A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: LaurenF3

Singapore

After more travelling and more flights, we eventually made it to Singapore. It is not that I was not exciting about Singapore, but I was so focused on Bali that it had taken a back seat. So, when we got there and explored the city, I was so pleasantly surprised by what a great place it is!

As we did not have many days in Singapore and quite a lot to see, the first thing we did was book a hop-on hop-off bus. We used this to go around the city, taking it all in, and got off at the famous Raffles hotel. Here, we couldn’t not have a Singapore Sling – this was where they were invented after all! It was lovely but so expensive that we only had one and moved on.

We visited China Town on our first evening, going to the biggest Hawker Centre in Singapore (food market type place). Here, we ordered a selection of Dim Sum meals and all shared – it was lovely! China Town was very cool but a very busy place. We walked to the Quay after this, got an ice cream and sat on the bridge – it was a great atmosphere with loads of people around and everyone having a good time.

On our second day, we had planned to get up early and go to the Botanical Gardens but Milz was not feeling too well so we had a bit of a lie in until she was ready to get up and go. We went to Little India and walked around here – the temples were beautiful and so unique – then walked a way out of the city until we got to Platform 1049, a Harry Potter themed bar! It was very cool here and we got to dress up, make our drinks light up and all sorts.

We got the Skytrain to the Arab centre which was again very nice. There were so many nice buildings around with lots to see. We went to a street called Haji Lane which was small but so cute, lots of little shops and restaurants. We had food here before going back to get ready and then headed straight back out again as we were heading to the Night Safari in Singapore Zoo. This was a really good experience as we have been to several zoos in the past but never at night. Walking around in the dark and seeing different animals that come out at night was brilliant and this is something I would highly recommend.

The next day we went to the Marina as we were moving hotels for our last night. We were treating ourselves to a night of luxury and staying at the Marina Bay Sands hotel (seriously, if you are not aware of it, look it up!) It was obviously an expensive hotel but we decided to do it for one night, however, we did get stung a little as tax gets added on after. So, despite paying a lot of money for the hotel in advance, we ended up having to pay more when we got there. Saying that, it was so worth it. The hotel is insane! It is just absolutely massive and grand, unlike anywhere I have ever stayed before that‘s for sure. We were really lucky as well in that our room had a view of the Garden’s by the Bay trees and it was just beautiful.

We visited the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, basically two massive greenhouses full of wonderful flowers and trees etc. The Cloud Forest has a waterfall and you can walk all the way around the top, it is great. At night, we went to see the Gardens by the Bay light show, which was fantastic. They really are a sight that just needs to be seen! We had our tea then had drinks in our hotel for our last night!

The next morning, we made full use of the hotel by going up to the infinity pool at the top. The views from up there are insane and make for some great photos. Once checked out, we went for food and had a final Singapore Sling before making our way to the airport.

I really had not been expecting to enjoy Singapore so much but it really was one of the best cities I have been to. It was also the cleanest and felt the safest too. Really somewhere that I would recommend visiting!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:49 Tagged singapore holiday sightseeing travelling Comments (0)

Bali

It felt like such a long, long time from booking our flights to actually going, but the last four weeks in the lead up to this holiday just flew by and before I knew it we were in Manchester airport on our way! The journey was very long but three flights and a taxi ride later we were pulling up at our first hotel. At this destination, we met with Kelly – a friend of ours who had been travelling for 6 months already and who we were spending the next 2 weeks with! Kelly is really the reason why this trip happened so shout out to her!

By the time we got there the first night was pretty much over so we popped to the shop for some beers and just chilled out having a catch up. The local beer is called Bingtang which is nice but they also do Bingtang Radler which is just gorgeous!

