My random ramblings.

Posts tagged “Photography

Who eats ‘ice cream’ on a plate?!

Bubbles and I recently made a trip to Germany to visit a friend I’ve known since I was eight. The beauty of this friendship is that until four years ago, we hadn’t actually met each other!

You see, K and I were childhood penpals and started writing to each other at a time when exchanging letters and sharing stories about your lives were not fraught with risks. It was a time before the computer became a household product and the world was relatively devoid of paedophiles and impostors! Having said that, her world then was instead filled with an ideological divide; democracy on one side and totalitarian dictatorship on the other side. Not exactly without modern day evils! All my letters were addressed to West Germany, not just Germany; but as an eight year old I did not have the maturity to comprehend the severity of it all.

I still remember the day I got her first letter. I was so excited to hear from a girl from an exotic land! I was always mystified by the faraway land of Europe. My only knowledge of it consisted of what I had learnt from the tv, looking at my dad’s old photos from his travels around Europe and some souvenirs scattered around the house. Europe to me was a land where people were white and had blue and green eyes, had beautiful tulips and windmills and four beautiful seasons with snow in the winter. I used to watch enviously a song sequence in the Hindi movie Junglee where Shammi Kapoor cavorts in the snow with his leading lady and tell myself that someday, I would visit that magical land and dance in the snow and have snowball fights.

K and I kept in touch all these years, through letters the first ten years and then via email when we both had access to the internet. We lost touch intermittently, while she spent some years in China, and I spent my first few years in the UK, but we always managed to contact each other, even if a good year passed in between. We finally met a few years ago when she and her husband visited us enroute to Scotland. It was a funny experience meeting someone you’ve known all your life and yet is somewhat a stranger to you.

Then two months ago, we started emailing again and she suggested we visit her. We took her up on her offer and headed to Holzkirchen, some 35km south of Munich. The first day was somewhat wasted by bad weather so we spent most of our time catching up indoors and cooking dinner: a fusion of Malaysian, German and French dishes!

The next day, we ventured out to Tegernsee for a hike up the mountains. We walked past a farmhouse, which was quintessentially Bavarian in its architecture. The houses are part-brick part-wooden, with encircling balconies that are perfect for sitting out on a warm summer evening.

As we hiked up the mountain, we were greeted by splendid views of a lake and mountains on the other side. As this was a pretty miserable summer with temperatures constantly plummeting to near-winter levels, paradoxically we enjoyed a breath-taking view of snow-capped mountains. The snow would have normally melted by May, when we visited.

The air was fresh and the grass and leaves, truly green.

It started raining sometime after we struggled up this road, and so we decided to head for some lunch rather than hike in miserable weather.

I can’t quite remember which restaurant we went to, but it was a Bavarian restaurant serving traditional Bavarian food. We headed for a late lunch…it must have been 2pm but the place was packed with people. A sure sign of good food! As we walked past several tables to ours, I thought I saw ice-cream being served on a plate. Rather odd, I thought!

Little did I know until my friend ordered the same dish, that it wasn’t ice-cream, but ‘Obatzda’, a traditional Bavarian ‘snack’ of cheese served with onions and pretzel sticks! I hadn’t noticed the onions earlier, you see! 🙂 It really looked like two scoops of ice-cream! It tasted very nice, the fresh onions giving a nice zing to the otherwise mild cheese.

Bubbles ordered ‘schweinaxe’, another traditional Bavarian dish of pork knuckle and potatoes. It came served with a knife stuck into the pork! It kind of made me wonder whether schweinaxe had its literal origins in ‘swine with axe,’ and to honour the traditional slaughtering came served with a knife! 🙂

I thought this shot of Bubbles’ beer was quite nice. So was the beer! I’m not usually a beer drinker but I felt the beer in Germany was real good.

My food was the last to arrive: potato fritters with sauerkraut, but I was too famished by then and not in the mood to take any more photos!

Later that evening, we bade farewell to K and headed back to Munich reluctantly. I couldn’t help but contemplate nostalgically about how we’ve played a part in each other’s lives all these years. She couldn’t be more Asian with her stacks of Chinese books and Indian recipe books, and I moved halfway across the world to live in the land she exposed me to through her letters.

Has your life been enriched by penpals? Tell me about your experience or just yap away about anything else! I’d love to hear from my readers.

