Travel

Mallow Castle

Mallow Castle – Mallow, Co. Cork

Mallow Castle is one of the many National Monuments of Ireland. It stands on a large area of gardens and parkland. The castle sits in the urban area of Deerpark, Mallow in County Cork.

The Beauty of

Mallow Castle

Exploring Ireland's Castles

Two Castles and a Dragon

This 16th-century fortified house is overlooking the Blackwater River, one of the finest salmon fishing rivers in Ireland. Visitors are in for a treat as there are two building from which to choose, a 19th-century mansion and a 13th-century castle. There is also a huge stone dragon standing tall between the two buildings.

The dragon and the castle
A dragon made of stones stands between the two castles. Sit on this throne-like seat and capture your memory of Mallow castle.

The Castle and the grounds have been in the possession of Cork County Council since 2011. It has stood in Mallow for over 800 years. While it is now a ruin, tourists and locals interested in the area’s heritage and genealogy can still visit the site. The castle ground is home to a magnificent herd of white fallow deer, which, according to British Ireland Castles, are descended from the deer given to the Castle by Queen Elizabeth 1st.

Inside the ruins of the old Mallow Castle
Inside the ruins of the old Mallow Castle.

The Castle's Architecture

Mallow Castle is a three-level rectangular strong house with wings that project from the centre of the northern and southern walls. As you step inside the castle a sharp acrid odour emanating from around the walls will envelop you. However, you will be in awe of this architecture which is somehow preserved in the present. The castle is built in an early Jacobean style. It features high gables and large windows with mullioned square heads and gun loops in the turrets.

Mallow Castle
Mallow castle
The castle ruins behind us.

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Ross Castle - Co. Kerry

Ross Castle – Killarney, Co. Kerry

Ross Castle is the first castle I have ever been to (not counting Disneyland castle in Florida). The sheer span of this imposing structure perched on a majestic site overlooking the calm waters of the lake will simply take your breath away. The sound your feet makes against the small stones scattered all around the castle grounds gives a little taste of what life would have been like back then. Much of the original structure remains unscathed and walking around the castle allows you to imagine all the merriment of those who habituated the castle long ago.

Read MoreRoss Castle – Killarney, Co. Kerry »
Photo by Wabi Jayme on Unsplash

Boracay Island – One of Our First Trips Together

We've always wanted to see Boracay island because every person we know who's gone there only has good things to say. When Cebu Pacific Air had a seat sale, we didn't miss the opportunity to go see it with our own eyes. That time, the seat sale was no rip-off, no hidden charges, no whatsoever.
Boracay white sand beach

Boracay White Sand Beach – We Love Coming Back to You

Boracay - the Philippines' Famous Beach

Boracay and its famous white sand beach.

The tropical paradise Boracay has all the necessary elements of a perfect holiday – pristine waters, powdery white sand beaches, picturesque sunsets, tall palm trees and the warm salty sea breeze on your skin. Much has been said and written, or in millennial lingo blogged and vlogged, about one of the best islands in the world found on the western coast of the Philippine archipelago, and for good reason.

Boracay Unfazed by the Season​

Willy's Rock Boracay
Willy's Rock with the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Our first visit to Boracay was in July 2011 for our anniversary. It is not really the best month to go there because July is the start of the Habagat or wet season in the Philippines, so frequent heavy rainfall is expected. There was even a tropical storm brewing the day we got there. Our second trip was a few months later at the onset of the Amihan or dry season along with a few friends. Part of what makes Boracay the beauty that it is is its geography. White Beach which is on the western side of the island is sheltered from the wind, hence, making the water glassy-smooth during the Amihan season. Nonetheless, the island is still beautiful no matter the season.

Boracay's Geography​

Boracay has two primary tourism beaches, White Beach and Bulabog Beach. White Beach is the main tourism beach and is about four kilometers long. It is lined with resorts, hotels, lodging houses and an open concept mall of restaurants and shops. Bulabog Beach on the opposite side of the island is for leisure activities like scuba diving, parasailing, kiteboarding, windsurfing and many other water sports fun.

Puka Shell Beach

Puka Shell Beach is one hidden secret that Boracay island holds. Its name came about because of the abundance of crushed “puka” shells mixed in with the white sand. Sadly though we heard that it has since undergone some significant changes where it used to be just a long stretch of white beach now has cabanas and stalls selling coconut juice.

Where To Stay in Boracay

You can choose to stay near the white sand beaches to save you the trouble of going there. Station 1 is where most expensive hotels are operating, where most celebrities stay when they go for a holiday. Then there’s Station 2 and 3 if you go for a more affordable accommodation. They are all connected, by the way, so if you have the energy, you can go up and down between Stations 1 and 3.

