I read on multiple blogs that Filipinos, who have a US visa, can enter Georgia without applying for the country’s visa. On top of that, Filipinos who have residency in any Gulf country can enter upon showing our residency cards. Luckily for me, I happened to have both the card and a US Visa.
So off I went to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city, for my four days off. It was wonderful. Basically, I did all the important things in just half a day and saw the extras on my second and third day. Here’s a sample of my first day’s itinerary for your perusal, should you have limited time to see Tbilisi in the future.
Arrive in Renaissance Hotel Tbilisi (a review to follow)
1 minute walk to St. Trinity Cathedral/Sameba Cathedral, the biggest catheral in Georgia and third tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world (lucky for me, this was literally just outside my hotel)
6 minute walk to the Presidential Palace. (people are only able to see the back of the palace, and the area is heavily gated. There’s no way of seeing the front as how one would see the White House. Tourists can only see this while driving on the road or when on the Narikala Fortress)
2.50 GEL metro ride (+4 GEL for the card) to Marjanishvili Square for lunch
Lunch at Barbarestan, paid 59 GEL (24 USD) for good food.
2.50 GEL metro ride to the city center
2.50 GEL cable car ride to the Narikala Fortress for an awesome view of the city (the metro card can be used for the cable car as the latter seems to be part of their usual “public transportation,” even though everyone using it is a tourist)
went down the pathway to get to the I LOVE TBILISI sign. Yes, this is just right below the Narikala Fortress
walked our way to VinoGround for some 10 GEL wine tasting. (I believe we ended up drinking with the owner -he refused to admit that he was the owner- and he vehemently wanted to waive our payments as a gift to us. But we refused and insisted we still pay.)
3 GEL taxi back to the hotel and end the day (there is no Uber in Tbilisi, so I used the app Yandex.Taxi)
Address: Barangay 5,, Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Wifi: Only in the Restaurant. Barely reaches the room.
I first found out about Bravo in 2016, when my boyfriend and I went there for drinks one night. We were both so amazed at how lively and full their restaurant was, that we regretted not staying in this resort. The place we were staying in at the time was dead during the night. Here, it was filled with all sorts of travellers who brought with them their youthful energy. Some were eagerly playing cards on the table next to ours, while most were just talking in a bubble of enthusiasm. Just observing this was already fun for us. So as we were about to go home, Douglas and I agreed that we’d stay in Bravo the next time we came to visit Siargao.
Well, I followed through on that agreement sans Douglas (sorry babe), and Bravo Beach Resort did not disappoint.
1. It’s super clean.
You know how sand just accumulates inside your room or bathroom after you get inside from the beach? Hate that. Luckily, that had never happened in Bravo because they clean the rooms every day. For a mere 920 pesos per bed per night, that’s quite luxury.
And for the sake of comparison, we paid 2,000 pesos/night for our room, in our previous resort, but the staff didn’t bother to clean it at all.
2. It’s spacious.
Although I shared the room with four other people, it was still big enough that it didn’t feel cramped.
3. It’s got lockers inside.
Because where else would we put our valuables away from the strangers we’re sleeping with? Bring your own padlocks.
1. The Bed
It was quite comfortable. I can’t say the same for the pillows and the blankets though. I would say that the pillows touch the fine line between being comfortable and not so much. The blankets are so thin that it felt like I had no blanket at all. I got cold every night, even when we set the airconditioning higher (also thanks to the night breeze).
2. The Bath Necessities
They offer one beach towel, one room towel, and an unlimited supply of toilet rolls. That’s it. So bring your own necessities 🙂
3. The Toilet and The Shower
These two are in separate doors, which makes the place even more comfortable. You don’t have to wait for your roomate to finish showering, just so you can take a dump.
1. Free Breakfast
You would think that paying 920 pesos a night won’t get you much for breakfast. Wrong. Bravo’s got quite a good selection of food. Out of the options, you can pick at least three orders for no extra charge. And just to compare (again), our previous resort only had the usual egg, rice, and bacon for breakfast. How boring.
