April 25, 2019

Easter Monday in Norway

I haven’t posted anything for the last two weeks because our family went to Elverum, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo for two weeks vacation. Honestly, I have so many travel stories to share but I don’t know where I’m going to start. But before I share our Scandinavian trip, let me start with Easter Monday.


Yes, you’ve read it right “Easter Monday” (Påskedag), if you remember this post, I mentioned that Norway has 5 days Holy Week holiday so from Thursday to Monday, there are no work, school classes and expect that malls, supermarkets, banks and even the majority of the restaurants are closed. There are also changes in transportation schedule so it is hard to travel during Holy Week. Some stores are open for limited hours during Black Saturday.



When in Norway, you will notice that every Easter, they will also decorate their homes. Yellow is the color of Easter and you will see a lot of chickens, Easter Eggs and Easter bunnies. Kids receive Easter Eggs filled with candies, chocolates or small treats. My son was able to decorate his own Easter Eggs when we went to Glomdal Museum in Elverum. My aunt also gave him Kinder Surprise Eggs.


Since Monday is still a holiday, my aunt invited us for dinner. My uncle prepared Turkey, Potato, Salad, Bacon Wrapper, Fresh Orange Juice and Ice Cream for dessert. I noticed some Easter decorations too like chickens, bunnies, and eggs. The weather was good so we enjoyed our Easter Monday celebration but part of me was worried too because of the earthquake in the Philippines.



P.S. 

While preparing for Easter Monday dinner, my husband and my friend messaged me that there was an earthquake in the Philippines. And I when I opened my social media account, I’ve seen a lot of status about earthquake but what caught my attention is the photos and videos of Clark International Airport. Nagoosebumps ako because few weeks ago, nasa Clark Airport din kami and day before the earthquake happened, my husband arrived at Clark Airport.


I remember, I even suggested to my husband to stay in the hotel na lang near the airport so hindi siya mapagod pauwi kasi for sure traffic sa Pilipinas at Easter Sunday so uwian ng mga tao. But my husband wanted to go home na, buti na lang hindi niya ko sinunod so wala na siya sa Pampanga nung nag-earthquake. I was thankful for God’s protection, my husband, family and friends are all safe naman. Nakakaparanoid whenever I see the photos of CIA, I can’t imagine kung ano gagawin ko if we were there, yung time kasi ng earthquake, yun din ang time na waiting for boarding or waiting for baggage kami.

April 11, 2019

Qatar Airways Flight Experience

We all know that going to Europe is not cheap but there is nothing impossible if you want to fulfill your Europe Dream. Yes, you can still find affordable airfare to Europe especially if you are going off-peak season. When we went to Norway two years ago, there is no cheap plane ticket because we bought our ticket 5 weeks before our trip. In addition, there is no seat sale from Manila to Trondheim flight.


This year, we applied for our Schengen Visa in January and we got our visa/passport after 5 days. Then we went to the Philippine Travel Tour Expo and look for cheap airline tickets. There was seat sale but the price varies too, it depends on your travel date. Since we are leaving during summer vacation, the price is a little bit higher. We inquired for Manila - Oslo - Manila, and Clark - Oslo - Clark flight and we decided to book the latter. We only inquired at Qatar Airways and Emirates because other airlines do not offer Oslo flight. Qatar Airways is much cheaper and they also provide Free Shuttle Bus from Trinoma to Clark Airport. 

Read: Biyaheng Europe: Manila Philippines to Elverum Norway

Fast forward to our trip, off we went to Clark International Airport. Checking-in was smooth and the flight is on time. This was our first flight with Qatar Airways and so far we are happy with our first experience. They have free 30 minutes wi-fi but I couldn’t connect.


Clark to Oslo Clark for Doha 10 hrs and 5 min
Layover 1h and 55 min
Doha to Oslo 6h and 45 min

Qatar Airways provided a travel kit, the kit includes socks, eye mask, ear plug, toothbrush, and toothpaste. There is already a pillow, blanket, and headset on our chair. And of course, we have our own flight entertainment to keep us busy for our 10 hours flight. Aside from that, my son has his own travel kit too na wala sa Philippine Airlines or Thai Airways.



Qatar Airways provided a menu too so we know what to eat and drink. They have more options too compared to other airlines that we have tried. For our 10 hours flight, we have two meals. I appreciate the menu because it gives me an idea on what beverage is available for Economy Class flight, so hindi lang pala softdrinks or juice ang pwede. Madami naman pala choices.


