November 25, 2023

Europe's Top 10 Most Breathtaking Natural Landscapes

Europe, a continent renowned for its rich history and diverse cultures, is equally celebrated for its stunning natural landscapes that captivate the hearts of travelers. From dramatic mountain ranges to picturesque coastlines, Europe boasts an array of breathtaking scenes that seem almost otherworldly. Let's embark on a virtual journey to explore the top 10 most awe-inspiring natural landscapes that define the continent's unparalleled beauty. 

The Swiss Alps: Majestic Peaks and Alpine Bliss

Nestled at the heart of Europe, the Swiss Alps are a quintessential symbol of mountainous grandeur. Switzerland's pristine landscapes, adorned with snow-capped peaks, glittering lakes, and charming alpine villages, are a visual feast for all who venture here. The Jungfrau Region, with its iconic trio of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks, provides an unforgettable panorama. For those seeking adventure, a plethora of outdoor activities await, from skiing and hiking to paragliding. The Switzerland tour package from Chennai can seamlessly transport you to this alpine wonderland. 

The Norwegian Fjords: Nature's Masterpiece 

Nestled along Norway's western coast, the Norwegian fjords stand as a testament to nature's artistic prowess. These deep, narrow inlets, carved by ancient glaciers, present a mesmerizing spectacle of steep cliffs, emerald-green waters, and cascading waterfalls. One of the most famous fjords, Geirangerfjord, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a haven for cruise enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in the ethereal beauty of the Nordic landscape. 

The Picos de Europa: Spain's Hidden Mountain Retreat 

Tucked away in northern Spain, the Picos de Europa is a hidden gem that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. This mountain range, characterized by jagged peaks, verdant valleys, and charming villages, provides a tranquil haven for nature lovers. Fuente Dé, a cable car-accessible viewpoint, offers breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding landscapes. As you explore the hiking trails and encounter the local wildlife, the Picos de Europa reveals a side of Spain that goes beyond its vibrant cities and sandy beaches. For those seeking a unique adventure, consider booking a Switzerland package from Kerala to further explore the beauty of Europe's diverse landscapes 

The Scottish Highlands: Where Mountains Kiss the Sky 

In the northwestern corner of the United Kingdom lies a rugged expanse of untamed beauty – the Scottish Highlands. Vast stretches of heather-clad hills, serene lochs, and towering mountains create a landscape that is both majestic and mystical. Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles, commands attention, while Glencoe's dramatic glacial valleys offer a hauntingly beautiful backdrop. The Scottish Highlands are a haven for hikers, nature lovers, and those seeking solitude amid breathtaking vistas.

Plitvice Lakes National Park: Croatia's Natural Kaleidoscope

Tucked away in the heart of Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a natural wonderland that seems straight out of a fairytale. Sixteen interconnected lakes, adorned with cascading waterfalls and surrounded by lush greenery, create a landscape of unparalleled beauty. The vibrant colors of the lakes, ranging from azure to emerald, change with the angle of the sun, providing a captivating and ever-changing spectacle. Wooden walkways and hiking trails allow visitors to explore this pristine paradise, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. 

The Amalfi Coast: Italy's Coastal Gem

Italy's Amalfi Coast is a celebration of Mediterranean splendor, where towering cliffs adorned with colorful villages plunge into the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea. The picturesque towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. Narrow winding roads hug the coastline, providing breathtaking views of the sea and the dramatic cliffs. The Amalfi Coast is not just a visual feast; it's a sensory experience that captures the essence of la dolce vita. 

The Icelandic Land of Fire and Ice: A Symphony of Contrasts 

Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is a geological marvel that defies expectations at every turn. Volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls coexist in a harmonious dance of contrasts. The iconic Golden Circle route showcases the explosive power of geysers at Geysir, the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, and the historical significance of Thingvellir National Park. The otherworldly landscapes of black sand beaches and the surreal beauty of the Blue Lagoon add to Iceland's allure, making it a destination that appeals to both adventure seekers and those seeking tranquility. 

The Carpathian Mountains: Eastern Europe's Enchanted Wilderness 

Stretching across Central and Eastern Europe, the Carpathian Mountains are a treasure trove of natural wonders. Diverse ecosystems, dense forests, and alpine meadows create a landscape that feels enchanted and untouched. Romania's Transfagarasan Highway winds through these mountains, offering breathtaking views of valleys and medieval castles. The Carpathians are not just a feast for the eyes; they are also home to a rich array of flora and fauna, making them a haven for eco-tourism and wildlife enthusiasts. 