When we woke up on our first morning in paradise….it was raining! (Typically, it was a heat wave at home ☹) When it finally cleared up we went to a place called The Nook for some food, which was brilliant - very healthy too! In the afternoon, we headed to Potato Head Beach Club – a perfect day for this as it was Kelly’s birthday. This is a place I was very keen to go to as I had heard so much about it, and it was great! It was very idyllic with big sun beds and a pool overlooking the sea. It took a while to get a bed as you had to put your name down on a list but thankfully for us not many people waited the whole time so we got there a lot quicker than we should have. Once on the bed, we ordered some cocktails and they were kind to bring Kelly something and sing her happy birthday, it was great. Once the sun had set we headed out and went to a nearby restaurant for tea. I tried Nasi Goreng, a famous Indonesian dish and it was gorgeous! After this we headed to La Planche which was a bar on the beach will lots of bean bags everywhere and pretty lights. We got a little carried away here and did not realise we had got so many drinks – the bill came to 2,800,000 Indonesian Rupiah without us realising how much we had spent! (Not nearly as bad as it sounds). It was a great night and a perfect first day in Bali.

The next morning there were a few sore heads so we changed our original plan and just chilled out by the pool. Around midday we got a taxi and headed to Ubud, our second destination, which took about an hour and a half. By the time we got there and checked in etc it was early evening, so we went out for food and then chilled in our room whilst planning our time in Ubud. There was a lot that we wanted to do so this was a necessity! The place we were staying in Ubud were these traditional bungalows which were just fantastic!

The next day we went to get our breakfast which was included and were told okay, it will be here soon and go back to our room. About 15 minutes later we were brought breakfast to our bungalow which we had on our little terrace, amazing!

This day was the day I finally got to do something I had wanted to do for a long time…I went white water rafting! We did it through the middle of a rainforest/jungle area and it was just fantastic. Our guide was great and even let us get out and swim with the current – I felt like I was in The Jungle Book. It was a great experience and one of the best things I have ever done. After this we chilled out by the pool, did some shopping on the main street then had an early tea/night as we had to be up super early the next day…

We had to get up at 1.30am for our next adventure – we were going trekking up an active volcano called Mount Batur. The idea was that we got picked up at 2am and made our way to the base of the volcano (about an hour away). From here, we would start the trek up the mountain with our own guide and by the time we reached the top the sun was starting to rise. It took about two and a half hours to get to the top and it was quite a tough climb but so satisfying when we finally reached the top. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy at the summit so our view of the sunrise was quite limited. It was also so cold up there! We did not stay at the top too long, just long enough for breakfast and a hot drink and then started to make our way down. Coming down was a completely different journey – now that the sun was up we had views, which were amazing! There was so much to see and I couldn’t believe that we had walked past it all just an hour before! Once we got to the bottom we asked our driver to take us to some hot springs which were nearby and it was such a treat to do this – well needed after our trek.

We spent some time by the pool after this as it was one of the hottest days we had then in the afternoon Milz and I went to Monkey Forrest whilst the others stayed by the pool. We were unsure about going as we had not had any rabies vaccines but decided to go and see. It was great to see all the monkeys around but they were a little intimidating so we did not spend long here and went exploring for a little while as the others were getting ready. We found a street full of vegan cafes and restaurants which was very cool and then went and found the cat café that we had heard about. I love cats so it was great being in there! We went out for tea and a couple of drinks after this to finish off a great day.

Again, we had our breakfast on the terrace and spent most of the day by the pool as we were so tired from the previous day. In the afternoon we went to see the rice fields which was such a fantastic sight and one you would definitely associate with Bali when you see it! We went back into the town and had tea and I just so happened to bump into someone I knew from home, Katie. We have a pretty chilled night as we had to be up early the next day to leave for Gili T.

