An “Importoant” Place called Porto

My final stop for my recent Europe trip was in Porto, a somewhat heavenly location in Portugal.  Located about a little more than 3 hours north of Lisbon, Porto was evidently colder and coincidentally greyer during the weekend I was there.  That said, one of my favorite areas of the entire trip was Bairro da Ribeiro and Cais da Ribeira.  Bars and restaurants line adjacent with one another, all of them overlooking the magnificent Douro River that looks as if it’s been sleeping for a thousand years.  I remember just sitting at Cafe do Cais and lazily observing the sunset, and thinking to myself what a surreal and delightful place this Porto was.

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The Matadors in Seville

When you think of the culture of Spain, one might imagine passion, royalty, and excitement.  Seville embodies these traits perfectly, and its passionate heat was felt throughout my time there; it was hot enough to wear t-shirts during the day whereas in Barcelona it was already cold.

Seville

Seville is notable for its bullfighting events and its flamenco dancing.  I was unable to witness either of them, although I did watch some flamenco dancing that was on the streets.

In a way, Seville reminded me of Nice (you can read my blog about Cote d’Azur here), where everything was spacious, a tram ran through the city center, it was the whole vibe and atmosphere that was very similar… I guess both cities being part of the Southern part of their respective countries lends itself to create such an atmosphere.

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xoxo DiverXO – A Restaurant Review

“Welcome to DiverXO!  Be prepared to be delighted, entertained, and inspired by what our chefs have prepared for you today!”

I could imagine the pigs saying something along those lines when entering the restaurant.

DiverXOYes, these flying pigs right here

The fine dining experience doesn’t even begin at the restaurant… it actually begins at their website.  I mean take a look if you haven’t already… https://diverxo.com/ … it’s devilish, it’s daring, and they got a video of bizarre actors being uncontrollably excited by the food, yes that’s why I had to come to this restaurant.

Apparently the founder says that the restaurant doesn’t even make money before, in fact it was losing a bit of money.  I think that’s changed now, because the prices are standardised at 250€, whereas before there was an option for much less.  Mind you, for pairing option, that’s an additional 150€… and they still can’t break even?  I’m sure they do.  But they do put a lot into the aesthetics and high quality ingredients.

I have to say, the restaurant décor is truly inspiring.  The details are impeccable, and everything has direction and momentum, it’s like there’s action going on everywhere, even when there really is no action.  Like this photo below… Continue reading xoxo DiverXO – A Restaurant Review

A Sleepy Little Town Called Faro, Sorry!

Close your eyes and imagine what a sleepy little town would look like.  Give yourself ten seconds, then open your eyes.

OK, got a clear picture in your head?  I’m sure when you were thinking about the sleepy little town, it’d probably looked something like this:

Faro Marina

A gradient sky, a gentle and calm atmosphere, where people are a few and the ripples glide through the water like a kid riding on a slide.

This is Faro, the capital of Southern Portugal’s Algarve region.  I first heard about this place when an ex colleague of mine had parents who lived there, and that he would occasionally go back to visit his family.  I had never been to Portugal before, but Faro’s proximity to the seaside captivated me.  For those who have been following my blog posts, you know that I have an affinity towards coastal cities. Continue reading A Sleepy Little Town Called Faro, Sorry!

A Small Town Called Girona

We have had more than enough time to cover all the major tourist spots in Barcelona, so we decided why not visit some of the nearby towns in Barcelona to get a sense of a different experience?

The first and most obvious choice was Valencia, but not only have I already been there, we only had one day and we had to be back in Barcelona by the evening, so it was too far for a one day trip.  There’s of course Figueres, where it is most famous for having Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, a large museum designed by Dalí himself, but we wanted to visit a town rather than just a museum; we’ve seen way too many museums by this time (even though I personally really like Dalí a lot).  There was also Sitges, famous for its seafront promenade, but again I have already been there and there wasn’t much to do anyway besides enjoying the bright happy promenade.

So, we settled on Girona.  It was a small town located a little more than 30 minutes of train ride from Barcelona Sants, plus it’s most notable for being one of the filming locations for the hit TV show Game Of Thrones, where they filmed Braavos, Oldtown, and King’s Landing for Season 6 (source: barcelonayellow.com) Continue reading A Small Town Called Girona

Web Summit 2019 – To Go Or Not To Go

With the appellation as “The Largest Tech Conference in the World,” it was no surprise that Web Summit would be an eye opener for me.  This post will talk about the overview of the event, my opinion of whether you should go and whether it’s worth going, and other misc. details such as transportation, food, and its night events.

