Monday, January 25, 2016

Costa Victoria Day 3: Discovering Art at Penang, MY

The third day aboard Costa Victoria started early for us as CS and I both wanted to see Penang and its famous street art. After breakfast at Sinfonia Restaurant, we headed to the port and hailed a cab that brought us to Georgetown, the capital city of Penang on the Malay Peninsula.

Commissioned in 2012 by the Penang Municipal Council for the Georgetown Festival, Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic gave color and new life to unkempt walls around the old city. The "Mirrors George Town" project exhibits fascinating large scale murals depicting life in the city.

CS got hold of a map that detailed the location of the street arts -- some were easy to find while others were either blocked by new installations or has deteriorated making it impossible to find.  If you're keen in seeing it first hand, I suggest you go travel to Penang soon before more of them gets lost permanently. After looking for the ones we liked based on the photos on the map, we took a cab back to the port. I find the people here in Penang genuinely kind as compared to other parts of Malaysia I've traveled to. No haggling on cab fares and you pay the exact amount as it is shown on the meter. I would love to go back and stay longer next time.

Lunch aboard was at Fantasia Restaurant. It must have been the heat and the walking tour because we ordered almost everything on the menu out of hunger. No photos of some of the food as we got too engrossed trying them one by one. Kudos to the Filipino staff who even went out of his way to get me a burger from Bolero Restaurant at Deck 10 when he heard me craving for it. No wonder our kababayans are very in demand and excel in almost all industries around the world.

Eat. Travel. Sleep. Repeat.

CS and I took a long nap after lunch and got woken up by his alarm at 5pm. Truth of the matter is that I gained a few pounds after the trip because we got spoiled so much!  I wonder how much weight I will gain if we got on board one of those cruises that sails for 2 weeks or even a month. The thought of having buffet everyday for a long time is kinda scary don't you think? Anyway, our cabin steward booked us again on the first seating for our last dinner aboard the ship at Sinfonia Restaurant. One of the perks of having a Filipino staff attend to us is booking the seat by the window just in time for the beautiful sunset -- such a wonderful view!

Costa Victoria organized a Carnival of Venice Party at the ship's main hall later that night. Everyone joined the party and were in festive moods wearing colorful masks and makeshift gowns for the ladies using space blankets as provided by Costa. I had so much fun dancing to songs I don't even understand the lyrics with people from all ages and nationalities. The memory still puts a smile on my face whenever I recall that epic night. It was definitely a night to remember!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Treats No. 53

Churros Clasicos (Medium) with Chocolate Dip - Php170.00


Churreria La Lola
4F SM Aura Premier
C5 corner 26th St., BGC
Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 808-0469

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Korean Hotpot Buffet at Go! Kizip

Its always a toss-up between Four Seasons or King One whenever we're craving for hotpot but CS can't stop raving about Go! Kizip's dipping sauce so we decided to venture into the jungles of Malate for me to try it out. Strange as it may sound, this was the first time I ever tried hotpot in a Korean restaurant and I loved it -- we've found a cheaper alternative!

K-Pop was playing nonstop in the LCD television affixed on almost every corner of the restaurant so if you're into those sort of music, you'll definitely like it here. One thing I just wish that Go! Kizip management will consider is to designate a smoking and non-smoking areas so as to separate those who are allergic to cigarette smoke like myself.

CS and I availed of the local sliced beef buffet for Php500 per person net that also comes with unlimited orders of vegetables, mixed balls and dumplings, mixed seafood, noodles and kimchi.

Contrary to the other reviews I've read, I do not find the staff as hospitable as they should be. Most of the time, they all just stay in one place chit-chatting rather than serving the customers' requests. We even had to wave and shout to call their attention even after pressing the call button several times. Another first for me since most Korean restaurants I've been to in the past employ very attentive staff which is how all service-related establishments must be. We still gave a generous tip (they don't charge service fee) with the hopes that our next visit will be much better.


Go! Kizip
1776 Adriatico Street
Malate, Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 354-6659

Monday, January 18, 2016

Costa Victoria Day 2: Tour of Historical Malacca, MY

Vacations meant extended sleeping hours so its rare that CS and I go out of the comfort of our room to have a sit-down breakfast. Room service and having breakfast at our private balcony was a rather lovely option but since we were disembarking at Malacca early, we opted to dine along with the other passengers at Sinfonia Restaurant. Buffet breakfast was laid on several tables at the center of the room where diners can choose from a selection of Asian and Continental breakfast.

I asked one of the Filipino staff for bacon, which were out of stock at the buffet, and he delivered a plateful back to our table. I was actually thinking a strip or two but hey, no to food wastage right?

While Costa Victoria was docked at Malacca, passengers can disembark from 9am until 3pm and have a tour of Malaysia's historical city. Costa offers an arranged tour but we decided to just get a cab and explore on our own which was the cheaper option. Located at the Southern Region of the Malay Peninsula, Malacca has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

The most unmistakable landmark in the Historical City of Malacca, Dutch Square is hard to miss with its terracotta-red buildings and colorful trishaw ready to bring you anywhere as you wish. One of the popular attractions is the Christ Church that was built in 1753 in honor of a century of Dutch occupation in Malaysia. The interiors of the church is airy and well-maintained, albeit simple with old fixtures, but definitely worth a visit when you find yourself in the city.

Another historical spot in Malacca, Porta de Santiago is one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in the entire Asian continent. Built in 1511 under the command of Alfonso de Alboquerque, A Famosa (The Famous) used to be the gate of a mighty fortress and was once part of long ramparts and four major towers when Malacca was believed to be an important link on the spice trade between Portugal and China back in the day.

After three hours touring around Malacca under the sweltering sun, we decided to go back to the ship for lunch. From Dutch Square, we took a cab back to the port where several boats arranged by Costa Victoria were docked and just waiting to bring the passengers back to the ship.

Our cabin steward booked us at the first seating for dinner at 530pm. It was Captain's Night which meant that dress code is formal -- suits for men and cocktail dresses for ladies is recommended.

As there are first and second seatings in two restaurants, Sinfonia is only half full when we arrived. CS and I were seated with a Filipino family and were served by a Filipino staff so it was pretty much a wonderful night of good food, great company and endless laughter.

What we ordered

Smoked Salmon

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Almond Flakes

Thai Flat Noodles with Seafood, Basil and Tofu

Baked Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

Lemon Sherbet

We were so full after dinner so we decided to walk and tour the rest of the ship. As most of the passengers were either having dinner or in the theater for the nightly show, we enjoyed some quiet time at the usually busy Deck 11 where the outdoor pools and sundeck are located.

Basketball Court

Computer Room


Looking back at the photos, I wish we had more time in the ship as there are still a lot of things we could have done or activities we could have joined such as the stretch classes, basketball tournament for CS, dance lessons, gymnastic class, detox and weight loss seminar and tons of contests and challenges among the passengers. Time does fly when you're having a good time!
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