Monday, October 30, 2017

Sarajevo: Lovely Dinner at the Four Rooms of Mrs. Safija (4 Sobe Gospode Safija)

Sarajevo’s cuisine and restaurant scene is still up and coming. The city does not have a Michelin star restaurant YET but I am sure it will get there in due time.

For our first night’s dinner in the city, I was eyeing the unique “Four Rooms of Mrs Safija” restaurant. From what I understood, the address is an exclusive and upscale place and it is one of the best restaurants in town.

A welcome port drink from the house. Cheers!

Alma, our new friend from the hotel reception was quite impressed when we asked her to call the restaurant and reserve a table for us. ‘It’s a very expensive restaurant!’ she told us.

I guess everyone in Sarajevo knows the “Four Rooms of Mrs Safija” (4 sobe gospođe Safije), huh?

I don’t like going overboard with the things I do during my travels (well, sometimes, haha), especially when it comes to spending so I checked their prices just to make sure, and after forex calculations, it came out reasonable from a western European spending perspective, although costly I am sure for the locals.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kazandžiluk: The Coppersmith & Metalworking Souvenir Street in Sarajevo

Sarajevo was the second stop in our Balkan road trip last spring.

We landed in Tuzla in the north and stayed a night in the city. The next morning we set forth down south to Sarajevo. We drove our rental car through valleys and mountains and stopping in between to take pictures of the Bosnian countryside. Finally, we arrive in the capital mid in the afternoon.

We checked in to our hotel, Villa Melody which is approximately 8 minutes walking distance to Baščaršija (the Old Town). Afterwards, we decided to hit the Old Town for our late lunch. We were starving! The lovely young hotel receptionist gave us a Cevapi place suggestion, MRKVA which we were able to find in just a matter of minutes.

When we were in Tuzla, Bubbles and I have promised to eat the famous cevapi as our first meal in Sarajevo.

After the delicious late cevapi lunch, we thought we will walk around a bit, just to get our bearings right in the city. We are staying here for 3 days, and tomorrow, we have a big agenda to follow so why not get familiar with the popular landmarks and streets first.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Where we stayed in Sarajevo: Villa Melody

Because Sarajevo is still up and coming in the tourism sector, prices of hotels in the city are very reasonable. However, the choices are very limited.

Our modern room in Villa Melody.

The view from the breakfast area's terrace to the street.

Bubbles and I will be arriving in the city with a car, so a free inside the premises of the hotel parking place is on the top of the list, followed by easy access to everything and lastly, we prefer a hotel that is modern and hygienic (at least in the pictures).

This is how we ended up choosing for Villa Melody. We stayed here for 2 nights and 3 days.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sarajevo, the land of Cevapi: MRKVA versus Zeljo

Cevapi or Cevapcici is the national dish of Bosnia & Hercegovina (and Serbia as well). It is very popular in the Balkans and a trip to this part of Eastern Europe is not complete without tasting it a few times.

When Bubbles and I were in Bosnia & Hercegovina last April, we were advised by everyone to eat Cevapi. It is a must! We started our trip in Tuzla where we had some local Balkan stews for our dinner. We promised ourselves to have Cevapi for lunch when we arrive in Sarajevo the next day.

In Sarajevo, there are 2 famous places to eat Cevapi. That’s MKRVA and Zeljo. MRKVA was recommended to us by the lovely young receptionist of our hotel. She swears it is the best and it is where the locals prefer to eat their Cevapi. The latter, Zeljo is very popular among the tourists.

So like any curious culinary traveller who not only enjoys the gourmet delights of this world, but also the customary local dishes and street food scene, Bubbles and I decided to try both.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Hague (NL): Luden, ZOT, Mama Kelly and Life Sentiments

Sometimes I wish life would have been more simpler than what it is. But it is not.

When I look mindfully around me, I realise that I am living cosily inside my own little bubble. My random concerns about life is a far cry from, say, people my age who have children and are confronted daily with the rigours of family life. From people and families who struggle every day and every month to make ends meet. But also far different from someone living off a trust fund. Some people are just simply very lucky in life, financially and perhaps in their relationships as well. Some not, and it sucks. As for me, I do wonder, well sometimes, if I am out of touch with what the real life is like out there.

I guess we all each live in our own little special and unique bubble. I know perfectly that my view about life and the struggles I have failed in comparison to what others out there are facing. So it is good therapy you know to burst our bubble every now and then.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dining Out in Vaujany at Le Stou in the French Alps

When we go for our yearly winter sports holiday in the Alps, Dutchman and I bring ready-to-heat-up typically Dutch winter meals such as boerenkool and zuurkool (a mash of vegetables and potatoes), complete with rookworst (Dutch smoked sausage), appelmoes (apple compote) and jus (gravy).

Our fondue dinner at Le Stou.

The quiet streets of the little ski resort village, Vaujany.

We enjoy the ready-to-eat Dutch winter meals for 3-4 nights, and other nights we would go to the village and eat out in a restaurant. It’s a nice diversion to the holiday when you eat out, but winter sports holiday isn’t your usual type of holiday where eating out every night is recommended.

There are some nights when you just want to stay in your apartment, chalet or hotel. Especially after the first day of skiing when your muscles are all worked up and begging for a nice hot tub bath. It is also very cold outside, with temperatures running below zero, so many just prefer to eat inside, which is why catered chalets and apartments are sometimes popular. We had a catered hotel in the past as well which we had a very good experience.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

A Skiing Day-Off in Vaujany, French Alps

Dutchman and I normally take a week off every January for skiing and snowboarding in the Alps. It has become a much looked forward to yearly winter tradition.

