The Most Successful Main Dishes I've Ever Cooked in 2017

Thursday 31 August 2017

I only took the kitchen seriously over two years ago when J invited me to his flat and said, " I would like to show you my mad cooking skills". For a while, he did all the cooking until I finally felt challenged and took over the kitchen indefinitely. I am very much enjoying the art of cooking at the moment. I never realised how rewarding it is to be able to cook for your loved ones. No wonder Kris Aquino claims that cooking is her language of love. 

Anyway, from breakfast and brunch meals, here are the most successful main dishes I've ever cooked: 

1. Duck
-  There is no doubt that (anything) duck is one of my favourite dishes. But until a few months ago, I was reluctant to cook duck because apparently it needs to be cooked precisely (as suggested on recipes by cooking experts), otherwise it would be dry and chewy. Then one evening, I was up for a kitchen challenge and decided to give duck a try.

The first duck dish I've ever cooked was Duck in Orange Sauce, inspired by Gressingham(sans the chilli, flour and parsley). As a substitute, I garnished the duck with raisins and chopped almonds, and served it with steamed spinach.

I also tried the roast duck legs and it was a success indeed considering it was also my first time to cook roast duck. The only seasonings I used were salt, pepper, Chinese five spice and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. I served this with stir-fried baby kale and roasted vegetables.

2. Lamb Shanks
- I never used to like lamb, but when I was in New Zealand, it became my favourite. So now, it has become a regular meal at home. 

The most successful lamb shank I cooked was meant to be slow cooked in beer, however, we don't drink alcohol anymore so I used chicken stock on its own instead. I used Jamie Oliver's recipe as a guide, but tweaked it as usual. I grilled the lamb shank first (instead of frying) before I cooked it slow in a mixture of ketchup, strawberry jam and raisins. Because I was hungry and impatient, I only cooked the lamb shank for over an hour instead of the recommended 3 hours. So perhaps it wasn't slow-cooked after all. The meat was still soft to be fair, but it was meant to pull away from the bone easily. Next time, I'll make sure that I have more time to cook this. I thought that the perfect partner for this dish was my home-made mashed potato and some blanched string beans. 

3. Kare-kare (Oxtail  in peanut butter sauce)
-  Kare-kare is the only Filipino dish that I can proudly say I can cook without doubting myself. I have cooked this dish multiple times and everyone who has had it loved it so far (even J). Unfortunately, I still use peanut butter from a jar. :)

Basically, I season the oxtail with salt and pepper then slow cook it for at least two hours. After that, I stir in two tablespoonfuls(or more) of peanut butter until it dissolves. I let it simmer until the oxtail is coated in peanut butter, and then add the vegetables (pak choi, string beans and aubergine). 

4. Naked Burger
-  Simply because I took out the bun. It was my first time to make burger from scratch and I was very pleased with the result. However, it's one thing that I probably won't cook often. I didn't follow any recipe for this. I essentially mixed ground beef, salt and pepper, minced garlic, chopped onions and a beaten egg, and then shaped the mixture into balls. After which, I rolled the balls on bread crumbs and fried them until they were golden brown. I used lettuce gems and large vine tomatoes to garnish, and served it with grilled sweet potato fries.

5. Chicken Tikka Masala
-  J loves Indian food and it would be a real shame if I couldn't cook at least one of the many Indian dishes.  It took me about five tries before I was able to successfully cook one dish- the chicken tikka masala. The first four attempts, I followed recipes but I ended up making a mess in frying the paste first. So, I decided to do it my way by sauteing the chicken in garlic and onion first, then adding the paste and (fat-free) yoghurt. This time I only used a small amount of coconut milk and it surprisingly tasted better. I served it with grilled mixed baby bell peppers and brown rice and quinoa. 