Clark to Doha Menu

Main Meal

Appetizer: Macaroni Salad
Main:
Fried Milk Fish with Bistek Sauce (Steamed Rice, Pumpkin, Pak Choy and Caramelized Onion)
Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Herb Sauce (Roast Potato, sauteed green Peas, and Carrot)
Penne Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Dessert: Jackfruit Rice Pudding

Hot Snack 

Appetizer: Garbanzo salad with tomato and cucumber
Main:
Chicken Adobo with Steamed Rice (garlic, carrot)
Fried Milk Fish with Tomato Basil Sauce (buttered potato, pumpkin, and broccoli florets)
Stir Fried Asian Style Vegetables with Glass Noodles
Dessert: Macapuno Fruit Salad

Beverages 

Wines: Red wine, White wine
Spirits: Gin, Whisky, Vodka
Beer: Heineken Cognac
Liqueur: Brandy, Baileys Original Irish Cream
Cold Beverages: A selection of soft drinks, ginger ale, soda water, tonic water, a selection of juices, still water
Tea and Coffee: Freshly brewed Ceylon Tea, coffee



Child’s Meal 

Before our flight, I ordered for Child’s Meal so my son has his own food. They serve the kid’s meal first and they have more foods than adults. What nice about their kid’s meal, they have their own snack box that we can take home. So if you have babies, toddlers or kids, don’t forget to pre-book child’s meal, I just modify my booking online. No extra charges for that. If you fail to order, the staff will just ask you to choose from the menu so they can serve it ahead of time pero same lang siya sa adult meal.



Hamad International Airport 

After ten hours, we landed at Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar. Disembarking is quite slow because we need to take the bus. From the time we landed, it took us more or less 30 minutes before we reach the airport building. I think we were one of the last passengers who rode the bus. It was the longest bus ride that I’ve experienced inside the airport.


Upon arrival at the airport building, we went straight to transfer gates, pag-akyat pa lang ng escalator, nandun na agad yung screening. Since we are in a hurry, we forgot that my son has 2 Tetra pack juices in his bag (from kid’s meal) and it is not allowed because the liquid content is 200ml. The airport staff said, we can drink the juice but I decided to leave it to avoid the cause of delay. Nawalan tuloy kami ng drinks while waiting at the boarding gate. Hehehe!


Qatar Airport is beautiful, too bad that we were not able to explore the airport since we only have limited layover. They have a train inside the airport, we rode the train to reach our boarding gate. By the time that we reached the boarding gate, hindi pa man kami nakakapahinga ng matagal, boarding na agad. We took the bus again to reach the airplane, so umikot lang kami. Airplane - Bus - Train - Bus - Airplane. Sobrang bilis ng layover namin.


Doha to Oslo 

Boarding is on time but the plane took off after 30 minutes, good thing that we still arrived on time at Oslo Airport and we were able to catch our train to Elverum. For our 6 hours flight, we have a travel kit again. But we did not receive any flight entertainment for my son, I don’t know if they have that since wala kasi ko nakita na binigyan na kids or I should ask for it. Anyway, they gave us again the menu and I was surprised, 2 meals pa rin sa 6 hours flight.

Doha to Oslo Menu 

Light Snack 
Savoury Pastry Breakfast

Main 

Scrambled Eggs with Breakfast Sausage (fried potato cubes and tomato wedges)
Sweet Pancakes with strawberry compote
Paratha with Pindi Chana Chole (spinach croquette)

Accompaniments 

Seasonal Fresh Fruit Fruit Yogurt

Beverage: same choices





One thing I noticed, marami Filipino flight attendant sa Qatar Airways so mas masaya kasi hindi na nosebleed if we need to ask anything. I will just update this post for our Oslo to Clark experience.

April 09, 2019

Biyaheng Europe: Manila Philippines to Elverum Norway

Several years ago, I’ve been dreaming to go back to Norway with my family and my dream became a reality two years ago. I never thought that my son will love and enjoy Norway. So I was really surprised when he said: “See you after 2 or 3 years”. What!?! Ganun kabilis? Parang ang mura ng pamasahe? We told him that airfare is expensive so it will take time before we can visit Norway again.

Since then, we are saving again for our Norway trip. Last quarter of the year was a bit challenging so we’re not sure if we can push our trip, dami kasi expenses related to health. But one thing I realized, “Life is short, we don’t know kung hanggang kelan kami healthy na pwede pa magtravel so let us enjoy the present”

So when January came, I was busy preparing for our Schengen Visa Application. We need to apply for our visa before my husband leaves for his US Trip. Good thing that we got our Schengen visa after few days of application and we bought our plane ticket at Philippine Travel Tour Expo before my husband’s flight. 

We want to save money for our airfare so we booked Clark to Oslo to Clark ticket. Yes, even we add the gasoline, toll fees, and kahit pa yung effort. Mas malaki tipid if we will fly in Clark Airport, in addition mas mura Park N Fly fee sa Clark.

Read: 9 Ways to Score Cheap Airline Ticket 

Fast forward to our trip, we left past 10AM for our 6:30AM flight. From our house, we traveled more or less 4 hours because of the EDSA traffic. By the time we arrived, Qatar Airways counter is already open for check-in. We fill out a form + departure card while waiting for our turn then off we went to our Boarding Gate.


