Riga, Latvia: An Art Nouveau Mecca

Art Nouveau architecture in Latvia’s capital, Riga, makes up about 1/3rd of all the buildings in the center of the city. This makes Riga the city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the entire world.

Also called as Jugendstil, art nouveau ultimately gave this Latvian capital its trademark look. The various buildings with elaborate floral designs, weaving garlands, theatrical  masks, intricate sculptural figures (from flamboyant naked maidens to funky gargoyles), flowing lines, and elaborate geometric forms adorning the facade of buildings, has made Riga famous and a must-see Eastern European city.

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But this Baltic City is not only known for these architectural gems, Riga is also visited for its wooden buildings, and its lovely medieval Old Town. I personally enjoyed walking around the pedestrian-only Riga Old Town that offers alot of  shops and restaurants. The Livu Square, with its lively bars and nightclubs were also a delight.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Travel Memorabilia

Hello friends! It has been more than a month the last time I have made an entry here. I just came from yet another pretty tiresome, but definitely fun-filled series of travels. I will try to post some of these recent adventures sometime soon. In the meantime, here is a short sharing of what I love to buy and bring home during travel.

Traveling is a very rewarding experience. After a trip, one goes home with innumerable mementos — from incomparable life lessons to new found friends, to of course uncountable photographs, and memories to cherish a lifetime.

Aside from these, I have also developed a habit of bringing home a physical memorabilia that comes in different forms. Before, I would make sure I get to buy at least a keychain or a fridge magnet as a souvenir from my trip.

Today, i have gone beyond these usual stuff. Whenever I go on a travel, I alot a certain amount of my money to buy some of the things I personally collect. Some of these include miniature building decors/displays like an Eiffel Tower from France, a Burf Khalifa and Burj Al Arab from my Dubai travel or a Milad Tower I bought in Iran from a recent trip and many more.

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Also, I make sure that I have a paper bill and some coins to spare for my currency collection. Some of my friends actually like these as my pasalubong to them since some of them also have this kind of colkection. I happen to collect also Starbucks tumblers and diecast planes. I am even starting to collect some books and dolls unique to a certain place I have visited. And lastly, I also bring home some paintings which I plan to use as wall decors when my dream of putting up my own cafe comes into fruition.

I know these are just material mementos and the memories that go with the travel are still far more important. Nonetheless, it feels good to see tangible reminders as to how awesome one particular trip was.

 

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Baguio is Home

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right. — Maya Angelou

Sometimes I feel there’s a love-hate kind of relationship that exists between me and Baguio, the city I call my home. Occasionally I think it is too small and limited regarding opportunities and expanding my horizon. I once left the city for three years thinking it would be a real escape from forgetting the bad memories of a failed relationship. I thought leaving Baguio was a good excuse to explore the things outside my comfort zone. It made me believe that leaving my home will help me find where I want to be, and who I want to become.

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After ten weeks of backpacking around Europe, I was reminded that there is no better place like home… that there is no better feeling than being in the city that I love so much. So here are the main reasons why I will always be happy to stay in the City of Pine, Baguio.

The Weather: Baguio has the best weather from among the Philippine cities. Well, it may have gone a little warmer over the years, yet the weather here is incomparable. Moreover, the smell of the cold air is so comforting to my body and soul. You’ll feel it the moment you arrive in the city. It is distinct from anywhere else. I think this is the prime reason why a lot of people come to visit Baguio.

The Good Food: I want to believe that Baguio offers an array of excellent food. I am a self-confessed foodie and so exploring food possibilities with my palate is one thing I love doing. I go out and try new gastronomies whenever a new café or restaurant opens. I want to think that Baguio is one big food hub ideal for a food crawl. Home-grown eateries like 50s Diner, Vizcos, Arcas Yard, and Canto are some of my favorite. Just like Baguio’s unruffled weather, the food here is soothing to the soul.