Cinque Terre: Italy's Coastal Cinematic Masterpiece 

The rugged cliffs of the Ligurian coastline cradle the five colorful villages of Cinque Terre, creating a coastal masterpiece that seems straight out of a cinematic dream. Each village, perched precariously on the cliffs, is a mosaic of pastel-colored buildings, vibrant vineyards, and azure waters. Hiking trails connect the villages, offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and the terraced landscapes. Cinque Terre is a testament to human ingenuity, as generations have carved a sustainable existence into the steep hillsides. 

Bavarian Alps: Germany's Alpine Wonderland 

Nestled in the southern part of Germany, the Bavarian Alps are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and cultural aficionados alike. The iconic Neuschwanstein Castle, perched atop a hill, overlooks the picturesque landscapes of the region. The Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak, offers panoramic views that extend into Austria and Switzerland. From charming alpine villages to pristine lakes, the Bavarian Alps provide a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.

November 23, 2023

The Biggest Black Friday Sale Ever

While we all know now is the BEST time to snag holiday gifts for all the people on your list… don’t forget it’s a great opportunity to treat yourself for all the hard work you've done this year. 

You deserve it, right? 

Well, I’ve got the perfect gift to give yourself this year…. a lifetime membership to the Styled Stock Society!

Lifetime membership is normally $900 but during their Black Friday sale you can save a whopping 50% which means you get LIFETIME ACCESS for just $450! 

And just in case you need a *little* more convincing, here’s everything you’ll get LIFETIME access to:
  • 9,000+ stock photos (with new images added WEEKLY) 
  • A growing library of stock videos to use for your site, social video, & more 
  • UNLIMITED downloads 
  • Over 2,000 customizable Canva templates (Instagram posts, stories, reels, workbooks, blog graphics, presentation slides & more!) 
  • Monthly caption guides with prompts, templates, and sample captions for every single day of the month  TONS of bonus resources, like sales page templates and marketing toolkits to help your biz grow
In other words: No more designing your graphics from scratch. No more shelling out money for stock photos that don’t fit your brand. No more spending hours of time coming up with promotions captions and marketing materials. 

All the marketing resources you could need forever are all right there in one place FOR 50% OFF (told ya this sale was amazing). Just use the code SSSBF at checkout! #afflink

The #StyledStockSociety Black Friday Sale goes through November 27th 11:59 pm EST.

November 17, 2023

Traveling to Sydney Australia from Manila Philippines and Vice Versa via Philippine Airlines

There are several airlines that fly to Sydney from Manila like Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar Airways, Scoot, and Philippine Airlines. We chose the latter because we were able to score a cheap fare using our miles during the Great Mabuhay Miles Getaway Promotion. 

Manila - Sydney - Manila was our first long-haul flight via Philippine Airlines, other airlines that we have tried for long-haul flights are Qatar Airways and Thai Airways. So I was curious if there will be a difference in Philippine Airlines long-haul flights because we only experienced their short-haul and medium-haul flight. If you’ve read my post about our Vietnam flight, nadisappoint ako sa food. 

Moving on, let me reminisce about our Manila to Sydney to Manila flight via Philippine Airlines. As per our ticket, here is the travel time but during our trip, we traveled in less than 8 hours. 

Manila to Sydney 8 hrs and 35 mins 
Sydney to Manila 8 hrs and 15 mins 

Manila to Sydney 

At the time of our flight, I was surprised when there was a Security Check before going to the check-in counter. We were required to open all our check-in bags; the staff wiped something on our stuff and put it in a machine before we were given a “Security Checked” sticker. 

Checking in is fast, unfortunately, we can’t choose seats na so we settled sa last row na lang. The advantage is, I can recline my seat na hindi ko ginagawa kung wala ko sa last row. The disadvantage is naubusan kami ng food. I wanted the beef + pasta pero naubusan na so for our entire row, we all received chicken meal. 

Our seats have monitor na, unlike sa ibang experience namin na “myPAL Player” lang meron. Pero kapag minalas ka nga naman, sira pa yung headset na nabigay sa akin. I did not bother to request a new one because I prefer to sleep. 

They provided an overnight kit too, the kit includes socks, an eye mask, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

After a few hours of sleeping, we were given a hot towel and then morning snacks. I was expecting a breakfast meal just like my experiences with other airlines but I was wrong. I did not eat this sandwich and natapon lang. Yes, bawal kasi maglabas ng food from the airplane.

