24 Hours in Milan

24 hours in Milan Italy, the Fashion Capitol of the World. Unfortunately not by choice, we were unexpectedly booted from our flight shortening our stay in Milan. Normally something like this would be pretty upsetting to me, but it was all part of the journey. Besides the only goal I had was to explore and get lost with my camera, nothing makes me feel more alive than that!

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The obligatory selfie in the hotel lobby. (Hotel NH Collection Milano President)


Hey Siri! One of the best things I did in preparation for this trip was to rent an international MiFi hotspot. If you plan on traveling abroad I highly recommend using one on your trip, unless you don’t care about using public WiFi with the chance of getting your data compromised. I went with a company called XCom Global which only charged me $15 a day for unlimited usage.


An interesting restaurant sign to come across when you’re actually an American.

Another good reason for getting the international MiFi is so you can use Yelp when you’re starving! Here are a few dishes from Mozzarella e Basilico, first meal in Milan and it was damn good!
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Sausage pork with potato puree

Saphron risotto with prosciutto

The “Double Malt”

The signature risotto dish

Calzone wrapped with prosciutto

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Milan definitely has their share of interesting street performers. Although I did find some of the street vendors to be a bit annoying in the tourist areas. These were the types of people who would walk right up to you and nag you to buy a “selfie stick” from them.

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Duomo di Milano

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For dinner we heard good things about Da Vic – Ristorante Guerrini so we decided to call and make reservations. Good thing we did! We saw a few visitors like us get turned away because they were all booked, they even mentioned it was their last night in Italy. Da Vic turned out to be a great choice, the Chef/owner came out to greet us and talk to us for a bit which was really nice. I can’t say enough about how great the food and service was. It’s always a special feeling when you feel welcomed when you’re so far away from home.

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Loved this dish so much I had to order it again.

i-DdkZZVZ-XLThis octopus was amazing and super tender! I don’t take octopus for granted at all! Whenever I’m in Hawaii I’ll spend my time spear fishing and free diving for these guys.

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Goodbye Milan it was a great experience, until next time!

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andrew@andrewwongphoto.com

Sushi Boat Sunday

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My first time trying out “Fuji Sushi Buffet” and I’ll have to say definitely not bad for $17.99 all you can eat sushi boat.  One recommendation get there early! The restaurant opened at 11am and there was already a line of people waiting to get in. Lucky for us, we were second in line so there was no problem grabbing seats at the sushi bar. The service was quick and the staff was friendly, not a bad way to enjoy Sunday.

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This Hamachi cheek was…. “hella good!”

i-xX8XdLQ-XLI didn’t even know they had raw oysters and ordered them by accident, one of my favs.

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“Bar Hop x Photojoaq”

(Here is a blog post I posted to photojoaqers.com , a new blog I started up with a few friends.)

Once upon a time there were 5 “techies” (Adrian, Sonny, Brian, Andrew, & Robert from in Austin TX) who loved to take photographs. They said to one another other, “if we ever are at the same location at the same time, we should go on a bar hop photojoaq!”
Well… That day finally came when Robert came to visit San Francisco, we were finally able to make this a reality. First stop on our list was suggested by Brian, the Mandarin Hotel. At first glance the lobby / bar looked pretty simple with not much going on. In fact it looked so boring we were giving Brian a hard time for suggesting this location. We headed over to the bar for our first round of the night. The funny thing was, once we got there we looked at each other and thought ugh…. now what do we do? You know, like that awkward moment when you’re at a school dance clinging to the wall like a “wall flower.” Fortunately for us, Adrian broke the ice and described our mission for the night to our bartender. From that moment on we were ready for an epic night! Now for photos of our first location. The Mandarin Hotel SF, head up to the 38th floor where you’ll be greeted by amazing aerial views of downtown San Francisco. (BTW after seeing these amazing views Brian earned his street cred back with us.)







Next stop on the agenda, the “Rickhouse” which was suggested by Adrian. A nice little trendy looking spot with a hip crowd and decorations with character. There weren’t amazing views of the city here but that didn’t stop us from capturing photos and “geeking out” about photo gear.






