Friday, March 31, 2017

A strong U.S. dollar can stretch your travel budget

Pack your bags and travel now while the U. S. dollar is soaring in value against foreign currencies. This Frommers' article discusses the strength of the USD vs. the euro, the English pound, the Japanese yen, the Mexican peso and the Chinese yuan.

In this article from Mashable, it seems the U.S. dollar is the preferred currency even in the afterlife.
http://mashable.com/2017/03/30/usd-hellnotes-malaysia/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#km0F8n1Nmaqf


Monday, March 27, 2017

Mararison Island Getaway

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Mararison Island. For good reasons. How can one not rave about the crystal clear waters around the island and the long stretch of beach with nary a soul? Or the opportunity to take a hike up the hills for a panoramic view of the "land where the mountains meet the sea"? 

We docked by the pile of ginormous jackstones which serve as breakwater for the island. Someday these will be properly redistributed so the beach will be well protected and halt the sea's reclamation of the beachfront. 



















The sea was calm in February when we visited Mararison. It didn't rain though the sky was heavy. And as it was low tide, the curving sandbar, Kawit, was visible from our open cottage on the beach. The hut rental was P300.

After leaving our things in our cottage, we went in search for grub. We found fish and vegetables for sale just a short distance from the beach. And we were pointed to a woman who cooked our meal for us. She grilled the fishes and made some fish soup and rice for five people, all for P350. She also provided the utensils. Our meal was ready when we returned from our circle island tour. We bought our drinks from the mini convenience store nearby. (As an option, we could have bought fish at the public market in Culasi which is conveniently located behind the municipal hall.)

Colorful outriggers dot the shoreline. I found this pink lady trapped between the blue sea and sky.

Culasi, Antique is an easy drive from Roxas City on a paved highway. We left early in the morning and stopped for breakfast in Kalibo before continuing our journey to Culasi. Prior to embarking on our trip to Mararison, we paid the environmental fee of P20 and terminal fee of P10 at the Tourism Office behind the municipal hall. Senior citizens are exempt from paying these fees. 

There are a number of motorized outriggers waiting at the jetty outside the Office. We hired one for the 20-minute crossing to Mararison. The cost of a roundtrip is P750.00 for a maximum of five passengers. This included a circle island tour. It was all fast and simple to set up. We left our car at the parking lot in front of the Office. Our pumpboat waited for us until we were ready to return to Culasi. If you are traveling alone, you may join a group and share the cost. 

There are frequent bus services from Iloilo, Kalibo and Caticlan to Culasi. The bus from Iloilo leaves from Tagbak Terminal in Jaro and it takes approximately three hours to reach Culasi. The Caticlan and Kalibo buses bound for Iloilo will stop in Culasi. See the schedule here: http://kalibo.org/bus-schedule-ceres/.

There are homestays providing basic accommodations and a couple of resorts on the island for those who wish to stay overnight. These can easily be arranged through the Culasi Tourism Office or on the island. You can shop around for a room when you arrive on the island but not during the summer season when Mararison welcomes a flood of visitors. If you plan to see more towns in Antique, I would suggest staying at Pandan Beach Resort in Pandan (30 minutes north of Culasi) which is on the beach and close to Bugang River (popular destination for river rafting) and Sebaste with its waterfalls. Check this link for more information about Pandan Beach Resort, 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


Friday, March 24, 2017

Pictures from Verona

"Pleasant Verona! With its beautiful old palaces, and charming country in the distance, seen from terrace walks, and stately, balustraded galleries. With its Roman gates, still spanning the fair street, and casting, on the sunlight of to-day, the shade of fifteen hundred years ago. With its marble-fitted churches, lofty towers, rich architecture, and quaint old quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and Capulets once resounded....." Pictures from Italy, Charles Dickens, Chapter 8
The walls of Verona

Saturday, March 04, 2017

European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for U.S. citizens

The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for U.S. citizens after the U.S. failed to agree to allow visa-free entry to five members of the European Union namely, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland and Romania under a visa-free reciprocity agreement. "The vote urges the revocation of the visa-free scheme within two months."

The European Commission has been given two months to take legal steps to require visas for U.S. citizens entering the EU. The Commission, for its part, advocates "continued engagement and patient diplomatic contacts". 

How would this affect travel plans to Europe if the visa requirement is imposed? It will certainly add an extra inconvenience, acquiring a visa. How easy would it be to get one? How much will it cost? What is the duration of the visa? So many questions yet to be answered. If you're planning on traveling this summer to EU countries, you might want to hold off getting your ticket until the visa issue has been resolved. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/europe-visa-free-travel-americans-european-parliament-vote-a7609406.html