Saturday, July 9, 2016

Bodegas Castañeda ♥ ♥ ♥

I walked away quickly from La Gran Taberna to make it to my next tapas stop before it closed for the night.

Bodegas Castañeda, a local haunt before Rick Steves brought all the tourists in -
myself included!

A row of sexy jamon legs greeted me as soon as I entered and I knew this was 
my happy place

Bodegas Castaneda is a very typical Andalusian tapas bar which looks like it hasn't
been renovated in centuries. There are barrels of wine behind the bar, and absolutely
no chairs to be seen. You stand by the bar and eat and it's a lot of fun.

I was so hungry I made the mistake of ordering food before the server could give me free
tapas with my drink. For people traveling to Granada, remember that it is one of the very
few cities left in Spain where you get complimentary tapas with every drink you order.
Please take advantage! Haha! :)

At least I was given a generous pour

One of the beautiful things about traveling in Europe is that nobody cares what you do.
You can go about doing your own business and people won't judge. 

Like ordering AND finishing this plate of assorted montaditos

Joselito Jamon Iberido de Bellota

Jamon de Trevelez con Manchego

Salmon, Avocado, Caviar

I wolfed down 6 montaditos in 15 minutes. 
They were still at it when I walked out the door.
 Nobody cared.
I love España.

Bodegas Castañeda: Calle de Almireceros, 1-3, 18010 Granada, Spain
Phone: +34 958 21 54 64

Sunday, July 3, 2016

La Gran Taberna ♥

After dropping off my bags at Hotel Casa 1800 Granada, I ran out immediately to get some nourishment.

I was so hungry I rushed into the first restaurant I saw that was still open at 11:28pm.

La Gran Taberna

A traditional tapas place in a great location in the middle of Plaza Nueva.
There was upstairs seating. I grabbed the nearest seat at the bar.

One of the best things about Granada is that every drink 
you order comes with a plate of complimentary tapas

With my glass of house red came a plate of sad olives and a tiny omelette filled with... 
processed meat and cheese. WHY??? This disappointed me extremely. After all, I was in 
a country known for jamon and queso, not in the Republic of Costco!
I disliked the place immediately.

The jamon de pato montadito and anchovy montadito were good, but not great enough
to alter my initial judgement. Sorry, I am difficult like that. Haha!

Hard to complain considering prices were very reasonable. 
Paid my bill and went in search for a better dinner.

La Gran Taberna: Plaza Nueva, 12, 18009 Granada, Spain

Hotel Casa 1800 Granada ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I arrived Granada by train late at night and my taxi driver dropped me off a few steps away from my destination.

Hidden in this cobblestone alley is a gem of a hotel, 
my home away from home in the southern city of Spain

Hotel Casa 1800 Granada

Like its sister Hotel Casa 1800 Sevilla (see my post here), this boutique hotel is housed
in a restored 17th century building. I have a huge thing for old architecture and it was
love at first sight when I stepped through these doors.

Check in was a breeze, which I appreciated because I was dying of hunger 
and wanted to run out to grab a late (midnight) dinner. 

Luckily, my room was on the ground floor, making it easy and convenient for my 
eating escapades. (I did not notice any elevators in the building.)

How I loved my room and all its charming old world details!

It was more spacious than my room in Seville and came with the same modern amenities.

There was a window that opened up to the breakfast area, making it a bit noisy in the 
mornings, which wasn't totally a bad thing because I would have slept through noon 
in my comfy bed if it were quiet.

The bathroom was modern and very clean

Bathtub and rain shower in one

Every morning I woke up to the sound of people enjoying their first meal of the day
at the inner courtyard

Breakfast room

Coffee, tea, and other beverages

Simple selection of cold cuts, cheeses and fruits

All things carbs

After fueling up, I went to check out the second floor

Very nice and very Granada

I love all the beautiful details of the hotel

These clay vessels by the doorway

The armchair and the painted walls

In the afternoons, hotel guests enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks. Nothing to write 
home about, but sure saved me from lugging back bottles and bottles of water.

Hotel Casa 1800 also boasts an excellent location, just off Plaza Nueva and not far from
Alhambra. I walked everywhere the whole time in Granada. 

A few steps from the hotel is a souvenir shop selling everything you can think of

Perfect for last-minute shopping!

I wanted to take home all these gorgeous plates

Remember to smile and bargain  :)

I highly recommend Hotel Casa 1800. Wouldn't stay anywhere else when in Granada!

