Favourite Food in France/Italy

Having eaten French/Italian food for 25 days, what are my favorites that really made an impact in my memories? In Paris, I really enjoyed French onion soup and duck confit. Duck confit is good in all the restaurants I've eaten in. Slight crispy skin and slightly salted meat, yum! And I've eaten duck confit probably 5 times or more during my trip. Heeeheee.

   

In Naples, I really enjoyed calzone alot. It's cripsy on the outside and has pizza toppings on the inside. I had the one with mozarella, ham and salami inside and it was fantastic.

   

In Venice, I really enjoyed cuttlefish with black ink sauce, whether as a fish course or with spaghetti. I've also enjoyed mussels and clams in Venice as well. Rome is a kinda mix of everything, so I can't say there is anything that left a deep impression in my memory over there.

   

   

Flying Back to Singapore

And so I'm at the gate waiting to board my flight. I have been a little tired to blog at night lately, so I guess I'll only blog on the last few days when I get back to Singapore. Hope I can catch as much sleep as possible during my long flight back.

Day 26 [1st Nov]: Paris - Helsinki - SG

It's checkout day and the checkout time is 12pm, so I stayed in the room until about 11am. After packing up to checkout, I left my luggage in the luggage room and went out. I went to Printemps Haussmann, which I missed out several days ago. I also went to a sports mall called Citadium just next to it. It was raining really heavily for a short while when I walked over to Citadium. After shopping, I had my lunch nearby. For this "finale" meal, I had French onion soup and duck confit.

 

After lunch, I went back to the hotel to collect my luggage and headed to the airport for my long flight back to sunny/rainy Singapore!

For more photos from Paris, do check out here.

Day 25 [31-Oct]: Paris

I started my day late as I do not have many plans for the day. I walked and navigated my way to the Pantheon which is about 1.2km away from my hotel. It's a cold morning, so I relied on paper maps and reduced usage of my phone (with GPS) since I was wearing gloves. Along the way, I passed by one day market and noticed some strange meat with the whole body intact. Wonder if that could be a rabbit. I did not take photo of it though.


Day 24 [30-Oct]: Versailles

I was struggling to wake up at 7pm and lied on bed for awhile later. After much struggle, I went for a quick soak in the hot bathtub and started my day.

Travelling to Versailles from the city centre seems pretty straightforward. I bought the 2 way ticket to Versailles for €6.50 (no discount for buying return ticket though) and took the metro to Châtelet. From there, I transferred to the RER train and headed for Versailles. The only tricky part is to identify the right train to board since there can be 2 or more train services at the same platform. And even so, the train might change course and come at the other platform that is not scheduled due to train delays before it. After about 30-40 minutes, I reached the train station in Versailles.

Day 23 [29-Oct]: Paris

I had set my alarm clock to ring at 7:30am as I wanted to go to Musée du Louvre early in the morning before it opens. But I got woken up at around 7am because of a phone call from Singapore. And it gets annoying when the caller is looking for the previous owner of my phone number. Guess this person is really outdated since I've been using the number for more than 1.5 years already.

I laid on the bed a while more and eventually decided to get up before my alarm. I washed up and dressed up, all ready for the early and long day in the museum. I stopped by a cafe near to the hotel and had my breakfast, ordering just croissant and a cup of expresso for €2.60. After my little breakfast, I took the metro to the museum.

I had read online that there is a TABAC store inside the museum's metro station that sells the museum tickets. Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck in finding it, so I just exited the metro station and walked towards the museum. Upon reaching the museum, I was pretty amazed at the queue already forming up before 8:40am. I wasn't sure of the other ticketing offices, so I just joined the queue and waited for opening time in the cold weather.


Day 22 [28-Oct]: Fontainebleau

It's quite amusing that I woke up seeing the time on my phone showing 9am+ but wondering whether it is with DST effect. I reached for my watch and it showed 10am+. So, I've gained extra hour in my sleep. Feels just weird, though it's nice to have extra hour of sleep.

After washing up, I headed to a cafe nearby for a simple breakfast of croissant, a cup of expresso and a cup of orange juice. The set menu is called Petit Matin at Café Village Monge and costs €4.60.


After the simple and typical French breakfast, I headed to the metro station and bought a ticket for zone 5 to go to Fountainebleu. I bought the return ticket as well and the total costs €17.10. I took a metro to châtlet and then transferred to another metro to go to Gare de Lyon.

