Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Belgium: Cathedral-like Antwerp Central Station

So I was in Antwerp, Belgium last April together with girlfriend Bubbles.

The cathedral-like train station in Antwerp, Belgium opened its doors to the public in 1905

We went on a day trip with the car and managed to park adjacent to Antwerp Central (Antwerpen Centraal) station. Which was spot on because I wanted to show Bubbles the cathedral-like railway station which is an attraction in its own right. She was very much looking forward to seeing it as well.

I have also stopped counting the number of times I have been to Antwerp. It is actually my go-to place when I am craving for steamed mussels. Lucky me it is not too far away =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cebu Visit 2016 Photo Essay

So another photo essay on what I did last year during my visit to Cebu, Philippines. This is basically a part of my daily life when I was there which was documented by my camera but did not make it to a blog post =).

I guess you can call these the in-between scenes. They are as important as the posts that made into a blog post because they reflect a dose of daily reality travel life. The less glamorous part I guess?

The state of the Philippines last November 2016. This was the headline news. Duterte is still the president of the country though, so he is still very much into his term. Am I pro- or anti-Duterte? Let us just say that I both like and do not like his ways.

Pimped-up Japanese manufactured jeepneys. These ply the Naga (south) to Cebu City route and vice versa. 

Well, I actually still have 2 more blog entries for Cebu, but they can wait.

I am so backlogged with my blog entries but that is nothing new. If I were to choose between work and blogging, I think many would bet on the latter, haha. But yeah, real life kicks in and we all have to earn our living, especially these days when most that occupy my mind is retiring early. Ergo, need to work my bum off.

But in between, I travel and do my best to enjoy life.

We've got to live our lives you know. Do what we like and do our best to get what we want. Responsibly of course. Because we die only once but we can live many times.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Moselle River: Postcards from Riesling Land

We are in Riesling land!

The village of Zell-Merl on the Moselle River. Ah, we had lovely weather!

Test-driving the hybrid Audi. We are loving the virtual cockpit. GPS screen on the driver's dashboard! Really, really cool. I can even instruct by voice where to go and which person to call (my iPhone is connected).

Just a long extended weekend in the Moselle River where the German Riesling grape grows. We are test-driving my brand new lease car from work so we picked a destination that is not too far away and not too close as well.

It is beautiful here and it is my second time here in the Moselle River Valley. These are just a few pictures and I will be posting the villages and activities we did in separate posts soon.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Monday, September 11, 2017

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #002

Life has many surprises. It never ceases to entertain me, as I wait and wonder what comes next. Yeah, what's in store? What's it going to be?

I guess I see myself as a little kid sometimes, even though I am nearing 50 (gasp! lol). An independent, strong-willed and adventurous little kid. Very eager, curious and willing to take risks.

Life every day is a risk anyway. Making tough decisions at work can be risky. Choosing to be snappy or patient at your loved ones, yeah, at your own risk! Giving (sometimes unsolicited) opinions is surely a risk. Booking that holiday can be risky from many angles. Even crossing the street is a risk. There is no escape.

Well, I turned 47 last June. I can't believe I am in my late 40's now. I will be 50 in 3 years time! We were blessed with good weather so we celebrated outside in the park. I did not have a lot of time to prepare as we just arrived from our summer holiday in the Greek Islands.

Work has dominated my life in the past 2 months... but I try to not think of work during the weekends. So when the weather is good, we go out. Nothing fancy at all. Sometimes I go on my own and stroll the city centrum. Other weekends, we would go out for a drive. I do my weekend runs, while Dutchman bikes and skates. But most of all we just love staying at home.

We try to live and enjoy life in the simplest ways =)

[To see the rest of my daily life run rate pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, September 08, 2017

Cebu: Parilya Lunch Cebuano-Style with an Old BFF

My visits to the Philippines are always about food and I am not really complaining =)

It’s just that every time I am visiting, I always gain an extra kilo or two or more. Gaining weight in your late 40’s is very easy. It is almost like a natural thing, like breathing air, and losing it is like signing up for a 100-kilometer marathon that will happen the following week.

Old girlfriend Sheena and moi go back to our high school days.

My parents joined us for the lunch.

I have now lost between 6-8 kilos since my trip to the Philippines (and China and Vietnam as well) last year. I did not diet at all. I do eat healthy food and devour huge amounts of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. The only consolation I have is that I love to eat them. We also always cook at home. I bring my own food to work, too. Another consolation is that I am not very fond of sweets and baked products fattened up with lots of butter and sugar. It’s really more about the portions that I am watching. Because I love to eat, haha. In addition to this, I do some running on the weekends.

Anyway, this post is about one of the lunches I have had in Cebu. My friend was a bit surprised that I have packed some weight. If you see me during my younger days, you will also wonder. I weighed under a 100 pounds / 45 kilos you know! Hence the weight rant =)

But I love lunches, especially if they are long and lazy and with people I know very well. The best lunches I have had though were always the ones in the Greek Islands during summer with the Dutchman. But this is another blog post.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Cebu, Philippines: Filipino-Style Chinese Dinner at Margarita’s Family Cuisine in Robinland

When I was in Cebu, Philippines last year, the sister-in-law treated the family to dinner at this interesting restaurant located in the penthouse of the Robinland building.

