The Flying Log: Singapore Airlines SQ942 787 SIN – DPS New Regional Business Class

Little did I know how special this flight would come to be! if I had know that it is most likely my last premium flight or flight in 2020, I would have cherish it more, savour it more! It was an impromptu decision, made while I was driving, hopping on an opportunity where Krisflyer was having a one time special sale of 51% off certain awards. It was hilarious as lots of us, including those in the miles and points games thought that it is an error fare or the ticketing system have gone bonkers. Why on earth are award tickets so affordable! I still remember that South Africa destinations were only coming in a around 20 ish thousands. Shrugging off my foolishness of not keeping a sizable stash of miles in my KF account, dragging along my good friend, I could only issue a Bali, Denpasar ticket at 9310 Miles and 49.80 SGD in tax. I was still excited, the thought of being able to try out the new 2018 RJ Business Class seat on SQ which I had miss out previously to Manila for an equivalent of 193 SGD given how I value KF miles, this is exciting. Later on, it turn out to be a special sale since it is Krisflyer 21st anniversary! Oh well! I am currently writing this post while being stuck at home due to the COVID pandemic which has greatly brought travelling to ground zero, this makes this review even more memorable and definitely makes me remise about the fun of flying!

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Singapore Airlines SQ919 777-300 MNL – SIN Old Regional Business Class

This is a very different flight experience for me and I might have just encounter the first major incident throughout my travels where I could really enjoy the really core benefit of flying in premium cabins! This is my first ever flight on SQ regional business class, I have never fly a premium cabin for a short haul flight before since usually I am good toughing it out in Economy or even Budget. I am originally on the latest 2018 regional J Class that SQ have on both the 787 as well as the A350. As it turn out I got rebook to SQ919 which is an old place featuring the old regional business class due to the volcano eruption. As luck turns out I didn’t expect this is how I got to try the old regional business class. Just on my outbound flight, I saw how spacious the seats are and was actually keen to try these recliner dinosaur era seats. I was actually pretty tired on the flight after all the change of events and chaos. Check out my earlier experience in the lounge previously. For once, I am just glad to have a seat back home to Singapore rather than being stuck in Manila.

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First Class Run: Silverkris Lounge Manila Terminal 3

Besides the main Silverkris Lounge in Singapore, SQ also maintains and operates a couple of them overseas, especially in key markets. Manila is one of them where you can find a Silverkris lounge in MNL airport terminal 3. This is not surprising given that Singapore Airlines flies 4 times daily to Manila, there is even a flight with First Class on it. Although this lounge is a shared first & business class lounge. There isn’t any particular space reserved for first class passengers as well. It is certainly great to have their own airline operated lounge since there are no good offerings from partners in this airport. For those who are interested in going on a lounge hop, there are a couple of contract lounges which you can access with Priority Pass in Terminal 3. None of them look particular nice. The only other interesting lounge I saw was the Cathay Lounge. The Silverkris Lounge is located one level above the main departure floor, there are clear signs leading to the elevators. SQ departing gates are usually just a short walk away from the lounge.

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First Class Run: Manila

Oh well, Manila! How exactly did I come up with heading to Manila for a getaway! It all comes back to the Europe trip that I had last summer. I bought the ticket as part of it, from Europe to Manila. It would be nice to have a getaway in January using up this partial ticket. Little did I know that, Manila would be one of the most memorable trip I ever had, given that it is that one last hurdle prior to the COVID situation as well as me getting tangled by the Taal Volcano eruption. Writing this currently during the lockdown period makes me think of travelling so much! I do have to say that I did not do most of the things that I had planned in Manila and given that it is more of a “staycation” we did not do much exploring. Read on for my thoughts on Manila! Did I enjoy it?

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First Class Run: Conrad Manila – Bay View Diplomatic Suite

I have just shared extensively on Conrad Manila in the previous post so do check out that out if you would like to hear more about the common area and the lounge. I was in the Bay View King Premier Suite previously, although on the last night I got a further upgrade to a Bay View Diplomatic Suite and would just like to share briefly on this amazing suite. It is so nice to have such great elite recognition as this property. I would share briefly on my thoughts regarding the suite as well as pointing out the main difference between the Diplomatic Suite and the King Premier Suite. I do understand that this is a very rare upgrade for hilton members. My new suite is located just round the corner from the Executive Lounge on the 7th floor which is a lot more convenient than my previous one given that it is far away from the lift. I am glad to have almost 12 hours or more in the suite. The Bay View Diplomatic Suite is even more luxurious than my previous one, coming at 95 Sqm it is super spacious and probably the largest suite that I have ever stayed in. Perfect for a party, this is a suite that easily goes for 560 SGD a night!

