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A Tale of Two Siblings

He’s the brother. She’s the sister. Just don’t ask who was born first.

Brother lives in Europe. Sister lives half way around the world.

Two siblings trying to share their common passion – food, travel, and more food and travel.

And this is their collaborative effort: Sights and Flavors.

Initially, this site was conceived by brother as a straight-forward travel guide to benefit tourists coming to Madrid.

But as things progressed, sister realized that both of them had been to so many countries around the globe (both together and separate). As such, to make a travel guide exclusively for Madrid is to dismiss those other wonderful countries which equally deserve to be featured, too. And what about those countries they have yet to see?

One day while conceptualizing, a flashback popped up: Before, siblings relied heavily on maps and travel books in finding their way around a foreign country. But as they became travel experts in their own right, they learned to go beyond what travel books say. They began to discover the joy of encountering pleasant surprises and little secrets here and there that gave more meaning to the information given by the travel books. They snapped away hundreds of stunning photos, devoured countless scrumptious dishes, and gathered anecdotes no travel book can ever put together.

So in its true essence, this site is a travel journal, a scrapbook, a photo album and a food blog, with a slight breath of a Lonely Planet cum Nat Geo element.

It aims to provide travelers with simple, clean, and easy-to-navigate travel tabs that meant to inform and (hopefully) not to confuse. On the side, there are also personal stories, firsthand experiences and insider’s tips that travelers will find handy and (again, hopefully) entertaining (this part you won’t find in Lonely Planet books).

A (not-so) Disclaimer from the Siblings:

This site is created with goals of providing helpful tools for travelers’ use. If you have any info or ideas that you think will be useful to other travelers, or if you want to give a shout-out to a certain city, feel free to let us know and we will allot a good enough space for it.

We encourage everyone to send in anecdotes, comments, recommendations, suggestions, thoughts, or whatever tickles your fancy, but please only write comments which are helpful in nature.

We do not condone hate messages (in any shape or form) against other travelers or countries. If you have a hate comment about something, be ready to stand behind it. Haters and ranters have no space here. Contact your psychologist for that.

It is the administrator’s discretion to delete comments that contain offensive language and false information in an attempt to defy a city, country or nationality.

Here, we believe we are all travelers and the world is one huge vacation spot. Let us care for one another. Let us help each other have phenomenal journeys.

Our beacon light:
“Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Yes, we’re on our way to set foot in each country — big and small…

About Genevieve

This is me… in a nutshell…

I am a keen traveler. I have yet to visit four continents (i.e. Africa, Australia, South America and Antarctica, next on my ever-growing bucket list)… out of seven.

Books are my real treasure in life. They take me right to a certain place even when I’m in my PJs. And yes, I really wept when my favorite Borders Bookstores folded up.

I am a massage addict. Inasmuch as it is essential for me to nibble a country’s delicacy, it is also a must that I try out the local spas whenever I am in a new place. It’s part of knowing the culture!

My latest craze is the Roscato Rosso Dolce 2010. I will surely shock some wine connoisseurs out there when I say that it’s the best wine in the universe (I’m open to the next best wine though…)

When I’m homebound, Food Network and HGTV keep me sane. They always have something for me to do inside the house.

Currently, I’m trying to beat my husband who holds the record in our family who has the most number of countries visited. He has literally traveled all the 7 continents. Really. And his frequent flyer miles are just as sky-high.

Some random truths in life I totally agree with:
(1) A waiter serving your food doesn’t make him/her your servant.
(2) Compartmentalizing your emotions during a secondary security check at the airport will help you get through it.
(3) Famous restaurants do not always serve the most excellent dishes.
(4) The best invention of the century was the noise-cancelling headset. Thank you, Bose!
(5) Your own pillow at home is always nicer and better than Bellagio’s dream pillow.
(6) Just because you did not go to a culinary school, you can’t cook a gourmet dish anymore.

If you think you are the best and the greatest person on earth… if you feel you are the center of the universe and that the universe revolves around you… if you feel you are the smartest and the most beautiful person in the world… try landing on other country’s airport, try dining in a restaurant whose menus you can’t pronounce, or try sitting on the edge of Grand Canyon for 2 minutes. You will find that there is always something smarter, prettier, and bigger than yourself.

In other words: If you have never left your country’s airport, never spoken a foreign language, and never known other culture, you have no right to think you are greater than other people. (And even if you have, sorry… you still don’t have the right to think that way.)

As Scott Cameron says, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

Places I’ve lived in and/or visited

Philippines – Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Batangas, Iloilo, Vigan Ilocos Sur, Boracay, Puerto Princesa Palawan
Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur
Singapore – Singapore
Indonesia – Jakarta
Thailand – Bangkok

(Middle East) Doha – Qatar

North America
Canada – British Columbia (Vancouver), Ontario (Toronto, Niagara)
U.S.A. – California (San Francisco, Los Angeles), Alaska (Fairbanks, Kodiak), Nevada (Reno, Las Vegas), Arizona (Grand Canyon), Washington (Seattle), New York (New York), Texas (Dallas), Washington D.C., Virginia

Spain – Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza, Valencia, San Sebastian, Palma de Mallorca, Basque Country, Zaragoza, Marbella, Sevilla, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Murcia

Andorra – Andorra La Vella
France – Lourdes, Biarritz
Italy – Rome
Belgium – Brussels
Portugal – Lisbon, Fatima
Germany – Frankfurt, Munich
The Netherlands – Amsterdam
United Kingdom – London
Switzerland – Zurich

P.S. Roscato Rosso Dolce 2010… this is what I’m talking about!

About Mark

So here we go… here is the other half of the story behind Sights and Flavors.

If you have read the ‘Tale of the Two Siblings,’ I am the brother being mentioned there.

To start with, I am a Sushi Chef. (That’s a little tongue-twister there.) And that’s my day job. When I’m not out running the restaurant kitchen, you will find me in my own kitchen cooking for my family creating new dishes and deconstructing the classic ones.

In between my day job and not-so-day job, I keep myself busy formatting and upgrading computers, laptops and everything there is to format and upgrade. That’s probably the reason why I kind of earned the reputation of being a computer geek among my closest friends.

Some of my prized possessions are:
1. My hundreds of books (actually I lost count of them already)
2. My daughter’s 6-foot high stack of stuffed toys (and counting)
3. And the very first generation of iPod (yes, the chunky, black and white, no video iPod, which incidentally I have two).

The only thing I haven’t upgraded is my Canon DSLR (just don’t ask me what the model series is). Mind you, the way it delivers spectacular photos, I couldn’t be any prouder. In fact, I wouldn’t know what to do without it. Go check the Images folder and you will see what I was talking about.

When I say I love going beyond “mainstream traveling,” what I mean is I don’t just go and see what the travel books are telling me to see. I explore beyond those places and discover facts and details about them that travel books fail to mention. And I say the same thing about local foods and delicacy. I savor them, analyze, take note of the ingredients and store the flavors in my memory bank. Afterwards, I set up my own test kitchen lab at home and pull off my own recipe and try to get to the closest possible version of the original. Of course, with a twist of my own.

In fact, one of the objectives we had in mind when we created this site was to share with you, our readers, the recipes we have created over the years.

So hang on there and check back often.

(By the way, my sister insisted that I should include a travel quote in my profile. So just to satisfy her, here it goes):

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” – Mohammed

I rest my case.

S&F On Flickr