Monday, August 28, 2017

Bondi Beach

I thought it would be nice to post about the beach as it has been raining hard the past few days. Well, the sun finally came out last Saturday and yesterday was quite warm. Today looks like another bright, sunny day. 

While going around in Sydney, my friend suddenly had an idea to go to the beach to admire the sights there. Bondi Beach is famous for its waves and is lose enough and very accessible from the city. I have read about Bondi Beach and it being very crowded during the summers. When we got there, it turned out it also attracted quite a crowd during winters! None of the bikini-clad women that we joked we probably would see in the summer but mostly people out on picnic, a walk or...surfing! Aussies seem a hardy folk and most came with their wet suits so they could brave the chilly waters. Some didnt even bother to wear wet suits and just donned their trunks or bathing suits before wading into the cold waters with surf boards in hand.

Bondi Beach as seen from our bus
Many people were just seated, walking or picnicking at the park facing the beach
The waves were inviting to a lot of people and a lot brought their cars and surf gear to the beach
Here's an idea of the parking situation that afternoon at the beach.
There was quite a crowd at the beach itself
The scene is not what you'd expect during the winter. But how can you blame people for enjoying the sun when the temperature was 21 degrees C?
The boulevard was line with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Someone even proposed via a aerial message and that added to the sights that afternoon. We stayed there for a couple of hours before going back to Sydney to continue our "walking tour" of the city.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Bazaar at The Rocks, Sydney

It's Saturday and a month ago, I had a great one going around Sydney with a good friend. One of the highlights of that trip to Australia was the opportunity to walk around a great city. It helped that the weather was also quite splendid that July 29 and it wasn't difficult to go around to enjoy the outdoors. After our trip to Cockatoo Island, we walked around The Rocks and chanced upon the outdoor bazaar in the area. We decided to check out the shops at the bazaar and I ended up getting a few items here and there including some artwork from a local artist, which I will post about soon. Here are a few photos I took of the bazaar.

People were enjoying the good weather
These sausages were really good!

There were also buskers around and their music was a welcome background to our walk around

We had our lunch under the bridge near some of the tents selling really good food. We had sausages and some soda though we were tempted to also try out the pasta offered by another tent.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Childhood memories: Voltes V

We were heading for the parking lot when the Clairvoyant spotted this sign in front of a popular shirt brand. Giordano got the rights to come up with merchandise celebrating the 40th anniversary of Voltes V.

The wife and I decided to get matching shirts for us to wear. Unfortunately, there were no sizes for kids so we couldn't get one for our daughter. Still, we got a third shirt to give away to someone of our generation. The third shirt got us the free umbrella they store was giving away as part of a promo for these shirts.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

One of my uncles from my father's side of the family was a Korean War veteran. He used to tell us a lot of stories about his stint in Korea from 1950-51. Among those were his experiences fighting with and against soldiers from other countries. Among those he fought with were Australians and New Zealanders (Kiwis?). They were collectively called ANZAC, short for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. I recall his tales about their fighting together to hold the line against wave upon wave of North Koreans and Chinese and their success in doing so despite the high price they paid for their gallantry.

The ANZAC memorial is devoted to the memories of fighting men from Australia and New Zealand who sacrificed themselves in many theaters of war including those in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.

The ANZAC memorial across a reflection pool
A sculpture that represented the sacrifices made by the men and women of ANZAC
View of the reflection pool and Hyde Park from the memorial building

I wanted to take more photos inside the memorial but I thought and to me it would have been disrespectful to the people to whom this landmark was built for. Inside the building are several memorials to ANZAC troops for the major engagements they fought in. For details, one can check out their website here. War is never a good thing but then these have to be fought in order for good to confront and ultimately triumph against evil. And this requires much sacrifice. Memorials such as this reminds us of how much sacrifices fighting men have had to make so we could live in peace.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Sydney Opera House at night

I just could not travel to Australia and not have the chance to see one of the architectural wonders of the world. I am referring to the Sydney Opera House. I think this is The Highlight of my travels this year despite 5 months remaining in 2017. And this is right there beside the Clairvoyant's highlights from her trip to Barcelona (Sagrada Familia) and Rome (Colloseum, Sistine Chapel, etc.). Following are 'up close and personal' photos I took of the Sydney Opera House the Friday night I was in Sydney.

More photos of my trip to Melbourne and Sydney soon.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Chocolate review: Leonidas milk 30% salted caramel

It turned out there's another Leonidas bar in our refrigerator. This one is more recent and appears to have been a gift or pasalubong. It even had a gold ribbon when I plucked it out of the ref.

