November was a perfect storm of excitement and expectation when my family traveled across the globe for a happy reunion in Manila. Our adventure, which lasted for a lovely week, began with a tour of the capital city before we descended into the sun-drenched splendors of the unspoiled beaches of Boracay.
Arrival and Manila Exploration
The story started on a clear November 18th, as I excitedly headed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport to greet my tired but joyful family. They arrived in Manila jet-lagged from their intercontinental flight that had started in Amsterdam via Taipei. Navigating the city's winding streets, we were immediately confronted with the traffic jams that sets Manila apart from the peaceful surroundings of the Netherlands. After a long ride we finally arrived at the Air residence condominium where they were staying at the top floor with some beautiful views over the city. The chose this condo as it was very close to my condo in Lush residence
We traveled to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) on our Sunday adventure, where we immersed ourselves in the multicultural appeal of the city and enjoyed a spectacular F1 viewing experience at a neighborhood sports bar, seamlessly blending into the dynamic Manila lifestyle.
I had a packed schedule of cross-cultural activities on Monday when my family visited my place of employment. Not only did they provide some Dutch greetings, but they also brought some delicious snacks, including stroopwafels and pepernoten, so my coworkers could enjoy a little taste of home. After work, my family set out on a self-guided tour of Manila, taking in the rich history of the city as they strolled through Intramuros' medieval lanes.
Island Escape to Boracay
We all decided to take a trip to the sun-kissed paradise of Boracay, eager to escape the grip of the city. We strategically selected the Wednesday through Friday travel window to make the most of our time on the island. We took off early in the morning and landed in Malay. From there, we took to the sea and traveled across the waves to the dreamy beaches of Boracay.
Reaching our beachside residence through Boracay's twisting, small alleyways was an experience in and of itself. The last part of the journey demanded a leisurely walk as our van yielded to the small lanes, highlighting the picturesque allure of our selected lodging - a seaside sanctuary complete with a lavish pool in addition to expansive views of the ocean. The red coconut hotel is definitely a recommendation if you every visit Boracay with it's perfect location.
An interactive island-hopping journey with a plethora of attractions took place on Thursday against the stunning backdrop of Boracay's natural treasures. Throughout the day, the breathtaking underwater world during snorkeling adventures and the ivory sands of Puka Beach served as a canvas covered in the artistic strokes of nature. A delicious packed lunch tempted our palates and senses at Tambisaan Beach, and the trip came to an end at the enthralling Crystal Cove Island, whose historic caves provided us with an amazing view of the infinite sea.
Farewell to Paradise
As the sun dipped below the horizon on Friday, signaling the end of our Boracay sojourn, we bid adieu to the island and embraced a return to Manila for the final night before my family's departure to the Netherlands. The evening was steeped in nostalgia and reflections on the myriad moments that had defined our island retreat.
The Last Day
With the weight of upcoming goodbyes, Saturday morning arrived and we headed out for a leisurely walk around Ayala Triangle. This last tour around Manila's urban oasis was a moving preamble to our parting lunch at Makati's Y Cafe. We packed our treasured memories into suitcases and got ready for the trip back to the airport while laughing and exchanging stories. At the check-in counter, farewells were said and hugged, demonstrating the closeness of relatives.
With my family, the warmth of the Philippines gave way to the icy embrace of a snow-covered country as they set out on the grueling 19-hour journey back to the Netherlands. But the warmth of shared memories and the hope of further get-togethers never faded from our hearts. Our account of our adventure in Manila and Boracay, replete with natural beauties, cultural exchanges, and close family ties, had left a lasting impression on the pages of our common past.