Real interesting stuff you probably didn’t know about Florence

Some months ago, Bubbles and I and our nutcase friends, who by the way feature in my blog through periodic mention; visited Siena in Italy. (Read Siena blog here) We also paid homage to its  rival city: Florence. They say you either like one or the other, Siena for its gothic-style buildings or Florence for its renaissance-inspired architecture.

I can’t really make up my mind which city I prefer. It kind of represents the non-committal person I am…and like most psycho-analyses reveal, this one can be traced back to childhood.

Me: (I do something naughty and anger mum, then run around the dining table knowing mum can’t catch me)

Mum: (looking murderous like scary Goddess Kali and wielding a ‘rotan’ i.e. a feather duster that doubles as child-beating weapon) ARE YOU GOING TO COME HERE OR DO YOU WANT ME TO CATCH YOU? IF YOU DON’T COME HERE AND I CATCH YOU, YOU WILL GET TWICE THE BEATING!!

Me: ( I freeze on the spot and weigh the options. Little did I know that at the tender age of five I was already dealing with mathematical problems like ‘probability’ in my mind!)

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, Florence. Here’s Ponte Vecchio…one of the most recognised sights of Florence.

Ponte Vecchio does not boast of the pointed arches or elaborate mythical creatures that epitomise Gothic buildings. Instead it almost looks like a nondescript apartment over the river, but yet there is something enchanting about this structure, with its arched bridge crossing the Arno river.

The walk across the bridge is equally bewitching. There are interesting shops that line both sides of the bridge.

Apparently, the economic concept of bankruptcy originates here. When a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his ware (the “banco”) was broken (“rotto”) by soldiers. This practice was called “bancorotto” – broken table, or possibly “bancorotta” – broken bank. Without his table, the merchant was not able to sell anything.

Interestingly, Siena hosts the oldest surviving bank in history; Monte dei Paschi, established in 1472. I can see signs of rivalry having its roots here. Bankrupt Florentians must have asked said bank for funds and got rejected in the face. 🙂

I think Florence and Siena have another distinct difference between them. Florence must have had all the muscular, macho men. How else would you explain the fact that only Florence is dotted with anatomically perfect statues such as this? 🙂

I reckon Siena must have had fatties (or flabbies!) as there’s not a single statue celebrating a man’s hot, muscular bod! That could also be where the rivalry originates…can you imagine the wrath stemmed by bodily insecurity and envy? 🙂

Here’s the Statue of Neptune. He’s a bit too bulky for my liking and there’s something odd about the kid standing between his legs. Wait a minute…he’s not a kid. He’s got pubic hair! So, there are two odd things about the kid-statue. Look at his ding-ding. It looks frayed at the edge!

Pray tell what that’s supposed to be! I’m intrigued. So there you go: possible another difference. Maybe there was so much testosterone coursing through the veins of Florentine men that they reached puberty at seven!

Sounds to me like architecture had nothing to do with the two cities’ rivalry. They each coveted what the other had! Like a lot of unproven historical research, I present to you these hypotheses so you can make a valued judgement. (I can tell I would be a very capable historian) 🙂

Have you noticed the frayed genital before or seen any other odd statues in Europe? Do tell me about it! 

Sienna Siena

Meet Siena: the city that lent its name to the colour ‘burnt sienna’. It almost seems ironic then that the very colour makes the city look monochromatic. A rust-coloured skyline greets the traveller from afar, as one approaches the heart of the city through its walled enclave. The atmosphere is unmistakably Italian: ancient and dusty like its southern sister, Rome.

As if decreed by the city, all windows are green; a bright contrast to the reddish brick buildings. One or two buildings stand in defiance, daring to be different.

Even the vespa I spotted is red. One has to wonder if the city’s colour theme is subliminally affecting the inhabitants’ choice!

The gelati too! Would you look at that…the ice-cream tubs have Siena’s signature colours!

By now I’m pretty convinced something is going on in that city. There’s some sort of colour-brainwashing going on. The “brain-washers” are probably operating amongst the average people. Could it be here?

Or here?

We wouldn’t know. We’ve probably fallen victim to it, too. We returned with a magnet of a red vespa.

Have you visited Siena? Were you enchanted by the (predominantly) monochromatic city, like I was?

Sky’s the limit!

It’s a year of many firsts.

For the first time in the 10 years of my life in the UK, I find that it is early May and we still have the heating switched on at home. It is raining every single day in spring. The skies are dull and grey like a winter’s morning.

