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It’s never been the volume of destinations but the random experiences, the priceless learning about the world and myself, the few strangers I met who became my friends, the travel memories to cherish, and most importantly, the kind of person I’ve become after each trip.

Although in retrospect, I know my wanderlust has been extremely active this year. Thankfully, traveling has been teaching me to be more responsible and to remain grateful. It enables me to count blessings each day, and it kept me encouraged to be more positive, reminded me to be motivated, and be inspired to continue my journey.

365 days of 2016 may have passed and looking back, I’ve enriched myself not financially, but with travel tales that I’m sure, I’d retell my child and grandchildren in the near future.

Before I prepare my list of destinations for 2017, here’s a quick rundown of my unforgettable memories and personal impressions of the 38 cities in 14 countries that I’ve been to in 2016.


It has been a lifelong dream to set foot in Paris and gladly, it happened this year. The Eiffel Tower and the cool winter breeze. The River Seine and her elaborately handsome bridges. Mona Lisa in Louvre, The Opera, Montmartre, Sacre-Couer, Notre Dame and Place-Saint Michel.

Paris is Paris regardless.

The City of Lights is absolutely lovely, in spite and despite of.

And so for a few days while I was there, I heard myself saying,

Merci beaucoup, Je t’aime , Bonsoir and Bonjour!

Je vois la vie en rose!

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Eiffel Tower : Stunning any time of the day!


The tourist in me came to see the Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock and the Charles Bridge. It turned out that Prague is more than meets the eye. Czech Republic’s capital city is a fusion of heritage sites, ornately decorated churches, contemporary and traditional architecture, plus a tasteful gastronomic delights.

It was absolutely love at first sight.

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Charles Bridge spans over Vltava River and a glimpse of Lesser Town.


How could I forget the day when I arrived in Vienna train station, dragging my right foot while trying to keep balance, because of a painful and swollen sprained right ankle that I accidentally sustained from a fall while alighting from the train?

Unexpectedly, a pharmacy near my hostel was my first itinerary in Austria’s famous metropolis. I forced myself to go to buy a stretchable bandage, applied a figure of eight, and took strong analgesic per orem.

What’s my impression of Vienna? Pretty yet expensive.

I could’ve succumbed to my physical disability that day however, I opted not to, rather I relied on my will power to take care of myself even amidst unforeseen challenges. At the end of it all, I’m proud I was able to go to a few places that somehow define Vienna, Austria.

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Stephansdom or Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.


A 5-Euro and 45 minute bus ride took my feet from Vienna to Bratislava. It was the day when I ate breakfast in Austria, dined lunch in Slovakia and had dinner in Hungary!

Even though I only spent roughly 5 hours in Bratislava, I believe I had a pleasant introduction to its Old Town that appeared to me to look like Vienna, however less busy and more quiet.

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Trinitarian Church, as seen from the Župné Námestie Square.


The districts of Buda and Pest in between River Danube caught me by surprise! With no great expectations and admittedly, with less knowledge about Hungary’s capital city, I spent my last 3 days and 2 nights in Budapest with neither a travel guide book nor definite itineraries at hand. I let things happen spontaneously, and I didn’t regret that I failed to go to other must-visit places within the city.

Budapest looks picturesque in almost every corner and it deserves to be visited more than once in a lifetime.

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The Parliament & the River Danube.


I couldn’t fathom how one of the tiniest countries in the world be so beautiful even without trying. Beauty may be subjective, and in my point of view, a place is beautiful when it has fascinating history, relevant heritage sites, and when it’s populated with warm and friendly people who could offer local cuisine at its best!

Within the Maltese archipelago at the heart of Mediterranean Sea, Valletta stands out effortlessly! The location is more than strategic that as per history, it became a favourite city to conquer by neighbouring forces. Malta’s capital city is more than her fortified walls, her century-old churches that appear impressively stunning with murals and gold, and to be honest, my fascination with Valletta goes beyond the flavourful gelato and their traditional rabbit stew.

It may be one of the underrated countries within the Schengen territory. It may be so small, but who needs a huge chunk of place where culture and identity are a rarity ?

Valletta has become one of my top personal favourites.

Have you been?

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Valletta, the fortified capital city of Malta, seen from Sliema.


Arriving in Citadel, in the island of Gozo just before twilight sets in, couldn’t be more appropriate! A short and uphill stroll after I disembark from the ferry that I took from the mainland of Malta, took my senses to a great vantage point to admire the sight of the day’s last sun rays over the northern Maltese skyline. It appeared so dramatic and inviting to set the mood for more discoveries.

