Barcelona: Chic bohemian and worthy of the hype…

Bilbao to Barcelona
Bilbao to Barcelona

Woke up in Barcelona.
First on the cards was a walk to La Ramblas. It’s the most talked about in Barcelona and I wanted to find out why. What’s so special. I saw. It’s a street that’s like the spinal cord. It’s wide with wide pavements in the middle where thousands of people walk up and down, where restaurants have their seating so people could watch people, where artists are at work while you watch in amazement, where many more narrow streets branching out and where strange people will offer you weed. 🙂

La Ramblas
La Ramblas

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While walking we had one place in mind. La Boqueria. The oh so famous fresh food market. How we regretted having lunch before coming here. It was amazing! Food food and more food. you get stalls of colourful cups of fruit juices and fruit salad stacked up on ice, jamon hanging from ceiling or sliced up and ready to eat, empanada’s of all different shapes and colours, seafood bars where people just wait to be seated on stools and fresh seafood is made to order within the small stalls, then a whole world of fresh fruits and veggies and seafood!

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After munching on a few things we got back on to Ramblas and headed straight to the waterfront passing beautiful old buildings and little streets adorn with bohemian fashion and decors. The next stop was the Barcelona cathedral. During our trip we got to see so many cathedrals and this was definitely one of the most beautiful ones and it was free! (surprise surprise) As soon as we got there it started pouring but that didn’t stop us from taking photos under an umbrella. 🙂

First day in Barcelona and it looked very promising.

The column
The column

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The Barcelona Cathedral
The Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral

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We decided to dedicate our next day to Gaudi. What is Barcelona without Antonio Gaudi? However I will do that in the next post otherwise this is going to be too long. But worth mentioning is the best paella we had that night along the beach. Full of shellfish and big portions of food and sangria. In our happy place after the sangrias we ended up walking in the middle of the night in El Born and Barri Gotic, two neighbourhoods that are not the most safest to be walking at that time. But we had an amazing walk admiring the calmness except for the occasional drunk men out and about and seeing a whole new side of Barcelona when everything had stopped.

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Next morning we did a little day trip to Monserrat, which will also be another post. But once we got back to we walked from Plaza Espanya towards Font Magica de Monjuic or magic fountains for the night show that is not to be missed. Along the way we stopped at a few beautiful buildings and one of them was Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion. The Fountain area was already full of people when we got there and there was so much happening. When the show started, really late it was amazing. What a way to end the day.

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Barcelona Pavillion
Barcelona Pavilion

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Crowds waiting for the water works
Magic Fountain
Magic Fountain

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Last day In Barcelona was the best. We started off at Arc de Triomp and then a walk in Barri Gotic and El Born during day. They are undoubtedly my favourite areas in Barcelona. A little dirty, a little dodgy but full of character and full of things to see and do. Along the way we sampled everything chocolate and pastries, chatted to wonderfully friendly shop owners, watched some outdoor performances by some cool guys, witnessed a wedding at another beautiful cathedral, a peak at Picasso Museum and a taste of artsy culture. In the evening we hired bikes and rode through the tiny streets ringing the bell every two minutes and along the waterfront all the way to barceloneta beach, had a few cocktails and rode back and ended the day and our trip to Barcelona in such a high!

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

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Gorgeous little hideaways
Gorgeous little hideaways

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Barri Gotic or Gothic Quarters
Barri Gotic or Gothic Quarters

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Barceloneta Beach
Barceloneta Beach

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Travel tip – Hiring a bike is a must do when in Barclona. Anyone can do it as the streets are full of riders and is safe. We got our bikes from a place called Green Bikes and they are friendly and flexible. Only 3 euros an hour and their bikes are pretty good.
You are going to be spoiled for choices when it comes to food in Barcelona. But don’t eat at La Ramblas. You are going to be another one of those tourists then. 🙂

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Madrid: Where it all began…

When we were trying to decide where to go for our next big adventure, we were tossing up between a few countries and then I put my foot down and decided on Spain & Portugal. (ok maybe I exaggerated a little bit there ;))
And then after 4 months of planning and a 25 hour plane ride later we were in Madrid. After finding our hotel and leaving our backpacks we stepped out to the streets of Madrid.

