NORWEGIAN JEWEL NEW ZEALAND CRUISE FIRST PORT, AUCKLAND

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SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE STOPOVER

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Singapore is known as a bustling metropolis that also happens to be one of the cleanest and safest cities of its size in the world. You’ll find historic sites like the Thian Hock Keng temple, superlative shopping (including gargantuan malls) and numerous beaches.



First thing we did after dropping off the bags in the hotel was a walk to the Chinatown Street Markets. The busy streets encapsulate all the sights and sounds visitors expect of Chinatown, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk robes to lucky cats. There are plenty of ‘Made in China’ goods on display and lanterns swaying in the breeze above your head. There’s also a fantastic range of street food carts amongst the shopping, with fresh dim sum and crispy duck. Remember to haggle with a smile if you want the best price. But we weren’t in the market to buy junk; we were there for the experience. The market is open during the day, but it looks its most picturesque at dusk, with the lights shining brightly and the sound of hawkers tempting you to check out their wares.



Back to hotel for a quick dip in the pool, we changed and headed to a late afternoon tour of Gardens by the Bay. While some people find Gardens by the Bay a little too artificial for their liking, it’s still worth checking out for the ingenuity and uniqueness of its design. The Flower Dome has recently set a Guinness World Record for being the largest glass greenhouse in the world.

So there you have it, even non-gardening enthusiasts will find something of interest among the 380,000 plants here. The outdoor gardens are free of charge but it’s worth paying the entry fee to walk the Skyway. We ended at Supertree Grove. The tall trees measuring between 25 and 50 metres tall, the iconic tree-like vertical gardens are designed with large canopies that provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night. This experience was breath taking and beautiful to watch. My camera was going nonstop for all the show. From here, we walked to Marina Bay Sands or ‘that boat building’, as it’s often referred to, for a much needed rest and a refreshing night drink.



If you’re not a hotel guest, unfortunately you can’t access the iconic infinity swimming pool, but you can do the next best thing: catch the elevator to Ku De Ta (level 57), grab a cocktail and a spot on the balcony, and explore the city sights from the sky.

Closer to ground level, we found restaurants and plenty of shops to keep Kim amused, as well as the casino if a flutter takes your fancy. After taking many spectacular photos we quickly headed down and across from the Marina Bay to view the laser and water show. ‘Wonder Full’ is the story of Water and Light creating Life, told with Water and Light. The spectacular explores humanity and the beauty of the human experience through original footage of the people of Singapore, an original sound score and an abundance of technologies spanning the 15.4 hectare (38 acre) Marina Bay Sands site. The show takes you on an emotional and heartfelt journey through the use of water, fire, light, laser and other high impact Mega Media elements. The show features motion pictures and music produced in Singapore with heavy local influence.

Check out our video here:

Down by the water we took a night ride on the River Cruise. It is similar to that of the day ride, minus the discomfort of the sunny heat. In place of the bright sunlight, a dark blue sky shadows our journey down the riverbanks, giving us opportunities for some stargazing at the same time. Whether you decide on taking a day or night ride on the Singapore River Cruise, one thing’s for sure,  you’ll be embarking on an experience like never before.

Our last stop on the cruise was Clarke Quay which brought us alternative things to do and see that don’t purely revolve around nightlife. Sure, just joking. Clarke Quay is famous for its stunning waterside restaurants and exciting collection of bars and clubs. Making the distinction between the best restaurants in Clarke Quay and the area’s best nightlife venues is no easy task, purely because many of the restaurants here double up as great bars and pubs too. We had one of the best nights at Wings Bar, which takes its name from both the food it serves and the 1940’s aviation theme which is evident throughout. To find this popular American eatery, head to Clarke Quay and look for the replica plane hanging above its entrance (which is actually the largest P-51 Mustang model in Asia), and then follow the replica runway down into the main restaurant area. As for the food, you’d can’t come to a place with a name like this and not try their specialty; their tantalizing variety of sticky chicken wings, as well as ribs, are certainly not to be missed. Wash all that feel-good American food down with a beer and you’ve got yourself an all-round fun, tasty, (and a little gimmicky) dining experience.




Sleep was on the cards and the next day we woke up late and lazed around the pool until we headed to Airport back to Brisbane, Australia. We have earmarked at trip back to Singapore very soon.