I am filled with melancholy looking at my holiday photos, where not far from here the land was bright and sunny a few weeks ago.

The skies were a colourful splash of blue and white during the day.

The horizon glowed in the sunset. The world felt right.

And on the days when the sun hid itself, it was only so the clouds could show off their splendour.

They danced languidly in the sky. When night fell, the sun extinguished itself with one final display of grandeur. A rich blue hue enveloped the sky, before melting into darkness.

As if spellbound, I stood with my neck craned, gazing towards the skies.

For the first time, I didn’t photograph my subject with a bit of sky. Instead, I photographed the sky with a bit of subject.

(Note: No post-processing done to these photos.)

To train or not to train…

Bubbles and I are in the midst of planning a holiday and are stumped by one dilemma after another. First, we can’t…umm…decide on the destination, but we’ve narrowed it down to two. Second, if we went with the European destination, should we fly or train it?

Anyway, I spent some precious time reading up on the train journey (in the interest of keeping my job, I better not say where I did my research. Oops!) and started reminiscing our train journey in India. We took the train from Agra to Varanasi,  involving a 13-hour overnight journey on a sleeper train.

I remember watching our train pull into the station platform. It looked like it had been battered by the ravages of time. If the carriages could talk, they would speak of better times when their cerulean shell gleamed in the sun. They might whisper some secrets of colonial times.

We had ‘first’ class tickets which meant sleeping berths in an air-conditioned carriage. This is what first class looked like:

Not exactly luxurious! I kept wondering if the pillows and sheets were clean, but dozed off almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. Bubbles would tell me the next morning that he had had the best sleep ever, rocked by the motion of the train.

I was up at 5 in the morning and watched the train pull in and out of stations. The sun was just rising, bathing the earth in a kaleidoscope of colours.

I stood at the entrance, taking shots of everything within view, not wanting to venture out in case the train left without me. An old lady with her bundle of laundry caught the corner of my eye. I snapped this shot just as she was flinging her throw around her shoulder.

The views were amazing as the train went past villages and cut through fields. It was pure, unadulterated India. I wish I had taken more shots, but at the time I set aside my camera and just took in all the sights. I can never forget the things I saw.

Speaking of the things I saw, regrettably I forgot to take photos of the toilets in the train! I’m not sure if my readers would be pleased with me if I shared such photos anyway, but suffice to say that they were not the best of toilets. Bubbles, who kept going on about his worry I might not survive the filth in India, only went once to relieve himself! I assured him I would have no such problems. And true to my words, it was no big deal to me. I gotta go when I gotta go! 🙂

Anyway, you can see our dilemma. Flying would save us time, but a train would give us a different kind of experience and breathtaking views as it chugs along past mountains and lakes in Europe. The scenery would be very different from that of India, but that’s what you want; a different journey, a journey that takes you on a discovery,  a journey full of serendipity.

Have you had a travel-related dilemma lately? What was it?

Colmar, cakes and copycats!

For some reason they reminded me of an icing cake.

It could have been the smooth, pastel walls that looked like marzipan on a cake. Or it could have been the timber cladding criss-crossing the walls like piped chocolate. Or maybe I was just plain hungry, my growling stomach giving me a case of pareidolia.

This is Colmar, a charming little city in the Alsace region of France. In fact, so charming and picturesque is this city that it inspired copycat Malaysia to replicate Colmar at Bukit Tinggi. Not being one partial to fakes (fake branded goods, fake boobs and the likes) let me have you know that I have not visited Bukit Tinggi nor have the desire to.

Speaking of fake branded goods, I don’t know why someone would want to buy something fake just so they can have a fake sense of belonging among society’s shallow materialists. I’d rather carry a cheap handbag from the market than a fake Prada. Actually I’d rather carry a cheap handbag instead of spending a fortune on a branded handbag. How many times have I seen someone carry a branded bag and thought ‘that looks like the fake one I saw at the market?’ But I digress. Besides, how would a nation’s economy keep itself buoyant without people spending their hard-earned money on frivolous pursuits?

Still on the subject of copycats though, we came across signs leading us towards a ‘Little Venice’, an unexpected promise of a Mediterranean interlude lingering in the continental air. Snaking through alleyways and ducking beneath lush green trees, we kept on going in search of Italy’s darling. Then we saw it. A bridge. Not quite the Grand Canal or Rialto bridge of Venice, but the archetype was unmistakable. The bridge rose and fell over a river, like the bosom of a nubile woman. Restaurants and houses formed the banks of the river. Apparently, the canal serves its purpose to this day, hence its affiliation to Venice, whose canals are the lifeblood of the city. Fresh produce and meat are delivered to the restaurants by the canal front in Colmar.

