A Travellerspoint blog

A Day Out in Castellon

sunny 14 °C

This entry is about Castellon, one of the lesser known coastal city in Spain compared to her more famous cousin Valencia. To appreciate landscape more, going on a drive along the coastal motorways either from Valencia or Barcelona is a good idea. We did exactly that and the journey on the road was a good one. Of course, we have to watch out for these mobile speed cameras (shown in picture below). It is quite interesting to see such set up and I personally think that the Spanish and Italian authorities are certainly living up to their reputation of being trigger happy when it comes to issuing speeding tickets. I got two tickets in Netherlands while driving but that's a story for another day.

Here's the camera mounted on a car. The picture is blurry due to the moving vehicle.
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As I wander into the city, I can see that she retains some of her medieval features up to 17th century construction. Mixing with modern houses in the areas, it has become a interesting juxtaposition effect. Since the middle ages, this city is protected by high walls, towers and moats. They can still be seen today. Because of this extensive fortification, Castellon is one of the last city standing during the revolution of the guild in 17th century. It has also seen a series of war such as the war of Spanish succession in early 1700s, the war of independence against Napoleon, and the Carlist wars. Today, there was little sign of past strives and the city is generally a peaceful and quiet town focusing on tourism and crafts work.

Old symbol right beside one of the oldest police station in this region
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The mixture of old and new with the moat and old town gate still can be seen
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Ancient walls that have protected the city time and time again
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Modern houses
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Castellon being a coastal city, has a nice beach as well. Apologies for the dark photos, I had some issue with proper light exposure. The ancient structures by the cliff reminds me of some old fairy tale castle.
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And there was an impressive sandcastle collection to be found in this area too
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A general shot of the beach
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Since we are in a coastal city, good spanish seafood meal is a must.

First we have appetizers with mussels and some paste in a cone (I couldn't recall the name) while sipping white wine
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And then fish with salmon roe on them, sorry for being so food illiterate.
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The main dish is paella valenciana, south east asian guys would know it as seafood fried rice but with a twist. The dish uses Spanish rice which are rounder and stickier compared to what we have in Asia. A different taste but an excellent one.
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And finally we have a rather unique bowl of fish. I got a surprise when I saw this dish, I thought it was white noodles but alas each and every of those white slender pieces are actually small fishes. This is the most unique dish I have tasted while in Spain but my favorite is still the very humble tortilla de patatas. Here's the picture of the unique fish.
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The next couple of entries will still be in Europe until I do a pivot back to Asia. Until next time,

Posted by canglingy 17:54 Archived in Spain Tagged beaches travelling Comments (0)

Open Air Museum in Copenhagen

sunny 14 °C

Today's entry is going to be about one of the underrated gem (in my opinion) in Copenhagen. Normally, a tourist would associate the little mermaid and Tivoli when they hear Copenhagen but this city has many more attractions than these. For the record, I find Tivoli to be a rather pleasant park and the little mermaid worth at least a look and some photos if you haven't seen it.

I am a fan of the outdoors and open air museum is something I enjoy. Let's go through a visual journey of the open air museum in Copenhagen. This museum is known as Frilandsmuseet and is located in Lyngby, which is around the northern outskirts of Copenhagen. There is direct drop off at the entrance unless you take a taxi. I recommend going with the public train or buses and walk the few hundred meters, it will be tough to get lost thanks to the good direction signs around the area but there is a possibility of missing your stop if you are not paying attention. To take both of these public transport, head to Norreport Station in Central Copenhagen (this is main transport hub, you can't miss it), bus number 184 and the S-train goes there, stop at the Sorgenfri Station. Entry is free, rejoice!

This is an open air museum, if you have been to one, you'd know that means lots of walking, a good pair of shoes is a must and you must be comfortable getting dirt on it. This museum covers 40 hectares and is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The moment I step in, I get to see large animals at a close distance, that made me happy.
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You will start seeing buildings in their original rural environment. All of them are from 1650-1950.
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And then you can explore them, starting with the courtyard
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And then the room, while marvel at the attention to details. Note that you can actually touch some of the exhibits.
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I was amazed at the lack of security guards and general cleanliness of the areas. People just behave in a highly civilized manner, this should be one of the cultures we should actively try to emulate. Best behavior even during absence of supervision. Coming from an Asian background, these civil standards have always been pleasant surprises.

