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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mont St Michel - Accomodation

I had 3 choices :
(a) staying in Le Mont St Michel itself -- but the research i made seemed to indicate that the accomodation may not be value for money (of course, since there's limited accomodation there)

(b) staying just outside Le Mont i.e. at the entrance of the causeway. hmmm, the reviews weren't that great and they usually do not include breakfast.

(c) B&B located in nearby towns

i finally chose LA FERME DE LA BAIE located in Roz Sur Coueson. it's about 15 minutes drive to Le Mont St Michel and a lovely countryside. Quiet and nice :) and from the B&B, it was a short drive to the lookout point with breathtaking views of Mont St Michel.

i think if we had chose options (a) or (b), we may not have ventured out so far.

my first experience staying in a farmhouse B&B and maybe i have been watching too much of Escape to the Country on BBC --> was a lil' disappointed that the building we were housed in still needed a fair amount of work ;p guess u can say it's RUSTIC :) although the room was nice and fittings were all new, so we were very comfortable.

wish we had a longer stay so as to enjoy the grounds more -- we didn't really have time to explore the gardens or bring kaira to have a look @ the animals. next time we stay in a farm-like B&B, i shall try to make time in our schedule to enjoy the farm.



kaira was absolutely delighted by the presence of the dog

French Food

One reason why the french road trip was enjoyable : YUMMY FOOD!!!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kaira in France

i think she enjoyed the trip quite a bit. being able to eat ice-cream during dinner time (most of the time), sleeping with us in the same room (and with me on the same bed).... haha, sounds like a great trip for her!

but seriously, she was really quite cooperative and very keen to climb up to the top of the abbey by herself and was patient enough as we toured the abbey ....

very intrigued by the pebble beach @ Dieppe

@ Le Mont St Michel


Very happy @ the bed & breakfast cos there was a dog!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rouen

Our first stop on this weekend French road trip was Rouen, the historic capital city of Normandy, France.

It's known for its Notre Dame Cathedrale (now, tell me which major european city/town isit??? ;p so many cathedrales to see in europe!!! they look alike to me sometimes.... ;p)

it's in Gothic style and the church bells, i can tell you -- they are still chiming loud and clear today!!

our hotel was directly opposite the cathedrale and yup 7+ in the morning, I was awakened by the chimes of the church bells.

then, there's the half timbered houses -- so well preserved and still in use today. they remind me of the german towns we saw during our German Road Trip last year.

Beautiful nevertheless.



and of course, the Gros Horloge which is a large astronomical clock.


More pictures coming up! stay tuned.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Le Mont St Michel

Just got back from a short weekend roadtrip to St Michel.

My intent was to visit Le Mont and on-route, make a stop @ Rouen.

In the end, we visited Cancale, Dinaan and Dieppe as well!!! All unplanned...hehehe.

Talk about packing it in for a short trip -- we left on Friday afternoon and just got back tonite (monday) and St Michel is like 6.5-7 hours away from us!!!

i think we are definitely improving by the day in terms of taking "longer" road trips! ;) hehehe.

kaira was quite cooperative, so that helps mightily :)

will write more about our trip soon. Here's some photos of Le Mont St Michel place. different views but all equally majestic :)

From the lookout point @ Roz Sur Coueson
from a farm
from the lookout bridge
making our way towards it on foot
Nite view

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Food for Thought

i recently read an article on Mr Tan's blog about treating late stage cancer.

I think the gist of his article was that if the cancer is of the late stage and the chances of cure are slim, spending $$$ on the treatments, may not be the wisest move, at least from a financial point of view.

when all the $$$ has been spent on treatments, at the end of the day, should one pass on, the cost of treatment may end up being a burden on those who are left behind.

coincidentally, i know of someone going through this stage now and the family is stretched financially now. in fact, very stretched.

and it got me thinking. if i am to face this situation, what would be my response?

i think if i am 60 years and above, it may be relatively easy to reach the decision not to spend the $$ seeking an extremely low chance of cure. live the last days happily and not incur extra burden for those who will survive me.
{that's what i say now lah .......)

but say, it happens now ..... is it so easy to make such a choice? would i not want to see my child(ren) grow up? how about being there for my parents?? would i not want to try my best to "battle on" ???? but really, at what cost? and all for an outcome that one may not be sure about.

hmmmm, such food for thought......

which led me to think about God, Faith and how will i respond or rather, how should i respond??

a heavy topic and much to think about........ tired now ....i shall think about it another day....

sweet dreams, nite nite.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mondays

I have such a "love-hate" relationship with Monday.