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Skyline of Victoria, in the island of Gozo, viewed from the Citadel.


If you’re planning to (re)visit Malta, I suggest do not ever miss going to the Blue Lagoon in Comino Island.

One word : PARADISE!

best of 2016 travel destinationsA tiny beach in a small country! Size doesn’t equate to beauty.


My travel date to Malta coincided with Catholics’ Holy Week celebration. Although, I do not reckon myself as religious as others, I did not miss the traditional Maltese processions in Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

I availed of the package a day before the half day tour, from a friendly kiosk along the promenade of Sliema Bay near the ferry station going to Valletta. For less than 20 Euros, the Good Friday tour package included a guaranteed front seat where the theatrical and lavish religious procession was held, plus a return transport to Sliema.

I was happy to watch everything unfold from my seat in Zebbug.
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A must-see Good Friday procession in Zebbug! Theatrical & grand!


For someone like me who’s currently living in a busy, urban and a very cosmopolitan place, a stroll within the quiet alleys of Rabat in Malta was such a welcome experience.

Rabat is located right across, Mdina, the former capital city of Malta.

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Rabat : A town just off Mdina.


In spite of almost 2 hour bus ride to Marsaxlokk from Sliema with bus transfer in Valletta, the trips were all worth it!

This Maltese traditional fishing port and harbour where wooden Maltese boats called, Luzzu are docked, provides crisp Mediterranean Sea breeze, relaxed atmosphere, freshest seafood dishes savoured in al fresco dining.

You never go to Malta and miss going to Marsaxlokk. It’s synonymous to a committing a crime. I kid you not.

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A modest fishing port that offers freshest seafood dishes.


Former Malta’s capital city, Mdina’s heritage has been kept within its walls. To this date, it’s surprising to know that it functions as a residential area for locals, at the same time, keeping everything intact as it’s declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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The imposing facade of Mdina, former capital of Malta.


When the movie that starred the late Robbin Williams as Popeye, the sailor man, was filmed in location in the poetic shores of Anchor Bay, the  set was never removed, and it has been there as one of a kind themed park.

Meeting the cast in full costumes, participating in their activities, taking a complimentary 10 – 15 minute boat ride along Anchor Bay that’s included in the ticket rates, are a few things one could enjoy. It may be  a touristy place but it guarantees fun to those kids and kids at heart!

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Popeye’s Village : A one of a kind movie-nature-theme park!


Bars, restaurants, hotels, churches, and a wide stretch of beautiful promenade where strolling in the late afternoon is a must-do, partially define Saint Julian’s. It’s one of the busiest parts of Maltese archipelago.

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Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Julian’s Malta.


Thankfully, my chosen hostel for 9 days in Malta was located in Sliema. It’s a stone’s throw away from the bus stop, restaurants, grocery or mini-mart, and the promenade that starts from Saint Julian’s.

My days in Malta will never be forgotten because of Sliema.
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Sliema Bay with an impressive promenade!


The so called, The Three Cities in Malta are composed of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. These fortified cities, rich in history are best seen on foot and from the Grand Harbour via boat or ferry.

After I watched the Good Friday procession at Zebbug, I also booked half-day tour package of watching the Easter Sunday procession from the same tour operator in Sliema Bay. We were transported to Senglea, the city with the oldest image of the Risen Christ in Malta, via a double decker tourist bus. It was worth my time seeing how locals practice their faith, and observe their tradition.
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Thankful to celebrate Easter Sunday this year at Senglea!


In my opinion, seeing the Taj Mahal even once in a lifetime is a must. It would not be included as 1 of the New 7 Wonders of the World for nothing. It’s a good feeling inside to see something built out of love.
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Taj Mahal is a sight to behold.


Doing the Golden Triangle trip in India is expected from most tourists including myself. And no one must skip taking a good glimpse at Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, when you’re in India!
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Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds in the Pink City of Jaipur.


Although I had unpleasant experience in New Delhi, what happened to me will not be your story. So if you’re planning to go, by all means, go!
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India Gate in New Delhi.

20.   ROMA, ITALY.

I had a love-hate relationship with Rome when I was there this year. I love her architecture and all her picturesque places. I adore her charm that comes from century-old structures, heritage sites and museums. I admire her accessibility and being tourist-friendly.

But I hate her during summer, when streets and alleys get too crowded, while Italian sun is at its hottest.
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A glimpse at Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, Italy.