Day 21 [27-Oct]: Paris

Woke up at around 10am+ with sunlight coming in through the window. I guess I must be quite tired, having to sleep late and waking up twice in the night. Washed up quickly and prepared myself for the day.
I wore my gloves before stepping out of the hotel and it sure is freezing cold. The forecast shown on my phone is a range of 2 to 9 degrees for the day, with the temperature of 2 to 4 (can't remember exactly) for 10am hour. Fortunately, the metro station is very near and I began loving indoors.

I took the metro to Forum Des Halles and had a late breakfast of banana cake and a cup of coffee with milk (café au lait) at MacDonald's. After my simple breakfast, I went to the Virgin Mobile store to get topup for my prepaid SIM. Unfortunately, they do not have any more recharge cards and she asked me to go to TABAC shops to get it. I couldn't get what she meant at that time, so I made use of the free WiFi service in the mall to search for the nearest Virgin Mobile Megastore.

I beared the cold weather with some wind, and walked about 20 mins before I find the Megastore along Boulevard Montmatre. Apparently, this Megastore is also an electronic + book + CD store. I found the phone section and finally managed to purchase the €20 recharge card.

Day 20 [26-Oct]: Venice to Paris

Started the day by packing up and checking out, but putting my luggage in the luggage room. I headed to the lavenderia with my laundry soon after.

It was a short 10 mins walk to the nearest self-service laundry shop. I paid €6 to use the washing machine and another €1 for the detergent. After about 30mins of washing, I transferred my laundry to the dryer and paid another €7 to use it. I was not so familiar with dryers, so I wasn't sure what setting to use. A lady suggested to me that I can set it to 80 degrees and then check periodically. For €7, the dryer will spin for 30 mins. After some struggles of checking and using the machine, I collected my clothes though some were not thoroughly dried. Headed back to the hotel and packed in the clothes before I head out again to spend the rest of the free time I have for the day.

I took a slow walk to the direction of Rialto bridge as I was thinking of getting one nice t-shirt with a picture of the Rialto bridge. The t-shirts costs €10-€15 in most places, but I remembered it costs below €10 somewhere near Rialto bridge.

Day 19 [25-Oct]: Venice

Woke up a little earlier today before 9am, but still a little clueless about itinerary for the day. Decided to visit the Jewish museum and have some boat rides for the rest of the day. The day started out a little colder than past few days with the RealFeel weather info on my phone showing 10°C and a maximum of 17°C for the day.

I navigated my way to the Jewish neighbourhood and tried to stay in the sun as much as possible as my hands were freezing cold. After finding my way to the Jewish neighbourhood, I found Museo Ebraico after a bit of effort. Paid €3 for the entry to the small Jewish museum and walked around for only a short while.


Day 18 [24-Oct]: Venice

After 2 days, I felt like I have visited most of Venice. So, I decided to start my day later at around 10:25am. I made my way slowly towards St Mark's Square.

For lunch, I stopped by a Chinese restaurant near St Mark's Square. I ordered a beancurd with vegetable soup to start my meal. For my main dish, I had chicken with bamboo shoots and mushrooms. The whole meal including rice, a can of coca cola, and 12% tax, totalled to €17.14.



Day 17 [23-Oct]: Venice

Decided to start my day late at around 10am as I do not have any plans for the morning. I walked around in the other areas I did not explore the day before and headed in the direction of St Mark's Square (Piazza di San Marco).

Just 2 shop spaces next to my hotel, I discovered there is a souvenir shop that actually sells souvenirs at better prices than most other places in Venice.

On my way to St Mark's Square, I also bought a couple of souvenirs for gifts. I also bought a cool looking watch with brand name called TOO LATE (http://www.too2late.com). As you may have guessed, it's yellow in color and costs €29.

For lunch, I settled for a set menu in a restaurant inside St Mark's Square. For first course, I ordered spaghetti with prawns and mushrooms. For second course I had cuttlefish with black ink sauce. And to finish off the good meal, I had a nice cup of cappuccino.

 

Day 16 [22-Oct]: Venice

I started my first day in Venice with much walking and exploring. Passed by numerous bridges, plazzas and churches. I did not enter most of the churches as some don't seem to be open, and some charge an entrance fee.

 

Day 15 [21-Oct]: Rome to Venice

My flight today is at 8:10pm, so I've got quite a bit of time left in Rome. Decided to start my day with souvenir shopping near Vatican City. After getting some gifts, I stopped by L'Angoletto ai Musei for lunch. After lunch, I continued walking around a little before going back to hostel to pack up a little and rest.