We wandered on and stumbled upon a market selling local produce like pastries and jam. Pretzels hung on pretzel-trees. Glum women slumped behind checked tables. Very French!

When I walked out of the market, I thought I had felt a drop of water on my head. I gazed at the skies for signs of rain and could have sworn I saw a cloud the shape of a roast chicken. Pareidolia had struck again!

2011 with my iPhone

Hello! Happy New Year!

I thought I’d compile some photos taken with my phone throughout 2011. I hardly use my phone camera but there were moments this year when having my iPhone was a real godsend, like the time when my stupidity got the better of me and I forgot to charge my DSLR before a photo expedition, or when it was just more convenient to take photos using my phone camera.

These were taken in Southend. I still get annoyed at the thought of not having charged my camera, but at least I got some good shots using some cool apps on the iPhone. Plus it’s not too far away to go back and take some proper shots. In a way I’m glad that I learnt this lesson early on rather than it happening when on holiday!

Here’s the facade of a fish and chip restaurant in Southend. The fish and chips were nothing out of the ordinary, but the prices were quite steep. Who wouldn’t capitalise on their coastal connections?

These are some photos of the pier. We walked on it later in the day but the freezing spring temperatures spurred us towards an early return.

This is Smithfield market, meet meat packing smack in the centre of London. Who would have thought a place that breathes so much masculinity with its meat trucks and men dressed in bloody overalls would be painted in pastel colours: pink and green! I used to walk past this everyday when my work was based in central London and loved its character and pizzazz.

What is this? No, it’s not a movie still from Transformers 4. This is an ice-kacang machine…a block of ice is placed into the pit of its bowels to churn out shaved ice.

This is my favourite stretch of the north-south highway in Malaysia, called Changkat Jering. With 270 degrees curves and tunnels carved through hills, it is like your very own ‘Need for Speed’ game. In fact, it is indeed a race circuit to some mad drivers!

I finish off with some shots of Ipoh, a landlocked city in Malaysia. It’s not exactly a touristy place, but I love some of its old buildings.

Chilling in Camden

During summer this year, Camden Town became our most-visited, chilling hotspot in London. If we didn’t know what to do over the weekend, we’d go to Camden. If we were meeting friends in London, it would be in Camden. If friends from abroad were visiting us, we’d take them to Camden. What was so alluring about Camden?

Camden Market. I’m no urban planner, but Camden Market sure scores high marks for knowing how to attract patrons by clever manipulation of its layout. You see, there are two or three ways to get into Camden Market (as far as I know) and they all require you to weave through a trail of stalls selling all kinds of food! The food list boasts an impressive ethnic variety: nutella pancakes, pulled pork wraps, spinach and cheese crispy pancakes (my favourite), Caribbean goat curry, barbequed pork ribs, seafood paella… I can go on and on. I tell you, they’ve got you hooked from the moment you step foot into the area!

If you’re like me, all that choice would surely confuse you, so what do you order? I’ve gone round and round the stalls trying to decide what to order, and I’m sure there are many others out there faced with the same predicament when in Camden Market. While you’re wandering around the market, the stall owners try to entice you with some samples. By the time you’ve gone around, the samples can actually fill you up! Ahh free food…could this place get any better?

Still, the glutton that I am, I end up ordering something. After filling our stomachs, we’re ready to explore the rest of the market. The Stables Market is tucked away in one corner. It’s built in the former Pickfords stables and horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford’s distribution vans and barges along the canal. Massive life-size horse statues greet you at the entrance of the market, and you’re unlikely to miss the huge horse bust at the other end of the market. Cue photo moment! Inside the market, there are shops selling everything from vintage clothes to incense and retro posters. It’s quite difficult to return empty-handed after going through all those shops!

Another one of Camden’s quirks is its buildings that front the main street. They are adorned with what I can only think of as big, bold wall art! The photo on this blog explains it all – my words will do no justice in describing it!

Hmm…what else could you do in Camden? You could people watch! If you’re into street photography, this might be the place for you as you’re bound to see some very interesting characters! The heavily tattooed man, a gothic girl, Bob Marley lookalikes, the backpacker tourist…they’re all there.

