Tag Archives: travel

South of France Trip

15 Jul

I’ve been a bit lazy about updating the blog lately. So when my mom told me my blog was broken because the last post was in April, I decided to get moving.

Sorry for the lag, mom, I’ll try to do better.

To reinvigorate my blog, I’m posting a recap of our recent vacation and will scratch my head this weekend for a post-able project.

We went for a driving vacation in the South of France, but since the area we wanted to explore was so close to Barcelona, my husband’s favorite city, we decided to start there.

We re-visited some of our favorite sites in Barcelona, including Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and the pier, and explored some new areas like Plaza de Espana.

Barcelona

We walked around Las Ramblas during the day, and the Soho-area of Barcelona at night. My husband was in heaven, as we kept finding larger and larger merengues.

Barcelona

After a fiasco with our train from Barcelona to France (there was a train strike, and we ended up on a coach bus for 8 hours instead of a 2.5 hour train ride), we finally made it into France where we picked up our rental car, arguably my husband’s favorite part of this trip.

In total, we (as in my husband, not me) drove approximately 1,200 miles.

Rental Car

In France, we traveled along the South of France — Provence and the French Riviera/Cote d’Azur.

One of our first stops was Avignon. Avignon is an ancient town, where the pope used to reside in Le Palais des Papes.

Avignon

Avignon was my husband’s favorite city. He enjoyed the quaint streets all within the protective walls of the inner city.

Avignon

Nearby Nimes (the city where denim was born!), we stopped to see the Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct that was used to carry water from a water spring to Nimes. The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nimes

Aix en Provence is known as a college town and supposedly, the “City of a Thousand Fountains” — although most of the fountains I saw weren’t functioning.

Anyway, they have this awesome gigantic book entrance to their library. Definitely makes you want to read “The Little Prince” again.

Aix en Provence

We picked up cookies called calissons, which are made of almonds, candied fruit, and “royal” icing. Aix is known for these cookies. Unfortunately, we forgot them in the hotel refrigerator.

Aix en Provence

My favorite place was Cassis, a small, picturesque coastal town. Every direction you looked, the view was amazing.

Cassis

We went on a boat tour to see the Calanques, which are coves/valleys formed within the rocks along the cliffs of the coast.

Cassis

My husband and I both loved Nice. When we arrived there, it had just finished drizzling, which left a nice sheen on the ground in addition to the misty fountain in Place Massena.

Nice

Nice had a great beach as well as a lively town. And, compared to many places that we went, there was a wide variety of food too.

Nice

We drove up, up, up to get to Eze. Eze is a medieval town located high in the mountains. Once you drive up there, walking through the town is still an upward hike.

Eze

Houses had a rustic feel with antique-like doors, shuttered windows, and often plants growing up and down the sides.

Eze

Le Jardin de Eze was the highest point we could go and offered fantastic panoramic views.

Eze

Along the coast, we also went to Cannes, Monaco, Antibes, St. Paul de Vence, Narbonne, St. Remy de Provence, and a few other small towns.

Then we headed northward towards the Gorges du Verdon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of France.

Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges were peaceful and offered expansive views. We  bought some lunch in a little village and had a picnic while staring into the vast canyon.

Gorges du Verdon

On the way out of the Gorges, we drove through Valensole, where there were fields and fields of lavender. We inhaled the aromas and tried to absorb some of the magical powers of the purple plant.

Valensole

And finally for our last stop, we got to Geneva, Switzerland — land of really expensive stuff. Regardless, we managed to rent some bicycles for a minimal cost and hit the Swiss streets.

Geneva

Vacation over. Must contemplate how much we enjoyed it (and how exhausted we were) while riding horsies in a Geneva park.

Geneva

Bahamas Cruise

6 Jan

To get away before the holidays, we went on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was nice and convenient, leaving out of New York. The main ports were Nassau and Freeport.

In Nassau, we went to Atlantis since neither of us had been there before.

Atlantis

We rode on all the rides in the water park.

Atlantis water rides

Explored the entire resort.

