Buenas tardes de Madrid!

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Bella at the Parque del Buen Retiro

Today, we covered a lot of ground in Madrid because of the segway tour that we booked. Not the first time that we did this. In fact, it was one great discovery that we had when Arshad and I went on tour in Italy last year.

We covered several areas in Madrid in a span of three hours, which was physically impossible if done on foot. Walking tours are good, but segway tours are amazing!

For this trip, we booked through Segway Fun (http://www.segwayfun.es/en/). It was a private tour customized for me and Arshad so there was no waiting for other people and we chose the areas where we wanted to go to.

This photo was taken at the Parque del Buen Retiro, my favorite park in the whole of Madrid. I don’t mind coming back here early in the day to just read under a park bench!

The romance of the Pena Palace

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Pena Palace in Sintra on a bright spring-summer morning

According to Joao, our friendly Portuguese tour guide, it was a very good day. Sometimes, visitors come in the area and the castle isn’t visible because of the fog and the mist. Today, everything was clear. Everything was picture perfect.

The Pena Palace or Palacio Nacional da Pena in the municipality of Sintra, Portugal is a Romanticist castle perched on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains. It is now considered a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. This was the summer palace of Portugal’s royalty.

When visiting Lisbon, an out-of-town visit to nearby Sintra to see the Pena Palace is something that you shouldn’t miss!

Ola, Cascais!

Bella in Cascais Portugal

Today was a full day. After going to Sintra to visit the Pena Palace, I went to Cascais.

Cascais is a coastal municipality which is 30 kilometers away from Lisbon. It used to be a sleepy fishing village that became a popular vacation place for tourists. This also used to be the royal family’s resort in the 19th and 20th century.

There are a lot of hotels, restaurants, bars and local shops in the area. I highly recommend spending 2 days here after Lisbon.

Bom dia, Lisbon!

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Bella at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal

Today is my second day in Lisbon. I’ll be here for a few more days before heading out to Spain. The weather is spring perfect!

So far, so good. Experience maravilhosa!

I keep coming back to Manila

A portion of my humble home in Manila

Four months. This is by far the longest time that I spent not going back home to Manila, which I dare not repeat. Four months seemed like forever to me and at some point, I felt increasingly depressed already, not seeing my family, not being in the comforts of my home.

I normally come back home to Manila every 2 months,  alternating with KL, but the early part of this year found me with a role expansion that quadrupled my team and responsibilities. Not that I’m complaining. It is a role that I have been looking forward to, which also needed more time and focus. Thus, the delays in my usual Manila trip.

our Dachschund Dinozzo and Himalayan ASH Manuel

Yesterday morning, as I opened the door of my home, it greeted me with the familiar smell of vanilla and honey candles, my daughter running to kiss me and hug me tightly, the noise of my dachshund barking and excitedly wagging his tail that his human is back, the nonchalant stare of my stoic Himalayan-Ash cat and most of all, the smell of my mother and yaya’s freshly prepared Pinoy breakfast, perfectly paired with warm pan de sal and a pot of aromatic brewed coffee.

Yas! I am home. The sensory assault makes the red eye flight all worth it. The hugs and kisses of my family, the warm embrace and the familiar faces of my long-time friends. It’s just great to be home.

with my daughter Abby enjoying gelato amidst the heat of Metro Manila

I love my job, I love being an expat and travel has always been second nature to me and my husband. I have long come to terms with my paradox that although I am a traveler and wanderlust runs through my veins, I always find myself amidst Manila’s discord. As crazy as that may sound.

With barely 36 hours in Manila, for now, let me enjoy my Mom’s sopas, tinapang bangus and ginisang monggo. Ahh. Definitely home.

Sick Singapore weekend

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View from my hotel at Scotts Road in Singapore

Singapore is a 2-hour flight from Jakarta so it’s easy to fly in and out. Since it’s a long weekend for Indonesia, I decided to fly in with Arshad. I came down with something last Thursday afternoon though, so this weekend I will be on eat-sleep-recover mode, with some shopping here and there if my energy permits.