It does not require one to be a Catholic or at least, religious to visit the Vatican. Having the world’s largest museum with enormous collections of visual arts in all forms, with seat of Christianity and all her teachings,  being the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City must be in every traveler’s bucket list.
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Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican.


Napoli also surprised me. In spite of negative articles written and published online, despite the questionable security and cleanliness this city was known for, it never bothered me to visit the southern gate of Italy. You’ll never know it, unless you find it for yourself.

Being the birthplace of Pizza Margherita and the entry to Italian coastline villages and islets, with countless cathedrals and chapels at almost every corner, and everything comes at a cheaper rates, Napoli deserves the spotlight that the other Italian cities have been receiving.

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Inside one of the countless churches in Naples.


While my home-base in Southern Italy for 4 days was a hostel in Napoli, I devoted 1 day and took the Metro and the local train to Sorrento, and headed further south to Positano.

The vibrant and colourful coastline village that greeted me following crazy zigzag and uphill bus ride, was enough reason to spend a day or two in this part of Italy. The view was fantastic! It’s breathtaking to say the least!
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The church of Santa Maria Assunta & the coastline village of Positano!


Sorrento’s a warm and welcoming town. Although it was summer during my visit, and the streets were flocked by tourists, I found it still more quiet and laid back compared to other Italian cities.

Sorrento’s alluring beaches, her flavourful and freshly made gelato, her attractive souvenir shops, and the relaxing vibe and soothing sea breeze are like magnetic forces to reckon with.
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Photo taken by a handheld camera and not a drone.


A 45-minute-ferry ride from the port of Napoli that costs 15 Euros took me with my Italian friends to the island of Procida. There are mini-buses that ply within the island, or you may simply walk around to explore Procida’s island charm.

After my friends went for a dip in the sea, we spent the rest of our afternoon in the Marina with the view of the colourful community, over freshly baked Margherita and ice-cold cola. I’d consider revisiting Procida and the rest of Napoli!
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One of the most beautiful islands I’ve been to.


From Napoli, I took the regional train and went up north to La Spezia. Following a few train transfers and almost a day of train rides, upon reaching La Spezia, I immediately purchased train ticket that came with free wifi access to Italy’s most famous coastline villages.

Literally means, Five Lands, Cinque Terre is composed of 5 colorful coastal villages that are collectively listed as Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the region of Liguria, Cinque Terre are comprised of Riomaggiore that served as my home-base in Cinque Terre for 2 nights, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

Best thing to do while in Riomaggiore? Forget all worries, watch and savor the sunset!

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My home-base in Cinque Terre for 2 nights.


I took the train for a little less than 2 minutes from Riomaggiore to Manarola, then, I challenged my lungs and feet to an uphill hike up to the vantage point where the panoramic view’s simply beautiful!

Manarola used to be in my bucket list and I felt achieving something grand after I enjoyed my simple breakfast of a sliced local bread with raisin and a bottled water with a priceless sweeping view of the ocean!

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I will go back to Manarola one day.


Vernazza is equally gorgeous as the other coastline villages in Cinque Terre. Those giant waves in the afternoon, the many gelato stores, pizzeria and coffee shops, those modest and unpretentious clotheslines and Italian windows are a few of the reasons why Vernazza is sensational!

Unfortunately, I passed up going to the last 2 of 5 villages in Cinque Terre. At least, it’s an added reasons for me to go back to Cinque Terre and visit Corniglia and Monterosso.

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I adore how Italians dry their clothes. Unpretentiously good!


Florence is undoubtedly charming! The incredible architecture of Duomo di Firenze, the terracotta coloured tiled rooftops, the amazing view of the entire Tuscany’s capital, from Piazza Michelangelo particularly during early morning and just before dusk, the countless piazzas, museums, galleries, sculptures and replicas, the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio and all her celebrated bridges, are all awe-inspiring!

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Florence has become one of my favourites.


Venice, like Paris and Florence, was a dream! It’s one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world! No appropriate single superlative could ever describe and do her justice!

No matter how much I tell you about Venezia, the reality is a countless times more lovely and splendid! You have to experience Venice for yourself even once in a lifetime.
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This traffic congestion appeared picturesque to me.

31.     MILANO, ITALY.

Milan deserves a visit longer than an overnight stay. It was unfortunate for me to have limited time in Milano compared to number of days I spent in other Italian cities. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for the chance to have a glimpse of the city atop the terraces of Duomo di Milano! And I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to savour another cone of gelato, and to sample an authentic Italian food for dinner.
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Incredibly amazing, Duomo di Milano.


Manila is home despite and in spite of.

