A nice afternoon in Tirana and dinner at restaurant Oda
A nice afternoon in the Albanian capital Tirana. We visited the local market and had a nice dinner at the traditional Albanian restaurant Oda. We took the dessert in a coffee shop just nearby, Italian gelato together with a cappuccino.
If you are looking for the traditional Albanian cuisine then Restaurant Oda is the right place. Lamb in different ways is the main attraction. For the no meat eater there are a variety of vegetarian dishes. Different salads and of course the traditional burek which is baked, filled pastry, made of a thin flaky dough such as filo with a variety of fillings, such as meat, cheese, spinach or potatoes.
We ordered eggplant stuffed with vegetables and the lamb cooked in a wooden stove together with rice. You need to order rice separately. The portions were big and generous. The lamb was very tender with a nice taste and the rice was probably cooked in broth which made it very tasty. The stuffed eggplant was nice too.
Video clip: The visit to the local market and the review of the traditional restaurant Oda. Eating ice cream and of corse not to mention to see Miss Zane negotiating at the local market. Enjoy!
The food was for sure very traditional and came in tasty and generous portions. The downside was the waiting time. Waiting to order, waiting for the food and waiting for the bill. There were many guests and only one waitress so that was the explanation. The dishes also came one at a time, not served at the same time as would normally be expected. With that in mind I can still recommend Restaurant Oda if you are looking for the traditional Albanian cuisine.
A perfect day tour if you are in Shkodër
If you are in Shkodër you can easily do this day tour up to Komani Lake and Shala River. First you go by car to Komani Lake and from there you take the boat up to Shala River. Expect 3 hours travel back and forth and 3-4 hours at the destination where you eat lunch. After lunch you can sunbath, swim in ice cold water or just chill under a sun umbrella with a cup of coffee or a beer.
Watch the video
Watch Miss C dancing in the boat and Miss Zane giving her verdict of the tour!
A visit to Dajti Mountain Peak
We visited the Dajti Mountain Peak (in Tirana Albania). We took the local bus to Dajti Ekspres Lower station and from there we went with the cable car up to the peak. Up there you can do lots of activities like horse riding, hiking or just chill at the beautiful restaurant. So join us in the cable car!
The gondolas travel with a speed up to 6 m/s and maintain a distance of 300 metres between each other running approximately every 80 seconds. When all the gondolas are in use, the maximum capacity of passengers is 248 persons. The ride with the cable car takes approximately 15 minutes to arrive at the upper station.
Going there | Ticket price for the cable car
We took the Porcelan bus which is blue and departs from the tower clock (Sahati) in the centre of Tirana near Skenderbeg square. This bus is probably your best option as it goes direct and stops near the Bunk'art museum. From there it's only a short uphill walk to the cable car station.
The cable car costs 8 Euro up and down for one person.
Rozafa Castle, also known as the Shkodër Castle is located near the city of Shkodër, in northwestern Albania. It rises imposingly on a rocky hill, 130 metres (430 ft) above sea level, surrounded by the Buna and Drin rivers.
30 minutes walking
Since we stayed at the Camping Legjenda just 30 minutes walking distance from the castle we took a nice walk up the hill to the Rozafa Castle. We passed nice houses with lush gardens full of different kinds of fruits. There were also a couple of souvenir shops on our way where we could buy snacks, drinks and souvenirs.
The legend of the Rozafa Castle
Once upon a time, there were three brothers married to three beautiful wives who lived in what now is northern Albania. The three brothers worked very hard, to build a castle to protect their town, but every time they finished the work, the castle’s walls would fall down.
One day, they met an old man who told them that there was only one way to keep the castle walls from tumbling down: a sacrifice. The sacrifice consisted of burying one of the wives in the wall of the castle, particularly, the first wife to bring lunch to her husband the next day.
The two older brothers, once at home, explained the situation to their wives, while the youngest brother said nothing to his wife. The day after, the three brothers waited anxiously for lunchtime. The wives of the older brothers didn’t come with lunch, but Rozafa, the wife of the youngest brother, came with her box full of delicacies.
Rozafa’s husband explained to her that she had to be sacrificed and buried in the walls of the castle in order for the castle to be finished. She accepted her fate, but under one condition: the brothers would leave a hole for her right breast so her newborn son could feed, another hole for her right hand to caress him and a third hole for her right foot to move his cradle. The castle never collapsed.
How to get there
The castle is 3.5km south of the city centre. Grab a bicycle (many of the hotels rent them out) and enjoy the ride down here. If cycling is too energetic, take one of the municipal buses that stop near the turn-off to the castle. Or a taxi to the entrance costs 2-3 Euros from the city centre. If you are staying at Camping Legjenda like we did it's just 30 minutes walking distance from there.