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First Class Run: Conrad Manila – Bay View King Premier Suite

Be aware, this is going to be one long post as I share my experience at Conrad Manila. One of the best hotel experience I ever had or even the best. From interaction to service recovery as well as the property itself. A perfect hotel for a staycation. I arrived in Manila shortly after 4pm and immigration as well as bags collection were smooth. Manila International Airport is crowded but still alright, the only huge issue is the traffic here. Manila is known for it’s hideous traffic where simply a short drive could take ages. We took a grabhitch to the Conrad which cost 300 Peso, an alright 8.50 SGD. The hotel is actually nearby but traffic is a mess and it the drive took almost 30 mins. We waited ages for the car as well due to the heavy traffic around the airport. The Conrad is located by the Manila Bay around the SM Mall of Asia area. It is something like an integrated resort with the area full of hotels, restaurants and the huge mall. Surrounding the nearby area you can also find other casinos. The Conrad exterior is extremely striking and gorgeous. It is shaped like a cruise ship as well, fitting the white facade of the hotel. This is definitely the most unique and pretty hotel that I have ever been. The design is awarded winning as well. Although I have to say that it is very hard to get a picture of the place, I got this picture from the internet. Plenty more amazing stuff to come from this stay.

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Picture from Hotel Website

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First Class Run: Singapore Airlines SQ912 777-300 SIN – MNL Old First Class

Never once have I got played so badly! Really badly! As what marriot members would like to say. I literally got “bonvoyed”! Singapore Airlines first class is exclusively located among their 777 fleet and there is currently two variants, one if the latest one which is introduced a couple years back. For this there is only 4 seats in the whole of First Class which makes it very exclusive and niche. They are mostly on the extended range 777 use on long haul flights and premium routes such as Hong Kong. They other product is the legacy ones currently only used on regional routes such as Jakarta and Manila. This is also the only 2 remaining first class routes that they have in South East Asia. I also went for the Manila one which makes your buck worth the most since it is a longer flight. I was continuing on my previously ticket from Zurich which means that this first class ticket only cost me 100USD and tax. Roughly about a week or so out I received a seat change email due to aircraft change, From the 8 seats first class to the new 4 seats one. I was so glad about it till I board the aircraft where another aircraft change bonyoyed me and the crew.

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First Class Run: Silverkris First Class Lounge Changi Airport Terminal 2

A very different definition of First Class! This is what I will say! In a stark contrast to Terminal 3, there is no The Private Room in Terminal 2 and there is also no contrast on whether you are flying Star Alliance metal or SQ metal. The Silverkris lounge in Terminal 2 only have a general Business Class section and a First Class section. This is my very first time visiting the First Class section over in the Terminal 2 lounge. The lounge is certainly aged and not in a good way, this is definitely the oldest lounge of SQ over here in Singapore. SQ operated from both Terminal 2 and 3 and usually regional flights fly out of here as well as Silkair! Unlike the T3 one, the lounge here is not open 24 hours. It is open only from 5am to midnight.

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First Class Run: Marhaba Lounge Changi Airport Terminal 3

I am sure that many of you would have know that the Singapore Airlines lounges in Changi Airport are going thru a process of renovation during this period which is something that is long overdue. The lounge are no longer cutting edge and in fact an embarrassment to the standards of Singapore Airlines. It is going to take some time and probably until 2021. During this period, the airline also sign a contract with one of the newest lounge in Terminal 3, Marhaba Lounge as a overflow lounge to ease up the crowd while they renovate one by one. The Marhaba is one of the newest addition to the offering in Changi Airport and also under priority pass. So in addition to SQ premium customer, Star Alliance priority members you can also get access under the usual lounge programs such as Priority Pass. In fact it might be an awesome time to visit it now since there are slight “upgrades” in the soft offerings given that SQ customers use it as well. This might just be the best contract lounge in Terminal 3 right now! Let’s take a look!

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First Class Run: The Private Room Changi Airport Terminal 3

Welcome back to another review of Singapore Airlines The Private Room, this is probably the last time that I am visiting it before it undergoes a huge renovation. This time around I spent around 15 hours in Changi Airport overnight which gave me a good opportunity to check out the private room all day round, from dinner to breakfast! For those who do not know, The Private Room is Singapore Airlines best lounge and exclusively only for First Class & Suites passengers flying on SQ metal itself. Members and those flying on star alliance metal do not get access. As a measure of hand, a flight range from around 4 to 12 first class and suites passengers. As such, despite the lounge not being overly huge, it will never be too crowded at anytime of the day. TPR is also known as the lounge within a lounge and a lounge since you got to pass by the business class lounge, the first class lounge to get to the actual TPR. This is also known as the famous lounge within a lounge and another lounge!

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Bali Mattress Run: Bali

As of this time that I am writing this. I have already planned another trip back to Bali in August 2020. That should tell how much I actually love this place. I have always wanted to go Bali after knowing it, this is one out of the two remaining bucketlist for me in South East Asia, with the other being Penang and I just went there earlier in November. Furthermore I also need to head clock my nights for status which result in this last minute trip afterall, I was ever ready to travel and Bali is the cheapest to do so with the HGI coming in at 28 SGD a night. Beach, sunrise and sunsets. A reason why I love it so much. In the end I was more than pleased with the trip and the food also turned out to be spectacular. I have already shared extensively on the post previously. Something totally unexpected. Given that it is my ever first time here in bali, I also have to do some sightseeing. There are usually 2 groups of people, the one who wanted to just laze and the others who are looking to sightsee. I went to research and found a few places that I would really like to visit. Follow me on!