Whether traffic jam became more horrendous than before, or local news became more alarming, my Filipino heart still belongs to Manila no matter where my feet take me around the globe.
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Home is home regardless.


Having been a resident of UAE for almost 3 years now, I enjoy visiting Abu Dhabi every now and then. The stunning Emirati skyline, the relaxing corniche, the cosmopolitan vibe of the shopping malls and groceries, the enigmatic grandeur of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the fascinating local and international cuisines and other tourist spots therein,  are just a few reasons to go to Abu Dhabi!
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Fantastic Abu Dhabi skyline.


Although my heart rests in Manila, Dubai is my home at present.

I love Dubai for being so promising, for being so inspiring, and for offering new discoveries and opportunities to be better.

From the expansive and vast desert to her tallest skyscrapers, there’s no stopping for Dubai being one of the most future-forward cities in the world!
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A visit to Dubai’s never complete without enjoying Dubai Desert Safari.


Meeting the original and one and only Santa Claus and his reindeers, sending postcards (and mails) directly from Official Santa Claus Post Office, crossing the Arctic Circle on foot, driving a snowmobile, riding the reindeer sledge, and petting icy coloured-eyed huskies, chasing Aurora Borealis and watching several falling stars; experiencing shorter days and longer nights, and literally, having White Christmas don’t happen to me every year!

I could not put into single word or even a few phrases, all my gratitude for visiting this part of Finland! Kiitos to everyone who supported me during my visit!
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That line marks the site of Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland.


Helsinki is a modern city and, she has her uniquely beautiful appeal. Her accessibility that allows you to move around via trams, buses, taxi cabs and ferries, her charming winter atmosphere that stimulates the Christmas joy and bliss, the skyline that’s also inviting, and to top it all, the hospitality, the warmth and friendliness of Finnish people are a few reasons to recommend Helsinki to be added to your bucket list!
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Awesome skyline of Helsinki, Finland.


I’m a huge fan of old towns and heritage sites. And upon learning Tallinn has a plenty of sights to offer, I grabbed the opportunity to visit Estonia during my first Nordic trip. From Helsinki, I took an affordable and comfortable 2-hour-ferry trip to Tallinn. I had wonderful time exploring her Old Town that’s dressed up for the occasion with Christmas markets, and I did not pass the chance to see her at dawn and to visit the Seaplane Harbour Museum!
Old Town Tallinn before the crack of dawn.


From Tallinn, I took the early morning trip to Latvia’s capital city, Riga. The bus ride took 4 hours and before I knew it, I was having brunch at Latvia’s metropolis. Riga’s Old Town according to locals whom I talked to, is quite small and can be explored on foot from a few hours or less. I found it bigger than the other Old Town I’ve visited. Probably because, Riga’s building and other structures seemed taller, or there’s a pretty interesting mix and fusion of the old and the new.

Despite my visit falls on a Monday, when most museums and churches are closed, in spite of the fact that it drizzled all day – that added to the challenge of traveling during winter, I could honestly say that I also enjoyed my 9-hour-do-it-yourself-tour of Latvia, and wished it won’t be the last!
The Statue of Roland in Town Square, Riga, Latvia.

THANK YOU, 2016!

Saying THANK YOU, GOD isn’t enough for everything that has happened to me in 2016. I should pay it forward whenever opportunity comes.

More than traveling to those destinations that I got to tick off from my bucket list, I am extremely grateful to all people who made my year more memorable and meaningful!

May the good Almighty bless them more so they could continue to be a blessing to others like me.
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Cheers to a memorable 2016 & here’s looking forward to 2017!

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Massive bear hugs to all of you from my travel buddy, @GeloTheBear!

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog, and to those who also follow my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts!

Follow our adventures in 2017 on Instagram via :  &



 This blog post is my entry to PTB BLOG CARNIVAL 2016.

Read all our entries here (after January 1, 2017) :

Maligayang Pasko po at Manigong Bagong Taon sa ating lahat!



  1. Riz Riz

    Wow!!! Stunning photos Doc. A year filled with awesome travel memories. Here’s to more travels and adventures next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Doc! God bless you. I hope to see you on the road next year?! Sana mka visit ka KL ulet. 🙂

    • docgelo docgelo

      I hope so too, Riz!
      Thanks and happy holidays!

  2. alvel alvel

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences! Wishing you more cities and countries in 2017! Travel safe! God bless always!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thank you, Doc!
      There’s a lot of personal sacrifices and supportive people behind my travels. And of course, the go signal from Lord Almighty.
      Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Doc!

