Thursday, April 5, 2018

MADrid About You

One would think that Barcelona and Madrid are just neighboring cities and you can toggle back and forth in a jiffy. Apparently they are not. In fact, if you opt to travel by land, it will take you approximately 6 hours to reach. You can take AVE (high velocity train ) and travel time is only 2.5 hours but will certainly dent your wallet. And if you are like us who fancy traveling on a budget; I'd say fly.

Well not literally but take the domestic budget airlines. Pros : It is cheaper and faster with only 1 hour and 25 minutes travel time. #FTW right?
So we bid goodbye to BCN and made our way via Vueling airline to Madrid.

We arrived at Madrid and thought that maybe the train system is more convenient than BCN. We were so wrong. Same situation with BCN. With our bags in tow, we climbed countless stairs and came to a point that we just stood there, with our hands up in the air - We wanted to give up! The station where we supposed to get off was under repair and we had to walk all way to our Airbnb. It was about an hour of walking, stopping and heavy lifting. We made it though and decided to stay in for a couple of hours before we head out to dinner to meet our friends.

One thing I love about Madrid is its proximity to almost everything. You can literally walk around Puerto Del Sol and see almost every touristy spot on your handbook. The architecture of Spain will never fail to amaze you. We went to this Tapas place after walking through old alleys of Puerto Del Sol.
Good company, sangria and Tapas - this would sum up our first night in Madrid.

Madrid came from the Arabic word "Magerit" which means - plenty of streams. There are more sunny and more cloudless days of the year than in any other city in Europe. Whoever said that wasn't kidding. It's way too hot than we expected.  My self ventilating top and skirt didn't help much. My shoulders were burnt and at one point I felt like jumping into the fountain in the middle of Plaza Mayor. We walked around Puerto Del Sol and our eyes were met with beautiful houses adorned with balconies and trees. Took several pit stops for our #ootds and off we went to see Plaza Mayor. The way to the plaza led us down from Gran Via past a twist of small streets and interesting buildings and corners. We were told that somewhere along, we'll pass by the church of San Gines which houses the best churros and chocolate. Some say it's the oldest others claim it's the original though I won't disagree that it is indeed the best.

Plaza Mayor is the largest open space in Central Madrid. It's one of the major tourist attractions in Madrid showcasing an array of cafes and chic shops. Over the course of history, the Plaza took several name before taking in Plaza Mayor in 1939. Originally Plaza del Arrabal, Plaza de la Constitution, Plaza Real, Plaza de la Republica and then finally Mayor. It has had many different purposes  - public gatherings, bull ring, market, public trials and even execution. I wouldn't want to witness that for sure.

Walk along Calle Mayor, about 600 meters and the breathtaking view of  Royal Palace will welcome you. It is coined as the Versailles of Spain for it's immense courtyard and beautiful light posts.
According to history, it was the home of Antiguo Alcazar, translated as the Old Fortress.But this fortress burnt down and Philip V ordered the construction of what would become the Royal Palace of Madrid. The interior of the palace is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. There were so many amazing chandeliers throughout the palace from places around the world like France and Italy. Some even had a fountain in them. They added so much character to each room! It took approximately 17 years for the construction to be completed.
The Royal Palace is open from Monday through Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00 and from 0:900 to 14:00 on Sundays and Holidays.The Palace gardens (Campo del Moro) are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00 from October to March.

A trip to Spain will not be complete without a short stint at the local footwear shops in GranVia. We stopped by 
Alpargatus for some espadrilles. Bought a pair for  € 22.00 - certainly a good price considering how expensive those are in Singapore. We capped the day with tapas and sangria for € 1.00 at a local sports bar. I remember eating a lot to compensate for the calories we burned throughout the day of endless walking.

That was Madrid in 48 hours. It was short but our stomach and eyes were both filled with an abundance of culture, gastronomical experience and beautiful history combined with architectural aesthetics. Madrid was our second stop but we did feel like staying a bit longer and learned flamingo if you may. Would surely love to go back and explore the city in a much slower pace. So for now, we bid goodbye and geared ourselves to our next stop - the land of divine art and ancient culture - LA DOLCE VITA.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


It was early in July, summer in this part of the world. We arrived at El Prat a little past 8pm and sun was just starting to set. I whispered silently to myself and said “ You made it to Spain. You’re finally in Europe. It is no secret that it’s been my lifelong dream to travel within Europe and as I let my eyes wander in slow motion; everything felt surreal and almost unbelievable. Yet, there I was, a small town girl finally living her dream.

Barcelona is a bustling city that would leave you enchanted with its beauty. A visit to this beautiful Spanish city will give you a dose of incredible rich history, art and grand architecture. It's your ultimate culture fix and gastronomical experience. A typical day will take you to museums and streets leading to a historical spot or one of most renowned restaurants in the world. A few minutes from the city area will give you quick access to long stretch of sand and beach. Go a bit further and you'll find yourself transported to one of the oldest churches in the world nestled in mountain range. There's so much to see in Barcelona and if you're lucky to spend a few weeks in the city, you just might(might) catch a glimpse of everything it has to offer. So as we embark to this EuroScape with only 3 days to spare in this ethereal city; we knew every minute counts and making the most out of this adventure was all have in mind.

So let me take you for a quick sneak peek of our Catalunya getaway. Let's start off with the grandest shall we?