Terminal Fee 

I was surprised when we need to pay for the Terminal Fee, I have no idea na hindi pa siya included sa airfare, nasanay ko sa NAIA. Travel Tax lang pala yung kasama sa ticket. So at Clark International Airport, you need to pay the terminal fee whether domestic or international flight at the airport.

Terminal Fee P600 x 3
Total PHP1800

Clark International Airport Boarding Gate


I thought they have no airport lounge at the CIA but we saw two airport lounges at the boarding gate. Few months ago, we did not see any airport lounge when we went to Batanes, baka sa Domestic Flight ng Clark, walang lounge. Anyway, we just stayed in the boarding area since we did not bring the credit card (with airport lounge access). Staying at the boarding gate is not a problem because it is not crowded so we have enough space. There are food stalls and souvenir shops where you can buy your last minute pasalubong.

Qatar Airways 


We’re happy that flight is on time because I was worried that we might miss our connecting flight if there will be flight delays. This was our first time flying with Qatar Airways and so far we no regret. I will share our experience in my next post.

Clark for Doha 10 hrs and 5 min 
Layover 1h and 55 min 
Doha to Oslo 6h and 45 min 

Oslo Airport 

After 19 hours of traveling from Clark Aiport, we finally reached Oslo Airport. This was my third time visit in Norway, but this was also the first time that the Immigration Officer asked for my invitation letter and return ticket. So ang dami check ng documents and type-type sa computer niya. It was past 7:30AM and I was worried because we need to catch our 8:59AM train. I felt relieved when the IO already stamped our passport.

Oslo Airport Train Station 

Then we went straight to Baggage Claim Area to get our luggage and off we went to Oslo Airport Train Station. Oslo Airport is always my layover whenever we visit my mom but this was the first time na nakalabas talaga ko ng airport. This time no more connecting flight to Trondheim because we’re going to stay in Elverum.

My sister was supposed to fetch us at the airport but because of an unexpected event, she could not make it so our adventure begins. We can buy a train ticket online, train ticket counter and ticket machine. But we did not prebook our train ticket because we are not sure if we can make it on time. The ticket counter was still closed by the time we arrived at the airport so our only option is the ticket machine.


We tried buying the ticket using the machine but our credit card failed us. Nagcacancel and decline yung transactions. I was so disappointed because my husband already informed the credit card company that we will be using the card abroad pero hindi gumana. Thank God that our ATM card worked. Finally, we were able to buy our train ticket. Total is 650NOK for 2 adults and 1 kid.


Then we went to the train station which is just outside the airport so we did not have a problem looking for it. I was thankful na nabutan namin yung first trip because the next trip is 3PM pa. The bus is another option but my mom told me na baka mahirapan pa kami makita yung bababaan. We’re freezing while waiting for our train ride and we can’t go inside the airport para magpainit kasi nga first time namin and we don’t want to miss our train. We patiently waited at the train station kahit malamig. Our body is still adjusting sa lamig ng Norway, summer sa Pilipinas pero may snow pa sa Norway.


Good thing that I already take note of the details because we don’t have internet access at the train station and there is no English translation too so we need to check each stops at baka mamali kami ng babaan. We need to change train din kasi so medyo nakakaba.

Oslo Airport Station to Elverum Station via NSB 

08.59 to 10:35  Travel time is 1 h 36 min 1 change Track 1 R10 
Line R10 towards Lillehammer List of stops: 3 stops Duration (51min) 
Eidsvoll 09.09
Tangen 09.29
Stange 09.39
Arrival at Hamar 09.50 Track 1 
Walk to Hamar Station (4min): Transfer time 18min 
Departing from Hamar at 10.11 Track 2
Line Region towards Røros List of stops: 2 stop Duration (24min) 
Ilseng 10.16 Embarking and disembarking on signal only
Løten 10.23 Embarking and disembarking on signal only
Arrival Elverum at 10.35 Track 4: You have reached your destination 

There is already FREE wifi at the train so I was able to inform my mom that we made it on the first trip. Hindi naman kami nabored sa train ride because of the beautiful view.



My mom went to Elverum Train Station to fetch us. Yey, after 30 hours of traveling, we finally reach Elverum and we’re thankful for safe and smooth travel.



From the train station, we just walked to reach my sister’s house. This is it! Our summer vacation begins.


April 08, 2019

Understanding your Visa: How to Read the Visa Sticker

Applying for a visa is a nerve-racking experience especially if this would be your first time or if you are not a frequent traveler. I always feel nervous every time I applied for a visa and fortunately, all my visas were approved. I feel happy even they only give me a single-entry visa, it is better than a visa denied.


Few months ago, we applied for a Schengen Visa via VFS Global Norway and I’m the one who claimed for our passport. The staff gave me the envelope and advised me to check the information so I opened the envelope and immediately checked the Visa Sticker.

It is very important to check if all the information is correct. 