6.  Nilagang Baka (Filipino Beef Stew)
-  "Wow, it looks better than the food in that Filipino restaurant", was the comment I received when I cooked Nilagang Baka for the first time in a very long time. But what would Nilagang Baka be without the clear soup, right? Unfortunately, my loyal patron is not very keen on watery dishes so I served my Nilagang Baka with very little soup. I used oxtail and chuck(steak) because I love a little bit of fat (I know). I boiled the meat for over two hours or until soft, then added the baby potatoes first followed by the corn and then lastly, the spring beans and the gem lettuce. We don't have white rice in the house, so I used mixed quinoa instead.

7. Adobo
- You have no idea how happy I was when I finally managed to cook adobo that tasted like adobo. This was way back in New Zealand when I cooked for my friend Ei. Then about two weeks ago, I thought I'd give it another try and see if I could do it again and I did! I really don't know what the proper way of cooking adobo is, but I now have my own style. :) I actually asked my brother how to cook adobo but disregarded his instructions anyway. Sorry Manong. Hehe.

I found that frying the pork first works better than boiling it in marinade. I sauteed onion first in low heat until it turned soft and glossy, and then added the garlic. Once I could smell the garlic, I added the meat seasoned in salt and pepper. When the pork turned slightly brown, I added dark soy sauce, vinegar and my "secret" ingredient. I let it boil until I could smell the vinegar. That was the only time I added the dried bay leaves. I left it to simmer until the sauce or broth (whatever you want to call it)became thick and almost completely evaporated. And then voila! 

I was so proud of my pork adobo that I cooked the chicken adobo a few days later. :)

8.  Grilled Salmon
-  Salmon has been an integral part of our weekly menu. For me, it's the easiest fish to cook. I usually just season it with salt and pepper and then brush it with chopped ginger mixed in oyster sauce. I prefer grilled salmon over fried. I normally serve it with either salad or roast vegetables. As simple as that.

9. Beef Steak
-  Steak has always been a challenge. I hate frying first of all. Secondly, I wouldn't be able to know when it's rare, medium rare or well done. After J told me off for burning his steak, I promised myself to try harder. And with his guidance, I was able to finally cook steak  just the way we both wanted it to be cooked- well done! Well, at home it's well done but when we're eating out, it's medium rare. 

10.  Scallops
-  I wasn't intending to cook scallops because I thought it was tricky, but thanks to one of my cooking inspirations (Farrah) for encouraging me to try. Apparently when frying scallops, you have to ensure they're dry so I patted them dry with kitchen towels first before frying them. I initially fried them in extra virgin olive oil, then when I flipped them over, I added butter. 

The scallops were served with stuffed pepper (I used mashed potato as stuffing) and grilled baby topped carrots. 

11. Pinakbet (Steamed Mixed Vegetables with pork)
-  I think pinakbet is the only dish that I was interested in cooking when I was growing up - mainly because of "bagnet" (deep fried crispy pork belly). I know that you can also use fish or even shrimp with pinakbet, but I only like it with pork - fatty pork actually. As an alternative to "bagnet", I have been using "Mr Porky".

Cooking pinakbet is quite easy, I have done it a few times. What I normally do is sauté the pork in garlic and onion, then I set it aside. Then I layer the vegetables in a pot, starting with the one that cooks the hardest first. Essentially, squash at the bottom, then the aubergine, followed by the bitter gourd and lastly, the beans. I often season it with salt, pepper and fish sauce (because I don't have anchovies). After that, I put the pork on top and let it steam on low heat for almost an hour or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

12. Sautéed Chicken Liver
- I cook chicken liver at least twice a month, and I always cook it the same way. I usually sauté the chicken liver in garlic and onion then add shiitake mushrooms a few minutes before the liver is cooked. When both liver and shiitake mushrooms are cooked, I add a bit of teriyaki sauce, let it simmer for a bit and that's it. We normally eat it on its own, or sometimes I serve it with baby kale and mixed quinoa.

So far, I've only cooked a dozen successful dishes but I am still learning. I am quite lazy and I know I am not trying hard enough to learn how to cook. But to be quite honest, I have gone a long way since those days when I used to cry because I couldn't even cook for myself. So, no matter how little effort I have put into my cooking, I think it's still fair to say that (at least) I have achieved something. Besides, I don't follow recipes step by step. I seldom buy the exact ingredients on the recipe. I often just use whatever I have in the pantry. I don't even measure. My cooking is all about following my instincts -as it is in my life generally. :)


Happy 17th Birthday In Heaven, My Keith!