The People: Baguio may have become a melting pot already, but Baguio people remains to be some of the most hospitable and genuinely kind individuals and families. Aside from having the best taxi drivers in the entire country, on a personal note, the people I have met here in Baguio are incomparable. These people I call friends and family, these people whom I have made a lot of memories, these people who have contributed much to my growth as a person – are the main reasons why I love Baguio to the core. Not all of them may no longer be here with me (as they are already living their own lives), but the moments we have shared together are here to stay no matter what.

Lastly, I love Baguio because this is where I get to enjoy my time and my space. I love that reassuring feeling that I will be fine whatever the circumstances are because I am in Baguio… because I am home.

Captivating Auckland City

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From among the cities I have been the past 12 months, I have left a piece of myself in the City of Sails. The moment I have set foot in Auckland, I knew right there and then that I would love the city the way I have always loved my ex-girlfriend. I tried my best to think through the reasons why I have been enamored by Auckland but I almost always end up lost for the right words.

Because of this dilemma, I just opted to let you see this beyond alluring city through my lens. Here are some of my uncountable Auckland City photographs.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Snapshots from Stockholm

Stockholm – a beautiful city on water. Where modernity meets tranquility. With its vibrant, trend-setting cafes and restaurants; lovely buildings, and idyllic coastline – Stockholm is a feast to the sense of sight.

Here are some of my photographs in Stunning Stockholm, Sweden!

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Of Rain & Of Tears

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.” — William Shakespeare

So today, I decided to post something different from my usual musings (triggered perhaps by the moody weather the past days). It was yet another rainy afternoon. It’s raining as far as I can see. It’s coming down unbreakable now.

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It is amusing how the rain is reminiscent of the times I wanted to cry. In some way, as we mature into adulthood, we stop thinking about the hush-hush of crying. We were taught that crying is for babies and that it is imperative to keep our sentiments inside. I was told that boys don’t cry. So, instead of learning to let go of my hurts through crying, I have mastered to numb it through self-anguish and unvoiced misery for several years now.

This is what I have done astray as a grown-up. I am too troubled to cry, and even when I am at the edge of breaking down, and actually shed some tears, I am over-shadowed with unease. I can’t seem to cry. But the downpours takes me back that one of the most prevailing coping skills has been stolen from me.

 

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It is okay to cry…

I have been a lot of painful experiences and many times too, did I attempt to cry it out… But the thought of it as a sign of weakness surmounts the thought that I am hurting.

I have to admit it. It doesn’t feel good… It does not feel good at all…

I gaze out of our window, the rain stopped. The clouds seem to have brought an end to its resentment… But suddenly smoke gets in my eyes, and I started to cry. I lost bottling up my emotions. And it started to feel a little better.

Lester out…

 

I AmSterDam: The Netherlands

I’d be lying if I say I didn’t want to go and visit Amsterdam. My yearning to see this city intensified when I was reading the book “The Fault in Our Stars”. Three years after I have read the book and watched the movie, who would’ve thought that I’ll be living yet another dream, and that is to see Amsterdam up-close and personal.

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Amsterdam is regarded as The Netherlands largest city, and perhaps, the most popular as well. Prior to my trip, I had to research more about this city. I am pretty surprised to know that it has a lot of monikers aside from being well-known as the City of Canals.

So here are the titles given to Amsterdam that I myself was able to validate that indeed, the city deserves to be called such:

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Amsterdam as the City of Canals. Some would even call it as the Venice of the North. But since I haven’t been to Venice, that I cannot really verify. But it is so true that it has so many canals – clean ones! It is said that there are more than 100 kilometers of canals, and around 1,500 bridges within the city.

Amsterdam as The City of Bicycles. Well most of the key cities I have visited in Europe are bicycle-friendly but I guess nothing beats Amsterdam. While walking around the city on foot, it felt like there are more bicycles than people! Bicycles are literally everywhere. Well, I like it. Bike paths, bike racks, and bike storage garages are all-over as well. Who wouldn’t love these means of moving around – they’re fast and environmental friendly.

