Susan Joven Recounts Her Travels: Cannes, Instanbul, And More
Or I suppose the more accurate question is, will I be willing to take the risk and muster the confidence? Even with all the rigid safety protocols today, realistically, I don’t think it’ll be for another couple of years. Millennials may dare. After all, what is their generation’s battlecry? “YOLO”? Short for “you only live once”! To them I say: “I only get to live once and I want to keep it that way!”
Thankfully, these past few years, I have accrued millions of miles—substantial enough to provide me a treasure-trove of happy memories I can relive as I wait out this temporary confinement. And it is temporary.
The thousands of photos, countless funny moments and numerous bonding tales I’ve deposited into my memory chest have sufficiently carried me through the past months of the pandemic.
For the energetic extrovert that I am, Zoom really can’t make up for the loss of live human interaction I was so used to—especially with my boisterous, fun travelling sisterhood. However, it isn’t my style to wallow and mope. So with a positive disposition, I reminisce many wonderful moments until the day I can create new ones.
Among my fondest memories are definitely my recent European trips with some of the sisterhood ladies.
YES, WE CANNES WITH TETTA AGUSTIN-BAVEREY
I’ve spent three consecutive birthdays in Cannes, thanks to our consummate host, former supermodel and our sisterhood’s court jester, Tetta Agustin-Bavery. She agrees, “Every trip with the sisterhood is like a field trip with me as the master travel guide, town crier, and comedian rolled into one. We argue. We bicker. Then we all end up laughing at ourselves.”
People associate Cannes with the glamour of its famed film festival, but Tetta’s Cannes is more bohemian, chic, and ethereal.
I particularly like the Forville Market, constructed in the art deco architecture style, teeming with the freshest fruits, vegetables and the widest assortment of cheese. And boy, can Tetta whip up the meanest steamed artichoke, truffle lobster pasta and foie gras, served with endless champagne. From Cannes, she’d ferry us aboard her boat to Antibes, St Paul de Vence, Nice, Marseilles, St Tropez, Monte Carlo and San Remo in nearby Italy. Club 555, La Colombe d’Or, Fondation Maeght and Carlton Hotel Martinez are but a few of my favourite stops in Tetta’s curated tour. She always ensures a perfect balance of art, architecture, gastronomy, shopping and interesting, hilarious trivia—all from a local’s perspective. And with her uniquely “Tetta” animated travel guide spiels.
INSTAGRAM-ABLE ISTANBUL WITH MARITEL NIEVERA
“Istanbul is a haven of picturesque sights. It is stunning. Every photo is so Instagram-able. And the food! My fa- vourite is Seyhmuz, the best kebab in town! Aside from touring the wonders in Sultanahmet—Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern—I also enjoyed watching the amazing belly-dancing along with the twirling dervishes,” says restaurateur Maritel Nievera.
But the ultimate highlight is, of course, the shopping! We needed days, not hours, to explore the massive Grand Bazaar, the bustling Spice Market, the busy Istikal Caddesi and the chic district of Nişantaşı. Maritel couldn’t stop saying, “I just love everything about Istanbul!”
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MOTHER MARY MOMENTS WITH MOTHER THERESE SANTOS
We look to Therese Santos as our guardian angel because she’s the most religious and prayerful among the group. It was she who encouraged a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France, Mother Mary’s home in Izmir and the historical holy city of Ephesus in Turkey; and made sure that we visited Our Lady of Montserrat, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Spain and various spiritual sights in southern Italy.
“It’s a must to experience the Way of the Cross procession at the Lourdes apparition site, and go to confession and Holy Mass in the grotto, no matter how tough the climb,” Therese muses. “And it is such a miracle to see Mother Mary’s stone house built for her by St Joseph in Izmir.” Therese ensures that we nourish our souls during our sisterhood travels.
WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS AND MONACO WITH FE RODRIGUEZ
“I’ve always been fascinated by Paris for its architecture, elegance, charm and glamour,” says the fashionable Fe Rodriguez. For Fe, there’s always something new to dis-cover on each visit. And she manages to find the most beautiful, unique fashion pieces and accessories every time. “It’s wonderful strolling around Faubourg St Hon- ore, Madeleine and Champs Elysee. The flavours and the finds are simply amazing,” she says.
A lover of everything French, it is no surprise that Fe considers picturesque Monaco a mother favourite as well—she fondly recalls fun memories at Monte Carlo’s Hotel de Paris and “absorbing the palatial surroundings amidst the panoramic view”.
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SAN SEBASTIÁN SURPRISE WITH CHING CRUZ
Our official glam girl, Ching Cruz watches her diet and is always so prim and put-together. But not so in this gastronomic hub. She smiles, “How can I be on a diet in San Sebastián, everything is just too good?” And that’s basically all we do from dusk ‘til dawn—eat, eat and eat! We enjoyed everything—from Michelin-rated restaurants to hole-in-a-wall food haunts. “Gandarias is my ultimate favourite. I also loved Kaia in nearby Getaria, the home town of Cristobal Balenciaga,” she recalls.
Some of our favourite moments include endlessly laughing as we strolled along the Playa dela Concha after one of our hearty meals, just to unwind. Ching always makes sure we get a few kilometres in after each meal. No wonder she keeps energetic and svelte despite all our delectable indulgence.
One place I’ve visited consecutively is Cappadocia. The first time was two years ago on Christmas holiday with my family. Although I enjoyed bonding with my children and grandchildren, I felt like it was a historical expedition. This is always the case with my daughter whose focus is to see museums and historical landmarks.
So when the opportunity came to travel to Cappadocia again as part of my sisterhood’s most recent itinerary, I experienced another side of this magical town. Cappadocia is right out of fairy tale with the stunning Göreme, Derinkuyu Underground City, Red and Rose Valleys and the awe-inspiring Fairy Chimneys in the Pasabag Monks Valley. It’s pure magic.
These happy recollections have been very comforting in uplifting my mood while confined at home these past few months. They definitely help keep me motivated and optimistic as we all await the light beyond the tunnel.
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