On one hand, i look forward to it cos markets will open and i can look forward to 5 days of market "excitement" (or lack of, whatever). even though it's only Q12010 that i started dipping my toes into the market again after a 2-year hiatus, and i no longer actively day-trade, there's enough newsflow and homework to do, to at least keep me productive ;)

on the other hand, MOnday is the day i have lots of housework to be done. and now, little kaira can be such a "nuisance" cos she will be calling out to me every few minutes to help her with this and that, or she will be imitating my actions and wrecking havoc why i try to clean up ... for a while it wasn't like this. in fact, it used to be quite easy to do housework while she entertains herself. but these days, she seemed to have decided that she wants to be part of the action.....and so it kinds of doubles the time that i take to do things.

and when i am not in the best of moods, she gets alot of scolding from me ;( but she seems to think that i am "playing" with her and continues to keep smiling and irritating me when i scold her!!!

she sure knows how to irritate me!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

ATP

Around this time in my "past" life, i believe i would be fretting over the AOP -- annual operating plan (or whatever fancy term it is being given now) -- planning and planning, strategising and strategising, all for the sake of meeting (if not exceeding) the budget numbers for the next financial year.

The thought of it BORES me already.

but now, i think i have the equivalent of the AOP in my life == the ATP : Annual Travel Plan!!!

HAHAHA.

sounds alot more interesting doesn't it?? kekeke.

so i am now researching for 2011 travel destinations. As with all AOPs, things are not cast in stone but i believe the targets will be met or exceeded! ;p

Come end 2011/early 2012 when kaira starts Group 1 @ the international school, our travelling dates will not be as flexible as now ....... *sob sob*

and when the time comes for us to leave this place behind, this shall be the thing i miss most!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Budapest -- Our Accomodation

I chose Zara Continental Hotel, a newly opened hotel, located on the Pest side.

For the rates that we paid -- average 95 euros per night inclusive of breakfast, i think the hotel provides very good value as it also included free wifi and access to the wellness centre where we get to use the jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre.

the hotel is not that near to the "centre" of Pest -- the walk is a good 10-15 minutes (maybe shorter for younger and more energetic folks) and at the end of a tired day, it was well..... tiring. of course there is the option of taking the public transport but we decided to walk -- cos only by walking can we discover the city :)

but it's near to Rakoczi street - busy street with shops (second hand, outlet etc) and eateries. very convenient.

Would give it an overall satisfaction rating of 4 out 5 :)

kaira @ the entrance of the hotel

Budapest Accomodation

Buda or Pest??? that was the question on my mind while searching for accomodation.

I made the choice to stay @ Pest side partly because of attractive rates offered by the hotel (more on that later) and i think i would chosen to do the same if given another chance.

Pest is really the activity centre -- lots of shopping, eating (and i guess partying for the younger ones??). So it has a more lively buzz. and lots of choices. Whereas Buda gives one a more laidback feel and it's where quite a few sights are located, the BUda Castle, Fishermen's Bastion, Gellert Springs etc.

i prefer to be closer to the buzz :)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Budapest - A pleasant surprise

I really like this city!!

Maybe because i didn't do my homework prior to the trip (busy with kaira during the summer holiday and what not), so i really had ZERO expectations and also did not know what to expect.

And that sets the stage for a very very pleasant surprise!

I think i've been to too many places that uses the Euro, that i've forgotten what it feels like to visit a city with a relatively "weak" currency. Think thailand (ok, i don't know about the S$/baht exchange now, but 10+ years ago when i first visited bangkok, the relative strength of the S$ meant that things were relatively cheap so one can eat well and shop to heart's content knowing that one is getting a good deal! so much so that after my first visit, BKK became an annual short holiday for us for quite a few years)

Now, that's exactly how i feel about budapest :)

the eating and shopping was really excellent!!!

