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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

My favourite city in the world: Queenstown

April 7, 2012 6 comments

I thought long and hard before creating this post with the title that it has. It’s a big call, especially given how many great places I have travelled to. I thought of the obvious places like Rome, Paris, Sydney, San Diego, Vegas, Madrid and then some less obvious but still amazing places like Playa del Carmen, Hamilton Island, Silver Star and Racha Island. But my fourth and current visit to Queenstown has proven its place at the top of my list. I surprised Puneet with the trip this Easter long weekend (she knew we were going somewhere but not where, at least until the damn fools at the aereporto check-in counter gave it up). The city is indescribable. From the pristine water to the friendly locals to the backdrop of mountains surrounding the town and everything in between it is nothing short of perfection.

Queenstown Lake

The air is clean and during the cooler months the smell of fireplaces burning all around town envelops the town. There is so much to do: if you’re into the great outdoors then you’ll find no shortage of adventures or if you prefer to spend your time indoors there are a plethora of quaint restaurants, bars and places to chill out. An obvious favourite of mine is Wine Tastes the wine tasting centre in the middle of town. The idea behind it is that upon entering you are given a card which you can then insert into any one of the many machines surrounding the edge of the restaurant littered with wine bottles and descriptions to get either a taste, half glass or full glass of the particular wine. It is an excellent way to taste wine and the little touches of being able to order cheese or dip platters as well as the warm decor only adds to it’s charm.

This isn’t going to be a particularly long entry, and I will be sure to update at least once more on the specifics of what we did while here but there are two things that have excited me greatly this time that did not on any prior trips. The first is the availability and awesomeness of the Bluff Oyster. I had never heard of it until on this trip when we were walking throughout the streets of town and written in chalk on every specials board of every restaurant was “BLUFF OYSTERS AVAILABLE NOW” or “BLUFF OYSTER SEASON HAS BEGUN”. And if the restaurant didn’t have a specials board, they pulled out a board just to announce the arrival and availability of the bluff oyster. Needless to say I was intrigued.

A little online research of the bluff oyster found countless references to it being the best oyster in the world or, if the reviewer was particularly nitty, it fell to the pitiful rank of one of the best oysters in the world. So, today with lunch, I ordered up half a dozen of the bad boys:

Bluff Oysters

Outstanding. 10/10. The best oyster (perhaps the best thing ever) I have eaten. For starters they were enormous. The were creamy, but not too creamy, especially for an oyster of the size. They were intense in flavour. The first thought that came to mind was “this is a sydney rock oyster on steroids”. They were served with a sherry vinaigrette but they didn’t need it and I didn’t use it. They were perfect as is or with a bit of lemon. Holy moly. You probably think i’m overselling these things, but i’m not. I’ll be eating them every day for the rest of the trip, that’s for sure.

I mentioned two things but the second doesn’t seem all the exciting (at least not yet) compared to what I’ve just written. Tomorrow we’re heading out on a private fishing trip with Clearwater Fishing for 5 hours – something I have wanted to do ever since my friend Daniel went on one in Sydney a couple of months ago. I’ll definitely be taking photos and reporting back with a trip report after the fact but for now i’ll just end with: Queenstown is the nuts and to be continued…

p.s I also found a cool tree:

Tree!

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Trip Review: Madrid, Spain

June 1, 2011 8 comments

Ola senor and senoritas! Buenos ding dong diddly dios!

That’s about all the Spanish I picked up while in Madrid, and the latter half is from the Simpsons. All in all though the trip was great. I’ve taken a bunch of photos and will post some of them below, as well as some more specifics, but the highlights were definitely the food and soft poker tables. My results in the tournaments were lacklustre but that can only be put down to bad luck – I felt I played really, really well.

In the Main Event I was a tight nit and at the mercy of the cards and could have made some more moves but in the 5k PLO event I felt in control at every table and in every pot. I was in the zone, in the moment, and it went well. That is until my bust out hand. It was pretty standard and boring but i’ll mention it anyway: MP raise, CO calls, I call OTB with KJ98ds and the SB calls. Flop is J95r giving me two BDFDs. The original raiser pots (he was short), CO folds, I shove, SB re-shoves for not much more, MP calls it off and I call. MP has AKQT and the SB has J987 – both my BDFDs are live. Turn – brick, river T. GG me. The only thing I could have done differently is 3-bet pre but given the previous hands and my read on the opener and everyone’s stack sizes i’ve concluded that flatting was totally fine. Ah well.

The only other tourney I played was a 50k FPP SNE freeroll which got 11 runners and awarded two seats to the SCOOP High ME worth $10k each. For those who don’t know the value of FPPs there was a massive overlay. I busted in 4th when my TT lost to QJ AIPF, such is life.

The cash games were OUT OF THIS WORLD. I’m not kidding when I say that the 20/50 PLO tables were the softest games I’ve ever played in in my entire life. They were softer than a random $0.05/$0.10 PLO table online. I’ve heard people say this before and always put it down to gross exaggeration. It isn’t. It really was that soft. There were 9 way limped pots. 90% of pots were at least 4 players to the flop. People were putting $1k in pre with K962r. It was absurd. I booked a healthy profit which certainly helped heal the wounds of my tournament bustouts.