1. Check if your name is spelled correctly.
2. Check if the passport number in the visa sticker is the same as the one in your passport.
3. Check if the plane ticket or reservation corresponds with the entry and exit date indicated on the visa sticker.
4. A visa is issued for one, two or multiple entries, in accordance with the document need for entries.

* If you plan to leave and re-enter the Schengen area during your stay, you will get a visa with two entries. If you have documented a need for multiple entries during the validity period, your visa is issued multiple entries.

* If the information regarding your name, passport number or travel period is wrong, please inform the Embassy immediately, so that any errors can be corrected.

How to Read the Visa Sticker 

Duration of Stay - DAYS indicates the number of days you may stay in the Schengen area. The days should be counted from the date you enter the Schengen area (the entry stamp) to the date you exit the Schengen area (exit stamp).

* Based on my visa sticker, I applied for 60 days and they gave me 60 days.

The period of time between ”FROM… UNTIL” is usually longer than the number of days printed in the “DURATION OF STAY” field. The difference in period is meant to give you the flexibility to plan your entry into and exit from the Schengen area, but your stay in the Schengen area must never exceed the exact number of days in the “DURATION OF STAY….. DAYS”. No matter how many days yo have stayed in the Schengen area, you must leave no later than the date printed in the “UNTIL” field.

* Based on my visa sticker, they gave me 75 days from the day of my flight.

Controls at the border 

You short-stay visa allows you to travel to the Schengen States, but the final control of the entry conditions is done when you cross the Schengen border. A visa does not automatically entitle you to cross the Schengen border. It is therefore recommended that you carry with you the copies of documents which you presented when you applied for the visa ex. Invitation letter, travel confirmations, or other documents stating the purpose of your stay. This will help to make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border.

* I agree with this because, on my third visit to Norway, the Immigration Officer asked for my Invitation Letter and Return Ticket. For my two visits, IO only asked me about our purpose and how long are we going to stay and she stamped our passport but on my third visit, she asked for documents. So it really depends on the IO, it is better to be ready with your documents to avoid delays and long lines. 

Note: You must follow the period of stay allowed by your visa. If you need to stay longer, please contact the local police for further advise well in advance of the visa expiration date. Persons who wish to stay longer than 90 days during any period of 180 days should apply for a residence permit from the Philippines.

If you apply for a residence permit while in the Schengen area, this deemed a violation of the conditions of your visa approval. Even if a residence permit is granted, it may result in future visa application/s being refused.

Source: Flyer from Norway Embassy

April 06, 2019

How to Apply for Schengen Visa for your Europe Trip

I already blog about our experience in Applying for Schengen Visa via VFS Norway two years ago but I noticed that there are few changes na, that is why I’m sharing with you our experience this year 2019.

What is a Schengen Visa? 

Schengen Visa is a short-term visa granted to applicants up to 90 days. It allows him/her to visit 26 Schengen Countries for a family visit, tourism, business or any reason with an intention to return to home country afterward. The Schengen Member States Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

22 countries are part of EU (European Union)
4 countries part of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association)

Where Should You Apply for a Schengen Visa?  

1. Apply for visa in the embassy that you will be staying the most of your traveling days.
2. In case, the number of days is the same. Apply for visa in the embassy that you will enter first.

Read: Visa-Free Travel for Filipinos

I checked the Tourist Visa Requirements and I saw the proof of accommodation and itinerary but our main purpose is visiting my mom in Norway so we chose Visit Mother/Father and Visit Other Relatives/Friends Checklist.

How to Apply For Schengen Visa Via VFS Global Norway 



Visitor's visa 

A visitor's visa allows you to stay in Norway or other countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days over a period of 180 days.

Step 1: Print out the checklist and gather necessary documents. You can check here the different requirements depending on the type of visa that you need.

Base on the checklist, these are the documents that we submitted.

Visit Mother/Father Checklist (Housewife) 

1. Cover letter
2. One (1) passport sized photo with white background and not older than 6 months.
3. Original passport
4. Photocopy of original passport - biopage and used pages (with visas and stamps)
5. Letter of invitation from your mother/father (for Sweden: Invitation Form 241011)
6. Photocopy of PSA birth certificate
7. Photocopy of the passport biodata page of your mother/father.
8. Proof of sufficient funds of applicant (or parents/legal guardian if applicant is under age of 18) - original bank certificates/transcripts and photocopy of credit card statements for the last 6 months.
9. Proof of sponsorship or (for Norway) UDI Guarantee Form for Visit plus photocopy
10. Proof of family ties - photocopies of your PSA Marriage Certificate and/or Birth Certificates of your children (if applicable)
11. Photocopy of roundtrip airline ticket reservation
12. Photocopy of travel medical insurance

Visit Other Relatives/Friends Checklist (Employed) 

