Sunday, August 2, 2015

London 105 - Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial and The Mall

After Trafalgar Square, we walked through the Admiralty Arch down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. The Mall is a road in the City of Westminster, London running from Buckingham Palace at its western end to Admiralty Arch and on to Trafalgar Square at its eastern end. The changing of guards at Buckingham Palace was on that day so we saw the marching band, guards on horseback, and the very big crowd in front of the Buckingham Palace as we walked the 1km long road. We couldn't really squeezed ourselves to the front of the Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of guards first hand, only my iPhone managed to capture a few pictures through the gaps between the steel fence. We were still entertained nonetheless and glad to be part of this very English tradition in our little ways.... 
Admiralty Arch
Guards on Horseback 
Marching Band
 Queen Victoria Memorial
The very crowded Buckingham Palace

This was the inside peak through my iPhone...
Queen Victoria Memorial



Sister Gang in London




For my other post on London, click here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

London 104 - Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is one of the famous public space in downtown London. It has the National Gallery at its back and at its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. After we collected our London Pass from Leicester Square and breakfast break at Pret A Manger, we walked along the streets to Trafalgar Square before heading to the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. We were just getting our 1st dose of European statues and monuments' feast for the eyes as we walked down this historic part of the city...  


The National Gallery

Nelson's Column and its Lion


View from the Square

Wikipedia Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafalgar_Square
For my other post on London, click here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

London 103 - North Sea Fish Restaurant

Our 1st fish and chips in London was at North Sea Fish Restaurant, not too long a walk from our hotel. The family run restaurant is located at a quiet neighbourhood and it opens til late. We only got there around 9pm after settling into the hotel and freshen up a little. It was drizzling when we walked to the restaurant so the cold weather definitely kept us a awake after a long 13 hours flight.
The restaurant wasn't crowded when we got there probably it's way after normal dinner hour, and we got ourselves a table without having to wait. My sister and I weren't too hungry so we ordered the Jumbo Haddock fillet (£13.95) to share, a side of mushy peas and fries each and a bottle of large sparkling water. We don't get Haddock fish in Malaysia so it was the first time we were trying it. The fish was nicely battered and the meat was firm. The homemade Tartar sauce which came in abundance really brings out the flavour very nicely. The portion was big and we couldn't finish all the food. The mushy peas are not something that we are used to so I think I still need to learn how to appreciate mushy peas. For £20.40, it was a very good dinner and we were looking forward to more fish and chips in this city....




Sparkling water is happy water!
Love the Tartar Sauce

Our Jumbo Haddock Fillet

Address: 7-8 Leigh Street, London WC 1H 9EW, England
Tel: +44 20 7387 5892
Business Hours: Mon - Sat: 12pm - 2.30pm; 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Sunday: 1pm - 6pm

For my other post on London, click here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

London 102 - Hotel ibis London Euston St Pancras

Our 1st hotel in London was Hotel ibis London Euston St Pancras located next to Euston/Euston Square Tube Station. My sister and I took the Tube from Heathrow Terminal 4 and interchanged at Green Park before we disembarked at Euston Station with our 2 huge luggage. Please choose the Tube stations with lifts/escalators as most of the Tube stations only have staircase access. We were a little lost after getting out of Euston Tube Station but luckily when we asked for directions, some kind Londoners pointed the direction of the hotel and we found it in no time. The check it was shift since we had already paid for the room. For £385.20 per room over 5 nights (about £77 per night) after 30% discount from Accor Hotels, it was a good base for us to explore the city. As usual, Ibis is clean, functional although the room is small. It was extremely convenient locating nearby the 2 Tube stations, also within walking distance to King Cross Station which we took the Eurostar to Paris, the British Museum and many other eatery places. The hotel is close enough with few Tube stations away from Oxford Street for shopping, SOHO for food and Leicester Square for Broadway if you want to. The only complain we had was that the central air-con was not functioning and we had to leave the window opened in order to get the cool air in the room while endured some of noises from the streets. Still, it was overall a good stay for our 1st leg in London.   






Address: 3 Cardington Street, NW1 2LW, London
Tel : (+44) 207 3887777

For my other post on London, click here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

London 101 - Tips to Survive & Navigate London

London is becoming a 2nd home for me since I have been travelling there more often thanks to Big Teddy. So here are some of my tips to survive and navigate this city that I'd come to love..

