My Irish Adventures: Belfast and Dublin #craicisreal

I have always dreamed of travelling the world city by city. And as all of you know by now I am a nurse- a Filipino nurse. It is hard for me to spend money just for leisure personally because I have to save money for myself. Also, I have to support my grandma and grandpa back home. They suffer financially. I try to juggle between pleasure and saving money just to help as this was my promise to myself if God will give me this UK opportunity. (Which He obviously did)
The past months have been difficult for me because I’m close to being depressed for the fact that I work too hard and aside from that, to be honest I don’t want to be a nurse. I easily get afraid deep down and I am afraid of people. I am weird in this way,I know. But, it’s life isn’t it? But yeah, it seems that I am sociable but to be honest sometimes I still feel horrible, not all the time but sometimes. However, generally life’s been great and so I thought hey I am off for 2 weeks for my birthday why not go to another place (despite not having much money, and I am not joking!) Me and my friend (a friend from the same cohort of nurses, his name is Jonathan) whom I came with is also off on these weeks. So I said hey why not we go to another city. Another city in the UK that doesn’t need a visa obviously. Then came the idea of visiting Belfast of Northern Ireland.

Well, in reality, I only know Belfast because of friends who went there. And now the time has come for me to visit this lovely town. So I booked tickets. The duration of the trip will be 5 days! Because I overbooked our stay. I suck at planning trips I tell you. So from October 5 to 9, 2017. Our flight went from Gatwick to Belfast International. Two airports are near Belfast. One in the city centre which is the George Best Airport and the other one kind of away from the City proper which is the one we have. So we arrived in Belfast at 11am after a delayed Ryanair flight. And we rode the bus to the city near Europa hotel paid 15p pounds but it is open return because we will still go back there going home to London soon. Then we hired a value cab taxi to our lovely airbnb. Our airbnb is hosted by our lovely Helga. It cost us 150 quid for 5 nights so not bad for 2 people. And that’s how expensive travelling sometimes is.

The first day we met Helga our host she offered us a lift to the City Centre and from there we kind of got our feels of the city by walking by foot with our lovely guide, google map. We were so hungry we went for the search for a glorious Chinese resto which did not disappoint. And then we literally just went around the city. The city isn’t that big but it isn’t that crowded as well unlike London. The funny thing about this trip is we never had an itinerary. So we just went with the flow.

While we were walking we saw the Northern Irish tours ticket centre accidentally so went in. By the time we got there, we always had in mind of the Game of Thrones tour and voila there was the GOT tour plus a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. So we decided to do this trip. Also, I pre-booked a ticket as well like the night before we left London for a free walking tour. And yes it is free.

So on the second day, we woke up late because we were knackered but we went to this walking tour. Our tour guide is Claire. She is an archaeologist as well. She toured us at different sites in the City. There were a lot of information that she gave us. Like how Belfast was famous for Linens, then Ship building, the Titanic memorial, the Guinness, the conflict of religion, and much much more. After that tour we went back to one of the sites and went to this lovely pub and restaurant. The name is Yardbird. The ground floor is the pub and above it is the restaurant with the nicest chicken I’ve had in a long time with just 5 pounds! Ain’t that amazing? Plus the place is cozy too. After that we had a pretty chilled out walk around the city the second time around which I think is nice just to have a feel and soak in the city.

We went inside malls and we accidentally went into this place called Victoria Square and inside the mall there is a weird structure that looks like a stairwell with a viewing deck at the top attached to lifts as well. We decided to go up and then we had a decent view of the city up above for free. Took some photos and we are happy. This was Friday night so at night we decided to eat somewhere nice. So we went to some steak house near the Duke of York pub it’s called the Grill which is a poshy restaurant we just both went straight to the mains and devoured our medium rare steak. And after we had a pint of Guinness and listened to music at night in the pub. It was nice for me to see Belfast locals enjoy their friday night quite cozier than the nightlife in London. It is more laid back and fun. Many good looking guys and gals are around and they had fun. It’s just weird because we were the only asians around but I (almost) really didn’t care.

I was just enjoying my drink and music. And then we went home after a drunk Irish lad came to us and spoke gibberish and Irish English. It was so hard to understand but I was trying my best. It was surprising he mentioned about how he likes Filipinos because we just work and he felt we weren’t really competing with them. I feel him because you know of all this Brexit and all. They have issues with outsiders. That’s the thing with not being in home, sometimes you feel alienated. But nevertheless if you just do the right thing, I always think there will never be a problem.

So that’s the end of the second day. The next day, the whole day is alloted to the Game of thrones tour. Our tour guide’s name was Adrian, he is a skinny guy with a long beard. He has this beard in order for him to be an extra in the series itself Game of Thrones. Now mind you, I am not a super fan of Game of thrones but I did watch and loved and had my share of hype while watching this way way back. That’s why I did this tour.

So the tour involved visiting the filming locations across Northern Ireland. We were in a bus in a group of 40 people coming from across the globe, Canada, USA, Denmark, Poland, Spain, UK, India and many more. First short stop is Garrick Fergus castle. Then we visited Carnlough village where there is a harbour and that is where Arya taped for 6 hours. It is the Bravos Canal. We passed by the woods where Bran was lost in the woods after riding the horse and met a wilding. Tip if you are going to join this trip. Ride on the right side of the bus if you want to see the side of the coast. It is voted as the 4th most wonderful coast in the world. Then we went to this cave where Melisandre gave birth to the Shadow Lord. And then we went to the hanging bridge which is also a filming site but we didn’t manage because of the weather conditions.

You see, Ireland is famous for the weather. It’s weather is always mostly cloudy with always high chances of raining. That’s the main reason why they filmed most of the scenes there. It is almost always raining everyday. If you don’t fancy that kind of vacation then you should know this before even considering going to the whole of Ireland both in the Northern and the Republic.

