The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines

Many foreign visitors and expats come to visit  the Philippines for its natural resources and diversified island fun. Even a great number of locals go as far as the south of Mindanao to discover new beaches and escape to new destinations unknown to many. There maybe Boracay and Palawan for an automatic getaway for anyone to enjoy but there are also many new developments nearer to the city where many expats, visitors, tourists and travelers find themselves in.

Being born and raised in a city like Manila that is always on the go or up to something new, there is always that lingering disorientation leading to the question, “What’s new?” More often than not, the growing  trends that surface become fading fads that struggle to stay relevant in a pool of equally competitive trends. When I say trends, I mean there is always either a new restaurant inspired by some authentic place or a new gadget or accessory upgraded for people’s increasing use of technology for both leisure and business. The list goes on but how do we really find ourselves escaping all that distraction? Is it possible to even escape to somewhere nearby without the usual hustle and bustle of the city at our beckon call every single time we stare at our phones?

One good thing about growing trends either in the city or outside the city is its increasing follow through of people wanting to visit or giving the trend a try. If you’re looking for a quick getaway that embodies the authentic feeling of far Europe then fortunately there are some places you can have a go at if you’re staying in Manila for a good few days.

Mykonos Village – Balesin Island, Quezon 

Having heard several positive feedback from this highly indulging and sweet escape from many friends and colleagues, there is no doubt Mykonos Village, Balesin Island located in the province of Quezon is the new big trend for quick getaways. It caters to members only but guarantees a weekend away to be an out of body experience in all aspects. The club’s architecture holds promise with its white and blue splashed all over their walls and interiors, touched with eccentric furniture accents; making the village earn some Greek points for the win.

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, PhilippinesEvery corner is indeed white washed which exuded and attracted so much light; making the place more regal in sight. The shade of royal blue is truly accentuated throughout the Greek-like resort, from the windows to the doors, every corner is made more “Instagram” worthy for every person who wishes to capture such beauty. Aside from its eye-catching interior and architecture, the island club boasts top notch recreational and sports amenities from a sports complex complete with a gym, basketball, tennis, badminton courts, air-soft target shooting range and even a rock climbing wall for adrenaline seekers. There is also an archery range, mountain biking, paintball shooting and war games, as well as a golf driving range.

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines  The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines

Is the membership worth it?

A former boss and colleague of mine has been to the Balesin Island Club a couple of times last year for business. He would often stress how investing on the membership was one of the best decisions he’s made in the last year. Being an active and sports fanatic, he would spend majority of his time in the island in the sports complex trying out all the different activities to help soothe his constant craving for adrenaline.

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines  The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines

Another point of interest about the Mykonos Village is that the spacious villas and accommodations are named after Greek gods from Greek mythology. For large groups and families who aim to stay together, this place is a definite must to consider for it also has quite an extraordinary indoor and outdoor swimming pool overlooking the veranda of the coast. It’s definitely a sight to see and a place to inhale every moment of.

Of course there is the Thnassis Taverna for a delicious Greek food experience. It specializes in gyros, moussaka, grilled lamb ribs, and souvlaki which a couple of colleagues mentioned to be the most unique yet classic taste to the Greek cuisine. Definitely a place to try if you’re after satisfying that craving for Greek food.

Whether you’re staying for a long weekend or a whole week, the Balesin Island Club is one definite must see for those expats and travelers looking for a quick getaway from the city. The experience in itself is bound to impact your leisurely needs and demands the right way while also meeting your elevated standards of a sweet escape from home.

Venice Grand Canal at Venice Piazza, Mckinley Hill

Now if you’re itching to leave the office or trying hard to get out of a rut, yet still trying to stay relevant with the upcoming trends, then the Venice Grand Canal recently launched in late 2015 is the place to be. The newly built plaza is located at the Mckinley Hill in Taguig City where many people like local residents, restaurants, business owners, expats, tourists and travelers come to stay. Another growing hub in the heart of Taguig, the Venice Grand Canal Mall is one place to check out if you’re after a day trip away from work and obligations or if you want to experience something quite unique for a date or when with friends or family.

Birthday Bonanza at Venice, McKinley

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines  The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, PhilippinesIt was last July of 2016 where I was brought here by my friends for my birthday and it was quite a treat in my recollection. Being able to experience firsthand the mock version of Venice, Italy right in the booming hub of Mckinley was oddly surreal for me. The vibe of the place really exuded a certain aura of Italy. Having been to Rome myself, there is a varying factor when it comes to Rome and Venice and McKinley being able to capture that sense of Italian charm hits nostalgia right in the spot with their gondolas floating around the artificial river around the colorful structures, where people may pay to take a ride

Buildings were intensified by the vibrant and colorful hues of yellow, blue and pink among others. The place also had pigeons around just to encapsulate the feel of a Venetian town and even gives visitors the chance to purchase their own love locks which people can get for 200 PHP. Of course no visit to the piazza is complete without dining somewhere 100% Italian and this fix can be accomplished by checking out Gran Caffe Lavena.

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines

My dining experience on my 21st birthday last year in Gran Caffe Lavena will have to be one for the books. Having tasted their take on Italian cuisine, it is no doubt one of my favorites, with their Lasagna Di Carne All’emiliana being my ultimate favorite. Their take on the classic Italian staple is both scrumptious and filling in just one bite. Their sauce oozing to perfection in every layer made the lasagna in itself to die for.

The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines  The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines  The European Experience Right in the Confines of Luzon, Philippines

Aside from their lasagna, I suggest people give their Bruschette Ripiene a go for its classic Italian sauce carries the whole dish in itself, making every bite one to remember. To top of our dinner, we had their bestselling Sans Rival which was definitely a main contender to the usual Sans Rival I get from Amici. Every sweet bite was one to come back for and definitely worth the extra birthday weight.

Whether you’re in for catching up with what’s new in the metro or out of the metro, these destinations are a short trip away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city of Manila. Every person is invited to give a sweet escape a run for its money and these two are just some of the many places you can go off to for a quick R&R away from your usual everyday routine.

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