.: New York Day 5 :.

The end of our week is approaching! It went to fast I have to admit, I really felt peaceful and enjoyed all my walks, even though it felt my legs couldn’t cope with all the miles. And yes, when I think about NY I don’t think about the buzz, I think about a quiet city with amazingly tall buildings and lots of good food available.

It was still quite rainy, so we’ve decided to explore Central Park in the rain.

The autumnal colours in central park were simply amazing! The photos don’t even show all the beauty around it, believe me!

It was also the day we’ve dedicated to some shopping. He wanted to buy soap so we went to visit a few stores.

And we had a stop for delicious hot chocolate. One of the best I’ve ever had

In the evening it was time to visit another rooftop, Upstairs. It was a shame they were having a party in the main area, so I couldn’t enjoy the best views, but the area we’ve stayed was really cosy!

Since I didn’t wanted any fancy cocktail, ended up ordering a Baileys

Baileys is a match made in heaven for chocolate fudge!

After that we went for a walk around. NY is one of those cities that is totally worth exploring at night. I would say it’s even more interesting at night. But without a tripod it becomes a challenge to make any decent photos. So mind the grain in the next photos

.: New York – Day 4 :.

The holidays fly too fast, don’t they? Working week again… 😦

At least the holidays were good for catching up with all the photos from New York! Getting there I hope
As you remember, on our 3rd day in NY it was really rainy. I was hoping for a better day the next day, if for no other reason, just because it was my birthday! But I’m afraid it was mostly cloudy and a bit rainy and quite cold.

We woke up early in the morning (still in UK time), and after another delicious breakfast we’ve headed up to visit the Statue of Liberty. I’ve booked the tickets online (which is totally recommended to avoid big queues).

We didn’t enjoy the cruise as much because it was cold! The views are really nice though. Once we’ve reached the island we’ve decided to walk around first, but it was too windy

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to US and was designed by Gustave Eiffel (the same guy behind the famous Tour Eiffel)?

I’m sure the views are a lot better on a sunny day. We’ve decided to stop by our best friend Starbucks to warm up for some coffee before carrying on walking all the way until lunch.

I was fascinated by this building, because it’s simply concrete with pretty much no windows

For lunch I wanted to visit ABC Cocina, quite a well known restaurant in NY by Michelin start Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I’ve really enjoyed the quirky decor and the friendly (and good looking too) staff

Photo from google

It looked really promising! The main concept of ABC Cocina is a relax environment to share some tapas with your friends. We’ve ordered 3 each from the lunch menu

shaved beets, portobello mushrooms, queso blancoand herbs

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mushroom empanadas withgreenchili mayo

The starters were really tasty.

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crispy chickensalad, salanova lettuce, citrus dressing, market vegetables

My salad was really fresh and the chicken crispy as it should be.

The disappointment was the dessert, this was supposed to be a white rice pudding (and I was thinking of the yummy cinnamon flavoured rice pudding from Portugal), but the citrus compote was simply too much. Couldn’t enjoy the combination of flavours and didn’t manage to finish it either.

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caramelized whitechocolaterice pudding

So I would say that, even though I’ve enjoyed the ambiance, it didn’t match the expectation. The food wasn’t that memorable for me. Maybe I went for the wrong choices. I would say the starters were the best.

ABC Cocina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11/11 is also a very special day all over the world because it’s remembrance day (Poppy day in UK) and means the end of WWI. In France it’s actually a bank holiday. In US they do the veterans day parade, which started at 11a.m and at 16h it was still on-going.

The other highlight I had saved for today was a visit to the famous Empire State building. It feels it takes forever to get to the top due to the queues, but it’s so worth it! Loved it all. It’s a shame it wasn’t as sunny as I had imagined in my head, still breathtaking

Back to the 5th avenue, the parade was still on-going

.: Exploring the countryside – Norfolk :.

Back in July we’ve decided to explore Norfolk, because it’s an area we had never really explored.