Finally our last bar of the night, “The Buddah Lounge.” Yep just as it looks, a total dive bar! Most people walking by probably think “what a dump!” Surprise! It was rated one of the 33 best dive bars in America. Mark the bartender is really the one who brings this place to life! He’s insane, funny, and one really cool guy. We tried to order their signature drink called, “Three Penis Chinese Whiskey,” thankfully they were out of it. Mark ended up bringing out this crazy looking Chinese bottle and poured a round of shots for us. It was definitely a crazy drink with a crazy taste. There was also a jukebox there where I loaded it up with Hip Hop songs from the 90’s, aka the “Golden Era” of Hip Hop. This is one of those places you’ll just have to experience on your own to really know.






 

Lastly we concluded the night by having dinner at this Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown called “Golden Star,” where Brian repeatedly stated… “this is the best damn 5 spice chicken I’ve ever had!” The food was good and cheap! Two words that rarely go together! All in all it was a fun night with each location offering us a different experience.

San Diego

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San Diego! The land of the Sun, beaches, Sea World,  carne asada fries and some of the best Micro Breweries in the country. The minute I touched down in San Diego I only had one goal, to visit as many Micro Breweries as possible. All in all it was a great trip and I was able to check out a total of seven breweries. (Ballast Point, Iron Fist, Green Flash, Belching Beaver, The Lost Abbey / Port Brewing, and Mike Hess Brewing)
Hands down Ballast Point was my favorite and the first brewery I went to, literally right after landing. My two favorite craft beers from Ballast Point had to be the Dorado Double IPA and the Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, smooooooth and tasty! The Ballast Point Miramar location even had an “R&D” section on their menu of brews that might not be out on the market yet, which of course is totally awesome! Out of all the breweries I visited this time around Ballast Point by far was the most busiest, and the only one with a restaurant in it.

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Iron Fist Brewery was another fantastic brewery I got to check out, not to mention they had the best looking growlers I’ve ever seen!  Sadly I was so amazed I forgot to even snap a shot of their growlers! The staff was really friendly and welcoming, even more so when they found out I was visiting from San Francisco. (I even got a free sticker)  I’m an IPA fan so they recommended their “Counter Strike” IPA for me since the weather was hot and humid. I have to admit the “Counter Strike” IPA really did go well with how hot it was that day.

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Green Flash was one of the larger breweries on my trip, and had the most variety of IPA’s available. I had to go with the taster sizes here just so I could get a sample all of their IPA’s. I can’t remember which ones I tried but I do know they were all pretty good. Also their cross street is “Top Gun Street” how dope is that!

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Belching Beaver the funniest of all the breweries I visited, everything from their logo to the names of their beer (ie: “Me So Honey” Wheat Ale) . The “Me So Honey” Wheat Ale was pretty refreshing, a good summer beer no doubt. I also tried their “Great Lei” IPA which tasted like a Pina Colada, definitely an interesting beer with the taste and aroma of coconut.

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The Lost Abbey, home of the “Agave Maria.” I came here to check out one of their brews called “Agave Maria,” a description quoted from their website: “a blend of Anejo and Reposado barrels and aged for a minimum of ten months, Agave Maria has hints of black pepper, sweet sugar, oatmeal, and oak with an earthy, bitter smoked chocolate on the finish. The base beer, a new Agave strong ale, was created specifically to pair with the spiciness of the Tequila, adding a sweet honey-like quality to the beer.” Basically beer aged in tequila barrels which equals 13.5%ABV! I took a small sip of this and had one of those “spidey sense” moments Spider-Man gets right before something goes wrong. Yup one small sip was all I needed with this one.

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Mike Hess Brewing, the last brewery on my trip and the smallest of the bunch. Mike Hess might have been the smallest but I could tell it was filled with a good amount loyal regulars. They also give you a nice pint glass if you do a flight of 5 tasters @ $14. There was also a couple of dogs hanging out, if only I had my equipment with me to take some portraits of them. Maybe that should be my next project, “Brew Dogs” portraits of the dogs that hang out in breweries. I’ll have to say this trip was epic, I will have to visit more of San Diego’s Micro Breweries next time and yes Oregon is on the list as well!

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12 Hours in Old San Juan

Fortunately and unfortunately I only had 12 hours to spend in Puerto Rico while on my way back from the Caribbean. The plan was to focus all of our time in the Old San Juan area. A couple must do’s were to visit the old fort Castillo San Cristóbal, and eat some authentic “mofongo” from El Jibarito (both were excellent choices). I’ll definitely be returning to experience the rest of the island.