Chinese-Filipino food for dinner at Margarita's Family Cuisine.

The restaurant doesn’t look like your usual kind of restaurant that you can just walk into. Firstly, the restaurant is somewhat out of the commercial area and is located on the top of a building. It does not have easy access at all for any passing could-be interested customer. Next, I have not found any website of the restaurant, which is somewhat a bit strange. It is not actively advertised to consumers so it seems. Lastly, it looks like it mostly caters to corporate events and special parties.

The sister-in-law who has been dining here many times said that the food at this restaurant is quite good and that the main take away is really the view as it offers panoramic sights of the reclamation - port area of Cebu. Now that sounds inviting enough I guess, so I was quite looking forward to the evening's dinner.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Xiamen, China: My Walking Lunch in Zeng Cuo An Village

I managed to arrive in Zeng Cuo An village by taking a bus from Zhongshan pedestrian road get getting off at Baicheng Beach, just before Hulishan Cannon Fort and walking the beach boardwalk route to the once fishing village.

Very little is left of the old Chinese fishing village. It is now a very busy tourist attraction connected to the popular Baicheng Beach.

Just 2 years ago, the local government responded to the rise in tourism in the local area and built a foot bridge in the design of a fish cartilage, perhaps to immortalize the old fishing village history. The bridge connects the beach shore part to the main village across the national road. On this fish bone bridge itself, one can already find many street vendors.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, September 01, 2017

Baicheng Beach Stroll in Xiamen, China

One of the places in Xiamen that I was very keen in visiting, is Zeng Cuo An village. I came across this during my due diligence research of Xiamen. I heard that there is a lively ‘street food scene’ there.

I have learned that the best way to get to Zeng Cuo An is by bus which drives along the main coastal road. The ride takes approximately 15 minutes from the central area of Siming District (Zhongshan pedestrian road area). Not bad at all but I have also read that there is a paved walking route along Baicheng beach that leads to the village, passing by the Hulishan Cannon Fort and several interesting monument spots.

Hmm, why not explore the (nature) surroundings a bit and walk to Zeng Cuo An? Strolling on the beach does sound like a great plan.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fujian-style Brunch in Xiamen: Bian Rou (扁肉) Wonton Noodle Soup and Zongzi (粽子) Glutinous Rice

Because I got booted out of the 100-year old Chinese mansion hotel I stayed at (they have no permit allowing foreigners to stay with them), I moved to a hotel just down the road which does not offer breakfast. Not that I mind though.

Bian Rou Wonton Noodle Soup in Xiamen

Bian Rou Wonton noodle soup in Xiamen.

The dumpling noodle restaurant is on Zhongshan Pedestrian Road on the corner of Jukou Jie street. The best landmark is the street gate beside it on Jukou Jie.

This is perfectly fine for me as this will give me the excuse to splurge on a brunch. My idea of splurge does not mean expensive, exclusive and eating large amounts of food by the way. Splurge for me is when I have the freedom to try out new things, and in this case, Chinese food.

For this brunch, I was searching for some warm noodle soup. I was craving. Noodles are my favourite dish in the world. I make a lot at home at home, sauteed or soup style. The Dutchman loves them as well. The only difference with the noodles I make is that I add a huge amount of mix vegetables. The ratio is probably 70% vegetables – 5% meat – 25% noodles. I am a veggie lover!

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, August 18, 2017

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #001

I am going to start a new series on this blog, which is really born out of a personal need to document a part of my normal daily life in the Netherlands. It is a promise to myself you know. Something that I hope to look back to with amusement and contentment when I am old, gray and cranky, haha.

Having my favourite gelato flavours, pistachio and lemon in the city centre of Utrecht in March of this year.

We are driving to Friesland here (last June) to visit friends.

From the very beginning, like more than a decade ago (2004!), this blog was really created to journal my then new (expat) life in the Netherlands. I posted about my observations, my struggles adapting to Dutch culture and much more, but over the years, I have become so seamlessly weaved and integrated into the Dutch life and society that I began identifying myself as a local.

The shift of the theme of the blog as well has been made to accommodate my hobbies which are about travel, the love of food and the good life. But I still want to keep a part of the organic purpose of this blog alive, hence the new series.

These posts in the new series are mainly visually driven by pictures. I tend to carry my pocket camera with me all the time so I take snapshots of my daily life as I go along.

I will be posting random pictures about places, activities, things and what have you that I specifically will not be creating a separate blog post about. Many of them are not travel-related at all, they are probably more lifestyle directed in this case. Basically, a peek into someone else's life. Mine, LOL.

The baked goods I made. Attending a family birthday party. Having coffee in the city center. Shots of cool architecture or design of something. It can be as random as it can get. But nothing to worry, I will not be posting something too personal to help fodder up the gossip mill, if there is. I will also not be posting work-related pictures, although food and the places I have been whilst working will definitely go on the blog. They are my career life souvenirs and I post them for posterity's sake when I retire.