Keep in mind that there are restrictions in Australia so make sure you do your own research and always declare if you brought something from their list. Here is a sample of the declaration form. 

Sydney to Manila 

We arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, three hours before our flight but Philippine Airlines counter was still closed, sabay-sabay halos yung flight pa Manila kaya ang gulo sa pila and sobrang crowded ng airport. 

Immigration is via e-gate, mas mabilis pero matatagalan ka rin if ever nagkaproblem sa pagscan ng passport yung mga nasa unahan mo or ikaw mismo ang hindi maread passport. Natagalan kami dito, mas prefer ko yung may tao na nagcheck ng passport. 

And because of that, nagmamadali na kami so hindi ko man lang gaano naexplore yung Sydney Airport, parang kumain lang and mabilisang bili ng souvenirs then boarding gate na. 

Our Manila to Sydney flight was on time but our Sydney to Manila was delayed, For boarding, we rode a bus pa kaya mas lalong natagalan. 

Here are the foods for our flight, I chose fish kasi puro meat na yung kinakain ko sa Sydney kaso nagsisi ako kasi mas mukhang masarap yung beef ng anak ko. Hehehe! For snacks, natuwa na ko kasi nakain ko na, we had Cheese & Relish Sandwich + Blueberry Muffin.

I did not sleep during the flight so ilang movies yung pinagtiyagaan ko panoorin since I did not download any movies or series sa Netflix.

In addition, my husband has the benefit of "Priority Tag" on his luggage but when we arrived in Manila, we were one of those passengers na late na nakuha yung luggage. Mas nauna pa lumabas yung ibang luggage na walang "Priority Tag" sticker. Sa sobrang tagal namin, nakakwentuhan na namin yung foreigner sa tabi namin na kasabayan namin nauna sa carousel. 

November 16, 2023

6 Christmas Insert Cards

My fascination with draw and cut cards started two years ago. Even though I only have one Cricut Pen, I still make a lot of cards. Because of that, I gifted myself 30 pieces of Ultimate Fine Point Set and 5 pieces of Metallic Pen Set. But in reality, I still prefer using Cricut Black Pen. Hehehe! 

Anyway, sharing the last set of Christmas Insert Cards that I cut last year which is part of my “Project Half Done”. I still have a lot of insert cards that I bought from this designer that I plan to finish next year.

Among the Christmas Insert Card Bundles that I purchased, this is my favorite because I have Gnome, Santa Claus, Reindeer, Christmas Tree, and Christmas Lights. You can just add the insert card after cutting but I decided to upgrade the insert cards. 

November 15, 2023

Season’s Greeting Insert Cards

My mind and body are still in vacation mode. In fact, my two previous posts were scheduled posts, I wrote those articles three months ago. So let me just continue my Christmas Craft Projects series.

I mentioned in my other posts that I bought a lot of SVG files so last year, I started cutting those insert cards. Because of this, I have a lot of “Project Half Done” and this year, I started finishing those projects including this Seasons Greeting Insert Card Bundle

The bundle has five Christmas Designs that I score, draw, and cut using Cricut Maker and Cricut Pen. But for a change, instead of just adding the insert card, I made some improvements using Distress Oxides, Ohuhu Markers, Lunar Paste, and Beads.

For this card, I made two versions, one is cut and the other one is drawn. 

November 13, 2023

How to Apply for an Australian Tourist Visa with Biometrics in the Philippines

Our family loves to travel but we prefer a visa-free country to save money because we all know that visa application is not cheap. And if ever we apply, there is no guarantee that our visas will be granted because it will always depend on our documents and who will review our applications. All we can do is pray and hope that our documents are enough to prove that we are genuine tourists and we have strong ties in our country. 

As of this writing, Australia is the third visa country that we applied for as a family. My husband has other business visas but for our own family trip, we only experienced Japan Visa and Schengen Visa.  

When my husband purchased our Manila - Sydney- Manila flight during the Great Mabuhay Miles Getaway Promotion, I started reading blogs and articles regarding the Australian Visa Tourist Application. In my mind, everything is easy because I can do it online but I spoke too soon because… 

1. I was surprised when I needed to answer 20 pages. 

2. We are applying as a family but we need individual applications. I can only create a group to inform them that this is a group process. 

Is this application being lodged as part of group applications? 