On our 7th day we left early to make our way over to Gili T. This involved a taxi which took about an hour and a half then a boat which was about the same length of time. The boat was small, cramped, hot and the sea rough and choppy so it was not too fun but eventually we got their and after dragging our suitcases across the beach and down several dirt roads we made it to our place. This time, we decided to go all out and booked a private villa which even had its own pool! It was gorgeous and still so reasonably priced. The villa was also very well located – pretty much smack bang in the middle of the island so we could go left to one side and beach or right to the other and we were also provided with our own bicycles which we ended up using quite often to get around. For our lunch, we headed left back towards where we got off the boat and had lunch at a lovely restaurant on the beach. We went back to the villa to chill for a bit then headed to the other side of the island, known as sunset beach. From here you can see the sun setting (duh!) but also this is where you can get your famous snaps on the swings looking out to the sea. I was quite surprised when we got there as I was expecting there to be one swing with a queue to get on it but it turns out every beach front place had the same idea so there were swings all along the beach and therefore no queues. We got our photos (which look great but getting up and down was a bit of a mission!) and headed back.

Later that night we headed back towards the sunset beach and had quite a shock – it was completely deserted! It was honestly like a ghost town – no people around and nowhere was open. Typically, we had all got dressed up as this was going to be our big night on the island but it was not to be. We walked along the front for a while until we came across a security guard who advised us that it was the end of Ramadan/Eid and everything was shut! (This was due to be the case for the next three nights…which is exactly how long we were there) We finally came to a hotel that was still open where we had tea (it was almost 10pm by this time) and then gave up, calling it a night and heading back to the villa.

The next day we went snorkelling near the other 2 Gili islands and actually managed to swim with giant turtles – it was amazing! We saw one right down on the sea bed and were happy with that but the guy with us took us to another place and we saw one that was actually swimming and we went right by it, what a sight! We finally got a bit drunk that evening with drinks in the villa (we bought alcohol earlier in the day knowing everything would be closed again) and played games, it was quite a fun night but we did run out of alcohol and there was nowhere to go to get more!
After Gili T, we headed back to the mainland (the boat was even worse this time around!) and on to the airport and to our next destination….Singapore!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali sun sight travelling seeing Comments (0)

New York, New York

Anything can happen in a New York minute!

sunny

Lucky me - I have returned to the Big Apple! Before going, I was curious as to how I would find New York the second time around. Having done all the major sites during my first trip I was not sure if it could be as fantastic the second time around, however, I was wrong - it was great! I made an effort to do and see different things and the things I did repeat we did in a different way and it resulted in another great adventure in the US of A and a great few days in this magical city.

On our first day, we arrived at the hotel at around 3pm and after dropping our bags off in the room we headed straight out for Times Square. My personal recollection of Times Square is that it is a magical place that completely wowed me on my first visit. Although I did not get quite the same feeling when I saw it again, it is certainly still an amazing place that is unlike anywhere else in the world. I loved just sitting on the iconic steps and looking around, watching everything that was going on and taking it all in. What a great place!

Our next stop for the day was to the Empire State. Again, in an effort to do things differently, we went up in the day (previously I had gone up at night time). When I last went up at night the queues were horrendous – so long! – and it took hours to do the whole thing. Much to my surprise, this time in the day it was straight in and straight up, I couldn’t believe it! I was convinced it would take forever but within twenty minutes of walking through the doors we were at the top. What a view! It really is quite remarkable and I still cannot get my head around the fact that people actually built something so high up. It is great to see the city from up high and shows how big and build up NYC really is. It is something else to be so high that the sky-scrapers around seem small!

On our second day the first thing we did was get up and find a proper American diner for breakfast. Of course, I had pancakes! It was great to get that all-American experience and I really enjoyed it. Our next stop for the day was Central Park. When I last went, we walked in and had a little walk around, a little sit down and then moved on. This time we decided to do it all – on bikes! It was very reasonable to hire bikes and we actually got discount off a card our hotel had given to us so it was even better. We hired them for three hours and literally cycled the whole way around Central Park. It is such a beautiful place and it is really amazing to be in a place so green but when you look out you are surrounded by sky-scrapers. The bike hire came with locks so we could leave them here and there and have a little walk around/explore, so we got to go and see Strawberry Fields (I am a big Beatles fan 😊) before heading back and dropping the bikes back. It was a great way to see a lot of Central Park without taking up a whole day to do so.