After just two minutes of walking we found plenty of cobble stone streets, cute restaurants with chairs and tables out on the street and jamon hanging off the ceilings and people chatting and getting ready for the lunch rush. We decided to first get some food so wandered in to a restaurant which had ‘Paella Marisco’ on their chalk board menu but it was empty. We knew before coming here that in Spain people don’t have lunch until well past 1pm. And we were a little bit early. The guy behind the bar was nice and asked us to have a seat but food won’t be ready till 1. We were fine with that and I ordered the paella and a sangria while A ordered jamon tostadas with a beer. We saw tostadas in every lunch menu and they were pretty much slices of toasted bread with thinly sliced cured meat.

Then we excitedly waited for our first taste of Spain.

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"Paella Marisco"
“Paella Marisco” 
"Pimientos & Sangria"
“Pimientos & Sangria”
"Churros of a different kind"
“Churros of a different kind”
"Cute shops everywhere"
“Cute shops everywhere”

Then we headed back for a nap to get rid of jet-lag (unsuccessfully) and started wandering again at night. It was a different sight. The streets were completely taken over by people. We walked to Puerta de sol (Gate of the sun) one of the most known and busiest squares in Madrid. People were everywhere. There were dancers, footballers, magicians and sellers. It was somewhat overwhelming but exciting at the same time. Next stop Gran via, the street known as the Spanish Broadway. It was big. Architecture, lights, shopping, food, people, cars, all in one place. It was a shoppers paradise. From there we moved onto Plaza Mayor, where grand buildings stood on all four sides making this one of the biggest squares I’ve seen, Yet it was much calmer than Sol, maybe it was late at night. Still it had a very real european feeling with restaurants on all sides and seating out in the open.

Puerta del sol
Puerta del sol

Gran via madrid

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Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor

Day 2 in Madrid started with a walking tour. We decided to do a free walking tour just to get a glimpse of the city, to know the places we might not go otherwise. This turned out to be a good idea. We started from Plaza Mayor and went to the ‘square of the closed gate’, the oldest restaurant, Plaza de La villa, Catedral de La Almudena, Palacio Real de Madrid, Plaza Oriente and finished off at Plaza de Isabel II or the Opera Square.

walking tour

"colours of Spain"
“colours of Spain”
colours of Spain
colours of Spain
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Royal Palace of Madrid"
“Royal Palace of Madrid”
"Royal Palace of Madrid"
“Royal Palace of Madrid”

After the walk we decided to venture on our own towards the Art district which turned out to be quite different from the Madrid we have seen so far. It was big and clean with less tourists and felt more like a CBD in a western country of course except for the amazing architecture that are centuries old. First we headed towards Reina Sofia Museum, after being inspired by the works of Picasso, Salvador Dali and many alike we headed to the Prada Museum. It is Spain’s main National Museum and home to some of the finest collections. And not surprisingly there was a massive line. It was too long to wait to get in for us so we decided to take a photo of the line, say hello to the museum and move on.thumb_IMG_3942_1024

"Reina Sofia"
“Reina Sofia”
"Caixa Forum"
“Caixa Forum”
"Prada Museum"
“Prada Museum”

And move on we did. We spent an amazing Autumn evening in Retiro Park.The park was full of colours, sun was ready to set and the weather was beautiful. What better way could you end a day? Walk around the park, a quick look at the crystal palace just before it closed and ended the day sitting in a cafe near the lake, sipping coffee, watching people and writing postcards. The park was full of colours, sun was ready to set and the weather was beautiful. What better way could you end a day? Walk around the park, a quick look at the crystal palace just before it closed and ended the day sitting in a cafe near the lake, sipping coffee, watching people and writing postcards.

"Retiro park"
“Retiro park”

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"Crystal Palace"
“Crystal Palace”

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"Postcards from Madrid"
“Postcards from Madrid”

On our way back we came across the Puerta de Alcala. The light was perfect for some amazing shots. Dinner was at Mercado San Miguel. I have no photos for proof. But it’s something you have to do. There are lot of options. Buy some tapas with all sorts of fillings, a nice big glass of sangria and… The End. 🙂

"Puerta de Alcala"
“Puerta de Alcala”

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"Puerta de Alcala"
“Puerta de Alcala”

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Travel tip – Madrid is full of tourists and even more tourist traps when it comes to eating and drinking. Have meals at their times. Lunch after 1pm and dinner after 8pm. Always stay away from restaurants and bars near major sights and wander into the little streets. A tip we got from a local, if there are english menu’s, if there are signs saying’ we speak english’ or if there are photos of the dishes in the menu, especially paella, run! 🙂

And the adventure begins…

Seafood paella for lunch, tapas for dinner, churros with chocolate for a mid night snack and sangria all day.

