Friday, August 31, 2018

Auckland Arrival and Downtown First Impressions: Britomart & Queen Street

My flight from Shanghai, China arrived in the wee hours of the morning in Auckland. In fact, my flight arrived earlier than scheduled so I had to wait for sisterJ and Myrhh who were just on their way to the airport. It was the break of dawn and although I did not feel any jetlag yet, I know I will in a few hours time.


A traditional Maori wooden arch gateway called "Maharoa" on the Aotea Square and the beautiful and stately Auckland town hall to the right.


Pedestrian scramble intersection on Victoria and Queen Streets.

Speaking of arrival, I wanted to briefly talk about going through NZ Customs & Immigration. The country passionately protects its beautiful natural resources, thus any clothing, equipment or item that has to do with outdoors and nature has to be screened by customs. This meant showing to them the soles of my hiking shoes. There must be no traces of earth on it.

And oh, no dairy, meat, and any food with honey are allowed in as well. I brought with me some cookies and candies and that was it.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Paris Late Night Dinner at 24-Hour “Au Pied de Cochon”

Who would have thought that there is a 24-hour restaurant in Paris?


Late night dinner... we don't want to make this a regular thingy, huh.


Au Pied de Cochon in the Les Halles District.

And it isn’t a fast-food chain or some worn-out bistro feeding drunk teenagers, although I do not think France has a problem with the latter since beer and bars are not a big thing there for the youngins, instead, its all about cafes, bistros, brasseries, restaurants, ciders, and wines. Teenagers getting drunk on wine? Hmm, perhaps...

Anyway, my research for a late night restaurant led me to Au Pied de Cochon Brasserie.

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Montmartre, Paris: Sacre Coeur and Place du Tetre

The Montmartre hilly boho village in the 18th arrondissement is always a great place to check out and hang out in Paris, whether during the daytime or at night. The village has different vibes though, depending on which time of the day you visit.


Place du Tetre at night.


Basicila du Sacre Coeur.

The mornings are less crowded of course, still fresh from the morning glow and no tourist invasions yet which happens slightly after 09:00+. Mid to late afternoons will be very busy already, and although it is crowded, it is a "nicely crowded" kind of way somehow, perhaps because of the village's low-key bohemian setting and the spectacular city views. There is the feeling of space.


The transition to evening in Montmartre is another existence on its own. It is a must to see and experience in my book because the ambiance is just one of a kind and the lights are simply amazing. Especially when you stand on the steps of the Basilica du Sacre Coeur, you can enjoy sweeping views of Paris at your feet! And the Place du Tetre becomes lively with artists and bistro-cafe-goers.

The evening does give a touch of sophistication to the whole boho ambiance of the place. I told girlfriend Pinpin that she cannot leave Paris without having step foot in Montmartre.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Breakfast at Le Café Pouchkine in Paris

Bonjour, Bonsoir everyone =)


Le Cafe Pouchkine.

One of the places in Paris that I have been wanting to visit is the aristocratically designed Café Pouchkine. The café on Place de la Madeleine is grand and oozing with old world charm. The interior design and furnishings will bring you back to the time when Faberge eggs were still produced for the happy few.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Night on Champs Elysees, Paris: Le Deauville Dinner and Lido Cabaret Show


Waiting for the curtain to open for the Cabaret Show at Lido Paris.

I have been to Paris many times and but have never been to a Parisian Cabaret Show so when girlfriend Pinpin invited me to go to Paris with her, I said yes under the condition that we will do a side trip to Versailles and attend a Cabaret Show. Or something like that =)

Well, knowing Pinpin, she was more eager and excited than me!


Champs Elysees at night.

This isn’t my first time to a cabaret show though. I went to a tropically themed cabaret show in Havana, Cuba with Blondine many years back. That too, was quite entertaining.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Greece: Cruisin to Kalamos Island, Fallen Asleep on the Beach and Dolphins Sightseeing

Hello! Kalimera!


So this is the second part of the day cruise tour we took during our summer holiday in Lefkada 2 years ago (2016). Yup, a very delayed post. You can find the link to the first part here: Greece - Cruisin to Cave Papanikolis, Kastos Island, and a Swimming Dip

Dutchman and I always grab the chance to visit smaller islands during our Greek Island summer holidays. We either take a boat cruise tour or just hop on a local ferry (with our rental scooter or car) and visit the nearest island, like we did last year and the years before that.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Greece: Cruisin' to Cave Papanikolis, Kastos Island and a Swimming Dip


Sailing trip and this is Kastos Island.

So this is a bit of a very delayed Greek holiday post going back to our summer holiday in Lefkada (Lefkas) in the Ionian Islands in 2016.

In Lefkada, we joined a cruise (boat tour) called "The Forgotten Islands Tour" by the Nikolaos boat. We sailed off in Nydri harbour, where most of the trips start. It was a whole day affair and for the sake of this blog post and the so many pictures I took, I will divide my report into 2 parts.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #008

Welcome again to my life =)

Well, at least the life you see here on the blog. It's time to once again update what I did in June and July this year. Quite a lot I think, although it felt like ages ago already and to think that we've just started the month of August.