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Bali Mattress Run: Eating and Dining in Bali

From simple grab food to babi guling and by the beach. Bali never disappoints! Balie, the famous island for it’s beach and resort, I knew these would be the impressive ones, but I never knew the cuisine or food here would have a lasting effect on me as well. That is impressive and out of the blue. Surprisingly the food in bali is drastically different to the rest of the country, since the predominant religion here is hindu, the food are more pork dominated rather than beef, which suits me better. Every single meal I had was memorable and full of praises from me, even randomly ordered delivery ones was gobbled down with me wishing I had ordered a double portion. I have actually wanted to just include in my main sharing on Bali itself, but the meals I had were that good that they warrant a separate one.

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Bali Mattress Run: Mount Batur Sunrise Hike

One of the best thing to do in Bali is to hike volcanoes. Bali, an island is known for its volcano mountains, there are two prominent ones over here. One is Mount Agung and the other is the one I did hike, Mount Batur. Both of them are active volcanoes. They are popular with hikes and the travellers with Mount Batur being the easier one. Mt Batur is 1717 metres in elevation making a hike up around 2 hours for the average person. I was intrigued by this, after all it is my very first time to Bali. Sounds perfect for me after all it is an experience and I have never hike a volcano before. Checklist! The most popular one would be a sunrise hike and this is what that made the unfit me go for it. I love sunrise and sunset, just for that lovely sight of it. I decided to head on to challenge my fats to this 2 hours of climbing. Well! Let’s do it! Furthermore this is also one of the most popular activity when in Bali. Also, a sunrise hike usually means that you are being pick up at your accomodation around 1.30am or 2am depends on where you stay. Follow me on the journey.

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Bali Mattress Run: Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport

Towards the later end of the previous decade! Wow what a way to say it. It is actually a couple months ago back in December 2019 when I went on a trip to Bali. Despite it being one of the my bucket list. The main motivation for the trip was to stay here at the Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport. I was on a hunt for more nights as the year was coming to an end and I need to clock my status. Hilton elite status is one of the most beneficial ones in my opinion. I have always gotten executive upgrades and a few times to a suite even. The lounge and breakfast access is a nice touch and often save me lots of money when on the road. This is probably the cheapest way to go on a mattress run and it is well known in the community as well. A night here usually goes for about 60SGD plus tax which isn’t frankly a price I think I will pay for! The best deal actually goes for points stay. It is usually a 5,000 points property and when hilton is running a sale you are usually able to get it for 25USD! As elite members we also get the 5th night free when staying for 4th nights. That brings down the price to 20USD a night or 28SGD! What a deal! What a steal! With some hilton promotion to sum up, I only paid 3,400 points, even cheaper than I expected. Furthermore, on points stay you do not have to pay any taxes as well which is a nice touch. Check it out with me! The “best” hotel for a mattress run! 60 nights for Diamond? Heck this might be cheaper than your apartment back home!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Thoughts on winging on the road

Once again it comes to the end of another trip series, this is my second solo trip around Europe, continuing on my adventures 2 years ago. I kinda love writing such post since I am able to reflect on the whole trip and see what is really the highlights throughout everything. Furthermore it also allows me to sum up everything. You probably know that this time around, I am headed to cities that are more out of the way, more little quirky places that might not be first up on a traveller mind. It is also the first time that I am doing my travels without a plan, winging it on the road, in fact most of the places are just what comes to my mind, what is there on the map, as well as the cost of tickets. It is surely a very enlightening process. Besides sharing a little on how much I spent, I will also like to share on some of the more adventures experiences I encountered during the trip.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Singapore Airlines SQ345 A380R ZRH – SIN Suites

Finally it is time for me to share on my journey onboard Singapore Airlines Suites from Zurich to Singapore. This is also how I am getting back home after spending close to 2 months overseas in Europe. As amazing as it is being overseas I still do get a little homesick after so long. I was actually suppose to fly back on J class although amazingly my waitlist for a saver suites clear. In the end, I spent 125,000 miles as well as 82.80 SGD in taxes to get back home to Singapore. It is the perfect way for me to wind down the trip, trying out a new product that I have always been looking forward. Given that there are only 6 seats onboard the new cabin, it is always a challenge to be able to snag a redemption ticket. The new suites are only available in the London, Zurich, Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Sydney and Hong Kong market as of writing. It is definitely one of the most amazing way to get back to Singapore from Asia.

 

 

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Swiss Senator Lounge & Business Lounge E Zurich Kloten Airport

Outdoor terrace in a lounge, you know that Swissair played it right by using incorporating this idea into a lounge. Afterall Zurich is a very picturesque lounge and the alpine views are amazing. Together with tarmac views and the sleek Swiss Air livery. It is a total AVgeek over here. Under the Lufthansa group, lounges for Swiss Air and in Zurich Kloten undergoes the same grouping. It follows First Class, Senator and Business Class. Technically both First Class and Senator Lounges are both first class lounge. Although First Class lounges are reserved for their own ticket holder and their own Hon Circle Members, then Senator lounges are open for Star Alliance members as well. A Second Class, First Class Lounge it is. I have heard alot of good stuff about the lounges in Zurich Kloten, especially after they are recently renovated. The Swiss Senator Lounge is located in the E Gates, for non schengen departures and one level above the main terminal.

