Monday, 26 December 2016

Taberna Real at Plaza de Isabel II

We stayed in Hotel Palacio de los Duques, which is only a few minutes walk to the coffin shaped (from the air) Teatro Real (Royal Theatre). The architecture of theatres of most cities are the jewels of their pride. Because of this expectation, Teatro Real is a letdown (at least its exterior), especially that part of it are wrapped in construction at the moment.

In front of Teatro Real is a little square by the name of Plaza de Isabel II (Isabella II Square). Isabella II is obviously has much smaller historical statue than Queen Isabella. This is reflected in the size of her bronze statue and square.

Statue, Isabella II, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, SpainStatue, Isabella II, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain

This is one of those charming little square in Madrid that draws more local crowd than tourists. There're still plenty of tourists though because of its proximity to major tourist locations. For those who like to seek out local colours, this is a good place to visit.

Opera metro station and Real Cinema, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
The place could be conveniently accessed by Opera metro station 

Opera metro station, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
The smoke came from the chimney of a bakery store in front of the metro exit.
White smoke, we have a new pope! (just a pope joke)


St James statue, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
St. James
Since it was Boxing Day (an Aussie name for the day after Xmas. Different country may have different name. Some countries don't, and the generic name of the Day After Christmas could be used), and so we could expect some Christmas decorations still be there. One of that is statue of St. James (i believe. In the general sense, not in the religious sense). He's usually depicted holding a walking stick with a gourd (for holding drinking water) and wearing that hat. In Chinese culture, some Taoist sages or saints are often depicted holding a walking stick with gourd. An universal cultural symbols of arduous pilgrimage.





Like most tourists, we walked through this plaza to get to somewhere else. We were hungry and so we took a chance with any nearby restaurant.

Real Cinema, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
Real Cinema is facing Teatro Real across the plaza 

At the plaza is Real Cinema and next to it is Taberna Real (Royal Tavern). So we gave it a try. We usually do research and seek out places to eat. But we were too hungry and avoid planning paralysis (at least writer's cramp). Sometimes acting on a whim is what travel is all about.


Receipt, Taberna Real, Plaza Isabella, Madrid, Spain


We ordered a cod and clamps, and an oxtail stew, my fave. And some extra bread (pan).

The seafood dish was not bad. The clams were quite fresh. The piping smoke was definitely enticing during this cold day. 7 / 10.

Cod and clamps, Taberna Real, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain


The oxtail stew was better. The meat retained its juiciness, and softness. As always, it's perfect to go with bread roll, which soaked up those thick rich soup. Nothing like a stew to warm the cockle of your heart. 7.5 / 10.

The price was €19 was more than reasonable. The lower Euro exchange rate recently also helped. I'll give it a 8 / 10 when taking the price into consideration.

Oxtail stew, Taberna Real, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain


Nothing could keep the stomach (at least saliva) juices flowing quite like some sour appetizer.

Pickled onion, dill and olive, Taberna Real, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
Complimentary pickled olives, dills and onion.

Now that our furnace was filled with fuel. We were ready to move on.

The plaza at night during festive season, Plaza Isabella II, Madrid, Spain
The plaza at night during festive season


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid

Its location is reasonably good with 7 minutes walk to the Royal Palace, and 15 mins or so walk to Temple of Debod.

Staircase, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, SpainEntrance, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain Atrium, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain


The rooms are reasonably spacious. Because this is a renovated old heritage building, its ceilings are high (something close to 4m high). Unfortunately, the view outside my windows are windows of other rooms.

Bedroom, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain


The staffs are trained to the 5-star level, meaning they're courteous, helpful, and proficient.

Since we prepaid online, we got something like a 50% discount for the breakfasts, which normally costs around €30 (if i recall correctly). If they know how much i eat, they would charge me half price. I eat breakfast like a princess (i eat lunch like her cat, and i eat dinner like Tweety. Her cat probably eats Tweety). The breakfast's standard is decent.