Thursday 17 August 2017

It's that time of the year again. Keith would have been 17 today.

It has become my tradition to look back at his old photos a few days before his birthday or his angelversary. This is not to say that these are the only times that I do this. At random times, I catch myself looking at his photos (and kissing his beloved toy Meowmeow). The truth is, I miss Keith everyday. I always wish that he's still with us so I could watch him grow into an amazing young man. However, the Almighty had other plans for him, and I do understand that now. I can finally say that with confidence because I know that I have gone a very long way since that painful reality in 2012. 

And while I was browsing through his photos, I came across an open letter that I wrote in 2014 (two years after he left us). 


Dear Keith,

When God took you away from us more than two years ago, I was so devastated. That was the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I questioned God and my faith. I kept asking myself: if there was a God, why would He allow a child who was so good-hearted, talented and beautiful to die at 11? I knew I wouldn’t get an answer. People would tell me that God had a purpose and that things happen for a reason. Yeah I got it, but I wanted to know what His purpose was- straight away. I was being impatient. I was bitter. I would get jealous looking at 11 year olds. I would get jealous at mothers telling their children off for doing something silly. I would rather you be here doing silly things, than not have you at all. I became selfish. I kept telling myself I didn’t deserve to lose you. There are people in the world far worse than I am. I have not done anything wrong, and even if I did and if this was my punishment, it was too much. And even if our family is dysfunctional, we didn’t deserve to lose you.

Your passing may not have done a great deal of damage to me physically or even emotionally (meaning I didn’t go crazy or didn’t hurt myself), but it certainly had some bad effects on me. For the first year since you left, I suffered with anxiety disorder – self diagnosed of course. I didn’t tell anyone because I knew I could deal with it on my own. I had panic attacks so often that I think it affected my memory somehow (don’t ask me how and how is it relevant). I would burst into tears at random times, in random places. I had sleepless nights, asking why, why, why? This went on for a whole year.

The second year was a little bit easier. Although I would say I haven’t completely moved on from your passing, I was learning how to live my “new normal”. Letting go of you was the hardest thing to do, but I knew I had no choice but to accept the fact that you were no longer with us and that I will never see you again. Somehow, acceptance helped me get through that very painful journey.

I remember one of my religious friends telling me that everything will become better after two years. I didn’t take that seriously, until I was faced with yet another life changing situation just a few months before your second angelversary.

Two years on and here I am, about to begin another chapter in my life. It now dawned on me that God indeed had a reason for taking you and that things happen for a reason. I have since become a firm believer of this.

God took you away from me to prepare me for something that He knew would have potentially ruined my life, if it were not for you. I think I know myself too well to be able to say this now. He knew that after losing you, I could withstand life’s challenges no matter how difficult they may seem. And this is also probably the reason why I didn’t get any answers when I wanted them so badly.

So basically, this is just to say thank you and thank God for preparing me for all this. You have given me all the strength that I needed to face this challenge. Because of you, our family and my friends, I found the inner strength that I thought I never had. I have learned how to maintain beauty and grace in times of adversity. I have learned to put on a good fight without having to sacrifice my integrity and my dignity. Most importantly, I became the bigger and better person that I have always wanted to be.

Thank you Keith. As you have always believed, “Kaya ko po, Ako Pa”. I am proud to say that I did it! Thank you for being my inspiration and for teaching me how to be strong. It always makes me cry whenever I relive that moment when Mama told me she knew you were suffering a lot from pain but never showed them. You never complained. They never saw you frown or grimace. They never heard you cry. All they saw was that lovely smile on your face - that of courage and strength.

I am sure you have been looking down on me all this time. I just hope that I have done you proud.

As I take on another journey in life, I take comfort in your belief that I can do everything. You will always be in my heart. Mommy Tintin loves you so much and I miss you every single day.


