Updated the reel!
This is the last blog post for Lisbon from this wee trip and really it's just going to be one big photo dump - a colourful photo dump.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must in Lisbon. I'm sure something arty and beautiful can be found round every corner of this city.
I love the contrast between the traditional tiles and then the contemporary street art.
The LX Factory is a unique little art 'hub' filled with boutiques, cafes and studio spaces. Great for a wee gander of contemporary art but really I imagine this space would be amazing when there is an event on. Check out the Ler Devagar bookstore, which is a fantastic store with a cafe and gallery space set in an old printing machine.
Cervejaria Ramiro is the restaurant that appears in every 'must-eat' list for Lisbon. Every cooking show on Netflix about Lisboa, every travel vlog on youtube - will feature this restaurant and its amazing seafood. So expect queues! We arrived around 6pm on Saturday, during holiday off-season, and queued for around 40-50 minutes - which was actually shorter than I expected!
Apologies for the half-eaten giant tiger prawn - we ate them faster than we could take a picture of them!
The seafood was incredible. I know that any future stop in Lisbon will HAVE to include a meal here. Everything above including an order of bread and beer was a little over 100 euros, with the above Scarlet prawns being the most expensive item but also my absolute favourite from the bunch - I'd be happy with anything from the menu but these gorgeous red prawns were unlike anything I'd ever tried before, made the meal much more unique!
Seafood rice was another dish I'd see dotted around the food blogs that I was determined to try. The one above was from Peixaria do Rossio, I mean, it's very difficult to mess up a hearty rice-stew dish with so much fresh seafood. This one was lovely but any future trip to Portugal I think I want to try others and compare notes!
The Time Out Market is a very busy and touristy spot but it's a really fantastic way to sample some amazing Portuguese food. I really love this market and would love to see other cities adopt this idea - it's just a fantastic way for us hopeless foreigners to try great authentic food!
The longest queue was for the grilled Octopus but my favourite dish was the Prego sandwich with Sweet Potatoe chips - if I remember correctly it was a Wagyu beef from Chile.
We tried quite a few of the Bacalhhau salted cod pastries - the make fantastic little snacks, similar to fishcakes, deep fried mashed potato dumplings with the salted cod through them. The one above was one of the 'fancier' ones catered for tourists really at their 4 euros per pastry price but unlike the others we tried they were filled with a real nice, real strong cheese. The shop dedicated to only these pastries were in the heart of the tourist area.
The pastries below where from Pasteis de Belem.
So we did eat a couple little savoury pastries at Pasteis de Belem but really the main and only reason why you would head out to this place are to eat these amazing Pastel de Nata - egg custard tarts! One of my favourites things I've ever eaten, I'm hunting around to see if I can find anything remotely close to these locally!
We went early for breakfast to avoid the queues but the tip is to head inside for table service as the queue is typically shorter there plus you are able to order the tarts to take out from there rather than wait in the huge take away queue.
Eat them portuguese style, which is to sprinkle them with cinnamon and icing sugar!
Views from Castelo de Sao Jorge - one of my favourite attractions of the weekend, the views alone are worth it!
These viewpoints are scattered throughout Lisbon, particularly in the Alfama area. We were honestly lost and then BOOM we came across the viewpoint above. Definitely take the time to get lost and just explore the area.
This is the view from across the river to Cacilhas. It's just a short and very inexpensive ferry ride across. The area itself didn't have too much to explore but there are a couple of riverside restaurants which we unfortunately didn't get to try due to bad timings. Glad we crossed for me to snap this pic though!
My short weekend in Lisbon meant I couldn’t give Sintra the full attention it deserves. I had half a day so only enough time for one of it’s many major attractions.
Of all the grand sights to see I chose Quinta da Regaleira - a romantic mansion nestled on an outrageous estate that includes a well, lakes, grottoes and gorgeous gardens. From my research, I understood that this is a pretty touristy spot so best to get there early and there are short bus rides available to get there from Sintra Train Station or it is a short but steep walk up to it. We opted for one of the silly Tuk Tuks - 5 euros per person to anywhere in Sintra - touristy services like this means you get a mini tour in the area so the driver was able to give us some history and facts about all the other main attractions that we drove by.
The grottoes were my favourite part of the estate! So many hidden tunnels and caves, all adding to the magical romance of the place. Prepare for lots of walking as there is so much to explore!
Lunch was at a restaurant in the main area of Sintra called Bacalhau Na Vila - a restaurant specialising in Bacalhau, a Portuguese speciality of salted cod. A must try if you are ever in Portugal, you’ll find it everywhere! I doubt I would have ever stumbled upon this place had I not found it online first! It’s location is not accurate on google maps so use its location on its tripadvisor instead.
