Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day trip from Florence to Pisa

Hey Anna!!

Yayy! Your 'magic' lamp arrived! I'm glad you like it. I wish I could've brought the whole store back!Just one doesn't have the same effect. To open it you have to pull out the top bit really hard.

I want to see more photos of you! I do hope you blog about the truffle festival with lots of photos. Of course you look gorgeous normally, but I haven't seen any photos of you dressed up and you look super gorgeous when you do!!!! I'm Anna-photo deprived.. that reminds me... it's business.. it's businesss timeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!ooo I'm feeling good.. I'm feeling good tonight! ( I think we should do a dancing clip to this song and add it to our Ibiza video collection)

Anyway just a short post to let you know that we are alive and going! We've been busy travelling after Porto to Lisbon to Rome and now in Florence and I haven't had the chance to type out our adventures!

I can't believe it's only three more days and then I'll be back in London. I have to say that Rome second time around didn't impress me too much but I got to see some pretty cool things in Vatican City like the crypts and Sistine Chapel. Plus looking into the Vatican secret archive to see Gallileo's and Michelangelo's handwriting in letters that they've written and signed. I definitely love Florence more than Rome. It's a lot cleaner, relaxed and pleasant to stroll through.

Tonight I will leave you with badly and hilariously taken shots by dad. I took loads of photos for mum and dad and initially didn't bother too much about myself because I was there this time last year but then thought heck- why not just a few more! Haha! There are some wet-your-pants-ones of them but they won't let me publicize them. Oh I am enjoying myself a lot more than I expected!!!!Little things and their strange ways. Like how they get confused between Pisa and pizza. Oh dear! I am going to miss them when they leave :( Like the feeling when friends part after a wonderful holiday :(



Butt on the lady's head
Kicking it
I'll let you be the judge of dad's camera abilities. None of them turned out the way I had imagined.



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Magical package

Hi Chia

Thank you for your compliments! It had been a while since I had gone out and dressed up and I was unsure about what to wear etc. You always know how to make me feel gorgeous!

I love the pic of you on the bridge! It looks so summery, fun, free, relaxed! I definitely am missing the summer days now. How has the remaining part of your trip been? Lisbon? I look forward to hearing and seeing the photos of your time there!

Keep enjoying yourself over there Chia! Perth is always here, and once you've settled it's hard to let go of it. Live live live until you feel like you've lived enough out there, and you want to establish your roots! =D

OH! And now, for the main subject of my post - I've just received your package!

It was a curious thing; big and weird shaped. I had no idea what it could be, until I saw your pretty handwriting scribbled under the 'description of contents' on the declaration sticker - a lamp.

I was a little confused at first - a lamp? But then I remembered that you had gone to Turkey, and I remember ed the photos of you at the markets with all the colourful lamps. I didn't believe that you would have gotten me such a large thing until I had opened it!

And oh my! Thank you so much! It's so beautiful! When I read your card saying that you had chosen it because when you hold it up against sunlight the blues are like the sky and ocean, I immediately re-packed the lamp up and walked down the road to the beach.

I wanted to see how the lamp would look with the sunlight against it.

The beautiful sunset that I nearly missed.

My wonderful lamp!

I haven't figured out how to open it up to put a light bulb in it, nor have I figured out where I would put it, but I love love love it. It even smells like incense and spices from a far away place. The blue does remind me of the sky and ocean! When I saw the sunlight hit it, the cooling, sapphire glow were as if some magical genie had awoken from his sleep.

I am definitely going to keep this lamp for the time when I one day, do move out and into my own place =)

Thank you soooo much for taking me on your trips with you. I do love experiencing an essence of your travels!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last night in Porto

Hi Anna!

Oh I have been checking the blog hoping to hear from you!!!You've been missed and I've been wondering what you've been up to.

It's always a delight to see photos of you and more of a bonus of other friends;) hehe.. how cute a double date! I can't believe it's been another year for you. It feels as if it was only yesterday when you and Kev celebrated it :) Although Kev and Chin look very much in love too! Looking smoking with your red lippie. Love how it matches your blazer. Kev is one lucky man! Anyone would want you... including me :p Ok no lessy stuff. Just showing the love.