So to compensate for the deal, Adrian the guide offered us that instead of spending an hour in the bridge doing nothing, why not go to the Old Bushmill’s distillery of Whiskey instead? If he gets a unanimous vote because it is not in the deal you see. But one Asian raised her hand when we voted and said she wants to stay to see the bridge (while it is raining wtf) but to be fair I think she just didn’t understand the instruction. And we were all like “Is she serious?”. I mean come on guys, as Asians, we have to be considerate of the other people. That was just totally selfish and I think can we pay more attention specially most Asians look gullible and we sometimes have difficulty in comprehending English. That was just stupid for me.
Anyway, everyone stood up and we eventually went to the Whiskey Distillery which is the first legal Distillery in the world. We were about to have whiskey tasting which will cost 8 pounds but they offered us a shot of Whiskey which can only be found and sold there for free. How cool is this! After that we went to the Unesco heritage site which is the Giant’s causeway. It is a 66M old basalt stone formation that looks man made but it’s not. It formed hexagons that rise from the seaside thousands of them. You play on the top of it. It is just amazing how nature formed this. It is quite intricate. Our tour guide’s name was Mark he is the third of the generation of his family who were originally living around the causeway. After that we went to the Dark hedges a film location in GOT as well. This is like a road that has trees on the side planted 200 years ago. It was fun because the guide had costumes and swords. I volunteered to wear it while walking there I looked stupid but I just didn’t care.

The day ended alright, then we headed home with a quiz on board the bus about Game of Thrones and they tally scores per country. Sorry guys, we didn’t even score a point. It was UK, Canada and US who had the most points. I just shut up really. It was hard!

The next day is the 4th day which we decided we will cross to Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. This is a different country from UK, which Northern Ireland is part of. We rode the bus and had the three hour journey from Belfast to Dublin. The fare isn’t that bad. It cost us 16 pounds return. Knowing that this is a journey to another country.
We arrived around 11am. We initially booked a walking tour at 11am but we didn’t manage so we postponed it by 2pm and re booked a Sandeman’s walking tour. Still a free tour.

Before we started the tour I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet my classmatesfrom nursing who now work as nurses there too.
We went a quick tour around as they guided us. I said sorry to them as this trip wasn’t really planned. Time is running so we just had an hour catch up but after many months and years of not seeing each other, it was just a relief! Best feeling ever.

And 2pm arrived we had to start the walking tour which started from the City Hall.

I just have to express how much I have enjoyed every single bit of the tour. I have Irish friends you see, and I never knew how Ireland fared through time. I am so bad at this and as I listen to our guide who himself is Irish and a Dubliner, I am moved.

He narrates the story with conviction and emotion, how the country struggled with independence from the British, how many have been killed throughout and the tension between the Northern part of Ireland. It was not pleasant to hear and while you hear the stories it is still obvious that the hurt and damage that this part of history has caused still pains the people. Ireland has been isolated from the world as it has been neutral with the world war 2, so mos of these people are very welcoming to other races that come and visit their country.
I would say the stories that I heard was the highlight of this trip to both countries. I won’t bore you with all the specifics but it would be really nice that you would travel here someday or maybe read about this painful part of the Irish history.
By the way, Dublin has some iconic bulidings such as the Spire, The Temple Bar, etc.but the real asset of the Irish Isles is what they call as the “Craic”, pronounced as crack which means fun. The real asset of Ireland is the people and the atmosphere. And I totally felt that in Dublin. #craicisreal People are welcoming to all cultures and I could always tell irish people I know are the kindest people I know so salute to all Irish people out there!

I am thanking God for giving me this opportunity really. This trip is actually my gift to myself. As I am writing this, I am 2 days away from my 25th birthday, so happy birthday to me! You see, I may not have all the money in the world but hey, I am happy and fulfilled. I feel loved, I feel satisfaction with my job, I have good health, I have my Faith, I have a little money in the bank, and I help my family. Joy, happiness, love and self- content are things money cannot buy. I know most of the things in this world are being run by money but it is absolutely not everything. My prayer is that God will continue to use me for His glory and thrust me to my full potential and develop me into a better person everyday , that He will give me the Faith that can move mountains and faith that jumps and leaps to greatness, the amount of courage to get out of my comfort zone.

I also want to thank Kuya Jonathan who was my buddy for this trip, he endured me and I endured him. (LOL) And he was very generous to me as on our last dinner together he gave me a pint of Guinness and a wonderful treat from a recommended pub in Dublin, O’Neills.

This month of October as well marks the second year of my journey here in London. And we are 9 in our cohort to celebrate this. I cannot believe two years have gone by so fast and now I am writing this. It seemed I just wrote the first article about the CBT exam. The two years were filled with dreams, adventures, misfortunes and lessons that I would never ever trade.


The Escape to Edinburgh

So, after ages I am able to write and sit with my laptop and type for you guys!

How are you?

I hope this blog post finds you in a great and awesome place!

Well, this post will be about one of the wonder cities of the United Kingdom. And it is none other than …. EDINBURGH!!!! (pronounced as like Edinbrugh)

I cannot explain my excitement in writing and sharing to you about this fantastic trip to this fantastic city!

This trip has changed my life tremendously.

So this trip happened because my cousin all the way from Austin, Texas came all the way from the US of A to tour Europe for a business trip to Italia and guess what, she loved me so much that she and her dad, my uncle came to London just to see me! Ain’t that sweet?

But I overestimated her stay and I literally consumed 4 days to Edinburgh leaving her 1 day to savour London!

But no worries, London will always be accessible enough so, Edinburgh it is!

Ah. Where do I start? HP? Whiskeys? Hairy coos? Lochs? Highlands? Whew!