 

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Zurich

Zurich! The cream of the crop of picturesque Switzerland as well as its largest city and global financial hub! I am so glad to be finally here after so long. Previously I have only been to Lucerne and Geneva and that was almost 7 years ago. I fell in love with Switzerland and now I am back for a second date. To me, Zurich is a city that has literally everything and one of the most livable city in the world. Of course, to enjoy such perks and living in such a beautiful does comes with its price! An awful expensive cost of living with an equivalent quality of life. Definitely it might be everyone dream city especially for us the travelers as well. It is certainly not one that will be kind on your wallet. 30 SGD for a meal out, public transport cost that runs into the hundreds. That’s the expectations! The city or mainly the touristy zones spans in the hub of the city, mere miles away from the airport and the central train station which is right in the old town, the largest in country with connections to most places in Europe. The city runs around the centerpiece, Lake Zurich. Zurich can definitely be said as the beating heart of continental Europe. Follow me on my 6 days stay in the city!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Kandersteg, Oeschinensee, Blausee & Thun

Do you want a postcard with me in it! I could supply you with a ton of them after my trip to Kandersteg, Oeschinensee, Blausee & Thun. One of the very best and most scenic part of Swiss alps and scenery, Kandersteg is definitely worth to be up on your alley when you are in Switzerland. There are many areas to explore if you are in Switzerland. Tons of hikes to do, skiing in the winter or even adventure sports. Nature is the best thing over here. Located in almost the centre region of Switzerland, around Interlaken is the best spot for such activities. This time around. I am headed to Kandersteg, Oeschinensee, Blausee & Thun. Kandersteg is a high-altitude resort village in the Bernese Oberland region. You can expect fresh air and swiss cows. What a rustic lifestyle over here. The two main highlight of my visit are the Oeschinensee, Blausee. This two lakes have long been on my bucketlist and the thing to do. With the efficient train network and system in Switzerland they are all doable on a day trip with ease despite you being based in anywhere in Switzerland. An awesome day trip!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Rhine Falls X Swiss National Day

Before I get into my review and sharing my thoughts on Zurich in particular I will like to share and reminisce with you guys a very special experience that I had during my stay here. I am lucky enough to be here during the Swiss National Day. This trip have been kind of memorable and special since I was around in the respective country for both France Bastille Day, Belgium National Day as well as the Swiss National Day on the 1st of August. Talk about a hattrick. Let me just say that this is totally unplanned throughout this trip and a pure coincidence. With that being said, I really on went about celebrating the Swiss National Day. How patriotic I am! Hey after all, it’s the Swiss, all about neutrality. I was in Zurich from 31 July to 5 August, so I was definitely right in the peak of the holidays. Traditionally, on the eve of the holiday, the country will celebrate with a huge fireworks display over the Rhine Falls, which is also Switzerland and Europe largest waterfalls. It is also known as the “fire on the rocks”! Singaporean celebrating Switzerland National Day. Let’s go!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hilton Zurich Airport

For my very last base in Europe and in Switzerland. I booked the Hilton Zurich Airport for my stay. Welcome to Zurich guys! I am a huge fan of Switzerland although the high cost of travelling deters me from actually doing a huge trip around the country. With that being said I am still very glad to be here in Zurich! A brand new city for me. While it might sounds a little weird for me to be staying in an Airport hotel even though I am here to check out the city and on holiday. It turn out to be the best decision I ever made for the time in Zurich. I got in on Swiss Air from Berlin as I shared in the post previously. Everything was smooth upon deplaning although there was a wait for my bags and I miss the shuttle by mins. Zurich Flu-ha-gen is one of the most beautiful airport I have ever seen as is Zurich. I love to say flughafen which means Airport in German. Probably one of my most accurate pronunciation of the language. Zurich is an expensive city and the hotel scene is by no means affordable at the very least, especially if you want to stay in the city centre, prices skyrocket. I was in Zurich for 5 nights! A pretty long stay. Somehow the prices were super high for my first night on the 31st, probably due to the fact that it is the eve of the Swiss National Day. Somehow splitting the booking makes it cheaper. I book the first night with 50,000 points which is still expensive but instead of paying 165 CHF and tax that’s not too bad. For the next 4 nights I pay around 124 CHF a night.img_8959

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Swiss Air LX977 A320 TXL – ZRH Economy

While I don’t usually share much on my economy flights experience since there isn’t much to share about and how different could it be among airlines. Furthermore this is an intra europe flight as well. However I though it might be nice given that it is my first experience on Swiss Air as well as sharing on the “uniqueness” of Berlin Tegel Airport. But hey, any flight after an experience in Ryanair feels like first class! Berlin Tegel Airport. My ticket cost around 142 SGD and this include a check in bag as well. I think it was quite a good deal and not much more in comparison to trains or buses. I am quite exciting to be trying a new airline! Tegel airport is pretty nicely connected to city where I took the direct airport bus which was easy enough and there was even wifi. The ride cost me 2.80 Euro and takes about 40 mins.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Berlin Airportclub Lounge Tegel Airport Terminal A

