Archive for the ‘ Europe ’ Category

How To Get To Meteora From Thessaloniki

I’ve always wanted to see the amazing mountains of Meteora. Those rock formations that formed millions of years ago and which served as refuge of monks since the 12th century. Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. SO even if it meant travelling to this gorgeous place on my own, I was more than up for it! :D
I arrived in Thessaloniki airport from Rome. It’s amazing travelling within the EU! Their free movement meant that there was not even any kind of check once we landed in Greece. Our flight was led to a gate that leads outside after you get your luggage!
Once outside, just follow the sign for the bus station which is literally just outside the doors, opposite side of the road. There is a kiosk that sells bus tickets. I bought a €2 ticket that would bring me to the main bus station (Macedonia Inter City Bus Station).  After around 55mins, we’re at the terminal.
Inside the terminal, there are several counters where you can buy tickets from. To get to Meteora, you buy a ticket for Trikala (at counter 1), for €20.40. I had around 30mins to kill so I took that as a chance to freshen up and get some food in my tummy. I had 2 pizza (one to take away), a hot cup of tea, and a litre of water for  less than €8! The bus was scheduled to leave at 12:00nn. 2.5hrs later, we arrived in Trikala. The bus ride was relaxing. No traffic enroute. And I had no one seated beside me!👍
Upon arriving in Trikala, I went to the ticketing counter and bought a ticket for Kalambaka (€2.60). This will be my base for exploring the mountains of Meteora. I opted to stay here so that I’d have more option for food and other shops. Also, more convenient as both the train and bus station will just be short walks away!
Coming back to Thessaloniki, I got on the 08:19 train (€15.20). The train station is only around 2mins walk from the town centre. It’s not an actual direct train as we’ve had to change at a certain station – there was an announcement though so you shouldn’t miss it (and almost everyone changed there)! And the next train is just the platform beside it. You just get off the train and get on the one opposite it! 👍
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London Eats: Firedog

I enjoy eating out for the simple reason that I love food!

Last Mother’s Day, the girl friends and I had trouble looking for a place to brunch in as places were either fully booked or they’d say that our party’s too big for them to have a reservation for.

Fortunately, we found Firedog! It’s a chain of Turkish restaurant that serves Mediterranean food with a branch near Oxford Circus. I googled it up after and I can read nothing else but praise for them – that’s a great start. They had no problem accommodating us – when we got in there, their place filled up pretty fast after some minutes! And food served were tasty and best still was the very attentive and warm service we got from the crew. :D

Check out these delish looking dishes we got – and yes, they did taste deliciously!

Baked eggs – smoked tomato, charred peppers, hung herb yoghurt, chilli oil, and grilled flat bread

Firedog toasted muesli – ypghurt, and charred pineapple

Sujuk hash – roasted onions, spinach, lemon thyme, and poached egg

Ozdemir Pasha II – Grilled halloumi, slow roasted tomatoes, beetroot hummus, fried eggs, za’atar, and parsley

Great catching up with them chicas x

Would you believe that all these were on the house??? We can’t either!

Deliciously satisfying. Yum!

 

Firedog
Opening hours:
Mon-Sat 11am-12am
Sun 11am-11pm

For table reservations, book here.

London Eats: Quartier at Eight Members Club

A few months back, I met some amazing ladies who share the same love for food! This love for food led to several dining out sessions, a few cook ins, and even a wine tasting trip to France! In an amazing stroke of coincidence, a multi course dinner that I organised for us happened to fall on International Women’s Day! I thought it perfect that I’m celebrating this one with women from different countries and with various background – it felt truly international! Plus I think they’re pretty kick ass to boot! :D

I’ve booked a table for 6 in Eight Members Club’s Quartier Restaurant, with 2 being vegetarians. The place was tucked in an inconspicuous street off the bustling Liverpool Street. It’s a quick 15minute walk from the station. However, a friend had a really hard time looking for it that she had to get an uber eventhough she wasn’t that far off. I wasn’t even certain I got to the right place but I guess the big 8 sign you see once you go in is a sign that you’re in the right place! You won’t see any concierge here… you’ll have to get on the lift which only has 2 button, the other being “8.” hehe

First course was seared scallop with with cauliflower velouté. Veloute is considered one of France’s five “mother sauces.” It is made from a light stock such as chicken or fish and subsequently thickened with butter. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and wished there was more of it! Seconds please! :D

Second course was goat cheese, roasted beetroot, and topped with caraway tuile.