Next, we visited the Rockefeller centre. It was really cool to see the front of the building where the ice rink goes at Christmas, only at this time of year it was a bar/restaurant area. Next to the centre was a massive Lego store that Adam insisted on going on (desperate for a Millennium Falcon) and then we had a wonder around this area before heading back to the hotel.

That afternoon we headed to La Bronx and to my first ever baseball game to watch the New York Yankees. We headed down a few hours before the game had started so that we could have a wonder around Yankee Stadium, which is huge! The food selections were amazing and during our walk around we picked out what we would be getting later (steak sandwiches and garlic fries, yes GARLIC FRIES! Insanely good!) We saw the Yankees warming up and the old kiss cam was making the rounds which was fun to watch. Baseball is not a sport I know too much about but I soon picked it up and found myself enjoying it more than thought I would (perhaps because it reminds me of Rounders!). It was a great experience and I am glad Adam wanted to go as I doubt I would ever have gone otherwise.

The next day was a busy one and we did so much! We had booked a hop-on hop-off bus as a way to get around and to make sure we saw everything that we wanted to. We got on this and stayed on for quite a while, taking in the city from a new perspective and got off near Brooklyn bridge. From here, we first walked to Ground Zero and the 9/11 memorial and museum. This had changed a lot since I last visited – for starters the new World Trade Centre is complete! When I came last it was only half way up. Also, the museum is now completely different. We went into here and spent a good couple of hours walking around and taking it all in. It had quite an impact on both Adam and I and at the end we were feeling very sad about the whole tragic event.

After visiting 9/11, we walked back on ourselves and went to Brooklyn bridge where we walked half way across. The view from the bridge of the city was impressive and it was great to experience this. Plus, the bridge itself was lovely! We got back on the bus after this and headed down to the harbour. We were getting on a ferry to go and see the Statue of Liberty. There had been quite a buzz around the city and we could see roads getting closed down and once on waiting for the ferry we found out why – Trump was coming to town! Not only that, his helicopter was due to land on the jetty right next to ours. We could see several large, black suburban cars, police cars, an ambulance and fire engine all there waiting. We had been told that they were not sure when he was due but if he came in the next hour then the water would be on lock down for two hours, causing massive delays! Half of me wanted to see him despite the delays it would cause (I am not his biggest fan but he is still the President of the United States!) and the other half just wanted to get on the boat and go. The boat ended up coming before Trump did and we went across the Hudson to see the Statue. Last time I went, we got on the Staten Island ferry and saw her that way. This time, we got a lot closer and it was great to see her a lot more clearly! She is rather impressive. I was also chuffed to be on the Hudson after not long ago watching Sully (great film!).

After we got back to Times Square we decided to go out for our one and only proper sit-down meal. I absolutely love Red Lobster (my family live in Arizona and we always go here when I visit) and I wanted Adam to try it so to Red Lobster we went. We had a lovely meal it really was great, however, it was so expensive! We paid over £120 for two starters, two mains and two drinks, which I think was rather a lot but hey that is New York! We then decided to jump on the night bus and do a tour of the city and Brooklyn at night. It was great to see the city at night but I was unprepared for this and therefore freezing cold! Spent most of the trip huddled up trying to keep warm! Coming back over the bridge and seeing Manhattan all lit up looking fantastic was a great view and made the cold worthwhile.

