Quick Hotel Reviews (Amsterdam and Paris)

Posted by Mark

Over the holidays I stayed in two different hotels in two different cities and I had really good experiences with both of them. If you’re planning to go to Amsterdam or Paris I would recommend you check these two out:

Le Citizen Hotel – Paris
I took the train from Amsterdam to Paris and the hotel was around a 15 minute walk from the Gare du Nord station. At first I thought the hotel was going to be far away from everything but it turned out to be close to the Metro and walking distance to many popular places (by walking distance I mean 30 to 60 minute walks). The hotel overlooks a canal and so doesn’t have any buildings blocking the views from the window. I stayed in the Zen room which was really spacious and super trendy with a colorful lounge like area, a large bathroom and a beautiful bed. I didn’t wanted to leave the room. The wifi at the hotel is fast and free and the staff were very friendly. The next time I go back to Paris I’m definitely staying at this hotel again. [Link]

Albus Hotel – Amsterdam
Although my room at the Albus wasn’t as great looking as Le Citizen it was still modern and trendy. What I really loved about the hotel though was the location. The hotel is a 30 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal or a 10 minute tram ride. You’re also close to a lot of popular hotspots in Amsterdam and no matter where I went, all the roads somehow led back to the hotel. In case of late night munchies there is a McDonalds and a Chipsy King 2 minutes away from the hotel. The hotel staff were friendly and the internet is free but… only at the slow 256K speed. If you want faster internet you need to pay for it. I’d most likely stay at this hotel again on my next trip, great location and not very pricey. [Link]


google plus share facebook share twitter share

My first Michelin dining experience: Parkheuvel

Posted by Mark

I’ve never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant so when I found out there was a restaurant with two Michelin stars in Rotterdam, I decided to to try it out. The restaurant is called Parkheuvel and at one point had three Michelin stars before losing two stars and then gaining one back again. I was worried I wouldn’t find a table available since I booked the night before but I did find one and to my surprise the restaurant was actually empty when I was there for lunch.

I decided to go with the fixed 5 course menu option since I wanted to try as many dishes as I could. Below are the dishes I was served with their descriptions written underneath it. Of course when they presented the dishes to me they explained it in a much more elaborate way:


Green pea soup with sausage foam. The soup is inside the crunchy sphere.


Lobster, crab and goose liver.


Lightly simmered scallops with cauliflower and hazelnuts.


Grilled turbot with risotto.


The main course: Lamb with artichoke and potato stuffed with something.


Dessert, golden pearl of white chocolate filled with blood orange and a side of lemon icecream.

When I got the soup I thought it was funny at first but then I appreciated the fact that the soup didn’t look like soup since it made it different than any other soup I’ve had before. I thought the scallops and the grilled turbot dishes were incredible, lots of flavor and like nothing I had tasted before. I actually liked the risotto that came with the turbot more than the turbot itself and I’m not a big risotto fan. Everything else was also good but nothing really stood out like the scallops and the turbot.

The portions as you can see were pretty small making it more a tasting experience than a dining one. The service at the restaurant was the best I had ever experienced with very friendly and extremely knowledgable staff. Price wise the 5 course meal cost 110 euros (around KD40) which I think is very reasonable considering it’s a two Michelin star restaurant. The experience overall was well worth it and has made Michelin star restaurants more approachable and less intimidating to me. I always had the impression you would have to pay an arm and a leg to dine at one and that you would never be able to find a table. Now I know that’s not always the case.


google plus share facebook share twitter share

Why I went to Japan

Posted by Mark

The main reason I went to Japan was for the Electraglide music event which turned out to be so worth the trip. The event was held in two huge halls with a third larger hall between them that served as a refreshment area with picnic tables all around. There were 15 acts playing there that night with the event starting at 9PM and finishing by 6AM. There were always 2 acts playing at the same time so people spent a lot of time flip flopping between the 2 halls which was actually pretty fun to do.

My favorite acts that night had to be Orbital, Squarepusher and Flying Lotus. Once we were done from the event we headed straight to the Tsukiji fish market for some fresh sushi for breakfast which worked out perfect since I don’t think I would have been able to wake up that early any other day. I took a lot of pictures that night but I’m just gonna share some of my favorite ones I had up on Instagram which you can see below. Oh and I’m back.


google plus share facebook share twitter share

The strangest stuff I’ve eaten in Japan so far

Posted by Mark

By strange I mean borderline gross. Click on the link below to see all the pictures along with their descriptions.