1. Cover letter
2. One (1) passport sized photo with white background and not older than 6 months.
3. Original passport
4. Photocopy of original passport - biopage and used pages (with visas and stamps)
5. Letter of invitation from your relative/friend (for Sweden: Invitation Form 241011)
6. Photocopy of the passport biodata page of your relative/friend
7. For visiting relative - photocopies of PSA birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. to prove the relationship.
8. Proof of sufficient funds of applicant (or parents/legal guardian if applicant is under age of 18) - original bank certificates/transcripts and photocopy of credit card statements for the last 6 months. 9. Proof of sponsorship or (for Norway) UDI Guarantee Form for Visit plus photocopy
10. Proof of family ties - photocopies of your PSA Marriage Certificate and/or Birth Certificates of your children (if applicable)
11. If currently employed - original Certificate of Employment or photocopy of work contract stating position, length of service, salary and duration of approved leave of absence.
12. Photocopy of roundtrip airline ticket reservation
13. Photocopy of travel medical insurance

Visit Other Relatives/Friends Checklist (Student) 

1. Cover letter
2. One (1) passport sized photo with a white background and not older than 6 months.
3. Original passport
4. Photocopy of original passport - biopage and used pages (with visas and stamps)
5. Letter of invitation from your relative/friend (for Sweden: Invitation Form 241011)
6. Photocopy of the passport biodata page of your relative/friend
7. For visiting relative - photocopies of PSA birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. to prove the relationship.
8. Proof of sufficient funds of the applicant (or parents/legal guardian if the applicant is under age of 18) - original bank certificates/transcripts and photocopy of credit card statements for the last 6 months.
9. Proof of sponsorship or (for Norway) UDI Guarantee Form for Visit plus photocopy
10. If currently a student - original certification of enrolment from school. If you will be going on a holiday during summer or semestral break, submit s certification of reservation or certification of enrolment to prove that you are enrolled for the next school year/semester. If traveling during school year, a certificate of leave of absence from the school should also be submitted.
11. Photocopy of roundtrip airline ticket reservation
12. Photocopy of travel medical insurance
13. Photocopy of parent’s/legal guardian’s passport or government ID

Note: For roundtrip airline ticket reservation. We just called KLM to reserve a ticket, the booking is good for three days only so by the time that we submitted our application, expired na yung booking but our visa was still approved.

Read: Where to Buy Travel Medical Insurance for Schengen Visa
3 Ways to Get your PSA Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate

Step 2: Fill in your application online 

1. Go to UDI Application Portal and enter User ID and Password. For first time user, just create your account.
2. Click New Application (visas, residence permits, citizenship, immigrant’s passport, EEA registration).
3. Click Application forms for citizens of all countries (Application for visitor’s visa, residence permits, permanent permit, Norwegian citizenship, immigrant’s passport or border traffic permit).
4. Choose the right visa application form that you need. I chose Visitor’s Visa for Groups. (Application for visas for groups visiting Norway and other Schengen countries.)
5. Click I accept the Legal Disclaimer and Go to application form.
6. Fill-in the application form.

Note: I fill-in the 3 application form and save it. I did not submit it yet because I’m waiting for my mom’s documents.

Step 3: Submit the form. 

Log in to the UDI Application Portal, click individual/group application form, review application and submit the form.

Note: You can no longer edit the application once submitted so don’t forget to review it. You must pay the fee to submit the application.

Step 4: Pay fee - via credit card only (Visa or Mastercard) 

Visitor's visa for adults and children over 12 years old (single or multiple entries) 60 euro
Visitor's visa for children between 6 and 12 years old (single or multiple entries) 35 euro

Total: EURO155 or PHP9484.82

Step 5: Book your appointment. 

I click the link for Schedule an Appointment, then VFS Manila and it leads me to VFS site where I need to register.

Click new user, fill-in the form and submit. 

First name
Last Name
Email
Contact Number
Password
Confirm Password

Note: The registration will expire after 30 inactive days from the last appointment date.

How to Schedule an Appointment 

1. Click Schedule Appointment

Enter the following details: visiting country, residing country, centre and purpose of travel and click continue.
2. Click Add Applicant

Enter the following details: passport number, date of birth, passport expiry date, select nationality, first name, last name, gender, contact number, email ID then click submit.

Then click continue and choose the date and time.

Note: In my case, I add 3 applicants but I was having a hard time booking an appointment. The date shows available slot but I’m getting an error so we called VFS office and the staff said, magbook daw ng paisa-isa. Pagsasabayin na lang daw kami pagpasa ng requirements.

I followed it and I was able to book 9:45AM and 11AM appointment. I received the email and I printed the appointment letter.

Step 6: Hand in application and documents in person



Norway Visa Application Centre, VFS Global 
Ground Floor,
Ecoplaza Building Don Chino Roces Avenue,
Makati City, Metro Manila
Website: http://www.vfsglobal.com/norway/philippines/
Helpline: +63 2 790 49 02

Note: Go to VFS Global Norway and submit all your documents. The guard will ask for your passport and appointment letter. He/She will give you a form, fill out the form and give it to counter 6-8 (Norway). Wait for the staff to call your name. The staff will just review your documents, ask few questions and then pay for the VFS fee.

