Archive for the ‘Did you know?’ Category

It has been a bit more than a month ago when we had an exclusive all-girl weekend getaway. It was meant to be a fun-filled and stress-free weekend for 7 girls for a getaway with great food, quality bonding, lots of laughs and just having the best time ever. Oooops… forgot baby Z, the only XY-chromosome in our girly group! 😀

On 5th Nov, I have posted Part 1 of our weekend getaway to (O)Porto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. By the way, Portugal’s famous port wine is named for Porto, and Portugal, is one of the world’s most beautiful countries! 

Oh dear, it has been 3 weeks since, and Part 2 was still not out … hmmmm

I’m sure the girls were wondering, and I was right. Last week I met up with X for lunch and here’s our conversation:

X (curious): When is part 2 of our trip going to be ready, or have you decided to stop…?

D: Definitely not stopping. In the pipeline … 😉

X: Ha ha …. I thought you have decided to stop !

D (smiling): Nope, am collating the photos first and that’s one big hold-up! The App I’m using jumbled up my photos and they are not in chronological order anymore and mind you, I have more than 10k photos on my iPhone! Argghhh …

X: My condolences to you, then …

D (grinning): Humph! 

Pre-Mortem 

With the majority of us working and/or travelling, AO volunteered to do a research on Porto a week before our ETD. She had BIG plans for us 7 girls and her baby. It sounded just too good, but was it doable? The main point of discussion was whether Duoro Valley was a go or no go in our Weekend getaway. Places of interests and links were attached in an email for us to revert with our feedback.

While X and G had replied, here was my feedback –

Hi ya’ll !

Hey AO, a massive thanks for the great research, indeed. Well done, charbor! I was re-reading your message and noted that getting to the villages would take at least 2.5 hours. That means to and from the villages would take 5 hours and that’s just the travel part and not taking into account the actual time spent there. We would easily lose three-quarters of a day just to get there and back. It’s a pity because I would love to visit the breathtaking Duoro Valley, but due to time pressure (short weekend et al), with a heavy heart, I’ll give this visit a miss. I’m sure Porto city has a lot to offer especially so when it’s a first time for most of us. Oh by the way, I just checked the weather forecast and it’s not looking great, It’ll be 17 to 18 deg C with 60% to 70% chance of rain!!! Hope the forecast is wrong ! So it looks like X, G and I are saying “no” to Duoro Valley. Not sure about C, O and AM. Anyway, since you and AM will be staying a day longer, hence, am assuming you girls will be going on Sunday, if we’re not going in a group, right?. And if you’re going, don’t forget to share your experience with us after the trip, k? 

Cheers and counting down to our Porto trip!!

D

So the road trip plan to Duoro Valley was dumped, as C and O were also not keen, due to time constraints. That meant, AO and AM, the last girls to leave Porto, would be going on Sunday, right?

Erm … afraid not… 

Just a day or two before our departure, AO, the littlest, but feistiest girl in our group (Lolz!) decided a last minute change in plan, i.e. to go on with the trip to Duoro Valley, with or without the group not on Sunday but on the day of our ETA in Porto! The reason for the change in schedule was because of …

 …This !!!

Sunday, 23rd Oct was to be the bleakest of all days. Cold and wet at 14 deg C! Driving along the winding roads to Duoro Valley under a heavy downpour would appear to be too dangerous, so it would definitely be a no go on Sunday to Duoro Valley … BUT… feisty AO was determined to make that trip!

Now the question(s): Did AO go to Duoro Valley or not and if she did, who came along? 

I left the office at almost 9 pm the evening before the trip. I was absolutely knackered and dog-tired; hence I was 100% looking forward to an easy and stress-free weekend with the girls and a baby …

Bem-vindo ao porto! Welcome to Porto!

We left Brussels Airport at 10:50 and arrived at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport at 12:20. As soon as we touched down, our group had to split into two! Yup, the trip to Duoro Valley was decided at the last minute and AO managed to ‘lure’ a victim and who izzit?

The group that left to Duoro Valley took a rented car whilst the group that headed straight for the city took the Metro. Before we said our temporary goodbyes, we wanted everyone to meet for dinner together. We suggested and agreed to meet at the hotel lobby around 7pm, all 7 girls and a baby!

Did we make it? That’s the question … 😉

By the way, it was C who volunteered to accompany AO and baby Z and she was happy to be the ‘chauffeur’ for the entire journey up the wine growing valley of Duoro

The 5 of us had initially wanted to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel. We queued on the taxi stand, but it was just hopeless because there were 5 of us. The cabbie allowed max 4 passengers per trip. A minivan-type taxi would be perfect but they didn’t appear very often, so we changed our strategy and went for the Metro instead. 

The journey to the city centre took about 35 minutes and a single fare was Eur 1.80. For the first time, we needed to buy the Andante ticket which included the 0.60 cent rechargeable Andante card

Taking the metro is by far the cheapest and quickest way to get to the city but I remembered well we had to wait for about 40 minutes for the metro train to start moving. We had lost precious time playing the waiting game .. 

Porto Trindade Hotel

Trindade station is the 15th stop from the airport. The hotel was not an obvious find as the sign was virtually non-existent. We had to cross the road from the Metro and walked uphill all the way to the hotel while at the same time, dragging our luggage. It was probably a blessing in disguise that AO and baby Z didn’t have to go through the gruelling walk that afternoon. 

Goodness gracious!  It was almost 3 pm and we had not had our lunch. Before we checked in our rooms, X asked the receptionist where we could eat the famous Porto signature dish, francesinha. Without a smile on his face, he gave us the name of the restaurant (Café Santiago) and to remember the landmark “Coliseu do Porto“. The restaurant’s just opposite the theatre which is a local landmark and a leading venue for music and cultural events in Porto. Oh-Kay… with a landmark in mind, we shouldn’t get lost, right? 

If I remembered well, I didn’t recall we being greeted by a friendly receptionist. I would describe the staff as professional rather than friendly, except for one super friendly barman, whom we got acquainted with that evening when we redeemed our welcome drink at the bar. He was very helpful and went the extra mile to give us tips on places to visit during our stay in Porto.

When we checked-in into our rooms, we had only 10 minutes to orientate ourselves in our respective room, after which we had  to gather at the lobby and left the hotel in search for that mysterious francesinha

It was not an easy peasy search for that specific Café because we still had to acquaint and orientate ourselves with the city and her surroundings. 