We’ve stayed at one of the Marriott Country Club Houses. I’ve tried a few and I normally like them, as they tend to be located in quiet areas in the country. There were a lot of families there to enjoy the golf or just enjoy the area

They also had a nice pool, but we left our swimming suits at home, so we couldn’t use it. Not clever!

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It was actually the first in UK ever that I couldn’t sleep because it was too hot and there was no air conditioning. Who would ever say, but this year all summer was around July and this was precisely when we’ve decided to go away. We even had to use the air conditioning in the car. Shocking right? We can’t forget that summer is the best day of the year in UK.

We went for a walk in Norwich itself, which isn’t a big town but it’s quite a charming one. I didn’t took proper pictures because it was too hot to be outside.

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It was so hot we’ve decided to go for a lunch break. We’ve ended up going to Bill’s which is a chain I really like. The staff was really friendly.

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After lunch we went to the coast for a walk. I was hoping we could still do the seal watching, but the boats had gone in the morning, which means I need to come back and plan it properly.

 

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After Ice cream we’ve return to the hotel for dinner outdoors.

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I had the worst pizza ever, worst than the frozen ones we buy at the supermarket for £1, but this was not the main restaurant of the hotel. But I was keen on staying outdoors to enjoy the weather and the views. Dinner aside, we’ve ended up having fireworks (I can’t recall the reason), which were quite nice (10m of them).

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Next morning, the weather wasn’t that great anymore and the forecast was rain. Before heading back home, we’ve decided to explore a bit more the countryside but we’ve ended up getting lost. The landscape was quite beautiful though, but it felt that the cows were spying on us!

 

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So in the end it was a really lovely weekend away and I hope to be doing more of this in 2016 🙂

.: Home :.

After quite an emotional post here, time to share the photos from Christmas day.

Ok, maybe I need to explain what Christmas means for me at home. It means being all together, in peace (and although this might be taken as granted, it’s not always the case), and following the traditions of a lifetime and making a few on the way.

We start by celebrating Christmas on the 24th Dec Eve (Consoada), which is when the family gathers around the table. Before that normally means buying “bolo rei” (our traditional cake) and wrapping last minute presents. For me it means recheck all the stuff I’ve brought with me from London.

This year we had a Cod-war. This was one of the traditions we’ve decided to break a few years ago. Rather than having the traditional boiled and boring cod (see more about Portuguese christmas tradition here) we’ve decided to try different ones. Last year we had baked cod with clams which is absolutely delicious. My dad wanted to ensure we would have a good dinner with no surprises therefore he wanted to prepare the same. Not my sister though. She loves surprises and trying different food. She wanted a special cod baked in corn-bread. It seemed like a complicated recipe, and it really was. While my dad had finished dinner we were still half way there with ours. But it was good fun to try to prepare something together. (If you can read Portuguese this is the recipe)

Cod Nr 1 – declared the winner of the night – Cod with clams

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Cod nr 2 – It was really good and an interesting mix, but we should have baked the sweet potatoes at the bottom a bit better. I’m sure we’ll improve next time.

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My sister also did a lemon tart.

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We also have port wine after the meal (there’s always a good reason to have Port). Rather than sharing gifts on the eve, we all go to bed and leave it for next morning. When we were kids we used to wake up really early and jump in our parents bed with all the excitement of the presents. Nowadays it’s my dad that wakes us up. We had breakfast together than we pick my grandparents and group in the living room to open the presents. But there’s another twist here. We don’t open all at the same time. No. Tradition at home says that it’s the oldest that starts first and we all wait for each other. We all like it that way 🙂

After lunch as a family (yap even more food), we normally go out for a walk on the beach. The perks of being a south Portuguese. The weather, much like in London, was really mild and luckily quite sunny too.

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And I couldn’t resist photographing my sister and the new hat

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Next day it was time to get back into the UK. Once I was back in London, we’ve ended up preparing Cod for the 2 of us as well. So Cod nr 3 is a kind of a tortilla and a well know traditional dish (bacalhau a bras).