I will have to watch season 2 of Game of Thrones. If I run out of episodes I would definitely pick up the books to read too. At the moment I know I'll be moving I'm resisting buying any books as I wont have time to read them. I'm a bit disappointed about Khal. I bet he comes back alive later on though. Oh he is one sexy beast in a very strange beasty way. I think I'll be terrified if I ever came across someone like that in real life.

I'm a little uncertain how I'll react when I go to Perth for a visit. It will be the longest I've ever been away from Perth. I do miss it though. Even today I thought of Perth and how beautiful it is when I was at one of the beaches in Porto. It reminded me of Cottosloe. Today, my parents wandered somewhere and I was left with one hour (that went by too fast) to spend baking in the sun. The shore consisted of tiny pebbles the size of your thumb and smaller. I hope it's OK to pinch a few pebbles. They were very unusual marbled colours, very smooth and almost rounded in shape. The strangest thing was the freezing cold water! It wasn't extremely hot for a swim, about 25C, but I had to dip my feet in to say I've stepped in the Atlantic Ocean. I certainly did not expect it to be that cold! There were only three children frolicking in the water and I have no idea how they were able to handle the cold. Madness!

If only it was warm water like the summers in Perth. I'm starting to think that after a couple of years I'll actually move back. I could do with living near the ocean too. One can only dream..... all this sun her and regular walks down the river is making me want to live in Perth again. Not to mention how much I've missed everyone!!! I'll get you back into the swing of late nights with several sessions of catching up over drinks and dancing the night away. I wonder if we will manage to even stay up beyond 12. I can't last past 11 myself!  I also hope the winter isn't too cold for you. For once, Perth's temperatures are cooler than London's. How annoying that the sun decided to come out in London after we've left.

Mercado Bolhao was no where as good as the one in Valencia. It was a bit disappointing and there wasn't a lot of stalls. Nevertheless, mum and dad really enjoyed looking at the fresh seafood they had on sale. You wouldn't believe these huge octopus tentacles they had on sale that were as wide as my wrists. I shudder to think the size of these octopuses. Correct me if I'm wrong but I remember you don't like those suckers on tentacles and the squid they serve in dim sum creeps you out a bit. Haha!

Tomorrow we are catching a morning train to Lisbon. Just like all the cities I visit, I end up falling in love with them and it's no different for Porto. I'll end here with photos of the riverside and some of the seafood we've had. Bed time!

We're staying just behind the yellow buildings in the middle of the pic

Bless dad for trying to take a good pic for me! On top of one of the many bridges.

Porto is known for it's port wine and seafood! Various meals we've had. Clockwise port wine, roasted octopus (surprisingly soft and delicious!) and potatoes, shellfish and prawns and beans, grilled codfish Parents are totally loving the seafood here and we've been having it for lunch and dinner.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reading and catch ups

Hi Chia!

It sounds like you're having a blast with your family and friends!

It's just amazing how cities like London continue to inspire and awe residents like yourself. Perth just seems like it never really changes. Actually, it's more like Perth is perpetually under construction, but it never changes to something that inspires any sort of wonderment or curiosity.

We gain new buildings which are to be filled with new shops (most being already established everywhere else in Australia, and has Perth finally caught up with it) and eateries (none of them thus far has been iconic, except for the Greenhouse).

The only places of wonderment for me is the breathtaking coastline and perhaps Kings Park and UWA. So seeing your photos was a lot of fun!

Any who, back here I've been preoccupying myself with reading! It has allowed me to escape and travel to foreign places and learn new cultures (even if a lot of them have been fictitious) I've started reading the Song of Fire and Ice books and I am completely immersed in the first book - Game of Thrones. Chia, the books are sooooo good. They are just like the tv show, but with more depth and even more layers. Whenever I've explained the books so anyone, I say 'the writing is so good, that the words just disappear from the page and the characters and stories just flow!' I cringe when I hear myself repeat myself to different people, but there is no other way of explaining how awesome the books are.

Oh! I just read your new blog post! Off again! Porto? The photos do look like Valencia, and a summer that I am really missing! I hope you have a great time and you manage to get access to the net to post more! Tell me how the markets are and what other tours you end up taking your parents on.