Avenida dos Aliados

From our hotel, we started at the monumental central avenue, Avenida dos Aliados, aka Porto’s ‘reception room’ right in the heart of the city.

It’s a lively avenue during the day, but what a pity the skies were quite grey and it was quite chilly that afternoon as well. The avenue would have been a great place for a relaxing promenade, but of course we did not miss a photo opportunity next to the statue of D. Pedro IV on a horse. He was a symbol of courage and affection for the people of Porto. Behind us in the distance was the City Hall of Porto, situated at the top of Aliados Avenue, at the heart of downtown.


We could not dilly-dally too long there as time was the essence. In hindsight, it’s unfortunate that our group was splitted into two. We came as one and we should have stayed as one. With two splitted groups, timing became a challenge. We hadn’t the clue if C, AO and baby Z had the rented car and/ or if they had started the journey direction Duoro. We could only hope and pray that the 2 girls and a baby were danger-free and fine. Therefore, the only right way to do was to respect our agreed timeline prior to our going separate ways. 

And by the way, we still have not found the landmark the hotel receptionist was directing us to, so we walked and we walked and we walked …

The Quest For Francesinha 

In order not to have too many people doing the same thing, G and X were the map readers or navigators.  Girls being girls, little arguments and banterings were the norm. One said north, the other said south. So we walked and walked and walked until we came to Porto’s lively shopping street, Rua Santa Catarina. Part of the street is closed to traffic, making it a mostly-pedestrianised shopping street. Well of course we did not stop there to shop (not yet) BUT we had a closed glimpse of the most renowned “Harry Potter‘s” Café Majestic.  

Harry Potter

Yup! Will talk about that in a bit, because the priority quest then was to monitor the landmark, Coliseu do Porto and our francesinha !!!!

And we finally found the landmark!!!

Yay!!


Café Santiago 

If this café was recommended by staff at our hotel, then it must be good. It was full house when we arrived, so it’s a good sign that it must be more than good 😉

We had to wait for a vacant table. What made it more difficult was we were with 5 people. First of all, 5 is an odd number and 5 were too many to get a table in a packed café, so we waited …

We finally got a table meant for 4, so we had to squeeze one of the girls. When the waiter brought the menu card to us, I goggled at the photos of the menu. Only 2 shades of colours: yellow/brown and orange! Where are the greens? Reds? Purples? Whites?


I suddenly felt constipated gawking at the photos. To be honest, that’s not my kind of food, but, hey we walked more than 10,000 steps just to experience a typical Porto dish, so game on!

Francesinha is one of the most typical dishes in Porto. It’s a type of sandwich (toasted bread) stuffed with different layers of meats (cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage, beef steak) and covered with cheeses and then oven-grilled until the cheeses just slightly melted. The sandwich sits on a spicy tomato-beer sauce, which secret recipe will never be revealed… well, that did not bother me, because I would not be craving for francesinha in a long while …

We ordered 3 different items on the menu and shared those amongst the 5 of us. We had to be careful not to eat too much as we promised to meet for dinner, all 7 girls and a baby that evening.

By the way, I was glad I got to try the infamous francesinha. For me, it’s once bitten, twice shy. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tasty dish, but it was way too heavy for my liking. I think the other girls shared the same sentiment as I did, right charbors? 😉

São Bento Railway Station

After the heavy late ‘lunch’ of francesinha, we were in dire need of more walks. Our next stop was worth the stop. It was a railway station but it was not just an ordinary one. São Bento is the oldest and is claimed to be the most beautiful railway station with its 20,000 dazzling blue-and-white Moorish tile panels, known as azulejos. The painted tiles on the walls illustrate the evolution of transport in the area, as well as depicting scenes of the history of Portugal. 

Oh by the way, we were lucky to be entertained by the local military orchestra that afternoon 😀



Churches and Cathedrals 

It’s amazing to see how many churches and cathedrals in quite close proximity with each other in the centre of the city. We have probably been to most of the churches, which looked amazing on the façade as well as the interior. 

It was good to have those peaceful and silent moments once in a while after the fast pacings and stresses of the day to recharge our batteries 😉


Birthday Girl

The clock ticked and we were wondering about AO, C and baby Z. Before we headed back to our hotel, we stopped at a pastry shop in the hope of buying a cake for birthday girl, AO, as a surprise, however, the cake shop ran out of cakes. Instead, we agreed unanimously to go for 7 mini cakes (mix of chocolate, passion fruits, raspberries and mangos) at a Specialty Cake Shop on the way back to our hotel. 

Two weeks before our departure to Porto, 6 girls were discussing about giving AO a birthday surprise. In a way, it was good that AO was not around when we planned the small do later in one of our rooms. 

Going back to the hotel was more civilised as we had internet connection and free wifi. X and AO were in contact with one another to get more information about their ETA at the hotel. 

When the 2 girls and the baby finally arrived, the 7 mini cakes were lighted from the candles which G brought with her, and we sang the birthday song in unison while greeting the birthday girl. 

Happy (belated) birthday, AO


2 Girls And A Baby

We were glad to see C, AO and baby Z again after 6 hours or so of separation. Surely there were lots of stories to tell. If not, then what happened in Duoro remained in Duoro 😉

And most certainly the 2 girls managed to know each other a bit more, too. What those 2 girls had gone through were completely different than what the 5 of us had experienced that afternoon. It’s like the clash of 5 ‘city’ girls vs 2 ‘country’ lasses. Lol

However, when C shared with us some of the photos, we could see why the Duoro Valley is called the enchanted valley with her magical landscapes. There’s no wonder why this cultural landscape is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

While the 5 ‘city’ girls had their tastes of francesinha, the 2 ‘country’ lasses had a go with Portugal’s most renowned pastry, pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart pastry). C, with the golden heart, bought some grapes and a bottle of local Duoro red wine that she would later share with us. Obrigada, C!


Full Quorum Dinner @ Restaurant Antunes

Like Café Santiago, Restaurant Antunes was recommended by staff at our hotel. According to the receptionist, the restaurant served local Portuguese cuisines, hence, were not to be missed. Booking was essential, so the hotel staff made a reservation for us. 

The restaurant’s located behind the Metro Station (across from our hotel). It didn’t look much from the street, however, when we got inside, it was packed to full capacity as the locals patronise the restaurant daily. 

Oh boy, it was 8 pm and the francesinha and the mini birthday cake were not fully digested in my tummy and there we were, dining again! I ordered for a fish menu (grilled hake with baked potatoes … yes, boring …) and so did C, G, O and AM whilst X and AO eyed for the roasted pork shank. 

