Reviews and Other Stuff


Memories of Zurich, Switzerland

limmat river switzerland


Last Summer, I traveled to Europe and one of the cities I visited was Zurich, Switzerland. I spent a few days there to explore and unwind. It was my first time in Switzerland and I planned to not only visit Zurich, but I also had my trip set to Lucerne and the Swiss Alps which I will be featuring soon in my upcoming travel posts.


zurich swiss


hotel swiss night steinweisstrasse 8 zurich switzerland


I arrived in Zurich on a very warm and very bright late morning. The sun was really touching my skin in a very hot and quite aggressive way. I wasn’t used to that much sun anymore and I was squinting as I lugged my two large luggages on the front door of Hotel Swiss Night, located along the quiet residential street of Steinwiesstrasse 8. The hotel looks quaint, silent, and very homey with its quintessential Swiss design, complete with red and white paints/accents all over the walls just like the Swiss flag. You can also see replicas of big round cheeses and milk barrels as main decors right when you enter the hotel. Speaking of the hotel, it is actually not very large. The entire reception area is quite tiny and so is the narrow staircase leading down the breakfast room. The place feels more like a house rather than a hotel. Outside the hotel, you will find a red cow statue facing the door. The staff speaks good enough English and are overall very friendly and helpful.


view outside hotel swiss night zurich switzerland

The view outside my hotel room. What a cute multi-floor Swiss house!


makeup for traveling

I only took a few makeup and skincare stuff with me on this trip since I didn’t really have much time to pack, so I just mostly took the essentials.


best pouch for traveling





swiss bread


The Hotel Swiss Night has only one elevator and it can practically fit two very slim people, provided that they don’t have any luggage with them. I emphasize the words very slim because I think in most instances, it can pretty much fit only one person with a small luggage. But there I was, shuffling along with my two large luggages, doing the whole Tetris thing trying to fit my stuff inside the tiny elevator, and for the life of me, I still couldn’t sneak my second luggage in. So, I decided to leave the second one out first while I took the first one to my room, then I went back for the second one. Speaking of rooms, my room was to be very honest, really really small, and really really hot. As I mentioned, it was Summer when I arrived and I was placed in an attic room with just a portable AC and with not much space for both my luggage and for my legs to walk around. I also found the very low ceiling to be very hazardous. I mentioned hazardous because there were many instances where I bumped my shoulder against that low ceiling and I eventually ended up with a dull shoulder pain that lasted for months since that trip. Apart from that, for what I paid for, the hotel has horrible Wifi and the TV channels were not translated into English. Since it’s situated in a quiet residential area, there weren’t many shops around, but there’s a 24/7 grocery store nearby. Keep in mind though that everything in Zurich is very expensive. A very basic nail cutter for 25 USD, everyone? Shockers, right? Other than that, the hotel’s breakfast was ok, you may still have to ask for water or milk in German/Swiss German for the staff to understand, but the selection’s fine enough for me to survive. Also, the bed here is really nice and comfy, but everything else is just too tiny and too claustrophobic for me. So, I don’t think I’ll be staying here again.


lake zurich


The first thing I went to see in Zurich is the popular Lake Zurich. I wanted to see the beautiful swans looking majestic and swimming serenely. So I spent a lot of time strolling along the lake just staring at such stunning creatures and taking all the pictures I could get. Lake Zurich is indeed very beautiful and is fun to visit. It’s pretty full of tourists though but it’s not overly congested. There are shops and cafes around, so you can shop, eat, and drink while you take in all the views.


visiting lake zurich switzerland


After a couple of hours strolling along Lake Zurich, I went to take an eTukTuk ride which I booked at Tripadvisor. If you’re wondering what an eTukTuk is, it’s actually an electric car that takes you on a tour to see some of the highlights of the city of Zurich. I chose this tour because I knew I wouldn’t be staying that long in Zurich, so I wanted to get a comprehensive knowledge of the city in a short period of time. There several types of eTukTuk tours you can choose from, ranging from the central Zurich and surroundings tour even to a Fondue and wine tour. The meeting place for this tour is at Museumtrasse 1, which is very close to the Zurich Main Station. I took an uber there (the driver was pretty responsive) and located my driver immediately. His name was Attila. He was very informative and very friendly. I learned a lot about Zurich through his explanations and his experiences living and working there. I ended the tour feeling quite knowledgeable and more oriented about the city.