Let me take you to lovely Edinburgh!


Traveling to Edinburgh can be done through plane, train or by bus. Guess what we took? Bus! Yes. The dreaded 8 hour night bus we took!

And it was horrible to be honest because when you arrive in your destination you’ll be completely knackered. But hey, we saved great deal of pounds for this so I am okay. Haha! But next time I’ll come back I’ll probably book and plan earlier and take the train. 😛

So, for those of you that doesn’t know, brief geography lesson. The UK is a sovereign state with countries in one England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh!

On our first day, we searched for our Airbnb and we eventually managed to find it. Scotland was so cold! Even the sun was there we were totally freezing.

The view of a hill stood outside our place and little did I know that was the hill where I will get a picturesque view of the city.

We started exploring the city by going to a Sandeman’s free tour of the city. We waited for the leader and he will walk us around the city and guide us for free but the premise is he will want tips from us, he was a lovely chap, our tourguide.


He lead us to different sites. So here is our tour guide.


The guide was informative and I liked the fact that you are not obligated to pay. There are so much to learn of the facts about the city. We walked around the city along some of the Harry Potter sites, the inspiration of Tom Riddle and other characters in HP, and most of them were taken from epitaphs around the church overlooking the Cafe JK Rowling used to write. Even the inspiration of the Hogwarts school was there!

As you can see in my photos above, Victoria Street is the street where Diagon Alley was inspired upon.

We went to have a selfie inside the cafe where JK Rowling used to write too.

Also, along our walking tour, we met a guy from Texas, his name is Jason, same with my cousin and is also Filipino. You will se his photo with us a little bit when you scroll down. So we actually spent the rest of the day with him strolling around the city taking boomerang for us. And we paid a visit to taste the one and only, Haggis!


We ate from this Resto, it’s really popular in Edinburgh, it’s called Howies and we ate Haggis there. I like it’s taste, really. So a Haggis has sheep’s stomach or ox secum in it, has the heart and lungs of one lamb as well!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a photo of the food because the place was kind of poshy and like taking photo of the food felt awkward and we were famished as well so no one really cared. Haha

Oh! And before I forget while we were walking around the city, we were having good views of the people and felt the vibrant culture around the area.

So.. if you mention Scotland, you would imagine what? Well, of course, Kilt and Bagpipe! HahaSo here’s my photo 😛


And, when we went there, they were shooting the new Avengers film. How amazing is that?


Because it was a while when we went to Scotland and I cannot sincerely know the exact order of our adventure, I think because we were so knackered we just went for this and went home because we were so tired. The next day in the morning our host in Scotland offered us free breakfast! Free! And she even talks to us every morning. And her son plays the Clarsach which is a Celtic harp native in Scotland. He is really good. You can see the video of his son playing in my instagram account. (@lloydsabijon) You might wanna scroll through it and maybe follow?. Lol. But man, our stay in Scotland listening to that was for me, amazing!

So we ended the night strolling around the city, through Calton Hill which overlooked the City! It was just lovely lovely lovely, words cannot express how happy I felt seeing the lights of this wonderful City of Edinburgh. And we just soaked the beauty in the night.

The next day,we woke up late and became very lazy taking our time because we were jaded from all of the things we did from yesterday. So, we decided to explore our neighbor. Apparently, we are close to the greenbelt area in Scotland which means this area has no buildings around and is good for strolling, so we went there with Stephanie, my cousin’s name by the way. (I did not introduce her earlier, LOL) We did a relaxing stroll.

Then we went to the Rabbis tour for our next exploration! The Scottish Highlands.

Whew!How will I describe the Highlands. For me, it is one of those places where you will just be relaxed and amazed I guess. It’s just so so different from any place I have been. (Anyway I’ve only traveled a few places. Lol) But yeah. I’ll let the photos justify what I want to express to you!

We went to a Dunn’s Castle which is apparently a Game of Thrones castle, but they didn’t shoot in Scotland anymore because it got very expensive for them. Haha

We passed by a lot of Lochs which are mind you breathtaking.

The Rabbis tour was free for me because my cousin and my Auntie in the US said it’s her treat for me. It it quite expensive to be honest with youwhen you pay for it. But it was also worth it. Seeing those wonderful Lochs stopping on nice views and stopping to feed the Hairy coos was for me just amaaaaaaaaazing!

I love nature and animals man. It’s just uplifting and relaxing to the soul. Especially now I live in the jungle of London. In the center of London mind you. Waaaa not that I am complaining but sometimes London can be sooo crowded and soooo busy. (But I love how the people dress, fashion is dang cool!)

Anyway back to Scotland, so yes.

I learned as well that they said, The part of Scotland, the highlands, is originally a part of the continent of the USA but went to Scotland because of the movement of Tectonic plates which explains its very different terrain from the mainland.

Loch Lubnaig

Feeding the hairy Coos.

By the way, the Hairy coo’s color is mostly the reddish one because the queen wanted it, so they purposely made them plentier and bred them. Haha

And have a look how breathtaking how God made these landscapes! I wanna cry. The memories were just overwhelming for me. ( I am emotional by the way) Haha

I think one of the highlights of this trip was being able to open my taste buds with the finest whiskeys I have ever tasted! Man! I tasted 60 year old whiskeys. We went to this place called Inveraray. It is a small village and in there lies close a Loch (Lake) called Loch Fyne, where they named the whiskey they made there.Only two stores in the world sell/ produce these whiskeys. It is in 1. Inveraray itself and 2. In the Whiskey shop in Edinburgh.

The man who owns this whiskey shop in Invereray welcomed us so nicely. I had a big hunch he had a crush on my cousin. He offered us lots of whiskeys,his favorite ones and rare ones to taste!Gosh and offered us tea and coffee inside his store! My golly! That was an experience.Man I was in love with the whiskeys. My taste buds are not gonna be the same after that. Man! Amazing.