That was three years ago. Although I am in a better place now, it remains painful at times especially on days like today.

I know there is nothing more I can do because Keith is no longer with us, but I am not giving up on my dream to do something big in his memory- one day. For now, I will continue to do the little things to honour the 11 year old boy who showed nothing but courage, strength and positivity.

On Keith's 5th death anniversary, I made a firm commitment to give blood on or before his angelversary and birthday. So, a couple days ago, I gave blood for the second time this year. I pray that I remain healthy so I can fulfil my commitment to give blood in Keith's memory for the rest of my life. 

When I woke up this morning, I went to my "Keith's corner" in the house, lit a candle, played his favourite song "Lighters" and said a little prayer. I promised myself not to cry anymore because I know that Keith is now in a better place but I couldn't help it. I guess tears will never run out for Keith. 

After that, I called home and spoke to my family. They are celebrating Keith's birthday as usual. And then I had a heart to heart talk with one of his good friends. It always makes me feel better knowing that I haven't lost connection with Keith's friends, and I am very grateful for this.

I always wish Keith never left us, but with what's going on in this world right now, I guess it is better that he is spared from all the uncertainties. But still...

I will forever miss this wonderful kid. My love for him will never end.


Cornwall: A Staycation-worthy Destination

Friday 11 August 2017

Our most anticipated trip to LA was cancelled almost at the last minute much to our my disappointment. With my annual leave already granted (a few months before)and our minds set to a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we had to find an alternative place to spend a few days and unwind. A foreign travel was ruled out as it was a bit too late to book anything cheap, so we chose to staycation instead. The Jurassic Coast was our original plan as I've always wanted to see Durdle Door, but on second thought decided to go further southwest to Cornwall, which was an even better idea.

I have been to Cornwall at least three times before but actually not seen it the way I've seen it this time. Majority of the places we went to were places I've never heard of before, but certainly will now be on my list of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. 

Planning this trip was apparently more challenging than when I planned our trip to the South Island in New Zealand. Luckily, I have a very supportive travel buddy so our itinerary was as perfect as we hoped it would be. We spent four days in Cornwall and here's how we did it:

Day 1:
- As the drive to Cornwall seemed long, we decided to take the 3 1/2 hours train ride from London to Plymouth and then hired a car from there. Our first destination was Polperro, a quaint fishing village almost an hour drive away from Plymouth. We parked our car on top of a hill and enjoyed an idyllic 15-minute walk to the village. We walked through narrow and winding streets, and passed by small shops and white cottages with colourful hanging flower baskets. I had to remind myself that I was in England and not in Greece. Polperro is a truly picturesque little village.

After my first Cornish cream tea (of this trip)at Bean & Scone, and J's Cornish pasty at the shop next door, we headed to our next destination - The Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell.

To be honest, we didn't explore the garden enough to even say whether  the £14 entrance was worth it. All we saw was basically hanging mirrors and lamp shades. We even almost missed "the head of the giant" which, despite being located just at the side of the entrance, wasn't easy to find.

So, after our brief tour of the garden, we decided to drive to our hotel in Mitchell, 20 minutes away from Pentewan.

Where we stayed
The Plume of Feathers-  Mitchell, Newquay TR8 5AX
- I'm not normally keen on accommodations attached to a pub, but The Plume of Feathers exceeded all my expectations: very clean and spacious room away from the pub, free-standing bath tub, rain shower and beautiful garden view. Highly recommended.

Where we ate
- We didn't even bother looking for nearby restaurants anymore because The Plume of Feathers looked so inviting. The food and service was indeed good. I had the Monkish and Prawn Scampi with fries and salad (£12.50), while J had Chicken Supreme (£14.50). Then we had equally good breakfast at the conservatory the following morning.

Day 2:
- We had a full itinerary on our second day in Cornwall, so we ensured to visit St Michael's Mount first to beat the high tide and well, the flock of tourists. I have been here once before but I didn't go up to the castle. The castle is full of fascinating stories, from the appearance of Archangel St Michael to a giant's stone heart that you can still apparently hear beating if you listen close enough. 

