Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toshiba New Ultrabook Protege z830

Toshiba has launched its first Ultrabook - Protege Z830 on the 24th November 2011, calling it the thinnest and lightest 13.3inch Ultrabook (1.12kg & 15.9mm thick).

Port_Z830_Prod_Full_Aug11_05


Port_Z830_Prod_Full_Aug11_04


It did look suspiciously like a macbook air, keypads and all.

But it has rather impressive specs.

- Intel Core i5 & i7 processor
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB SSD disk space
- VGA & HDMI video input
- 1.3 mp webcam
- SD card reader
- 1x USB 3.0
- 2x USB 2.0
-fingerprint reader

And spill resistant keyboard is interesting.

ultrabook


The cost comes a bit steep priced at RM3999 for the Intel Core i5 and RM4799 for Intel Core i7.

toshiba ultrabook


Worth it? What say you?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Port Wine Cellars in Porto

or called Oporto.

Unsurprisingly the second largest city in the country, inspite of the size of the country with an even humbler population (~ 10 mil).

porto city river Douro


porto river Douro


With a averagely pleasant weather throughout the year, Portugal never exceed 35 degree celcius in the summer nor drop below 0 degree celcius during the coldest winter, usually averaging at 10-15 degree celcius; after visits to the much colder counterparts in the region, Portugal climate was a delight.

blue sky in porto


Instead of spending the rest of the day visiting more of the old part of the town and this historical spots, I crossed the bridge over River Douro and over to the other side of the town to pay a visit to couple of Porto's prides.

Where there's Porto, there's port; and where there's port, there're wine cellars. :D

bridge in porto
On the other side


I got a little bit lost in the windy narrow stony grey houses in the area, climbing the stairs down and down close to the river level, stumbling across some chubby street cats and floor-sweeping old man; going up the driveway but turned around and took a left into an alley after realizing I could probably be on the wrong road.

porto road to ports


Rushing against the closing hour of the cellar, I hasten my steps. Till I finally came to a wall with this sign on it.

taylors sign


Yes! I was on the right track.


The road up to Taylor's was a hilly road, as one of the oldest of the founding Port houses, dated back to 1692 (that's over three centuries ago!), the journey to the cellar felt nostalgic, a walk down memory lane back to the 1700's of Portugal.

road to taylors


taylors port


I arrived at the cellar door just in time for a tour. As tourists gathered around tasting some port in the majestic lobby while waiting for the guide to show up, I rested my aching feet on a stool with my very own sweet white port, staring at the decorative Christmas tree that was set up for festive season already.

tasting room


tasting counter


glass of white port


Then I wandered around to look around the cellar door, stopping myself in front of a case of port wine bottles design over the years; some of the bottles were ancient.

port bottles


Then a character from Happy Potter popped up and guided us out of the cellar door. "To Hogwarts?" mind-joked I.

porto taylors guide
Fancy uniform you got there.


And so the tour began with, of course, the history.

taylors since 1692


wine cellar
And then the cellar


Jesus these port wine barrels were MASSIVE! I didn't think I've ever seen a barrel that big, other than a distillery, but then again that's a whole different thing.

cellar


messy looking me


Instead of cracking open the barrel like how you would do with most wine, Taylor's mega barrel has a tap attached to the front where you can just tap out the port into bottles before being kept away.

As you would have seen it, the barrels were so big human could climb into them.

how to scrape the inside of barrel


And that was how the barrels were cleaned, with a human into scraping away the to layer coated around the inside of the barrel. With a barrel that size, I could be calling it a man-cave.

taylors brewing process
process process process


giant distillery
the mother of all port wine barrel, Mother of God.


The wine remains at the winery in these barrels to settle until the following year when spring comes and then it was taken to other lodges to mature, be blend and bottled.

taylors wine cellar


The oldest wineries are in Douro Valley close to the river because in the olden days, barrels of port wines were transported in wooden boats down the Douro River, the only means of transportations for port wines back then.

river douro


inside of robe
and she flipped her robe to reveal the traditional method to make port by Portugese. lol


The perfect gift, deemed by the Portugese, is a bottle of Vintage Port, which can be kept and which value can appreaciate over the years.

taylors vintage port


Taylor's wine cellar has a beautiful restaurant next to the cellar with access to the view of Douro Valley and river.

taylors cellar


beautiful porto view from taylors


taylors brewery restaurant



Given the chance, I would take my time to sit down and wine and dine my evening away, it would be the perfect evening to end my Portugal trip.

But then I still have time so I rushed to another winery nearby for another tour before the day ends.

This time, Croft.

croft white port
oh yes, more port please.


port wines
bring them on


Croft has a smaller and more cozy bar-themed cellar door, where everyone sit around to enjoy a glass of port by the fireplace, perfect to just laze on a cold winter.

croft christmas tree


evening glass in front of fireplace
Familiar? Hehe


croft wine cellar
They also have a smaller cellar compared to Taylor's


The sun set by the time I got out from Croft, a little tipsy and fluttery; happily filled with sweet port, I walked and skipped and danced back to my guesthouse. Back up the hill and onto the bridge crossing to the my side of the town.