After a short rest in hostel and leeching the WiFi and electricity, I made my way to the metro station with all my stuff at around 4pm. Took a short metro ride to Roma Ostiense train station and waited for the 4:48pm train ride to FCO Airport.


Day 14 [20-Oct]: Rome

I started the day with breakfast, having biscuits and mini chocolate cakes left over from the day before. After breakfast, I made my way to Baths of Diocletian. To my little surprise, the entrance fee is now €10 instead of €8.50. However, the ticket now includes 4 museums and valid for 3 days.

In the first of the 4 museums, the Baths of Diocletian is together with Museo Nazionale Romano. Inside the museum, there are exhibits and stories about the early Latin days, before Rome came about. The museum also contains several statues and a courtyard. The bath house is beside the museum and pretty small, so about 5 mins was all it took for me to walk around and take photos.


Day 13 [19-Oct]: Tivoli

Decided to go for a day trip to Tivoli as recommended by a hostel mate over in Naples. Passed by a supermarket while on my way to the metro station, so I decided to do a little stocking up of food and drinks for the day.

Next, I took the metro to Tiburtina and bought a train ticket to Tivoli. The ticket costs €2.60 and the duration of the train ride is about 35 minutes. I waited almost an hour to hop on to the scheduled train. As the train approaches Tivoli, the view was magnificent with mountains and clear blue sky.

Day 12 [18-Oct]: Vatican City + Rome

Headed out in the morning around 10am and grabbed a donut at the same cafe for breakfast on the way to the metro station. After arriving at the metro station near Vatican city, I was "greeted" by many tour promoters who stressed on the length of the 2 queues at the Vatican city if I were to go alone. Decided to go for the tour eventually and paid €49 for it.

After awhile of waiting, a lady tour guide came along and led us to Vatican City. Unfortunately, her English pronunciation wasn't that great and it can be easy to miss out some points she was trying to bring across. We started in the St Peter's square with an introduction to the Vatican City, popes, archbishops and Simon Peter. We also had a view of St Peter's Basilica from the square.


Day 11 [17-Oct]: Rome

Woke up a little later since I didn't want to rush around. I got out of hostel slightly before 10am and bought a donut at a cafe nearby for breakfast. Headed to the metro station while eating on the move. It was a pretty short metro ride as I headed to the colosseo station, which is 5 stops away.

As I alighted and walked towards the colosseum, several tour promoters were trying to sell their guided tours with the biggest advantage of being able to skip the queues. I decided to go for the guided tour since I can skip the queues and listen to stories of the colosseum as well as the palatine hill and the roman forum.

We were greeted with a wacky senior guide who constantly asked for attention while he tells the stories. We started the tour outside the colosseum with an introduction to the Arch of Constantine. Shortly after, we entered the colosseum with more stories. After the stories about the colosseum, we were given about 1 hour to roam around in the colosseum before starting the next part of the tour. It was quite interesting to note that cock fights and bull fights in Europe originated from the colosseum because they ran out of supplies of wild animals (lions, tigers, etc) due to import issues from Africa.


Day 10 [16-Oct]: Rome

Started the day real early and left the hostel at around 8am. I headed my way to the office for the bike tour, but stopped by a cafe nearby to have a donut and cappuccino for breakfast.

At the bike rental/tour office, I was pleasantly surprised that I am the only customer for the day's tour. As such, I had full attention of the guide and it was easier to control the speed and pace of the tour.

Day 9: Naples to Rome

Took the high speed train and was lucky to get a very good offer of only €9 for booking in advance and during a sale period. It's a second class ticket and I think it is alot more luxurious looking than KTM in Malaysia. It's spacious and the seats are of high quality.


Day 9 [15-Oct]: Naples

Started the day by packing up to check out. Left my luggage in the common room and chatted with the hosts for awhile. One of them suggested that I can consider visiting a cave-cemetry though it is a little hard to find. She gave me some instructions according to the map and off I went exploring my way there.

Short Note

So far, I've only managed to post notes about my daily adventures but not able to post any photos. It's not very convenient for me to post photos during my trip anyway. And another note is that there may be some spelling errors of locations and stuff. I will only be able to make the minor changes and add in photos after my trip, i.e. Next month. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, stay with me during my 1 month adventure! :)

Day 8 [14-Oct]: Naples

Started the day at around 10am+ and helped to guide a hostel mate to Cappella Sansevero as he couldn't find it yesterday. After getting there, I headed to the funiculore station to take the tram (like the tram up Penang Hill) up to the top of the hill.


