Category Archives: Travel

Asia Diary: January 19, 2014

Life flies so fast.. It seems like only last week I was in Asia but alas it has already been a month since I have returned to the states… but I have been running around and sick so I only have had the chance to recap now. So enjoy the some of the foods I ate in Tokyo and Hong Kong. I can’t wait to return for more.

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Noodles Round #1 – Tokyo
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Noodles Round #2 – Tokyo Sumo Eats style
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Spicy Pork Meal – Tokyo
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Breakfast and a view of Hong Kong Island from the hotel in Kowloon
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Best pork bun Ever – Tim Ho Wan – Hong Kong

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San Francisco Day Trip: December 26, 2013

SF Dec 2013Le Grand City by the Bay

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Tasty appetizers at the Golden Lotus in the Tenderloin Area

UntitledWon ton Egg Noodle Soup at Hai Ky Noodle House also in the Tenderloin

SF Dec 2013My Favorite back ally fortune cookie place in SF Chinatown.. I somehow always stumble upon it.

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The Golden State

Oysters

Last night I arrived in California for a long weekend trip and it feels so good to be back. I was born and raised in Northern CA and have spent most of my young life moving around and traveling around the northern part of the state. This is the state with the wilderness that helped me develop such a love for nature and the outdoors, this is the state that formed my attitude on life, this is the state where I first fell in love with food of the world due to thankfully growing up in such a multi cultural community in a such a multi cultural state, this is the state the helped make me who I am.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

When I am away my heart yearns for so much in this glorious state, the Redwoods of the North Coast, the majesty of the Yosemite Valley, the glory of the rocky Pacific coast, the dense fog of the San Francisco Bay Area, the freshness of the produce, for absolutely everything.

Artichokes

I will always love you California and it is so lovely to be back in your embrace

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A Bastille Day for the Memories

Eiffel Tower
Last year for Bastille Day I was lucky enough to be in Paris for a reunion of a bunch of my friends that live abroad. Bastille Day was the occasion in which our trip was planned around and the center piece of the trip was a picnic at Champ de Mars, which is the park at the base of the Eiffel tower, where they have a big firework display to mark the occasion. Bastille Day (the 14th of July) was a delightful day of wandering about Paris, soaking in the sights, and catching up with my lovely friends most of which I had not seen in over 2 years. We enjoyed catching some rays at The Jardin de Tuileries, eating at brassieres, and chatting about the going ons of the past years. As the day wore on it was time to collect the rest of the group in order to prep for our picnic. We were a bit worried that it was going to rain for the big event since the weather could not make up it’s mind between sunshine and down pours (which luckily only happened as we ate). Thankfully for our plans the sky decided to clear up for us just as we were on the way to go shopping. Once we collected the rest of our group all 15 of us headed off to the local grocery store to split up and buy supplies. We ended up with a large array of meats, cheese, bread, and plenty of other snacks, of course what we got was not the best Paris has to offer but for the prices and the fact it was all from a supermarket it was quite great. We of course also picked up some wine, you know only 13 bottles worth and a few other drinks, since we knew this was going to be a risky move because we had heard that during the festivities that alcohol is not allowed in the park we decided to not risk getting a mini Heineken keg (that was the dutch boys idea in the first place). We knew it would be a risk but we figured we might as well try because what is a holiday picnic with out wine, at the very least we could always locate ourselves somewhere a bit further away from the action.
Eiffel Tower

When we reached the park, as expected, there were Police checking everyone’s bags as they entered the main area, we figured that we should move on to somewhere where it was okay to have our wine but as we were coordinating where we go someone in the group found an entry point where no one was checking bags. Magically we were able to sneak into the park all the wine which was quite an amazingly hilarious thing. Of course through the whole time we had to be on guard and hide what we were drinking since the police were patrolling the park for this particular reason but that made it extra fun and memorable. Thankfully fate was endlessly on our side on this day and we were never found out even though there were a few close calls.
Eiffel Tower
After a few hours of eating, drinking, and chatting dusk turned into night and the fireworks began. I have to say that the fireworks were some of the best I have seen and I have been to some impressive displays, though part of it could have been the fact the majestic Eiffel Tower was a part of the view. The Eiffel tower was even dressed up for the day with a disco ball hanging from it’s peak and lights that were a part of the show. To accompany the fireworks there of course was a speakers around the park playing euro pop/ electronic music. It was a truly epic day and evening in every respect and sealed my forever love for Paris.
Eiffel Tower
This particular Bastille Day will forever live in my memories and I feel that I should commemorate it by celebrating my own way back home this year. So I am hoping that everything works out and that I am able to plan a Picnic/ Barbeque at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. As I was out of town for 4th of July (Travel Post about the Oregon Coast coming soon) and was unable to contribute to our picnic I want to go all out for Bastille day but we will see what happens but for now I am planning to make a few different tapas for snacking and a Blue Cheese Frozen Yougurt number for dessert. So stay tuned in for that.
Eiffel Tower

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4th of July Travels: Portland Oregon

Picture Postcard View of Mount Hood over Portland

For this long Forth of July weekend i took a trip out to one of my favorite places Portland Oregon. I went to school in Portland and since then Portland had become one of my favorite cities, Maybe its because of how well I know the city or maybe it is just because it is an awesome-ly quirky city. For whatever reason it has been almost a year and a half since I have been back which is crazy to me. I mean I have been back to Europe twice in that time and Portland is cheaper to visit although the flight is not necessarily shorter.