Speaking of food, last night Kev and I tried dinner at The Heritage on a double anniversary date with Shaz and Chins. It's a new restaurant on St Georges Terrace in front of the new BHP building. It has this 1930s feel to it, from the decor to the uniforms of the waitstaff. I didn't bring a camera, however I was able to get some photos.

While Kev and I waited, we got hungry and ordered the cheese soufflé.

This was creamy and soft and just yum. Soon after Shaz and Chins arrived and they ended up ordering the same thing for their entree. We had a p ret big meal, however, the rest of the food was pretty average for the price they charged. I think the best dishes were perhaps the cheese soufflé, Kev's scallop risotto and the lemon soufflé with white chocolate.

Here is Chin and Kev with their mains.

And me and Shaz, though our mains were cut out, however, they were not really noteworthy.

After dinner, we caught up with Voon who was visiting from Brisbane. She surprised us with her new hair - she had cut off her super long hair for a cute and gorgeous bob!

We got home around 12 or 1 something I think. I can't remember, but all I know is that I was completely shattered and couldn't believe that only a year or two ago, I was able to stay out till 4am in the morning and be up after 3-5 hours sleep and function. Or perhaps I still do function, it just used to not hurt as much :P

I also realized that I haven't gone out in ages either, so perhaps being tired at 1am is due to a lack of practice. Haha!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sunny Porto and seafood

Greetings Anna from a very sunny Porto!
Legs up and blogging away

Just a quick blog to tell you how we're doing in Porto!

We arrived yesterday at noon. Unfortunately for us google maps let me down and pointed me to the wrong apartments with similar name. I won't blame my poor googling skills) This meant that dad had to lug down a 20kg suitcase that contained his and mum's belongings down these uneven windy steps. Oops!

Getting us lost!
Sneak peek of the river as we took the steps the wrong way. Will take better pictures when we go there again.
The steps!
Immediately I thought of Perth and parents agreed too because of the blue skies, fresh air, cleanliness, and wide open spaces. I also thought of Spain because some of the terrace buildings had balconies and the black wrought iron barricades that we saw in Gaudi's house. The one where we went crazy taking loads of photos in with the blue mirrors and tiles that were suppose to be like water.

We had lunch 'Annaandchia-in-Spain' style too! After finally checking in, we were so hungry and couldn't find any decent restaurants nearby so we went into a supermarket and got various bits and bobs for lunch. Mum and dad aren't fussy at all with their food so I grabbed random things like chickpeas, some sort of snails/fish in a tin in tomato sauce (haha. I know sounds bad but it was tasty!), bruschetta cruskit things, fruit and yoghurt. That was it I think. It was good because we wanted something light and especially because we planned to indulge in a huge seafood feast for dinner.

That dinner was huge alright! Again google maps let me down and we did a big loop before we asked a couple of locals. What I like about Porto is that the people leave you alone. They don't pester you to buy things and they don't stare at you. They pretty much leave you alone and I like that.  It might come across as unfriendly but they are very happy to help you but if you are lost and there is so much sincerity and humbleness when they speak. We asked a couple of old women peeping out the windows of their houses having a little evening chat where the restaurant was, and they pointed it to us and spoke in Portugese the right direction. Bless!

Dinner was in a restaurant called A Antiga. Porto is well known for it's fresh seafood and it was fresh alright! We did not realise it was fine dining and of course not dressed for it. Mum and dad definitely loved getting into the seafood. I had barnacles for the first time too! Think black stubby hairy fingers. They look rather ghastly! You had to twist them in the middle and shcluuuck the rubbery flesh out. Haha! good fun though and they tasted quite nice. Salty with a hint of an after taste I can't think of a word to describe it, but I did end up having a fair bit. Mum and dad also tried these shell creatures that looked like hermit crabs except instead of a crunchy creature inside it was like a conch inside. The crab was amazing too! Soft buttery juicy flesh. Best I've ever had!! And the fish came in huge portions too! Before we ordered, they brought out this humongous fish and we pointed to them which part we would like. They cook it up and bring it on a trolley and the waiter will dish up the food right in front of you.