My flu shots are keeping the flu at bay. I guess the message of this blog post is that when you travel a lot – FLU SHOTS. Always keep your vaccines updated every year. It helps to also be armed with your go-to medicines all the time. Thank God for Bioflu and Kamillosan throat spray. Mental note: replenish my stash as soon as I get back to Manila!

Easter Sunday Bazaar at Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

Easter Sunday Bazaar at Tugu Kunstkring PaleisI love bazaars! When I got the announcement from a friend that Tugu Kunstkring Paleis is hosting an Easter Sunday bazaar, I knew I had to go.

Bazaars for me are not just about shopping. It’s the experience. I love looking at rare and hard-to-find bazaar items for sale, since these are normally not sold in the malls. That’s the appeal of bazaar shopping for me.

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis’ Easter Sunday Bazaar was a sensory assault – just the way I like it. There were A LOT of merchants selling batik, jewelry, house ware and other unique finds. Aside from these, there were also bands playing, a Dutch family photo booth where you can don Dutch costumes, a fortune teller (in Bahasa, though), a Japanese clay workshop and a lot of food concessionnaires.

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One happy Bella scouring the ground floor with antique finds

Oh, it was dogs’ day too, since dogs were encouraged to be brought in the bazaar venue.

Here are my interesting finds:

The ground floor teemed with antique items: from Chinese ceramics, maps, furniture, accessories and paintings.

As usual, I was enamored by notebooks and journals with printed batik covers. I cannot have enough! On this day and age, I think journal writing and writing letters by hand are both a dying art.

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At the entrance of the bazaar on the second floor, a booth selling items from Holland greeted customers:

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There were also a lot of locally made products, one of my favorites was the one selling canvass pouches, ID and card holders, pencil cases, vanity and notebooks, with cute and creative printed designs:

A welcomed sensory assault of colorful batik clothes and local accessories were sold on the second floor, too.

Overall, there were a lot of great finds. I had to stop myself from buying things that I don’t need but they were very tempting. In the end, I went home withTK_antique mirror wm one item that I felt I couldn’t let go of: an antique mirror with a blue Chinese ceramics design and a jade handle. I went back for it three times just to make sure I really wanted it. It’s a much-coveted piece to be included in my own antique collection!

The great takeaway from this visit is that in the weekends to come, I will definitely go back and visit Tugu Kunstkring Paleis, not for the bazaar, but for the bar, the restaurant and the antique collection inside that I can still scrutinize and marvel at. Definitely in my bucket list for to-dos over the weekend!

Majestic Mount Bromo

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Mount Bromo: taken this morning a few minutes after the sunrise

Mount Bromo at sunrise: literally no filter. It is beautiful and majestic as it is.

I’m in Malang this weekend and will be posting about places I visited in this gem of a city in East Java.

Coming soon!

 

On another level: Altitude at The Plaza Brunch

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One giddy, happy Bella at The Altitude buffet brunch

One glorious, fine Sunday morning, I posted my favorite view of Jakarta. I was also in one of my favorite brunch places that time at Altitude, The Plaza, where three powerhouse international chefs came together to offer a rare brunch buffet.

The buffet itself is a rare occasion worth celebrating, since this buffet triad happens only once or twice a year!

Arshad and I are both fans of Salt Grill by Luke Mangan. We celebrate most of our life milestones here: my birthday, our anniversary, promotions, etc. Last year, we even won gift certificates from The Altitude, so naturally, he is part of the mailing list.

When the email came in about the buffet brunch with the 3 restaurants combined, it was a hands down “Yes, we are definitely going!.” We decided to celebrate Arshad’s birthday, albeit a belated one, at The Altitude to feast on this rare and sought-after buffet.

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Celebrating Arshad’s birthday at The Altitude’s buffet brunch

At Rp500k net for the food, I say it’s definitely worth it, what with the quality and vast choices. Free-flowing sparkling wine, red wine, beer and cocktails can be had for an additional Rp490k. I don’t think it’s a surprise what we opted for!