And guess what? THE star of the evening was actually the roasted pork shank, the iconic Pernil de Porco, which was the house specialty. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. The pork shank was HUGE, man!  It was actually very good, 100 times better than my tasteless hake 😦

Good choice, X and AO (Y)

We ordered sardines as starter, which were excellent and we also enjoyed the couvert. I’m glad we were recommended Restaurant Antunes because for me, it was a Portuguese eating experience. The service was fast and excellent even though the waiter spoke limited English. Somehow we managed to understand and communicate with no problem 😀

If I were to go to Restaurant Antunes again, I would go there with an empty stomach and order their Pernil de Porco

Good thing that there’s someone in our group who’s a meat eater, so we could see what’s on each other’s plate. The culprit will know who I am referring to here 😉

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and went straight to the bar to redeem our welcome drink. I had their red Port Wine. What else ?! 😀

I think we must have hit the sack at almost 1 am. It was going to be another long day the next day …

Mercado do Bolhão (Porto’s Colorful Market)

After a stuffed and almost dog-tired day the day before, we gathered at the hotel lobby at 9.30 am (after a scrumptious buffet brekkie with a fair choice of cold and warm dishes). AO and baby Z missed the headcount that morning as AO had to return the 24-hour rented car that brought the 2 girls and a baby to Duoro Valley. While waiting for AO, the 6 of us walked to the nearby Trindade Church to have a peaceful and quiet moment. 

When we got out of the church, G, the ‘navigator’ and timekeeper, shepherded us to Mercado do Bolhão, which is considered to be Porto’s most colourful market located in the heart of the city. The exuberant market is found in a 2-tier, rather old building. The market opens daily from 7am until 5pm except Saturday when the traders called it a day at 1pm. Sunday is a day of rest.

The Bolhão market is not a very big market, unlike the markets I have been to in the Provence (South of France). Nevertheless, it has its own charm as everything traded at the market was locally produced from fresh fruits, breads to household items. 

All of us bought some souvenirs to remind us of our stay in Porto. AM was, undoubtedly, the happiest girl on the planet as she bought oodles of fridge magnets to add on to her colossal collection of magnets. Lol


We adjourned to a Café in the marketplace spotted by G, of course 😉

In less than 30 minutes, AO and baby Z joined us. And we were full quorum again …

Now off we strode to the meeting point of the Yellow Bus!

Hurry girls ….!!!

Yellow Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO)

A week before our ETD from Brussels to Porto, AO volunteered to order 7 HOHO Porto Vintage tickets online for us. It’s cheaper buying online at Eur 11.70 per tix as opposed to Eur 13 buying at location. 

Our tickets were valid for a day and we could HOHO in Porto as many times we wanted anywhere along the Porto bus tour routes, which were either the Purple or the Orange route/ line. The Porto Vintage included free access with wine tasting to Espaço Porto Cruz, which, unfortunately we did not use, due to a few non-drinkers in our group plus time constraints. 

By the way, we were supposed to take the Purple Line that morning with the aim to go to Matosinhos, but somehow, we boarded the wrong line, the Orange route. 

Wrong line or not, I thought that was a blessing in disguise. To be honest, I’m not a sea person so I did not mind missing the trip to Matosinhos, although one or two girls might be disappointed… Well, we knew when travelling in a group of 7 double X-chromosomes, there’re bound to be some ‘negotiable’ contretemps. Anywhow, Matosinhos was the less recommended place than the other side of the riverbank, Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia by the friendly barman at our hotel. That, I remembered 😉

For me, I know I would be back to Porto and I could visit all the places I have missed. It’s not the end of the world 😉

Ribeira and Porto River Bank

It was 12.30 pm and the stop at Ribeira was just perfect. Excellent timing for our midday lunch. 

The old town, centered at Ribeira, was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River. I absolutely adore the long promenade along the Duoro riverbank. In fact, the site is listed as World Heritage protected by UNESCO, and represents the famous postcard image of the city. 

The Cais da Ribeira (the Quay of Ribeira) is the soul of Porto, where one can climb aboard one of the many typical boats and take a mini cruise down the river. We had thought of taking a cruise but had to quit the idea because of time pressure. 

I loved the look of the charming pastel houses stacked like blocks of Lego and the narrow medieval streets and seedy alleyways, and of course the spellbinding Dom Luis Bridge. 


We found a nice restaurant on a hilly slope but with 7 and a half people, finding a table was almost near to impossible in a touristic area if pre-booking was not done. Anyway we waited like predators 😀

C double-checked with the waiter and he promised to set up a table for us as soon as a group of people left. 

When we finally got a table after waiting for some 15 to 20 minutes, everyone sighed with relief.

Phew

After the more than positive review of the sardines we had at Restaurant Antunes, we ordered them again as our starter. They were so moreish and finger lickin’ good 🙂

Before the Porto trip, I have heard a lot about Bacalhau (dried and salted cod) dishes, which are common in Portugal, but have never tried it. Out of curiosity, 5 girls went for the house specialty bacalhau dish, recommended by the waiter. AO went for the squid dish with tomato rice and X, for the pan-fried salmon. 

The verdict? 

I would rather have 20 sardines on my plate than that one piece of bloody hard, chewy and salty cod fish! I was totally disappointed, and so were some of the girls…

In hindsight, I should have ordered that salmon 😦  Drooling …! 

X, I want you as my personal food advisor. Lol!


On the other side of the riverbank, I saw the famous Sandeman Porto Wine Cellars, which wine I have used in my cooking or just drink it as apéritif. Too bad, we did not do the wine tasting tour. Well, I’m even more determined now to return to Porto 😉

Palácio da Bolsa

After the amazing time we had at Ribeira and the riverbank, we took a walk to Palácio da Bolsa, literally translated as Stock Exchange Palace.

Our visit to the Palace was probably one of the most memorable and flattering moments. 7 girls and a baby were standing at the cashier counter waiting to pay the entrance tickets and guided tour. Guess what? The friendly Portuguese girl thought we were students and charged us student rate which had a 50% discount! Wow! That’s amazing innit … we looked like students *feeling flattered*

When the 40-minute tour started, we met the girl again. She was our bi-lingual guide who spoke in both Portuguese and English.  

I’m not sure about the rest of the girls, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the guide’s stories.

