Thursday, June 28, 2012

Off to the North Aegean Islands in Greece for summer holiday

We are off tomorrow for 2 weeks to the Greek Isles!


Dutchman and I are so taken by the lovely islands in Greece. We have been to many Greek Islands namely, Crete, Santorini, Kos, Zakynthos and a few smaller islands as well. Last year we were in Zakynthos which is part of the Ionian Islands. You can find our summer holiday pictures and stories here (divided by province within Zakynthos Island):

Alykes, Zakynthos
Arkadioi and Artemisia, Zakynthos
Elation, Zakynthos
Laganas, Zakynthos
Zante (capital), Zakynthos

So this time we have chosen an island that we have not been to yet. The island is part of the North Aegean group of islands. Because its on the eastern side near the international border, we might even pay a visit to Turkey. We will see.

Grotere kaart weergeven

So we are excited! Just a few more last minute stuff to do for work, then pack tonight and tomorrow we are off to a place where I will not think of anything stressful at all. That is nice for a change.

I will of course blog when able. I am sure its not like Cuba, there should be internet in the Greek Isles. The country has not totally defaulted yet and it is still part of the EU =)

Travel Period: June-July 2012
Destination: Greece

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Royal Dining Experience at Restaurante Museo 1514 in Trinidad, Cuba

Blondine and I accidentally discovered this wonderful place while walking around in Trinidad. We were looking for a place to dine in the evening anyway so when we stumbled upon ‘Restaurante Museo 1514’ we thought—wow, this is it!


Restaurant Museo 1514.


Beautiful porcelain and silverware on display at the restaurant.

When you walk in, you right away feel the aristocratic ambiance of the restaurant. The tables are dressed regally with antique-looking china (I checked; they were from the USA, perhaps early 1900’s), crystal and silverware.

The setting is in an open garden courtyard that is elaborately designed in aristocratic style, channelling a retail atmosphere of an antique interior design shop specialising in kitchen and diningware. There is also a rooftop terrace that offers nice views of Trinidad. And food is cooked traditionally in the kitchen using wood and coal.

So after a quick tour, we told the waiter that we will be back later for dinner =)

Let me rewind that a bit so I can give you a quick tour as well through my pictures. Here they are!

And of course we came back for dinner! The waiter was very happy to see us.

We eyed the elevated private patio beside the stairs that goes up to the open terrace on the roof. It’s a very beautiful and romantic area of the restaurant and it would have been perfect if we were with our other halves but unfortunately Blondine and I are stuck with each other for this Cuba trip.

The decision was made and we will have fish for the evening. I ordered a fried one and Blondine with white sauce. The food verdict? 4.3 stars out of 5. We enjoyed it very much. It’s really good, above average compared to other Cuban restaurants.


Very nice and elegant dinner table.


A lovely way to dine... outdoors on the garden patio.


The a-bit-primitive kitchen.


Our little private patio corner.


I climbed to the topmost part of the patio and this is the view.


Our table as we wait for dinner.


Our lovely royal dinner experience, except that the food does not really fit the term royal... but the ambiance? YES.

And during dinner we were entertained by a group of musicians and a couple dancing salsa. Then it rained a bit so we moved down to the main house to finish our dinner.

This is probably one of my impressive and unique dinners. I’m the type who is more drawn to the ambiance, the decor and theme, and the views of a restaurant than the food itself. So this one is indeed a success in my book. Dining traditionally the royalty way.

When in Trinidad, check this restaurant out. It is not just about dining, it is about the experience.


My dinner: Fried fish fingers with rice, banana plantains, some salad and fruits. I think that is a macopa fruit.


Blondine settled for the fish fingers in white sauce. She said this was very nice.


Our entertainment for the night. The gay dancer came up to me and said that he likes my attire. Hmmm.


Some more glass work displayed at the restaurant museum.