Read the rest of this entry »


google plus share facebook share twitter share

Taxis in Tokyo

Posted by Mark

Just a little cool thing I like about the taxis in Tokyo. They have doors that open and close automatically! [YouTube]


google plus share facebook share twitter share

Japan: Day 1

Posted by Mark

I love this place! Make sure you follow me on Instagram I’m posting tons of pictures there. @mark248am


google plus share facebook share twitter share

私は東京に行くよ

Posted by Mark

I’m off to Tokyo for a few days and will be back next week. I’m going to Electraglide Friday night which should kick ass since Orbital, DJ Krush, Kode9 and Flying Lotus will be playing sets among others.

If anyone has any recommendation of where to go let me know. I am looking for weird stuff.

Update: I forgot to add that I’ll be constantly be posting pictures on my Instagram account so follow me @mark248am or check out my online profile [Here]


google plus share facebook share twitter share

Zuma Restaurant – Dubai

Posted by Mark

I don’t go to Dubai much but when I do a friend of mine always nags me to pass by and try Zuma. Zuma is a trendy contemporary Japanese restaurant located near Burj Khalifa in DIFC. I had to book a table a few days before arriving to Dubai since it’s pretty difficult to find a table on the weekends.

The place looked amazing at night with a really high ceiling and great use of light. When we sat down we were given the menu but I already knew what I wanted since I already had some recommendations from friends. We went with rock shrimp and a salmon dish for our starters along with steamed Edamame. For our main course we went with two of their specialities, the black cod and spicy beef. We also ordered sweet corn and sweet potato for our side dishes and I finished up with their chocolate fondant.

Since I had heard so much about the place I had very high expectations and so wasn’t really impressed with our starters. The rock shrimp was similar to other rock shrimps I’ve had in Kuwait and the salmon appetizer was also very familiar. But, things quickly improved after that. The sweet potato arrived before our main course and it was crazy good, I hadn’t had anything like it before. The sweet potato was glazed with teriyaki sauce and topped with sesame, I’d order it again in a heart beat. Our black cod and spicy beef dishes arrived a short while later along with our sweet corn with shiso butter. The corn was cut into blocks around 5 kernels high and had sticks in them. They were very easy to eat (like popsicles) and were full of flavor, another side dish I’d highly recommend. The spicy beef dish was super tender and had a sesame, red chili and sweet soy sauce. Although it was great I’d probably try something different the next time I’m there. Now the black cod dish is the reason why I decided to even post about Zuma. The black cod is marinated in miso and wrapped in hoba leaf. When it arrives the waiter opens up the leaf for you and rubs a bit of ginger onto it. I really don’t think I have the vocabulary to beging to describe the flavor, I didn’t expect it to be that good and I loved it. This is really the dish you have to order if you ever go to Zuma. We ended dinner with their special chocolate fondant. For some reason they thought it was Nat’s birthday and it arrived with a candle and happy birthday scribbled with chocolate. Luckily no loud banging and singing was accompanied with the dessert.

I really had a great experience and if you’ve never been it’s definitely worth passing by the next time you’re in Dubai. Our bill came out KD95 but that included a KD35 bottle of wine and a 15% tip. Without the wine it’s basically KD30 a person which is pretty reasonable for the quality of food you’re getting. The two main dishes cost around KD12.5 each which I think is underpriced compared to some of the more expensive dishes I’ve had here in Kuwait. If you’re interested make sure you call and book in advance so you’re not disappointed. Their number is +971 4 425 5660 and here is the link to their [Website]


google plus share facebook share twitter share

La Reserve – Lebanon

Posted by Mark

When I was in Lebanon over Eid a friend of mine told me about a place called La Reserve. It’s a location deep inside Lebanon where you could do a bunch of outdoor activities under the supervision of experts. We decided to turn it into a two day plan, first we’d camp for the night in a beautiful isolated area and then the next day we’d head to La Reserve which would be around a two hour drive from our campsite.

Camping was great, it had been ages since I had done it and I completely missed it.

Next morning we woke up at dawn and headed towards La Reserve.