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Amsterdam as The City of Arts and Culture. One thing I have noticed during my stay in Amsterdam is that museums abound the city. They are everywhere – from Anne Frank’s House to the Van Gogh museum to the Rijksmuseum(Dutch art) and those that are located on the Museumplein (Museum Square). I guess the following are also part of the flourishing culture of Netherlands – the Redlight district parties, the Gay Pride, and even the Cannabis Cup.

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Amsterdam as The City of Architecture. My CS host and I were walking around the city when from time to time he would show off and tell stories about some of Amsterdam’s buildings. I can sense that he was really proud of the architectural designs of the buildings. Well, I could just agree as they are really lovely and interesting. I find the designs to be a combination of the 17th century and the contemporary style.


Amsterdam as The City for Shoppers. The city offers an array of shops from flowers (think tulips) to various kinds of souvenir shops, fashionable clothes, chocolate shops, and even sex shops. I was fortunate to have stayed at a place right in the middle of these shops.

Amsterdam: The City of Cannabis Coffee and Cake Shops. I have learned during my stay that coffee-shops cannabis use is tolerated by the local authorities (but of course in small amount). I also got to try a vanilla flavored cannabis cake.

So there… I hope these reasons be enough for you to consider coming to Amsterdam soon. Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

 

Travel Pills & Elixirs

Dr. Jim Nicolai, a former Medical Director of an Integrative Wellness Program, once said – “Where health is the destination, wellness is the journey…

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It isn’t a secret to my friends and colleagues that I have this undeniable knack for travelling and sense of adventure. I like to be marooned by the sometimes unforgiving sun or get soaked by the unpredictable rain whether I am at the beach or on top of the mountain. Weird as it may seem to some people, but getting lost nonchalantly in a foreign city enlivens my spirit. But these sense of enthusiasm and interest dampen when I get sick. That is why, I try my best to make sure that I am always at my best element… that I am always healthy – physically, emotionally, and even mentally!

A previous post of mine tackled about the basic things that I pack inside my (travel bag). One of the essentials is your personal medicine kit. So in this write up, I am sharing to you my simple health habits, the products I use and believe in, and some secrets (my travel pills and elixirs).

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Getting stressed and experiencing fatigue are common during travel. And surprisingly, there is no single cure for stress. If our coping mechanism isn’t able to resolve these stressors, they eventually take a toll on us and could lead to symptoms like headache, body pain, cough and colds, sleepless nights, and many more.

I am pretty sure these warning signs have at one point hindered you from going on a trip or a long-time planned beach getaway and the like. And it sucks to think that all the excitement would totally die down just because you are sick. I hate having headache, and I despise having cough and colds. So what do I do? As a pharmacist, I actually have some personal rituals and favorite products (yes, you read that right I have my personal biases). Hahaha! So read along.

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To make sure that I won’t get sick, I hydrate myself with enough fluid (not necessarily water) like juice, tea, and energy drinks (hello, Gatorade ® which is still my super tried and tested hydrating fluid). I eat alooooot of fruits. Shout out to my all-time favorites – watermelon, strawberries, bananas, and oranges (well, whichever is in season). If my trip involves some mountain climbing activity, I allot some time to do running and brisk walking.

Pack my med kit. So what’s inside it? I consider the following my travel pills and elixirs:

  • Vitamins (Enervon Activ ® now, Enervon ® syrup when I was young. Because it’s our mom’s choice.)
  • Hand Sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol (not ethyl)
  • Paracetamol – this is for my sudden headache which could really turn my mood 360 degrees, hahaha)
  • Tuseran capsule (I go for this one to manage my cough and colds).
  • Some anti-histamine (because at times I experience cold allergies).
  • Antidiarrheals (I usually go for loperamide).
  • Ginger candies like Gingerbon ® to suppress dizziness and vomiting.
  • Band-Aid J, cotton, wet wipes
  • Povidone Iodine (my antiseptic of choice)
  • Insect repellant lotions/ sprays (Off ® with chamomile is my choice).
  • Strepsils ® – favorite lozenge!