Also, the town has a huge Loch in front of it. Has some nice shops and restaurants to eat with. what a lovely town it was. Too bad outside it was hailing and raining. Man! HAHAHA

But I enjoyed it. But I was freezing. We were freezing. And my Slytherin cousin from hot Texas hated the cold. ALL THE TIME. I think she got traumatized from the whole experience. HAHAHA

So tip, when going to Scotland, bring Duvet with you. Haha Kidding. Just be prepared with the temperature that’s all.

On our way home we concluded the trip with a wonderful view of the highlands, went to a wonderful Lake and we ate Fish and chips beside the lake. We also got lost. Haha It was just amazing to see Scotland even thought I know we only experience a fraction of it.

The next days tour, my cousin booked us a different bus tour around the highlands but this time it is for free.

So if you guys would check this hairycoo free bus tour, just like Sandeman’s, they only rely on tips at the end. The man who drives will be the guide.Our guide was a very kind chap. He toured us on wonderful places as well. On unique part he took us was the secret waterfall into the woods. That was a different kind of experience to be honest.

And he took us to the very lovely Loch Katrine and took us to Hairy Coos and some nice spots as well.It was like a re run for us to be honest.

I think on the last day we trekked the famous Arthur’s seat. But before we wen there we sipped our share of coffee in The Elephant house where JK Rowling used to write HP. I took photos of the toilet as well because it was full of.. see the photos. All potterhead vandalisms. HAHAHAHA

And the Arthur’s seat experience.

If you see a mountain, in Edinburgh, that’s the Arthur’s seat, the brown mountain. You will climb that so if you go there be prepared. It’s cold and rocky. You don’t want to climb with fancy heels.

When went there we were very slow we just took our time but man we were chasing the sunset. My cousin was very tired already, it’s getting dark. She almost gave up but I was desperate to see the sunset.We arrived at the top the minute the sunset started. It wasn’t as lovely maybe compared to when seeing the sun a little above the horizon but I am fine with it because! We saw doggies at the top!


Our trip in this lovely city has really made a great impact to me. Personally, I just came from a small town in the southern part of the Philippines. And never in my wildest dreams have I thought of exploring this place. I never even thought I could afford buying and tasting whiskeys. But God has been so good to me that he allowed me to travel and experience Scotland and just admire His goodness and His creation. No matter what happens, I will always look up to Him and thank Him for all the goodness I am receiving. I’m just glad to be blessed.

I hope you enjoyed my little narrative about my Scottish adventure with my cousin.

Let me know if you’re planning to go to Scotland or you can share to me your experience in Scotland. I am sure you will have a great time there!

My Solo Travel: Rome, Florence and Pisa

Ciao! Buongiorno! These are the main words I have learned to use in my 5 days in lovely Italia!

So if you don’t know me let me introduce myself first. My name is Michael and to make the story short, I am a nobody that writes something in his past time. Lol. Anyway, if you’re here to read because you’re interested in Italy or if how I managed to travel Italy alone, then welcome!

Travelling by train around Italy

Let me share my travel story and experience in Italy.

I decided to travel solo this time. The premise is to boost confidence for myself. They say travelling alone will teach you many things. Although my travel is only for 5 days, true enough I have learned great things that for me in my age (I am 24 by the way) is pretty great and applicable to me and to my eccentric personality. I’ll share to you my insights later about the lessons this trip taught me.

So my route is from London Stansted to Rome by 6th of March 2017 in the evening, settle down then stay in Rome 2 days and this includes a visit to the Vatican. I will leave Rome by 9th to Florence and leave Florence until the 11th and go straight to Pisa on the day of 11th and go back to London.

Can I just interject why I chose this 5 day trip and why these cities?

If I may, it is because my Schengen visa (visa to go to schengen countries) given by France will expire on the 13th of march. And to maximize the visa, I decided to travel! I have a friend who is Italian and she was the one who suggested the route. She said to savour cities of Italy, it needs minimum of 2 days so I didn’t really rush myself in visiting other well known cities like Venice. Rome is close to Florence and Pisa is only an hour away by train from Firenze so  I think the itinerary is just fine.

Rome: The Eternal City

So I arrived in Rome very late. And I have to get to a bus and go to Termini in Rome to ride the train to get to my destination accomodation. I was nervous to be honest knowing that I am alone and I realized my accomodation was not near Termini. It was not easy to be fair. Your bag will be put in the baggage area of the bus, we wait for the bus to be filled so if you are early, expect your bag to be pushed inside and expect to be waiting when you arrive in Termini as people will be rushing getting all their bags. Whew! But yes! I survieved and was able to get to Termini and find the right line going to Libia, where I am staying.

Ciampino Airport, Rome

I went to eat pizzas and gelatos around my Air bnb, I first thought why did I get my bnb a bit far from Termini knowing that I am alone! But it was a blessing in disguise because the foods and shops around my place like pizza and gelatos were authentic, local, delicious and cheap. It is where the locals go! Yum!

I was able to use the metro which is their train services. It was pretty straight forward but I was lost once. Lol So below are the pictures I have for you, the ticket machines are not in English but is pretty straighforward to use. Haha Maybe. Lol

Let me start with my favorite of all, the Trevi Fountain. It was just massive and elegant and magical and fabulous and amazing. Of course the place is crowded nonetheless it just amazed me.


I met two Lithuanian boys in the fountain and they were so nice.


They shared to me their culture and country and I shared a little bit about mine. They taught me the proper way of wishing and tossing a coin in the fountain which is to throw from right hand and toss over the left shoulder.