I am sure at this point most people have either seen the show Portlandia or at least heard of it and every time i bring up Portland the first question is always “Is it really like Portlandia?” and to that my answer is yes and no. Of course the show is blown out of proportion and makes fun of places like Williamsburg Brooklyn, Austin TX, and other such hipster enclaves in the skits but it certain ways Portland is that silly.

NWDavis Everett 4.22.08

Portland is a glorious city where almost anything goes. If you have a weird interest that you think no one else on the planet is into I bet you that there is a group of people in Portland who are avidly into whatever it is. And the thing is Portland has kind of always been this way, before ‘Hipster’ was a real term people cared about craft beers, local food, and homeopathic medicine. Portland is its own little world of awesome tucked away in the gloriously beautiful Paciftic Northwest and every time I come back I wonder to my self why did I leave?

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Amsterdam a Mini City Guide

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I recently came back from a lovely trip to Europe and one of my stops on the trip was the lovely city of canals Amsterdam. One of the big reasons I went to Amsterdam was to celebrate the Dutch National holiday Queens Day (Koninginnedag) with some of my friends. When my friend and I booked the trip we did not know yet that it was going to be as amazing as it was because at that point the Queen has not abdicated the throne. When she announced the news we knew this day would be extra epic because it will be the last queens day for a while and the coronation of the king and epic it was. One of my friends invited us on his sister’s boat for the festivities and it was amazing. We had food, drinks, and music and a lovely time was had by all (see pic below) if you ever have the chance to enjoy King’s Day on a boat in the canals of Amsterdam do not let it pass you by. Another great thing about the now King’s Day is that people sell a bunch of stuff on the streets and it is like a giant flea market city wide. Regardless of when you go to Amsterdam it is a lovely city and is well worth a visit.

Queens Day 2013 4.30.13

While this is in absolutely no way a complete or even vaguely well researched city guide this is some of what I did while I was I was in Amsterdam and what I think you should do too.

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Rijksmuseum

Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands

After being closed for 10 years for renovations the Rijksmuseum finally reopened this past April. Holland is known for its famous artist such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, etc. so the Rijksmuseum by proxy has a great collection of famous pieces. If you are an art lover the collection is great and well worth the visit. If you are not a huge art fan the museum is still a great stop as the building is amazing and the stained glass windows are fantastic as well.

When I went my friend and I had to wait about a half an hour in a queue before we were able to get into the museum because the museum had only opened one week prior. I would assume that after a bit of time the wait should be less if not eliminated.

Anne Frank House
Photo by Saadick Dhansay on Flickr

Anne Frank House

Prinsengracht 267, Amsterdam

The Anne Frank House is a very popular stop for tourists visiting Amsterdam and I do think that it is a great place to stop by and see. My family has quite a deep connection to WWII so it was bit of a more emotional experience than I had expected.

If you are planning to visit the Anne Frank House the Queue gets quite insane especially on weekends so it is best to buy tickets in advanced online. You buy tickets for a specific time and the spots fill up quickly so it is best to buy a month or more out from your trip. While I am not one to plan my trips too intensely I do recommend planning this one in advanced if you want to go or else plan a few hours for waiting in line.

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Museumkwartier, Amsterdam, Netherlands

What can I say it is a lovely park, buy some wine, some cheese (preferably some lovely dutch Gouda), some bread and enjoy a lovely picnic on a nice spring or summer day. There is nothing better than soaking in the rays, having a picnic, and people watching which is also a great reprise after say visiting the Rijksmuseum.

EATING IN AMSTERDAM

While I love food and eating which is usually a very important part of my trips it took a bit of a back seat to catching up with friends this time. I had looked into a few places that I had wanted to try but timing and location just ended up not working out. That being the case though I did end up at a some nice places that I would suggest you check out.

BREAKFAST/ BRUNCH

Brunch time
Eggs Royale

Greenwoods
Singel 103
1012 VG Amsterdam

Greenwoods is a lovely little English style tea house on one of the canals in the center city area. My friend and I had a lovely brunch there before we went to the Anne Frank house. While I had the Eggs Royale if I were to go back and be a bit hungrier I would suggest going for one of the high tea options. One of the other tables had it and it looked great with so many treats and finger sandwiches to eat.