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How do you celebrate your Christmas? Any special moment or memory you would like to share?

.: Cornwall & Devon :.

I’m really late with my photos. I guess this is what happens when you take so many! Trying to finish all of them so I can select the best ones for our 2015 book. We’ve agreed to select 30 photos each and print out a book. It’s going to be a though decision.

Anyway, back in May we’ve spent a long weekend away in Cornwall & Devon, just right after we moved houses.

We didn’t explore all we wanted to, because we only had 2 days really so we could return back home before all the madness of a long weekend.

Our hotel

There’s a lot of coast to explore, we probably need to go back to see everything properly. It’s just… it really takes ages to get there

One of the places we’ve had the chance to visit was Looe. Looe is quite a small town, but I have to say really charming, especially when the sun decided to show it’s grace.

You can see the differences between the 2 photos

We’ve decided to enjoy the hotel that afternoon. Next day, on our way back home we had a stop over in Brixham, which is very close to Torquay (english riviera)

One of the places I was really keen on visiting was the famous Durdle Door (which he insists on calling Dumbledore)

Expectation

The reality was it was too cloudy and cold!

How to get there

I would recommend a visit around Sunset after checking weather conditions.

.: Kew Christmas Lights :.

Why did I wait so long?
I know about Kew Christmas lights ever since I moved to this area, and that was 4 years ago. Yap 4 years waiting to go! I guess the best tip is don’t leave it to the end. The weather in December and January tends to be quite rubbish so the best is to go at the beginning. This was the first weekend of the Kew Christmas Lights and finally I’ve booked tickets in advance.

My photos are a bit rubbish because I didn’t took the tripod with me. His photos will be a lot better because he was clever whereas I was the lazy one. But regardless of the quality of my photos

The fire garden was one of my favourite. Just looking into the fire and watching the flames was so relaxing and warm!

I totally recommend you to go there. Loads better than the overrated Christmas wonderland. There are not many market stalls, but they are spread along the gardens in case you need a hot chocolate to keep you going. I also had a hot dog before returning back home and it was quite tasty.

The night trail is available until 2nd of January, for more information visit the Kew Gardens website.

Have you been at Kew Christmas Lights before? What’s your favourite Christmas Market in UK? (Oh yeah, to me nothing beats the german christmas markets)

.: New York – Day 3 (Rain edition) :.

Yap, unlike the first 2 gorgeous sunny days, Tuesday woke up to me a cold rainy morning. Quite miserable to tell you the truth. To be honest I was feeling quite tired from the long walking the previous 2 days, so it was a perfect day to take it easy.

I’m normally not very keen on museums (yes feel free to jump on me), but I don’t. I get bored. Normally I love to visit museums more for the architecture itself than for the museum. I like to read and find things online, so the prospect of spending hours reading labels or doing an audio guide isn’t for me. I prefer to walk until my legs can’t move and get the sense of the city and its vibe. And well, living in London we have free access to some of the best museums in the world anyway.

Anyway, my sister had recommended for us to visit the interprid, as both of us like military history (my favourite museum in London is the Imperial war museum or the British museum for a classic type museum). I guess it comes from my dad, as we grew up surrounded by planes in the house (kit ones or even the little ones with an engine).

It’s a shame it was raining so badly, so I didn’t explore the upper deck properly

We’ve also took the tickets to visit the space shuttle, which is totally worth it!

And the Concorde, one day it will be a lot faster to fly (and safely)

After the museum we’ve headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest, and also at this point he was having a massive back-pain. Not that my legs where feeling any better.

For the afternoon we went to the Financial District. If I would ever move to NYC, this is probably where I would end up working

This is the same area where the Two Towers used to be before 9/11. Little did we know what was going to happen a few days later. The more the reason not to take life for granted and make the most of it with those you love. This is one of the reasons why we don’t leave the house upset with each other and we always kiss each other goodbye.

