Copenhagen

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After my last jaunt in Asia this time I decided to try somewhere a little closer to home. I love Carlsberg and one evening while pouring my favourite beverage into my favourite pint glass I happened to notice the writing on the side of the can. So I thought why not go there!

The city is home to only a million residents and so perfectly fit my idea of a perfect city. Large enough to provide all the services and standards that I want when I travel, but small enough to be intimate, navigable and have that all important sense of community which many of the world’s modern cities so totally lack.

I found the people to be jovial and welcoming with an insatiable appetite for beer and nightlife – which suited me just fine! The local transport was easy to understand and I managed to get around to check out some of the best sites.

I whiled away a full day browsing and scouring the many corridors and archives at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art which was comfortable and extremely informative. The next day I was in the mood for something a bit more adrenaline filled and so visited the world’s oldest functioning amusement park Bakken – a fun-filled blast from the past with old wooden roller-coasters which function perfectly but riding them still has an added edge of uncertainty and danger.

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In the evenings I sampled the local bars, restaurants and clubs but there were far too many to list here!

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A Change of Scene

Continuing the theme of big cities in this blog I’m going to write about another one today. Readers will note however a marked difference in this city – one of these things is not like the others. For this trip I decided to spread my wings and fly even further afield to Asia, specifically Malaysia. I wanted somewhere with all the amenities and creature comforts a lady like me has come to find essential in life. I also wanted somewhere totally unique and different to immerse myself in. The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, proved to be the perfect place for it.

The majority of the country’s population is Muslim but there are also hefty populations of both Chinese and Indians living there. The result is an incredibly juxtaposition of cultures and cuisines – one which I’ve never seen before in all of my travels. Wander down one street and find yourself listening to blaring Bollywood anthems, looking at colourful sarongs and smelly delicious curry spices, round the corner and you’re looking at signs signaling shark-fin soup, the dense restaurants and kopitiams (coffee shops) packed with elderly Chinese men gossiping and swigging sweet coffee with cream. It’s an incredible place to simply wander and watch life.

I spent a few weeks immersing myself and touring the many sights ranging from the iconic Petronas tower which dominate the skyline, to the Batu Caves – a holy Indian temple inside a mountain, guarded by a huge statue of Lord Murugan. The latter of these is popular with rock climbers so I took the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and try something new – I was not disappointed.

For those interested in checking out this amazing city, watch the attached video to get some ideas on what to do there.

 

The Italian Job

So I am writing this from a beautiful veranda in Italy. I decided three days ago that I was fed up with sitting around vegetating. With no work commitments this week, why not just pack a bag and go explore somewhere. Go and get lost in another country, culture and cuisine!

 Its been three days of adventure. Not crazy, swim with sharks, hike up mountains, sleep in flea ridden hostels adventures.. calculated rick is my thing after all. No its been simplicity- the warmth of a family run B&B the slight fear of not knowing the native language but travelling to a country where they speak yours and of course finding a place safe enough to get completely lost in your own world. 

So when in Rome- Or indeed Tuscany in my case- I decided to take a cooking lesson from my B&B hosts and find out how they make their staple dish. I had no idea how simple it was so I thought I woudl share it with you all!

 

Cronut Crazy

So I recently spent time in New York City. This is my favourite place in the world. How can it not be when they are a city that lives off coffee and eats things such as ice cream stuffed donuts and crack pie (not crack btw its actually almost pure sugar and cream but my god it’s the most amazing thing I have eaten- check it out here if you visit Moofuku Milk Bar)

This really is a foodie heaven. You can really literally get anything- Ramen Noodle Burgers, some of the best pizza outside of Italy and possibly the best rice pudding I have ever tasted in every flavor imaginable at Rice to Riches in soho.

So as you can see I am quite the fan and have visited many times and tried a lot. I have stayed in accommodation of every kind- from the swanky Waldorf to couch surfing (yes literally sleeping on strangers sofas) to living the sex and the city dream with my own private apartment sub let in West Village. I can honestly say that my best experiences came from couch surfing- the cheapest (as its free) and most exciting. You stay with a local who shows you around and you end up in areas off the beaten tourist trap. Most importantly for me- you make friends that stay friends.

So this year my visit was to an old friend I met couch surfing years ago. She lives in China Town – which is bonkers- the markets and shops are filled with vegetables and meat and sweets that are literally alien to me. Its like a culture shock without having to actually visit the country- perfect for me!

Dominque Bakery in Soho. They https://triedandtestedtraveller.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/2014-03-25-10-39-02.jpghave patented the recipe and so it’s the only place in the world to get one. The demand is so high and they are so exclusive that the queues start at 5am and they sell out by 7.30am.

However, this time I was on a mission. I wanted a cronut. Now for those who don’t know what a cronut is- it’s a hybrid of a croissant and a donought invented by the patisserie chef at the Dominque Bakery in Soho. They have patented the recipe and so it’s the only place in the world to get one. The demand is so high and they are so exclusive that the queues start at 5am and they sell out by 7.30am.

Sadly I arrived too late and I missed my Cronut experience. But at least I knew the score. I picked a perfectly beautiful alternative pastry and sat down to enjoy the indulgence when the door swung open and a brash loud man entered with his two kids.

He literally bellowed ‘We made it- home of the cronut baby!’

Of course the rest of the café knew there were no cornuts left. So we waited to watch this obnoxious man be humbled by the dainty looking shop girl.

He slapped hid dollars on the counter, demanding three cronuts be served immediately- when she politely informed him they had sold out and that they do actually sell out everyday – he literally went the colour of a beetroot. He shouted at her that they should simply bake more and in a fit of rage exited the café with his kids as he cursed the very concept of the cronut.

 

The rest of us went back to our perfect pastries and thought, well we didn’t get a cronut but at least we aren’t that guy!

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California Dreaming

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So I recently returned from an epic trip along the Route 1 highway. Driving from LA to San Fran, this is a coastal path that has the most incredible and memorable beaches and scenery I have seen in a long time. You can find out more here on Frommers

However, things didn’t start off quite that well. First off, Americans and their hire cars. Bearing in mind this is a coastal route not an off road safari. They handed me the keys to the biggest Chevy I have seen in my life. I crawled up into the drivers seat only to realize I could not see the font, back or sides of my car. As I sat with my feet dangling, peering over a huge steering wheel, I felt like a toddler who had stolen her parents car keys. This would not do! Its bad enough having to drive the other side of the road and in a country where you can still turn right at a red light! I didn’t need to be behind the wheel of a monster truck at the same time. So back I tottered ot complain and after much explaining and eyelash fluttering I was given a VW Beetle- much better!! For tips on car hire I found this site helpful.

Things were looking up. After being reliably informed about getting ripped off by car hires in America, I decided to buy my own sat nav over there- cheaper than hiring and you keep it! All good in principle. In practice however, I failed to consider getting to a shop to buy one. Basically navigating without a navigator! After a positively terrifying 20 minutes on a freeway and several screaming fits later, I arrived at a Target store and managed to get my hands on by new boyfriend and backseat driver, Tom Tom.

Unfortunately, my ditzy daze did not end there. I began my route along the coast, taking in the stunning rock faces and wild waves (always pull over to let cars pass you as you crawl along but also so you can get out and really take in the view).

Once back in car I realised my beloved Tom Tom was playing up and recalculating. After battling with his dulcet tones telling me to do a u-turn on a one way road, I instead took a trip straight back to the store. However, my frustrated face soon turned to bright red when the shop assistant reliably informed me that I had left the film sticker on the screen and it was pressing the screen and making it recalculate- oops!!!!!!