Apple Cake at winkel
Apple Cake

Winkel
Noordermarkt 43
1015 NA Amsterdam

Winkel is famous for it’s Apple Cake which is amazing. Earlier in the day there can be a line but if you do have to wait it is defiantly worth the wait. While I got the Apple Cake as a mid day snack it would make a good breakfast as well. Just remember to not miss Winkel when you go to Amsterdam.

DINNER

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Lieve Belgisch Restaurant
Herengracht 88
1015 BS Amsterdam

On my first night in town my friends and I went to Lieve which is a cool little restaurant that is split into 3 sections each with its own dining theme but with the same menu throughout. We ate in the front area called Huiskamer which means living room, this part of the restaurant is a relaxed atmosphere and has a nice view of the canals. One of the other areas is a family style setting and the last area is the more formal area where you have your meal in 5 courses. To eat I started with the Strudel of goat cheese, nuts and honey with a coulis of smoked beetroots, for my entree I had Baked John Dory fillet with a beurre noisette and spaghetti of yellow carrot and parsley, and for dinner Blackberry cannellone filled with a mangobaverois and a biscuit. Overall I was very happy with my meal but I wish I would have chosen a more chocolate-ly or cake-y dessert option. I like desserts that are a bit more heavy and not so light.

Tulip Feilds

Finally if you are in Amsterdam in the spring try to make it out to the Tulip fields they are fantastic to see in person. My friend took me and I am not exactly sure where we went but it was lovely and I recommend it.

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Views from Germany

Cherry Blossoms and Buddist Prayer Banners

I came back recently from a trip to Amsterdam and Nürnberg, Germany and I have had a really hard time getting back into the swing of regular life which includes posting here. I have been working on making a mini city guide for Amsterdam but it has not gotten far.

View from Burg Pottenstein

View from Burg Pottenstein

Until I get my act together and actually get the city guide made and a few other posts I have on the back burner here are some pretty photos from Germany!

Burg Pottenstein
Burg Pottenstein

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The Road Diverged

The Seine

Off I go today for a short trip in Europe. Before I left I was hoping to get a few post written of some things I made recently but alas life happens and I will have to finish those when I return from my travels. While I am gone I hope to post at least one of the entrys I was working on but we will see. I am hoping to make some small city guides while I am away so stay tuned for those!

If you want to see some images from my trip while I am away I will be posting them to my traveling Tumblr The Road Diverged. I also will be posting updates and travel tips to twitter while I am away so stay connected and follow me @grahamandcook!

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Spring Interlude

Butterfly

Nothing beats the warm breeze on your face from that first real spring day. The sun shining down instantly washing away the cold and grey of the winter months.

Beach

The desire to be outside grows and grows making you anxious and antsy all day to leave the walls which confine you. Your concentration wanes until you finally step outside again to soak in all the spring time glory.

Chinese Gardens

Spring has sprung and hopefully it is here to stay….

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An Ode to Travelling by Air

You disembark from the ground transportation that brought you here, you stand waiting while the large sliding glass doors open and you are suddenly met with the sounds from within. You hear the click clack, click clack of plastic wheels rolling across slick tile, the dull echo of hundreds of voices reverberating off the floors and the walls, that feeling of excitement, anticipation, and joy that you are so close to somewhere else, somewhere new, somewhere exciting all rush in to consciousness all at once. You have arrived at the airport with passport in hand and suitcase in tow, where anything is possible and the whole world awaits you.

Istanbul

That initial rush of excitement quickly fades to the rigours of the procedure, of the process, Where do I check in? Where is Security? Is the line long? Did I leave myself enough time? but still harbored in the back of your mind is the happiness of being there and leaving your life behind to travel somewhere far away. The routines continue and boarding begins, you get your ticket scanned and walk the tarmac to the plane, you look for your seat to find someone sitting in the wrong one, you ask them to move and take your place and await for take off.

 

Cortlandt Alley

The flight might be long and being 6 feet tall you are perpetually uncomfortable on planes but the discomforts are bearable for the rewards of the destinations. Being somewhere new and connecting with long lost friends is worth all the pain and annoyance in the world. Hours upon hours later you land hopefully at your destination and not a layover somewhere.
Oh but this time you have a layover and oh no you once again booked flights with tight timing you race for the gate of your next flight hoping that you do not miss the connection. You make it with time to spare because oh guess what your flight has been delayed… of course. Eventually you board and into the air you go once again killing the time until you finally arrive at your final destination.

Church

Once you land and disembark you go about the process the same regardless of where you have ended up. First stop customs, to go wait forever in line just to have your passport stamped, then off to baggage claim where even after having to wait forever for customs your bag still has not come through. Finally it comes and then you are off to find your way to wherever you are going. Maybe you are lucky and someone picks you up in a car, maybe you have to navigate public transit, or maybe just maybe you take a cab if you are feeling extravagent. If you are somewhere new this can be a nerve racking and stressful part of the journey but eventually after much confusion and drama you figure it out and off you go into the grand unknown finally feeling at peace that you have made it and eager for the adventures that await.

*Please note all the photos in this post are my personal photos, please do not use without consent*

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