It was such a cold and miserable day that we’ve called it a day. This time we didn’t went out for any rooftop and decided to chill out in the hotel instead.

.: New York Day 2 :.

After the amazing day visiting central Park and midtown, we were ready to stretch our legs and visit Brooklyn. This also meant our first underground ride. Gosh, it felt such a travel back in time! I didn’t took any photos inside, which I have to admit it was a bit shameful, but I didn’t feel secure enough to do so.

It feels like I was travelling in a museum artefact! Well it works. Really loved the concept of the express trains, which skip a few stations and end up being the fastest way down-town.

The easiest way to travel actually, it’s way faster and cheaper than a taxi ride. You can buy the metro card and top it up in any station. A single ticket costs you $3, but with the card it’s $2.75.

Love the architecture! These buildings are simply gorgeous in my point of view

Now here’s something silly, I didn’t check the settings on my camera and apparently I was photographing with ISO 1600, this is why the exposure looked so funny.

Tip: Always check your camera settings and ensure you’re reset them before you turn off the camera. Always!

So many of my Brookly Bridge photos are rubbish and were deleted. Plus the light in the sky was too high, which meant a lot of glare. But still managed to save a few I like

Here’s another place I had on my wishlist but where my photos didn’t turn out the way I was expecting and picturing in my head.

Expectation

Reality:

Tip: The best view from Brooklyn Park is at sunset / night, so ensure you save the bridge for the late afternoon

After a stop at Starbucks (yap, we’ve spend loads on Starbucks, as we went at least twice a day) in Dumbo we’ve decided to go back into the city via Manhattan bridge

The views from Manhattan bridge are really awesome as they include Brooklyn Bridge in the scene

You can also enjoy the views into Chinatown, which I recommend!

After Chinatown, which I found a lot more interesting than it’s London version, it was time for Little Italy. This is where I’ve spotted quite a famous painting by Tristan Eaton (from Brooklyn). You can visit his website here.

After our long walk in the morning, we were more than ready for an american lunch (big portions!). He decided to visit Katz, a famous dinner in the east side. And oh wow, quite an experience!

Katz's Delicatessen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As you get in you notice this buzz of people around. It’s quite big! You will get a ticket upon arrival which you’ll be using at every counter as you order your food. We went for the famous pastrami sandwich. Next time we’ll order 1 for the 2 of us. One was huge! I could barely do half of it

The pastrami was really delicious! I ended up not having any dinner, just a tea, cheese and crackers at the lounge as I was still full!

One of the famous spots that needs a visit is the Grand Central Station

Again it was really hard to get a decent picture and actually I’ve ended up damaging my card trying to get one. Fortunately we’ve later managed to save the photos from the card (just lost a few ones)

But the building is indeed quite beautiful and totally worth a visit. We’ve decided to carry our walk back into the hotel, even though I could barely feel my legs after this point.

It was our first walk through the famous 5th avenue.

Once I’ve reached the hotel (17km later) I could barely move my legs. This is what happens when you do pretty much nothing during the year, your legs can’t cope with all the walking.

After a big of rest and some nibbles at the lounge we went to visit another rooftop, which was recommended by the staff in the hotel (we’ve asked for a nice rooftop nearby).

The Roof @ Viceroy Hotel

I didn’t really took pictures of the rooftop so using the website ones

The Roof Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Which rooftop is your favourite?

.: New York Day 1 :.

After a good night sleep we were more than ready to go outside and enjoy the views from the central park, so this is precisely what we’ve decided to do. What a surprise! I have to say that although I didn’t had big expectations, the park surprised me a lot by it’s beauty. Even though you can see the huge towards from most of the park, it’s very easy to forget we are in a big city as the colours are so gorgeous and each area of the park so diverse!