A day in Bangkok
Bangkok is a dazzling city which has so much to offer both day and night. So here are some snapshots of an amazing day in Bangkok.
Mambukal Resort, a perfect daytrip for the whole family
Once upon a time, a hill station was established in the area in 1923, through a provincial administrative order, to serve as a weekend getaway for the officials of the Negros Occidental provincial government and its guests. Now many years later it has became a tourist attraction mainly known for its Sulfur pools with a public sulfur pool, the Japanese-constructed rotenburo and the Ishiwata Bath. But there are also waterfalls, picnic spots, butterfly garden which attracts the visitors.
Mambukal is home to several rare bat species for example the endemic giant golden-crowned flying fox and the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat can be seen in the area. These, along with other resident bat species, are estimated to number between 7,500 to 8,000.
From Bacolod, take the bus from Mambucal Bus Terminal 40 PHP person. The trip takes 45 to 60 minutes. The last stop is the Mambukal resort so no worries there. Entrance fee is 50 PHP per adult. There is a foodcourt with several restaurants. So no worries there either if you are hungry and thirsty. The food is fully recommendable. Some of the attractions cost additional, for example the sulfur pools. 50-100 PHP per person. You can hike to the waterfalls and swim and if you are really lucky you might see some of the mythical creatures of the forest as well. When you are done the bus is waiting for you. They are going every 10 minutes (or so, you are in the Philippines after all) back to Bacolod.
Onuk island, the last frontier of the Philippines?
If you are like me, constantly searching for the pristine, unexploited and off the beaten track, then this can be something for you. But beware, it’s a little bit tricky to find your way out to Onuk island and there is no infrastructure for tourists whatsoever. But that’s part of the adventure right?
And hey! Don’t miss to watch the video clip at end!
How about the safety?
The short answer is yes, it’s safe to go to Onuk island. But consider the long answer as well. Remember before you travel to Balabac it’s always good to listen around regarding the concerns below since things can change.
There have been Malaria outbreaks in the mountainous Mainland Balabac but for now it’s considered safe to be out in the Balabac archipelago. But bring mosquito repellants because there will be tons mosquitos hunting for your blood after sunset.
A minor concern are the saltwater crocodiles but they are only present in the Mainland Balabac. Which means out in the archipelago it’s safe from crocodiles.
The weather can be unpredictable. The dry seasons of April and May are the best times to visit the Balabac archipelago since the sea is perfectly calm on most days during these months. You may also visit Balabac during the months of December to February where it is fairly good. However, these months can the waves be particularly rough on the beaches.
But hey! Balabac islands are located in the Sulu sea. Hmm wasn’t that the place where the Philippine army battle bandits? Yes, that’s right. But that’s on the other side of the Sulu sea at Jolo. There are no bandits in the Balabac archipelago.
Facts about how to get to Onuk island
Be sure to bring your snorkeling gears and you can enjoy the crystal clear water under the surface as well. There were some coral reef surrounding the island. Sorry to say much of the coral was already dead. But beautiful sea turtles were grazing sea grass from the sea floor but ever how hard I tried I couldn’t catch up with them. There were some amazing giant clams which were easier to spot since they didn’t swim away from me.
The final thought
If you are too comfy this trip is nothing for you. But if you are more adventurous and don’t mind to put in a bit effort to experience the beauty of Mother Nature I can recommend to explore this part of Palawan. It’s totally worth it all days in the week! Other post which is related to Palawan click here
Come as guest leave as friend
Come as guest leave as friend, is Easy Diving's motto. And yes, I think so. I made some friends here. Easy Diving and Beach Resort is beautifully located on Punta Ballo Beach around 15 minutes from downtown Sipalay. Expect to pay around 200-250 PHP to the tricycle driver. The Resort has 20 air-conditioned bungalows plus 2 bungalows with fan.
The bungalow was very fresh
Since I don't like air-condition I booked my bungalow with fan instead, actually there were two fans. Everything was very fresh and clean. The bungalow had a nice little porch with two chairs and a table where you could sit in the evenings and enjoy the quietness and practice stargazing. A so called free WiFi was included as a pocket WiFi. As far as I remember you had 3 GB of load for free. When you had consumed that you had to pay extra to get an additional 3 GB load. I was told this was only temporary until they had fixed a more permanent WiFi solution. I hope they did.
The food heaven
In the restaurant they served excellent food, both Filipino and European style. The tuna steaks became quickly my favourites. Not to mention the delicious pancake with fresh mango and ice cream which was really addictive! In the evenings the atmosphere was really cozy in the restaurant. I was just sitting there inhaling the sea breeze and watched the sunset and contemplated about how good life was.
Easy Diving has lots to offer
Easy Diving offers a lot, specially for those who are divers and I was told there are some really good diving spots just near. But even snorkelling was good if you swam enough out from the shore line. All the staff, from the owner to the room service were all very friendly and helpful. My highlights were the food, the quietness and beautiful location by the sea and not to mention my stargazing moments from my porch.