Shopping
i really wasn't expecting to shop but after we discovered that shopping can be good on the first day, we decide to devote ONE full day to shopping (instead of making day trips out to other towns/tourist spots) ;p not forgetting the shopping that we manage to sneak in whilst sightseeing and eating.... considering that we arrived on Saturday later afternoon and was scheduled to leave on Wed mid-day -- we really spent quite alot of time shopping ;p hehehe. and the reason for doing so? there's a chain of outlet stores and the markdowns are attractive. they specialise in english brands and the british flag symbol was their "brand mark". they have so many outlets - along Rakoczi street, near the central market and along fashion street, one outlet specialising only in children's clothes -- oh wow -- it's been a long time since i had to PLOUGH though so so so many clothes!!! all in the hope of finding the bargain ;p

the best buy was probably my Superdry windjacket for less than 9 euros!!! gosh.

now, i am kind of glad that i don't normally shop in Eindhoven, unless it's for essentials. which means that when i am in a city like budapest, i can really shop to my heart's content cos i haven't been spending $$$ mah....hahahaha.... aiyah, i am consoling myself .... we did alot of shopping too in barcelona!!! but of course, we bought alot more in budapest for a fraction of what we spent in barcelona.

Food
next surprise is the food. or rather, the quality of food that we get for the price we pay :) think this is the result of me so used to the *not worth paying so much to eat out* type of food here in eindhoven -- makes me appreciate the good food that i can get whenever i travel!! i find hungarian meals very meaty -- think meat stews. anywayz, i do enjoy the local hungarian fare cos i like stews!! flavorful is the word.

We chanced upon a restaurant,Apostolok, while wondering around and are glad we decided to give it a try. they serve traditional hungarian fare and the food was great and the restaurant so full of old world charm, i really enjoyed myself!!

@ the Apostolok restaurant



And we did someting that we would not normally do on a holiday. We went for a buffet, to be exact, we went for Sunday Brunch and spent HALF our day having brunch!!! we really surprised ourselves ;p in the past, i am sure we would rather spend our time sightseeing than "wasting" time @ a buffet!!!

and we certainly did not regret our choice! in fact, it was so enjoyable, that i will do it again! LOL.

We had the Sunday Brunch @ Intercontinental Hotel -- it's supposed to have great views of the river -- but i found it "so so" cos the restaurant was situated on the ground floor of the hotel, so don't expect too much. the spread was ok. cannot use the hong kong/singapore-style buffet variety as yardstick -- if so, one will be disappointed at the spread i suppose. but good enough for me :)

they had a kids corner and 2 staff looking after the kids with a dedicated spread for kids -- now, that's the winner for us!! wooohooo ..... unbelievable, we enjoyed the live music, free flow of champagne, drinks and food for almost 3 hours without being disturbed by Kaira!! Priceless :) she was even easy to feed cos she was hungry after all the playing and she wanted to finish her food fast so that she can go back to play. the brunch costs us about 50 euros, to me, it was worth every cent ;p kekeke.


We also had the chance to try traditional hungarian cakes at Gerbeaud, an "institution" in its own right. it was so so crowded when we went there -- u can imagine how popular it is with tourists!! unfortunately, i do not appreciate the taste of the traditional Gerbeaud slice -- i was probably better off trying their newer desserts. but i had to try the traditional cake right? at least know what's all the fuss about :)



I am doing budapest such an injustice by blogging first about the shopping and eating!!! Shall blog more about the sights soon!

Budapest





Just got back from Budapest and it was such a pleasant surprise!!! Here's some photos first, will blog more about it later on!

Budapest -- i will be back!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ondeh Ondeh


this is my second attempt at making ondeh ondeh and i am very pleased that they turned out so much better than my first attempt ;))

in the past i loathe it when i ask someone for the recipe of a dish and they tell me that they don't have exact quantities as they go by "feel"..... Aaaargh !!! that's very unhelpful for someone like me who likes to follow recipes! (even then, when i follow a recipe exactly, they sometimes don't turn out the way they are supposed to.)

And this batch of ondeh ondeh, that's exactly what i did. Made them by "feel" .... haha. I hope i will be able to recreate them again (",) in the future!!

kaira was quite enthusiastic about trying them initially. but after one bite, it was very difficult to get her to take another bite ;p


just as well, me and hubbie can enjoy it ourselves.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

It;s Supposed to Be Breakfast

Recently i've been doing quite alot of dough kneading. And kaira likes it alot. she will help out and i usually give her a pinch of the dough to let her do whatever she wants.

This morning, i left her on her own to have breakfast. it was a jam sandwich.

After a while, i came back and found her doing this :





she added her milk to her piece of bread and starting rolling it and it became of mash bread ball!! i was really amused ;p

if u r wondering, i made her eat up her bread ball!! no point wasting it ;p