I also went for an early access Sisitine Chapel and Vatican tour. It was fantastic. It was also nice to note that going to the Vatican is like going to another country haha. And I went to S.Peter’s Basilica and climbed up to the dome.

View up at St. Peter’s Basilica

If  you climb up you have two options, use the lift and climb for 8 euros or climb and climb for 6 euros. I tried climbing for 6 euros and I suggest the other route because it is exhausting!!!! Lol

St Peter’s Basilica

To go in, I had to cue and security will scan your bags, entrance is free. And there I get to see the tomb of the first Pope St. Peter.

St. Peter’s Tomb

I will just post my pictures in places I have been in Rome and Vatican. To be fair, in Rome I didn’t enjoy as much as in Florence because I did not book myself for a walking tour in the Palatine Hill and the Colosseo but I will be back someday so I might do a tour again. It is still  different that when you go to a place you will have an in depth history and knowledge of what is in there and its significance to the society, isn’t it and not go there just for the heck of taking pictures to show the world you’ve been there. Lol. It will be unfair for Rome. But the food and the sightseeing for me for my first time there was enough. So for you planning a trip there I think it is best to book for a walking tour that someone will guide you so that as you walk along the ancient sites you will be walking along with the ancient and well known people of history.That’s what I did with Florence and I was captivated.

Florence: The Cradle of Renaissance

At first when my friend Ilaria from Tuscany mentioned Florence. I thought what am I gonna do there? That just shows how stupid I am of history and how magnificent Florence is.


I would say this was the highlight of my trip in Italy.

If you ask me if Florence is lovely, I would say yes. The love for Florence would really depend person per person.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I am just amazed of history and how people behave think and have done. And it just amazes me that thinking and breaking the rules were the the major themes of stories from Florence. People like Brunelleschi, Michelangelo and Raffael came from this renaissance City. The Medicis toocame from this place. Even Hitler went to this place and was amazed by its grandeur. He went to the old bridge Ponte Vecchio. The only bridge that survived world war 2.

When my eyes first laid on the sight of the Florentine chapel. It melted my heart. Seeing the huge marble design and the dome at its rear. It was massive. Pictures do not give justice to its beauty, really.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

On the first day I went to the Uffizi. If you are into arts and the church and politics and history Uffizi combines it all. See the world’s most famous artworks housed in it. I just stayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s room and stared at the Annunciation for an hour. I was just in awe. Many more artworks were there and it was just mesmerizing.

Ufizzi Gallery, Florence

I wanted to stay longer but I was famished so I decided to leave earlier and bid farewell to the Ufizzi gallery. Near the Uffizi is the River Arno with Ponte Vecchio only at a walking distance. I just strolled around and absorbed the majestic city’s beauty. I then chased the sunset and just watched until the sun disappeared and all the lights of the city appear. The sunset was heartwarming and stunning. The lights and the breeze was just creating an ambience of self reflection and hope for a soul like me who marvelled at this simple yet wonderful city. Oh I would not forget that view of the horizon where I just gazed at a wonderful sunset never known to me before.

Sunset in Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I also had a talk with a Mexican who also travelled alone. We had a good talk about our lives me as a nurse in London (and how crappy London’s weather is) and him being in close proximity to the Acapulco beach up to the telenovelas Filipinos are crazy about and of course Manny Pacquiao.

It was a good talk. Then I said goodbye and I continued to walk around. And then just went home and got ready for a whole day adventure with the city again.

In  the morning, I woke up early so that I would climb the Palazzo Vecchio or the Old Tower. By the way that political palace was the residence of a Spanish Queen before but then she requested that a new palace should be made for her then they made Palazzo Pitti in just 5 months! (Courtesy of the power of the Medicis) thus the old tower. I climbed up and I saw the view of Florence and the Duomo! The view was just amazing and humbling.

In noontime, I decided to eat Chinese since I missed Asian food so I went to a Chinese shop near the train station area and it was fantastic.

And then I went back to my accommodation to take a little rest before the walking tour I pre booked beforehand. The meeting point was in Piazza San Marco. I waited and waited til we are formed as a group and to my surprise we were only a few bunch. We were only 6 which was good so that it will be more personal.


Our guide’s name was Charlie. He is a lawyer by profession  and He is an american. All of the tourists were from the United States and I am the only one from the Philippines/London but 3 of them are originally Greeks. It raised the interest of Charlie and the Greeks themselves since Renaissance period and the Roman designs and culture were mostly copied from the Greeks. That is how the Greeks affected the world. Romans just stole most of the ideas from them after they ruled the Greeks.

One great examples are the Gods and Goddesses of Greeks and Romans. The Romans just renamed them. Lol.

Moving forward, we started with Michelangelo and how he was related to the Medicis. He was the star of the renaissance I guess. He was a genius and a man who doesn’t go with the flow. He thinks outside the box. That is why he is so well known. From 1401, how the Medicis came to power, how they influenced everything in Florence. How the ideas of thinking of Humanism, how art evolved in this time from Gods being unreachable to Gods being like us. They also have problems. And how art slowly evolved and people start to think out of the box. Humanism and Mannerism in sculptures emerged.

We went to the Old Medicis palace. We talked about the significance of Architecture and Engineering, we talked abiut perspective about passion and competition. We talked about failures and dreams. We talked about innovation and so much more. I learned about how guilds formed.

What just amazed me was that I all learned and memorized this back in high school and I have always tried to understand it but it just didn’t make any sense. It was only when I saw it firsthand and when our guide explained it little by little.

We went also to the Academia. And guess who I saw! David by Michelangelo. Michelangelo is an amazing sculptor. He thinks outside of the box and he doesn’t care what other thinks. And the story behind this marble creation is also amazing. This came from a rejected work unfinished because they said the marble was not of good quality. And voila a masterpiece was made from an imperfect stone. It is really true that if we really just make use and be thankful of what we have we can always be happy and reach great heights .