Aside from the visa fee, VFS will collect a service fee of Php 1,530.00 for each visa application. VFS accepts payment in cash at the Norway counter in VFS during your appointment date.

Total: PHP4590

Processing Time: 15 Days after the submission of documents.

Note: The staff informed us about the 15 days processing time. So delikado si hubby because in less than two weeks may biyahe na siya. My husband has upcoming business trip in USA so he asked if he can pull-out the passport just in case matagalan pa ang decision. We added a letter and plane ticket sa application form niya. The staff said, we can borrow the passport naman pero sa Norway Embassy daw kukunin.

Step 7: Biometrics

After payment of Visa Fee, you will have your Biometrics. We had our biometrics 23 months ago pero nagbiometrics pa rin kami. Take photo and give fingerprints. No fingerprints for my 10-year old son. Medyo matagal kami ngayon, more than an hour bago matapos.

Step 8: Pick-up your passport from the Visa Application Centre

Bring your official receipt and a valid ID. Claim your passport between 2PM to 4PM only. If a representative will pick up the passport on your behalf, please hand in the following:

Official receipt
Signed authorization letter with complete details
Original valid ID with a photocopy

Note: We all went to VFS Norway to pick-up our passport but because of the expensive parking fee, kami na lang ng anak ko bumaba. Hehehe! So my husband gave me an authorization letter and valid ID.

We arrived before 1PM and claiming of passport starts at 2PM so we waited outside the VFS office. At 1:30PM, the guard allowed us to enter just to register and they get our official receipt to secure our slot. At 2PM, they let us in na and true enough, kami naman ng anak ko nauna tawagin. I gave the authorization letter and a valid ID. You have to open the package and check your visa if everything is okay. Then fill out the form and that’s it.

Our Experience in Applying for Schengen Visa Via VFS Global Norway

First month of the year and I was busy preparing for our Schengen Visa Application. I thought it would be less stressful because this would be my second time to apply but I was wrong. When I checked the requirements, that is the only time I realized that I don’t have PSA copy of our birth certificate and marriage certificate. Ang dami kong stress sa pag-complete ng requirements.

1. I went to SM Business Center to request for a PSA copy and nakatatlong balik ko just to claim my documents, ang one week timeframe naging two weeks. So it is better to order online if you need it asap.

Read: 3 Ways to Get Your PSA Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate and CENOMAR

2. I asked my husband to get a Certificate of Employment and since we need the original copy, we waited for the papers from Singapore.
3. My husband requested for Bank Certificate, and was advised to claim it the following day. We claimed it after two days and guess what? Doon pa lang niya ginawa. Nakakaloka ang bank staff, sabi niya i-claim na lang the following day, after two days na nga kami bago bumalik tapos hindi naman pala niya ginawa. It took her more than an hour just to finish our bank certificate. I don’t understand bakit ang tagal nila iprocess, one piece of paper lang naman yun. Nastress ako kasi I requested bank certificate na rin though sa ibang bank and within 15 minutes, nakuha ko na. Hindi na ko pinabalik pa. Now I know na iba-iba rin pala ang process per bank.
4. I went to my son’s school and paid the tuition (downpayment) for school year 2019-2020 so I can get Certificate of Enrollment. I was so surprised when the school staff said, balikan mo na lang tomorrow. What? Last time, nakuha ko naman agad pero ngayon pinabalik din ko.
5. I asked my mom to send me the documents that we need for our Schengen Visa application such as Letter of Invitation, Copy of her passport and UDI Guarantee and this time, she sent the documents one week earlier but I was disappointed kasi wala rin nangyari because the documents arrived late, almost 3 weeks compared sa 2 weeks nung 2017.

Read: How to Claim Parcel in PHLPost

That’s why I am hesitant in applying for visa

1. It is hard to prepare and complete the requirements.
2. It is so expensive because you need to pay for all the requirements that you need, pay visa fee and even VFS fee.
3. There is no assurance that your visa will be granted so iyak na lang pag denied, sa dami ng gastos.

It took me 3 weeks to complete the requirements. Anyway, that is the only tedious part because after you complete your requirements, everything is easy na.

January 28, 2019 (Monday)

1. I received my mom's documents.
2. I submit our application form online.
3. Pay the Visa Fee
4. Book an Appointment
5. Buy travel insurance online
6. Prepare and arrange all the documents

January 29, 2019 (Tuesday) - we went to VFS to submit our documents, pay VFS fee and do biometrics.
February 1, 2019 (Friday) - we received an email and text regarding our visa application
February 4, 2019 (Monday) - we claimed our passport.
“The Royal Norwegian Embassy has the pleasure of informing you that your application for a Schengen visa has been approved. Please pick up your passport at Norway Visa Application Centre, VFS Global between 2pm and 4pm from the next working day if submitted in VFS Global Manila and two (2) working days later if submitted in VFS Global Cebu”
It was our second-time of applying for Schengen Visa and they still gave us a single entry visa. Though we only ask for single-entry, of course, I’m hoping multiple-entry na lang ibigay so we don’t have to spend visa fee every time we are going to visit my mom. But anyway, we’re still happy because visa approved. My son and I got 60 days and my husband got 24 days, finollow lang talaga nila yung travel insurance and plane ticket.