La Sagrada de Familia :
The Sagrada Familia is an exceptional place of worship, as much for its beginnings and foundation as for its ambition.
Five generations have already witnessed the temple’s rise in Barcelona. Construction
continues today and could be finished in the first third of the 21st century.( 2026 or 2028)
With such intricate design, Gaudi knew he wouldn't live to see the temple to its completion hence he made a detailed plan to ensure architects can continue the project without him.

This is Gaudi's emblematic temple located at the heart of Barcelona. This is Barcelona's signature landmark and a tourist must-have in their itinerary
There are 3 grand façades that make up the church’s exterior, namely the Nativity façade, the Passion façade and the Glory façade (still to be completed). Majority of what you see here is the Nativity façade, depicting scenes of the birth of Christ and His early life.
Obviously with such an intricate design, a project like this takes years to be completed.
When you exit to the Passion façade, you’ll see this door full of engraved words in various languages taken from the Bible.
The Passion façade, compared to the Nativity façade is much simpler, with cleaner lines and details. It depicts Jesus’ suffering–“His pain, sacrifice and death, as staged along the twelve stations of the cross, expressed in highly dramatic and emotionally intense sculpture groups.”
I was literally blown away as we marveled at the majestic beauty of Sagrada de Familia. I had to pinch myself several times ( you would be seeing a lot of this line in my next EUentries ). It's a brilliant work of art. A UNESCO world heritage site. Standing in the middle of the temple, mesmerized and full of awe; my heart is beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to bask in its beauty.

During summer months (June-September) - It is imperative that you book your tickets online to skip the line. You will need to queue to get in so getting here early is worth it.
Ticket is priced at 15 Euro for Adults. You may buy your tickets here :

La Ramblas
Though it sometimes gets a reputation of being touristy, it is quintessential to take a stroll to this famous street. It runs along the edge of the old part of the city reaching the lively Placa de Catalunya down to the harbour.  Whether shopping or satisfying your gelato cravings , La Ramblas will definitely entice you for its exuberance. Be sure to drop by Boqueria for tapas.
Barri Gothic
Named for its labyrinth of medieval streets and squares. There’s just so much to see and if you want to experience a piece of Spain’s history, let this quarters take you down memory lane. It is Barcelona’s version of old town. The district actually has roots that extend back to the first century and Roman walls can still be found scattered about the neighbourhood.
Feast your eyes on old cathedrals with Gothic design and be in for a treat with some of the finest local artists serenading you with their Spanish guitars.

We walked a little further down Passeig de Gracia to marvel at the different creations of Gaudi.

Casa Amatlier
The building in modern style with beautiful ornamental façade was constructed as the house of Antoni Amatlier, a chocolate maker.
Admission : 15 Euro

Casa Batllo
This buildings façade will certainly catch your eye while walking around. It is covered with colourful tiles creating mosaics.
Admission : 22.50 Euro

Casa Mila
This building is a hundred years old and was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This was designed by Gaudi and has attracted many visitors for its unique design
Admission: 20.50 Euro

There’s something refreshing and liberating when you thread on unfamiliar grounds. Unfamiliarity could either faze you or tickle you curiosity igniting your inner wanderlust. Barcelona though unfamiliar sends a vibe that hits close to home. Could be the Spanish influence to my home country after being colonized for hundred of years. And gracias, si and Buenos dias do have a good roll off the tongue. With a city known for its architecture, immense culture, food and history; I sincerely wished we could have stayed longer.  Barcelona is a city that moves slowly and what better way to experience it but to savor each moment,  sleep late, take siesta, eat lots and move at a Spaniard’s pace.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Review : Boufe Boutique Cafe

Tucked somewhere in Phoenix Park is a beautiful cafe painted in white and black. I've always wanted to come visit and the IG photos of this cafe lured me to set our next Lifegroup break at Boufe Boutique cafe. The staunch minimalist in me couldn't contain my excitement. I may sound biased because I've always loved the idea of black and white walls mixed with white interiors. Okay I'm sounding like a broken record here but feast your eyes at the photos below and you'll understand why I can't refrain from raving.

Accessibility - We took a cab from Orchard MRT which cost us around S$10 since "gothere" took us to Ridley Park instead. There are buses which can take you but would entail a 10 minute walk to the property.

Food - I'll give this a 4.5 since I enjoyed the french toast and its presentation. We all tried Chef's recommendation - Eggs Benedict and Salted Egg Crayfish. My friend didn't like the salted egg because of the smell and the taste came in too strong for her taste buds. The eggs Benedict were quite an average. Matcha green tea was a sure win, I just wish it's served in a bigger cup for my indulgence though.

Price - It's within the same price range as most cafes in Singapore. We each had to pay around S$27 for per plate and beverage. This includes GST and service charge

Ambiance - I'd give this a 4.8 because I'd wish they have added more chairs or tables in the outdoor area. I love the swing adorned with grass vines, the simplicity of the walls where they hung the menu. The inspiration wall for photo op and the overall minimalist interiors. Everything is picture worthy and when you post processed your photos i.e overexposed it a bit; you'll end up with a stunning photo like the one below. #bragging.

Overall it was a good dining experience. The staff was kind, welcoming and willing to take a few snaps per our request. Boufe Boutique cafe should be on the top of your list if you want good food, beautiful ambiance and a worthy gastonomical experience. Unfortunately,they don't accept reservations during brunch. I would strongly recommend making a reservation if you intend to have dinner plans as they easily get packed on weekends.