He sells sea shells by the sea shore. You select and they bring it to you. Barnacles on the left, the shell things in the middle ad shrimp
Waiter serving food
Names of the things we ate. Cherne= crab, camarao costa= shrimp, ercebas = barnacles, sapateira= fish I think?, canhilhas= those shell things I was trying to describe,
The crab!!!

Empty street waiting for the tram back

That was yesterday for us It's almost 10am now, and after we're ready, I'm planning to take my parents to Mercado Bolhao and to walk along the river. I wonder if Mercado Bolhao will look similar to the markets in Valencia. Maybe we'll end up gathering another Annaandchia-in-Spain lunch.

It's a bit of an adjustment travelling with my parents and making sure they are alright and enjoying it. I was telling them how it's like looking after two children. I'm the one doing all the map reading (not so good on this trip!) and organising and them following like little ducklings, behind. We must stand out, haven't seen any other Chinese. I like to walk everywhere, but with my parents and the hilly cobble paths here, it means I have to limit the walking and have frequent stops with them. Overall I have to say they are a lot fitter and easier to travel with than I imagined!

Hope you enjoyed reading about our first day in Porto. Not sure if I have time to write later on the travels so thought I'd do a first post :) Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My birthday week

Hi Anna!

Happy Monday! I hope you had a good weekend :) I know I did thanks to you! I should really say happy Tuesday because this blog was typed in two parts. Halfway through I ended up going for drinks in the local pub with my housemate and that went on for 6 hours because of the unexpected sunshine.

(Started typing on Sunday) As I'm typing this I'm eating the most delicious made ever by yours truly for lunch! Before I go into that in detail, let me tell you how I celebrated my second birthday in London!

So on Tuesday, it was pretty much a normal morning. I went to the gym and I was a little sad that the first person to wish me happy birthday in person was the gym receptionist. It must've come up on the screen and I was a little embarassed that I was at the gym on my birthday. I felt like I had no life! He even asked if I was planning to do anything and told him the truth that I just wanted it to be a normal day. Nothing monumental about turning 27. It was rather exciting to check my facebook and feel the love from friends and that really made me smile, especially messages from people I haven't spoken to in a while. I felt enveloped in warm air and a spray of wildflowers!

Benny insisted I had to do something even if it's small so I last minutely organised drinks at a local pub that I always walk past when I go to the gym. It was a nice quiet night with Shaz, Lauren and Benny. It was quite special that Shaz and Lauren also celebrated my birthday last year with a picnic on Hampstead Heath. I think one of the best part of the day was picking out the cake! I am such a kid. I saw the Hungry Caterpillar one and I thought YES! But then I saw the Gruffalo one and I spent about 15 minutes deciding getting in the way of mums selecting cakes for their children. I think only a teacher/parent/child would know who the Gruffalo is and can appreciate a Gruffalo cake! Funny how Lauren thought it was from The Wild Things. That is one book I don't like. We had the cake back at my place and to tell you the truth it wasn't the greatest tasting cake because there was just too much icing (which was unavoidable if you wanted some character loaded up on it). We had a few more drinks and then at about 2am I was ready to be in bed.

Or this?

Very happy indeed!

On Wednesday it was predicted to be partially sunny for half the day and of late there has not been any decent sunshine at all so I knew I had to get out and soak whatever sun was poking through the clouds. I am so glad that my next birthday will not be in London... all that grey is depressing. I was going to go to Richmond Park as I've never been before and I wanted to see the wild deers, but I decided to go to Hampstead because I didn't want to make the long journey there to be rained on. Good decision because it did rain later on the afternoon! It was really nice sitting on a bench reading and people watching. I love Hampstead Heath! I am going to officially announce that it is my most FAVOURITE place in London! I have so many fond memories here and it's one place in the middle of all the hustle and bustle that feels like I'm in the English countryside. Now I'm wondering maybe I have declared numerously how much I love it there.