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Sunday Super Brunch at Altitude, The Plaza

As usual, I started my feast with salad and cheese, both of which came from The Salt Grill. Like I said in my previous post on brunch buffets, I rate restaurants based on how good their salad bar and cheese selection are, being the pescatarian that I am. As expected, my favorite restaurant did not disappoint.

Aside from these, Salt Grill was in charge of the carvery, where Arshad feasted on steak Arshad with his plate of meat from Salt Grill_wmand lamb. He said it was good, but since I don’t eat meat, I will have to take his word for it.

Salt Grill is well known for its no-nonsense grilled meat and steak, where it’s the quality of the meat that matters and the sauces are meant to enhance the flavor, not overpower the meat. For the meatlovers, this is definitely a highly recommended restaurant. They also offer salmon and barramundi for those who prefer fish and the restaurant does not take vegetarians for granted, either. That’s why for my husband and I, we get the best of both worlds at Luke Mangan’s The Salt Grill.

After the salad and cheese, my next go-to station is the sashimi and rolls, and Enmaru’s Executive Chef Takashi Tomie made sure that the diners had a fresh selection. Arshad even witnessed how Chef Takashi sliced and served a gigantic yellow fin tuna. The sashimi selection was very fresh and the salmon sashimi melts in your mouth!

Not to be ignored are the freshly-made rolls, but since I’m cutting the carbs down, it was best for me to stick to the mouth-watering sashimi.

Gaia by Oro Ristorante, on the other hand, offered the freshest seafood buffet alongside pastas, risotto and cheese. I was pleasantly surprised that they had freshly made burrata on the buffet spread and I gladly paired it up with my truffle risotto prepared inside a gigantic grana padano wheel.

I only went back to the Gaia buffet for the burrata but when I caught a whiff of the decadent truffle oil, I had to do a double take and ask for it! What was I saying about rice and carbs again? Yep, ignore that. Totally.

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freshly made burrata and truffle risotto from Gaia by Oro Ristorante

For the seafood spread, the oysters were very fresh. We thought they were air flown from Australia but we were surprised that they came from the nearby islands of Pulau Seribu. At the same time, the octopus which was flavored with Italian herbs and spices was also something to be had.

For the sweet tooth, desserts are a aplenty. again, the Gaia spread was impressive, with all the pastries, cakes, different varieties of pana cotta and fresh fruits.

I’m not a dessert person, but the ice cream teppan from The Salt Grill was irresistible, so much so that I had two servings. Yep, you read that right. Two. I had fun watching how they made the ice cream teppan and they had the magic ingredient that I can NEVER say no to: honeycomb. Vanila ice cream + generous amounts of crushed honeycomb = BLISS for Bella. Honeycomb reminds me of my childhood and Violet Crumble, my favorite chocolate bar.

In summary, the Sunday Super Brunch was a great experience and this has now become my favorite Sunday brunch place here in Jakarta.

Three great restaurants, quality selection of wine and a spectacular view of Jakarta rolled into one make up a wonderful Sunday experience in my beloved second city. Will I go back for another round should they do this again? Definitely! Never mind the hours in the gym that I had to spend afterwards! Everything was all worth it!

Altitude will have another event on the 5th of May. Though it’s not a joint buffet, the restaurant triad promises a night of sumptuous dinner, alcohol and entertainment to celebrate their anniversary. Too bad I won’t be in Jakarta at this time, but if you want to go, see the contact details of Altitude The Plaza below.

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Altitude The Plaza’s Anniversary Dinner

Altitude The Plaza, 46th floor

Jl. M.H. Thamrin, Kavling 28 – 30
Jakarta 10350
Ph: (62-21) 2992 2448
Direct No.: 085939922799
Fax: (62-22) 2992 2447
E-mail: info@altitude.co.id
Follow them on :
Facebook : Altitude The Plaza
Instagram : @altitudetheplaza

 

The experience is definitely 5 stars for me, with a lot of repeats in the future!

PS: This is not a paid promotion from any of the restaurants. I’m a real, raving fan of the restaurant triad. =)

5-out-of-5