August 28, 2017
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I was in Seville for a day and a half and in the previous entry I only posted photos from the first day. Of course Seville is too beautiful to be condensed into only one post, so here is day 2 in a nutshell.
On the second day in Seville, I visited the Alcázar of Seville, the major attraction of the city aside from the cathedral and the Plaza de España. The Alcázar is a royal Moorish palace with nice architecture and some beautiful gardens. It is situated right in the old town beside the cathedral, but it took me a while to find the main entrance because I kept circling around the outer walls of the palace, according to Google Maps. Then when I found it, I felt so stupid as it was RIGHT THERE, with a long queue (~30 minutes) to get in! Afterwards I went to the Metropol Parasol, which is a massive wooden structure that resembles…waves? Trees? I dunno. I quite liked this contemporary style though, and was rather surprised to find it so close to the old town. I didn’t go to the top but I think I should have – will keep that in mind for future visits!
Obviously I had to have tapas in Spain, and this is only a small selection of what I tried over the two days. I have to especially mention the “Secreto Ibérico”, or the “Iberian Secret”, which is the hunk of meat on the potato slices. I actually didn’t have high hopes for this pork dish because its presentation paled in comparison to the others – merely meat on some potatoes. Even though I ordered a half portion, it was still so huge that I thought I wouldn’t finish it. WRONG. As soon as I took a first bite, I was awed at how juicy and flavourful the meat was…oh my it was delicious! You certainly don’t judge pork by first impression, and this got me really wondering…what IS the secret of Iberian pork?!?!
Oh, and some ice cream was also very appreciated in the scorching heat!
September 21, 2013
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Last week I was at the annual European Society for Biomaterials conference which took place in Madrid, Spain. This would be my last conference before the PhD defense, or shall I say, conference/vacation. Since the thesis rush began in May, I haven’t been travelling much during the summer. That was why I decided that I should make the best out of this conference and take some time to relax before the defense creeps in.
And yes, I have finished writing my thesis, the preliminary draft, at least. Copies have been sent out to the jury and now I am just waiting for October 14, doomsday AKA the pre-defense in Belgium. (I won’t go into detail about the pre-defense and public defense, but just know that the pre-defense is much much much harder than the public defense.) I really should start preparing, but after sending out the thesis, I was hit with a feeling of “now what?” It almost feels like I’m denying the fact that the defense is coming up so soon, sort of like how I was in denial of ever having to write a thesis. Let’s hope this denial phase disappears soon.
Anyway, about the conference, this was my third time in Spain in three years. As it turns out, it was not only an academic experience, but I met new friends and more than anything, this was an unexpected trip of gastronomic indulgence, as you will soon see.
We started our sightseeing around Puerta del Sol, an area in the Madrid city centre. Nearby Sol was the gigantic Royal Palace of Madrid, one of the city’s most recognized landmarks.
September 14, 2011
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While roaming in Europe, travellers realize that many gems are hidden in small, lesser-known towns and municipalities. Whether it’s in terms of food, culture, or atmosphere, it’s a completely different experience visiting big tourist cities while compared to quieter, less popular destinations. That was why aside from Barcelona, friend LS-san and I decided to visit a random city nearby on days 2 and 3 of our trip.
First, it was a choice between Tarragona, Zaragoza, and Girona. Taking into consideration travel time and cost, we decided to venture to Girona on day 2, a Spanish town north of Barcelona approximately an hour and a half away by train.
As for day 3, we headed to Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small town which took us about 40 minutes to get to from Barcelona. It was an accidental discovery, actually. The moment I saw Vilanova i la Geltrú on the map, I knew there was something familiar about it. Later I remembered seeing its name on the trams of Bordeaux, thus realizing that it is in fact twinned with Merignac, a suburb of Bordeaux. So naturally, we figured we’d go take a look.
The town of Girona, with houses along the Onyar river as seen from the old bridge. The colours of Girona remind me slightly of Lisbon, bright and pastel.