This is going to be rather short since I barely warm up the seat even in the lounge. Continuing on my journey from Berlin which is actually my very last stop in the EU. I decided to cut short my trip prematurely and fly to Zurich for almost a week in lieu of my returning flight on Singapore Airlines Suites back home. I flew Swiss Air, the price was alright and it was a direct routing so that is appreciated. I decided to take a flight rather than winging it out on the road since I need to be at the airport for tax refunds and trains are always a bitch when it comes to VAT Refunds! The airport is easy to get to for me with the direct airport bus from Alexanderplatz. Flight experience was a twist. I will get to that in the next post. Berlin Tegal Airport is certainly not cutting edge and seems to be struggling with capacity as well. It is certainly one of the smaller ones in Germany. There is only 1 contract lounge in Terminal A which I was flying out on which is the Airportclub Lounge. On the first note I was surprise that it is located landside although it seems that the configuration of the airport is such that there is almost no transit area. Small group of gates are located just behind the check in counter with the security as barriers.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Berlin

Berlin, one of the last few cities that I would really love to visit in Germany! The one major city that have been missing out from my list in the country before I checked off the whole country. As it turn out, Berlin also became one of my last stop in the EU as I decided to cut short my trip and head back home. The World War and history classes definitely tip my interest in the city as the conflict and so much stories that we learn about West Germany and East Germany. I am glad and fortunate to be able to be living in a generation where I could see them together as well as the historical side to this fine city. I am also interested to see the mixture of influences, the blend of modern buildings with the cultural ones as well as the differences between the East side and the West.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Potsdam

A city of magnificent palaces, tranquil lakes and parks. Potsdam is next up on my travels. It is a city that you definitely have to visit once. Small but there is so much to do over here in Potsdam. It is also home to the renowned, famous, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sanssouci Palace. The summer home of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Which is the main reason for my visit. There are countless amount of palace and gardens in this prussian city. An amazing lively city that is so gorgeous, it is also a mere 30 mins train ride away from Berlin, making it a perfect reason for you to extend your stay slightly in Berlin to make a trip over. For those who are based in Berlin like me, a ABC Zone ticket will allow you to take the S Bahn from Berlin to Potsdam. Easy and fussless. Potsdam is perfect for a day trip. Small and concise but enough sights to get you by for a day. Follow on!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hampton by Hilton Berlin City Centre Alexanderplatz

Continuing on my journey in Berlin, I decided to extend for 2 more nights in the city. While I could have extend at the place where I was staying originally at Hilton Berlin, I thought that I should probably try out some new property, furthermore, the rates are much cheaper at the Hampton. It is also in another area of Berlin. Located at the prime transportation and shopping district, Alexanderplatz. The location of this property is pretty good as well. Furthermore, for those looking to leave Berlin, the direct airport bus stop here as well as easy connections to the main train station. Thankful to the staff at my previous hotel, I stayed in the lounge and check out pretty late. I only went to the Hampton around 8pm in the evening. It is an easy ride away on the UBahn!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hilton Berlin

Immediately after arriving from Hamburg, I took the U Bahn to get to Hilton Berlin. The station is located right outside the hotel. Hilton Berlin is one of the properties in Berlin and it can definitely be said as the flagship one. It is located right in the heart and you can walk to most places. A true 5 star hotel. The museum island is just a short stroll away as is Check Point Charlie and the memorial. Anything further, the U Bahn is right there. The Hilton is also located right outside the Dom opposite, making it super pretty. The exterior is gorgeous and grand as it blends into the surrounding. Berlin is a city of two worlds, the difference between the historical East and West, the blend of skyscrapers and buildings rebuilt after being destroyed by the war as well as the historical ones that remains. Lobby was grand and huge, there is also bell boy service at the entrance. An indicator that this is a true 5 star property. I hate the revolving doors that is so common in Europe.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hamburg

Hamburg, one of the remaining two cities that I would really like to visit in Germany before calling it quits, with the other being Berlin! I have to say that I probably went to Hamburg in the worst possible time. I was there in the hottest day of all time in continental Europe. Right smack in the July 2019 European heat wave. I believe I had rant enough of the weather in my previous couple of posts already. I do have to say that the weather is so detrimental in deciding how much you love the city and your willingness to head out to explore. As a trueborn Singaporean, it is a fact that I love the cooler weather when on the road. To be frank, I struggle with heading out, especially when you literally melt immediately after leaving the hotel. Trust a Singaporean when he says the weather is smoking hot! With that being said, I still checked off Hamburg.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton

I am always intrigued by the Curio Collection. Where they are mostly independent hotels with their unique flair but under a management contract with Hiltons. Something like a chain but without the identical identity. Similar brands would be like Marriott Autograph. Then lean more towards SLH style. Previously I had stayed at The Renwick in NYC and was delighted. It is with no doubt that the Reichshof would be another highlight! Each property have their own history and feature. While I love hiltons and conrads it tend to get boring since chains like to keep the style similar! While when you are talking about the Curio Collection, they are significantly unique and yet they give you the same elite benefits as what you will get for example for staying in a Conrad or Hilton. I get points, upgrades as well as complimentary breakfast as a gold members as well. Perhaps the only bad side is there is rarely a lounge. To make it a point, I will go my way out for Curio collections properties. Let me show you how nice the Reichshof is!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Flix Train Cologne to Hamburg

This is going to be a rather short post, but a unique one. I am sure the most of you have heard of Flixbus, the king and queen of interbus travels around Europe, especially for those who are on a budget. Flixtrain however seems to be rather unknown, it is a fairly new product and only started in 2018. I have taken way too many rail products around europe to share them here but seeing that this is rather special, I will just like to write a short post to talk about them! Flixtrain is another brainchild from the people behind flixbus. It offers rail products but at a fraction of the prices in comparison to the main rail products. The main competitor would be Deutsche Bahn! Seeing that now they only operate in Germany!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hilton Garden Inn Brussels City Centre

