Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A long anticipated visit

After close to four years of hearing stories about Marburg (Germany), I finally had the chance to see the place with my own eyes. An hour north of Frankfurt, Marburg is one of Germany's five university villages. The University of Marburg is the oldest protestant university in the world.

Its status as a university village is reflected in its youthful population and the numerous student associations that call this village home.  It is at once charming and pretty with Gothic churches, traditional houses and cobbled pavements.

I couldn't help but take pictures of the picturesque town square with its statue of St. George that seems to have remained unchanged since the medieval times.

To get to the Chateau there is a steep winding climb up but the panoramic views make up for it.

I took this one halfway up...
Doesn't this traditional beergarten have a magnificent view. If only for that, its worth taking a seat and having a beer or two.

 Huffing and puffing our way up to the top, we finally saw the castle up close..

But I was more taken by the vista spread out before us...

It was a great visit, one that I will definitely be doing again as I hear that Marburg under the snow is a sight to be seen. Plus, there's a Christmas market.  How can I resist that?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Culinary highlights

A great start to our Madrid culinary adventures was our very first breakfast of churros con chocolate at one of Madrid's oldest chocolateria houses.  Chocolateria San Gines has been serving locals and lucky tourists since 1894.  Their churros is freshly made and their thick (almost pudding like) hot chocolate is something to write home about. I could have easily devoured two servings of their churros were I not held back by the thought that gluttony is a sin!

After such a sweet start, we were happily surprised to find that where we were wasn't too far from the Museo del Jamon with their tempting Jambon Iberico.  We later found to our delight that this deliciously dry ham is also served for breakfast!

You'd think after such a breakfast, we wouldn't be hungry for awhile but in not so long a time, we soon found ourselves looking for a nice but quick lunch. There were sights to see after all! Casa Rua provided us the perfect pit stop. Bocadillo de calamares is their specialty and it is pretty good. Freshly fried squid rings in a bun may not sound that appetizing but it is delicious and filing.

And since we are in Spain, we just had to try their tapas....


Gambas al ajillo

 And our favorite, a mixed platter of various hot tapas...
 All delicious and tasty!

Finally, we couldn't leave without having some Paella! Yummy! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our morning adventure

Bright and early the next day we set off for Madrid's Museum mile.  We were completely excited at the prospect of seeing the world renowned collection.  

We arrived at the Plaza when all of sudden a group of at least 30 bike riders came riding by...

This fact in itself was unremarkable, till we noticed that they were all stark naked! Yup, naked.

 We, along with everybody else, stood there open mouthed. Of course we had to take some pictures of this curious thing.

Later on, we found out that these bikers were part of the World Naked Bikers Day, likewise held in countries like the UK, Mexico, Chile, to protest the excessive use of gasoline and our treatment of the earth.

 I can tell you that the sight sure woke us up!

Stay tuned for the rest...

The start of our Madrid weekend

Plaza Mayor
If Venice is dreamy and romantic, Madrid is definitely one of bustling energy and vitality.
Its no shrinking violet.  One feels it immediately upon arriving. Madrid is no shrinking violet.   So a very early flight notwithstanding, we couldn't wait to start exploring the city. No siesta for these adventurers!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One last from Venice

On our last day in Venice, we had one last surprise. We stumbled onto a quiet little stretch of the canal when we realized that there was in fact a photo shoot going on!

Here's the model being gussied up ...
 followed by a round of poses along the same quiet canal.

I wonder if its for Vogue Italia?

This weekend I'm off for another adventure. Will tell you more about it when I get back. Here's wishing everyone a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Food trip

For me, an indispensable part of any trip is enjoying the local food.  I've always thought that there wasn't much fault to find with Italian food but we were warned that eating out in Venice could be a hit or miss thing.

We must have lucked out because every meal we had was delicious. Even our hotel was great for the aperitif.  Just check out this little table right where the canal entry is...Isn't that pretty?

Now I want to share with you the food highlights

To start with, there's cicchetti which is Venential style tapas, all made with fresh fish and sea food. Very interesting with flavors ranging from lightly salted to piquant hot!

 There's pasta of course, but this one from the Osteria di Santa Marina, was lobster pasta on black ink tagliatelle noodles. Just scrumptious. I think I made the next table's night when they caught a glimpse of the rapture on my face after taking one bite of this heavenly dish!

Much as I love pasta though, I think the real winner was the frito misto from Osteria Vecio Fritolin.  This traditional seafood platter lightly dipped in batter and then deep fried was perfect. The seafood tasted incredibly fresh (thanks no doubt to its close location to the Rialto Market) and while it was deep fried, there was no oily after taste or feeling of grease.

And what better way to end a meal? Or to take a break from all the walking? Nothing beats a Gelato!

And of all the ones we tried, this artisanal tiny hole in the wall shop we found by accident was my favorite. I had their wonderful stracciatella and quite happily finished it in minutes! I didn't even have time to take a picture of it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lost in Venice

Having finished the more touristy part of our weekend program, we headed off towards the lesser known parts of Venice and proceeded to get lost.  Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsodoro are different districts of Venice that has relatively few major sights but it is great for those looking for the real Venice. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Venice: the tourist route

Ca'd'Oro "The Golden House"
Venice is easily one of the most atmospheric and romantic cities, I've ever had the occasion to visit.  How can it not be, when it is a city built 117 little islands and has 400 bridges spanning its 177 canals?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mid week treat

Just because its Wednesday....

Just because a Lenotre cake especially their gateau au citron is hard to resist

Just because we all need a treat half way through the week

What about you, what's your mid-week treat?