists.   They used to do theater make-up for Dulaang Sibol, the high school theater group of the Ateneo De Manila University.  One time, they did a magic on me when my mom entered me in a traditional procession in the Philippines called “Sunduan”.  And right there and then, I discovered the wonders these babies can do.  I was, believe it or not… pretty!  (Holy sh*t, who would’ve known???)

And so it wasn’t a surprise, due to that amazement, I started trying to put make up on when I entered college.  Back then it was hit and miss because there was no such thing as Youtube tutorials, or I didn’t know there were books about how to put them on.  All I remember is that I would ask my aunts and grandma so often how this and that worked.  There were so many days that my mom would tell me I had too much on or my wise-assed sister would give me sh*t because I looked like someone punched me in the eye.  But no pain no gain.  The adage “if you want to learn, you will”  held true.  By the time I started working I was an expert on my face.

My dream team. Pia Wurtzbach would be proud!
My dream team. Pia Wurtzbach would be proud!

I started amassing a collection.  Most specially when I lived in Canada and I could afford all the MAC cosmetics I can get my hands on.  It wasn’t just MAC, it was all the other brands – drugstore and boutique.  But I always went back to MAC.

But despite the knowledge I’ve learned thru the years, some things still didn’t look right on my method – my make-up didn’t stay on long or my eyeshadow would all go to the crease of my eye or worse, I still looked pale in pictures.  In fact, it was only lately that I paid more attention on my eyebrows, influenced by my sisters and all the flack I got from them because I looked bald without those manicured brows.

The Sephora gang. Highly recommended by so many good reviews.
The Sephora gang. Highly recommended by so many good reviews.

So I started watching Youtube and reading books on makeup.  That opened up a whole new world for me (yes, sing it with me now).  I know I needed to revamp my style.  But I couldn’t do it with so much old make-up in the way.  You’re supposed to throw away old make-up anyway – it’s not healthy for your skin to use stale make-up.  (I read that!).  So with a fresh garbage bag at hand, I said goodbye to old foundations, eyeshadows, lipsticks, rouges, mascaras.  The only thing I had left were my good brushes (which I gave a good cleaning with baby shampoo), my Anastasia eyebrow paste and 2 eyebrow gels, my shue uemura eyelash curler whose rubber I finally replaced, and other items I’ve had only for the past year.  Purging felt good.  So I threw them all out except for the old MAC ones because, do you know you can actually exchange 7 old MAC items for a free lipstick?  It’s their recycle program that they’ve been doing for so long now.  With all the old ones I had, I was able to get 2 lipsticks free.  Two!!!  Which meant, I had fourteen old MAC what-nots.  Imagine that…

The Walmart haul, some needed brushes and that oh-so-powerful Maybelline Mascara.
The Walmart haul, some needed brushes and that oh-so-powerful Maybelline Mascara.

It took me a week of planning which brands were good, which ones I needed to start with.  I’ve watched so many Youtube videos on how to put on make-up, including Pia Wurtzbach’s ever famous make-up ritual.  Armed with a list of the best and brightest, I happily danced my way to the MAC counter at Macy’s.  Aaaaand this time, I also went to Sephora for some items that were given better reviews than my favorite brand.   I probably did about 3 separate trips because replenishing your arsenal can only do so much damage to your bank account.  But patience is a virtue and the fruits so sweet.  So now, I only have half of what I used to own but I’m proud that I have quality rather than quantity.

I’ve done some experiments and the over-all results seemed to be better.  How different?  This you have to wait for, my sweeties.  I will be sharing them to you as soon as I can take good pictures of myself in the process.  And that will come very, very soon.  For the meantime, I am in search of a very good make-up mirror with very good lighting but isn’t worth both my arms and my legs.

The surviving platoon. All essential, each one playing a fresh new role.
The surviving platoon. All essential, each one playing a fresh new role.

The Photo Poses Throwback Thursday

I needed to put up some profile pictures for this new blog and all my new social media accounts so I went thru our library of pictures that we’ve taken from our digital cameras and the photos I put up on Facebook.  Going thru all those photos was beginning to be frustrating – I only have a few, not even a so-called “handful”, decent pictures of me!  Oh sure, I’ve got a lot of pictures with me in it, but most of them were shot with me looking so pale and tired, not only because I don’t have any makeup on, worse, I don’t have anything on, period.  Not even some powder, nor lipstick and the most dreadful of all – no eyebrows.  If my face looked passable, my outfit was horrific – it was pulling at awkward sides of my body that made me look just that – awkward.  I had the epiphany right there and then – OMG, did I really think this was acceptable?  To look haggard, my eyes looking tired, my unflattering clothes presenting me at my worst?  And this is the me I show in public?