When in Spain do as the spaniards do.

That’s right, we are in Spain!! 🙂

This has been almost 4months in planning and it’s happening right now. We started off in Madrid and working our way from there. Of course knowing me I have tons of photos accumulated already, but have to wait till we get home to put them up.

It’s a little dream come true. Just the two of us and our backpacks walking the cobble stone streets of Spain. 🙂
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Cairns: Great Barrier Reef – Tick (part 2)

And the journey continues….

Day 4, we decided to walk around Port Douglas and see what this fuss is about. I found it to be like a resort town that is very touristy and expensive. if you are young or young at heart just do a day trip and tick it off the list. 😉 Every night was like fine dining when all we wanted was a simple burger and a drink. :/ But the town itself was beautiful, full of blue and white.Port douglad esplanade

Port douglas

Port douglas

The marina was especially amazing with white yachts and boats with a frame full of blue water and clear blue sky. Cafes and shops around on timber decks looking onto the marina.

Port douglas marina

Reef cruises

reef cruises

Port douglas station

Then we headed back to Cairns with a little stop over at Palm Cove. Another little tourist town full of activity.

Palm cove

Palm cove pier

Day 6 was our big day. Woke up early morning and walked to the Cairns marina watching the sun rise above us, lined up and got into our ride to the Great Barrier Reef. After some fruits and coffee we were on our way. It was sunny and a lovely day so I was wearing shades and after about half hour of messy hair, flying dresses and splashes of water I took the shades away and looked behind us. The view took my break away!! We were in the middle of the ocean and the COLOUR of the ocean was AMAAAAZING!! it was such a deep blue and was sooooo beautiful.

We were closing up on the reef and the colours were even more amazing. I was so excited. 🙂 We stopped right in the middle of the ocean and it was time to jump in. It was our first time and so we were really nervous. But with life jackets on we jumped in and came face to face with a barracuda! Turn out he was a friendly one that comes everyday when the boat stops. 🙂 But it was still weird staring at each other underwater! 🙂 Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera to show you the size and colours of the fish that swam around us and with us.

Great barrier reef

After a good hour in the water it was lunch time with a buffet of prawns, smoked salmon, chicken, salads and bread. So yum especially in the middle of nowhere. 🙂 And we were off to location number 2. This time it was a sand cay, another part of the reef. We were taken to the cay by a glass bottom boat and we all got to stand in the middle of nowhere and swim slowly into the water where there are corals and fish everywhere. We snorkelled the *&^% out of snorkelling! :)) We saw a nemo, a sting ray and so many fishes and their little caves and homes and all sort of corals. It was amazing and I’d happily spend every day just doing that.

Great Barrier reef

Sand clays in great barrier reef

Tasmania: the ‘island of inspiration’ is a hop step and a jump away…

One fine day we decided to visit Tasmania. For those of you who don’t know where or what that is, let me brief you a bit. Tasmania is one of the seven states of Australia and is an island. It is located south of the main island and is considered the 26th largest island in the world (thanks Wikipedia). However as it is detached from the main island of Australia it is not highly populated. Picture this. Tasmania is one and a half times bigger than Sri Lanka BUT the population is only 0.4% of the population of Sri Lanka! Now that tells me two things. One, how densely populated Sri Lanka is (my my we have too many people). Two, how calm, peaceful and unpolluted Tasmania is.

Hobart

Our trip was short and the weather was bad. We hardly covered the untouched wilderness of the beautiful Tasmania but however we packed as much as we can for the one day of sunshine we had. We landed in Hobart (Capital & the most populous city in Tasmania) on a cold misty morning and the much awaited drive up Mount wellington was almost ruined by the rain, mist and wind. But we decided to go to the top anyway even though we couldn’t see the beautiful view everyone talked about. It was freezing and we were not prepared for that. 🙂 The rest of the day was spent walking in Hobart in the rain, enjoying some good food and taking in the Tasmania style of life. (Very laid back to what we get in Melbourne)

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Day two forecast was the same with cloudy skies and rain but we woke up to sunshine and clear skies! Someone was definitely looking out for us! 😉 We were out on the streets in a heartbeat and decided to drive to the Tasman peninsula. What a breathtaking and amazing experience it was!! Everywhere you look its trees and water and an endless supply of clear blue skies and it was all ours to enjoy! 🙂

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We made a detour as we were feeling adventurous and ended up in a place called Lewisham. It has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Clear blue water, blue sky and no one around.

