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Celebrating in The Cabin

Happy 80th Birthday Oma and Happy 2nd Birthday Sem!!!

It’s been awesome that Stefan & I have been able to spend so much time with the family before we’re back on the road again.

Here’s a quick peek of our crazy family shenanigans! There were 30+ of us all in one cabin!

Luckily there were enough beds, 2 kitchens (sort of), ample dishes and dishwashers, lots of chairs and several WC’s otherwise it would have been complete bedlam 😛

We really did have a grand time–with very little sleep 😀



Mini Family Vacation in Montenegro

Ever since we started our journey we have been looking forward to when Stefan’s mum and sister could come and join us for a mini vacation somewhere along the Balkan coast.

Our first idea was to meet up in Croatia, but somehow the plan evolved into meeting up in Montenegro a country none of us have been to before!

We entered Montenegro from the Serbian border while Stefan’s mum and sister (Alice and Jolanda) flew from Rotterdam to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

From our town in Montenegro it took about 1.5 hours to cross the Montenegro/Croatian border to pick them up with our rented Fiat Panda.

In the small space that is Montenegro..they have it all! The cool mountains, the lush forests and the magnificent blue beaches. ***Check out our photo gallery at the top

We stayed in a small town called Kumbor close to the beautiful, and more famous, Herceg Novi township.

Even though Montenegro is small, due to the mountainous terrain and the narrow roads, it still takes 1-2 hours to travel to the next town which might be only 50km away.

For this reason we stayed mainly around Herceg Novi and Kotor.

Visiting Old Towns has become a bit of a hobby for us especially since being in the Balkan area. The history of each old town, with their preserved ancient churches and magnificent buildings and forts seem to deny the ravages of time. Despite being centuries to millennia old; they have also somehow managed to integrate our into our “modern” culture.

Some for better (quaint and true to their culture and history) and some for worse (too touristic and full of  merchandise that have nothing to do with history or their culture)– but despite some negatives–I for one am glad that we can see and walk through these time capsules.

The walled city of Kotor is a prime example. The ancient walls still stand and the roads are still paved with rocks made smooth and slippery with the countless number of footsteps– but inside is a bustling modern city enjoying the touristic spotlight.

We visited towards the end of September so the crowds have dwindled down quite a bit. But during the height of summer, this town overflows with tourists, to the extent that they have to close the gates, and refuse entrance, to manage the crowds. We were thankful that we missed all that chaos.

Herceg Novi is a small picturesque coastal town that has it own small Stari grad and 3 surrounding fortresses. During the Ottoman invasion the main coastal fort in Herceg Novi (formerly called Castelnuovo) stood strong and withstood occupation despite being vastly outnumbered.

It is said that the fort in Herceg Novi had only 3,500 defenders, and they were able to withstand the Ottoman fleet/army of more 50,000 for over 2 months.

You can read all about it here:

Besides wandering around old towns, forts and castles we also explored Montenegro’s beautiful countryside.

We found this amazing hiking trail on mount Subra. The views were amazing but what impressed us the most was how well maintained the hiking marks/paths were. Every 20-50 meters we saw a well positioned mark and there hiking trail info signs at every cross roads showing how far to the next destination etc.

Here’s a short video of our hike:

So if you enjoy hiking, Montenegro should be on your map!

But let’s not forget the beaches…

We chose Montenegro because of it’s beautiful coastline. While they do have beautiful crystal clear water beaches, we found that most of them are not “sand” beaches so be prepared to bring a thick blanket or yoga mat to relax and tan on.

Also the water is a bit cold by the end of September so be prepared to swim and move around otherwise you will feel too cold.

I’ll end this blog post about Montenegro with a general price comparison observation.

Montenegro is cheaper than it’s neighbour Croatia but is a bit more expensive than the other Balkan countries.

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our family vacation in Montenegro and would go back.

***Stay tuned for our video about our Montenegro Adventures***

Big Fat Filipino Reunion 2016 (Part 2)

I know that writing about an event a month late just seems useless…

But because this blog is also my digital journal, I’m going to go ahead and tell my story regardless of whether anybody besides me (and a couple of my family members) reads this or not.

The patron of our Cortejos Clan, Tito Flips and his beautiful wife Tita Babette wanted to organize a gala ball for Christmas Eve. I think the planning and the organized started sometime in July 2016, but somehow we are all running around trying to rent/acquire suits and gowns right until the day before.