Group ID: Group Name: 
Group Type: Family

3. Biometric and Health Assessments are needed. Good thing that we only need biometrics. 

4. I need to scan all the entry/exit stamps of our expired and current passports plus visa documentation. Sa ibang countries kasi, current passport lang ang need. 

And because of this, it took me two days to finish our application forms, including the scanning, uploading, and attaching of documents. It was kinda stressful because I only had limited time. We need to submit our applications and schedule our biometrics before my husband’s business trip. I am just thankful that we don’t need to submit our passports. 

Despite the stress that I experienced, I can still say that applying for an Australian Tourist Visa is not hard as long as you are not in a hurry. 

How to Apply for an Australian Tourist Visa (Visitor Visa 600) 

Visitor Visa (subclass 600) is a tourist visa stream that allows you to visit Australia as a tourist, go on a cruise, or visit your family or friends. They can grant you a stay of 3, 6, or 12 months. Tourist needs to be outside Australia when applying for this type of visa. 

Just like our Schengen Visa application, I only create one online account and use it for all our applications. For Australia, you need to create an Immi Account, it is where I fill out forms, attach documents, pay the visa fee, and check the status of our applications. 

2 . Click “New Application” and fill in the Application Form 

You need to fill in 20 pages but there is no time limit so you can take your time in answering don’t forget to save the form if you are not ready to submit it yet. 

3. Upload and Attach Supporting Documents 

You can attach up to 60 documents for each person. The site accepts .jpg, .png, .pdf and other type of files. Just make sure that the file is not encrypted or secured PDF files. Also, the file should not be over 5 MB.

Dito ako nastress sa 5MB kasi nascan ko na lahat ng passports ni hubby, ending I can’t attach it because the file is over 5MB so I have to repeat it again. I reduced the pixels and I scanned per passport na lang.

Documents may vary depending if you are employed, unemployed, a student etc. You can see the required and recommended documents after you fill out the form. We just submitted the documents that we have. 

Documents that we submitted: (Employed, Housewife, and Student) 

Required Documents

Travel Document 
Passport Profile Page 

Evidence of Previous Travel 
Entry and exit of expired passport 
Entry and exit of current passport 
Visa documentation 

Supporting Evidence for Traveling Children 
Birth Certificate 
Photo ID of Parent’s showing signature 

Recommended Documents 

Family Register + Composition 
Birth Certificate 
Marriage Certificate 

Evidence of Planned Tourism Activities 
Flight Ticket 
Certificate of Enrollment (Dito ko na lang nilagay sa may others) 

Evidence of Financial Status and Funding 
Bank Certificate 
Bank Statement (3 months) 
Title Deed 
Latest Credit Card Statement 
Travel Insurance 
Income Tax Return 

Evidence of Current Employment/Self-employment 
Certificate of Employment 
Evidence of Leave 

I uploaded JPG and PDF files only. The site knows if you attach encrypted files or secured files, I experienced this when I attached our travel insurance, nag-error yung file so I had to print and scan our travel insurance so I can attach it. 

The “Other Documents” option will appear after you paid your visa. So just in case there are documents you want to add or if they are requesting more documents, you can attach them here. 

Note: It is not advisable to purchase your plane ticket and travel insurance before applying for your visa. Actually, first time namin itong ginawa, we just took a risk kasi sayang ang sale. Pero ayaw ko na ulitin kasi super worry naman ako habang naghihintay ng decision, natatakot ako na masayang ang pera kung hindi granted. 

4. Pay Application Fee 

You can pay per application or group application. I chose the latter so I paid AUD570 + AUD7.98 = AUD577.98. The amount may vary depending on the foreign exchange, PHP21,982.54 is the amount posted on our credit card. 

Visitor Visa (600) - AUD190 + Tax (per person) 

After payment, we received our receipt and instructions about biometrics. 

To schedule your biometric, visit the VFS Global site. I am glad that I can book a group appointment. You only have two weeks to finish your biometric. 