Life moves on so fast, it's hard to keep up even when looking back. Am I glad I have this blog!


The lake beach near our new house in Utrecht. Can you imagine this is just around the corner from our new house? I mean, seriously, its just about 100 meters away?! Of course it is not always busy like this because the weather in the Netherlands is another story.


Moi during the Gay Pride Canal Parade in Utrecht.

The main highlight of June and July was the yearly summer holiday in the Greek Isles. This time we went to Karpathos, a new island for us in our growing list of visited Greek Islands. We went for 2 full weeks.

Another thing to highlight is my work, although I can't and won't go into detail. It's somewhat taken over my sanity but luckily I am managing well, haha. There is just so much going on right now, it's mindboggling. I cannot lie that I am sometimes anxious about what will happen. #stayingpositive

My car got broken into for the THIRD time! This time they took my tail lights. Strange. Sometimes I wish I have a simpler and cheaper car, which I do have privately though. The Audi is a lease car from work and I have no choice, although I have to admit that I love the comfort it offers and the style.

My mother in law's cat Lucy got lost during the time we were holidaying in Greece. She missed having a cat in the house so she adopted a new one. Her name is Puka. But after 4 weeks, someone spotted Lucy somewhere and the family quickly acted and went to check on the address in the middle of the night. After 45 minutes of searching the family found Lucy! What a miracle. So now, the mother in law has 2 cats =)

What else? We have been busy with the house.... we have finally decided on the floor. We are taking a ceramic floor in wood finish. We have floor heating so we can't have real wood or laminates. I have begun making sketches for the garden as well. I am excited, the garden will be an extension of the house, a hangout, like a patio. A second living and dining room.

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Picnic at the Beach of Henschotermeer in Utrecht, Netherlands

We were actually not planning on going here... but fate has its own ways.


We have been to the Henschotermeer before. It's a big man-made lake that is a beach with white sand and surrounded by a forest with lovely fresh smelling trees. In the center of the lake is a little island that can be reached by a wooden footbridge, or a swim, if you are feeling bold enough.

Henschotermeer is located in the middle of Utrecht province so it's not very far from where we live. I remember having my birthday celebration here many years back. It is a popular place for many locals and for people who know it from nearby provinces.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Utrecht, NL: Chilling at Rivers Marnemoende in IJsselstein


A restaurant with a view.

So I met up for coffee and some more drinks with the sister in law at this lovely place in IJsselstein, Restaurant Rivers Marnemoende which is located on the water, just beside the yacht haven with an open view of the water and the flat green countryside of Utrecht.

This is hands down, a beautiful place to meet, talk, hang out and just chill out.

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Netherlands From Above

This was taken last April while the plane was flying low above the Netherlands...


The Netherlands is flat.
The Netherlands is as low as can be.
The Netherlands is so linear. Can you see those slender lines?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Going Chinese and a Bratwurst on a Rainy Dresden


Altmarkt Galerie is a shopping mall with a food center in the basement.


When you travel in early spring there is always a big chance that some days will be caught in the rain. Especially in Europe.

In Dresden, we got rained down for the whole loooong day, until in the evening. What can you do when nature conspires against your travel and sightseeing plans? Well, adjust and stay indoors =)

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Visit to the Dresden Castle Museum (Dresdner Residenzschloss) on a rainy day


The city of Dresden has a number of museums and one of the famous ones is the Dresden Castle Museum or the Dresdner Residenzschloss (Dresdner Schloss). It is one of the oldest buildings in the city going back to the 16th century. It started construction in 1533 and was completed in 1899. That's a loooong wait to finish! 3+ centuries!

The building is designed in Neo-Renaissance and Baroque style and is an impressive building that one will notice in the city. It is now a Musem and we visited it.


The entrance of the castle museum and the inner court open lobby.

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Massive Crispy Pork Knuckle German Lunch at the Altmarkt Keller Dresdner Bierhaus

When in Germany, one should not only drink beer like the Germans do, but eat as well like the Germans do!


The big German-style crispy pork knuckle with sauerkraut and fries.


The underground / cellar restaurant in Dresden.

Introducing, the all-time favourite by tourists to try, haha – the ‘Pork Knuckle’ rather the crispy pork knuckle. Well, I am sure as well that the locals love this meaty and fatty dish because the traditional fare wouldn’t have stayed long on the menu if people are not ordering anyway.

Germany is a meat country, and I love my vegetables you know.... but if you can't beat em, join em =)

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Dresden: Breakfast at Schwarzmarkt Cafe and Visit to Neustadler Market Hall


The market building originally opened in 1899.

In Dresden, I stayed in the Innere Neustadt (Inner newer part of the city) which is across the River from the Old City. You can easily walk to the city center in minutes.

My friend and I didn't take the breakfast at the hotel which in my opinion anyway is always a bit boring. I mean I do not get pumped up with hotel breakfasts unless it is a stunning boutique hotel in a lovely extraordinaire setting. But chain hotels? Nah.

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