This is my second time back to Brussels. The city that meant a lot to me! I will not be doing another sharing on Brussels itself seeing that I have already done a very in depth one the previous time. You can check that out here. I would however like to share about my stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Brussels City Centre, a fairly new property in the city! I wanted to come back to Brussels even though I have already been here before, given how special it is, I would like to retrace my steps on my trip 2 years ago. Surprisingly, the rates for my stay was super good. Totally unbelievable, the rate is 70 Euros or 105SGD a night for my stay! For Brussels, that is really affordable, might be more worth it than some hostels. Furthermore, I will still be able to earn points and enjoy my benefits.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Bruges

The famous setting of the movie In Bruges lies in Bruges, Belgium. An idyllic medieval city that lies to the northwest of Belgium! Bruges have been praised as one of the nicest and prettiest city in the world and often referred to as the Venice of the North! 2 years ago I had plans to come here but it didn’t materialise for some reason. 24 months later, I i finally made it here. Funny enough, I have never watch the movie In Bruges but both an English Girl from London I met on the train over as well as a local lady from Bruges I met in Burg square while resting my legs asked if I had watch the movie! Seems like I should really do so. I would like to share all the pretty places and pictures I took in Bruges. Bruges is easily accessible by train or flixbus, the station is just outside of the city centre. I am also very fortunate to catch an outdoor concert on my first day here and met Stephanie over pictures in Bruges. So lovely to have met her and walk around the city together as well!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Breda

This is going to be a fairly short post. I was crashing with a host from Couchsurfing and was in Breda for a day or two, however I did not do much sightseeing since a majority of my time was simply spend chilling with my friend. But I would still want to share a little on this tiny little dutch city that I went before heading to Bruges! Breda is also super small and there are not much sights in particular. However this city is unique since it is very impressive on the shopping side. There is an abundance of stores in the city centre and the shopping district is one of the established one in Netherlands.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Den Haag

My favourite Dutch city of all time! Goodbye Amsterdam! Yes! That is right! I said it! I like or love this adorable Den Haag so much more than Amsterdam. It is the best place in Netherlands! And a must visit for everyone! Trust me and I will show you why below! I am so glad that I choose to come here this time around! Located all the way to the north! Against the North Sea lies Den Haag or The Hague in english! This place is well known worldwide for its legal system and being the court of the world where the city is home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. I guess it is also the best jail in the world? Den Haag is a short train ride from Rotterdam! The train station let you out right in the city centre so that is easy enough! The city centre is also compact enough to get around on foot for me with the exception of the beach which is all the way north in the Scheveningen District! For that you would have to rent a bike or take the tram! It is always a great city when you have a friend with you!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Rotterdam

The little sister to Amsterdam? Worth coming? It is located roughly about an hour away from Amsterdam lies Rotterdam! All the dams in the world! I really wanted to experience some other Dutch cities besides Amsterdams to get the vibes as well as the way of life of the locals here. After all the main city and probably the most crowded partying capital shouldn’t be the whole representative of the whole country. I have heard some nice things about Rotterdam as well. Rotterdam to me felts like the other quieter sibling to me. Much more subtle, but with some strong values right in the core as well. I was in Rotterdam for 2 days to check it out. Rotterdam is the major port city, it is pretty huge as well. Fully or mostly destroyed during the world wars, it is completely, almostly rebuilt from the ground! Gone are the historical architecture and buildings and it is more of a modern sight which seems way too similar to any other city you have been. You do have to praise their bold modern style. The famous market hall right in the city hub is a good example! The city center is rather compact for tourist and the main central train station is also let you right out in the city center! I will just like to share a little on the place I visited and the thoughts I have on Rotterdam!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hilton Rotterdam

Rotterdam was next up after a night in Lux, this is actually my true destination. After being to the vibrant and way too chaotic Amsterdam 2 years ago, I wanna try out some other Dutch cities to get a feel. Which is why I am checking out the more overlooked Rotterdam, Den Haag and Breda! I found an affordable Flixbus costing me around 20 euros but it will be a long ass ride of more than 6 hours. Thankfully the bus was fairly empty and I met Subin from Lux, having a company for the 6 hours makes the journey so much more bearable. I stayed at the Hilton for my 2 nights in Rotterdam! The Hilton Rotterdam is one of the best in town and an level above most of the hiltons that I have stayed in. A true 5 star hotel in Europe. It is located on the corner of Stadhius, just a short walk away from the central station. It is also right in the heart of the city and you can practically walk anywhere. I never took any transportation at all.