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During my recent Europe trip, my preparedness was tested when on several occasions I some sort of got sick. Traveling around the Baltic area (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania) was memorable because I spent several days (7 am to 9 pm), walking around the key cities. I had terrible headaches at night and even got cough and colds. These were most likely due to the warm weather during the day and the nasty and biting cold temperature at night. I am really glad I have my anti-fever/ mild painkillers with me. Good thing too, I packed several Tuseran ® 2-in-1 capsules for my cough and colds. Since I am compliant with whatever medicines I take, in no time, I was back at my normal state – healthy and kicking. (PS: Being compliant with your medication’s dose and schedule is very essential to getting treated. That’s me being a pharmacist).

 

From cold Iceland to rainy Poland to humid Manila – my body was probably shocked with the outright adjustments it had to undergo. So I had another episode of cough and colds (and sore throat). This time, because of this sudden change in temperature, I had developed allergies (urticaria). Could you just imagine the burden, especially at night? I was worried because I have scheduled speaking engagement in Zamboanga in 4 days’ time.

Coincidentally, I was talking to physician friend of mine one time when she suggested that I try the new Tuseran Night ®. Keen about the medication I intend to take, I went on to search what it contains. Since it both contains diphenhydramine and phenylpropanolamine, I was convinced it will do wonders for my cough, cold, and allergies. (Shout out to Doc Nessa for the suggestion!) I still have a few pieces of my Tuseran capsules and cetirizine (anti-allergy meds) left from my EU trip but I opted to try out the new Tuseran Night ® (which by the way is in syrup form). And boy I am glad I did go for it because it’s like an all-in-one form of relief for my cough, my colds, my allergies PLUS I get to sleep better. Thanks to diphenyhydramine’s anti-allergy effect.  (Ooooooooooops, sorry guise if my pharma background is making your nose bleed upon reading these). Hahaha!

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Aside from preparing those medications, during any of my travels, I also drink a lot of tea products. Lemon – Ginger Tea and Black Mint Tea are my favorite. If I could get hold of honey, I would often mix it with my drink. Also, I like having probiotic drinks that usually helps me with my GI problems.

I have asked my equally adventurous friends to share some of their health tips and practices.

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The information I have shared here are my personal choices. Of course it is still best to go visit your general practitioner, or a doctor who can specialize the medicine you need during your travel/s. But, it is also good to note that as individuals who like travelling, make sure you always have an extra space for your own medication kit!

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Thank you to Jan of The Kapampangan Traveller, Hance of The Restless Pinoy Traveler, Jeff of Donde si Jepepips, Jonel of Eljontology, Jit (aka @aren_emdi), claro (aka @claro.i) and Aljen (aka @dirtikid).

So remember, stay healthy and safe travels. Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderust. Take it easy everyJUAN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

In just one whole year, I have been to Istanbul 4 times. Why? Because why not? Istanbul is (yes it is a cliche to say this) beautiful. It isn’t difficult to convince why one would fall in love with this city.

From its sensational architectural spectacles to its sumptuous dishes and sweet delights to how the city turns into various shades of yellow and orange during sundown to the various scenes along its busy streets that showcases diversity and history unfolding your very own eyes, and some unexpected kind people who can change your perception about life – Istanbul is a wonder.

Here are some pictures (and reasons) that made me swoon over its charm.

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I love Istanbul because it is like being in two continents at the same time. And that is cool.

Istanbul is one of the most well-known city in the world spanning on two continents – Asia and Europe, making its location essential and strategic. The Asia and Europe sides are efficiently connected through a series of transportation systems by way of the famous Bosphorus. So if you want to tick off the idea of being in 2 continents at the same time, well, Istanbul probably is the best place to be at. Because of this, Turkish culture to me is a perfect fusion of Asia and Europe!

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I love Istanbul because one has an array of public transport choices. And it is such a delight to try each kind.