As you stroll along, you will also see gardens with small ponds. Though lacking in symbolism like the gardens in Japan and China, it is still a good visual feast.
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The dirt road is long and winding
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With some interesting huts along the way
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and in the distance
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Emerging out from different walkways transport me to different eras which was really interesting. (This exhibit is in the 1700s)
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Ancient luxury baths (looks like not much have changed in the modern era too)
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This museum has more than 100 buildings and the amazing thing is, all of them are original. They have been moved piece by piece from their original location and then rebuilt here with gardens and surrounding landscapes. Visitors can go experience all social living conditions. From a manor to a poor house. This visitor is so impressed with these attention to details and he visited every single one of the exhibits. (PS: if you can't walk that much, there is a horse carriage service, I do not know how much it will cost though)

Besides the houses and mills, there is also agriculture landscape on exhibit.
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I meet geese as well. After being chased by them when I was boy, I didn't dare to get too close and attempt to touch them
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I am more comfortable with horses so I got real close and managed to pet them as well
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As the building exhibit becomes more modern, you will know that you have reached the end of the museum
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I recommend this place and it should be a good adventure for an afternoon when you are in Copenhagen. History buff will love this place.

I was absolutely famished after the walkabout and went to have one of my favorite food, the smorrebrod. Note that this is a very classic Danish food and can be an acquired taste. The Smorrebrod is essentially a rye bread with some rather exotic toppings (for an Asian). In simple English, one can call it an open sandwich. Since I am on my day off, I went to Ida Davidsen in downtown Copenhagen. This place is a family business and they serve some of the best smorrebrod in Copenhagen. Here are some pictures.
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The bread is more elaborate than usual, in a more normal meal, you'd only get cold cuts or cheese on top.

That's all for today. Stay tuned for more.

Posted by canglingy 20:31 Archived in Denmark Tagged landscapes gardens horses museum sightseeing travelling Comments (0)

Chocolate and Classical Music- A Match Made in Heaven

rain 8 °C

This entry today takes us to the fairy tale city of Bruges. It is where you can see multiple streets of cobblestones and have to frequently step aside to allow horse-carts carrying tourists speed past you. To get there, I can recommend two options. One is to take the train from Brussels Midi and you will arrive in Bruges in about 75 minutes. The other option is to rent a car and drive north. Belgium is a relatively small country but with lots of hidden small town gems. Brussels can be a horrible city to drive in but once you are out of the city, things becomes much much better and you can take the scenic route all the way to Bruges.

Wandering into Bruges is like taking a step back in time, the buildings dates back to the medieval era. The movie "In Bruges" with Colin Farrell has awesome shots of this city and definitely do more justice to the amateurish pictures that I take. Here's a picture of an incoming horse cart.
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Walking on road side with the horses rushes past you can be an interesting experience. Just be wary of the occasional water puddle splashing when it is raining.

Horse cart on standby
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As far as I remember, I have always love chocolates. Perhaps I have grown with a sweet tooth and because of this, Belgium chocolate has a unique attraction for me. Bruges has a good chocolate museum which has been on my travel list for a while. It is not so much about showcasing the historical artifacts of chocolate making equipment, but rather a story telling approach was given in this museum. Since I am visiting, I gladly took the chance to have a look around before doing my chocolate shopping in various shops of the area. This is the entrance of the museum.
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The school children seems to be sharing my excitement to explore the museum.
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You will get a free chocolate bar upon entry and you will begin touring by going floor by floor until you reaches the top. In this journey, you will learn about the history of cocoa, where do they come from, their botanical information, how did this seemingly insignificant "bean" ascended and be embraced by the European elite society and then the evolution into the chocolates that we all are so fond of today. You will also see both the ancient and modern tools in the art of chocolate making. For the record, dark chocolate is the best for your health. If you are lucky, you will also be able to observe a live demonstration on how chocolate is made (and get more free samples, yay)

Another joy in my life is music, Bruges houses one of my favorite music shop in the world- Rombaux
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This shop is more like a music temple and is almost a century old. Like the rest of Bruges, going into this shop is a step back in time. The interior decor from 1920s is kept intact and just like how old bookstores have an appealing fragrance to them, this place has it as well. You will see shelves and shelves of both obscure and modern musical material, promoting jazz, classical musical music and other contemporary works. If you are a collector, chances are you will find some obscure LPs and scores as well. It is definitely amazing to see how Rombaux has managed to survive after different revolution in the music industry, from gramophone recordings, to LPs, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, mini disk until today's digital downloads and music streaming. I guess that's because deep down we still yearn for physical tangible things, and I think because of this niche, they are still going to survive in the future.

