Pisa ohne Pizza

Three days in Tuscany – everything goes, except pizza and insalata caprese! Why that? Those two dishes are omnipresent where we live, so really really no point coming all the way to Italy and then eat that standard fare…

PISA and Luca

The towns are pleasantly small, have plenty of sights and yes, we did that “I hold the leaning tower selfie”.

After visitor’s rush hour, Pisa calms down quite a bit, the streets are not that crowded anymore, one can hear people speaking local dialect and order a tramezzino and a glass of wine and just chill for a moment under the shades of the shopping arcades. And a proper café for one Euro is a constant seduction.

Livorno

..barely 20 mins by train from Pisa, is a different world: the sea, some canals, a lot of strict and straight 60ies and 70ies architecture, the HQ of Italy’s communist party and the even tramezzini have a special local name. And the café @ EUR 1.- remains the constant.

Firenze

Oh dear, but then Florence… Waves of profusely sweaty people make their ways from the train station via the Duomo, the Uffizi to the Ponte Vecchio and back. No reservation for the Dome’s cupola, then you can stare at it from outside! We decide for a work-out and climb the campanile; no surprise the narrow staircase isn’t that crowed and the views from the top are super worth the effort!! I’ll do that again any moment. We continue with the flow, pay respect to the God of selfies, lots of sweat, some snacks (and a café… just in case I haven’t mentioned that before) and a pay visit to the barbiere for a clean, professional shave. I don’t think I heard a single word Italian during the few hours we spent in Florence…

Food Porn

No post is complete without it:



 

Another Chance to Try a New Restaurant

Cure Restaurant, Singapore

Cure Restaurant

Visually very appealing, freshly prepared and artisan-style decorated three course lunch menu for app SGD 54 (incl GST and service charge) per person. Friendly and attentive service; restaurant is located in a shop house @ 21 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089128.
We highly recommend the place with two small caveats: they should add a little carbo to the main course to make an average eater full (for big eaters you probably need to order an extra main course) and the creation of the “three milks” desert was tasty but visually non-appealing.

A Few Days in Prague

The sights are beautiful and aplenty, the whole town-centre is a gigantic pedestrian zone, knick-knack shopping, sight-seeing, people watching and snack-indulgence heaven. The crowds can be overwhelming, however just step 100 meters away from the main thoroughfare and you find quiet restaurants, friendly service and good food.

The pics in the gallery could lead to the impression that we did a pilgrimage from one restaurant to another and not much else 🙂 Admittedly, we did enjoy lavish dinners once J’s Polar Loop wristband indicated that we comfortably overshot 15000 steps every day.

Excursion to Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong

Father-daughter day: a very nice excursion to Cheung Chau Island, a 30+ minutes ferry trip from Hong Kong Island.

After a bumpy ferry ride and a ridiculously unsuccessful try to rent a bicycle, we did some sight seeing:


A nice lunch (aircon is a real gift when its 35 degrees outside)

followed by a round of drone flying

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(please subscribe to my channel after viewing the video – thanks in advance).

 

And the ferry back to Hong Kong island

The 26 Summits, ctd

A deal is a deal is a deal… one week after the beautiful hike up the “Hinteri Egg” we scaled Mont Raimeux, the tallest mountain of Switzerland’s youngest Canton, the Jura.

A well maintained trail snails up the Jura folds, a good two hours after we left Moutier, we reached the peak at 1302 meters above sea level enjoying nice views, a short coffee break and a descend through pouring rain.

The icing on the cake were hand made noodles with Chorizo Safron sauce (thank you Susan).

More opportunities to work on the list are hopefully to come soon 🙂

The gallery shows the journey starting very early in the morning with a tram ride to the railway station ending with the home made noodle dinner.

Jalan Jalan

Family city-hopping to Kuala Lumpur for sightseeing, sampling local delicacies and – you guessed it – supporting the retail industry.


Day one : flight on time, smooth aiport transfer from KLIA2 to downtown and a clean, comfortable room in a nice, conveniently located hotel.

Not quite like that: something wrong with the plane, 90 minutes delay, immigration super smooth, the taxi driver confuses his Proton Wira with a Formula 1 car and dashes over the often poorly lit roads at lightening speed, then the climax in the Novotel: first room has two single beds only – how are three paying guests supposed to sleep in two single beds? Receptionista offers a king bed plus roll-in extra, good move, but then the room: The windows cannot be closed properly, curtains fall down, stained pillow covers. Management has mercy on us: we get upgraded to the executive floor. The room is clean, slightly bigger, but upon closer inspection not really up to any decent standard either. Pictures taken in the bathroom:

This place invites to rant about it.. We would like to drink a glas of red wine in the Lobby bar, the waiter offers some very warm red wine from Argentina. We ask whether the wine is avaialable slightly colder than @ 28 degrees, he replies that red wine needs to be enjoyed warm.

And the icing on the cake: the room is decidedly non-vegetarian: lots of ants fight with us over space. Anyway, after all we will spend just a few hours sleeping in that room each night, no need to get carried away. But a neat review on Tripadvisor will follow.


Day 2, Friday 21.05.2016: multi-culti confusion (Confucian?) breakfast up to the time limit, at 10:20 we are reminded that the buffet will close in 10 minutes.

Sightseeing on the hoponhopoff bus, during which Laetitia spends a comfortable hour napping on my numbing arm – that’s one way of exploring a new place.


Saturday: We visit the Batu caves, apparently one of the holiest places for Hindus outside of the Indian subcontinent. A short dip into a colourful world and a rich experience for all senses, well worth the 25 minutes train ride from downtown KL…return train ticket was MYR13.50 for 3 persons (surprised & impressed). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An in-depth encounter with the local retail scene in Jalan Petaling is followed by a decent Italian dinner.