I was busy taking photos, of the floors, ceilings, walls, doors, pillars and what have you. I could see there’s a great mix of architectural styles and decorative arts and the highlight of the Palace was undoubtedly, the Arab Room. I felt as if I was transported into One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The room is decorated in exotic Moorish Revival style. It was breathtakingly spectacular with all the golds and glitters! Simply Wow!


Porto Cathedral (Se Catedral)

After the Arabian Nights’ tour, the girls were debating to either climb the 240 steps of the 75.6 metres high Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos‘ tall bell Tower) adjacent to Igreja dos Clérigos (Church of the Clergymen) or climbed a few steps up to Porto Cathedral. 

We agreed to go for the latter, as some of the girls were showing signs of exhaustion. Porto is a very hilly city, by the way. Which reminded me of Rome.

With Romanesque roots, the Porto Cathedral has undergone many changes throughout the centuries. What’s lovely from the square in front of the Cathedral was the panoramic views of the city. There you could view in a distance the Torre dos Clérigos, which we had to forego, most unfortunately…


Livraria Lello – Finding Harry Potter in Porto

We did not climb the Clérigos‘ tall bell Tower, but we definitely walked across the plaza to the most enchanting bookstore in the world, the Livraria Lello Porto. Does it remind you of a scene in a Harry Potter movie? 

Did you know that this spellbinding and unique bookstore inspired the Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts?

Did you know that J.K Rowling lived in Porto teaching English in the early 1990s and that rumor has it that her inspiration to write Harry Potter began at Livraria Lello?

I did not, until I entered the bookstore. Wow!!

It’s not a big bookstore but the stunning interior and the exquisite swirling stairway with its red-carpeted steps and banisters, impressive mouldings and wooden walls did not prevent tourists from taking non-stop photos. It’s simply dreamy and eye-catching!

Oh by the way, there’s an entrance fee of Eur 3 which is fully redeemable if you buy a book. I bought 2 books, not Harry Potter. Ha ha ha …


Remember Café Majestic which I linked to Harry Potter earlier in this post? 

J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while spending countless hours in local cafés, one of which was Café Majestic along the lively and busy Rua de Santa Catarina.

Ponte de Dom Luís I (The Dom Luís I Bridge)

It had been a very, very long day for all of us: walking, a bit of shopping, window shopping, sightseeing, eating, more walkings, etc. Poor baby Z  was in dire need of a nappy change, hence, AO and baby Z returned to the hotel whilst the 6 of us adjourned for coffee/tea at a nearby Café in the vicinity of the magnificent bookstore. 

And then, it started to rain! 

We had planned to meet for dinner on the other side of Duoro River, all 7 of us and a baby. In order for the 6 of us to get to the other side of the riverbank, we had to crossover walking the double-decked metal arch bridge, the Dom Luis I bridge, that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Due to time constraints, 6 very headstrong girls braved the heavy downpour and walked the bridge’s top deck from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. It was a 5 km walk. None of us thought of stopping or thinking of giving up and going back to the hotel. We just walked on wearing the skimpiest and most lightweight disposable ponchos. Only G and AM had umbrellas with them. I could feel my shoes ‘flooded’ with water. It was an uncomfortable feeling; wet and squidgy, and my pants from knee down were totally drenched. So was my hair. I just hoped not to get sick, that’s all.

And we walked on and on and on …

It was a blessing in disguise (again) for AO and baby Z. It would definitely not be a comfortable walk for both mama and baby, that’s for sure.

 

The night scenes of the bridge and the views of the Duoro River dividing Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia were breathtakingly magnificent. 

By the way, Porto’s iconic bridge was completed in 1886 by a student of Gustave Eiffel, best known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

After the seemingly long and unending walk to the other side of the bridge, we were not famished but we just wanted to sit down in a dry place and enjoy some light and fresh seafood.

We found a lively seafood restaurant, Duoro Velho


AO and baby Z uber’d their way comfortably from the hotel to meet us at the restaurant. It was good to see them again and gorgeous baby Z slept through the entire evening at the restaurant closed to his mama’s chest swaddled in his baby carrier.

We spoiled ourselves rotten, stuffed with barbecued seafood and chicken dishes; our last meal together in Porto. Oh by the way, the sardines were huge and not as nice as the tiny ones we had at Restaurant Antunes and Ribeira

We had probably spent a good deal of time at the restaurant because I could feel my pants gotten drier as well as my hair, except for my feet and shoes!  Couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel, though. 

With 7 of us, we took 2 taxis, while AO did a test check on prices of the one uber’d and the other normal. AO, baby Z, X and D uber’d their way back to the hotel in one cab paying a total of Eur 3.80 which was almost 50% cheaper than the normal taxi taken by G, C, AM and O.

Good to know (Y)

Pyjama Party @ Room 702

It was good to be back in the hotel, or to be more precise, my hotel room.  I’m sure the other girls felt the same way. It has been a while and my room was so immaculate, meaning the presence of housekeeping was there. Brilliant!

C invited us for a nightcap of one of Duoro’s local red wines which she got while spending time at the wine growing valley of Duoro on the first day with AO and baby Z

It was a good wine. Thanks heaps, C! Thanks for sharing the wine with us. Hugs xxx


No worries, no one was tipsy. There was only one bottle and 7 glasses of whom 2 had to decline the offer for obvious reasons 😉

The evening was still young and we played a ‘game’ initiated by C.

And the game went like this …


Nah …. what happened in Room 702 remained in Room 702…

Hint: We got to know each other (even) better  and thanks heaps, O, for sharing with us the ‘scary’ story 😉

And for the … Erm … sorry, my lips are sealed . Shhhh…!!!

It was our last night in Porto together, all 7 girls and a baby, and we hit the sack at 2 am in the morning !

Blue-Black: The Winning Colour!

Sunday, 23rd Oct. 5 girls were flying back to Brussels.

Strange but true, 5 girls met that morning at the buffet breakfast wearing, uncannily, the same colour tops. Blue! And – honestly – it wasn’t  pre-planned.

That colour was to become the magic moment of the day!


X‘s son, DJC is a professional footballer playing for one of Belgium’s First Division Pro League decorated clubs, Club Brugge that dons the  Blue-Black home kit. 

And even stranger and truer, the team had a match while we were flying that afternoon, against one of their major rivals, Anderlecht. 

And the result? 2 – 1 for Club Brugge. Awesome! 

The Last 2 Girls And A Baby

The girls said their goodbyes at the hotel, leaving 2 girls and a baby behind. 

It was a lovely Sunday day and Matosinhos was explored and the girls’ boxes were ticked.