Day 7 [13-Oct]: Naples + Pompeii

Woke up a little early at 8am+ and was glad the weather looks better than yesterday morning. I hanged around a little while in the main hall after breakfast and one guy was talking about a famous veiled Jesus sculpture in Naples. I decided to head my way to the chapel-museum (Museo Cappella Sansevero) to see for myself.

After a short walk and with the help of GPS as well as Google Maps, I managed to find the place. The original ticket price is €7, but I paid the discounted price of €5 as I had the artecard. It's a pretty small place and usage of photos/phone is strictly not allowed. The veiled Jesus sculpture lies in the middle of the hall and some other sculptures stand along the sides. There was also one other scuplture that has a fish net. I was pretty amazed at how good the sculptors were in the details of the fish net. After the short visit which lasted less than 15mins, I made my way to the central station.

Day 6 [12-Oct]: Naples + Ercolano

The day started with rain and I stayed in the hostel until about 10am+ when the rain turned light. Decided to start my day at Museo Archaelogico Nazionale. I used my artecard for free access into the museum.

I was pretty awed by the many exhibits in the museums, from sculptures to paintings to pottery and more. Headed towards central station again, but by walking this time round. Grabbed a quick bite of sandwich on the way to save time and money.


Day 5 [11-Oct]: Naples

I decided to go to the tourist information counter near Gesu Nuovo for help regarding my artecard (museum pass for Campania region). Unfortunately, they couldn't help me with the failed transaction and referred me to the artecard office in central station. Ah, so I have to go back to the central station again.

Made my way to the nearest metro station at Museo Archeologico Nazionale. To my surprise, the right line is actually one station away. Walked a long way to the other station and took the metro to the central station. The journey was only 1 station though. Went to the artecard office and finally managed to get help regarding my artecard purchase. Was given my artecard as well as the musem list and a map.

Day 5 [11-Oct]: Paris - Naples

Woke up really early at about 6am as my airport transfer will arrive at 7:30am. After getting ready, I waited in the lobby and used the computer for awhile. Hopped on the car at 7:30am and the driver drove to another hotel to pick up another 3 passengers (there were already 2 passengers inside before me). It seems to me that the traffic flow/direction can get confusing since I noticed that the driver seems to be taking a long route.

Day 4 [10-Oct]: Paris

Started the day by heading to La Madeleine for a quick stop to take some photos. I also stopped by the Orange shop nearby and tried to get help for recharging my Orange prepaid card. According to them, I would need to mail in a form together with my ID (passport). Kinda dissappointed with all the hassles of using Orange prepaid card actually.

Proceeded to the Sony shop near Avenue des Champs-Élysées soon after. Fortunately, I could find the right battery and charger for my camera! I can continue snapping away happily without worry of the batteries going flat after all.

Day 3 [9-Oct]: Disneyland Paris

Woke up really early and couldn't go back to sleep at around 7am+. An aggressive room-mate wasn't happy with the sounds I created and hurled vulgarities at me, chasing me out of the room. He even insisted I change room when I get back. I quickly got out of the room and started my day early.

Took the metro and transferred to the RER service, heading my way to Disneyland. At the entrance, I was already awed by the beautiful and magical sight. Headed fo the Disneyland Park first and started the visit with a stage show by the famous Disney characters. The compere was speaking in English while Mickey and Minnie were speaking in French. It's also part Halloween celebration as Halloween is just around the corner.


Day 2 [8-Oct]: Paris

Started the day late (10am+) as room mates were still asleep and I didn't want to disturb them. It's a very small room, so any sound may be amplified and disturbing, especially for light sleepers.

Started the day by buying the visite pass and taking the metro to Les Invalides. Got a discount for the entrance fee because of the visite pass. Headed inside and was pretty awed with the exhibits in the armour museum, uniform museum, display of some machines used in war (and mock ups), and also the tomb of Napolean. The whole visit took me almost 3 hours and I took tons of photos inside. After the visit, I had a simple meal of toast and orange drink before I headed for my next destinations.


Day 1 [7-Oct]: Paris

Shortly after putting my luggage in the luggage room (not time for checkin yet), I went out on my exploration. As I did not have mobile data connection, all I can do is depend on the cached maps on my tablet and just walk aimlessly. It was only about 12pm+ and the next item in my itinerary is a boat tour down seine river at 3pm.