When in Madrid, you should try out their Iberian ham, chorizo and sausage/salami. I enjoyed it. Especially their chorizo with white skin that reminds me of  Camembert or brie cheese.

Breakfast, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain
A sample of their cold cuts:
smoke salmon (top), and from left to right: Iberian chorizo, ham and sausage.

While you typically just sample food from the smorgasbord in a general hotel breakfast setup, you can order from their menu with wide range of choices of drinks and food.

I ordered a sunny side up, and instead i got a plate of sunny side up that are accompanied by moon (muffin), milky way (bacon strips), and Mars (hash brown). If you think you just get a fried egg when you order a fried egg, you'll be caught with an egg on your pretty face.

bacon and egg breakfast, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain


Overall, i'm quite happy except for a fly - more like a tiny gnat - in the ointment.

Bathroom, Gran Melia Hotel Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain


I don't wanna sound like a nit or gnat picker. The bathroom design is a surprise at the 1st sight with no partition walls whatsoever. I wondered if it was an odd architectural style, or there's some practical consideration. And then i noticed a handle bar and a retractable chair underneath the shower. This explains the zero partitions, which is probably designed to facilitate wheel chair access.

This is fine. This design requires that the floor tiles all tilted down towards the drain. If the tiles that are further from the drain are lower, as in the case in this room, a puddle of water would be left behind after a shower. In this case, there's a slight indentation of tiles (can't be detected by the eyes) in front of the toilet bowl, leaving a puddle of water after a shower.

The design idea is sound, but constructing it can be tricky. When the cement set, they can set unevenly, leaving to an uneven surface.

For those non Continental European tourists who have never seen a bidet, feast your eyes. And then use it as conversation opener.

Overall, we were quite happy with the stay. 8.5 / 10.



Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Funny Caption 44: Aussie Rural Fight Triangle



(Warning: you need to be an Aussie who was born in the 1960s or earlier to understand the following captions)

"Skippy...Cute as a koala and as busy as a bee..."

"That is not a hook. This is hook!"

"That kangaroo's got my dingo!"




Sunday, 4 December 2016

A Tradable Bounce in Gold Coming ?

I've taken my eyes off of gold price for about a week (because they looked so ugly. So i HAD to look away. It's a sight that only a mother could love). When i looked at the price of ABX while market opened yesterday (3 Dec), i saw a rise of some 5%, but when i looked at the gold price, it went up only 0.4%. A rise of 5% in ABX share should be accompanied by something like a 2% to 3% rise in gold price, normally. Same thing happened in other miners. So that was no isolated incidence. This tells me that gold price would be following to go up soon as gold miners always lead the gold price. I could never able to work why. Maybe share market players are smarter than gold investors? Don't need to know why, just need to know what to make money. True in all areas in life.

So i took a look at the big picture.

If you look at the gold price using GLD etf chart, it's pretty much a waterfall drop since Trump election on 9 Nov.

3 month GLD chart as of 2 Dec 2016
3 month GLD chart as of 2 Dec 2016

But if we look at the gold miners using GDX etf, it has been going sideways since 14 Nov. My 2 fave technical indicators are also showing positive divergences.

3 month GDX chart as of 2 Dec 2016
3 month GDX chart as of 2 Dec 2016

Since GDX has been going sideways for more than 2 weeks while GDX is still taking a dive, how do i know if GLD is ready to bounce? We don't know. But here are a few clues.

1.  GLD gapped up on 2 Nov.
2. MACD in GLD is curling up.

If GDX has a bounce from here, 22.8 seems like a logical target/resistance (see chart above).

_________________________________________

These are gold's technical. Let's look at the fundamental driving forces behind it.

In the short term, both the rise of USD and 10 Year Treasury Note Yield (TNX) has been very extended, and some retracements is undergoing. This favors the rise of gold price.


The DXY is rolling over with a rounding top (or mini H&S formation depending how you look at it). Technical indicators are also rolling over. It looks like it wants to move to the 99.0 important support level. Maybe. Time will tell.