At the beginning of the year, I searched for 'cheap flights' and once I decided that a cheeky weekend in February meant 'anywhere with some sunshine please' then the top of that list was Lisbon!
So I’ve got a few blog posts coming up about the wee weekend I had in this wonderful city. So many things to see! So many things to eat! I’m so glad that Lisbon is just a short plane ride so I’m sure that there will be many more wee weekends in Lisboa!
Our last couple of days were spend in Ho Chi Minh City.
There were many wonderful French-Vietnamese combinations I came across in Vietnam, the architecture being one of them, but of course it was the Banh Mi that satisfied the greedy food lover in me. Amazing fragrant flavours encased in incredible baguette bread.
Coffee might be wasted on me but the coffee culture in Vietnam was, should I say, my cup of tea ;)
Grab a drink and something yummy and draw the gorgeous surroundings. More doodles are on my instagram! - https://www.instagram.com/szekeiho/
My two favourite days in Vietnam had to be the days I spent in Ninh Binh and Halong Bay. I'd gladly go back to spend more time in these areas, just breath-taking. Pictures will never do these places justice but here are a few anyways!
Cafe Pho Co is one of those wonderful 'hole-in-the-wall' types of places. You would never go there unless someone recommended or showed it to you - it's terribly difficult to find, so I hope my pictures will help you out.
The real kicker about visiting Vietnam is that I'm not a coffee drinker. I tried several coffees, including the Vietnamese specialty Egg Coffee. I hoped that my tastes would sway but unfortunately I could never get into it - I'm just a simple tea drinker.
At Cafe Pho Co, I tried a Coconut Coffee. I did manage to drink at least half of this before the coffee taste became a bit too much for me but I think most coffee drinkers would recommend this to the non-coffee drinkers - I reckon I'm just super sensitive to the coffee tastes - because for the most part, it is a refreshing sweet coconut drink!
You want to look for this shop - see the little white Cafe Pho Co Sign - and you need to walk through this shop, through the narrow alleyway to the inside of the building.
You order your drinks and food at the counter on the ground floor and there are several levels to the cafe above but of course the Lake View is on the top floor. Do take the time to marvel at the birds and cats strewed around on the ground floor and the quirky layout of the cafe building!
This city is an assault on the senses - the noise, the smells, they're overwhelming and without being too dramatic, the 'assault' can be very literal too, I mean the scooter/traffic culture is just absurd! However, for a brief while, this ugly foreigner will happily be assaulted, by the history, the herby food and the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
We stood here for nearly an hour waiting for the train to go by, so my only tip here is to NOT rely on the train timetables. If I had the time I would have maybe asked around to see if there was a nearby cafe or pub to hang out in.
So I got a little heat sickness on my first day in Dubai, I mean it goes without saying that Dubai is bloody hot but this extravagant pit-stop should be marveled at, at least once in your lifetime. Enjoy the desert and please stay hydrated :)
The year has just flown by and I finally got to fit in some traveling time! This year we decided to go to Vietnam - we went to Hanoi, Halong bay, then Ho Chi Minh City but before we went to Vietnam, we snuck in a cheeky trip to Dubai too. I'm now busy back at work but I'm going to try and post some things here and there from my amazing trip!
I've got a good few pics up on the instagram already:
Merry Christmas! I'm going to write a few more posts about Japan here and there. I had planned to write about a lot more but all my plans, notes and extra photos are on my laptop that is in the shop right now - see Blogmas Day 16: Blogmas Continues
There is a lot to explore around Roppongi and at night around Christmas time there are illuminations to look at. After our hearty diner at Nishiazabu Gogyo 西麻布五行 (Blogmas Day 22: Burnt Miso Ramen) we had a little stroll around the illuminations, it was lovely!
I wish we spent two mornings at Tsukiji Fish Market, one morning to eat the best sushi at a restaurant and the other to grub on all the street food at the market - it was impossible to eat everything I wanted to in one session! :D
We didn't bother with waking up at an ungodly hour to see the Tuna Auctions, nor were we going to queue for 4 hours from 5/6 in the morning to eat at Sushi Dai. Instead we arrived at Tsukiji around 9am and queued for about 2 hours for Yamazaki Sushi 寿司処 やまざき.
After the most incredible sushi we did try to squeeze a few street foods into our greedy stomachs. Please note my sister and I shared everything but there is no denying that we've got big appetites!