In 2019, Web Summit was attended by slightly over 70,000 attendees.  The event, as in recent years, has been held in Feira Internacional de Lisboa, a massive exhibition with five gigantic halls, and alongside it is the grand Altice Arena, hosting some of the most prominent speakers over the 4 day event.  Some of the more attention grabbing names this year included Edward Snowden (who didn’t appear in person for obvious reasons), Jaden Smith, Ronaldinho, Tony Blair, Guo Ping – rotating chairman of Huawei, Brad Smith – president of Microsoft, and a whole lot more. Continue reading Web Summit 2019 – To Go Or Not To Go

Going to the Best Restaurant and Former Best Bar in Asia – Singapore

I will admit, the decision to go to Singapore wasn’t exactly mine, but I will spare you the details and just say that I had a pretty good time there.  In fact, considering the flight fares and flight time to travel (seemed to have lessened to only 3 hours from original 4 hours!), it’s definitely worthy of a consideration of a destination to go to during long weekends.  And I say this because my short time there definitely gave me a better impression of Singapore.  You can read about my latest Singapore post on the Celebrating Singapore’s 50th Anniversary.

Anyway, I had the fortunate opportunity to visit not just the recently voted as best restaurant in Asia Odette, but during the same day I also managed to visit the #2 best bar in Asia, Manhattan bar as well!  Let’s get into it and start with Accommodation. Continue reading Going to the Best Restaurant and Former Best Bar in Asia – Singapore

Travel Etiquette: Knowing Culture

Sometimes when we go travel, we may become oblivious to some of the standard practices and society norms, which is understandable considering we are already consumed by new imageries and languages surrounding us; it is already quite overwhelming to intake.  It’s too often that what we learned from home becomes a habit, and that we carry these behaviors into other countries which may irk the locals in unintended ways.  I myself have committed such errors of course, and that’s why I recognise the importance of having this post.  By the way, this will be an ongoing post whenever I come up with something more.  Here are a couple of etiquettes you should be aware of when travelling to a new country:

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Outskirts of Taipei – Keelung, Jiufen, Houtong Cat Village, Tamsui, Ruifang

In my previous post on Nonstop Eating in Taipei, I again talked about all the different types of restaurants, food stalls, and nightlife places you could check out within the vicinity of the main areas of Taipei.  But the real fun from this trip were during my moments when I was exploring the outskirts of Taipei – Keelung for the Keelung Squid Festival, Jiufen Old Street, Houtong Cat Village, Tamsui, and briefly Ruifang when coming back from Jiufen.

It’s quite nice to visit these areas, just because they offer a glimpse of a different side of Taipei that you don’t really get to see.  Anyway, this post will be broken down into different sections by each area that I visited.

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Nonstop Eating in Taipei

You know you’re really getting a sense and vibe of a city once you start exploring the outer parts of the city.  For example, in Tokyo the first few times I would stick around the areas of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi… you know, all the main districts you have to first go as a tourist in Tokyo.  Then once you’ve been there multiple times, you will want to start to explore other less popular areas.  This usually happens with me around the 4th to 5th time I visit a city.  Taipei was no exception – this time, besides just being around Taipei 101, I managed to go to Jiufen Old Street, Keelung, Tamsui, and Houtong Cat Village.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this in my previous blog posts, probably did, but I tend to be attracted to places closer to the seaside.  That’s why some of my top favourite cities in the world that I’ve been to include Barcelona, Cape Town, Gold Coast, pretty much everywhere in Japan, the French Riviera etc.  That’s why I would say that I actually enjoyed going to places like Keelung and Tamsui, where I was treated to beautiful, stunning sunsets that left an indelible memory for me (I realised how much of a sucker I am for sunsets, especially the sunsets that morphs the skies from your typical sky blue to delicious colors like pink, purple, gold that occur on a sporadical basis).

For this blog post, I will start off by naming the things I did in Taipei and breaking down by the usual sections – accommodations, foods, things to do, nightlife etc. then I will do each section by each area that I covered.  I will share what I did, my opinions, fun anecdotes etc.

Edit: After writing this post, I realised just covering the main part of Taipei itself was way too long, so the upcoming/next post will focus on the outer skirts of Taipei like Keelung, Tamsui, Jiufen, Houtong, and Ruifang district.  It’s out!  Read more at Outskirts of Taipei.

Continue reading Nonstop Eating in Taipei