I am not, however, a huge fan of skiing every single day of the whole week of the winter sports holiday. I like some variety during my vacation, and I would like to do other things as well. Such as checking out the local village, perhaps visiting a local food and artisanal market and if the village has a nice spa, why not indulge for a day? I am far from being a big spa person, but, if the place is nice and it has beautiful views, I would wing it for the day.

So in Vaujany where we stayed for the holiday, I spent a day checking out the terraces on the slopes of L'Alpette 2050 and Montfrais 1650. I just wanted to sit on a terrace and people watch.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Alpe d'Huez Grand Domain Ski Resort: This is Not High Season Yet

Did you know that there is traffic in the Alps as well?

The loooong queue to get to the top of the mountain at Le Signal lift in Alpe d'Huez. Take note, this is the 4th week of January on a Thursday, not high season yet!

And I mean long lift queues and irritating skiers and snowboarders traffic on the slopes! Not a very encouraging sight at all, believe me.

This is one of the many the reasons why Dutchman and I take our wintersport holiday during the low season, just a week or two before high season starts when school the holidays kick in. In Alpe d'Huez we witnessed these queues and it really turned us off a lot.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Alpe d’Huez, French Alps: La Plage des Neiges Bar Restaurant

It’s getting cold these days. Autumn is slowly kicking in here in the Netherlands and sooner or later it will be winter, and then it’s time to go skiing again!

Obviously, not in the Netherlands, but in the Alps.

Last winter, which was January of this year, Dutchman and I booked a chalet accommodation in a small ski village resort in the French Alps called Vaujany. The ski village has a humongous cable car that can carry more than 100 people to the L'Alpette 2050 mountain top. From here you can ski down to Oz en Oisans and take the connecting lifts to a bigger skiing terrain, the famous Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski Resort.

Alpe d’Huez is also one of the cycling legs with breathtaking views of Tour de France.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #003

Here is another set of daily life happenings in pictures from the last 2 months.

Part of the A2 highway exiting to Utrecht Centrum. If you do not have a proper GPS, you will get lost in the highway intersections, tunnels and rings of Utrecht. This is just half of the A2.

Before summer ended, the Dutchman and I, together with the Dutch mother went for a day visit to Scheveningen Beach in The Hague. Scheveningen has many nice lounge terraces on the beach.

Life (and work) was business as usual... it has its ups and downs. The highlight was getting my brand new car from work, surveying some property development in Utrecht and a nice long weekend getaway in the vineyards of Germany with the Dutchman.

Check them out in the pictures...

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Taipei: Raohe St. Night Market (Street Food) Photos

When I think of Taipei or Taiwan, I think of food!

Street food is HUGE in Taiwan. Everybody, from the upper to the lower echelons of the society buy food from the street vendors.

I wish I have stayed longer in Taiwan, and I mean stayed longer like lived there for a few months, then I am able to taste all the local food.

Every major neighbourhood in Taipei has its own night market. But unlike the night markets in cities such as Bangkok and Hong Kong where vendors sell items such as western brand clothing to fake Swiss army knives and Louis Vuitton’s.... in Taipei, these general merchandise goods are eclipsed by the massive street food scene. Everywhere is food! Night markets in Taipei are therefore street food night markets.

Of course, I went gaga and took lots of pictures of the different foods I saw!

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Friday, October 06, 2017

Beautiful Ciyou Temple in Songshan District, Taipei

This is one of the beautiful temples I have seen in Taiwan, the Ciyou Temple.

Ciyou Temple is a folk temple dedicated to the goddess Mazu. It is located in Songshan District, right by the gates of the Raohe Night Market, and not too far from Songshan metro station.

I actually came here in Songshan for the Raohe St. Night Market and in the process unintentionally discovered the temple.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Taipei: Evening Skyscrapers in Xinyi District and Tim Ho Wan

So I was famished after my lovely and enriching Tea Ceremony at Shi Yang Cultural Restaurant and now I am looking for a quick late lunch eat.

Xinyi at night.

My plan for the rest of the afternoon was to grab a quick eat and then go around the streets of Xinyi district. Xinyi is the financial centre of Taipei where you will see the tall modern buildings. I knew that in a matter of 2 hours it will become dark and the cityscape will change. I wanted to see the city lights of Taipei’s skyscraper district.

Although I have a soft spot for nature, the outdoors and the countryside, I will always remain a city girl at heart.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

New Taipei: Chinese Tea Ceremony at Idyllic Shi-Yang Cultural Restaurant

One of the local things I wanted to do while in Taipei was to attend a traditional tea ceremony. The online search led me to Shi-Yang Cultural Restaurant located in the mountains of Xizhi District in Xinbei (New Taipei), approximately 30-45 minutes from Taipei, depending which area you will be coming from in the city.

The restaurant and tea house in the mountains.

Shi-Yang bids a tasteful, cultural and idyllic take on Chinese dining. The restaurant is nestled in the midst of flora and fauna, far away from the busy streets of Taipei. It is being run by Buddhist monks who live, work and pray there. The design of the restaurant is open and minimalistic (Japanese style), blending in well with the natural surroundings and the values the restaurant represents.

By the way, Taipei and New Taipei are 2 different municipalities in Taiwan. The latter completely physically surrounds Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.

The cultural restaurant offers three types of services and these are:

1) Set lunch program
2) Set dinner program
3) Tea ceremony

They do not have a menu and the food served depends on the season’s produce. They have vegetarian options. The restaurant serves the set lunch and set dinner in aesthetically presented courses and you can combine this with a tea ceremony. It is not cheap to eat here.

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