zurich switzerland horse statue


zurich switzerland


blumen fitze zurich switzerland


After the eTuktuk tour, I decided to stop at Coop Supermarkt, which is Zurich’s most common grocery store. I love this grocery store a lot. In fact, I like most European grocery stores because there is a lot to see. In the Coop Supermarkt, I found lots and lots Toblerones which is pretty obvious because they’re Swiss-made, but I also found lots of ham, cheeses, sweets, desserts (did I mention that the ice cream here is so addicting?), European wines, various haircare products, different types of bread, and all sorts of hausgemacht (homemade) sandwiches and sausages. They’re all expensive though, but they’re also all worth it.


coop supermarkt review


limmat river zurich


zurich switzerland grossmunster


zurich switzerland visit


The following day, I took a stroll along the Limmat River where you can find the Fraumünster and the Grossmünster Church. This part of Zurich is very classic and has very interesting architectural works. I made it a point to stroll along the famous Bahnhofstrasse nearby, which is the upscale shopping avenue of Zurich. I also went to see the Farmer’s Market nearby and I found some really nice fresh flowers.


zurich shopping



zurich switzerland restaurants


zurich switzerland farmers market review


restaurant dialog zurich switzerland review


As I strolled, I stopped by to eat at Restaurant Dialog for a nice Lasagna. Then I continued my stroll but I felt very jet-lagged, so I went inside Gran Mota Restaurant for an ice-breaker, lol. I did get an ice cream and that sort of kept me awake for a while. I went to continue browsing some shops and even went back to Lake Zurich because I just loved staring at those Swans (dunno why), lol. I didn’t realize it was quite dark when I headed back to my hotel room and I literally passed out from the massive jet lag.


gran cafe mota switzerland


zurich bahnhofstrasse review


lake zurich limmat


The next day, I had a trip booked for Lucerne and the Swiss Alps.


what to pack while traveling


lake zurich


Have you ever been to Zurich before? What’s your most memorable experience in that city?


Stay tuned for part 2 of this post.






Quick Winter Getaway, Part II (Houston)

rice running trail


Hey guys, as promised, this is part two of my recent short Winter getaway. The first part of this travel diary recap is HERE.



So, after having a great time in St. Louis Missouri, I hopped on a plane for a quick trip to Houston. The weather was amazing when I arrived there. It wasn’t sunny, but it was definitely warm. As usual, Houston is vibrant and everyone’s on their T-shirt and walking their dogs. Like with most big cities, there’s a lot of stuff to see in Houston, but I didn’t have the time to explore, so I just spent my few days there strolling around.


Hotel Zaza Houston


Hotel Zaza French Macarons
free French Macarons near Hotel Zaza’s lobby


Hotel Zaza – known to be a boutique hotel, I had high hopes for the place when I checked in. However, I was utterly surprised by the darkness of the interior and it’s not just slightly dark, it’s REALLY dark to the point that you would have a hard time finding the elevator button. My room was dingy, musty and scary. Honestly, the hotel was giving me the creeps. It’s got the whole Overlord meets The Shining vibe. LOL. The hallways are eerily silent, dark, and the type that will give you goosebumps. It’s full of bizarre paintings and photos that don’t seem to make any sense with regards to the hotel’s overall design. The staff are distant and they don’t seem to care much for their clients. I remember sitting at their Monarch Restaurant located just adjacent to the hotel and no one came to ask for my order, so I just left. I did change room because I was so grossed out with its carpet and its musty smell, not to mention the not-so-safe-looking door and windows. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the free French Macarons at the lobby which I managed to spot amidst all that darkness and the hotel’s proximity to Rice Village, I would not have stayed at all, in fact, I don’t think I will ever stay there again.


rice university houston tx


rice university loop
Rice University Loop


Rice Boulevard & Rice Village – As what I’ve said above, the other nice thing of staying at my scary hotel is the fact that it’s walking distance to Rice University, Rice University Trail/Loop, and Rice Village. Yes, there’s a lot of rice there, I know, LOL. But yeah, I took a nice long stroll along Rice Boulevard and its running trail/loop which gave me a beautiful view of the Rice University campus. The university itself has a very classic design but the stars of the show are the impressive old oak trees that surrounded the entire school. They kinda reminded me of the Oak Alley Plantation in New Orleans (read about that trip HERE). Also, they are everywhere and they seem to take a life of their own. I truly recommend that you take a stroll along the Rice Boulevard trail because it’s kind of a reflecting experience. Since it wasn’t cold at all, I saw some squirrels having fun climbing the trees and enjoying the weather. Towards the end of Rice Boulevard is the famous Rice Village and I had a great time browsing some shops there. I picked up some beauty stuff at Bluemercury, had a coffee and spicy Chorizo at Starbucks, bought some pants at Loft, and swatched some makeup at Sephora. I totally love Rice Village for casual shopping and dining. Oh, and you gotta try the Rice Krispies from The Chocolate Bar if you happen to be there.


bluemercury rice village tx
Rice Village


Additionally, on my way to Rice Village, I passed by several museums, like the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and I also stopped at Hermann Park to check out the roses near the Sam Houston monument. Check out the photos below.