Third course salmon gravadlax – a Scandinavian dish where dry cured salmon is marinated in herbs; quail egg, avruga caviar, and créme fraiche.

Fourth course roast quail, celeriac gratin, port jus. This was another dish that tasted really good!

The vegetarian option was risotto with truffle oil. I can’t remember the whole name as it wasn’t mine but my friend was saying that it felt uncooked still. I gave it a bite and I gotta agree -a few more minutes on the fire and it would have been perfect!

Fifth course seared tuna, prawn wonton, wakame, tokiko, wasabi, and soy dressing. Another friend declared this as her favourite dish in the lot so far.

Sixth course wild mushroom linguini, truffle oil. Sweets aside, this was our hands down favourite for the night!

There was an average wait of 10 minutes per course it seemed. Since we started a bit late, 20 past seven, and it was getting to be quite late… we asked for our deserts to be served one after the other (since we were waiting for 15minutes already). And suddenly, 3 plates were in front of us!

Seventh course was fondant choco choux. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Outside is this crunchy, chewy biscuit with chocolate on the inside. Yum!

Eight course was passion fruit loli tart. This, for us, was their most creative dish. Plus the contrast of flavours felt like a refreshing burst and play of flavours in your tongue.

Ninth course, petit fours. We were served small, bite sized confectioneries. 2 kinds of chocolate and third was something akin to a Turkish delight but wayyy sweeter.

The food was good but it didn’t really make me go “wow!” The pace of the meal could have used some picking up. I would recommend going there if you get a good deal like us (via Groupon)! Overall, it was a nice night out spent with good friends.  :D

London Eats: L’Autre Pied

I saw this deal on Groupon – a 7 course tasting menu at L’Autre Pied – and thought it to be such a steal! I got one that’s good for 4 coz it would be a nice experience for my housemates and I to have together. I tend to see them only in house clothes while we all hang out in the kitchen. So it’d be a pretty cool change! After booking and confirming online, I we chose to go there for a weekend lunch. I We decided to dress up a bit. Basically, from how we hang out in the kitchen, everything else is dressing up! :D

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Arriving there after a few minutes walk off Baker Street station, we were ushered to our table after a quick check on their list. Once we got settled in – and ordered some drinks – the food basically started arriving. What I enjoy most about multi course meals is that the table won’t be cleared until after everyone is done. Because we were eating at different speed, I think we had a good pace and didn’t feel stuffed but a good kind of full. We ended up staying there for 3hours!

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Here’s a recap of our meal. I thought it started just alright. But as we progressed, it’d always be better than the last and we all agreed that it ended on high notes! <3

First course
Butternut, parsley, espelette and grated chestnuts. All the while, they kept offering us baskets of freshly baked bread and it was oh so good! Housemates got themselves a glass of wine while I, uhmm.. had hot choco! :D

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Second course was baked heritage beetroots, with radish, creme fraische and rose

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Next up was charred Cornish cod, St. Austell mussels, buttermilk and lovage.

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Fallow deer, coco, stout, onion, and blackberry was our fourth plate.

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Heading towards the end of the meal, we were given a selection of cheese: blue cheese, hard cheese, soft cheese

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Pre dessert was banana mousse. Really really good!

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Clementine cheesecake, bitter lemon, and clementine sorbet for our seventh plate!

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Blueberry gin and amaretti biscuits to end it with a bang! These two were in such contrast from the flavour to even temperature! The blueberry was chewy and reminded me of Turkish delights – sweet with a hint of tang in it. The amaretti, I totally love! I wasn’t expecting it to be warm too and it had a nutty flavour. Mmmm! <3

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I would definitely recommend this to friends and would be happy to go back! :D

 

Inside: Plitvice Lakes

Here are some pics from our daytrip to Croatia’s largest national park – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site at that! :D

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“The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface.  These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm (0.4 in) per year.”

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Related post:
Daytrip to Plitvice Lakes

Deers of Richmond Park

The one thing that I love in this city – I mean Greater London – that I now call home is that it’s huge! You can be in the middle of a bustling city then be in the middle of a huge sprawling park the next. With that in mind, I’ve seen pictures and blog posts that recommended a trip to Richmond Park to see its deers up close so off we go to do exactly just that!