Furthermore, there are big, luxury hotels outside these “stations”. But because Station 2 is where all the goings-on takes place, they provide shuttle service regularly collecting and dropping off guests to the area.

Alta Vista de Boracay
Alta Vista de Boracay .
The hotel is a big compound and our room is in this one.

We stayed at Alta Vista de Boracay situated on the hillside in Barangay Yapak. The hotel offers a panoramic view of Boracay’s highest peaks and is the perfect place to stay at if you prefer to shy away from the busy side of the island. They have Southeast Asian-inspired rooms with lovely views from the balcony. We were also surprised to see that our room has a small kitchen area equipped with a microwave oven. But the best part for us is that Alta Vista de Boracay guests get a complimentary tour to explore Puka Shell Beach.

Alta Vista infinity pool by the mountain top.
Enjoy swimming in the infinity pool if you opt to stay at the hotel.
Hotel room at Alta Vista de Boracay
Wash off the sand prior to entering your hotel room.
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Our Unique Experience

Then we tried helmet diving in Bulabog Beach, made more unforgettable because we witnessed a unique marriage proposal – underwater. We were in the same boat with three other tourists on our way to the diving spot. We all went underwater and started feeding the fish while the diving staff took our pictures for souvenirs when their group caught our attention. One of the gentlemen was on his knee with his polo shirt (I didn’t even notice earlier on that it did seem odd for a beach outfit) unbuttoned revealing another white shirt underneath with a print that says, “Will you marry me?” while holding out the ring to his lady. The other companion was third-wheeling to document everything.

We had a wonderful experience of pampering ourselves with a revitalizing massage at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa’s enchanting Chi, The Spa especially exceptional with the complimentary use of their relaxation pavilion, spa pool, and jacuzzi. Our session was made unique and even more special as they used aroma and oil specific to our kind of personality.

How would you like to roll downhill inside a transparent ball? Of course, we did not miss this adventure which gave us a different thrill. The experience will have you go from fear to laughter to euphoria in just a few short minutes. You have a choice to roll inside unstrapped to the ball and with water in it, which was less extreme. But you can go with being tied to the ball, where you will feel the turns a lot more. On the way down, your friends who are watching can lie on the ground and get run down by the zorb ball.

Staying Satiated in Boracay​

Smoothies at Jonah's.
Jonah's Fruit Shakes - very popular fruit drink. For a take-away drink, the fruit shake is placed in a water bottle.

You will never run out of dining choices in Boracay that you can even have a different restaurant for each time you dine. Top of the list are the recommended ones like Real Coffee & Tea Cafe with its famous calamansi muffin and Jonah’s Fruit Shakes. But our best dining experience in the island was the buffet dinner at Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort Vintana Cafe with its appetizing array of local and international gourmet. 

Dining at Shangri-la's boracay

Boracay Comes Alive at Night​

Fire dancers around Boracay Island every night.
Fire dancers are everywhere when the sun sets in the island. Some of them perform in hotels, most of them just by the shore.

Boracay transforms even livelier at night with beachfront resorts offering entertainment like live bands, disco party and heart-stopping fire dances performed by groups of locals. Probably one facet of Boracay that entices a lot of young people.

Taking a breather from exploring Boracay
White Beach is a long strip from Station 1 to 3. It is exhausting seeing all of them, good thing there are stalls and shops along the way.

Boracay will remain one of the best islands in the world, even with its recent problems of pollution. Many locals could only reminisce the old and untouched Boracay. However, there is a lot that we can do to save it. The local tourism department must maintain its beauty while keeping up with progress. Tourists must also help in preserving the island. This union is vital so that we could always go back to Boracay and savor its beauty endlessly.

Sidetrip to Sampaguita Gardens

While planning our itinerary we came across a blog suggesting to detour in one tourist attraction when going to Boracay. The Sampaguita Gardens in New Washington, Aklan is a boutique resort located 15 minutes away from Kalibo Airport. Sam Butcher, the artist, and creator of the Precious Moments dolls with their signature teardrop loving eyes, owns the place.

The focal part of the gardens is Jojo’s Christmas Cottage, a Victorian cottage that offers an all-year-round Christmas experience. It has a Precious Moments store on the ground floor and we went up to the Christmas museum in the upper floors which showcases Precious Moments collectibles. Sampaguita Gardens also has a meditation chapel at the back of the Christmas Cottage. The chapel doesn’t have an altar, instead, has a centerpiece painting of Jesus feeding the children. This Precious Moments Chapel by the Sea is the second theme-inspired chapel after the Precious Moments Inspirational Park in Carthage, Missouri.

We also toured inside Sam Butcher’s Thai-inspired mansion where you will see his art and antique collections. It has teakwood flooring hence they asked us to leave our shoes outside. There is a grand piano in the living room and a very elegant dining room.