I lam fascinated how efficient and cheap it is to travel from one place to the another in this bustling metropolis. They also have terrible traffic but it shouldn’t be much of a problem because one have other options to reach one’s destination. One can take a bus, a funicular (small van like vehicles), the subway (which by the way goes down the Marmaray Bay), a tram, a train or even a ferry. Name it, they have it! And you just have to have one transpo card – the Istanbulkart! You will be surprised you would never take a taxi.

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I love Istanbul because Turkish food is soooo damn good! You’ll find yourself craving for more…

Probably one city that tops my list for its food. Why? Because they’re good… really really good. From the popular Turkish delights (my taste buds scream with joy whenever they taste its saccharine goodness), to street food like midye dolma (stuffed seafood) to their very cheap bread called simit paired with either Turkish tea or coffee, their “iskander” kebab (thinly cut grilled lamb, tomato sauce, pita bread, melted sheep butter and yogurt) – all rich and delicious!

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I love Istanbul because every corner of the city is like learning architecture, history, arts and culture rolled into one.

Having been regarded as the capital of 3 great empires – Byzantine, Ottoman, and Roman, Istanbul is such an amazing city to explore. From its oh-so-picturesque mosques, to its stunning parks, grand bazaar, and seaside sceneries – the ‘city of a thousand mosques” will leave you in awe. The Blue Mosque and the Suleimaniye Mosques to me are stand out. The Hagia Sofia shouldn’t be missed as well. Emirgan Park is such a lovely place to visit. I was lucky that during my 3rd Turkey trip, I was able to check out the tulip festival in this large park. Truly, every angle is picturesque and reflective of a rich culture.

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Travel gives us a sense of accomplishment: If you dream big, you will probably reach for new challenges. Being able to finish a trip gives you the satisfaction that you were able to make a goal to travel and  accomplish what you set out to do – and that is to see the world.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan…

Roxas City (Capiz, PH)

Roxas City – located at the north-central coast of the island of Panay in the Visayas – is the Philippines’ “Seafood Capital”. This developing city in Capiz Province is undoubtedly home to the freshest and most palatine-satiating seafood in the country, as they boast off one of the most bountiful fishing grounds in the Philippines. Named after former President Manuel Roxas, Sr., the city have other things to offer.

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So here are my top things to do when you are in Capiz.

Go to Baybay Beach and do food tripping. Probably the best thing do in the seafood capital. When I went to Capiz early this year, my mind was set to taste as many types of seafood as I can! Being a seafood lover, my eyes were popping when I saw an array of seafood to choose from. They have angelwings (locally known as diwal), scallops, shrimps, crabs, oysters and various fishes. The best part besides the sumptuous taste of every food I’ve tried, is that the cost is really cheap!!!

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Walk around the city and visit the following:

  • President Roxas’ ancestral house: The house is open to tourists. It has an antique shop in it.
  • Roxas City Plaza/Halaran Plaza. It lies near the Panay River banks and it houses the Roxas City Bandstand.
  • The Panublion Museum – a small museum that showcases Roxas City’s History and some artpieces.
  • Roxas City Bridge: An old yet impressive Spanish bridge overlooking the Panay River.
  • Our Lady of The Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral: The Roxas City Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Panay Island.
  • The Capiz Provincial Capitol: Perhaps, one of the most stunning capitol I’ve seen across the Philippines.

My friend Francis, a Roxas City local, took me to the city’s new business hub – Pueblo de Panay. We went to eat at Café Terraza, a dining destination atop a hill that offers a verdant view of the city. The place is indeed a breath of fresh air! The food Francis made me try are all scrumptious especially the Seafood Kare-kare! For more insights about Café Terraza, visit my friend’s write up on Café Terraza. (http://coyxxx.blogspot.com/2015/07/dining-above-and-beyond-at-cafe-terraza.html)

There are other places I would want to visit in Roxas City. I would definitely want to go back and stay longer. Thanks to Francis for being such a kind host.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri”juan”…