As touristy as it is, St Michael's Mount remains one of the best places in Cornwall that anyone should visit. For £9.50, you get more than what your money's worth, with its rich history and stunning views.

Then we were off to Land's End- the southwestern-most part of England. Er, sad to say that apart from my photoshoot in the flower fields, I didn't enjoy my trip here. It was far too busy. Honestly, it's a tourist trap and I feel that the only thing special about this place is the fact that it's the "end" of England. I suppose that's enough reason to visit the place, hey?

Contrary to the underwhelming experience at Land's End, our next destination- the Minack Theatre was incredibly stunning. This open-theatre was built by a lady named Rowena Cade in the 1930s and it is still in use up to this day. You don't necessarily need to watch any shows though. For a mere £5, you have the liberty to enjoy the very impressive architecture and spectacular views. This is a kind of place you would only think of seeing in countries like Greece or Italy, and not England. The theatre is set on top of a cliff overlooking the turquoise water of Porthcurno Bay. No matter where you're coming from in Cornwall, this place is worth the drive. It is simply breathtaking.

It only took us about three hours to see everything that we wanted to see that day. At just after 3pm, we've ran out of ideas where to go. J came across this stonehenge-ish place in his google search and so we drove about half an hour to Madron in Penzance to find the "Lanyon Quoit". The monument is tucked away in the middle of nowhere and is not very visible from the road. We only found it because I saw a couple sitting atop the rock. 

We then drove off to Gulval to check on Tremenheere Sculpture Gradens. They have some interesting sculptures there I must say.

By the time we finished exploring the area, we were feeling a bit tired so we drove back to Penzance where we would stay the night.

Where we stayed:
Hotel Penzance - Barton's Hill, Penzance TR18 3AE
- The hotel has certificate of excellence and good reviews on tripadvisor but we were certainly not impressed. The room looked old and tired. Besides, there was this smell of I don't know, something old that won't go away. I had to ask for an air freshener to get rid of the smell. Our room had the view of the harbour, but even that won't convince me to go back again.

Where we ate:
The original plan was to have dinner at Ben's Cornish Kitchen but it was closed on a Sunday so we ended up at The Admiral Benbow, a historic pub located in the city centre. We were dumped right at the back of the pub and waited for almost 45 minutes for someone to take our order. I was feeling claustrophobic in that little corner and if it wasn't Sunday, I would have walked out. Then the food finally came. J ordered the fish of the day (and chips) for £12.25 and I had the baked chorizo cod (£12.25)- both mediocre. Honestly, it wasn't worth the long wait. We ended up having dessert at The Bay Restaurant attached to our hotel. We should have gone there in the first place, but we wanted to experience a bit of Penzance. We ended up being disappointed.

Day 3:
- I have forgotten how busy St Ives can be so when we arrived just before lunch, there was nowhere to park. We spent half an hour driving round and round trying to look for parking but we were unsuccessful. Irritated, but not totally disappointed, we decided to give St Ives a miss and drove straight to Carnewas and Bethruthan Steps.

Carnewas and Bethruthan Steps was quite dramatic. I thought I have overcome my fear of heights but going up and down the narrow 140+ steps was terrifying, especially because it was wet and sandy. But in the end, it was worth it. The coast was beautiful and the outcrops were amazing. It was low tide so we were able to go around and climb the rocks, and even passed through a cave. However, it wasn't long until the tide came rushing in and we got caught to say the least. 

We spent a good hour exploring the beach then we headed to Trevose Head Lighthouse towards Padstow. 

Then came the biggest surprise of our trip- the B&B in Wadebridge.

