So off to France we went, even if it was just Briançon, because it is an hour’s drive from Bardonecchia. We passed by skiing resorts and towns with die-hard skiers still racing after the very last remnants of winter snow. Briançon a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. It is the highest city in France with an altitude of 1,326 metres (4,350 feet).
The family arrived in Italy on April 6th and spent some days in Torino before going for a 1-hour drive to Bardonecchia – one of Italy’s original alpine skiing resorts. Bardonecchia is located in the upper part of Val di Susa in the Alps, with the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The resort is situated on the French border, due west of Torino (Turin).
I have always wanted pallet furniture for the beach. We wanted everything to be simple yet colorful and relaxing. The idea was just to serve appetizers and drinks – but the menu evolved to accommodate dinner, and our specialty and best seller became the mediterranean pasta and the beer burger – our special recipes! We are also proud of our mango shake and banana shake that guests have exclaimed again and again to be the best in all of El Nido. We are of course boasting of the pretty sunsets that we have in Corong-Corong beach. Here are some photos of the many sunsets we are lucky enough to be able to see nearly everyday. If you guys are looking for the sunset in El Nido, it is found in Corong-Corong beach. Come drop by the bar for some milk tea, cold beers and cocktails, delicious pasta, and your daily dose of sunset.
Back when there was absolutely nothing in Seven Commandos Beach, it was our favorite beach. It has really nice fine white sand and great snorkeling. It was the beach we went to with the other Potter’s Place School teachers when we wanted to go out for the weekend on National Geographic boat (named after the magazine but not owned by it or connected to it). For some photos of Seven Commandos beach taken in 2005, 2007, and 2014, you may visit the blog on Outventure’s Tour A here.
Shortly after New Year, we found the time to spend two days in Seven Commandos. There is a 4-room resort on Seven Commandos and it is a gorgeous place.
Seven Commandos Beach and Papaya Beach are more accessible from Corong-Corong beach, either via banca or kayak. By kayak, if the sea is calm and you are good, it only takes 30 minutes. Round the cape of limestone, the first beach is Papaya.
When people ask me which tour is best among Tours A, B, C, and D, this is what I say – Tours A and C are the most popular. Tour A because it goes to the lagoons in Miniloc Island and this is what made El Nido famous, aside from the fact that the big lagoon is really quite magnificent. It should not be missed. It is such a beautiful place to swim in and even have a wedding at, as some people from El Nido Resorts had done in the past. The big lagoon must not be missed. Tour C is what most tourists recommend and say as the best – it has secret beach and hidden beach, and there is such a beauty to be held atop the rocks in Matinloc Shrine. Tour D is the least popular because it is the closest and most people can get there by kayaking from town proper. Now what about Tour B? I would like to say that Tour B is for those who want to avoid the crowds of Tours A and C. It is the most relaxed too. Not much to do but hang out on the beach, do a little bit of swimming while waiting for lunch either in Snake Island or in Cudugnon Cave. Furthermore, Pinagbuyutan Island is so beautiful that we consider it our favorite island.
2014 saw me last post on the 30th of October, something about the sunsets in front of our resort, which we called The Last Beach Cottages, at the very end of Caalan Beach. Shortly thereafter, we encountered numerous issues with the resort, the property owner, and the owner of Hippocampe Beach Cottages, that made us decide that it was better to just let the resort go, live a peaceful life, and move back to the other side of town, back in Corong-Corong Beach. The month of November saw us working on putting together the sunset bar that we called 1209 Sunset Beach Bar in Corong-Corong Beach and opening in December 15th. I will post on that some other time as, believe it or not, I haven’t gone around to taking any proper photos of the bar.
What I have been busy with though is island hopping. I finally went on Tour B! After nearly 8 years! And have been fortunate enough to have some pretty pictures of our favorite island in Bacuit Bay – Pinagbuyutan Island.
I wasn’t supposed to post these photos but, on Facebook, there are a lot of photos of me taking photos.
I have been back in El Nido since two weeks and with my newly-acquired 11-16mm UWA lens have been enjoying myself with some sunsets both in Caalan, in front of our resort – The Last Beach Cottages (Hippocampe Beach Cottages), and even in Corong-Corong Beach which was our home last year.
It has always been my dream to have an ultra-wide angle lens, and after saving for some time, have finally been able to afford one. I am extremely happy!