Keen to experience the diversity of Malaysia ? Spend a few hours in a place like Berjaya Times Square on a Sunday. Harajuku Hello Kitty meets the most trendy Hijabs and Nasi Lemak can be rounded off by Hong Kong style egglets. 

the journey back home is safe and smooth 🙂


May 2016

Enjoying Lunch Tête-à-Tête

Many good restaurants are wooing for customers in Singapore. Most of them offer very attractive lunch menus to get you in the mood for an evening return.

Out of the restaurants Jannefa and myself recently visited, “The White Rabbit” deserves a mention for its good food, attentive service and the special location / settings. The carpaccio was succulent, tasty and just the right portion; the pasta cooked al dente with fresh crab and the sherbet in the deconstructed cheese cake was a delight on its own!

see for yourself:

 

True Beauty is in Simplicity

Chanterelles fresh from the forest (won’t tell you where we find them…),

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Pan fry them with fresh organic herbs, onions, white wine and use good durum semolina pastaimg_4586.jpg img_4589.jpg img_4587.jpg


and here you go –  a simple, yet very tasty meal

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The Annual Beijing Ritual

Beijing fascinates me. Choosing my journey anywhere between the ultra-ancient and the ultra-modern remains incredibly seductive to me. The icing on the cake are the good company and sumptuous meals with friends and acquaintances every time I return.


This is the third trip to Beijing after we moved away from the capital city in June 2012.


The overnight flight from Singapore is on time; with the airport express and the subway I neatly beat rush hour traffic. By 09:00 I’m checked-in and ready to roam and ramble. Let the day one ritual begin: I wander through Central Park, Ritan Park, The Place and other familiar spots and concomitantly “mind-surf” about (mostly) good old memories and check out what has changed since last time and what remains. Restaurants and other shops come and go, a few perennial favourites (such as Annie’s…….) remain, last but not least the hairdresser in Dongdajialu, whom I used to visit frequently, still goes strong.


Comparatively heavy snowfall sets in after lunch. Snow on ancient structures, but which one to visit? Tripod, Nikon Df, ND filter and the GoPro, which has become one of my favourite travel cameras recently, packed and I’m wrapped up in Goretex, I ponder where to go: Tiananmen, Beihei, Ritan Park – nope, I take the subway towards Guangjisi, a small temple housing the headquarters of China’s Buddhist society. It’s relative petiteness, the quiet atmosphere, the paraphernalia shop and probably as a truly unique feature, no need to buy a ticket. Likely the only notable temple in China you can enter without purchasing a ticket (just to mention in case the Lonely Planet web crawler finds this site…).


  


The next morning brings yukee air and an urgent matter from Singapore to attended to, so I transform instantly into a Gen(Y) migrant IT-savvy, roaming worker: I waddle to a Western Coffee Shop, order the mother of all Megatallgigaventilattes, pull an Apple Laptop, notabene a 2009 Macbook Air 13″, which to this date works perfectly well, out of my bag and settle in. This antiquated machine immediately outs me as an outdated GenY-model. The Costas and Shinbakes appear to be flourishing even more than before, maybe Xidada’s disruptive anti-corruption policy drives people form the Abalone cum Ch. Petrus snacks into the Coffee Shops for meetings? One looses, the other one gains.


Day three – what a miracle: cold winds from the North drove all the pollution out of town, I join Beijing hikers (www.beijinghikers.com) for a hike on the Wall. A perfect day: blue skies, panoramic views, the wall covered with a bit of snow, which accentuates the “dragon’s” back making it more visible on its journey over the mountains bordering Hebei and Beijing. A small group of hikers and two funny and competent guides, plenty of photo stops, conversations and laughter.

I stand in awe on the wall, cannot stop gazing around and soaking it in. In the to-be-published Asterix in China, Obelix will certainly say: “delirant, isti Cinesi”.

Check my youtube channel HERE and HERE for some stunning scenery.

Walking Up Hua Shan

Hua Shan in Shaanxi province is one of the most prominent members on a long list of “Sacred Mountains” in China. Finally in October 2015, 21 years after I first became aware of this list, I got a chance to scale Hua Shan.

This was the plan:

day 1: 35 minutes bullet train from Xi’an to HuaShan, shuttle bus to the starting point, an estimated five hours hike up to the North Peak, find a place to sleep and eat. Enjoy my 10th summit in China (in case you are interested in the details, click HERE).

day 2: get up early, walk up to the East and South Peak, enjoy sunrise, a knee-friendly cable-car downhill and back to Xi’an for the quasi mandatory dinner buffet orgy.


This is what happened:

day 1: in less than two hours we reached the North Peak. During a short rest, I jokingly propose to speed up the climbing, i.e. try to reach South Peak today, take the cable car down and back to Xi’an by train tonight. Surprisingly (or maybe not…) my hiking mates agree without much ado. This spontaneously devised plan B gets executed well: around 20:30 we are safely back in Xi’an.

day 2: a leisurely stroll through the Muslim Quarters of Xi’an with endless food tasting and shopping opportunities and – of course – the sumptuous dinner buffet (Hilton Xi’an – highly recommended).


What’s next ? Three Taoism-related mountains in China remain to be experienced, let’s see whether another twentyone years will pass to completion.


my Youtube channel has a short video (click on the logo and set the player to 1080p HD) youtube_2


The pictures in the gallery show the journey from the main entrance all the way up to the South Peak and down to the exit gate with a little help of a cable car.