Richmond is this picturesque town in London’s southwest. It’s beside the River Thames which definitely adds to its charm. Also, it’s blessed with green and wide open spaces one of which is Richmond Park. Richmond Park is considered as London’s largest royal park. 3x the size of New York City’s Central Park, it is all at once a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a Special Area of Conservation. It has hundreds of red and fallow deer and they were what I wanted to see in this visit!

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The River Thames meanders along the town

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Fallow stags

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They weren’t wary of people

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They do not even mind posing for the camera. :D

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They seem to enjoy fruits from visitors

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How to get here:
Nearest tube stop: Richmond (Overground/ District line)
Then catch buses 371 or 65 to the pedestrian gate at Petersham
*we decided to walk there taking the path that was beside the River Thames

Paragliding in Annecy

I have 3 adventures on my bucket list that would take some courage to actually get done. Sky diving. Bungee jumping. And lastly, paragliding. This July, one of them finally got crossed off!!! :D

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Paragliding – check!!!

I paraglided in Annecy. The place is on many list of the 10 most beautiful places to paraglide. I wanted to do it a year or two ago – in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate so we had to cancel at the last minute. This time around, I couldn’t ask for a better weather!

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Lac d’Annecy

I left it to my friend to make reservations for us. I’m normally OC about these things so wasn’t sure why I did that. Long story short, he actually didn’t book any despite me giving him links and reminders. He got around to doing so when I arrived in his hometown of Annecy. Turns out most of the companies are fully booked – summer is peak season. It just so happened that there was a cancellation the next day so they were able to squeeze all 3 of us in! Woohoo! Phew!

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That morning, I was excited! I was, really! But there was also that fear and panic starting to build up. I thought I was doing a great job of keeping it at bay. That is unless the guys would ask me if I’m scared. Who wouldn’t be – but I’m wayyy more excited! One of the guys drove us to the meeting point. We got registered. Waited a bit while watching the others land – they looked happy! Always a good sign. hehe Then we all got into the van that we would take us to the jump off location.  I was seated at the front. All was going really well. Until we were pretty high up the mountain and still no sign of stopping. The road was getting steeper and steeper. I tried to calm my tummy. Suddenly, it felt queasy. It was like a few butterflies were trying to find their way out. At least this time around, the boys were busy talking to our guides and weren’t asking me whether I’m scared so all was under control. Sorta. -_-

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We made our way to the jump off point. It was a beautiful (albeit for me, scary too) sight to behold! A huge area was cleared for them thrill-seekers. Several were getting ready to take off – just awaiting for the go signal from a man who seems to be in charge so it’s not chaotic. One of our guides took a shot of the whole group. Suddenly, the boys are all strapped and walking to the edge – excited and keen to get going.

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My guide, who thankfully speaks fluent English, was trying to crack jokes with me. He kept reassuring me too. He said there’s no need to panic, that there’s nothing to fear (nevermind the fact, that I’m floating high up in the air with nothing but a harness securing us to a fabric. hehe).  I will not panic. He then proceeded to put all the safety harnesses on on me along with the helmet. The instruction really was just that he’d catch the wind and when that happens, we’d have to walk fast towards the edge and keep doing so. He then got me settled on the seat and the next instruction was to enjoy the ride! What a view it was! The kind that I can only see from a plane but much closer this time around. There was really nothing else for me to do but to be amazed and try to take it all in – I was actually doing it!!! Yay!!!

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As we were starting our descent, I was asked if I wanted to pilot for a while. I answered, “I would love to but I just can’t let go!” I had a deathly tight grip on the lines. hehe And after a few minutes, I was asked another question. “Do I want some acrobatic moves?” he said. To which I honestly replied, that “as much as it looks amazing, my stomach wouldn’t be handle anything further” I then added to him to make it “as smooth as possible please.” :D I was ecstatic to have both feet touch the ground! I had to sit there for a while to calm my racing heart. My friend ran back to me – he looked flushed with excitement. And yes, they did pilot their gliders. And yes, they even had some acrobatics. We’re all happy!

Maybe I’ll paraglide again – maybe not. But I would definitely recommend you to go if you’ve ever had the desire to do so! Hmm.. bungee jumping next? :D

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*we booked with flyeo.com
tandem paragliding – €95 (€125 if with pictures)