Singapore

I traveled to Singapore to celebrate the wedding of my friends Serene and Collins. I had high expectations and they were exceeded.

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You’ll see Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures (plus many more) coming together here. Old style buildings contrast glassy skyscrapers and vegetation persists everywhere. It feels like nowhere else in the world yet comfortably “western” to me all at once. An impressive metropolis smack in the middle of the Eastern Hemisphere.

One of my favorite cities in the world, this is a place I’ll return to (and would consider living in). 

Some general tips:

go to any 7-eleven to pick up a SIM card, for about 10USD you can have a week’s supply of data which will allow you to use maps, etc. well worth it! 

Next, get an MRT pass (or use your contactless credit card) to take all trains/buses – Singapore has a great public transport system which you’ll want to take advantage of. 

In case you prefer to hire a car use Grab app (like Uber in Singapore).

Bring a refillable water bottle (the tap water is treated and ready to drink)

Eat at the food courts! Delicious meals for 5-10USD (v 15+ USD in a restaurant) To avoid long lines visit just before/after (noon) lunch hour or dinnertime. Also note that if you don’t mind waiting, the cues move quickly. 

Bring tissues/wipes because napkins are hard to find. 

I saw 24 hr luggage storage at the airport from $10. While you’re there visit the Jewel waterfall in T1.

Now, What to do in Singapore:

Cocktails at Atlas Bar (in the “Batman building”) is a destination I wouldn’t miss. Go before 5pm for a more casual dress code & no reservation needed. Incredible interior and attentive staff, fancy drinks, impressive AC. Sit at the bar and chat with them about what to do around town. Little India and Bugis Street are in the area.

Something I’d never experienced before was a Hot Pot restaurant which gave guests free manicures! Haidilao in VivoCity is the place to go (this is best as a group activity). 

The stunning wedding of Serene and Collins took place on Santosa Island.

I attended a yoga class in celebration of the International Yoga Day. My friend Harshini hosts Flow and Chai Yoga in the Botanic Gardens every other Sunday at 9am. Bring your own mat and mug to Corner Walk (near the Nassim Gate entrance/visitor center).

The Botanic Gardens are very pretty, easy to access via the DLR and free.

The Coconut Club offers yummy SE Asian foods near Chinatown.  

My friend Annaling took me to see the Gardens at Marina Bay (Flower Dome & Cloud Forest $28) these gigantic herbariums are a must.

See the “Supertrees” aka (by me) giant mushrooms light show nightly at 7:45/8:45pm

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My friend Andrew was generous enough to invite me to the Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool (hotel reservation needed for this one) which has famous views from the highest point in the city. The infinity edge gives a serious impact. I don’t think the viewing deck option (for non-hotel guests) would really be worth it…

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A couple of things to eat: Laksa (fish and noodle curry soup) and an ice cream sandwich (literally a block of ice cream in bread/pictured below)

Take a riverboat cruise for $25 and bring home some Tigerbalm as a souvenir (it’s made here!)

Some things I left for next time: TreeTop Walk, Shopping @ Haji Lane boutiques and the Art Science Museum 

Three days in Paris

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Paris night one started at FORMATICUS cheese bar around the corner from our Airbnb in Batignolles with the most delicious variety of goat, cow and sheep’s milk cheeses for dinner street side. Next we climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe around 9:45 to catch the end of the sunset and see the Eiffel Tower sparkle (at 10pm) as the city lights came on all around. 

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Day two was equal parts tourist and foodie. We went straight to the catacombs in the morning. Tip: grab a coffee and delicious butter croissants & spinach/chèvre quiche from Bonjour Bakery down the street during the two hour wait in line. We headed underground to the display of six million human bones (which I found equal parts creepy and interesting). From there we taxied to what was the best food of the weekend: the lunch menu at Invictus.

Everything was well buttered and made me very happy to be alive and tasting such amazing things. Next up was a wander through the Musée d’Orsay then some canal-side beers with old and new friends from Paris and Montana. 

Wandering around the Louvre on our second night was amazing. It was a Sunday around 11 pm and there were very few people around. The lights and the contrast of old and new architecture, the hype that lingers behind the millions of tourists from all over the world who come to stand in this place, it was romantic, it was moving. (The tourist photos grabbing the top of the  pyramid did not turn out).

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On our final day in we kept the itinerary fairly simple. After a walking tour in the morning (my guilty tourist pleasure) we took a break mid day and around 9pm we grabbed some crackers and raw milk cheese and a little bottle of D.O. Champagne and hit a river cruise at 10pm just as the Eiffel tour sparkles and the city lights were coming on.

This experience was incredible and something I recommend wholeheartedly. Don’t forget to wear your blanket scarf because you’ll want to sit on the rooftop deck and once the sun goes down it gets a bit chilly. Incredible ending to the trip. Can’t wait to return to this city.

A (new) local’s guide to Murcia, Spain

 

FOOD

The photo on the left is my first meal in Murcia! El Rincon de Las Anas is still one of my very favorite places to eat. This is a prawn surrounding a scallop on a bed of lettuce with sprouts and salsa and chili pepper on top. Four euros and phenomenal. Paired with a local white wine from Jumilla.

IMG_7261La Tapa in Plaza Flores: (you MUST try their croquettes w goat cheese, rosemary and honey- photo above) The photo above on the right is of their mushroom gazpacho. It has fancy foam on top and it’s only 3 euros- what?!

I walked by El Jardín de los Dragones* one afternoon and happened to be so hungry that I ran right in. I’m sure glad I did! This is now one of my favorites! I go for tapas + beers or a menú del día (multi course lunch). P.s. it’s vegan!

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favorite vegan lunch spot + company

In Plaza Cristo Resucitado you’ll find *Dragon Lab (El Jardín’s child) and La Terraza del Girasol.

Urban Burrito Bar = saving Murcia from an American-Mexican food shortage. I’m so glad this place exists! It’s a staple for me now. They have a good vegan chili as well. I’m a regular.

Mano a mano has fantastic pizza. I love to take a slice to go and eat on a bench in the sunshine while people watching.

Llallao – tangy soft-serve frozen yogurt with dark chocolate coating YES PLEASE. It’s a chain but it’s originally from Murcia.

DRINKS

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Coffee spots: Cafe Lab, El Gallinero & Socolá are all amazing.

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Mercado de Correos is a gorgeous spot to grab a drink day or night.

Please note that I don’t go out at night much. But when I do, I…

Grab cocktails (gin and tonics are most popular- try Seville’s strawberry variety: Puerto de Indias) at El Perro Azul on the patio. Late night stop: Revolver for giant glasses of beer & live music. Bizzart is  my favorite spot for dancing.

TO SEE 

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https://murciatoday.com/real-casino-de-murcia_7848-a.html

IMG_7320The Casino + CathedralSanta Clara Monastery (Museum)

IMG_0049Fuensanta cathedral on the side of a Mountain with nice views and little trails around

Street art at Plaza Academia General del Aire

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SHOP

Pequeña Moma is my favorite shop for airy pants and dresses in the city.

Day Trips from Murcia

IMG_8335Cartagena day trip to see Roman theater + veg lunch spot: Chef Momo

The town of Bullas has a waterfall and swimming hole called El Salto de Usero. It’s a great place to go on a hot day! You can get there by bus from Murcia.

I enjoy hiking at El Valle. Just a short city bus ride from Murcia’s city center, there are many trail options, green mountains and fresher air.

On my to do list:

Mazarron beach and the pink salt lake: Las Salinas de Torrevieja (for this one I’ll need to rent a car)