On Friday I decided to make roast chicken. I don't know where this desire came from. One free range corn fed chicken, bunch of thyme, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper and an hour in the oven later, my chicken was done! It was my first roast chicken ever and according to Benny it was good but he did keep pestering me to watch Heston and pick up some pointers.  Good thing I invited him over to help eat the chicken otherwise it will be chicken salad, chicken soup, chicken sandwich, chicken-whatever- you-like for the rest of the week.
First time roasting chicken
Brothers are great for taking photos. This is how I transfer the chicken from tray to board- by the two back legs!

This brings me to my awesome pizza. I made it using the leftover chicken. A M A Z I N G! I know it was because I made my housemate taste one and he ended up getting a second piece! I used olive oil, salt, plain yoghurt and self raising flour for the base (google yoghurt base if interested!) and this time, instead of assembling it all together and into the oven, I roasted capsicums, mushrooms, leftover chicken, olives, and tossed all together with olive oil, oregano and capers. When everything was cooked, I added the red onion slices and mixed it all up then piled it on the pizza base. From now on, I am going to roast everything in the oven first. It gathers so much flavour that way. Not very traditional but I love my pizzas loaded with vegies and it's the best way to cook them without them dampening the pizza base.

You can barely see the base! haha!

I can't wait for my parents to come back from their tour so I can cook. I think it's time someone paid me to cook dinner for them. I could be a live out chef, but they have to expect some meals to not taste that great because I'm not that great. It will be wholesome, healthy and low in fat though :)

Saturday was turning 27 part 2! Very exciting stuff! In the morning I went to the post office to pick up my parcel! YAY!!! It was presents from you! I loved how you wrapped it with butcher's paper. I love the rustic simplistic look of it. When I saw the earrings I knew I had to incorporate them with my outfit to high tea later on the afternoon.The necklace watch is too cool of an idea!! I've never seen one like it and I love how unusual it looks and it makes me feel like an explorer from centuries ago! I love the meaning of the gifts it's hard to decide which one is my favourite!!! I love them all!!!

I don't know how I managed this facial expression. It's my quizzical look and it makes me laugh. Terrible! All this time I wanted to rip open and find out what's inside!
I can't rotate some of my pics :( WOHOOOO three in one! I just wanted to tear the paper open straight away.. but no.. photos first.

LOVE LOVE Had to use them straight awayyy!! I made a bit of a mess and got my hands covered in ink :/ Friends beware- you will be receiving handmade cards, wrapping paper etc. covered in these stamps. Stamp crazy!

Time + traveller :) I love the symbolism of this little piece of jewelry. I feel like I need a monocle and a telescope too! I haven't figured out the chain yet :(

In the rush of opening your presents, I realised I did not take a photo of the earrings because I put them on my lobes straight away! Maybe you can spot them in the photos to come.

Lauren and I have been trying to do new things in London and we both thought that having afternoon tea and dressing up would be a lovely experience. I had google and booked at The Lanesborough Hotel for 4pm the night before and was happy that there were places available for us on Saturday.

It was my third high tea experience. The first two times were in Perth, I remember going to one in Cottosloe with you Anna, and then another time by the Swan River with HW. That was age ago and I forgot how fun it was to be all dainty, drink tea and marvel at the tiny portions of carefully presented delights! I also forgot how full you get too! It was fantastic because they also offered you refill of whatever you like. Looking at the photos you might think we needed round two, but the sandwiches and savouries really filled us up. We also decided to go all out and have champers too, shame that was not free flow! It was such a splendid afternoon tea and the service and setting was impeccable. There were only waiters it seems that you have to be good looking to work there.
Scones and sweets hmm... I'm getting into this layer of lemon, berry cheese mousse with crumbled cheesecake base and diced crunchy rhubarb. YUM!
With my lovely Lauren. Just noticed that Lauren has a little quiche on her plate! Aw you can't really see your earrings here but they were perfect for the simple elegant sweet look I was going for. The savouries were at the bottom and I liked them more than the sweets. The top layer of sweets had too many flavours and textures going at once and it was almost a bit distracting because I was too busy looking at them and trying to get them without sticking the whole thing in my mouth. Definitely preferred the red velvet cake in the middle tier though.
I tried all three but loved the plain scone the best!
Other afternoon-tea-ers

Feeling tiny next to this oversized bouquet in the reception hall

At about 7pm we walked to Piccadilly Circus to sip on half price cocktails in Jewel Bar. It was a really lavish sultry decorated bar think chandeliers, candles, drapery etc, with lots of very good looking women! In some bars, people are so well dressed and trendy it's good fun to people watch.