Where we stayed:
Trewornan Manor - St Minver, Wadebridge PL27 6EX
- So, our last night in Cornwall was the best thing ever. Trewornan Manor is definitely not a B&B, it's more like a fancy hotel. It is everything I wanted in a hotel (or a house for that matter)- very spacious and immaculate room (we stayed in Daymer), free-standing bath overlooking the front garden, power shower, some French style furniture, a dressing room, massive mirror, etc. Everything was impeccable! And there was complimentary cream tea, too! I would love to go back one day and stay longer. Hotel + service (from the owner) = 5*

Where we ate:
- Rick Stein's Cafe in Padstow certainly made up for the disappointing dining experience the night before. The food and service was great. For starters, we had Thai fish cakes for £6.95 and Mussels for £8.95. Both were tasty and the serving was almost the size of a main course. For mains, J had the Grilled Hake (£13.95) and I had the Vietnamese Pho (£11). An absolute fine dining experience. 

Overall, we loved Padstow and we would definitely go back if we have the chance.

Day 4:
- There was only one place we wanted to see on our last day in Cornwall and that was the historic Tintagel Castle. In order to get to the ruins of the 13th century castle, we had to climb some 145 steep and narrow steps. Prior to that, we walked at least 10 minutes from the carpark to the ticket area. All in all, it was quite a challenging walk. But when we reached the top, we were rewarded with nothing but fantastic views. The castle ruins alone were fascinating. There was also a statue of King Arthur on the top of the cliff. I know so little about King Arthur, but Tintagel castle is apparently where he was conceived. 

And that was the end of our Cornish adventure.

During this trip, I realised that indeed, the greatest treasures are found right on our doorstep. I admit that I haven't explored England thoroughly and I know that there are so many beautiful places in this country that I still need to go to, but it's always been traveling abroad that satisfied the wanderlust in me.  But after this trip to Cornwall, I know that I need not look that far anymore. Turquoise water, historic buildings and ruins, spectacular landscapes and sea-views, breathtaking mountains, beautiful narrow country roads, picturesque villages, stunning flower fields, relaxing romantic walks, fine dining experience, friendly locals with strange accents, moisturising rain (haha)- all of these and more can easily be found in England. And for this reason, I decided to stay in England for the rest of the year and start traveling abroad next year (hopefully).


My 20 Favourite Cities In The World

Tuesday 1 August 2017

So far.

It's now more than eight months since we moved back to London and I can finally say that I am fully settled here. With this came the realisation that I haven't actually traveled abroad since November and I am definitely missing it. There is always something about visiting a new city that gets me high- and it's not just the beauty of the place. It's the personal experience I gain whenever I set foot on a foreign land that makes me happier. 

This blog entry is a summary of my favourite travels in the past, and I ranked the cities based on how they impacted my life one way or the other:

1. Wellington, New Zealand
- But of course. I've only lived in the "coolest little capital in the world" for over ten months, but Wellington holds a very special place in my heart. It's laid back culture allowed me to be the person that I've always wanted to be. Small as it is, there are a lot of interesting things to do, and they're only 15 minutes away by foot or by car. Even the bad weather (Windy Welly as it's fondly called) adds essence to the whole experience.

2. London, England
- I can't even believe that I thought of putting London second on my list. I initially had personal issues with London but now, I am absolutely loving this city. It's the second most visited city in the world and I am not surprised. The list of things you can do in London is endless.

3. Siena, Italy
- I only wanted to go to Siena because of the sunflowers, but the city is definitely not all that. The Piazza del Campo (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), lined with al-fresco cafes, is one of the most beautiful squares I have seen. It slopes down and is shaped like a fan. At the centre of it is the Palazzo Pubblico with its towering Torre del Mangia.

4. Sydney, Australia
Sydney was never on my list of cities to visit. But fate took me there and I am happy because I was able to experience the place that most people in this side of the world are talking about. The elaborate Sydney Opera house and the cobblestone streets in the Rocks are my favourites.

5. Venice, Italy
- I last visited Venice in winter 2013 and I finally saw it in water. The acqua alta, bitterly cold weather and the cloudy days made the whole experience quite poetic. I was so inspired that I made the biggest decision that changed my life for the better. This trip remains one of my proudest moments.

6. Rome, Italy
- My trip to Rome two years ago was third time lucky. I finally saw Rome the best way I wanted to see it - not rushed nor forced. Apart from indulging on the architecture, art and history, walking along the quiet streets early in the morning was one of the best things I have done in the Eternal City.