And then... whilst on the bridge, and slightly dazed... I saw this.


porto beautiful evening


"God, Porto, you are so beautiful" I cooed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Porto!

Some of you guessed it! Answer to the previous post: Porto, Portugal!

beautiful porto river Douro


Oh god Portugal is amazingly beautiful, and Porto even more so.

It was the last thing I was expecting when I stepped foot on the land.

to porto


But Portugal took my heart on the first day till the very last. It's the perfect country to run away for a year's of relaxation and rejuvenation, learn a language and sip wine.

If you're wondering if Porto sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it's where Ports were born.

Tawny sweet peasant-wine port. Yummilicious port.

porto river city


But we'll get to that soon.

First I had to get my mouth on one of Portugal's most famously known for.

porto bakery


In Asian countries, we refer them to portugese egg tart, in Portugal, they're just egg custard.

custard egg tart


Jumbo version.

egg tart and i
This was my dinner on my first night there.


I took a stroll around town on my first day in Porto and was pleasantly lost in some very-wonderland part of the city.

I started at one of the national monument in the centre and climbed up to see the city from the top.

national monument


stairs


porto city


porto and monument


sun and porto
I have seen so many city and town views from atop a tall building so many times and I've lost thoughts and opinions to most of those views I've seen. So I'll leave you with the comments here.


porto national monument


As I left the monument building, I found myself walking through some neighbourhood, the type that you find laundry hanging on the third floor and eatery nearby on the ground floor by the street, where on the front hung a nostalgic medieval-style sign.

street houses


laundry


eatery sign


narrow flats


And then I found myself in a museum, of Porto!

wooden ornament


handcraft porto map
the map of portugal?


transport in porto
olden days transportation in Porto; where they used to carry barrels of Ports on these boats down the river Douro.


short man
You probably can't see it in this photo but the figure of that outfit was TINY!

Men in those days were really short! They couldn't be taller 5 feet.


reading glasses
antique reading glass


art
odd art


this is how you drink sweet port
"Yes, please, just a tiny glass. This port had just the right kick. *hick*"


As I moved up and down the hill, gliding through the historical sites, residential neighbourhood, some commercial area, I found myself finally coming down to the river level and face to face to the blazing noon sun.

porto river city


sun and river


bridge
I love how the road was built just by/on the river side


And then I started climbing some stone stairs, passing some houses beneath me I went up, and up, and up.

Until I found myself surrounded by odd roads, with odd tunnels, odd uphills and downhills, and odd houses.

entrance
'twas was the entrance to a house, such a tiny entrance to a front garden?


I didn't know where I was, or what the place was. An abandoned area? No, some of the houses were resided, but then again, some were not; and I did not spot a single soul during my journey there.

Was I in some kind of realm?

stone lane


stone walls


I moved along wherever my instinct was telling me to.

On some parts, I saw the outer world of Porto that was hustling and bustling, and that felt like it was in another world, seperated by a space of vacuum, it was not related to me. Porto and its river were just a pretty picture from where I was standing.

beautiful exit


I could see the evidence of human presence, drawn graffiti on stone wall, an abandon doll on an empty cliff; but still I heard and saw no sights of human.

graffiti wall


There was this red door, locked, but it has a broken wood panel where the lock should be. I peered inside, and saw a story waiting to be told.

the red wall


abandone house


abandone cliff land


Who was here before? Was there a house? What happened to the house? What happend to the kids whose those toys belonged to? Where did the family move, or if something has happened to them? Garbage and beer bottles that indicated it was newly abandoned, but bricks and grown grass shown long-term ignorance.

What's more important, it has such a beautiful location, on a cliff to a view many would pay premium for.

bridge and porto


I wondered to myself how much this place would cost, and then allowed my imagination to wander to the possibility of moving here, to this beautiful country.

I moved along.

graffiti wall porto


On and on I went. Till I finally decided to whip out my guide book to locate myself.

15 minutes of walking, I was out of the wonderland and came to a closed restaurant with a untrimmed garden.

garden of a restaurant


Sighing to myself at the regret of missing an opportunity to dine at a place like this, I directed myself out and away from the far end of the town and back into the neighbourhood I came by earlier that day, fueled by hunger.

I picked the first restaurant that took my liking and entered, without acknowledging the genre of their food.

porto restaurant menu


No one spoke English, I could speak no Portugese.

So I sat, smiled at the waiter, who gestured the supervisor over to help but failed. So I strummed my finger along the menu, and made a sign language, with mild amusement, that I would take anything delicious.

They laughed, among themselves, scratching their heads if they understood what I meant. They did.

They brought food.

olives


fried buns
some odd fried bun appertiser, which I didn't like but ate a few anyway


butter
three packs of butter and one odd looking one to go with my bread


beef

my main course, steak. Yummy.

I was a happy woman.

porto restaurant