Exploring Atlantis

Saw the aquariums, including the sharks.

Shark

In Freeport, we went to a beach called Paradise Cove.

Freeport

It was really nice for snorkeling, but you had to go pretty far out to get to the good stuff.

Fish at Paradise Cove

But it was nice since there were “lifeguards” who went out every once in a while, and even fed some of the fish.

Fish at Paradise Cove

I saw a stingray, got freaked out, quickly swam back to the lifeguard and told him. He merely said to everyone nearby, “Heads up for the stingray.” At which point everyone who heard him decided to look for the stingray. And then, I went back to take a picture, deciding I could out-swim at least a few people.

Stingray sighting

Back onboard, we found the best spots on the boat.

Best spots on the boat

This was a crawl space at the front of the boat, accessible through the gym. I don’t think anyone else knew about it.

Best spots on the boat

During the ship days, we’d play lots of trivia and games, relax on the sun decks, and enjoy a few fruity drinks.

Drinks!

At night after dinner, we’d watch the main show, see the comics, walk into the nightclub for two minutes, and then hit up the pizza spot for a late night snack.

Pizza!

Until next vacation…

Bahamas Cruise

Hawaiian Shirts Not Required

31 May

When we were packing for our recent vacation, I subtly requested that my husband not bring any of his Hawaiian shirts.

Since we’ve gotten home from vacation, he’s been wearing his Hawaiian shirts as much as he can. I’m not sure if I won or lost this battle…

On our vacation, we went on a Western Caribbean cruise and hung out in Florida.

At the different cruise ports, we went snorkeling and saw a ton of fish.

Fish!

Fishing Boat

My husband’s favorite port was Belize, where we went zip lining and cave tubing.

Zipline

Cave Tubing

I got a massage on the beach. This was my view.

Beach

In between ports, we were on the boat, where we watched all the shows, played trivia, and ordered food in pairs.

Dessert

This is true love… a man and his frosted flake french toast.

Frosted Flakes French Toast

Back in Florida, we ran into the Hulk. It was hard for me to tell who’s who.

Lego Hulk

Tried shooting a rifle at a gun range.

Gun Range

Found a delicious Vietnamese restaurant — as one of my friends would say, “Why would you eat anything else if you could eat pho?”

Pho

Went to Busch Gardens Tampa where I learned my husband loves roller coasters, and I’m too old for roller coasters (so I had to play in their safari instead).

Busch Gardens

This was a wonderfully relaxing vacation. Can’t wait to do it again.

We Love Vacation

Toronto

21 Jan

Between Christmas and New Years, my husband and I went to Toronto.

There’s a lot of snow in Canada.

Toronto

Animals are everywhere.

Toronto

Toronto

It is essential to eat a big breakfast every morning to have enough energy to take on the weather.

Toronto

Toronto

Do not go camping in the snow.

Toronto

Drink lots of hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate

Do stand indoors and stare out windows.

University of Toronto

Canadians and their buildings believe “life is beautiful.”

Building in Toronto

Surprisingly Niagara Falls did not freeze over.

Niagara Falls

San Francisco

5 Dec

Spent a few days in San Francisco for vacation with my mom. We saw all the sights, walked up one too many hills, got stuck in the rain and had a lot of fun.

sf1

Replica and the real thing.

Sutro and beautiful trees.

Sutro District and cool trees.

sf3

Rest from the rain with a sip from an Alcatraz cup.

Baby ostriches at the California Academy of Sciences

Baby ostriches at the California Academy of Sciences.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street.

Delicious fresh ginger ale from the Farmer's Market in the Ferry Building.

Delicious fresh ginger ale from the Ferry Building’s Farmers Market.

One of many cool creations at the Bizarre Bazaar.

One of many cool creations at the Bizarre Bazaar.

Redwoods at Muir Woods.

The giant redwoods of Muir Woods.

Boston

29 Jun

Last week, I went to Boston for a few days to attend a conference for work.

It was fun. The keynote speech ended with gigantic balls bopping up and down and dancers on the stage.

The exhibit hall had lots of cool things to see.