7.  Salzburg, Austria
- I am a fan of The Sound Of Music and this is the reason why Salzburg is one of my favourite cities. In Salzburg, I stayed at the real Von Trapp family home (not the one in the film), which was a rather nice experience. I love Salzburg more than Vienna because although Salzburg is smaller, it's actually more picturesque. It's also the birthplace of Mozart.

8. Santorini, Greece
- You have to go to Santorini when you can- at least once in your lifetime. It is one of the most breath-taking places you can ever go to. Apart from famous Oia, there are a lot of things you can do to enjoy Santorini (and be away from the many tourists), like a donkey ride to the Old Port in Fira and a volcano tour to Nea Kameni. And if you are a hopeless romantic, you shouldn't miss Oia's famous sunset.

9. Lisbon, Portugal
- There are three reasons why Lisbon is on my top ten: the mosaic pavements and cobblestone streets, pastel de nata in Belem and the Elevador de Santa Justa. And for a fairy-tale experience, Sintra is only 40 minutes away by train.

10. Krakow, Poland
- I never watched Schindler's List until I went to Krakow in 2010. Since then, I became more interested in history. More than the cobblestone streets and the historic city of Krakow was my emotional trip to Auschwitz. It was winter and the snow somehow made my experience more poignant than I thought it would be.I left Auschwitz with a heavy heart, but it remains one of the most unforgettable trips I've ever had. 

11. Prague, Czech Republic
- Prague is one of the cities that I would love to go back to. I like the fact that it's very clean considering it's one of the most visited cities in Europe. Apart from Charles Bridge, I loved the intricate astronomical clock in Old Town square and the artworks in the subway.

12. Delft, Netherlands
- I am lover of small cities and therefore chose Delft over Amsterdam to be my number 12 favourite city in the world. Delft also has beautiful canals and amazing architecture just like Amsterdam, but it's more quaint and less busy.

13. Marrakech, Morocco
- Marrakech was my gateway to the Sahara. For this reason, I would love to go back to Marrakech as I wasn't able to thoroughly enjoy it the first time I went there. I would love to go back to the Souks and explore it a little bit more. I loved Djemaa el-Fna although it was extremely busy, and Jardin Majorelle was a very good experience.

14.  Athens, Greece
- What is there not to love about Athens? I love everything about it- rich ancient history, the numerous ancient monuments, the delicious and healthy food, the friendly people and the panoramic view of the city from the Acropolis. Another city that deserves a second visit.

15. Budapest, Hungary
- Budapest was a part of a Christmas Market tour that I did about seven years ago. Apart from the beautiful architecture and friendly people, I really enjoyed the food in Budapest. Katy Perry's song "Fireworks" always reminds me of the city. :)

16. Madrid, Spain
- An avenue (Avenida de Filipinas) and a metro stop (Islas Filipinas) named after the Philippines and Jose Rizal's monument in Calle Santander - were enough reasons for me to visit Madrid, because I am a proud Filipino. However, there are more reasons why you should visit Madrid: the delicious authentic Spanish food at Mercado de San Miguel, the buzzing Plaza Mayor, sculptured trees in Retiro park, the museums (del Prado and Reina Sofia) and a whole lot more.

17. Stockholm, Sweden
- I have a lot of friends who love to travel but I don't think Stockholm is even on their list to go to. Well, it wasn't even on my list but I am glad I had opportunity to visit this colourful city. Stockholm is simply beautiful. 

18. Edinburgh, Scotland
- I still haven't changed my mind. If all else fails in London, Edinburgh is the place I would want to live.

19. Paris, France
- Paris is dirty, there is no doubt about that. I never liked Paris that much but when I went there for the third time, I realised that there is so much to love about the City of Love. 

20. New York, USA
- It was a close call between San Francisco,  California and New York. But because the Big Apple was a challenge and it took me four trips before I could finally say, "I love New York", I decided to put NY last on my list. 

I can't wait to start traveling again so I can update this list in a few year's time. :)


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