Things to consider:

We were quite surprised by Changi airport, it’s massive and I do mean MASSIVE, their customs/immigration process is very relaxed compared to Brisbane though so that was a surprise and we felt as though we had no clue what we were doing.  Just a tip keep the stub off the incoming passenger card in your passport as they ask for it when you depart, might seem obvious to others but we got caught out and had left ours in our check in luggage so had to endure a stern lecture and felt like naughty school kids as we filled in a ‘lost card’ form and had to line up again, lol.

Take water EVERYWHERE you go, we saw a lady become extremely sick on a bus tour from heat exhaustion it was terribly traumatic for her and her partner. Dehydration is a very real concern in the heat particularly if you are from a cooler climate.
Observe signage about photography, and if in doubt ask permission. We saw so many people up close taking pics of the offerings put out for the hungry ghost festival for example and it was clear at times this was not welcomed or appreciated.

The food is fabulous as everyone else said, if you are worried take Travel Bug (by the makers of Inner Health, bought at any pharmacy) starting 5 days before you leave we use it each time we travel anywhere. Kim has a rather dodgy stomach and so cannot promote it enough, I can eat all sorts of things that would normally upset my stomach and it just gives me that peace of mind to try local foods. People seem to think food poisoning is your only concern but often people experience stomach upsets when you eat foods your body is unaccustomed too.

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SWITZERLAND

SWITZERLAND


Lucerne was completely different from what we had imagined it to be. After looking at some Google images, We knew it would be surrounded by the Alps, has a lake, and some nice views. Of course it has the giant Alps guarding the city from different directions and deep blue Lake Lucerne being a huge home for lots and lots of elegant and friendly white swans. But the city itself is charismatic and charming as well as loaded with Swiss history and a feeling of medieval city life. In addition to that, the location is great to explore other nearby Swiss cities like Zurich, Berne, Basel, Interlaken and regions, like French Alsace, German Black Forest, and finally, the mighty Alps.



The main attractions in Lucerne are within walking distance. Taking a stroll or just chilling by Lake Lucerne is half the fun here. The official language of the city is German, but I’ve heard people speaking French and most of the locals are very fluent in English as well.



Of course, Swiss chocolates are something to eat and buy in Switzerland. Other than Lindt, “Villars” is a good brand of Swiss chocolates. Additionally, Swiss knives, watches (if you have some extra cash to spare), and cowbells are some of the popular souvenirs to take back home. Buying Swiss watches from Switzerland doesn’t mean that you will get them cheaper here, these cost about the same anywhere else in the world. There are tons of Swiss watch stores in Lucerne and some of them are actually open on Sundays too.

The following day, we set out to explore the old town.  We enjoyed visiting the Lion Monument, walking the old city walls, wandering the winding streets of the old town, walking across the river on Kappelbrucke (Chapel Bridge), and visiting the Gletscher Gaarden.  During the course of popping into and out of various shops, we stumbled into a little bakery where we ordered a delicious looking slice of cake to share.  Everything was written in Swiss German, so we had no idea what it actually was.  Turns out it was basically just cake soaked through with what tasted like 100 proof alcohol, and we literally caught a buzz eating it.  The place had a really great location right on the glacial river running through the center of the town, and we had a prime spot to sit there getting blasted on cake while watching the water rush by.


The next morning after breakfast we headed into the bus for Mount Titlis. It was a scenic journey where everything seemed to be worth a photo for memory. At the base of Mount Titlis we had to take 3 different cable cars (a 45 minute journey) to get to the mountain top.  Switching to the second cable car we observed that some cars have flags of various countries printed on them. We were lucky enough to spot the one with the Aussie flag! The third and last lap of the ride up is actually by a special revolving cable car. It is the first in the world and offers a 360° panoramic view. As the car revolves during the ride, it actually doesn’t matter where you stand because you should be able to see all the scenery while standing at one spot. BUT, the car was very crowded, everyone is trying to take pictures at the same time and we had more than half the car filled with the loudest, rudest, rowdiest and noisiest tourists in the world, so it wasn’t a very pleasant journey after all. Finally we got onto the top which was bustling with tourists and signs leading us to different activities they offered here.



The last night we enjoyed the outstandingly good food at Stadtkeller. We loved the atmosphere, as we enjoy carefree hours in the midst of original Swiss folklore, traditional Swiss customs and usages, with alphorns, cowbells, national costumes, flag throwing and yodeling.  It made for an unforgettable experience and unique combination of good food, music and fun.


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