And I made sure to buy a port wine at the airport. It was a 20-year old Tawny Port. One of the finests 😀

Goodbye Porto, see you next time!

The 5 girls parted ways at Brussels airport only to be reunited for quick lunches at work weeks.

And life goes on as usual …

Carpe Diem, girls! 

Cheers!

Friday, 19th August. Our last day in South France.

The night before, I told hubby that I would like to re-visit an outdoor Friday market before we wrapped up our Summer hols this year. By the way, we had been to 3 this Summer: the Tuesday market at Vaison-la-Romaine and the Friday market at Carpentras. We had also done the Saturday Flea Market and Antique Fair at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

We never do the same market twice, hence, Carpentras was out. Fortunately, there were 2 other locations of Friday outdoor markets in the Luberon region of Provence. We chose Bonnieux. Bonnieux Friday market was not new to us. We had been there in one of our Summer trips. Loved the charming little village a lot!

 
Bonnieux

We left our holiday home earlier than usual at 8.30am. The distance to Bonnieux is 88 km. 

Bonnieux is one of the many historic “hill villages” in the region. Erm …. did I just say “hill”? Yup, Bonnieux is built on a plateau above the valley. It rests on top of the Luberon hills with a view of the rest of the valley. The first thing we noticed when we reached Bonnieux was the view of the church tower.


And that’s where Bonnieux market starts; around the new church at the base of the village on the small square, the Place Gambetta and extending mid-way up the village. Like all outdoor markets in the Provence, the Bonniuex market is an important weekly event for local residents who come to buy fresh seasonal produce. It’s also an important social centre, ie, a place where the locals meet up with friends and get caught up with the tittle-tattles. On the other hand, for tourists like us, we relished the opportunity to – occasionally – find exceptional deal.


I was happy to see a stall selling olivewood-carved pieces. By the way, I bought my first olivewood piece – a soup ladle – at a Christmas market some years back in Leuven. It was from Greece and I fell in love with the wooden ladle instantly, which my older son fondly called, ‘The Hobbit Spoon’. LOL!

While perusing the many different carved olivewood pieces, I sensed the guy manning the stand was gawking at me. Well, of course I felt stressy. And then I heard him talking, in almost perfect English! That’s the best ice breaker to start my morning.

Hello ma’am, do you need help?  He asked.

I asked if he was the master crafter. He said, “I wish, but all what you see here are made by a good friend. If you noticed, not a single piece is the same because every piece is uniquely hand-carved“. I was sold immediately by that remark. I bought a rolling pin, a spatula, a slice and two cooking spoons to add to my olivewood collection! *wink*


The guy told me that olivewood could last a lifetime. Olivewood is a hard and non-porous wood that will not absorb flavours, odours and it does not stain. A final word of caution from him,” You can use any type of oil to polish the wood but never use olive oil.” Out of curiosity, I asked him, “Why?” He said, “olive oil is the only oil type that will penetrate the wood, hence the grain pattern may fade.” 

Okay, Roger that!

Before I left his stall, I asked his permission for a photo. 😀

Next to the olivewood stand was a couple selling artisanal Provençal’s pistous, crèmes, confits and tapenades.

We walked slowly past their stand but the lady was very persuasive.  She hurriedly smeared some pistou on a little piece of bread and insisted we tried. And then the crème and the tapenade and the confit! We must have tried almost all the spreads given to us.

To be honest, I did not like everything I have tasted. A bit too salty for my liking.  I’m glad hubby and I agreed unanimously with the choice of spreads – crème d’Ail, crème printanière and pistou rouge. The three jars travelled with us some 1,000 km from France to Belgium.

In 2012, hubby bought a fedora at the Wednesday market at Saint Rémy de Provence. This year he bought another felt hat at the Friday market at Bonniuex. The lady manning the booth claimed  the hats were from Panama. The price per hat was surprisingly on the cheaper end tagged between Eur 5 to Eur 50, compared to what we saw at the flea and antique Saturday market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with price tags of above Eur 70!! The hats were also from Panama! 


Bonnieux outdoor market is a lot smaller compared to several other markets we have been to, but, nevertheless we loved the colours, smells, sounds and the busy, social environment interacting with the traders, most of whom surprised us with their almost flawless English. 


Curious 

Bonnieux’s steep and narrow streets are lined with renaissance old buildings, most of which are built on top of even older structures. 

We made a curious stop. We saw many people going in a small shop. There was no one manning inside the shop. All we saw were hand-made figurines dressed in period costumes placed on different miniature location replicating an era of Bonnieux

Seconds later, a guy came in the shop and asked us if we understood French. Someone replied ‘yes’, so the guy babbled in French which I could understand a little bit here and there. I later learnt that the guy and his late father hand-built the miniature replicas. Absolutely brilliant!


What’s Up Yonder?

We thought Gordes was high and steep, but Bonnieux was even higher with steeper steps! We seemed to be climbing up and up endlessly. We felt we could reach for the stars! It was amazing to see how the little enthusiastic boy was climbing the stone steps. I couldn’t help taking a snapshot of the lil lad. He seemed to be enjoying the climb tremendously, leaving his Mum, Dad and sister far behind. 


The kid (like my kid) was probably curious to see what’s up yonder! The last 86 stone steps led to “Vieille Eglise” (old church) and the magnificent old cedar trees.

If you are wondering if the church is being used. The answer is “Yes” and it’s opened occasionally for tourists visits, marriages and funerals and special services such as the Christmas Eve Mass. Unfortunately, the “old” church was closed that day because there was a rehearsal for a matrimonial service. Ah well … too bad.

Anyway, we enjoyed the view from up yonder looking down the beautiful view of Monts du Vaucluse, and the villages of Gordes and Roussillon


By the time we got down to road-level, we were famished!

We left Bonnieux and drove 30 minutes farther to Lourmarin.

Lourmarin was such a hustle and bustle little village with its several wonderful cafes and restaurants. It was probably the best place to have lunch after the market. Oh by the way, Lourmarin’s open market day was also on a Friday!


Every restaurant was full house. We were lucky to find a table for 4!

With such a hot day, our colourful summer salad plates were to die for. We licked our platters clean!

Gorgeous!


Reality 

With holidays, it seemed the days were too short! I wished the days would drag longer, because I knew our lunch at Lourmarin spelled our final eat-out in the Provence. And then reality folded in! *sob*

Another reality was, I had achieved climbing up 64 flights of stairs (not steps), walked a total of 49.33 km with a total of 82, 804 steps in 2 weeks (including sedentary days). Yay! Thanks to an App I had on my iPhone 🙂

TGIF !

Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!

We left home exceptionally late and had a late breakfast. I was excited about the trip that day because I had pre-warned hubby about a sought-after kitchen item I wanted months before the Summer hols.

We left for La Camargue at 12.30pm. The GPS calculated a distance of 106 km from our holiday home.  It was the farthest distance  we’d travelled from origin to destination yet.

When we reached the Camargue, it was 1.30 pm ~ in the nick of time for some local dishes of the region. Lol!

What better way to indulge in moules et frites (mussels and fries) and le steak de taureau (bull steak) ! 



The Camargue
is home to black Bulls, prevalently white horses, migratory birds and pink flamingos. 

We were at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the capital of the Camargue. It’s a coastal town  situated in the Rhône river delta, hence, our lunch of mussels and bull steak befitted our trip there excellently. 


Walking in the centre of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer reminded me of some coastal towns in Belgium. 

It’s a charming little town, very clean, with touches of Spain; after all, the Camargue almost bordered Spain.

This floral corner was a popular photo shooting spot. I had to take several shots before I succeeded in getting the view without earthlings *big smiles*

My Quest Ended …

I know we could find this salt in some of our local supermarkets, but, it was not the same as buying it in the manufacturing town itself.  La Camargue

The trendiest salt used in most health-conscious kitchen is fleur de sel (flower of salt).  

My jaw dropped looking at the many types, colours and flavours of the salt displayed. It’s definitely not the cheapest salt type around. The fleur de sel from the Camargue was priced at Eur 2.50 per 100 g. I bought the big pot of 1kg, which was slightly cheaper than buying in break-bulk, plus a pot with a personal label!

I was a happy bunny 😉


Before leaving the town, we strolled along the coastline, which I later learnt about the close link with our next stop. 


Arles

We left La Camargue at 4 pm for Arles. Like the Camargue, Arles is a city on the Rhône River in the Provence region of southern France.

Arles is famed for inspiring the paintings of the Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh. That was precisely why we visited Arles that late afternoon. We headed for the Fondation Van Gogh where contemporary arts are displayed. 



Vincent Van Gogh 

The story of Vincent Van Gogh is rather poignant. He had not known fame or fortune during his lifetime, but he left a legacy of his thousands of artworks for us to appreciate. By the way, he sold only one painting during his lifetime, and became renowned after his suicide, at age 37, which followed years of deprivation and mental illness.


I was so glad I found this painting of the fishing boats on the Beach of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. We were just there that afternoon! 

Vincent Van Gogh painted this painting in 1888 when he lived in Arles and took a trip to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

As you can see, the painting of the fishing boats became a centre of attraction that afternoon. Lol!



Same Theme, Different Colours, Same Painter

If you noticed, the early paintings of Van Gogh when he was in the Netherlands, were always dark and bleak, as can be seen below (top left) of the Avenue of Poplars in Autumn, painted in 1884 in Neunen

When he moved to the Provence, his paintings were more colourful, as depicted on the painting of Pine Trees in the Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1889.

On the other hand when he was in Paris, he painted the Blossoming Chestnut Trees in Auvers-sur-Oise (1890) with minimum colours, ie, mostly greens and blue/purple. 

Vincent Van Gogh was considered a lunatic and a failure or loser in his lifetime. He exists in the public imagination as the exemplary and misunderstood genius where insanity and artistry converged.

Le Café La Nuit Vincent Van Gogh, Arles

One must not leave Arles without visiting Place du Forum. That’s where the painting of Vincent Van Gogh’s yellow café came to life! 

And by the way, the song, ‘Vincent’ (Starry Starry Night),  by Don McLean was written in tribute to Vincent Van Gogh. The painting Starry Night over the Rhône was painted in Arles in 1888.


We walked away from the hustle and bustle Place du Forum glancing back at the yellow café for the last time. 

We left Arles at 8 pm. Unfortunately with the longer hours of daylight, we did not experience a starry night. 

Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

After the magnificent and transcending walks in Carpentras and the summit of Le Mont Ventoux the day before, coupled with countless vitamin D, natural reflexology and tons of oxygen, we slumbered fathomlessly. We woke up super late the morning after and left the house at 11.30 am, immediately after a quick breakfast.

We headed for L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a small town in Vaucluse, also known as the Venice of Provence.

It was not our first time visiting L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which was 66 km from our holiday home. It’s a charming little town with its many old but attractive water wheels, the many waterside cafés and restaurants and the little mossy bridges criss-crossing the canals. Charming!

Our late arrival at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue beckoned us to look for something to eat. After all it was almost 1 pm. With the glaring sun and 39 deg C, we were pressured to look for a cool shelter along the canal.  There were many restaurants and almost all were full house. We finally found one when a family of 4 just left the table. 

We were being served by young entrepreneurs (4 guys serving and a girl at the cash till), who spoke reasonably good English with French accent. Unfortunately the guys were not attentive lots as they had forgotten to bring the free jug of iced-cold water and a mini basket of cut baguette.  We had to remind them and the wait for our dishes to be served took a long time. 

By the way, the photo collage below may look “Wow” at the first instant, but what we were being served were complete rubbish. The only thing that deserved a positive feedback was the crème brûlée (what I had as dessert)

The starter of warm goat’s cheese on a slice of baguette on a bed of iceberg salad was nothing to shout about. 

The main course of grilled steak with fries and salad was the BIGGEST disaster! The thin slice of beef steak was burnt, dry and as hard and chewy as a leather. The fries were a FLOP – burnt and greasy to the core. Yucks! There was NO sauce!!!  Conclusion: Our main course was as dry as the Sahara Desert, all burnt under the 39 degrees Celsius of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue!

Hubby and the boys had a hattrick of the most disappointing meal with a burnt dessert of tarte tartin to round up! 

Well, what could I say? It was a Eur 16 three-course lunch menu. Even the Eur 14 complete menu at Carpentras was so much better.

Annual Floating Market

What a pity we missed the floating market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue! It’s held every first Sunday in August, however, we had other plan that Sunday (7th Aug). We were equally entertained that day, if you could recall Part 2 of my Back To Sunny Provence post 😉

To have an idea of the Floating Market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, below are some photos which I took from the Internet, which I have given credit to the photographers captioned under the photo-collage.

By the way, the flat-bottomed boats are known as Nègo Chin, which are traditionally used for fishing.