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There, we met a friend too. I have a massive love affair with horses and this one didn’t disappoint. He saw us and even though there was a fence, he came to us when we called. It was the cutest moment ever! 🙂

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Then we set off towards Port Arthur stopping to see the famous Tessellated Pavement, Eaglehawk Neck and finally the Port Arthur Historic Site.

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Another detour and this time we ended up at a white sand beach! 🙂

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Then we decided to find our way in to the Tasman National park and the ‘Remarkable Cave’ which was said to be the shape of Tasmania and what do you know, it was!!. 🙂 The vastness was breathtaking and it was just us and the sorroundings. It was surely one of the most memorable visits.

Tasman Nationa ParkTasman national ParkTasman national ParkTasman national ParkRemarkable caveRemarkable cave

We decided to end the day by going to Richmond and seeing the oldest bridge in Australia. It was one full day of adventure and was simply amazing!!

oldest bridge in australia

On our last day we went to the Salamanca Market. It is on every Saturday and consists of close to 300 stalls of amazing goodies and is a wonderful experience to walk through.

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You know you are home when you eat three meals a day without stepping foot in the kitchen! :)

I was in Sri Lanka for about three months and looking back all I can remember is eating! 🙂 My mum is an excellent cook and in Sri Lanka or at least at my house we (not me) cook pretty much every meal from scratch. We don’t do frozen foods or microwaves here. It’s fresh and wholesome food every time. In Sri Lanka some eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In our house we have rice only for lunch every day and even so I remember when I was a kid I didn’t really like eating rice. I refused to eat rice for dinner because I wanted to try other things. But now, five years since I left home, rice has become my comfort food. I love it and there are days I come home from work and all I want is some hot fluffy white rice and some curries. How things change. 🙂

In Sri Lanka we don’t eat rice with one curry; we have about four or five. There is rice, fish or chicken, lentils (a must) two more veggie dishes and a mallum (green leafy vegetable). It’s a pretty healthy diet really.

rice and currydevilled prawnsprawn currysrilankan cucumber saladsrilankan cashew curryrice and curry

The breakfast menu…

We don’t do toast or scrambled eggs for breakfast. That’s too simple. We have a selection of hoppers, string hoppers, milk rice, different varieties of spuds, roti and the list goes on.

milk rice milk rice string hoppers hoppers egg hopperssri lankan breakfast srilankan breakfast

But the good thing about Sri Lanka with food is that there are lot of options. We have a HUGE selection of ‘Chinese food’. I haven’t been to China yet but I am guessing none of them are real Chinese food. But nonetheless we love it. However you do find authentic places that has REALLY good asian food. One of our favourites and a place Ashan & I go everytime we are in Sri Lanka is a Thai restaurent called Siam Thai. We really go for the hot butter cuttle fish there. 🙂

hot butter cuttlefish

hot butter cuttle fish crabs chinese food

Finding any type of food you like is not an issue. There are plenty of restaurants that has everything you need from burgers to wood oven pizza to world class desserts if you have a bit of money to spend of course. 🙂

pastaburgersburgersspicy seafood souppumpkin soupveggie bakereally good pizzagallery cafe, tiramusugallery cafe, lemon meringue pietropical drink

These are just a few off my Sri Lankan food diary. Hope you are as hungry as I am now. I am off to cook some rice and curry! 🙂

Every girl’s dream is not to find the perfect guy but to eat without getting fat…. :)

(Anonymous)

It’s true isn’t it? 🙂 Anyway let me start by saying this post is NOT about photography. This is a collection of what we indulged on our Italy trip and it’s safe to say I forget photography when I see these kinds of meals in front of me. 😉 Pretty much all these were taken from my dear iphone as it takes too much time to take the camera out and set this and that. So here goes. Like I said it’s not pretty photography but it was surely tasty food.

Some of the BEST food I tasted were home cooked and I’d take that any day over any fancy restaurant meal. Ok so let’s start.bruschetta

This tomato & basil bruschetta was homemade and it was one of the tastiest things I have eaten. So fresh and so simple and we cleaned up two plates between three girls. Off to a good start.