Anyway, how would I sum up Camden Market? It’s a hip, hippy place and you couldn’t possibly get bored of it! 🙂

Why unplanned holidays are fantastic!

Have you ever gone on an unplanned holiday? The question almost seems paradoxical, as most holidays involve some level of planning, but seriously, Bubbles and I, and two of our best nutcase friends, went on a completely unplanned holiday. We knew when we were going and when we were returning, and a rough idea of where we were going! We had a basic route sketched out around France, Germany, Luxembourg en route Belgium, and then back to France for the crossover at Calais.

We didn’t book hotels or read up on anything. If you’re raising an eyebrow over our nonchalance, you’d be happy to know that we had a little hair-raising experience of our own! It all started when we reached Brussels one evening. We thought we could stay somewhere on the outskirts of Brussels where hotels would not be as expensive as in Brussels itself. So, thinking we had the luxury of time, we sauntered around Grand Place, taking a myriad photos and doing a bit of crowd-watching. It’s such a lively place it’s difficult not to be caught up in the moment. Then, we went looking for the little social misfit, you know, the boy who pisses in public: Manneken Pis! Mind you, I don’t know what the fuss is about him and we weren’t really walking all the way to see the statue but he ended up being in our wander-path, so we obliged.

I can’t quite remember the sequence of events, but I think D and I got side-tracked into one of the many chocolate shops. We took turns distracting the shop owner so the other person could gorge on free ‘taster’ chocolates and biscuits dipped in chocolate fondue. Right about the time D was done, I was convinced the lady would be racking up a huge loss that day! 😀 In the meantime, J had an epiphany: we should have Belgian waffles while in Belgium! We went past many stalls and cafes, until one finally got her seal of approval. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best of waffles and Bubbles had fun taunting her for the rest of our trip about English waffles being better than Belgian waffles!

After all the dilly-dallying, we drove out of Brussels looking for a cheap hotel. We stopped at a few but they were all either full or way above our budget. This is how we stumbled upon Ghent. It was probably close to 10p.m. when we reached Ghent. Its beguilingly quaint appearance fooled us into thinking it’s a cowboy town and that accommodation would be dirt cheap. It was not only expensive, but mostly fully booked. Just as we were about to give up our search and resign to the idea of sleeping in the car, we stumbled upon a monastery-turned-hotel: Monasterium Poortackere Hotel.

Bubbles and D went to investigate. Yes, they did have rooms available. Yes, they were a pricey £90 per night. Pricey by monastery standards, methinks! Another round of contemplating sleeping in the car, then we decided we should stay at the hotel. Room keys and luggage  in hand, we gingerly made our way through the dimly lit corridors to our rooms. When we entered our room, I could feel myself both gawking and grimacing at the same time. I hadn’t been prepared to see before me a room so big. It was at least twice the size of normal hotel rooms and about ten times the size of the Pod in New York! The bathroom was bigger than the Pod, I kid you not! The room, decorated in muted colours blended rather tastefully with its antique furniture. So why the grimace, you might ask. It must have been a mix between the dull incandescent light bathing the room with shadows and the creaking of the floor beneath our feet; but the room felt very eerie. So eerie that us girls, who were initially tired and contemplating staying back in the rooms while the boys went to buy something to eat, decided there was no way we were staying alone, or even with each other as company!

So, out we went for dinner. After cups of pot noodles later (it was nearly 12 midnight and only the local ‘Spar’ was open), we decided to call it a night. I was so scared of the room that I wondered how I was going to fall asleep. Add the worry of what might find me in my dreams…or that I might need the bathroom in the middle of the night, I was sceptical of catching a few winks that night! This was without a doubt the scariest room I had slept in! Okay, I once stayed in a hotel in Melaka that was rumoured to be haunted, didn’t experience anything overnight, but in the morning I woke up to sounds of furniture being dragged across the room above ours for hours. But who’s scared of the daytime ghost? Anyway, I somehow managed to sleep and it was a real good sleep! I couldn’t even remember having any dreams!