Don’t forget to bring: 
1. Electronic or printed copy of the appointment letter as proof of your appointment date. 
2. Passport 
3. Electronic or printed copy of the Biometric letter issued by the Department of Home Affairs, Australia showing your personal details and a Visa Lodgement Number (VLN) to enable enrolment of your Biometric. 
4. Biometric Service fee 

Service fee 
Biometric Collection fee: PHP 892 (per person) 
Modes of payment: Cash 

Business Hours 

Cebu Monday to Friday 07:00 - 16:00 
Manila Monday to Friday 07:00 - 21:00 

VFS - Australian Biometric Collection Centre 
Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Building, 2305, 
Don Chino Roces Ave Extension, 
Makati City 1231, 
Manila, Philippines 

Once you arrive at the VFS office, the staff will check your appointment and will give you number. If I remember it right, there are seven booths so mabilis naman and natapos kami in 40 minutes.

After Biometric, I clicked the “I confirmed I have provided information as requested” and our application changed to “Further Assessment” status. 

Australian Visa Processing Times 

The global processing time for Australian Tourist Visa (600) is about a month and according to their website, you need to apply at least 4 months before your intended travel date. So it is better to apply as early as possible because you cannot predict how early or late they will finalized your visa applications. 

Processing Time 

25% of applications: 3 Days 
50% of applications: 7 Days 
75% of applications: 13 Days 
90% of applications: 22 Days 

Some people are lucky that they got their visa, minutes or hours after their biometrics but based on our experience, we got our visas on Day 13. Fortunately, we all received the visa grants email on the same day at a few-minute intervals. Some people even though they applied as a group, they received the visa decisions at different times. 

We did not apply for multiple entry but we got multiple entry for one year with 3 months stay per visit. Yey!

Day 1 (Friday)- Submit/Lodge the Application Form 
Pay the Visa Fee 
Book Biometric Appointment 
Day 4 (Monday) - Biometric Appointment 
Day 13 (Thursday) - Visa Granted - Multiple Entry for 1 year - 3 Months Stay 

November 06, 2023

How to Buy Travel Insurance for Australia Trip in the Philippines

Travel insurance is now part of our travel expenses so whether we are traveling domestically or internationally, I make sure that we are protected. I experienced buying travel insurance for our Philippines, Asia, and Europe trips. For our recent Sydney trip, I also bought travel insurance even though it is not part of the Australian Tourist Visa requirements. 

I read this line on one of the Australian websites that I stumbled upon while I was searching for a tourist visa application, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel”. And because of this, I bought travel insurance even though we don’t have a tourist visa yet. Yes. I took a risk because I want to include this on our visa application under “Evidence of Financial Status and Funding”. I searched for other travel insurance that I could buy online but I ended up with Pacific Cross again because they have family rates. The process is still the same. 

How to Buy Pacific Cross Travel Insurance Online 

1. Go to this link  

On this page, you can check the website, download a brochure, get a quote, or buy now. 

2. Download the brochure to check for the updated rates.  

Pacific Cross Travelsafe with COVID-19 has different plans, so it is up to you what plan you want to avail.  

Prestige Plus Plan 
Executive Peso Plan 
De Luxe Peso Plan 
Privilege Peso Plan 
Executive Dollar Plan 
Executive De Luxe Plan 
Prestige Euro Plan 

The rate varies depending on the plan, destination, and days.  

Travel including USA/Canada/HongKong  
Travel excluding USA/Canada/HongKong  
Philippine travel only  

In our case, we will be traveling for 7 days but I chose the 15 days so just in case there will be flight delays, cancellations or we need to extend our stay for a few days, we are still insured.   

Since we are traveling as a family, I chose Family Rate to save money. Here are the rates for families. You can pay in PH Pesos or US Dollars. 

Travel excluding USA/Canada/HongKong/15 Days/Family  

Prestige Plus Plan - PHP6,610.85 
Executive Peso Plan - PHP1,812 
De Luxe Peson Plan - PHP2657 
Privilege Peso Plan - PHP4028 
Executive Dollar Plan - PHP5881.68 
Executive De Luxe Plan - PHP7,515.48 
Prestige Euro Plan - PHP5458.50 

3. Click “Get a Quote” or “Buy Now” Fill out the travel details and choose the preferred plan.  
4. Enter your email address. Since this is my nth time, after entering my email address and clicking next, it went straight to the Application form. No more validation emails.  
5. Then fill out the application form for the principal and family members.  
6. Read the Application Terms and Conditions. Click the tickbox and next.  
7. Review your Travelsafe Insurance Coverage Summary. Click I agree to this site’s Payment Terms and Conditions  
8. Pay via credit card or debit card  
9. After payment, you can now view/print the OCC, Terms and Conditions, and Application Forms. 
10. You will also receive PDF files at your email address. 

Care to share other travel insurances that you have tried.