Anyway, I call these posts MY DAILY LIFE RUN RATE.

[To read the rest of the post and to see the rest of the pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park

A must-see when in Belgrade and most importantly, it’s free admission =)

Kalemegdan Park in Belgrade, Serbia
Kalemegdan Park and Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia

The old citadel of Belgrade lies at the junction of the Sava and Danube rivers in Stari Grad (Old Town) with its defence walls looking over to Novi Beograd. I visited twice, the first time on my first night in the city and the second time, during the day.

It is very easy to get to the fortress and park. One just has to follow the busy Knez Mihaolova pedestrian street until reaching the end of it where the trams pass. Across this street is the park leading to the entrance to the fortress.

On this park are many portable souvenir shops selling Vladimir Putin souvenirs. I am not sure if Putin is loved by the locals here but he sure is a very popular item on sale =)

I highly recommend this place and I will tell the reasons why....

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Walking Belgrade: Stari Grad to Vracar

One of the best ways to discover a new town or city is simply by walking. And it is free!

Kralja Milana, one of the main avenues in Belgrade with many historical buildings such as the Oficirski dom (mustard coloured building).

Not many people I know would prefer to hike around when on holiday but it has its own advantages as well, namely, burning the calories for the day, getting to see local things up close and personal and feeling the raw side character and personality of the city, which you can only experience when you walk on its streets. Most especially, when you venture out of the centrum.

But first things first, we have to understand the layout of Belgrade, known as Beograd by the locals.

Belgrade is divided into neighbourhoods:

Helaas, I have only visited Stari Grad (Old Town), Vracar and Zemun. I have, however, and I am sure of this, been around with my rental car and the taxi in the nearby surrounding neighbourhoods, including Novi Beograd. I even got lost in the city when I was looking for my hotel because my GPS did not properly work.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, August 11, 2017

Road Trip: A Day in Preveza, Mainland Greece

When we were summer holidaying on Lefkada Island the other summer year ago (2016), we did a day road trip to mainland Greece, in the coastal town of Preveza located in the region, Epirus.

Church tower in Preveza centrum
Preveza in the evening

The evening scene in Preveza town.

Lefkada Island does not have an airport but luckily it is connected to the mainland in the area of Preveza by a small bridge. The nearest airport is, in fact, the Preveza Airport, approximately half an hour travel to reach the island and about an hour to Nydri where we were staying for the holiday. This is where we landed and then transferred by buses to our hotels.

We normally go for a 2-week summer holiday so that gives us enough time to explore the island and the nearby surroundings.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Last April in Amsterdam and The Seafood Bar for the Second Time

When girlfriend Bubbles was in the Netherlands last April, we visited many people and of course, Amsterdam cannot be missed, even if we are only going for 1 day.

The Seafood Bar in Amsterdam

Dinner at The Seafood Bar in Amsterdam.

PC Hooftstraat in Amsterdam

PC Hooftstraat, a luxury shopping street in Amsterdam nearby the Seafood Bar.

Bubbles have been in Amsterdam a few times, so we only allocated a day to spend in the city. Well, an afternoon and an evening to be precise as we don’t want to behave like rabid tourists. We want to sleep in and have a late breakfast before hopping on the intercity train to Amsterdam. No need to rush.

Now Bubbles wanted to visit the famous Dutch museums as she has never done this in her previous visits. But because of a lack of time she had to pick only one, and so she decided to visit the Rijksmuseum. She really wanted to also visit the Van Gogh museum but I guess this will be another time, well another year I suppose =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Bologna Aeroporto: Plane Watching and a Ham, Salami and Rosé

While waiting for my plane in Bologna back to Amsterdam...

Snacking and waiting for my flight in Bologna
Alitalia Bologna

The airport isn't really that great. I arrived a bit early because I had to return the rental car. So I have exactly an hour to bum around in the airport.

La Vecchia Trattoria slash Italian gourmet souvenir shop is the only thing interesting and worthwhile dining at in the airport. My flight is scheduled late in the afternoon and it wouldn't be bad to have a late real Italian snack (well early dinner for me already) before boarding my flight.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Day in Parma, Italy (and My Photos!)

Architecture Parma, Italy

The Baptistry (the rose pink building) and the tower of the Parma Cathedral just around the corner.

Parma ham and clothes for sale

You know you are in Parma when retail clothing stores sell and hang (Parma) ham beside their clothing and shoe products =)

I have been wanting to visit the foodie capital region of Italy – Emilia Romagna for a long time already. I knew that KLM flies direct to Bologna from Amsterdam which is handy so I made it happen in spring last year. I think it’s a good thing to visit Italy once a year, just for the food and the amazing architecture.

Together with Bologna, I visited the foodie cities of Parma and Modena as well. I even managed to swing by to San Marino, one of the smallest states in the world!

[To read the rest of the post and see the pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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