Hotel Casa 1800 Granada: 11, Plaza Benalúa, 18010 Granada, Spain
Tel: +34 958 21 0700

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

PAL Mabuhay Miles Travel Card

Last April, despite it being the craziest, busiest time of my life, I made sure to squeeze in a trip to Cebu because something BIG was launching there.

The country's very first prepaid card, multi-currency wallet, mileage card and membership card all rolled into one.

I present to you... drum roll, please...

The Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles Travel Card

Before I tell you more about this brilliant piece of plastic, let me first share with you how Philippine Airlines spoiled us from the moment we stepped into the Mabuhay Lounge at NAIA Terminal 2.

Of course, every PAL experience starts with a comforting bowl of arroz caldo.
I like to top mine with crispy garlic, chopped salted egg, spring onions, and dilis.
Heaps and heaps of them. Confession: I never stop at just one bowl. 

After the smooth flight to the Queen of the South, we checked in at the beautiful Shangri-La Mactan.

The balcony in my room opens up to this va-va-view-m!
I would have stayed here all day, looking out to the hot, scorching, sexy summer (in the 
comfort of my air-conditioned room haha), except I had a very important appointment.

A very important appointment with my massage therapist at the Chi Spa 
where my body enjoyed a much-needed 60-minute session of Philippine Hilot.
Now that was a treat!

Later that evening, at the stunning Ocean Pavilion with the backdrop of the
midnight blue sky, a true industry game-changer was unveiled.

Guests were welcomed in Philippine Airlines fashion - big smiles, warm greetings,
genuine hospitality.

PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista introduced the Travel Card, a new chapter 
in the history of Mabuhay Miles. So exciting! It is wonderful to know that our national
carrier continually works to enhance its product and service offerings to frequent flyers.

To celebrate the special occasion, there was Cebu lechon

Traditional music and dancing

And miles and miles to give away. Lucky winners went home with
10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Mabuhay Miles.

Feeling very generous, Mr. Bautista gave in to the crowd's request for more prizes 
and raffled off a few thousand miles more. Everybody at my table won a prize. 
Everybody but me. Huhu.

But I felt like a million miler after everyone retired to the hotel and I had this
incredible starry night all to myself. I had never seen so many stars at once. 
They glittered like diamonds. It took my breath away.  

Plus I received my all-new PAL Mabuhay Miles Travel Card.

In a nutshell:

The Mabuhay Miles Travel Card is your Mabuhay Miles membership card and multi-currency prepaid card in one.

This prepaid card can be used to purchase products and services in stores that accept UnionPay.

Earn 1 mile for every P100 (or foreign currency equivalent) spent.

Redeem your miles for goods or services at participating program partners.

And the best part for me is, the card can hold up to 10 currencies!

US Dollar (USD)
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Euro (EUR)
British Pound (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Australian Dollar (AUD)
Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)
Japanese Yen (JPY)

This is so perfect for people who love to travel. Just load up your card with the currency needed at your destination, fly, eat, spend, shop, and earn miles while at it! Also, no terrible bill shock because you only put in your allotted budget, haha! 

The next day, we put our Travel Cards to good use.

We went to the new SM Seaside Cebu because, well, SM's got it all.  :P

But first, lunch to fuel us up, catered by a Cebu favorite, Cafe Laguna.
We dined right by the entrance of the mall, under its high ceiling.

My favorite from the spread was this scrumptious grilled pork belly

And then shopping began. I got a few items from Uniqlo for my UK trip. 
It was still chilly in that part of the world so these cardigans were perfect.

3 cardigans, 3 skirts, and a button-down dress all successfully charged to my
Mabuhay Miles Travel Card. Yay! I am happy to announce that the transaction
 was as easy and seamless as using a debit card.

You can also use the Travel Card to withdraw money from any BancNet ATM machine

I tested out this service and...

Ta-Da!!! Success!!!

Another great feature of the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card is the redemption of rewards
 at partner merchants using miles earned.

I experienced the convenience of this feature first-hand when I used my card to
check in at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

The hotel front desk debited 13,000 miles from my Travel Card and handed me 
the key to my deluxe sea view room. 

Isn't it splendid to be able to enjoy such comfort using only the miles you've earned 
and absolutely zero pesos? I urge everyone to enroll in Mabuhay Miles frequent flyer 
program and apply for the MM Travel Card. For more information, visit 

This chunky chocolate chip cookie is just the cherry on top. 

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