Travel Period: May 2012
Destination: Trinidad, Cuba

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Enjoying a ‘Canchanchara Cocktail’ and a Serenade at the La Canchanchara Bar in Trinidad

I mentioned previously that Blondine and I drank our way through Cuba. We literally sampled all alcoholic concoction that is being thrust in front of us. Now, we are happy to report that we both like Trinidad’s famous fresh cocktail drink called ‘canchanchara’.


Canchanchara is a mixture of rum, honey, lemon juice, water and some ice. The base of a Cuban cocktail drink is always rum. You can enjoy this drink everywhere in Trinidad and in Cuba actually, however, in Trinidad, there is the ‘La Canchanchara Bar’ faithfully offering this drink to visitors.

Blondine and I went there of course and after ordering our canchancharas, we were exclusively serenaded by some locals. Very sweet! And we met the funny ‘Jose’ as well! It was late in the afternoon so there were not many people in the bar. We almost had the place to ourselves =)


Inside the La Canchanchara bar... not busy as it was very late in the afternoon. Trinidad is not like Havana. It is not rundown with tourists.


Canchanchara is a very refreshing cocktail drink. You will have to stir the drink until the honey at the bottom mixes with the drink.


And we got serenaded!


The serenade video at La Canchanchara Bar in Trinidad.


Jose was such a funny guy! He makes us laugh the whole time.

We were told that it gets lively here at the La Canchanchara bar in the evenings. There is music, dancing and all. Jose even told us that he will personally teach us salsa and cha-cha-cha dance if we come back in the evening.

Well, after dinner that night, Blondine and I were so tired, so we opted instead for a relaxing evening back at our farm hotel. A bit boring eh?

Travel Period: May 2012
Destination: Trinidad, Cuba

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Unhurried daily life in Trinidad

Trinidad is an intimate little town, especially in the old historical town centre, everything moves slowly and everyone seems to know each other.


Time stands still in this UNESCO World Heritage town. The locals gladly spend their days sitting from the window sills or their doorsteps watching people go by, while others gather together in groups, laughing and chatting with each other. This relaxed social sphere and people watching activity seems to be a national culture and pastime. Many even upped their comfort by bringing their own chairs outside on the street. Voila, the old centre has become an extension to their living room.

Ah, such is life in a slow, provincial town.

With my complex and pressurised ‘the deadline is yesterday’—‘they need it now’—‘projects’—‘constant changes’—‘numbers, numbers, numbers’—‘politics’ life, I can definitely use a little laidback provincial town feel.

In Facebook (and other blogs as well), you get all sorts of meaningful sayings flashed on the newsfeed. One statement caught my eye—‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’

I understand that perhaps many people out there might have a more relaxed and pampered life than most of us, but really, there are times when I WANT TO STOP DOING THINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME. There are times when I just want to go with the flow. There are times when I just want to sit down and do nothing. Maybe stare at the wall. Smile to myself?

There are times when I wish I could just sit back and watch life go by in front of me, without having to think of time and duties... just like the locals in Trinidad. But I know this is just wishful thinking. And even if it indeed happens, I know for sure that my pleasure will just be short-lived.

Life must go on. Tanden bijten. Doorzetten.

Below are my snapshots of the unhurried daily life in Trinidad.

In Trinidad old historical centre:


People like to sit outside, gather together and talk.


Life goes slow in Trinidad.


There is not much to do here but chatting and hanging out on the streets.


Here we are, taking a souvenir picture with the church and convent at the background.

 

Many local women love wearing leggings paired with above the crotch shirts and blouses. Cuban women seems to think it is normal that their 'thing' is taking centre stage (read and see: camel toe fit).


Life through the windows.


Football is popular in Cuba.

 

Another football game, barefoot!

Outside Trinidad old historical centre:


Outside the old historical centre the streets and houses are rundown. It looks very desperate.



More of Trinidad next!

Travel Period: May 2012
Destination: Trinidad, Cuba

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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