Milk chocolate with salted caramel filling
Details on the chocolate at the back of the box
The bar claims to contain at least 30% cacao
Nutritional information

The wife is not fond of milk chocolates and I also have developed an aversion to chocolates that are too sweet. This one apparently is among the exceptions. It was sweet but it was not of the sugary types that you can associate with cheaper, mass produced milk chocolates. While I won't probably pick this bar on a shelf (especially when there are dark chocolates to choose from), I won't mind getting such as gifts.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chocolate review: Leonidas dark 54% Nibs

Part of our older stash was a bar of Leonidas chocolate that I got from a trip last year. We forgot about this as we got more chocolate from our trips the past months. Somehow, I found this as I tried to put some order to our chocolate cache.

Leonidas dark 54% nibs
Details about the chocolate at the back of the box
Information on the maker
Details about the ingredients including that the chocolate had a minimum 54% cacao.

This was one of the smoothest dark chocolates we've had. It was worth the wait though it was because we only had one bar and I forgot we had one. Unfortunately, I don't recall how much I got this chocolate for. I do remember though that I purchased this at NAIA Terminal 3 as part of several bars that I got with the travel light promo they have at Duty Free Philippines. This 100g bar should easily be more than 5 USD (more than 250 PHP) but it is worth it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chocolate review: Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs

The first chocolate bar I bought in Melbourne was this one that was made in Madagascar. I spotted it on a shelf that featured locally made chocolates among the mass produced ones. I got one and another bar of chocolate made in Australia to satisfy my chocolate cravings on the cold nights there.

This bar was proudly made in Africa, Madagascar to be precise
The back of the label contains much details about this chocolate.
The label explains that the makers wanted to change the world by making a better bar of chocolate. They did this by making a bean-to-bar chocolate in Madagascar.
Nutrition information including this chocolate having at least 63% cacao content
Another view of the back of the label with the flap up to show some nice information on the cacao used in the production of this chocolate. They used heirloom cacao, which is said to guarantee the highest quality of cacao.

This retailed for 5.25 AUD or about 208 PHP, which is a relatively inexpensive price to pay for high quality chocolate. There are other mass production chocolates that are priced higher than this but are inferior in taste and texture. I thought this chocolate was an excellent product out of Madagascar/Africa and regret having only bought I more to take home. I am sure the Clairvoyant would also enjoy this crunchy chocolate, particularly the fine blend of sea salt and cacao nibs for one to munch on.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Chocolates in Australia

The convenience grocery near the service apartment where I stayed at in Melbourne had a good variety of chocolates for me to enjoy. I bought a couple of bars to tide me over what turned out to be very cold nights in this southern Australian city. One bar was a "bean-to-bar" chocolate from Madagascar (proudly made in Africa) and another was made in Australia from local and imported cacao.

Chocolates for my Australian winter in Melbourne

I was only able to finish the Madagascar chocolate and it was wonderful. I will be writing about this and each of these chocolates that I bought (I bought many other bars) as I taste them. My only regret for now is that I was not able to get 2 bars of each. But then I already look forward to the next trip to Australia and that next time I hope will be with my family.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Gardens, The Grove, Pasig City

I was going to go to the airport to fetch the Clairvoyant who was arriving from Hong Kong with her parents. Instead of doing so, however, we decided to just meet up midway as our driver would be the one to fetch them all to the airport. My wife will just be dropped off at our designated meeting place before our driver proceeds to take my in-laws to their home. We agreed to meet up along the route to Quezon City, which was mainly along C-5. The Grove presented itself as a good option as it was near our usual route to our home in Rizal. I thought at first to go to Starbucks to have my drink and some snacks. I found it to be crowded so I checked for other options where I could have my merienda. One place that already got me curious from our previous times there was a quaint restaurant we always say we'd eat at but haven't.

The interiors give you a relaxed feeling. I thought this was a good venue for long conversations or catching up.
The bar is interesting with bottles of a variety of stuff including spices, sauces and beverages.
Orange Julius to cool off on a Sunday afternoon
Fluffy pancakes for merienda while waiting for the wife. Those are maple syrup, bananas and a couple of sausages on the side to make the merienda more satisfying.
I had a good meal and the service is good at The Gardens and will likely eat there again soon. But that next time will be with the wife and our little one. Browsing through their menu, they have a lot of variety and seem to be child-friendly, which is an important feature we look for in restaurants these days.