The video shows a bit of what to expect from the stairs and the snorkeling near the beach.
Conclusions about Easy Diving Resort
I paid 2300 PHP per night for the bungalow with fan and breakfast included. That was competitive when I compared with other resorts in the same area at Punta Ballo Beach. The location of Easy Diving is more convenient than those resorts at the famous Sugar Beach which is only accessible by boat. But be aware of the stairs, if you can't or don't like to walk in stairs then Easy Diving might not be for you. There are many stairs to walk when moving around in the resort. Aside from that, the food, the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness in the bungalow were excellent.
Cebu Taoist Temple and a date with the dragon
Cebu Taoist Temple is located in Beverly Hills Subdivision of Cebu City, Philippines. The temple is built by Cebu's substantial Chinese community in 1972.
Pray and make a wish
The Taoist temple is open to the worshipers and non-worshipers alike. A ritual among devotees is where one prays to the gods to grant one's wish. The ritual includes washing of hands, going inside the chapel barefoot and dropping two blocks of wood. If the blocks of wood are both face up then one could make a wish. If not then it is not yet the time for one's wish to be granted and one has to come to the temple some other time.
Amazing view from here
Unwind for a while
The Taoist temple is easy accessible from downtown Cebu. We took a taxi from Ayala center and paid around 150 PHP. The view from here is amazing and the surroundings are relaxing for a busy mind. To come here was like to unwind from the hectic and busy city life down town Cebu. I really liked the place for its quietness and beautiful view!
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology. Chinese dragons have many animal-like forms such as turtles and fish, but are most commonly depicted as snake-like with four legs. They traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it in East Asian culture.
Even if you don’t share their faith, you must always keep in mind that it’s a sacred site for Taoist worshipers and is a place originally intended for meditation and prayer.
Going back to downtown
When time to go back downtown again there are numerous options, taxi, habal habal or jeepney. But we chose to walk. Actually it's not far from Ayala center only about 30-40 min of easy walking. And... yes it's no problem, it's perfectly safe to walk here at least in day time.
A short video clip of our walk back downtown. My friend was also in a desperate need of a cigarette!
Adventure for free, well at least almost for free!
Pungtod Island or now known as “Isola de Francesco” or Virgin Island, a seventeen thousand square meter privately owned island off the coast of Panglao. It's named after Francesco Forgione, widely known as Padre Pio. The island was conceived by the owners to serve the growing number of Padre Pio devotees in Bohol and promote devotion to the Italian Capuchin monk who is the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. The island is also known by the locals as the “Hidden oasis”. It's easy to come here. Just take the free yellow shuttle boat near the St. Agustin Catholic Church in Panglao.
Highlights: Sand reef, fresh sea urchins and comfort room!
One of the higlights is of course the long sand reef where you can take a swim or just enjoy the white sand and the beauty of nature. You should also challenge your taste buds with fresh sea urchins directly from the sea. Season with vinegar to taste. Then maybe it's time to visit the comfort room. Don't hesitate, it's clearly one of the nicest comfort rooms I ever been to here in the Philippines. So try it out! There are also kayaks you can borrow and explore the waters around the island. Or why not just grab a regular Filipino snack near the entrance and relax in the shadow, listen to the doves... there are for some reason many doves here. I guess they have found a quiet refuge here in this peaceful environment. And yes, everything is for free here... boat ride, sea urchins, kayaks and snacks but of course small donations are always welcomed.
Note! Click on images to see slideshow and captions!
A 60 sec video clip showing the beauty of Isola de Francesco. The fruit in the video is Pandanus fruit.
Pamilacan island Philippines
Snorkeling at Pamilacan island
Alona Beach, Panglao
Where to stay in Tagbilaran, Bohol
Day trip to Isola de Francesco
Where to eat in Tagbilaran?
Find a house for rent in Panglao
Review of the Food Court in Island City Mall (Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines)
Bohol and Panglao Islands, Philippines
Isola de Francesco or Virgin Island, Panglao, Philippines
Review of Swiss Zurigo Restaurant (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of Bojol Grill Restaurant (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of A's Chicken Nuggets & Grill Haus (Bohol, Philippines)
The giant Arogo and the smallest primate, what do they have in common?
Review of Panglao Island Nature Resort & Spa (Panglao, Philippines)
Review of Henann Resort Alona Beach (Panglao, Philippines)
Review of Shang Palace Seafood Restaurant (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of Bo's Coffee (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of The Buzzz Café (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of Golden Cowrie (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of Staylite Park Bed and Breakfast (Bohol, Philippines)
Review of Arabelle Suites (Bohol, Philippines)