But I am even happier with the sunsets I have been fortunate enough to witness these past weeks.
I said I would come back and take more photos of Cala Brandinchi – and this it. This was that day. Cala Brandinchi is about 10-15 minutes walk for Lia and me from our home in Villaggio Porto Coda Cavallo. It is where we go when we don’t want to be in Salina Bamba or when I wanted to have a nice cup of frozen coffee at the bar.
We take the dirt path from the village. This is the view of our village.
And this is Tavolara Island, at the back of our village.
Sometimes Isola Tavolara looks so white!
With the village behind us, we trudge on the path to Brandinchi, and the first view is the parking lot right in front, and the beach on the left.
This year’s Puraran Surfing Cup is happening on October 8-11 and I will be there from October 7-10! Awesome! I didn’t get to go last year and ever since I went there with my parents and their friends back in 2008, I have always wanted to come back to watch the surf competition! No, not really the competition, just to watch the Majestics. We were there in July 2008 and it was absolutely flat. I want to see the Majestics for myself. I don’t think I will be surfing as I am grossly cardiovascularly-unfit and I have not surfed in 2 years. No, the short trip to Bali early this year does not count. It was more like paddle practice while being slammed by waves on the reef and getting bruised and scratched by corals and urchins.
I am flying from Manila to Naga the day before and will leave Naga on the 4AM bus to Legazpi. I have to catch the 6:30AM ferry from Tabaco port to Virac, and from the terminal, catch a public van going to Puraran. I am excited!
If any of you are interested, here are some helpful details:
Fly from Manila to Naga (and do the same as I will)
Fly from Manila to Legazpi
Fly from Manila to Virac
Flights take an hour or so via Cebu Pacific. Philippine Airlines also fly from Manila to Naga and Legazpi but not Virac.
Riding the ferry boat from Tabaco, Albay is one way to go to the island. Here is the schedule from Tabaco City Port to San Andres and Virac Port and Vice Versa:
I have been to Sagada once in 2007 but no matter how much I liked the place I just could not bring myself back. I utterly dislike the 6-hour travel from Manila by bus to Baguio and another 6 hours from Baguio to Sagada. Of course I did not know that there was a faster way to get there. I learned it ironically from tourists in El Nido who dropped by the Outventure shop.
Anyway, we made it back to Sagada in November 2013, using the same route and method – Victory Liner from Cubao. We had a lovely dinner first at Cafe Adriatico at the Gateway Mall before heading for the bus terminal – only to find out when we got there that there were no available tickets for until 4am. We took our chance with another bus lines in another bus terminal, Genesis if I remember correctly, and lucked out with a few spare seats. Arriving in Baguio, we had some help from one of the passengers who was also on his wasy to Sagada and we all walked together in the chilly Baguio morning towards the Sagada-bound bus terminal.
We arrived at lunch time, went looking for a place to stay, then promptly headed to Yoghurt House for a meal. I had loved their French Potato Salad years ago but found that it was not the same. We had a relaxing time on the balcony with a cup of coffee though.
We didn’t go anywhere until the next day, when we rented a motorbike at a place across the street and explored Sagada using a map bought from one of the souvenir stores lining the street.
First, we tried looking for the lake – the path going down to it we missed only about three times and would have missed more times if we had not stopped a group of mountain bikers and asked.
I have always been a staunch supporter of the Global Pinoy Bazaar and the Yabang Pinoy movement. I make it a point to go to the bazaar every year regardless of where I am based for that year.
The Global Pinoy Bazaar is an annual event proudly organized by Yabang Pinoy – a Filipino pride movement which envisions every Filipino being proud to be Filipino, believing in fellow Filipinos, and patronizing Filipino ideas, concepts and services.
I started going in 2009 and missed 2011’s. It was held during the month of November every year at the Rockwell Tent until this year when it is a few months early and being held at the World Trade Center. Since I am in Italy until the first week of October, I would not be able to go this year. And this year’s Global Pinoy Bazaar is but a few days away!
“More great PHmade finds at the Global Pinoy Bazaar on 22-24 August at the World Trade Center.
This is the 10th #GlobalPinoyBazaar and is also the BIGGEST ALL-FILIPINO expo of 2014. It also coincides with Buwan ng Wika and with the “Made in the Philippines Products Week,” as declared by Presidential Proclamation No. 76.”