Statue of David

The experience was really amazing. The name of the  tour/ site is Walks of Italy. I would definitely recommend it.

End of the Walking tour in Ponte Vecchio

Florence just left me in awe of its history and it magnificent grand aura. I would definitely recommend it and I am absolutely sure I will come back.

After that I just went to Palazzo Pitti and I sunbathed there lol. And because it was my last day I decided to buy a small painting of Ponte Vecchio. The painter sold it to me for 20 euros but because I left my money, the only money I have in my pocket is 15 euros so I told him if I can buy the painting for 15 and eventually he said okay so I was so happy. It is an oil on canvas painting. One day I was walking in the old bridge and I accidentally stepped on a painting! The seller gave me a very strange look. I was laughing I went straight away. It was my fault because I wasn’t really paying attention but it was night already and he placed the drawing on the floor! Anyway I was laughing so hard. I have so many wonderful memories in that bridge that’s why I decided to buy the painting!

Oh and I forgot to mention the food in Florence is lovely. I would recommend going to Mercato Centrale on the 2nd Floor it opens until midnight so if you would like a wonderful Italian treat late in the evening I would definitely recommend it. It is right at the top of their market!

And I have tried this shop Al Antico Vinaio, it is very close to the spots and people line up for it so I went there and locals just know it and it is heaven! I tried La favolosa and L’inferno you should try it. Worth the 5 euros!!! Check out the pictures I have for you!

After Florence I just went to a day trip in Pisa. It is just an hour ride from Florence. And if you plan to visit there, the leaning tower is really enough. The town is small and quiet.

The leaning Tower of Pisa

I just left all my bags to the left luggage area in Pisa Centrale station for 5 euros.

And by the way from Pisa Centrale if you want to go to the tower by bus, buy a ticket in the station, ride the bus that is Labeled LAM Rossa.

There are other colors like LAM blu or LAM verde. Ride LAM Rossa. And buy tickets for going back too!  Bus stations are near  there. In going to PISA, wait for the bus across the road from the station and not on the side of the station.

And when I arrived in the tower, I asked a Japanese lady to take my picture and she took a very nice photo of me, I thanked her and I asked her where she came from and she said she is from Japan. I greeted Konnichiwa, and said Arigatou and they laughed and responded, I checked her pic of me and i said ‘Yey!’ and she and her friends laughed and yelled Yehey too! Lol.

I climbed up the tower too, pre-booked tickets and remember to leave bags in the free baggage drop area in an orange building near the tower, handbags aren’t allowed! grrr.. anyway here is the view up.The tower is leaning so expect a weird feeling. Don’t worry centrifugal force will keep you upright. Lol but It wan to a fancy feeling at the top. I felt nauseated because you really feel it is leaning!

And then from the station, I will go now to Galilei International Airport, to get there, you have to ride a bus and the directions to get to the bus is easy to follow. You can buy tickets from the driver for 2 euros or if you buy at the station, 1.30 euros.

And that was my Italy trip. I hope you enjoyed reading my experiences. If you will travel to Italy soon make sure you will have enough time and don’t rush.

Back to the lessons I learned in my journey alone, I realized that, Florence is a wonderful place to have soul searching, and that travelling alone will make you become a tougher person,and become more responsible of your actions. It taught me to value company and friendship and in life, like in any trips, everything is not going to be perfect.

In life, there will always be times you will feel alone, times you wish you have someone to share the view with and times that you bask the sunset with your own eyes and appreciate all the blessings in life you have.

I felt and realized the value of home and the comfort of being in home, that even if you travel places, you will always have to go back to where it all started. That you search to go far  yet the answer is already inside you, that all along it was just in the place where you have always been.

And the most important lesson I have learned is to be thankful. Just to be thankful of basically everything, the good or the bad, because I realized that is the will of God for our lives, that is the one way our souls will grow and will learn to accept all our frailties and imperfections from the inside to the outside whether in our own selves and in our families or  friends of in general our lives. I believe growth as a person does start in acceptance of what we have in life and the catalyst for growth of the soul is starting from being thankful of the life we have. That is then we start to make use of all our frailties and imperfections to reach whatever we want in life, and for me that is genuine happiness. If we become thankful and realize the power of this perspective, we will be able to appreciate every fabric of strengths and weaknesses we have in us.

Gahhh, too much drama isn’t it? Well, it is absolutely good to experience and dive into Italia’s culture and history.And now in my life, I could proudly say I’ve been able to travel to a different country on my own and I guess that is a big achievement I have for me. Lol.

Hey, let me know of your experiences whether solo or groups. Or whether you have thoughts, comments or perhaps wild reactions?


London on my Filipino eyes


When you hear that word, what comes to your mind?

Big Ben?

West End?

London Eye?

River Thames?

Or the Queen Perhaps?

Enjoying the Big Ben

I have been in London for a year now and in this short time I have been here, I was able to immerse and get to know Mr. London a little bit deeper than the usual.

Well, maybe let me introduce Mr. London to you in a Filipino nurse perspective. I am a Filipino or as we Filipinos call ourselves, “Pinoy” Nurses.

Pinoy nurses in the UK don’t earn as much as in the Aussie, Canada or the US.

Nurses in the UK belong to the average class of people. Far far from the social status the american nurses have. Well, correct me if I am wrong but from the stories I hear, nursing in other countries sounds very lucrative.