The ultimate, everlasting best photo. Worth every penny I paid that very expensive studio.
The ultimate, everlasting best photo. Worth every penny I paid that very expensive studio.

I know people will say that its vanity talking.  But truth of the matter is, the way you look outside, whether the naysayers admit it or not, does affect the way you feel about yourself.  If you know you look good, chances are, you’re happy with the way you’re presenting yourself and that radiates outwards.  ‘Looking good’ doesn’t mean you have to look like a movie star or that your clothes and shoes have to be expensive.  Its just the knowledge that here you are, all cleaned up, groomed, in clothes that make you feel nice and this boosts your self-confidence and lightens up your spirits.  So not just because you’re not as young as you used to be, it doesn’t mean that you should forgot to dress neat, fix your hair and look sharp.  It doesn’t follow.

Ok, before my parents worry that maybe there’s something bothering me and that’s why I’ve let myself go, I’d like to state, for the record – I am very happy with my life now.  I may be 20 lbs *cough* 30 lbs heavier than when I was younger, but I’m happy with the way I am and I’m proud of how far I’ve gone and what I’ve accomplished.  The sloppiness crept in because maybe I was too happy to care about how I looked in photos… uploaded on facebook… seen by too many people… liked by 50 of them.  Yikes!!!

That coy look started early
That coy look started early.  A “Made with Love by Grandma” outfit.

Now really, I don’t always look bad.  In fact, I love clothes.  I’m a dressmakers’ granddaughter and daughter.  Fashion is something I lived with for a long time.  Its just that, just like everyone, I fall into the fashion don’ts, because they’re sold at a bargain or that I saw them on some hot actress or it was a fad.  And unfortunately, those clothes stayed in my closets and I always have the bouts of amnesia and not remember how it felt or how it looked the last time, and then, I wear them again.  Cursing and telling myself to get rid of them, until the next laundry time and they’re back in the closet.  A vicious cycle, I have to admit.

Really coy
Friday at work and dolled up to hit bars at 5pm. (Check out the timestamp on this picture)

And the make-up?  There’s only one reason – I ran out of time.  Blame poor time management for that.

For the many days that I do it right, I have the unfortunate luck of not being in a crowd where pictures were taken or, like I’ve already said, I made that funny awkward face again.  Yes, my timing lately has always been impeccable.

At a Dude Ranch Christmas Party at my first job.
At a Dude Ranch Christmas Party at my first job.  I made my own hat for the Hat Contest.  I decided to dress as a “Plantation Heiress”

I noticed another thing, too.  All the good pictures I had where my face wasn’t in a tight ball of smile or a guffaw  were taken when I was younger.  My twenties.  Back then, I didn’t pose with my eyes squinting for a smile, my nose in a crinkle, or my mouth opened wide in a laugh.  I was always poised with my head tilted at a slight angle,  a coy grin and I just let my eyes do the smiling.  It made for good photos.  Surely, I was a very young girl with problems with self esteem back then.  Did coming of age and acquiring all these confidence give me the “I don’t care how I look” look?  There must be a connection, right?

One of the much better "I left the house sans make-up" look
One of the much better “I left the house sans make-up” look

I know there has to be a balance between these two stages.  The one where I could look very confident with who I am now and what I’ve accomplished with my life and the one with much reservation about how the world sees me.  I guess, this blog will surely be my testing ground from now on in search of that coveted photo nirvana.

And now I  begin by practicing to give that coy smile again by doing selfies (oh, God, those dreaded selfies!)

Bermuda In A Heartbeat

Wanderlust Date:  April 2012

Bermuda.  I would pack my bathing suit and go this instant if I could.  The clear, blue seas, the fine, white sand.  This is a little piece of heaven here on earth.

Being spoiled by the beautiful beaches in the Philippines, this is actually the first country I’ve been to where it felt like home.  I know I haven’t been to a lot of places like this but when you’ve seen the beaches in the US (and maybe even Canada) and they’ve all disappointed you,  this place is a breath of freshness for me for a long time running.