Read: Understanding your Visa: How to Read the Visa Sticker

April 03, 2019

Day 3: South Batan Island Tour in Batanes

I was deleting photos on my phone and I saw my Batanes photos so this reminds me to finish this series. It took me a few months to finish the series because it is hard to choose photos and videos, for this South Batan Island tour, I have 644 photos and videos. Waah! Anyway, if you missed my other posts, you can check the link below for Day 1 and Day 2 Batanes Tour.

Day 1: North Batan Island Tour 
Day 2: Sabtang Island Tour


South Batan Island Tour Itinerary 

Chawa Viewdeck
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port
Tayid Lighthouse
San Carlos Church
Homoron Blue Lagoon
Maydangeb White Beach
Ivana Municipality
Old Spanish Bridge
House of Dakay
San Jose De Obrero
Honesty Coffee Shop
Uyugan Municipality
Muchong Viewpoint
Songsong Ruins
Itbud Village
Alapad Natural Rock Formation
Old Naval Station
Imnajbu Village
Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country)

I thought that we really need a day to finish the South Batan Island Tour so we started our tour as early as 8:30AM but I was wrong. The list of tourist spots are so long pero hindi naman pala lahat babaan or I guess it depends on the tour guide din. We just passed some of the tourist spots so I only have pictures from afar and we stopped by dun sa mga popular tourist spots. So we were done before 1PM, hindi pa kami nagmadali niyan at 1 hour na nga kami kumain.

So I think, doing compressed North and South Batan Tour is okay. If you have a limited budget or if you have limited time in Batanes, you can do North and South Batan Tour in one day. Based on our experience, we only spent few hours visiting the tourist spots.

For our Day 3, I was worried at first because it started to drizzle on our way to Chawa Viewdeck but we’re thankful because the rain stopped. Yehey! Nakisama naman ang weather up to our last day of tour.

Chawa Viewdeck 



On our way to Ivana Port, I already saw Chawa Viewdeck, Mahatao Boat Shelter Port and lighthouse. I find it beautiful so I was really looking forward to our South Batan Tour so I can see these tourist spots, up close and personal.


Ang ganda talaga sa Chawa viewdeck, you can see the West Batan Cliffs and the West Philippine Sea. Looking at the waves was relaxing but scary at the same time because the waves were strong. And because of the drizzle, we did not go down anymore because the staircase is wet and slippery.

Mahatao Boat Shelter Port 



I was sad because we just passed the Mahatao Boat Shelter Port, gusto ko pa naman bumaba para magtake ng pictures. This port was constructed so in times of typhoon and strong waves, there is a shelter for the boats. I also saw a lighthouse from afar but I don’t know the name of the lighthouse.

San Carlos Borromeo Church 

Next stop is San Carlos Borromeo Church, a church in Mahatao that was built in 1787 and was improved through the years. This is also the place where Katipuneros raised the Katipunan flag on September 19, 1898. It is part of National Cultural Treasure since July 31, 2011.


There is a blank book here where you can write your personal message. Within the area, you can see two old Spanish lamp post that serves as a lighthouse or guide to fishermen.

Homoron Blue Lagoon 


We passed the Huhmoron, Homoron Blue Lagoon or Spanish Lagoon, it is famous because of the blue color of the water but during our visit, hindi siya blue. It is also called Spanish Lagoon because during the Spanish era, only priest or Spaniards are allowed to take a dip or swim here. But of course, now it is open to the public.

Maydangeb White Beach 



We stopped by at Maydangeb White Beach, looking at the beach parang ang sarap na magswimming. But it was cold and we did not go to Batanes to swim, so we have to continue our sightseeing tour.

Old Spanish Tuhel Bridge 



On our way to House of Dakay, we passed by Old Spanish Bridge in Ivana Town, it was built in 1800’s but it is still functional. You can also see other bridges in the area.

House of Dakay 



House of Estrella or popularly known as House of Dakay is the oldest stone house in Batanes. It is one of the stone houses that survived after the September 13, 1918 earthquake (8.3 magnitude). The house is still in its original form except for the cogon roof because it is replaced every 25 to 30 years. The kitchen and comfort room are few steps away from the house. You can also rent a Vakul and Kanayi Vest for P20. Few steps away from House of Dakay is a souvenir shop so you can already buy souvenirs there.