I don’t know why that always happens, but despite our disorganization everyone in the Cortejos Clan looked gorgeous and handsome and stuck to the color code each family was given.

That’s right, our “Cortejos Christmas Gala” was to have lots of food, drinks, a beautiful venue,  a couple of bartenders for the free flow bar, cool DJ’s, photographers and of course a mandatory COLOR CODED DRESS CODE per family….

It was a bit stressful, to be honest, but the family pictures that were taken were priceless…

I will make an album and link here…soon 😀

But so you get an idea of how the Cortejos Clan partays…here’s a video compilation of some of our moooooves….


Belated (Thai) Children’s Day Thoughts…

My sister planned an AWESOME birthday party for my niece Kelsie at Zanook Aqua Park and I didn’t realize that it actually landed on Thai Children’s Day…

Seeing my 4 year old niece (she just turned 4) diving off the floats and happily sliding down a slide that was at least 10-20 meters high got me thinking and made me realize how much “growing up” has changed me.

I used to climb trees, dive off rocks and think that I could almost anything. I was, and still am, a fairly little girl, but I can remember wanting to compete with the big boys all the time and what I wanted to be (a lawyer, a doctor, an astronaut) changed  weekly. I really thought I could do ANYTHING…

What changed? I grew up and realized I couldn’t do something things. It happens to all of us, we capitalize on things that we are good at and we STOP doing the things that we aren’t good at. And slowly but surely we get more “careful” and we totally stop trying to do things that we aren’t SURE we are good at and we start unknowingly putting ourselves into a box.

My husband and I have chosen an unconventional life (selling our fitness business and driving around the world on a motorbike is fairly unconventional at least to most folks standards) and I realized that to succeed in going against the “flow” I cannot be the traditional sort of “grown up.”

I realized that I want/need that childish bravado that I used to have…

I want to stop being a grown up and be more my like my niece…

And that also got me thinking that for children to grow up brave, confident and fearless we have to make the world a safe place for them.

I think my sister Natalie and her hubby, Sam, have done an exemplary job so far…

And in honor of all the children and “children at heart” everywhere I’d like to share this music video again…

It’s so beautiful…watch it…and try not to SMILE 😀

Big Fat Filipino Family Reunion 2016 (Part 1)

It’s been a long time in coming and I admit to being a prodigal daughter (grand-daughter/niece/cousin etc.)
I’m not exactly sure how long it has been, but it has been more than 10 years at least…

That’s right– I haven’t managed to attend a family reunion or visit my home town in over 10 years! I think I was a teenager when I last visited, now I’m married, had a couple career changes, lived in a couple more countries and started and sold a business.

I was a bit worried that my blood ties weren’t strong enough and that I would be a stranger in my hometown…
I mean, some of my cousins I hadn’t even met yet, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t remember all my aunts and uncles names! At least I know I have 16 aunts and uncles on my dad’s side, and another 12 on my mum’s, and I won’t even try to count all of my cousins!!!

This picture is just from my dad’s side…do you sympathize with me yet???

But as soon as the hugs started, Stefan & I received the traditional blessing from Lola I felt at ease. I wasn’t too lost or too estranged and everyone still recognized me. As prodigal as I was they still remembered that I was the first Cortejos grand-baby and that somehow gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

And we are a wonderfully crazy family…like seriously! It seems like we’re always eating, drinking, dancing, singing, laughing and talking really loud!!!

Fortunately my Dutch side of the family (Hubby Stefan, Mum Alice and Sister Jolanda) loved the chaos and they jumped right in madness!

Here’s my favorite picture of my immediate family from our “gala ball” …too bad I can’t find the one with mum Alice and Jolanda…

And here’s another good pic of my brother Martin and his handsome kids (Chad and Kylie) ***I take MUA credit for Kylie LOL!’s quite a task to go through hundreds of pictures and edit videos from a family reunion with several cameras. It makes one miss the old cameras where every picture had to count because it was expense to develop them and the roll of film was only 12-24 pics long. I was a little girl when cameras still used film rolls, but still, 24 pictures to choose from does sound lovely no?

1 hour later >>> I have been trying to pick out good pictures and edit videos, but alas hunger makes me lose focus and I find myself giggling at the funny videos without actually doing anything “edit-wise” so…

I’m off for dinner and will have to make a part 2, 3 & perhaps 4 of my Big Fat Filipino Family Reunion…

😀 😀 😀