Skyscanner why u so cruel?

(Update 10/31: Skyscanner PH sent me a nice note explaining what happened. See comments below.)

Today, October 29, will go down in history as the day Skyscanner gave me a mini-heart attack.

I mean, who wouldn’t get a heart attack from these prices?

Screenshot (524)

Nepal for PHP 333? Australia for PHP 380? South Africa for PHP 456? Shut up and take my money.

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Germany for PHP 843? Belgium for PHP 1,408? I DIE.

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Italy for PHP 1,415?!?!?! *faint*

Sadly, the Thai Airways website didn’t seem to know what Skyscanner was talking about. I don’t  know if it was a bug in their system, or a bug in Thai Airways’, or if there was some magic way of getting those fares (“Accio unbelievable fares”?), but…I wasn’t able to. No matter how much I tried to “game” Thai Airways’ website.

Hope can be so cruel sometimes. I so wanted to use my Schengen visa again, before it expires.

Don’t laugh. I am seriously heartbroken.

Okay, maybe a little laugh.


*big sigh*

Oh, well.


Skyscanner why u so cruel?” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

Delightful Venice



This waterlocked Italian city is every bit as pretty as it promises to be. When we stepped off Santa Lucia train station, we were immediately greeted by the sight of colorful old buildings, bridges, boats, birds, and the fabled Grand Canal. And tourists, of course. There are so many of them, one can’t help but wonder where the real Venetians are.


My sister and I were staying in the Lido, a separate island, so the first thing we did was to purchase a 24-hour vaporetto (water bus) pass that would let us take as many boat rides as we wanted. Although cars and other land vehicles are allowed in the Lido, there are none in Venice itself, and every one gets around by walking or taking the vaporetto.

vaporetto travel pass

Vaporetto Pass – 2014 prices (

Our hotel, the Riviera Hotel Venice, was one of the most charming hotels we had ever stayed in. The lobby had the most gorgeous, ornate furniture. Our room on the second floor was cozy. Well, yes, that’s another word for small, but European hotels generally are, and our room was just enough for two people. It was tastefully decorated: pale pink wallpaper, floral moulding, gold chandelier, shabby chic closet. There was a wrought iron table and two chairs in the terrace, which was lush with flowers and vines and overlooked the Gran Viale.


Breakfast the next day was heavenly: cold cuts, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh bread, butter, jam, pastries, fruits, cereal, milk, coffee, juice. And that’s not even a really exhaustive list. By midmorning, well-fed, we were ready for a day of getting lost in Venice.


And it’s easy: getting lost, literally, in Venice. They say it’s actually part of the experience. Often you don’t know where you are, and sometimes that’s a good thing.


We bought gelato and cookies to enjoy while we walked and looked around. Venice is renowned for its art and architecture; there are churches, museums, the famous Piazza San Marco. There were Carnival masks by the dozen and “Murano glass” made in China.


In the water, gondolas were tied to wooden posts, waiting to treat visitors to that quintessential Venetian experience…for upwards of 80 euros an hour. It must be said that none of the real Venetians ride gondolas anymore, except for the gondoliers themselves. They cut a striking figure as they glided along the canal in their striped black and white shirts, skillfully steering their richly decorated boats. This is the Venice the whole world knows and comes for.


What I really loved, though, were the everyday things. Colorful houses from another age, their white-framed windows accentuated by flowering plants. Walls with paint and plaster genuinely peeling off, revealing a base of faded red bricks. Small canals tucked between buildings, a bridge or two spanning the water. Narrow passageways with charming, occasionally confusing, little signs pointing the way to a well-known Venetian landmark.


Venice is best explored on foot, but one eventually gets tired from all the walking, so at some point we boarded the No. 2 water bus and enjoyed the sights from there. (The No. 1 line is even better for this purpose because of all the stops it makes on both sides of the Grand Canal.) When we had sat through the entire route, we got off at the San Marco stop, bought a cup of coffee, and sat down by the pier, enjoying the Venetian sunset. It was a good day.

Delightful Venice” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.


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Burano: A Study in Color

An island in Venice, Burano’s particular fame for color does not disappoint. Even in the fog, the hues of its houses pop, valiantly trying to dispel the gloom of winter. They are a delightful study on palettes — pale pink with pale yellow, bright orange with bright blue, rustic brown and green. It’s places like this that make me want to be a better photographer.

Burano: A Study in Color” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

General Audience with Pope Francis (8-Jan-2014)

No words needed.

General Audience with Pope Francis (8-Jan-2014)” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

The Schengen Visa: General Information

A Schengen visa allows you to travel to any country in the Schengen Area. In other words, once you obtain a visa from any of the Schengen countries, you can travel to all of the Schengen countries. (For avid travelers like myself, this is the drool-worthy equivalent of an Unli-Plan :-).) As of April 2014, these are the countries in the Schengen Area:

Take note, however, that you can’t just apply for a visa in any Schengen country. If you’re traveling to more than one country, the rule is: your visa application should be lodged at the embassy/consulate of the country that constitutes the MAIN destination of your trip in terms of:

  • Purpose – “Purpose” in this sense usually refers to business or some other official engagement. If you spend 3 days in France and 4 days in Germany, you need to apply for a visa at the German embassy, no matter how much you protest that the main purpose of your trip is to visit the Eiffel tower. If your purpose is just tourism, in general, what will matter is your length of stay.
  • Length of Stay – Apply at the country where you will be spending the most number of days.
    • It is the total number of days in a country that matter. If you spend only 3 days each in Rome, Venice, Milan, and Florence, and stay a whopping 10 days in Barcelona, you will still have to apply at the Italian embassy, not the Spanish embassy.
    • If you are spending equal time in 2 countries — say, 4 days in Belgium and 4 days in the Netherlands — other factors will be taken into consideration, such as where your flight from the Philippines will actually land. When in doubt, ask.

Most Schengen countries have similar requirements — for example, travel insurance worth at least €30,000. Still, make sure that you check with the embassy where you will actually be filing your application, as there are important differences. France, for example, requires a cover letter; the Netherlands doesn’t.

For more tips, visit the individual visa pages in this website:

(Note that the United Kingdom — which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — is not part of the Schengen Area and therefore needs a separate visa.)

Good luck and happy travels!

The Schengen Visa: General Information” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 


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