San Jose de Ivana Church 



Then we moved to old Ivana Port, in front of the port is San Jose de Ivana Church. Batanes is a small province but I was really surprised that everywhere we go, there is a church for the Ivatans. It was built in 1787 to serve the people of Ivana, Sabtang, and Uyugan but when Sabtang residents moved back to Sabtang, they closed some parts of the church.

Honesty Coffee Shop 

From the church, we walked to Honesty Coffee Shop. It the famous coffee shop because the store is unmanned. Yes, there is no staff that will assist you. If you want to buy or eat, feel free to serve yourself but don’t forget to pay. There is logbook where you need to list the stuff that you bought and drop your payment at the dropbox. According to our tour guide, palaki ng palaki nga daw bahay ng may-ari ng Coffee Shop because it is indeed the most visited tourist spot in Batanes.


Maybe, even you don’t have to plan to buy something, mapapabili ka just to experience buying something at the Honesty Coffee Shop. It is good to know na nagwork ang Honesty Coffee Shop in Batanes but sad to know na hindi siya nagwork sa mga ibang gumaya like in Metro Manila. Bilang na lang ba ang honest sa Metro Manila?

Muchong Viewpoint 




After exploring Ivana Town, we went to Uyugan Town. Our first stop is Muchong Viewpoint, another rolling hill in Batanes where you can enjoy the seascape.

Ruins of Songsong

We passed by Sitio of Songsong, which is also known as ghost barangay because the area was abandoned after the tsunami hit the town in the year 1954. You can still see the roofless stone houses but some of the ruins are already occupied. People try to restore and maintain the stone house.

Alapad Pass and Natural Rock Formation 

We stopped by at Alapad Pass and Natural Rock Formation, it is another popular tourist spot because it is where Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta shot their movie “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit”.




You will enjoy the different rock formations here, the two cliffs separated by the road, the Pacific Ocean view. In Batanes, you will always see “Blow UR Horn” sign if you will pass narrow curve cliff, hindi pa uso text lingo may ganung sign na sa Batanes.

Old LORAN (Long Range Naval Station) 



From the Madangay Cliff, you can see the OLD Loran or also known at Little America. It will be reopened as the National Museum.

Lunch at Nanay Ching Restaurant 

It was only quarter to 11AM, but we’re almost finished with our South Batan Tour. Lighthouse and Marlboro Country na lang ang kulang. We had early lunch at Nanay Ching Restaurant. It is park of our tour package, we had nilagang pork, chicken afritada, pork adobo, chopsuey, rice and camote salad. The serving was huge so we took our time eating at mahaba-haba pa oras namin.

Read: Where to Eat in Batanes

Marlboro Country 

After one hour, we continued exploring South Batan and off we went to Racuh A Payaman or also known as Marlboro Country. It is a protected area where you can see cows, carabaos, hills, mountain, fields, sky, and sea. It is indeed a picturesque place and sometimes I wonder if this place is really in the Philippines.



Breathtaking Batanes it is, you can see the Tayid lighthouse at the left, the Mount Iraya at the right, and enjoy the view of Pacific Ocean. It was windy so it was hard for me to walk kasi feeling ko liliparin na naman ako. But even I’m afraid, I try my best to walk so I can enjoy the view too. Kung hindi lang mahangin, we can stay longer here.

Tayid Lighthouse 


Our last stop of the tour is Tayid Lighthouse, it is one of the three functional lighthouses in Batanes that was built in the 2000s. It is hexagonal shape lighthouse that guides the seafarers in the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse was closed so we were not able to check the interiors.

Mahatao Wind Turbines 



On our way back to the hotel, we saw the Mahatao Wind Turbines. It is not operational so nakababa lang.

Tawsen Souvenir Shop 

Since we are early, our tour guide dropped us at Tawsen Souvenir Shop so we can buy some souvenirs or pasalubong.

Dinner at Hudzan’s Cafe & Catering 

We had dinner at Hudzan’s Cafe & Catering, we ordered Buttered Garlic Shrimp, Burger Steak, Crispy Beef Ribs, Rice and Softdrinks. It is part of our tour package so we did not pay anything.

That’s the end of my Batanes series. It is a hassle-free and memorable experience for us. Going to Batanes is not cheap but I have no regrets in visiting this province. I’m happy that I was able to cross this out on my bucket list and I am proud to say that we have this breathtaking place in the Philippines.

We paid P7200 per person for our 3 Days Tour in Batanes, this includes the tour, lunch and dinner. It is is a little bit expensive for a private tour but if you want to save money, you can check my post here. You can also book your tour at Klook.

Read: Where to Stay in Batanes

3 Days North Batan, South Batan and Sabtang Island Tour P5,500
2 Days North Batan, South Batan and Sabtang Island Tour P4,800
North Batan Half Day Tour P1500
Sabtang Island Day Tour from Batan Island P2500
2 Days North Batan and South Batan Tour P3500
South Batan Tour P2000

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