I was trying to search for a restaurant called Jardin d'en Face or the other one called Le Buffet near the hostel. Apparently, I think the first one is closed for good and I couldn't find the other one. Both were rated good in tripadvisor. Too bad then. I ended up walking a big round in Montmatre district and ended up in the same metro station I came from to go to the hostel. Along the way, I saw Eglise Saint-Jean-Evangeliste (eglise means church) and took some photos. Along the way, I bought Orange prepaid card and €10 worth of topup. Unfortunately, it's at a convenience store and the guy was too busy to help me (or there is not much he can help).

Day 1 [7-Oct]: Travelling from airport to hostel

And so I'm in Europe for the first time. And finally in the city I wanted to visit so much for the longest time. It's like a dream came true! Landed in CDG airport terminal 2 and was looking around for a booth that sells Orange prepaid card....nothing in sight, tough luck. Headed for the train station to take RER service (reasonably cheap and fast compared to other options). Before I bought the tickets, I visited the toilet and was slightly amused as the height of the urinal. It was almost too high for me. 10cm higher and I will be screwed. LOL

Tried using the ticketing machines to buy my train ticket to the city, but found out that it only accepts coins and it doesn't accept SG credit cards. After I asked for help to get to the city at the train station, I was told that the train station was closed for servicing over in terminal 2. The guides in the airport guided me to take the shuttle service to terminal 3. At terminal 3, I noted the station is closed as well. Asked for help again and was told to take a replacement bus service to go to the next nearest RER station to take the train.

During the train ride, a basker hopped on board and was playing some musical instrument. What a nice way to start my holiday! He asked for tips after playing and I dropped all the coins I had, which was only EUR 0.7. About 30mins (maybe less) after the train ride, I ended up in Gare du Nord station and struggled my way to find the right metro line to transfer to. It was quite a walk to switch line and this station is a gigantic interchange with so many metro & RER lines stopping here. Took M2 and alighted at Blanche.

The first thing I saw when I exited Blanche station is Moulin Rouge. Ya, this is the red light district area. Since I don't have prepaid card, I had to rely on the cached maps in Google Maps on my tablet and navigate my way to the hostel. Alas, I managed to find Plug-Inn hostel. Phew!

Day 0 [6-Oct]: SG - Helsinki - Paris

Took a quick bite (dinner) at the MRT station and took the long MRT ride to the airport. Unluckily, I did not get a seat on the train throughout the whole journey.

Reached the airport super early (about 8:45pm) though the flight is scheduled at 11:35pm. Hanged around awhile since the monitors weren't showing any checkin counter for my flight. But....even at 9:35pm, it still wasn't showing any checkin counter. Decided to walk over to the Finnair row and alas, it's already open for checkin. But the summary screen monitors were still not showing anything for my flight. Whatever.


All ready to go!

My bags are all nicely packed for the long trip! I kinda overpacked on the side of caution though. I've never started a trip with 13kg luggage before. And my hand-carry bag is about 5kg!



And I found my EIGHT year old textbook! I think that's when I started dreaming about visiting Paris one day. Et c'est maintenant!

2 Days Countdown....

I'm flying off to Europe in 2 days time! Getting exciting. =P

I started packing last sunday and bought quite a number of carry cases from Daiso to keep things neat...



Decided to get another bag (smaller size) which is lockable for daily use and here's my packing status now. =)

Philippines 2012

Biz trip to Metro Manila in Aug 2012...



Airline: Cebu Pacific Air (personally, it's a disaster)
Accomodation: Somerset Olympia (Makati City)
Places visited: Intramuros (Fort Santiago, San Agustín Church, Manila Cathedral), Resorts World Manila, Manila Ocean Park, Binondo (Chinatown)

Unfortunately, Manila was a boring place for me personally. It falls short on sightseeing destinations and food variety/quality (one of the rare asian cities that does not have their own distinctive "national" food). Accomodation was sub-standard and flight experience was quite horrible for me.

Full blog entry can be found here.

Vietnam (March 2012)

Biz trip to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), Bien Hoa and Hanoi...



Airline: SIA and Vietnam Airlines
Hotels: Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, Wooshu Hotel, Parkroyal Saigon, Hanoi Daewoo Hotel
Places visited: Saigon Square Mall, Bến Thành Market, Hội Trường Thống Nhất (Reunification Palace), War Remnants Museum (Bảo Tàng Chứng Tích Chiến Tranh), Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Saigon City Hall, Ho Chi Minh statue, Chợ Bình Tây (Binh Tay Market in Chinatown, HCMC), Nhà thờ Cha Tam, Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Full blog entries over here:
Vietnam Trip 2012 - Part 1
Vietnam Trip 2012 - Part 2

Batam 2011

Church camp in Batam =D