6 month chart of DXY (US Dollar Index)
6 month chart of DXY (US Dollar Index)


The 10 Year Treasury Note Yield (TNX) has just touched its 30 year (from 1986 to 2016) downtrend resistance. There're 2 probable scenarios.

1.  The rise in yield (TNX) during the Trump Jump is just a bear rally and the call of the burst of bond bubble had been premature. This is extremely bullish for gold in both the short term and longer term.
2.  This is just a small retracement in the rise in TNX (or the rise in bond prices TLT) because it's overbought in the short term. This is bullish for gold in the short term but bearish in the medium term outlook (as for long term, nobody knows). In other word, this is an oversold tradable bounce (much like the bounce we had from early October to November just before the Trump Jump).

10 Year T Note price chart (TNX) from 1986 to 2016
10 Year T Note price chart (TNX) from 1986 to 2016

Next week would be crucial in development of a gold bounce in both GLD and GDX. Keep your eyes peeled.

Remember, i'm saying this is only a tradable bounce (with a question mark), i haven't changed my view about next support price for gold to be $1050 - $1070 as i've suggested in this article.




Thursday, 1 December 2016

Vivocity Christmas Display 2016

My toaster was toast by my toast this morning. So a trip to Vivocity was needed for a replacement. I thought i would take my baby (Canon 700D) along for some snapshots of Xmas decorations in the mall. Let capture some Xmas magic. If it doesn't exist, i'll create it with the help of an image processor.


 T'is the Season 
Some malls would place their Xmas light-up / displays up the front, but not Vivocity. They put them on their roof where they have playground for kids. By playground, i mean toddler pools.

Roof pool, Vivocity, Singapore
One of the pools on the roof garden of the mall.
In the background are the cable cars that transport you from HarbourFront mall to Sentosa Island

Roof pool, Vivocity, Singapore
The mall is located right next to the Brani Island where it contains the large container terminal.
Water is always popular in the equator (pretty close to it).


Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore


If you look at the sign on the left photo below, Vivocity is celebrating their 10th birthday.

Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore

Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore

Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore

Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore

Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore Christmas tree light up, Vivocity, Singapore

Don't all these photos make you want to come and shop for a toaster (bought a $35 Phillips model) and had a Pepper Lunch for dinner?

Ain't they magical at all? No? What about futuristic then?


  Return of the Rogue One 


Star Wars lead in line "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away..."


Not a long time ago (about 30 years ago) in a cinema near you...A Star Wars episode came out every 5 years or longer. Didn't Star Wars: The Force Awakens just came out last year? Let's get ready for the Rogue One...one year later...and get ready for the merchandise...

Just in case you don't notice the merchandise shop, the giant, some 8 to 10m tall AT-AT (aka Walker) is placed there to get your attention.

Walker (AT-AT), Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore
An Ewok view of the Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport)

The Star Wars merchandise shop, Vivocity, Singapore
The Star Wars merchandise shop (where are the little kids?)

Guarding the merchandise are the Imperial Shadow Stormtroopers (but who guards them? The mall security guards, silly).

Imperial Stormtrooper, Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore Star Wars Walker, AT-AT, Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore Imperial Stormtrooper, Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore

The above action figures (especially the AT-AT) might be to big to fit into a bus or taxi, but the following figures should be ok.

While these Disney action figures are nice, but i prefer Disney itself. So i bought the company last week. Not the whole company, just some shares. Maybe one day. I used the Force. The company's rising stock price was due in no small part the release of this film.


Action figure, toy, Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore


Action figure, toy, Star Wars mechandise, Vivocity, Singapore
Mine! All mine! Muhahaaaa!


 Meet Those Mascots 
As this is the mall's 10th anniversary, don't be surprised if you run into some of the mall mascots. Although the mascot in middle photo below wouldn't come to you, you have to go to it.

Mall mascot, Vivocity, Singapore Mall mascot, Vivocity, Singapore Mall mascot, Vivocity, Singapore


Glad i have my baby with me. And a toast to Vivocity.