Presentations were funny.

And inspiring. (Pictured: New covers for classic books by Mikey Burton, designer/illustrator.)

I took notes!

Had some free time too…

Went to visit the ducks at Boston Common.

Ate at The Daily Catch – Aglio Olio Black Pasta (black pasta with ground squid, sauteed in garlic and olive oil) and really, really delicious Cherrystone Clams.

Had poutine (and waffles) at Saus.

Sat and enjoyed the views.

Met up with my cousins for dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar.

And went shopping.

La comida de Argentina y Empanadas

1 Apr

Yeah, I’m not going to write this post in Spanish like the last one. You’re welcome.

While vacationing in Argentina, we did a lot of walking and sightseeing; visited a gaucho farm and rode horses; walked on a glacier in Patagonia; and, we ate.

Ribeye and lomo steaks at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires.

Pastries at a bakery in Palermo Soho area, Buenos Aires.

Trying the mate tea at a gaucho farm, San Antonia de Areco.

Alfajores at the famous Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires.

Lychee, passion fruit, nata de coco, oranges and grapefruit, topped with green tea ice cream, ginger cookie and pandan meregue cream - dessert at closed door restaurant Cocina Sunae, Buenos Aires.

Whisky over glacial ice served at the end of our trek on Glacier Perito Mereno, Patagonia.

Patagonian lamb and lomo at Don Pichon restaurant, Patagonia.

Of course, there was steak, which was delicious there. There’s no such thing as bad steak in Argentina. And steak that would cost $50 or $60 in the U.S., costs around $20 or $30 there. But it’s impossible to eat steak for a week and a half straight, so we also ate a lot of other food, including empanadas.

Argentinian empanadas were yummy. The fillings were more creative than here. A ham and cheese empanada wasn’t just plain ham and cheese, it was ham with ricotta and burnt sugar on top. And most empanadas didn’t have cheese, which it seems like 90% of empanadas here do.

After coming home, I decided to make my own empanadas:

Empanada #1: Shrimp and saag paneer with a curry dipping sauce.
Empanada #2: Chicken, onion and mushrooms with a ginger, scallion dipping sauce.

For the dough, I mixed 1.5 cups of flour with 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of sugar, 4 tbsp of milk. After those were mixed, add a little bit of water at a time until the dough becomes elastic-y, maybe 3 tbsp total. (This amount of dough will make approx 3 empanadas.)

For empanada #1, my husband made homemade paneer — heat 1 gal of milk on stove top, continuously stirring until boiling; lower heat and slowly add 1 qt of buttermilk, continuing to stir until curds form – approx 3-5 mins; then turn off heat. Drain curds in cheesecloth. Strain/dry in the cheesecloth overnight. Next day, mash curds, press into loaf tin, bake for 20 mins at 375. The saag was chopped spinach stir fried, with oil and garlic. I cooked the shrimp the same way, cutting it up into smaller pieces once cooked. We used this curry dipping sauce recipe minus the potatoes and replacing the coconut milk with regular milk.

For empanada #2, I steamed chicken thighs seasoned with salt and pepper for about 50 mins, then shredded it up. Sauteed onions and mushrooms, seasoned with salt, pepper and ginger powder. The ginger scallion dipping sauce is oil heated up on the stove top, then cooled, mixed with chopped up ginger and scallions, then sprinkled with salt.

I cooled all the fillings and dough before rolling out the dough to stuff them, brushing with an egg wash, poking a few holes with a fork, and then baking at 400 degrees for 18 mins.

Making the paneer - curds and drying out overnight.

Empanada #1 filling - shrimp and saag paneer.

Empanada #2 - Shredded chicken with sauteed onions and mushrooms.

Empanadas stuffed and ready for their egg wash and baking.

Homemade empanadas just out of the oven.

I even tried to do the braid on the edges. Tried being the important word here.

Inside of the shrimp, saag paneer empanada.

Curry sauce with empanada, yum.

Inside of the chicken, onion, mushroom empanada.

Ginger, scallion sauce with empanada, yum again.