Of course, I couldn't resist the urge to get some stuff
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I will end this entry with a picture of an ancient pharmacy, date unknown. till next time dear readers.
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Posted by canglingy 03:45 Archived in Belgium Tagged museum music travelling Comments (0)

Discovering a bakery gem in the alleys of The Hague

sunny -2 °C

I was trying to navigate the little alleys of The Hague, going without a map while trying to get an overall feel for the city, it is a little challenging for the uninitiated as buildings and residential areas seems to look similar at first glance.
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After blindly wandering around, I was greeted by a pleasant smell of bread. Without consulting the "must-eat" list like a savvy traveler would do, I answer the call of my hungry stomach and decided to go in the bakery. (Turns out t'bakkertje is the oldest bakery in The Hague with a good reputation. I got lucky and enjoyed the bread so much that I went back there every single day when I am able. This is now one of my favorite places to get bread in the world.
The delivery bicycle outside gives a nostalgic feeling of yesteryear and it caught my attention upon looking at it.
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Here's the frontal picture of the store.
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Ask the staff to recommend Dutch bread if you are feeling adventurous, they also have a confectionery section if you are up for something sweet. The general taste of the offerings will also take you down a trip on memory lane.

I enjoyed my walk around the Hague, it is a lovely city with slower pace compared to other major metropolis in Europe. People are more laidback and joyful. Look, even the dog is having a good time just relaxing.
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My next series of entries will be focusing on several cities in Europe, I might be covering The Hague more extensively as well. Until next time

Posted by canglingy 22:20 Archived in Netherlands Tagged travelling Comments (0)

Tips of Borneo and the Islands Beyond

overcast 27 °C

I was doing vector research in Northern Borneo and managed to take time out to explore the tips of Borneo and some of the islands near the border of Philippines. The beaches were not frequented by visitors and it was an experience of solitude in the midst of natural beauty.
This is a picture taken right at the tip where the South China sea and the Sulu Sea meet each other.
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It was a treacherous area in the older days when a lot ship sunk in the vicinity of the tip.
The road leading up to the vantage point and then a monument of the location detailing the brief history of the land.
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Found some lovely secluded spots after driving around in the area.
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I enjoyed the solitude, sea winds and nice beaches allows me to just pause for a while and enjoy the natural scenery.

There are also a couple of islands when you venture out of the tip with fishing boats or ferries, some of them are infested with salt water crocodiles and some are pirates bases so they are not really safe for a foreigner yet. It has taken a long time but the Malaysian government appears to be incapable of resolving the issue which was a pity since the corals and the islands surrounding them are so beautiful.
The meals on these restaurants on the sea were very cheap since the area is completely undeveloped and fishermen made up most of the demography in this region. Here's a picture of the restaurant.
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I had a peek at the local fishing villages and generally just walk around and talk with the locals.
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They have very good salted seafood too.
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This is simple bliss and relaxation at its very best, lying on a hammock looking out at the sea while feeling nice sea breeze.
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A great contrast with the modern city life where almost everyone is a slave to money and we toil every single day, I wonder whether a day will come when we can lay down our burdens and just be at peace.

Since this area is really undeveloped, I managed to see for myself a retro petrol station (I do not really how does a petrol station looks like in earlier days though, ha ha) The mechanism is interesting albeit dangerous.
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Some fishing boats and harbor in the picture below. Btw, one can persuade a local to take them to Philippines territory which only a mere 20 minutes away by boat. The weeks at the tip were quiet and peaceful and sometimes one can feel as if time stand still in this undeveloped region.
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Posted by canglingy 06:14 Archived in Malaysia Tagged landscapes beaches boats travelling Comments (0)

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