What I was expecting

So something similar to Hyde Park in London but with taller buildings around. The reality was way better! This is where it feels it was a great idea to go over Autumn

You can see our hotel from the park (House of Essex)

And the magnificent autumnal colours

After our walk we went to swipe our rooms and then we went back to the city to try to find a data card and for some lunch.

Tip: If you’re going abroad check the number of days you’ll be out and how much your operator will be charging you in roaming. In most European countries for example Vodafone offers the passport, which costs £3 a day to use the same services as in UK. But, if we are let’s say 1 week away, that would be more than a pay as you go card. So do the maths and check what works for you. In some places you’ll find free WiFi, like most Starbucks, but if you feel the need to use google maps while you’re trying to find a place maybe you’ll reach the conclusion you need data!

We had some amazing Tacos in a local Mexican grocery store @ Hells Kitchen. I forgot to take pictures. But this is the place Tehuizingo

Tehuitzingo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo from Zomato

You know a place is good when someone that is leaving ensures you know how good it is. So tasty!

And the first rooftop of the week, spyglass. We were feeling tired by then and most of the rooftops only open after 17h, so once we  found one that was nearby and already open we had to give it a go: Spyglass

I ended up going for a cocktail with gin, ginger and lemon (yap, I’ve spend the whole week with a cool, so was feeling sore throat and tired) ($18 per cocktail, which seemed to be pretty much the standard everywhere we went)

Official photo from spyglass

The view wasn’t perfect as the place is pretty cosy, but it was awesome to enjoy the golden tones over the city

After the cocktails we went for a warm shower and rest at the hotel as I couldn’t stop coughing.

For dinner we went to KatsuHama for warm cosy ramen!

Really friendly and relaxing place and the ramen was pretty good, exactly all I needed (although I have to say the sauce was a bit to thick for me)

Katsu-hama 55st Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Could get used to this life!

.: Copenhagen Part 2 :.

It feels it was ages ago! But I have to admit I didn’t had the chance to go back to all the photos (you can see Part 1 here). Our trip to Copenhagen back in April was quite a relaxed one. It was also the first time both of us were keen on not just exploring the city but take as many photos as we could, which meant going out night and watching the sunset and the nightfall even if it was freezing outside

On our last day we went to Nyhavn (we had to go there!) because it’s so colourful. This is where I don’t care it’s a tourist attraction and everyone goes there. Well if it’s beautiful why shouldn’t I?

We’ve continue walking along the river in direction of the “Little Mermaid”

Little Mermaid itself is boring. There’s a lot of people taking photos there, but there is a nice park around which is worth a visit (fortunately I had already lowered my expectations)

Loved the military houses, all of them so colourful, quite a lovely place

Then back in the city for some lunch and more photos

After a while I was craving for coffee so we had a stop over.

Finally we’ve decided to go to the Tivoli Gardens which are located in front of the main train station (and close to our hotel). Don’t let the name full you, it’s actually more a fun park than it is a garden. There are quite a lot of restaurants around. I couldn’t resist an ice cream (even with the cold), after all ice cream is good all seasons.

Trying to do a creative selfie, and failed ahhahaha

And suddenly it felt I was in UK 🙂

Then I’ve spent a good 30m trying to take a decent photo of the roller-coaster but it was all quite unfocused. It had to be a click on the precise moment in time. It looks funny even if it’s technically crap

Then after going for some drinks in the lounge it was time to go outside and try some nocturnal photos. Did I say it was freezing?

Although I like to photograph lockers, I find this whole concept of lockers in the bridge a bit silly and a disrespect to the landmark itself.

Lockers aside, as the sun was going down the cold was getting it’s mark, but the colours were so beautiful around us we had to stay longer.

Shooting bokeh

Did I say I’m rubbish in long exposures? Well I am! Just can’t get them sharp enough

So decided to do more bokeh’s instead

After this point both my hands (even if covered by gloves) and feet felt like ice age, so we went back to the hotel for a warm dinner and more wine in the lounge.

Next morning it was time to get back to London. Such a lovely long weekend away 🙂