With that in mind, maybe it is safe for me to say that being a nurse and living in the UK more so me, living in CENTRAL LONDON, isn’t an easy peasy thing to do. Well, nothing in life is easy anyway but yeah. As a Filipino, living in the third world country, many first world country people wouldn’t understand the pain seeing your family live in poverty. So a typical Filipino would send a big chunk of hard earned money to the family being left with a meager amount of money to spend, which is a bit sad. Haha

However, I am not the type that makes a martyr out of that and I know how to rock and roll, work and party, and set goals for tomorrow, maybe? haha

St. Pancras Hotel

So, now that you’re wearing a share of my lens, let me show you how London looks like.

London from a Filipino perspective is..

A city of chance and opportunity..

London is amazing in many ways. Look at the Big Ben. Amazing is an understatement. Feel the breeze of the River Thames, feel and reimagine the history of London. Relish the fact that you, a soul from a countryside third world country in Mindanao, Philippines, is standing in the greatest City of Great Britain.

London Over River Thames

Although London is expensive, I never would ever trade this time of my life living in this marvelous City. London has always left me in awe. Let the photographs guide you and justify how I would express my feelings for this City.

With Ate Laarni and Ate Mich in the British Museum

As Filipinos, we survive anything, we know how to live in almost nothing, so living in London, although it is, I admit stressful, living in the epicenter of Europe’s hustle and bustle, London will always be an amazing city that offers the opportunity to a kid from a town in a third world country.

The London Eye

Sometimes, I feel I’m unwanted, personally, as you know, you can feel that, as understandably, this country belongs to the Britons who live here, but London has always been welcoming to foreign talents. Filipinos come here to work, helping the NHS to continue running, and in turn Filipinos earn money to sustain and help the family back home.

London New Year 2017

London is very accepting and open to foreign people, has an amazing tube for transport and the double decker buses and black shining taxis around, all the iconic places London have. It simply is London, classy and calm.One good thing about London is that it is very accepting and liberated.

I also got close to venues the famous people go, so concerts and premieres are just within the neighborhood. The latest concert  I have been to is with Jojo. It was in Heaven, London.

Jojo’s concert in Heaven, London

I have also seen some celebrities and experienced firsthand lining for the artists in premieres. It was tiring wrestling with all those die hard fans but in the end all is worth it.

Was able to see Ezra Miller in Fantastic Beasts, See JK Rowling, Eddie Redmayne in person in front of me, signed my Timeout magazine,  and shake Will Smith’s hands on Suicide Squad Premiere.

So far this is what London and the UK has given me and I couldn’t thank UK and God more of all these blessing showered upon me. Life here is hard especially when your parents demand so much from you but in the end, you just have to rock and roll in life and keep swimming.

The Victoria and Albert

Let me know your thoughts about Filipinos in  London or in the UK, or if you’re a nurse in the UK or anywhere in the world. Who knows who might read this?

London is amazing, share your experience, will be happy to hear from you!


My Parisian Experience

As a nurse in the UK, travelling to Europe is a sure fire bonus.

Paris is such a wonderful and romantic city, it is indeed the city of lights, and I believe it is so much much more.

I guess you’re here to find out how Paris is, or maybe you’re just bored, or maybe you are looking for information how to apply for visa, well that’s if you’re not from the EU.

Okay, well this post will be brief as I am just writing this to practice my blogging haha. I am a newbie so bear with me.

Let me narrate my  Paris story.

So, initially, I wanted to travel solo to Paris on my birthday, that is on my 24th birthday in October 12, 2016. But my friends wanted to come with me which is even a better idea, so we applied the visa beforehand.img_7496So these are my co Filipino friends who went with me in Paris!

Don’t tell them but these guys are crazy haha!

So, we went to the visa process which is straightforward, you just basically go to this site.

That is the TLS contact and in that site you will find all the requirements. Prepare 70 pounds and you’re good to go! They gave me 6 months Schengen access visa which means i can travel in any Schengen country. After Paris we travelled to Prague in Czech Republic, which will come in a separate post. And soon, I’ll be solo travelling to Italy. (Yeah baby!)

Moving on, we went to Paris, rode in a Eurostar to the city center and we arrived in the train station.


Look at the architecture in Paris, notice how sunny it was, we were really blessed to have great weather when we arrived. Paris is lovely. London has crap weather but otherwise lovely too! Lol.


We then went to our booked bnb. It was my friend who booked our accommodation and it was so amazing, cheap and close to the city center, I definitely recommend that place. You can cook and is close to a Lidl shop in Paris which makes your trip a little less expensive.img_6588IMG_6546.JPG

Just be careful with cooking, on a morning in Paris I was cooking an omelette and burnt oil in the burner which eventually activated the fire alarm.. IN PARIS!!! Oh my gosh I will never ever ever cook with too much oil in the burner next time or maybe an omelette perhaps? Lol.

Well, the rest is just marvelous, we went to the Louvre, but didn’t manage to see Mona Lisa. I will pay a date with her next time I come back ‘coz I sure am. Went to the iconic Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coure, and Versailles of course! Let the pictures tell how lovely Paris, France is! Enjoy!

Let me know if you pay Paris a visit, and tell me how did you find your Parisian experience, would love to hear from you. Merci!


The NMC CBT Exam: Things You Might Want to Know

Skygarden in London, UK

So hello there!

First of all I want to introduce myself.

My name is Michael and I am a Filipino Registered Nurse from Bukidnon, Philippines but my second home is The Queen City of the South, Cebu!

I am 22 years old (when I first wrote this). This is my first post and I am not a writer whatsoever and I am not good at blogging but here I am writing not sure about anyone might read this but if you are then welcome!

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the photo above features me, taken in Skygarden. Along with this post, I have decided to put pictures so that while you are browsing you take a breather and have a look what is in store for you in the UK. I started of literally with nothing but my dreams.

People looked down on me and the profession I chose. And people never believed in me. I just want you to know that you are close to your dreams, you can do it and you have the power to change whatever plight you are in right now. Never listen to people who know nothing but to lift their ego by lowering your self-esteem and self-worth.