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Luxembourg City

Expensive! That is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Luxembourg! Or better known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is one of Europe most charming city of all time and the medieval old town is an UNESCO World heritage Site as well. One of the smallest landlocked country in Europe. In the past Lux was severely impacted by the wars and invaded by neighbouring countries which is also another reason why they have been a believer of peace and a supporter of the European Union. The city is host to a number of EU organization, making Luxembourg City one of the capital cities of EU. It is a city where the population is highly inflated in day time and during weekdays where most of the people travel into the city and work, but choose to stay outside of Luxembourg given the high cost of living! In the evening, and on weekends such as the sunday that I was here it seems like a dead city and awfully quiet. I did not spend much time here since I was just stopping enroute to Rotterdam! Still would like to do up a short post sharing on the little spots that I love in Luxembourg City!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hotel Empire Luxembourg

I had a one night stay in the little tiny Luxembourg! Well! I have to say that Lux was never on my mind and on the list to visit! Fate as it is, I was trying to save money seeing that a direct train from Strasbourg to Rotterdam would be 100 over Euros. But instead a train ride to the nearby Luxembourg as well as a flixbus would take me to Netherlands for 40 euros. The savings was way too much. At least that is another country and another city to my list making Lux my No. 27 country! I will certainly share more about this expensive boutique landlocked country next. Luxembourg City, is famed for its fortified medieval old town perched on sheer cliffs. Beautiful! The train ride in was eventful but that is another story for another day! Luxembourg is also one of the most expensive place in the world, on par with Switzerland. Another good reason on why people should just come in for a day trip! I however had one night! There are no hilton option! It is also not a place for backpackers. I just screen thru some of the cheapest hotel on booking.com and found Hotel Empire!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Strasbourg

Strasbourg in the Alsace region, located near the border of Germany. It is also the capital of the Grand Est, this place is bustling with colors, timber. The history of alternating between German and French control over the centuries and its past also shows the mixtures of two cultures in this city! It is certainly one of the most interesting French city in the east to visit. Strasbourg is also one of the capital city of the EU! Besides it is also an interesting fact that I have been to all EU Capitals, together with Brussels, Frankfurt and Luxembourg City! The city is well known for its gothic cathedral that towers over the city as well as the cobbled streets and timber-framed houses that have survived for hundreds of years. It is impressive to see this buildings and we were also lucky enough that they survive the bombing raids in the world war! Follow me on my relaxing stay in Strasbourg!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Colmar

I am sure you all have heard of Colmar before or seen pictures of all those charming colorful attractive timber houses. It is a place that feels super unreal, nothing like France or in fact the imperialistic grand style that you are used to in Paris. More like a western fairy land, something that it is truly out of the world. The closest that I have seen these houses and building style will be from my trip to Hallstatt back 2 years ago. But Colmar comes as the more vibrant one, the more playful and happening town. The houses run next to canals with the iconic timber crossing as well as striking colors of brown, yellow and many more. It certainly reminds me of something that I will see in the movie Up, or in lego bricks played by kids. Colmar is also frequently ranked as one of the must visit in the world and a top destination in France as well as in Europe in guides. Feels like you are in Germany, but in fact the only greetings you hear are Bonjour and Bonsoir!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Hilton Strasbourg

Continuing on my solo adventures, I was off, next to Strasbourg, a lovely French city near the border with germany. I have always been intrigued by this place and the mix of influences between French and German! It is certainly one of the most interesting place to visit. Strasbourg is also one of the capital city of the EU! Located in the Alsace region. Besides it is also an interesting fact that I have been to all EU Capitals, together with Brussels, Frankfurt and Luxembourg City! I will leave Strasbourg itself for a separate post all together. I spend quite a bit of time in Strasbourg, staying there for 4 nights in total. I have been on the road for quite a bit and moving around by this time. Hopping to take it down a notch and rest. I will also do a day trip to the nearby town of Colmar! Hilton Strasbourg is a solid 4 star hotel that is located just out the other fringe of the city centre. It is a easy tram ride away of 2 to 3 stops or just a 15 mins stroll. I do think that the location is not too bad. It is kind of quiet around the hotel though! Although a local friend tell me that it is a rather safe place!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Lille

The very first city of my solo adventures would be Lille! Lille is a city on the North East side of the country. It is located near belgium and known as one of the gateway to Europe as well. Lille is also one of the stops for the eurostar, making it one of the crossroads to everywhere in Europe. Although being one of the largest establishment in France, it is definitely much much less crowded than Paris, making it pleasant to walk around and yet at the same time, it is still a metropolitan with all the stores and boutiques that you may want. A perfect mid size city to stay in. I have to say that it is definitely not a city that was on my list beforehand, but I did get a host who offered to host me in Lille and the train ticket from Paris was affordable. With that comes a little review on Lille! I figure that this would be rather beneficial, especially for those who would like to stop by in the middle of their Eurostar journey or those on the way to other city!

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Chapter Wanderlust II: Introduction

Unsure of how many such trips I am still able to take in the future, it is rather better to be living in the moment and do it while I can, while I am able. You never know when you will run out of time or the ability to do so. Continuing on my previous adventure The Bucket List, I separated from my parents in Paris and continue on alone in Europe. This time around I want to visit lesser known cities and definitely avoid those tourists attractions. I also did it pretty last minute and this is more of an impromptu, looking up the map and where should I head to tomorrow kind of solo trip. Well it guess it kind of mix it up for me and gave me extra excitement. I will share my thoughts on winging it at the end of this whole series!

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The Bucket List: How much did I spend for 25 days in U.K, Ireland and Paris?