Sam Houston Monument Hermann Park
Sam Houston Monument at Hermann Park


Houston Museum of Natural Science Photo


Cockrell Butterfly Center Museum Houston
Cockrell Butterfly Center


hermann park houston tx
Reflection Pool at Hermann Park


I find these short trips to be very beneficial on my part. I got a chance to unwind and disconnect for a while, and even though I got disappointed with my stay at Hotel Zaza in Houston, still, I could see myself living in all of the three cities I recently visited. I absolutely miss the sun in California, I love the newness and the energy of St. Louis, and I there are so many things in Houston I want to explore. Anyways, that my friends conclude my short Winter getaway. Stay tuned for more trips coming soon.


Have you been to these spots before? What do you like about them?


To book a flight to Houston TX, click HERE


Quick Winter Getaway, Part I (Orange County & St. Louis)


Last month and towards the end of last year, I did a quick getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. I needed to disconnect for a little bit and to prepare myself for the upcoming long cold Winter of my natural habitat, LOL. Anyway, I actually went from one city to another but didn’t stay long, only for a few days each. So here now is the first part of these recent trips.




I miss the California sun and was excited to visit Orange County, only to realize that it was actually raining when I arrived and it didn’t stop until the next day. So I mostly stayed in my hotel chillin’ and on the third day, I had a great time shopping and dining at the nearby outlet which is very close to my hotel.


ayres hotel orange orange county california


Ayres Hotel Orange – I had a fabulous stay in this beautiful and relaxing hotel. Its grounds are very well-kept, beautiful, and simply serene. The staff here are very kind and respectful to your privacy. Food-wise, this hotel has a nice breakfast buffet selection, and plenty of chairs to lounge around, especially nearby the pool area. I also had a chance to dine at a nearby Mexican restaurant called Anepalco and their food and service was really excellent. To book a stay in this hotel, click HERE.


the outlets at orange county california


the outlets at orange


The Outlets at Orange– With just minutes away and walking distance from Ayres Hotel Orange, this large outlet has lots of shops and restaurants. I had a great time strolling around and browsing at different stores which I find to be very well-stocked compared to my local outlets at home. Their Saks Off Fifth has several discounted Tom Ford beauty products which got me drooling. Also, they have a nice AMC theatre where I watched Green Book.




downtown clayton missouri


I have never been to St. Louis before and I was curious as to what Missouri looks like. True to my expectation, St. Louis especially downtown Clayton is very beautiful and it’s booming. I love the architecture here which is very classic and I noticed that even the new buildings/constructions seem to follow the same classic design. Clayton is full of shops and restaurants, plus the people are so friendly and so kind. The cabs and Uber drivers here are so polite and friendly, and they even act and talk like your tour guide. I like the flat topography of St. Louis even though it looks a little too spread out. There are lots of things to see here. Almost all the houses I’ve seen around Clayton are grand and well-kept. Washington University (Wash U) is nearby and it’s a beautiful classic-style campus as well. During my visit here, the weather was wavering between sunny and gloomy and it wasn’t so cold during the day. I did get so cold at night though. All in all, St. Louis Missouri is not your average midwest town. This place is a total must-see.


ritz carlton st louis missouri


ritz carlton missouri


Ritz Carlton – Located at the heart of Downtown Clayton, the room that I got here is a bit small compared to some other Ritz Carltons I’ve stayed before, but it’s still luxurious nevertheless. It’s also super clean and the toiletries are from Asprey London which smells divine and luxe. I adored the all-marble wall to floor bathroom, and the staff here are courteous and helpful. I enjoyed a simple hearty breakfast here and the service was great. They’ll even give you a free snack and drinks if you’re waiting for someone at the lobby. They were also very nice to me when I asked to change to another room after I complained that I could hear the sound of the elevator from my bed. I don’t think that I got a nice view of Clayton from my room, but for me, it was good enough as long as I could not hear any noise outside my window. Location-wise, this hotel is a perfect walking distance to a lot of shops and restaurants in Clayton. To book a stay in this hotel click HERE.