And that all of these places I show here, is very achievable and very easy to access once you arrive in the UK. This is not to brag but to tell you that this is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.

I am now a registered nurse in the UK, and I work in London.

I bet you got here accidentally maybe because you are now applying for nursing registration for the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) and getting ready for the CBT Exam.

This post will basically discuss tips that I personally learned from self reviewing and from reading blogs, articles and write ups about this seemingly new exam system of the NMC. The tips are for the Adult type test only because there are other tests like Mental Health Nursing, Pediatric, etc.

This is to pay the kindness of people who encouraged and wrote articles to concentrate on and to forward to you who may or maybe do not have much idea how this works. So hop on and enjoy.

Chinatown, London

The Exam

So I presume you have asked people you knew who took it, asked what it is about and like what is the nature of the exam. Maybe, you have already read blogs and comments about the exam.

If you did, job well done! Most probably, the case will be that all the things I write here, you already know. However if you belong to the ones who haven’t, well, I suggest you do continue reading and searching for more. Congratulations for taking the first step in actually reading this. This is so that you will have a vibe of what the exam looks like. To make these shenanigans short, here is my summary.

How long is it?

4 hours or 240 mins.

What are the question types? 

MCQs (Multiple choice questions) and you just answer with a regular computer then, you click on one answer only unless told to click multiple answers. So far there are no multiple answer requiring questions. Do not worry because there will be a short tutorial before the 4 hours time of answering.

How many questions are there in total?

 120 questions.

The questions will be presented individually.

You can choose not to answer and skip it if you do not want to or answer and flag it if you are unsure.

By the time you reach the 120th question, there will be a review page. All unanswered questions will be listed as well as all flagged. The point here is you can review. You can even go back or go next.

In my case, I answered for 2 hours and reviewed my answers for 1 hour and did not finish the last hour. (I felt nauseated reading all the questions that I don’t even know the answers. HAHA) 

Cost: 130 British Pounds

How to Book: You have to have an ATT (Authorisation to Test) Register via NMC website.

How difficult is the exam?

Personally, Moderate.

Let me expound on this.

I found the exam generous to give 4 hours for a 120 item test. Majority of the Questions are as I can say easy but tricky. Read the Questions carefully as well as the choices. What makes me die are 2 things. First, I hate to tell you this but there are objective questions but not many. And Number 2, there are so called “E” or Essential questions that you have to answer correctly. Yes, according to what I have read, all must be answered correctly without you knowing whether it is an E or not. I am not sure of this but when you read the NMC Blueprint, there are columns right? Like there are Y, and Es.I believe the Es are the essential guides that you have to focus on. I will discuss where to focus on in my personal experience. Hope that helps.

Victoria & Albert Museum, Kensington, London

General Tips

1. Read Blogs, comments, experiences and stuff on the internet about this exam.

It gives you a bird’s eye view of what the exam is in a larger and broader view. I suggest go to this site. The article of this fellow Filipino nurse helped me a lot prepare.

2. Envision yourself that you will pass the exam.

If passing this is a part of your dream then do it! Work on it! I have heard a lot of stories that they failed and you dont want to fail an expensive exam. It is expensive both on your pocket and your self esteem. But if you fail, do not stop. Search quotes about success and motivation, read your bible and you will see that God’s idea of success is different. I won’t tell. You have to go search for it. Never ever give up on yourself and your dreams! Do not do this to please other people that do not like you. Do this for you. Intense? Haha

3. Get the recommended Review Materials and know what to Prioritize.

I have only 2 guides to tell you frankly and it helped me a lot. I do not know how it works for you but for me, it kinda worked coz i passed the exam.

To start this with let me tell you first my story, so I resigned from my work to concentrate on IELTS (I will write a blog about this maybe If i find the motivation to do so, hehe) and after was for this exam, so I told myself I have no right to fail the exams because I had all the time studying and thank God for blessing me his graces.

Anyway, I was also glad because I have a senior nurse from my Alma Mater in CNU that already passed and told me where to focus my review. He let me borrow his notes with his readings, and a print out of the NMC Blueprint, the 4 Domains and other stuffs that are helpful.

My First Ward in the UK in London, UK

Remember, your goal is to digest the Healthcare practice and scenario of the UK practice in Nursing. You have to memorize the Code by Heart. Read it 10 times. I read it too and printed it out. Then what I did was I concentrated on Royal Marsden Clinical Guidelines Book, you can purchase it online. To tell you honestly, I regetted I prioritized  reading this book because less topics were from here but this book has opened my eyes a lot on UK practice. So I owe this book a lot too. Many Es are discussed here to be honest. So I suggest focus on the blueprint, read the links, yes, all the links, the working links at least, by heart. Infection Control, Leadership, Safeguarding, Pressure Ulcers, Acute Care for Adults, People with Disabilities, Consent, and basically all the suggested focus the people in the internet says because it is really true.

One good thing is that, you do not have to memorize medications, but you have to know the ‘how, where, what, whom’s” about medications and its administration, the analgesia ladder and one tip, study also on basic IV and drug calculations. I believe these are Es. I wish I could tell you more but I cannot because the NMC will not allow me to do so. Hehe

In conclusion, have faith in yourself and reach your dreams whatever it is. Study well, do not memorize only by brain but by heart more importantly. Read the articles well do not stress yourself on memorization.

And I thought I was gonna fail, like honestly, all objective type answers I searched were wrong, I cried inside but when i saw the email arrive 5-6 hours later, I passed! I pray that you too can. God bless you.

If you have more questions about the exam, UK application, about life and living in the UK or maybe in London itself, feel free to comment or mail me at I wouldbe happy to respond.