2. The other meals
The food in Bravo is far from disappointing. It’s actually one of the restaurants that I would keep going back to. But even though the food I had there were all flavorful, I can’t say that they were the best.
Aside from that, they’re mostly focused on Spanish cuisines, which I don’t mind but a little variety would have been interesting. Anyway, I was able to visit other restaurants, so I won’t dwell on that.
They have the best signature drink though, which is called a Pomada – a cocktail of gin and lime and probably honey (?) Who knows. They mix it with crushed ice, so it’s like drinking a 7-Eleven Slurpee. It’s perfect for the tropical heat. It’s what everbody was drinking over there, I noticed.
3. The Plunge Pool
Their adorable plunge pool is right in front of the restaurant. Sometimes, it can get crowded with men with perfect abs, so it makes for a good view. LOL. Or you know, it’s useful for when you want to take a dip after that monster of a burger.
4. The Sofas
Their restaurant also makes for a great spot to hangout in; this is obviously why it’s always packed from the afternoons into the evenings. When everybody just feels like lounging around, Bravo’s sofa beds are there for you. Plus, the wind coming through this place is heaven sent!
I saw that people don’t really use Bravo’s beach for swimming. Women mostly just lay on the sand to tan and that’s it, which is a waste because Bravo’s beach is clean, calm, and less rockly than most of Siargao’s shores. They also have the best views of the sunrise and the sunset. Bravo placed themselves in such a good spot that it makes me mad that I don’t live there.
For part one, an introduction to my how i met these newfound friends, please click here.
In the afternoon, after our island hopping, the 6 of us (refresher: Matthias, Jonathan, Me, Rebecca, Marianne, and Gerard) stayed at the resort’s restaurant for some drinks. About 10 minutes in, a couple of Caucasian guys also joined us for a chat. We stayed there for about two hours or so, and talked about the countries that we’ve been to, how long we (well, they) have been travelling, and some other things that I can barely remember. The pomada, which is a cocktail mixed with gin and lime, at Bravo Beach Resort is strong. I kid, I kid. I wasn’t drunk, but it is strong.
Somewhere between our conversations, we made plans to go to the resort next door since that was where it was going to be poppin’ -according to our island hopping guide. And it was true. As it seems, every resort on the island have already established and agreed on their schedules as to when they can host parties. So Viento Del Mar, the resort just next door, it was.
Rebecca and I got there before 9 p.m., after we’ve showered and got ready, and ate dinner. Viento has really good food, btw. They put their own twist on the Filipino classic, chicken adobo.
Marianne and Gerard came to see us shortly after we finished eating. When 11 rolled around, that’s when the crowd kept coming in. People have started playing beerpong on one of the dining tables, and some have already gathered on the dance floor. There was actually a DJ (who knew)! I think he played something somewhere between EDM and Reggae. If those genres got married and had a baby, that would be it. Siargao’s cool like that.
By this time I’ve had my second drink, which makes it sound like this is going to be a wild story. It’s not. It’s just a replay of ordinary events. FOR THE BLOG!
The next thing I knew, the place was packed and loud! More and more people were standing around holding drinks (which was mostly either a beer or the 50 peso rum and coke in plastic cups – I just had to tell you how cheap it was), and greeting others that I’m sure they didn’t even know. Some were happy to be talking on the shore, while others were seated by the bar. Everyone seemed excited to have started conversations with these new people. It was a pretty sight, and it made me admire this island all the more. Tourists, locals, and expats didn’t create a bubble within themselves. Anyone was welcome to join their circle. There was no hierarchy; no judgment.
We are constantly warned about the dangers of solo travel, that we forget that there are good things – and people- that come out of it.