ritz carlton room st louis missouri


breakfast at ritz carlton st louis missouri


ritz carlton st louis room view



the arch st. louis missouri


the gateway arch national park st. louis

The Gateway Arch – I was so excited to see this famous Gateway to the West, simply known as “The Arch”. It is the world’s tallest arch and it’s one of America’s most famous monuments. I took an Uber to visit the Arch and the driver politely told me that the Arch was closed because of the government shutdown, but I insisted to see it anyway just so I could see the arch from the outside at least. True to everyone’s rave, the Arch is SO impressive. It’s made of stainless steel and it’s about 630 ft tall. You can potentially go up there and take in all the view from above, although I can only imagine how it must be like. Across the arch is a view of the Mississippi River from St. Louis Missouri’s side, and strolling along it is so relaxing, you can totally enjoy the sun and the sand. 


the arch st louis missouri


the arch st louis missouri


riverboat cruises gateway arch



st. louis zoo grizzly bear


st. louis zoo


St. Louis Zoo – I took another Uber and decided to visit the St. Louis Zoo. I haven’t been to any zoo for a long time and I needed to see my friends (I love animals, you know). This zoo is probably the most laid-back zoo I’ve ever been and it’s also very vast. The animals here are cute and you can see lots of them. From Tigers to Buffalos, down to some rare snakes, this zoo not only looks like a zoo, but it also looks like a park. Kids and families love this place and I too enjoyed this zoo a lot.


st louis missouri zoo penguins

st. louis mo zoo


st. louis zoo view



st. louis zoo buffalos



st. louis art museum


St. Louis Art Museum – This museum has a very classic European-style architecture and it looks grand. Just right outside of it is the statue of the impressive King Louis IX of France riding a mighty horse, known as the Apotheosis of St. Louis. In front of the statue is the Grand Basin of the vast Forest Park. The St. Louis Art Museum has unique and interesting exhibits, but I didn’t spend a lot of time here because I was getting hungry and they were about to close anyway, so I started looking for food. LOL. 


st. louis art museum


st. louis art museum exhibit




BARcelona tapas restaurant menu


BARcelona tapas restaurant review

tres leches barcelona tapas restaurant

BARcelona Tapas Restaurant – Just 30 minutes walk from Ritz Carlton hotel and still in downtown Clayton, I had a nice dinner at this restaurant the same day that I arrived in St. Louis. I was impressed by the variety of the menu as well as the restaurant’s decor and ambiance. The food here transported me back to Barcelona and it’s really good, also, the prices are not that expensive. The service is quick and the food was served on time, but you do need to call ahead for a reservation. I highly recommend that you try their Tres Leches (dessert) which is so divine. To reserve a table to this restaurant, click HERE.


guerilla street food review


guerilla street food st. louis missouri menu


Guerrilla Street Food – I came here right after visiting the St. Louis Art Museum. Again, my Uber driver was a kind welcoming Vietnam Vet who further oriented me to St. Louis. I was not really sure why the restaurant is called Guerrilla, but I was determined to taste this famous Filipino franchise in STL. I’m no stranger to Filipino foods at all, so if you ask me what I think about the food here, I think, to be honest, they’re just ok. I ordered Chicken Adobo which I think definitely needs some soy sauce, and the Sinigang (Tamarind soup) definitely needs more Tamarind because it wasn’t sour at all. The Empanadas are ok, but I don’t know what the “Flying Pig” was all about. While it tasted so good, there is no such thing as Flying Pig in Philippine cuisine. Just a tip, the sodas here are not your average American sodas. I wasn’t really sure what they were, I wanna say that they’re the Philippine version of most American drinks and that their tastes are not that different from what we’re used to here in the US. I honestly could not recognize most of them except for the Calamansi juice, which is so great by the way. 


guerilla street food sinigang


st. louis missouri guerilla street food


St. Louis Galleria – I ended my stay in Missouri with a visit to one of their malls. I wanted to go to Plaza Frontenac but they were closing early on that day, so I decided to drop by at the famous St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights near St. Louis. This mall is huge and they have shops and brands that I haven’t seen or heard before. There are several floors in this mall and the decors are impressive.

st. louis galleria mall


I was definitely fascinated by the beauty of St. Louis and I highly recommend that you visit this place whenever you have time and I bet you that you won’t be disappointed. Stay tuned for part two of this trip.


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