Here are my blogs for the previous years’ Global Pinoy Bazaars:
- At the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2012 – Rockwell Tent, Makati
- What You Missed at the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2010
- A Day at the Global Pinoy Bazaar (2009)
Click HERE for more details.
Lia almost always does not want her photos taken – unless it is of her making bubbles – then she is all up for it! Here are some photos I took of her blowing home made bubbles in the garden using a Nikkor 50mm lens.
“The numerous beaches in San Teodoro, which are all just a few minutes away from the centre of town, are among the most beautiful in Sardinia and are famous all over the world for their white sands and the incomparable transparency of the sea. The nearest beaches to the centre of town are slightly more than 1 km away; while the remaining beaches – all between 8 to 15km from the centre of town – can be reached using the 125 highway towards Olbia. Along the road, on the right, are three main junctions. The first, in the town of Lu Fraili, allows you to reach the beaches of Punta di L’Aldia (9.8 km) and Lu Impostu (8.7 km). The second junction, in Lutturai, leads towards the resort of Coda Cavallo.”
“… the tourist village of Puntaldia which has a marina and a golf course with 9 holes, as well as hotel accommodations and residences of high quality. The name means the tip of the guard, from its obvious strategic and military significance. The coastline of the Punta Aldia, interspersed with a brilliant Mediterranean, is contiguous with the beach to the north and south with the Lu Impostu, La Cinta beach, from which it is separated from the small mouth of the great lagoon of San Teodoro, called “the seal”. Just along the south side, through the beaten track between the rock formations, you can move from one cove to another.” – San Teodoro Tourism Office
Frankly, our excursions to Punta di L’Aldia is limited to refueling the speed boat. 🙂 We leave Salina Bamba with the boat and head on to Punta di L’Aldia.
CAPO CODA CAVALLO
“Get there by driving north up highway 125 towards San Teodoro – Olbia, then turn right at the fork in the road at Lutturai. Skillfully carved by the Ostro and the Scirocco, this extreme offshoot of land stretches towards the Tyrrhenian Sea and overlooks the islands of Proratora, Molara and Tavolara. The beach of Capo Coda Cavallo as well as the beautiful scenery offered by the profile of the islands, boasts clear water and fine sand immersed in Mediterranean bushes. A few minutes’ walk leads to the vantage point overlooking the whole expanse of water bordered by the Protected Marine Area of Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo. That same vantage point is home to well-preserved military structures dating back to World War II, strategically important for the sighting of the Allied air forces using equipment such as the famous aerophone (a rudimentary radar-based amplification of the sounds produced by aircraft engines).” – San Teodoro Tourism Office
These are some photos I took from inside the car as we were driving from Olbia.
“The numerous beaches in San Teodoro, which are all just a few minutes away from the centre of town, are among the most beautiful in Sardinia and are famous all over the world for their white sands and incomparable transparency of the sea. The nearest beaches to the centre of town (slightly more than 1 km away) are La Cinta and Cala d’Ambra. The remaining beaches can be reached using the 125 highway towards Olbia. Along the road, on the right, are three main junctions. The first, in the town of Lu Fraili, allows you to reach the beaches of Punta di L’Aldia (9.8 km) and Lu Impostu (8.7 km). The second junction, in Lutturai, leads towards the resort of Coda Cavallo. Along this road are the beaches of Cala Brandinchi (9.8 km), Salina Bamba (11.5 km) and Baia Salinedda (12.2 km).” – San Teodoro map of the beaches and the area, distributed by the San Teodoro Tourism Office
“A true jewel of our coast, Brandinchi can be compared with the paradises of Polynesia by the intensity and brilliance of its nuances and it is also known to tourists as Little Tahiti. It boasts shallow water, fine sand next to a pine forest and a large patch of juniper, thistle and rushes. Definitely meant for families with children, behind the beach adjacent to the beautiful pine forest there’s a parking lot organized in a perfect corner of nature. The beach of Brandinchi has as a spectacular skyline view that is the unmistakable silhouette of the island of Tavolara to the north, an islet called Ruja Island to the east and the Capicciolu Point to the south. At its back, and this is true for many other nearby beaches, there is a lagoon area that during the summer season is dry.” – Source