As soon as the clock struck midnight, all my new friends greeted me a happy birthday with excitement that I didn’t know I could get from people I barely knew. It was as if I’d known them since forever. They bought me a mojito as a birthday gift which, at first, I declined out of habit. But when you meet new people who are just as excited for your birthday as your own mother, it’s hard for you to say no. Even the bartenders greeted me a happy birthday by drinking shots after I clinked my mojito glass with theirs. Matthias, whom I already said hi to earlier in the night, came to me to give me a hug and greet me a happy birthday. He was inebriated now, but I appreciated the gesture. He seemed truly happy. Thank goodness for alcohol, right?
Just kidding. To all the younger readers, if any, drink in moderation and only when you’re 21 or older.
This moment really just made me realize how we can meet genuine people in our travels, especially on solo trips. We are constantly warned about the dangers of solo travel, that we forget that there are good things – and people- that come out of it. I understand that we shouldn’t let our guards down, but I also believe that we should be open enough to enjoy the gifts of solo travel. It might even bring us relationships that will last lifetimes. And for the pessimists who say that I couldn’t possibly have seen my new friend’s true colors. I say this: I refuse to let that thought ruin my impression of them. I am not letting negativity soil that.
Okay, so I said in my previous post that I wanted to be alone for my birthday. Yeah that didn’t happen. But as you know, you meet people and plans change.
The first people I befriended were two brothers from the Netherlands. We rode on the same propeller plane. Matthias and Jonathan were seated together while I was in the same row, but at the other side of the aisle. Right after the captain turned off the seatbelt sign, Matthias stood up to get a jacket from the overhead bin, since this tiny aircraft was getting surprisingly cold. He had been wearing only a tank top and khaki shorts. This amused me, so I made a comment about the temperature. Our conversation started there and only stopped once we retreated to our respective resorts.
The second is a beautiful Irish lady, Rebecca, who also came as a solo traveler. She’s been traveling for two months, and will be done after her sixth. She was my roommate for the three nights I stayed in Siargao (did I forget to mention that I’m back in the city?). She was really nice to let me stick with her – from eating breakfast, to lazing under the sun, to napping on the beach sofas. For the outsider, it might have looked like we were bestfriends who came backpacking together from Ireland (or from Australia since that’s where Rebecca lived before travelling). Funnily enough, we also left Siargao on the same day!
If only I didn’t look like such a local.
For other people, this would have been weird. But Rebecca seemed like such a sport about it; so did Marianne and Gerard, whom Rebecca and I met while we went island hopping. We were in a small pump boat that had 9 other people on it, including the local boatmen. And aside from those boatmen, Mariane, Gerard, and I were the only Filipinos there. We hit it off after I approaced them on the shore, telling them I wanted a way to take my bikini shots without feeling embarrassed. They were so nice to have offered to take my pictures. Gerard ended up instructing me how to pose, while taking my pictures.
The following is an excerpt from my personal travel journal
Day One. Time is 9:37. Check in is at 14:00. Do I wait?
I am seated by the reception table, hunched over my phone, with a cold glass of lemonade in one hand. I am beginning to wonder if this was a good idea – coming here for my birthday weekend. Alone.
I wanted to celebrate my birthday peacefully; away from those who are more eager to throw me a party than I am about having one. I’m sick of celebrating the fact that I am another year closer to a midlife crisis. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being surrounded by the people I love, but a birthday’s just another normal day for me.
There was just a strong desire to be by myself, really. Here, now, is that opportunity. But whom am I kidding? That particular need’s always been strong. I’ve had plenty of alone time even while I was in the city. It’s become a hobby. And yet, seeing all these strangers talking in groups and some couples seated together, I’m starting to doubt my decision. All of the sudden, I’ve shied away from the idea of a great travel opportunity, and now I’ve taken refuge in my phone.
I did meet a couple of Dutch men on the plane coming here, though. I believe we’ve made plans to meet up. Still, they’re not staying in my resort, so at this moment I’m still by my lonesome.
I could go somewhere. I did already rent a scooter, for the day, for 250 pesos. The only problem is the thought of me driving it around. I am intimidated by it. As it turns out, the scooter isn’t as light as I thought it would be. But I’ll have to “just do it” eventually. Otherwise, what a waste of 250 would that be.