The next day (which was our last full day) was not what we expected – it absolutely poured down! I think it may have been the heaviest rain I had ever seen, there were even flood warnings issued. This did affect things but we still got out and about (just not for as long!) We decided to get the underground today instead of walking and got off at Bleecker Street. This was a big thing for me as I am a huge Paolo Nutini fan and he sings about Bleecker Street in his song Better Man, so I was very excited and got the appropriate photo under the sign. From here, we went to Katz Deli, famous for being in several films (most famously When Harry Met Sally). It was a very unusual place and we had sandwiches which were overflowing with meat! From here we went to the Cookie Dough Café. I saw a post about this place on Facebook a few months ago and knew then that I just had to go! It was great – a very cool and unique place with so much cookie dough! I ordered rather a lot (so I had enough to take some home for my sisters) and tucked in. It was lovely but could not eat it all at once due to it getting quite sickly quite quickly. This meant that I had enough for the rest of the holiday which was great. From here, we went back to the hotel to dry off and see if the rain eased off, which it didn’t. However, it just so happened that the new Guardians of the Galaxy film was released that day so to the cinema we went. Cinemas in America are huge and the seats are all like our premium ones so it was great. Also, I love how involved everyone gets! Every time there was a really good joke people were laughing out loud and clapping, it was brilliant. We finished our day off with a pizza from John’s Pizzeria (we had been advised that this was the best place for pizza in NYC) and chilled out.

Our last day in NYC was a short one with having to get off to the airport in the afternoon but we did manage to fit some more stuff in. One thing I wanted to do was go to Stardust café – a café where all the waiters/waitresses sing constantly. This is my idea of heaven, but Adam’s of hell. There was a huge queue to get in but we decided to wait and as soon as we got in Adam was desperate to get out, so we ate and left but it was still good fun! After this and after a spot of shopping we met up with a couple who we had met on our holiday in Italy last year who were from New York. Ruth actually works inside the Rockefeller Centre and kindly took us up for free, which was great. It was another spectacular view and it was cool to see the Empire State up high also. We went for a few drinks with them and then had to head off to catch our flight.

Even though it was my second trip to New York, I enjoyed it just as much as the first time and saw so many new things – it is such a great city!

Posted by LaurenF3 06:02 Archived in USA Tagged new york usa nyc traveller travelling siteseeing Comments (0)

Italy - Venice

Venice

The final stop on our Italian tour was to the world-famous city Venice. We got the train from Florence into Venice, which was a great way to enter the city. You could see the water becoming more and more until you are surrounded and then suddenly buildings appear on top of the water – it is a great view!

Upon leaving the train station I got my first real glimpse of Venice from the inside. I must admit, I was very impressed! The place is unlike anywhere I have ever seen before and everything really does appear to be floating on water – there is just so much water! It is the most unique place I have seen and I was instantly impressed with the place.

We got on one of the water buses (yes – the buses and taxis are all boats!) and made our way a few stops down the Grand Canal and headed to our hotel. We bought a three-day pass that could be used on all water buses and worked out a lot cheaper – highly recommended! We left our bags at the hotel and went for our first wander around. It is great to walk around a city that has no roads, just canals, it was very peaceful and quiet.
The Grand Canal goes right through the centre of the city which is lined with Renaissance and Gothic buildings, all of which look great! There is a lot going on along here, with restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and, of course, the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. It is also the place where my friend got engaged, so I was very keen to see it. It is a lovely bridge and the view when standing on it is fantastic, it was just a shame that when I was there the bridge was under construction, so it had a lot of scaffolding over it which covered half of it and kind of ruined the magic of it. Still, you get the idea of what it would look like and it is an impressive-looking bridge.

The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and an impressive sight. Drinks and food on the central square cost a small fortune so I wouldn’t recommend eating here, there are plenty of places out of the centre that are much more reasonable.

We decided in the afternoon to make the most of our bus passes and get a boat out to one of the surrounding islands. We wanted to head to the one that we had heard was full of coloured houses but got it wrong and instead ended up at Murano, the Glass Island. The island is famous for its glass making and the streets are lined with shops selling the glass products, however, we were not looking for glass products so found it a little boring and it was so cold! The weather was taking a turn so we decided to head back, but to be fair the best part of our trip was the boat ride. It was great to see Venice from a distance and to see the surrounding area.