Their waitresses wear shiny gold sequin dresses
I haven't been around the area at night and it was so lovely to see it lit up. I have to admit I have a soft spot for London when the lights come on at night. Although it was raining, it was fun to take photos and we even ended the night in an Irish bar  but at around 1130pn we called it a night and randomly went inside a souvenir shop making a note of things we wanted to buy to commemorate our stay in London then we split ways to head home.
This brolly fits inside my clutch. One thing about London is you always have to carry and umbrella and wear patent shoes.

There you go Anna... that was my birthday week :) Thank you and to all my lovely friends for your thoughts and warm wishes XXXX

I will finish here with a photo of the culprit that stole my planned afternoon away from blogging. 
Strawberry & lime goodness

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Another birthday in London and visit from the parents

Hi Anna!!

Hehe.. thanks for your post! I haven't received your little package (sounds almost dirty saying it) but I'm sure it's not far from my door :)

It's strange with the time difference that I'm getting birthday greetings towards the end of my day here. Officially in Perth I suppose I'm 27!!! I can't believe it though.. my second birthday in London.Let me tell you that this year it really has crept up on me and I almost decided not to do anything about it but Benny insisted so I'm having a quiet drinks/dinner tomorrow night in a pub nearby that I always go past when I walk to the gym. I'm very annoyed that the weather has let me down today and for the rest of the week. Showers, drizzle, rain, grey miserable stuff. I know I will be so glad to get out of this atrocious weather. I was cooped up indoors today and feeling lonely after the busy bout of taking the ps aroud. It's suddenly gone awfully quiet and I'm left in my own company twiddling my thumbs, moping and doing housework :(

Adding to the misery, my dear friend Pene of Hampstead is leaving for Hong Kong in a couple of days. I can't believe that all this time I took her company for granted and her living on the same street as me in Hampstead and now we will never bump into each other again or have lazy lunches and drinks in London again. The bright side of things is that I'm sure we will meet up one day seeing that both of us will be on the same side of the world when I leave.

To my dearest Pene, safe journey and all the best! May we look back on our time in London and laugh about the good and bad that we've been through! I was going to post the photo of us at your farewell, but it was another one of those unflattering photos :(
Our last meal together was hot dogs in an American diner! haha! Fun times :)
Now let me indulge you with some photos of what my parents and I have been up to.  It's a great excuse to have them around and do some sightseeing and touristy things with them that I never got around doing.

Day trip to Oxford.

Oxford train station
Boats for punting
I think Harry Potter scenes were filmed in one of these areas

Harry Potter fans tell me, is this in the movie? I think this is Radcliffe Camera. Names of attractions are lost with me. We climbed up the steps of University Church to get a good view of the town

 They all look like possible Harry Potter locations. Sorry to disappoint, if only I'm a fanatic I could tell you.Nevertheless, all the buildings are so pretty. If only I was a smart Alec!
One of the decent photos dad took. His camera skills improved as the day progressed. Inside one of the many colleges in Oxford.

With mum in front of Carfax Tower. No we don't look alike, I look more like dad, but he has a thing for not having his photos on the www. so those who have not met my dad you will have to take my word for it.

Lunch time! Dad had a huge English breakfast and we shared a mezze platter and panini. I can't get enough hummus and falafel since Jordan!
And other photos taken in London.
Rather fond of this photo. Waiting with mum watching the guards enter the palace for changing of the guards ceremony.

Finally I get to go on the London Eye!!! Looking at the east side.

In front of Westminster Abbey
In  Chinatown. Yummiest Chinese feast I've had in  a lonnng time!
So there you go! I've been busy with my parents and also doing bits of packing here and there. I hope they are enjoying themselves on their mad 6 country 10 day tour. For now it's bed time and to say hello to a 27 year old me when I wake up! Goodnight :)