Doing a little summary after this astonishing trip, The Bucket List is my second trip of the year after The Cathay Present! Do check that out if you haven’t already done so. This time around, I am headed to Europe, or more specifically with the focus on Scotland and in particular Isle of Skye. The trip was over the summer, coming from Singapore, I hate to travel to warm countries. New Zealand was actually the place to go, being high up on my bucket list. However it doesn’t seem to be practical to head there in full blown winter either where driving might be a challenge. Then I thought of the UK, where it is neither too cold or warm in the summer. Then there was scotland, a place that I would like to go and the Isle of Skye after hearing so much about it. So that came to the gist of this trip! I would just like to share some of my thoughts with you as well as sharing how much this trip cost in total!

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The Bucket List: Paris

I was in Paris, 7 years back, in 2012. 7 years of itch sure is a curse and I am thankful to be able to head back this time around to catch up on some of my misses the previous time around. It is certainly amazing to come back to this romantic City of Lights but perhaps not in the middle of a heat wave. I certainly enjoy far better strolling around these Parisian streets and the banks of Seine River this previous time around. Paris was kinda a hit or a miss, I am not sure what is your ideal way of travelling. Paris has its beautiful side as well as the ugly ones. It is the most romantic city in the world but also crowded, full of pickpockets and dirty. However I will still like to share with you guys a couple of places that I went to this time! Bonjour and Bonsoir everyone!

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The Bucket List: Bouillon Chartier

One of the most iconic bistro in town when in Paris is Bouillon Chartier. It is one that is popular with both locals as well as tourists. A bistro served up which is said to have its roots from Paris is a local small restaurant, serving affordable simple meals with alcohol. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. You can expect to find French home-style cooking, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew in them. Let me just say that Bouillon Chartier is nothing but small or modest. It is one of the most famous dining joint in Paris. Serving up iconic French dishes since 1896, it is more than a century old. Located in the 9th arrondissement which is also the main shopping district, it is perfect after a long day being on your feet. It is also open from 11.30am to midnight everyday. No reservation is allowed. Do expect long queues at peak hours although given the amount of tables, it move rather fast.

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The Bucket List: Train Travels in France and thoughts on Ouigo

I hope you have enjoyed both of my previous post regarding my trip to the Champagne region. Since I was based in Paris, I had to take a train to the Grand Est region and the only one that works out for my timing was Ouigo. I am sure this is rather new to you guys, in fact, despite being that well travelled, it is also my first time hearing of it. I would just like to share my experience on Ouigo in this post since it is rather unique in terms of train travels in Europe. Furthermore, hopefully I will be able to highlight the various key points that you have to take note of when travelling with Ouigo! Trust me, it is a direct contrast to the fuss less, common train travels in Europe!

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The Bucket List: Dom Perignon Visit X Champagne Journey in Epernay

Continuing on my Champagne adventure, I am particularly interested in what is coming next. A private visit to Dom Perignon and the Moet Caves Cellars which is the largest and most expensive among all champagne house as well as in the area. Moet & Chandon can also be said as the most famous champagne house of all time! Furthermore Dom Perignon, the world class famous, highly prized vintage only champagne! I haven’t been this excited in a long time. For those who might not know, Dom Perignon is a champagne brand under Moet & Chandon. But it is released under its own branding Dom Perignon itself. Think of it like a BMW M Cars and normal BMW. They share the same facility but have different cellars masters as well as release. The Moet & Chandon Champagne house is located in Epernay, the other major champagne town in the Grand Est region. It is just a short walk from the train station and located on Avenue de Champagne! Can I live on this street?

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The Bucket List: Taittinger Visit X Champagne Journey in Reims

Taking the advantage of being in France and in Paris especially, I suddenly thought of making a trip to Champagne in the Grand Est region. Being an avid fan of this prized wine, I definitely could not miss up the opportunity to head to the Champagne region which is just one hour by train away from Paris and try some bubbles right from the birthplace. The main two cities in the Champagne region are Reims as well as Epernay. I will be visiting both cities and one champagne house from each of them! Before I get to my champagne visit itself I will also share a little on Reims. I visited Taittinger in Reims, Taittinger. Founded in 1734, Taittinger is a family brand, even up to today. I love how rustic the place is and even in the cellar caves, which I will share with you later. It is much smaller and less touristy champagne house in comparison to brands like Moet! I would also like to give a shoutout here to Taittinger as well as Sandrine for inviting me to visit Taittinger Champagne house in Reims. Much appreciation for the VIP Private Visit! My trip was an invitation from Taittinger! After having bottles of champagne, I am so happy to be finally visiting one, a dream come true for me!

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The Bucket List: Astrance Three Star Michelin Restaurant

When in France, or particularly Paris, you can never miss up the chance to have authentic French Cuisine! Especially in France, the country with the most 3 Star Michelin Restaurant in the world after Japan! I always take the opportunity to find and dine at Michelin Restaurant when I am overseas, since I always find it to be much more worth it than having it in Singapore. It is much cheaper. A rule of thumb, go for the lunch and it will allow you to experience at a fraction of the price. This time around I choose to have my fairytale like French Food at Astrance. The chef is Pascal Barbot. Astrance  is also constantly ranked by S Pellegrino as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Reservations are compulsory, after all there are only 25 seats here. There would be a credit card hold as well and I made a reservation 2 months in advance.

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