The next morning, we found out D and J had an equally good sleep. So much for the fear of ghosts! Bubbles, emboldened by daylight (I’m sure), said “what did you think was going to happen last night? This is a monastery – there aren’t any ghosts here!” Yes, Bubbles, but what if exorcisms had been carried out here many moons ago and the released spirits had remained in those rooms?! Or what if the spirit of dead nuns roamed the rooms by night? *shivers*

Anyway, why do I think unplanned holidays are fantastic? It’s probably because anticipation is sometimes better than realisation and as much as we think we want certainty in our lives, its the unknown that fuels us. To take the words of Robert Luis Stevenson in the literal sense, “Little do ye know your own blessedness, for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive…”

A weekend in Porto, Portugal

My alarm fails to ring and my husband (let’s call him Bubbles) and I oversleep. We get up with barely enough time to grab our passports and luggage and head for the airport. Then, we arrive in Porto and I realise I forgot my DSLR. No wait, we arrive in Porto, I begin taking photos and accidentally drop my camera, breaking the glass to smithereens. The alarm rings. 

Phew, it was a dream after all! Yet again. It seems to be a recurring dream every time a planned holiday nears. My fears manifest themselves in creative variations within my dream, but always centred on a common theme: my DSLR! As if that’s not bad enough, I start wondering on the way to the airport, ‘did I put the DSLR in the luggage?’ even though I checked ten times before leaving the house!

Anyway, dreams and delirium aside, we got to Porto drama-free last weekend. Upon reaching the hotel we noticed that there was a supermarket right next to it, so we immediately stocked up on munchies. I found some little cakes which reminded me of kuih bahulu in Malaysia! It also tasted almost like it, albeit a bit more oily. Little did I know that this was going to be the only nice tasting food I was going to have in Porto!

I’ve just read that Porto has some of the finest restaurants in Portugal and that their traditional dish, the “Francesinha” is one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world! I find this hard to believe as the food looked so unappetizing! Bubbles ordered a grilled turkey dish which was served with rice and salad. And no gravy. How do you eat rice without gravy?! I ordered a cheese omelette and it came with … rice! We didn’t order the “Francesinha” but a group of people on the next table ordered it and it didn’t look the least bit appetizing. It looked like someone had stacked four pieces of bread and poured loads of gravy over it. Apparently it is toast with layers of meat inside, covered with cheese and a spicy sauce.

The next day we went to another cafe and I looked around me for inspiration on what to order (you’d have thought I would have learnt my lesson after last night’s dinner). I saw a plate of salmon being served at the table next to ours. It was a salmon steak, skin intact, served with two halves of a large boiled potato. I almost gagged. You could argue that it might have tasted better than it looked, but I eat with all my senses and the food was just not visually stimulating.

Fortunately the port wine made up for what the food lacked. I can see why Porto is famous for its port wine and actually has a wine-making industry. The wine was lovely!

There is not a great deal to see in Porto, but it is a charming little city where the new exists alongside the old and the refurbished is interspersed with the dilapidated. One interesting feature is that some building façades are partially tiled with bright, colourful tiles. I can’t recall seeing this anywhere else in Europe. The architecture is otherwise quite homogeneous with other parts of Europe – a mix of neoclassical, baroque and modern styles. The Riviera overlooking the mouth of Douro river was the highlight of Porto. It is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it has a rich 2,000 year history.

Porto is a nice place to shop! Bubbles heard about Norte shopping centre being one of the biggest shopping malls in Porto, and so we went there since it was only a Metro ride away. Well, you know how each mall that comes along in the UK or Europe claims to be the biggest in UK or Europe but is nothing compared to Mid Valley in KL? This was like 10% of Mid Valley! The shops were not bad but the same shops were along St Catarina, so I wouldn’t recommend going all the way there.

Some websites and brochures on Porto say the locals are nice and friendly. What they failed to mention is that they are also hot! 🙂 Bubbles thought the chicks were one of the best looking he had seen in Europe. Me, I still like the chicks in Paris – elegantly dressed, understated beauties. But the men in Porto…*whistle*! They were hot! Well buffed up! I wish I had taken some photos, but we were sat quite close to some of them in the cafes so I couldn’t possibly have taken shots without getting caught in action! So, you’ll have to take my word for it until you see them for yourselves, ladies. (and some men!)

So, how would I sum up Porto? Great weather, good sights (landscape and lads), but lousy food! I’d say Porto is a bit like Venice, in the sense that there aren’t many specific tourist sites to see. The best way to see it is to just wander around, explore it in your own time and you are bound to find hidden gems tucked away in a corner you least expect.

Note: I still haven’t worked out the best way to display my photos on WordPress, so please head to my flickr account (click on flickr) for more photos of Porto. Thanks for viewing them.