Impressive, isn’t it?

Photos courtesies of Valerie Biset and Tonton84


Going Back In Time …

I had no clue about the link between the eccentric late Keith Floyd, a British celebrity cook, TV personality, restaurateur, a bon viveur and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue until I read about the write up on that little town. Apparently, Keith Floyd had established a restaurant there during a lengthy sojourn in South France in the 70’s.  How interesting!

Well, our presence at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was not because of Keith Floyd, but more so, for the oldest flea market and antique fair. 

That’s right, we went “back in time” inundated with the mind-boggling items sold there. Literally, we did not know where to start.

And then I saw something familiar! I was excited. My mum had and still has the big vase, I’m pretty sure!! 

I remembered my Mum rearing 2 baby tortoises in there at one point of time, and then it was used as water reservoir. I haven’t the slightest inkling what my Mum has been using the vase for now 🤔 

Guess what, Mum, the vase is an antique!!! It’s worth Eur 120 (ca RM 600) at the antique fair at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue! Better keep the vase in tip-top condition. A little crack or restoration will, unfortunately, bring down the price🙁

This queer-looking antique shop has attracted hundreds and thousands of tourists over the years. The antique dealer deals only in animal format, dead or alive 😳

Down Memory Lane

I had walked more kilometres in a day in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue than I would in a week when I’m home! And I had never perspired that much 😁

It was interesting perusing the old scripts from yesteryears, for example the weekly French newspaper, L’Illustration from 1914 -1944. Each newspaper is worth Eur 15 today. I wonder how much it was worth then ?

Meanwhile, hubby was in nostalgic mode when he viewed the black-and-white postcards of Belgique / Belgium. It was interesting watching his expressions of awe at buildings and places he’s familiar with now compared to what he saw on the postcards.

It was fascinating  to watch an artist spending his time sketching intricately the detailed Medieval stained glass windows. I did not stay long to watch him splash colours on his sketch. We still had a lot to see.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the price tags dangling on the Panama hats. Each was priced at Eur 70 and above ! They looked like the straw hats from, yes Panama, sold at the daily village market in Provence and each hat was priced from Eur 10 and a bit more.

Finally, I found these cute old suitcases, which reminded me of a school bag one of my sisters and I had when we were in Primary school. We called the bag, “kapit bag”. I’m sure my siblings will be laughing at this point. It’s a family story and personal, hence, I will leave it as such😉

After walking under the glaring sun for 4 hours plus, we wound up empty-handed! Nothing this year caught our eyes. In 2013, we bought a few things back. This year, we had to be careful with the space in our trunk. A good portion of the space had been reserved for the red wines and Muscat!

Anyway, it was another great walk and we enjoyed the spread of antiques from every stall. We left L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at 5.30 pm.

Stay-Home Sunday

On the way home, we stopped at Intermarché. I bought some chicken, potatoes, onion, garlic, chillies, shallots, fresh coriander and cucumber. I had brought “Uncle Ben’s jasmine rice”, fresh ginger and Baba’s serbuk kari daging with me on our long-haul road trip 😃


I was craving for something SPICY!!! 

And I made this for our Sunday lunch. 

Yummy!

The next day, 15th August was a public holiday in France, as well as Belgium. It’s the day of The Assumption of Mary into Heaven.  We’re looking forward to a procession at our next stop.

Meaning

We had to get up early and leave the house early. Duh!

See you soon!

Cheers!

We finished our memorable cheapest lunch deal ever at Carpentras at 3 pm. Although the portions were not huge, but the 3-course meal, inclusive 25 cl glass of rosé wine gave us the energy to continue our journey to our next stop.

Correction! Our next HIGHEST stop!!!

Le Mont Ventoux 

Our GPS brought us to the village at the foot of Le Mont Ventoux called Bedoin. It was about 24 km from Carpentras

I shall never forget the driving ordeal I went through driving on the single lane (entrance = exit) narrow roads of Bedoin. It was nerve-wracking! 

Correction! Hubby drove but his driving scared the bejesus out of me! He was driving down the super narrow one-lane road (photo below, left), while another car was driving out. Imagine reversing backward and upwards on the very, very steep slope surrounded by buildings at both sides ~ with no soft landing, whatsoever ~ at almost a 90-degree angle? That’s madness!  I was pressing hard the floor of the car on my side as if I was braking, while gripping the arm rests ever so tightly. I was petrified! What a relief when it was all over. Phew!

Well done, hubby👍🏼

I told hubby not to use that road as it was the route used by the heroic cyclists every summer in July in the Le Tour de France cycling race.

So we diverted and took the road for vehicles ascending the limestone giant. It was a 21.5 km drive up the summit of Le Mont Ventoux. 

While we were nesting comfortably in our car, my admiration went out to the cyclists who made it on their own up the hellish terrain to the summit.

By the way, these photos were a static memory of the amateur and hobby cyclists we passed by during our drive up the majestic Le Mont Ventoux anno 2016 taken from my iPhone while hubby was driving 😃

In Memory Of A Cyclist …

We stopped at a memorial of Tom Simpson, a British professional cyclist, who collapsed and died during an ascent of Le Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France

Please google Tom Simpson’s wiki on the real cause of his death.

Planet Of The Sun Or The Wind …?

As the name might suggest, venteux (“Ventoux“) means windy.  It can get pretty windy at the summit, especially with the mistral, however, the temperature that day was a lovely 30 deg C, with a slight wind. It was a nice combination. 

While standing at the summit and looking down, the physical geography beneath looked like another planet.  It was breathtakingly stunning!

The limestone giant akaLe Mont Ventoux stands at 1,912 metres above the purple lavender-filled fields of Provence. 

I’m not sure why the signage indicated 1 metre shy, though? Do you?

The Little Market at Le Mont Ventoux 

I can now boast that I bought some bonbons at an altitude of 1,912 metres! Lol!

I also bought some fridge magnets that were exorbitantly priced! Eur 5 per piece of cheaply made magnets. Argghh!!

And a 50 cl bottle of still water had a price tag of Eur 2! That’s daylight robbery 😳

Before we left the mountain, my younger son wanted a custom minted coin of Le Mont Ventoux. He got what he wanted, but I wonder where it is now ….?!!🤔

One For The Road …

Yup, I’ve been up the Giant of Provence – my second “climb” – though not so heroically on the bicycle, but I have seen what I wanted to see in a long time 😉

The “walk” up the mountain with loads of vitamin D and the fabulous wind resulted in my sleeping so soundly that I did not realise how late we all got up the next morning.  

