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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

My First Solo Travel on my Birthday!

Making some changes and major adjustments for my birthday this year.

Hey it's my birthday, isn't it wonderful to take a snap while looking down? 😜😂

In the past years, I normally observed my birthday  quietly - go to the church, attend the mass, light a candle, say a lengthy novena and retire to bed. No special meal outside. No cake. No fancy party with friends. Nothing. Whatsoever. I hate being in the crowd. I hate parties. I hate getting everyone's attention just because it's my birthday. I'm a naturally introvert person who detested gatherings and celebrations where I would be the center of attention.

Back in my younger years when my parents will throw a birthday party for me, I often end up the day in tears because I don't want a party. I don't want a celebration. I find it uncomfortable to be greeted on my birthday. Weird isn't it? But that's how I felt things before. So when I started working, I never told anyone about my birthday. When April 3 comes, I just observed it quietly by going to the church.

Looking back, it felt as though I was so ungrateful about life, about my existence.  I forgot the fact that life itself is a gift that should be appreciated. That it's a precious gift from God that must be acknowledged gratefully.

I realized then that birthdays should never  be ashamed of, should never be fretted with. Because every second counts. Each year that adds to life is another chance to experience the wonders of the world and the miracle of continue surviving despite the tension and chaos. And appreciate God's great blessing. Others were not even lucky to live another day. So I've this massive realization that my life is a great message of hope, a miracle of survival. A blessing. That must be appreciated and celebrated. 

Though I still detested throwing a birthday party or being in a group celebrating this special event, I allowed some adjustments to take place. In the past, I did not want anybody to greet me publicly (like in the social media) on my birthday, but this year, I made a huge change haha! I feel it's time to start acknowledging life as if it's my last. So, I posted photos of me, hinting everyone that, yeah, it's my birthday. Then greetings started pouring in. And of course, I expressed my appreciation and gratefulness.

And did I say I want to make it different this year? Yes, I did some!

I haven't bought a cake, nor prepared anything to mark my birthday in over a decade! But this year, yeah, I have some surprises  for myself. I prepared a tray of sweets, cooked a creamy chicken mushroom and bought a loaf of my super favorite pastry, Brazo de Mercedes.

Brazo de mercedes, maja blanca of my sister, 
creamy mushroom chicken and mango float topped with fruits and whipping cream

I also did something which had been in my mind for so long. Embark into an out-of-town solo travel!

As a travel blogger, one of my earnest wishes is really to go solo traveling to share the experience and actually feel what it would be like being in a different place alone and discovering things  on my own. 

So I plucked some courage to push through with it on my birthday. I decided to choose a closer destination - Tagaytay!

I woke up early to prepare for this little adventure. Then went to Araneta Bus Port at 7:00 in the morning. But boom! There was no route going to Tagaytay at the Araneta terminal. I was told to go to EDSA instead. So I did a lengthy walk again from Ali Mall to the smoky and crowded EDSA.

And to my chagrin, bus ports in the chaotic  EDSA served distant routes. It was almost 10:00 in the morning and I started to feel weary. But my wish to take a solitary journey on my birthday was more intense than the traffic in EDSA, so I decided to proceed to Buendia.

At 10:30 in the morning, just as the sun rays becoming so punishing, I finally arrived in Buendia. And deeply breathed when I hopped in on a bus bound for Tagaytay-Nasugbu.

At 10:45 We're crunching on the road for the journey. Something deep inside was prancing gleefully as we entered the province of Cavite. Because finally! I broke the chain of my doubts and fears to go solo in traveling. Such a liberating experience on my birthday!

My first stop was at the Pink Sisters. It has been my wish to visit this monastery on my birthday to spend some moments in silence. And pray. And think about life. My very  introvert nature hates noises and crowded places. And loud people. And when I think about de-stressing and releasing the pressure off my head, I always think of visiting a monastery.

A perfect sanctuary for a tired soul, Pink Sisters monastery in Tagaytay 

Pink Sisters monastery is a perfect place to begin the day.

The environment is so quiet, so solemn, so tranquil, and lots of trees. A perfect sanctuary for a tired soul. And it was all I needed to mark my birthday before taking adventure elsewhere. After uttering prayers, I left a letter of my intention to the sisters, bought a bracelet rosary and off to the road. I took a tricycle ride for Olivarez and asked the driver how I could possibly go to Twin Lakes. I've never been to this place so I've no idea how to get there without getting lost. 

In all my travels, even out-of-the-country, I often met kind locals who made life easier for me while on the road. And during this solo sojourn, I encountered folks who were so helpful. The tricycle driver helped me find a jeep bound for Nasugbu and even talked to the jeepney driver to drop me off at Twin Lakes. I was so grateful with his kindness.

It took almost an hour before I reached Twin Lakes! This massive complex of vineyard, real estate property, rolling hills and upmarket food houses, is quite far from Tagaytay proper. Almost on the boundary of Tagaytay and Batangas.

But the moment I get there all weariness and exhaustion I felt were paid off. And even if I was traveling alone I was so ecstatic. Such a stunning view of nature to behold! The exhilarating sight of rolling hills, the mountain ridge, the breathtaking atmosphere, everything was so awesome. And I had a great time savoring the moment of my freedom.

Set on a quaint Mediterranean architecture, this branch in Twin Lakes is dubbed as the most Beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines 


I've been hearing a lot about this "Most Beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines" in Twin Lakes, so even if I am not into coffees and all the frills of frappe beverages, and never visited Starbucks unless a friend will seek my company, I chose this coffee shop to spend my late lunch.

Perched above the hill and overlooking the majestic Tagaytay vista, this most Beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines is designed under a cool Mediterranean architecture with a cozy outdoor atmosphere. The view of the vineyard made me feel totally relaxed. And I was at my most serene moment. As though I was sipping my  favorite English tea at some high-end European countryside villa  and waiting for the romantic sun to set. Terrific sight! 

At 4:30 in the afternoon, drizzly weather began to descend so I decided to leave the place and caught a jeepney ride back to Olivarez. One hour later, I was on the bus bound for Pasay City.

Asking for my first solo travel. Honestly, it was great! I enjoyed the moment. And I've had a lot of fun marveling at the amazing surroundings. The experience was so fascinating. In fact I never felt any inconvenience or awkwardness while on the road. Even if there was no one to share laughter with. I like the experience. It was simply a perfect bliss! 

Now, I appreciated this setup more because of the independence it gives. I've plenty of time to think about my life, about the things that excite me. About what to do next. Where to go next. And what in store for my future.

Traveling alone is not scary, nor lonely. In fact, it offers a lot of excitement and freedom. A lot of realization and self-discovery. It is also an acid test with what's coming ahead, if I can really survive living alone thoroughly and doing things on my own. 

Seeing how I went through the day, going out there without no one in my side. It looks like I am very fine living alone. And that's what growing up gracefully is all about.

Now, I'm ready to face the world without getting intimidated with the thought of sailing into the sunset of my life alone. I guess disappointed starts to surface if we expect too much. So from now on, I won't expect anything, I'll just live my life each day and enjoy moments as it happen. No more grievances, no more sadness, only gratefulness.

Read my blog about Twin Lakes in my travel blog. CLICK HERE



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authorI am a blogger from the Philippines. My interest centers on travel and food, global affairs, European royals and self-help. I've a great passion in traveling and photography. I am also a book author with five published books in Amazon.
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