On our second day in Venice, the heavens opened. I am not talking about a little drizzle but a full- on, all-day downpour. We stayed in the hotel for most of the morning hoping it would pass but when it came to around 11am and it had not eased off we decided to face it and get out. However, after walking around for a while having a look at the sights and nice buildings, we gave up due to being wet through, bought a load of food and drinks and went back to the hotel to watch films.

My one regret about Venice is not going on a gondola! Adam did not want to do it and, for the two of us, it was expensive, around £80/£100 for about 20 minutes. If there were more of us it would have been do-able but not just for the two of us on a budget. Then, when the rain came down, we had no chance of going on. If I went again I would certainly make sure I went on a gondola and completed the full Venice experience!

Venice is a truly unique place and one I would love to go back to (in the summer with more money!)

Posted by LaurenF3 08:57 Archived in Italy Tagged venice italy sights travelling Comments (0)

Italy - Florence and Pisa

The second stop on our Italy trip took us to Florence. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn since leaving Rome and once we got to Florence the weather was a lot colder and it rained on and off - we immediately layered up!

We got a taxi from the train station to our hotel (which just so happened to be located next to the other train station in Florence - oops!), left our bags and went for a wonder. We were staying in a hotel that was situation on the Piazza di Santa Croce, which was lovely and also held the Basilica di Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in Florence. We had a look around here which was really nice then checked in and made our way over to the main event, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the main church of Florence and it is a very impressive sight. The Duomo (as it is more commonly known) it's the city's most recognisable attraction - you'll know you're in the right place when you find yourself straining your neck to see the church's massive, iconic dome. Its exterior boasts intricate designs and breathtaking features while the interior is apparently surprisingly plain - we did not get tickets for this and the queue was huge, meaning we decided against going inside and instead just viewed and appreciated it from the outside. It is quite an impressive building!

Our next stop was Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, noted for still having shops built along it. The majority of the shops here are jewelry, great if you are looking for a souvenir to take home.

We had not yet been out for a proper, really nice meal so Adam set himself the challenge of finding somewhere for us to go that evening. We decided to try one called L'Osteria di Giovanni (http://www.osteriadigiovanni.com/), a pretty fancy restaurant which you could not book into. It was only a ten minute walk from our hotel so we decided to give it a try and see if we could get in. Once there, the waiter who met us at the door confirmed that they had no available tables other than in the cellar. We decided to go ahead, not really knowing what we were agreeing to, and ended up literally sitting in their wine cellar beneath the restaurant. They had about 4 tables in there with some lights strung up and our own waiter - the atmosphere was fantastic! Adam had his heart set on trying bistecca, a type of steak cooked on the bone and served rare. We went for this and it was unbelievably good. Hands down the best steak I have ever had. We had a great meal here and it was made all the better for sitting in their wine cellar, a truly unique experience.

Despite only having a couple of days in Florence, we still decided that we wanted to get the train over to Pisa to go and see the tower. Firstly, let me make you aware of something. If you ever plan on visiting Italy and getting the trains, make sure you validate your tickets! We bought our tickets in the station and got straight on the train, unaware of this. Once the guy on the train got to us and checked our tickets, he informed us that we had not validated them and therefore we had incurred a fine. Not what you want!

Once we got off the train in Pisa (it only took around an hour to get there from Florence) we had a 15/20 minute walk over to the tower. I thought perhaps we were headed the wrong way as I kept expecting to be able to see it above the buildings, but we were going the right way and suddenly we turned a corner and there it was. I must admit I was very impressed with the tower and it leans so much more than I expected or than it appears to in photos. Due to Adam being a bit of a whimp, we did not go up the tower. However, it was just as nice wandering around it and taking in the sights. The tower is situated in the Piazza dei Miracoli, also including the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Campanile, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery), all worth a look around.

Florence is a beautiful city but, for me personally, there was not enough to do here. It was great for our two-day visit but I could not imagine spending anymore time than that here. That being said, I do highly recommend visiting this city - there are some beautiful sights to see!

Posted by LaurenF3 12:58 Archived in Italy Tagged italy florence sights travelling Comments (0)

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