We went back in time …

Stay tuned!

Cheers!

Two winters ago, when we moved out from our 3-bedroom apartment and bought a house, we inherited a pretty matured garden – the walnut tree, climbing grape plant, rhubarb, lavender, red berries and the many flowerbeds just to name a few. Little did we realise that our little garden transformed into “Eden” some 4 to 6 months after our move 😀

Spring’s in the air!

Ooops….to be precise, Spring WAS in the air.  This post happened to be two seasons too late 😀

<< Flashback…

The rookie in me went gallivanting around the entire backyard smelling the Spring air and arming with a digital camera.

I could not resist.

The colours were amazing!

1. Flowerbed11. Flowerbed21. Flowerbed3_Tulip1. Flowerbed4_Roses1. Flowerbed51. Flowerbed6_Forget-me-not1. Flowerbed7_Forget-me-not1. Flowerbed8_Forget-me-not1. Flowerbed91. Flowerbed101. Flowerbed111. Flowerbed131. Flowerbed141. Flowerbed151. Flowerbed161. Flowerbed172. Grape tree2. Red berries2. Walnut tree2. Anise Hyssop

A rose is a rose is a rose, until…

Our rose beds did not disappoint us – red, yellow, white – all blossomed immaculately.  Neither my husband nor I have green fingers. We trusted nature and let nature took its course.

3 Red Rose3 Yellow Rose

3 White Rose13 White Rose2

Beautiful, aren’t they?

Picture-perfect, until someone rang our door bell this summer – THRICE! The first one was shorter, and then it became lingeringly longer the second and third time.

*Ding Dong*

*Diiinnng Donnnnnnng*

*Diiiiiinnnnnggggg Donnnnnggggg*

It was Lucas’ Mum.

Lucas is my younger son’s school friend. He was at our place since noon and it was 6pm when it was time for him to go home.

My husband opened the door hurriedly after the 3rd – annoying – ring. Lucas’ Mum did not come in the house immediately; instead, she beckoned my husband to come out of the house.  She was pointing to our white climbing roses.

“The red spots on your white roses are the wicked works of the “valse roos” (which is Dutch for false rose) growing unawares next to your climbing roses”, said Lucas’ Mum. 

4 White Rose_red spots14 White Rose_red spots24 White Rose_red spots34 White Rose_red spots4

Huh?  How did she know all these?

Then we learnt that her Mum had gone through the same thing. She was only sharing with us a similar experience.

“You have to destroy the shoot from the roots.  It’s not the real rose, but pretends to look like one”, retorted Lucas’ Mum.

Oh my…. she sounded dead serious.

“There! There’s the false shoot.  Destroy it before it multiplies!” She continued.

 5 White Rose_false shoot15 White Rose_false shoot2

When Lucas and his Mum left our sight, I started pulling the shoot, but the hardy shoot was deeply rooted to the ground. It did not move an inch.

While hubs was busy with the weeding and pruning in another part of the garden, I focused on the “false rose”. The thought of having all these unwanted clones in our garden scared me to bits.  I tugged the shoot with all my might and it finally came off. 

Whew!

I tried to google to get more information about the “false shoot”, but zilch. Nada. Maybe it is called by another name; however, I only got to know this “alien” in the Dutch language.  This false shoot has nothing to do with the “False rose of Jericho”, by the way.

My tugging ended with a snap of the shoot, which was the less tough end, reminding me of snapping an asparagus at the base to remove the toughest end of the spear, but boy, was that  a giant of an asparagus!

6 False rose shoot16 False rose shoot2

By the way, the most interesting point to note is that the false sucker has 7 leaflets as opposed to 5-leaved cultivated roses. A real rose shoot is thorny whilst the shoot of the wild sucker is thorn-less.

Check this out!

7 Seven leaved shoot

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
-William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet –

Come Spring 2014, do check out your rose garden, that’s if you have one 😉 

Brilliant Blog Posts @ HomestMum



Have a great week!

Cheers!

While the United Kingdom is waiting for the birth of Kate’s and William’s first child – the third in line to the royal throne, Belgium applauded the swearing in of the new King today, 21st July 2013, which is also Belgium’s National Day.  King Philip – Roi Philippe – Koning Filip succeeded his father, King Albert II, who abdicated earlier today after a 20-year reign.

21st July 2013_Albert and Philip

Black Yellow Red

We did not join in the crowd in Brussels, but stayed home, as it was really hot today with the temperature soaring to as high as 30 degrees Celsius. Anyway, the entire royal event was broadcasted live and replayed all day on the telly.

To celebrate the occasion, I emphasized the colours of Belgium’s flag BlackYellowRed, which were transformed into what I called our “Royal” meal 😉

Starter

Getting something black and edible for my fussy guys was quite a challenge; hence, I ended up (just) putting a dark cherry on the plate.  The yellow came in the form of a yellow cherry tomato. Red (or almost red) was the cool and refreshing gazpacho soup.  I also made Guacamole , which is the neutral green colour, which represents our belief as far as Royalty is concerned.

21st July 2013_Starter1

Main

Again staying with the same colour theme, I chose a healthy summer plate to cool our warm Sunday.

21st July 2013_Main1

Our " Royal"  meal of summer salad representing the colours of Belgium's flag: Black - Yellow - Red

Our ” Royal” meal of summer salad representing the colours of Belgium’s flag: Black – Yellow – Red

Dessert

I did not make dessert but bought this cake that perfectly summed our Royal meal today.  Oh, by the way, this cake is called ” The 21st of July Cake/ Tart” (Really!)  😀

Black grapes, Yellow pineapple, Red Strawberries

Black grapes, Yellow pineapple, Red Strawberries

Last King of Belgium…

This succession to the throne was quite interesting because King Philip(pe) will be the last king of Belgium. There will be no king after Filip/ Philippe, because, Belgium will have a Queen!!  She is the Crown Princess Elisabeth, the next in line to the Royal throne of Belgium.

God bless the King and his family and Belgium!

The reigning Queen Mathilde and King Philip(pe)/ Filip of Belgium

The reigning Queen Mathilde and King Philip(pe)/ Filip of Belgium

The outgoing Queen Paola and King Albert II of Belgum

The outgoing Queen Paola and King Albert II of Belgum

King Philip(pe)/ Filip of Belgium and his family

King Philip(pe)/ Filip of Belgium and his family

A blessed Sunday!

Cheers!