Those of you who’ve been to Lebanon or know Lebanon, La Reserve is located in an area called Afqa and once you hit Jbeil (Byblos) it’s around an hour and a half drive from there. The road starts really great and wide but once we started hitting the old villages the roads turned narrow and slow. We finally reached the destination and we met up with the people running the place and they told us to choose our activities. We chose the zip-line, rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking and caving.

We started with the zip-line which turned out to be pretty disappointing. The zip-line is a cable line that’s tied at both ends and you get hooked onto it and zip down the line. It was really unexciting and very short. A snoozer and I’d skip this activity. The second activity we did was rappelling. This was also unexciting. Rappelling is when you descend a rock cliff using a rope (pictured above). You hold the rope with two hands and when you open your hands you start to drop and when you close your hands you stop. The best part is your first step off the cliff but after that there really isn’t much to it. Looks harder than it is but really gravity is doing all the work. After rappelling we did mountain biking which was horrible. The bikes were rusted with deflated tires and the road was a brutal uphill filled with rocks. I kept wishing I had brought my own bike since the view was a killer and I just wanted to keep going but the bike was falling apart.

So really this whole two hour trip was starting to look like a waste and you’re probably wondering why I’m even posting about it. Well after the bike ride everything got so much better. First we had lunch which was your typical Lebanese mezza followed by grills but everything we had was delicious and unexpected since we weren’t really expecting anything good from them by this point.

Once we were done with lunch we headed to the rock climbing area. This turned out to be a lot of fun, like the best fun I’ve had in ages. It was exhausting, difficult and I personally left with a lot of cuts and bruises all over but I repeat, it was A LOT of fun. If you’ve ever done the climbing wall at Marina Waves then this is kinda similar except instead of climbing up an artificial wall you’re climbing up a real cliff. They have different cliff faces to climb each with a different degree of difficulty going from level 1 up to 7. It was such a blast that I’d go back just for that. We managed to get to complete levels 1 to 3 but by then the sun was starting to set and we had one more activity to do, caving.

We were all tired and none of us wanted to do it. We thought it was going to be a waste of time but they told us the cave was located on the road out of the village and we could try it out, 5 minutes in if we did’t like it we could leave. So we went for it and good thing we did since it turned out to be an unbelievable experience.

The cave is around 6km long and still not fully discovered. It’s not a cave that’s been prepped for tourists with lights and walking paths and it’s definitely not for anyone that feels claustrophobic. The only lights we had were the ones on our helmets. When we first walked into the cave we had to go through a hole in the wall (pictured above) that was less than meter in diameter and required us to crawl in the muddy ground for a few meters before we got to the other side. The idea of being in this dead space inside the mountain with no phone signal and no lights except for the ones on our helmets was just freaky.

We kept going in climbing down wet and slippery rocks in out of different large rooms only to go back into extremely tight and long crawl holes (pictured above) and then up steep ledges. It was scary and fun both at the same time. Since it was Lebanon the guides decided to take a smoke break half way through the trip. It’s like WTF we’re in a cave! Then at one point we had to choose between two options, a passageway with freezing water up to our shoulders or another tight low ceiling and long passageway. I think that was the only problem with the caving, is the fact we weren’t told what to expect and so we weren’t dressed appropriately.

An hour later we finally came out in another location from where we started and it was just breathtaking. After being in the dark cave for an hour we came out as the sun was setting into an open space that wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic Park. It was so beautiful and it was a relief to finally be out in the open again. I loved the whole experience.

If anyone is planning a trip to Lebanon I highly recommend you book a day with La Reserve. I’d go back again and spend the first half of the day rock climbing and the second half freaking out in the dark cave. Lunch was also fantastic and the price for a whole day full of activities and lunch came out to be just $58 per person. That’s it. I can’t think of anything you could do in Lebanon for a full day thats as fun and for just $58. So if you’re interested in outdoor activities check them out. Here is a link to their [Website]


google plus share facebook share twitter share

Follow me on my vacation

Posted by Mark

I’m currently on vacation in Lebanon and get back to Kuwait tomorrow. While here I’ve been taking a lot of great shots of my activities which you can check out on Instagram [Here]

Will be posting in detail about them once I get back.


google plus share facebook share twitter share



Contribute

If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
[Email Me]