The food in Madrid was outstanding. I haven’t yet had an answer to the question I often get asked “Which country that you’ve traveled to has had the best food?” – but now I do. It’s Spain, and it’s not even close. There was a corner store next to our hotel that sold Jamon Iberico at € 6.99 per 100g. The food at the restaurant at the casino was amazing, and the service was just as good. We ate at a random tapas bar and everything was top notch. Sandwiches were made well. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Spain has given me the best food experience of any country that I’ve ever been to. I’m already looking forward to returning.

I admittedly did a fairly poor job of photo taking – not due to lack of trying but more so due to me using my phone rather than camera to take the photos and overzealous snapping rather than carefully planning shots. Either way here are a handful of the better ones:

Retiro Park 1

Walking through / into Retiro Park

Retiro Park 2

The lake at the center of the park. Gavin and I had a few beers at a nearby cafe and played some derp, he obviously lost.

Gavz Buzzed at Retiro Park

Though he didn't seem to mind. Beer solves all.

Galileo Galilei Statue

We took a walking tour through the historic part of Madrid. The tour went for 2 hours and was informative about the history of the city/country and showed us some cool stuff. Most of my photos are of the same old buildings anyone has seen but this statue had an interesting story behind it. It . The statue is of King Philip IV and is the first ever statue to be built with a horse prancing. The reason being is that nobody had been able to design a such statue without it toppling over. The calculations for this were done by Galileo Galilei.

Botin Restaurant

Botin Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in the world. It dates back to 1725.

I didn’t have a chance to check it out while there for the tournament but on my journey home I had an all-day stopover in Madrid. I took this time to explore the city a bit more and have lunch at Botin. The lunch itself was nothing to write home about. I had the whole suckling pig and disappointingly it was neither whole nor suckling. Mediocre at best. The sangria was great, though, and the experience was enough to make it worth it.

In my travels wandering the streets I stumbled upon a marketplace for all things food & drink. It was the kind of place I could spend all day, every day in and be a happy man. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time so was only able to wander around and look enviously at all the delicious goodies I wouldn’t be able to devour until my next trip. I took a few snaps of what they had to offer though:

Madrid Market 1

Mmmm.. cheese

Madrid Market 2

Mmm... olives

Madrid Market 3

Mmm.. oysters

All in all I enjoyed Madrid immensely. I would have no hesitations in recommending the city to anyone and everyone, especially if food is your thing. I too plan to return one day, bringing Puneet along as I know she’d love it and likely as part of a broader Spain trip. I hear fantastic things about the rest of the country. The next stop on my short European adventure was Vienna, Austria where I would spend a few days with my parents (including a whirlwind trip to Budapest). I plan on writing a TR for this tail end of my trip too and expect to see it in one of my next few entries. I have been neglecting this blog lately, rationalizing it with travel coupled with a debilitating poker downswing but that’s no excuse. I’m back and will be updating regularly from here on in. Adios, muchachos!

Categories: Food, Poker, Travel Tags: , , , ,

24 hours in Bangkok – Tigers, Elephants and more!

February 10, 2011 4 comments

It’s been a while! I’d like to say that I forgot to update, but the reality is I’ve just been lazy.

It was only when a random person sent me a msg going “update your blog!” that I was a) surprised anyone even know I had a blog and b) humbled that someone found it, read it, and wanted to read more and thus c) motivated enough to make this post.

Sooo what’s been happening:

Pokerwise I achieved Supernova Elite. It was a hellofa grind towards the end of it and I managed to get the final few VPPs with only a couple of hours to spare. I’ll make a future post about the entire grind I made but the reality is that it wasn’t an incredibly difficult task for me (at least not when you compare it to some others going for it). Aside from high stakes SNGs, I would say that playing mid-high stakes PLO ring games is the easiest way to achieve SNE.

Lifewise the last couple of months have been insane. Plenty of travel, many house guests and a lot of great time spent with friends & family. I took plenty of photos while away and fully intend to upload the best of them, albeit scattered throughout my next several entries.

My girlfriend and I traveled to Thailand with some friends for 2-3 weeks in early December. We visiting a Tiger Temple and spent the day hanging out with, patting, feeding and playing with tigers of all ages. This was easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and one of the best days of my life.

Offering Monks Breakfast
We started the day off by offering breakfast to the monks at the Tiger Temple outside of Bangkok, Thailand
We then went to visit the tigers — they get breakfast too! This is a baby tiger (i think 3-4 months) drinking milk from a bottle
Tiger Roaring
Mama tiger was a little more scary..
Tiger's Playing
These lil guys couldn’t stop wrestling with each other the entire time
After breakfast the tigers needed to be walked
Tiger's playing in water
We got to play with the tigers in a closed-off area which had water. They gave us these large sticks with garbage bags at the end to swing around that the tigers LOVED and would literally pounce on you and/or anyone else to get to if they were in the way
Tiger bath
After all was said and done the tiger’s needed to be bathed.. holy crap they smelled bad
Me with elephant
After the tiger temple we jumped back in our tour bus, picked up some beers and went to meet/ride some elephants
Water shot from elephant
This is a shot taken while we were on top of the elephant. We were in the middle of the lake

That’s all for photos of that day. If anyone is ever in or around Bangkok I highly, highly recommend taking a day to spend like this – let me know and I can get you in touch with the company we went with.

My plan for the next few months is to grind my face off. I want to get SNE again this year and also show a healthy profit from the tables and the only way to do that is play play play. I’m trying to play fewer tables (no more than 6 if I’m playing deep, more if I’m playing cap) which will result in needing to put in more hours to get SNE. GL me.

Categories: Poker, Travel Tags: , , ,