So listen to this…. They bring in the pasta. Oh so good. I serve myself a generous bowl and it’s so good I go for seconds. After that I am so full and content I relax and sip my wine thinking that’s the end of the meal. No! no! no! then comes the second course of salads and other side dishes. Wait a minute, what? Yeah take your pick from baked fish and potatoes, baked eggplant, baked cauliflower, green salads and the list goes on. Apparently they do it the other way around. Mains first. Who knew? I am so full on pasta yet I cannot just not eat these amazing foods in front of me, so I eat. At the end I don’t even have room to breathe!!pasta

Here we have home made fettucini with mushrooms and black truffle! (I have never had truffle before, so I felt a bit posh)pasta

An amazing Pasta Arabiatta cooked by my very talented cousin followed by baked fish & potatoes!

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This happened pretty much every day because every time I go to someone’s house and they bring in the pasta first and don’t even say or show they have other dished hidden in the kitchen, I fear I might not get enough so I stuff myself up on the first course (no complains) and then the story goes on. Oh not to forget the desserts and coffee.

macarons

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IMG_0708IMG_0665So in Italy there is normal coffee and then there is Naples coffee. Normal coffee is espresso (of course) and in Naples there is a speciality where they make it with a shot of espresso, then frothed milk/cream/sugar on top with a sprinkle of coco. And the froth is cold so there is so much contrast going in that tiny cup and it’s quite tasty.Napolitan pizza

Lets not forget about pizza. We had so much pizza from square pizzas by weight at the street side pizzeria to pizza shop at a shopping mall to the famous ‘original’ pizza from Naples. In Naples they are very proud & passionate about their pizza, and it’s pretty good. Very fresh and simple and especially the base is the best ever BUT I did get bored after a while.

So the winner is…… I Corsari. We drove about an hour from Rome to get to this place hidden in a quiet town overlooking the city and it is supposed to be award winning.massive

massiveAward winning for sure. This was no ordinary pizza. It was MASSIVE! See the photo with half my cousin in it, to show you the scale. It not only is massive it also comes in four choice of toppings. So it’s like four pizzas in one. And is undoubtedly the BEST pizza I have tasted anywhere in the world! Of course it has to be shared as I thought no one can OR should eat one by oneself but two of my friends did, with no problems. (Oh boy!)

Chocolate shots

This is a chocolate shot. A what? It is a cup made with dark chocolate, filled with your choice of liqueur, topped with whipped cream & chocolate shavings and dusted with coco and all gulped down in one mouthful! Fun! 🙂

And last not least, gelato. We had so much gelato through out but I am embarrassed to say I have no pictures of actual gelato. What can I say? I was too busy eating them to take pictures. I however do have a picture of the best gelataria in Rome. There are long lines to get to this place during daytime, so we being the smart people we are, waited till past midnight & had the best gelato overlooking the Vatican City walls after an amazing night stroll on a nice cold roman night.

Oh how I love the Italian lifestyle. I’d surely be fat but I would still do it every day. 🙂IMG_0615

Deep fried thai goodness!

Lunch was first on our agenda while in Sydney and china town seemed like a short walk we decided to head off that way. After walking around in circles for about an hour to get to a place that was 15 minutes away we finally came to Satang Thai exclusive. It was busy but very clean and modern and smelled AMAZING. We got a fried fish and duck dish with steamed rice and when I saw the dishes I knew all
the trouble of finding it was well worth it. The food was amazing and portions were so big we had
leftovers for breakfast next morning. It was that good. 🙂

 

Hello world!

Welcome to my humble little photo blog. This is all about my passion(s) in life. It took me awhile to realise them, but so far I have four. Travel, something I always wanted to do but never had the money. But I am getting there, one country at a time. Food, I love to eat, I can watch cooking shows all day but the actual cooking part by myself is not the most exciting thing. Don’t get me wrong I like cooking and I have tried many dishes but like most people I like it better if it’s done for me. 🙂 Architecture, my love at first sight after flipping through an interior magazine had cost me (and my parents 🙂 ) a lot of money and almost 8 years of education. And finally Photography, I always had a ‘thing’ for photography but never did anything about it until few years ago I was given my first DSLR. It changed a lot of things. So now I am a graduate architect who loves to travel the world with my camera in hand and try ‘most’ things that taste good. And this, is where I share…..

Hope you like it & thank you for your time.