  3. Teresita Santos Teresita Santos

    2016 Wonderful travel destinations, amazing pictures, unforgettable experiences. Congratulations. Expecting more for 2017.

    • docgelo docgelo

      Wow,Mamy para kang others kung mag comment. Super formal. Thank you po! I love you!

  4. Amazing year! Cheeeers to more travel memories Doc!!!!! All the best!!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thanks, Kieth! Merry Christmas!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Hello! Thank you for dropping by my blog. Maraming salamat at Maligayang Pasko!

  5. You have been richly blessed in travel opportunities this year. What an incredible year for you. I cannot believe you’ve been in ME for 3 YEARS! now. How fast time flies truly.

    Kelan ka papadako dine?

    • docgelo docgelo

      Hi Maria,

      Visit Dubai, let’s meet up!

  6. Jojo Jojo

    Wow! Glued of reading your awesome escape for 2016. Thumbs up! 👍👍 thanks for sharing doc, been inspired to do it. #bucketlist. Merry Christmas doc! Looking forward on your amazing journey for 2017. Cheers to 2017! 🤘😊

    • docgelo docgelo

      Quite a long read, Jojo so thank you so much! Merry Christmas too!

  7. Mark Anthony Sumayod Mark Anthony Sumayod

    Amazing travel diary Doc Gelo! Very inspiring for junior travelers like me. This tells me there are so much out there to explore and know about, so why stay in one place? I also liked how you briefly described each city you visited and supports it with wonderful photos and witty captions. Everything was just perfect. Thanks for sharing this! 👌🏻

    • docgelo docgelo

      Hi Mark! Thank you for taking time reading this long article; I really appreciate it! Hope it inspires all of us to do more, dream big and go further.

  8. You are such an inspiration to new travelers like us Doc! You just prove the world that being an OFW is not rather never a hindrance to catching your dreams and going to such wonderful places. We really adore your adventurous soul, your optimism as seen in Vienna, how you can see the beautiful things even in a small country like Malta, honestly i dont even know where Malta is 😂 your energy in exploring a place in a short time like in Milan, and for being so generous of information/ recommendations that newbies like us needs to know in a place. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. We cant wait for your next destinations in 2017. More travels to you Doc and stay blessed! ❤️

    • docgelo docgelo

      You and your kind words, Joanna!
      Thank you for spending several minutes for reading this looooong article. I’m so pleased!

      As I mentioned in response to a comment on FB, my travels may be overwhelming to some but behind those images and their unthinkable imagination, are my personal sacrifices and supportive people who help me to travel the world at most of the time unconditionally.

      Thank you again and hope to see you soon. Merry Christmas!

  9. Wow, congrats on the many cities you visited this year! I agree with Vienna being pretty but expensive. I love the smaller Salzburg and Innsbruck more.

    I would love to visit the other cities/countries you’ve been already, my list is getting longer and longer!

    Merry Christmas.

    • docgelo docgelo

      Grace, I’m so flattered you took time to read my blog! I wished I had a chance to visit other cities in Austria; perhaps some other time.

      It takes a lot of personal sacrifices in Dubai and a community of supportive people for me to travel one destination to the next. Nonetheless,I remain grateful.

  10. Ulik Ulik

    Hi, Doc! I’ve read your whole 2k16 blog and I got so upset that today I can’t travel, visit foreign countries, cities, open new places for myself like you do it. Because traveling is the main source of expanding your outlook, getting versatile when you receive new information for you. However, reading and following your blog motivate me do it in nearby future. Thanks for visiting Lapland, Rovaniemi. Hope see you soon!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Ulik, thank you for reading my blog; I really appreciate it! I’ll blog about out NL experience soon!

      I hope I can revisit Rovaniemi in the near future and will contact you guys again! Happy holidays!

  11. You never run out of inspiring words and stunning photos, Doc Gelo. I’m one of your silent fans.

    Happy New Year!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Wow, thank you, Sonny!

  12. You’ve been to so many amazing cities, so many of these are on my list of places to go! I hope 2017 brings you more cities, and more amazing countries! Happy New Year!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Hi Krista,

      Thank you so much! Happy New Year too!

  13. “I love Dubai for being so promising, for being so inspiring, and for offering new discoveries and opportunities to be better.” — Out of all the destinations that you’ve visited (lalo na ang Europe!), Dubai is the only destination that I’m keeping my eyes on (for now). I can’t wait to see how magnificent it is. Care to take me around when I’m finally there, Doc? =) Oh, and Happy New Year!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thanks, Mai!
      See you here!

Comments are closed.