We didn't have much time left in our time in Tokyo to explore Harajuku but of course we walked down Takeshita Dori. I'm pretty sure there is always a sea of people down this street so its really only worth the visit except to tick it off your bucketlist. It would have been nice to walk around Harajuku and next time, I would look into what sort of shops to check out.
Ramen at Kyushu Jangara ramen 九州じゃんがら. A great little ramen stop after an afternoon of shopping in Harajuku. Go for the creamy tonkotsu Ramen - very fatty, very rich, YUM!
My holidays do very much centre around food and that includes fast food too! There is no need to shun fast food chains especially when McDonalds not only has regional menus but fantastic seasonal stuff too. I didn't plan on going to McD's in Japan but the advert for this Choco-Pie was everywhere! and I'm not going to lie, I enjoyed it very much!
Make sure to stop in the Daiso and grab yourself some silly kitchen trinkets!
Nishiazabu Gogyo 西麻布五行 - My new favourite ramen, I found the place online, it's in Roppongi, I went and loved every slurp of it. I dream of this ramen and will go back any chance I get!
There was nothing special about the gyoza, they actually had a lot of other side dishes available that looked good so if you are feeling adventurous, I'd probably recommend one of those instead.
Do NOT let the black colour put you off! The Burnt Miso Ramen is a rich fatty Miso soup with a barbeque-like taste. Definitely not for those on a diet but if you like your ramen with an incredibly rich broth then you have to try this!
Roppongi is another great area with so much to see and do! Mori Tower is definitely a highlight. We went to the Modern Art Museum and then up top to the Sky Deck above the tower.
This has to be one of the highest points I've ever been to where you can view the skyline without a window blocking you. Also, this sky deck doesn't seem to be as busy as the other places available for sky view, I'm guessing because the Skytree boasts higher views and the Tokyo Tower is a major tourist attraction but I highly recommend the Mori Tower, you'll get an incredible skyline that includes Tokyo Tower!
We stayed up to watch the sunset again. I really love night views.
I loved every minute of my time at the Studio Ghibli Museum - this is a must visit for every Studio Ghibli fan. It was simply magical, like going to Disneyland or Harry Potter world. I was giddy like a little school girl!
If you don't fancy a little wander to the museum you can get the Neko bus from Mitaka Station.
You have to book your tickets months in advance, the official website will point you to an official ticket seller for foreigners. This was a Sunday though but I suspect it does normally get this busy on a weekday too. I would have loved to explore this place on a quiet day, it would be such a lovely museum to relax in!
There are sooooo many little details to this museum, really take the time to absorb it all in, especially because there is a very strict no-picture policy within the museum grounds, even in the cafe we could only take pictures of our table.
Quick sketch of the Laputa Robot on the roof. I would have loved to doodle some more inside but it really was just too busy. There were so many incredible displays inside and plenty of artwork from the movies. There was an incredible life size cat bus to sit in, I think that it is only there for a limited time, and the wonderful thing about the museum is that they have exclusive short films created just for the museum. The film we got to watch was about a lovable dog called 'Koro'.
Of course the museum shop carries all sorts of exclusive souvenirs, it was so hard not going crazy in there!
We had to wait at least an hour to get into the cafe but again, I'm glad we did, the interior is so charming! I could happily spend an afternoon sitting there drawing or reading a book.
If you are a tea lover then don't get the milk tea! Thankfully they don't serve it to you with sugar but they frothed up the milk, a big no no in my books.
Honestly the cake wasn't the best sponge cake either but it looked so darn cute!
Any trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum should include a little wander in the park that encloses the museum - Inokashira park. Perfect around Autumn and I imagine it would be lovely during cherry blossom season.
There are several shopping malls, museums and leisure centres in Odaiba, it would probably make a great day trip with the family. We headed over there on a grey Saturday afternoon and really that giant Gundam was the main reason why we wanted to spend an afternoon there.
There are many ways to get to Odaiba. We took the automated Monorail, Yurikamome, so make sure you go right up to the front of the Train for a great view across the Rainbow Bridge.
Head round to Odaiba Decks shopping mall for their illuminations on the 3rd floor. These lights are actually on all year round but of course it feels lovely and festive around Christmas time.
We left before the light show on the Gundam but glad we managed to snap a pic of it in the dark.
Another unmissable experience in Tokyo is Ichiran Ramen. This large chain is open 24 hr, it's a fast food joint really, and honestly, it serves some really fab tonkotsu soup ramen.
What draws in the tourists is the unique dining experience - you pay for your ramen at a vending machine and sit in isolated booths, where your ramen gets served to you through the window at your booth. On paper it doesn't sound great but it's such a silly novelty for us foreigners and did I mention that the ramen is really good!