My husband, Fuji, and I took a 5-day cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Sea from Baltimore.  It was my first cruise trip and I enjoyed it tremendously.  We left Baltimore on a Sunday, cruised at sea for two days, landed in Bermuda on Tuesday morning, stayed on port overnight, left Bermuda early evening of Wednesday, cruised the open seas Thursday and was back to Baltimore on Friday noon.  It seems quite hectic listing it down this way, but it was a very laid back trip.  The days we were at sea, I thought I was going to get bored, but there were so many things to do and watch – live bands, theater plays, shows, games, karaoke, the time flew fast.  There was also an abundance of food that I think  Fuji and I both gained a few extra pounds when the trip was over.

At the upper deck getting reading to dock in Bermuda.
At the upper deck getting reading to dock in Bermuda.

The accommodations were sufficient.  We only got a stateroom.  A tad small but we were thinking, what do we need a big room with a balcony for when the action was outside?  You don’t go on a vacation like this and just stay inside your room.  That would be a waste of time, money and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the place.  So whatever money we saved, we spent it on booze (the lush that we are, ha!) and some went towards our next trip somewhere else after.

This is a huuuuuge ship!  And to think they said, this is nothing compared to the other cruise ships the RC has.  Excuse my ignorance, but once we got in, it was like I was in a huge hotel somewhere on the strip of ‘Vegas.  It was that huge!  So many floors, about 3 pools, one of them almost olympic-sized, an outdoor theater.  Man, the works!  I swear, I got lost the first time  we boarded.

The main lobby
The main lobby

There were a lot of Filipino staff aboard the ship.  They were working everywhere – engineering, housekeeping, the restaurants, the bars, the bands, the entertainment casts.  It made me feel proud of them because they’re proving that Filipinos are world-class professionals and at par with the other international staff on the ship.   It’s no joke going thru the rigorous hiring procedures/auditions and being part of an international working crew like the Royal Caribbean staff.   So hats off to these kababayan’s.

Our Housekeeping Supervisor, Peping
The Housekeeping Supervisor on our floor, Mang Peping, became Fuji’s buddy-bud.

There was a bit of an overcast when we docked and the breeze was cool.  It wasn’t bad, it was just not the humid temps of the tropics.  The naval dock was full of character.  With the tall walls and old windows and stately doors, it felt a little like Vigan, Ilocos Norte, but not quite.  Maybe the huge cinder blocks reminded me of the Vigan houses.  This place had a charm that was really enticing. I am a sucker for vintage places.  We went around for a bit, took some pictures, walked towards the market side where the little shops were located at. Then we took a bus going to the beach.

This white cinder blocks and huge walls
These white cinder blocks and huge walls

The beach, like I said, was something I would not tire of being at.  There’s something about beaches that I will always be drawn to.  Nevermind that I don’t know how to swim.  (I tried to learn, was good for a few months, and then I had a relapse and now I don’t know how to anymore.  I’m sticking to that story.)  The natural rock formations on the background reminded me of gigantic marble quarries of Romblon when my family used to visit relatives during my younger years.  The water was a little cool, that’s because we went in April.  But it didn’t matter much to Fuji.  He just went on, dove head first into the water and came up… with a huge smile on his face.  I, on the other hand, decided to take a short dip then went to get a light tan line.  Too bad we only had a few hours to spend here.  I’d love to wake up to this view in the morning.

That white powdered sand
That crystal clear water

I have to admit, Bermuda, tho, is not the most frugal of places to go to.  The items they have for sale at the tourist shops were price-y.  Even the food prices were not cheap.  But then again, Fuji already told me about this.  And he knows that since, did I tell you, he used to visit this place when his sister, Edna, was still living here with her family.  So going there via a cruise ship is actually a smart thing to do since you don’t have to worry about accommodations and food as opposed to going there by plane and looking for a place to stay and paying for all the food you’ll be having while you’re there.

The Port-of-Call, King's Wharf, Bermuda
The Port-of-Call, King’s Wharf, Bermuda, where the ship was docked

Would I do Bermuda again?  In a heartbeat, I would.  Most specially if I only have a few days left in my vacation time and just want to get away from it all.  Royal Caribbean Bermuda cruises sometimes go on sale for less than $500 per person for an interior stateroom.  I’d grab that anytime.

Altho… there’s so much of the world I still want to see with Fuji.  And schedule-permitting (his more than mine) and vacation-days-allowing (mine more than his) and budget-non-restricting (ours, both), our suitcases shouldn’t be kept downstairs in the basement for long.

Till next time, Bermuda...
Till next time, Bermuda…

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