Sensory overdrive

Since I have started writing this blog, I am actually very impressed with how much we have been able to fit into our schedule. One would think, with so any overseas trips in the pipeline, we would hardly get any time to do anything else. But thanks to my condition, I always manage to find things I really really REALLY must do.

So this blog focusses on the month of April, which saw Mrs FOMOist and I rubbing shoulders with the A-Listers.

  • Starting off with The Alan Carr Chattyman. I have to be honest, I knew nothing about Alan Carr but since it was a chat show (I do love a good chat) we thought we’ll go have a nosey. Alan Carr as a chatshow host was a bit annoying and unimpressive. I am all for humour but if profanity (so PC right now!) is your only punchline, I get bored easily. However, we did manage to see Alan chatting to Gok Wan and getting Nick Jonas to play Jealous at least three times. All in all, it was a reasonably good time spent and now we were getting excited for the Graham Norton Show!
  • For those of you who may not know, Graham Norton is huge in Australasia! So we ought to go watch him live. Mr Norton definitely didn’t disappoint. He was extremely funny, engaging and definitely knew how to work the crowd. On the infamous sofa was Kim Cattrall (who Mrs FOMOist was really happy to see given her liking to Sex in the City), Stanley Tucci (famous for a lot of things but recently for The Hunger Games) and a band called Years and Years, who were surprisingly epic!
  • Then we had the pleasure of seeing Ella Henderson live at MTV Live Lockdown. There were only 200 odd people at the recording and she definitely has the voice of an angel. She sang five songs (a few of them twice) but the entire time we were there, we were completely spellbound at how angelic her voice really is. For those of you who may be wondering, you can register to be an audience member to these shows and more at SRO Audiences.

Continuing with the A-Listers’ theme, we also went on a culinary spectacular by making a reservation at Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. Oh what a culinary celebration that was! We had an extraordinary three-course meal starting with meat fruit (chicken liver pate shaped like a mandarin served with toast). Followed by our main course of pigeon and pork separate of course), ending the night with tipsy cake which takes 45 minutes to cook so you have to order it with your starters. It was truly a complete sensory experience engaging all 5 senses – yes hearing and touching too!

The above Londontown shenanigans were spread throughout the month of April with two very special European destinations visited in between. The first,
Lisbon, Portugal. I have to be honest here and admit that Gee and I were most excited about our authentic Portuguese Chicken experience (big Nandos aficionados here). In addition to the glorious chicken, Lisboa was a fantastic city to visit.Alfama Lisbon

  • We stayed at an Airbnb apartment in an area called Barrio Alto. If you are planning a short city break to Lisbon, you cannot stay anywhere else! The night we arrived we were fairly tired so thought we’ll grab a quick bite and hit the hay to start fresh the next morning. At about 1.00am, we could hear the city waking up for its daily/nightly ritual of celebrating life. We were fairly tired and promised ourselves to check out the festivities the next night (more detail following shortly).
  • Next morning, we started off with our Free Walking Tour where we were urged to try out the seafood and as obedient as we are in matters of food, we obliged and thoroughly enjoyed our fishy feast with a jug of local green wine (it’s like white wine but called green – I still don’t know why).
  • The quest for Portuguese Chicken was still on and then we found out from our Airbnb host this gem called Casa da India, which translates to House of India. Curry was not on our minds and neither was it served at this place. After queuing up for about 30 minutes, we were greeted by a no nonsense, no frills restaurant, serving the best (and the saltiest) Portuguese Chicken. Since it was walking distance from our apartment, a few too many trips were made.

Romantic Gothic RuinsComing back to Barrio Alto! After making sure that we had spent enough time exploring the serene surroundings or Alfama and ticking off all the main tourist attractions including the Gothic Ruins, it was time for a quick power-nap, before heading out for dinner at 11.00pm and a night out in town. There are seriously hundreds of bars in the tight network of streets. Each bar in no bigger than a walk-in wardrobe so people are encouraged to buy their drinks from a bar and walk out. Result = people spilling out onto the streets every night, giving it a carnival feel, loud music, loud people, the best mojito (€2) we’ve ever had in a plastic cup.

The second destination for the month was Amsterdam, Netherlands. This is possibly the most “interesting” holiday we have had. It started off with a strong possibility of going horribly wrong and then emerged with us enjoying the best Indonesian curries on this side of the planet.

When I was planning this trip, I realised that even Airbnb was fairly expensive, so rather than hiring out the entire apartment, we decided that we’ll just rent a room in someone’s apartment. After a lot of searches, we found a guy whose apartment was in a perfect location and was available. When I sent him a booking request, he suggested that we take the booking off the Airbnb site so we could save on Airbnb-related admin charges. He seemed genuine enough so I agreed. Closer to our departure date, he advised that he had an incident with one of his Airbnb guests and his flatmates don’t want any more Airbnb guests. To this, he suggested that if asked by his flatmates, we tell them that we are his friends from London.

We arrive in Amsterdam, collect the keys off this guy from his workplace and head to his apartment. When we finally get there, it’s dark, stale and extremely filthy. The room has only one poster one a boy with a mask pointing a gun at the bed. We try and settle down, go upstairs to freshen up and get told off by his flatmates for using their bathroom. I get a feeling that our host’s flatmates were not expecting us hence the cold shoulder – a strikingly scary cold shoulder. By this point, it’s passed midnight, while I am too tired to think, I definitely didn’t want to stay here another night.

At 7.00am in the morning, I start searching for a nearby hotel. Our prayers are answered and we find a local hotel with vacancy and we pack our belongings and bolt out of the house. I did leave the guy €60 since we used his house for one night, but for what he did to us, I should have listened to Gee and not given him anything, but oh well!Albert Cuyp Market - Amsterdam

It is important to note (and admit) that it was completely my fault for agreeing to make this arrangement in the first place, but you live and you learn! Special thanks to Gee here for being extremely calm, collected and supportive throughout the ordeal.

The slight hiccup failed to dampen our spirits! Once we had checked into our new hotel, we freshened up, hired our bikes and went exploring! I love how bike-friendly Amsterdam really is. Rather than listing the popular attractions (which I hope I haven’t done in my previous posts), I’ll highlight a few things we found titillating.

  • Did you know that the world’s narrowest house is in Amsterdam? It’s literally the width of a door.
  • Before visiting, I didn’t know Indonesian food was so popular (and so good) in Amsterdam.
  • I learnt that the “windows/doors” in the Red Light District are “leased” by the workers on a daily rate and Prostitution Information Center in Amsterdam serves the best tea and scones for your afternoon tea needs. A special mention needs to be made to a young Indian family who was travelling with their son (no more than 5 years of age) peeking from door to door around the Red Light district. Why? We would never know.Amsterdam Street Art

Since it’s a public platform, I can pretend that we didn’t try the local “delicacies” that Amsterdam is most famous for, but this forum is called Confessions of a FOMOist for a reason! Of course we went to the Heineken Experience and drank the fresh brewed frothy goodness! Then we also nervously walked into a shop and bought the mildest shrooms (they come in different grades/strengths), which tasted revolting and resulted in Gee and I circling our hotel for well over an hour because we couldn’t find the entrance to our hotel. At this point Mrs FOMOist had also forgotten where we were and I am sure at one point she was trying to figure out who I was.

So overall, the month of April was more of a sensory assault rather than an overdrive.

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