1. Voice and Data SIM Card: Once I exit Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, there will be 2 SIM card vending machines located on both end of the arrival hall. I usually go to the one next to WH Smith right across the arrival hall gate. The vending machine is very easy to use, just pop in £20 notes and choose the type of SIM card you want (remember to choose the right SIM card size), the machine will quickly dispense the SIM card pack without a hitch. Some people might have problem choosing the type of SIM card, but so far I'd been sticking to Lyca Mobile £20 Unlimited Data and 500 minutes UK Call, plus Unlimited Calls to other Lyca Mobile. The only downside I had with Lyca Mobile was that once I got out of London city, their reception is fairly poor especially in smaller towns in Cambridgeshire. So for those who is staying in the London or other bigger towns, I think Lyca Mobile will suffice as it gives unlimited data compared to other SIM cards that usually come with only 1GB. The SIM card pack is very easy to use, you just have to swap your SIM card and no activation is required. Your phone will auto search the network and once it is connected, the world is your oyster again! Minus the expensive roaming charges of course.     


Look our for this vending machine


2. Oyster Card: Once the SIM card issue is solved, the next thing is to get an Oyster Card, the pay as you go smartcard that all Londoners use to pay for journeys on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London.
We wanted to get the Visitor Oyster Card with cool card design and some discount vouchers but when we went to the Heathrow Tube Station Counter, we were told that only the normal Oyster Card is available so we paid £30 each for £25 credit and £5 card deposit. 

Pros of using the Oyster Card:
  • Pay as you go fares are cheaper than buying a paper single ticket. The single Oyster fare for a bus journey is £1.50, but capped at £4.40 for any number of trips in a day (including trips by Tram and tube). Cash is no longer accepted on London's buses, but a contactless debit or credit card can be used in place of an Oyster card at the same fare. A single tram journey is charged as per a single bus journey, but the tram ticket machines do still accept cash (£2.40) for a single journey. Using pay as you go, a single trip on the Tube within Zone 1 costs £2.30 (compared to £4.70 cash), or £1.70 at peak times (£1.50 off peak or £4.70 for cash at any time) within any other single zone. Journeys in multiple zones are progressively more expensive
  • Your Oyster card offers daily capping. This means you can travel as much as you like in a single day and the amount you pay for your travel is limited (or capped). For example, you can travel as many times as you like in a day in Zones 1 and 2 (from 04:30 to 04:29 the next day) and you won't be charged more than £6.40. 
  • By comparison, a Zone 1 and 2 Day Travelcard is more expensive and will cost you £12. 
For more information on the Oyster Card, please visit https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/

Point to note when taking Tube in London: Not every station has lifts or escalators and most of the stations have only staircase, please check https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/wheelchair-access-and-avoiding-stairs. This is extremely useful when you have big luggage to carry around the city.



3. London Pass: For 1st time visitor to London, I'd strongly recommend the London Pass get into most of the iconic tourist attractions like Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle and many more. I ordered the 3-days London Pass online with 10% discount for £72.90 each and an email confirmation with clear collection details and map was sent to my mailbox without any hassle. I chose the London Pass as it covers 55 attractions including the famous ones below (individual ticket price stated for your reference if you purchase tickets separately). The ones I'd used with my London Pass:-
  • Tower of London – £22
  • Westminster Abbey – £18
  • City Cruises Thames River Cruise – £18
  • Kensington Palace – £15
  • Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition and Theater Tour  – £13.50 
  • Tower Bridge Experience – £9 
  • Apsley House – £6.90 
  • Tate Modern - Free Mutimedia Guide worth £4
The ones that I could have used if I had more time:-
  • Chelsea FC Stadium Tour – £20 
  • Wimbledon Tour Experience – £22 
  • Churchill War Rooms – £15.90 
  • Windsor Castle – £18.50 
  • London Bicycle Tour – £23.95 
  • and many more..... 
So with my 3-days London Pass, I'd saved over £33 of ticket prices and with my oh so weak Malaysian Ringgit it was actually quite a fair bit of savings about RM180. However, please be mindful that some famous London attractions that are NOT included in the London Pass which are The London Eye (Ferris wheel), Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Double-decker bus tours and St Paul's Cathedral. I paid £20.95 for my London Eye ticket separately and it's so expensive! But I don't think I'll be going up there again soon anytime so just to ignore the conversion rate and pay for the ride.

Overall, London Pass is a good way to explore the city and I'll cover more of it in my review of the individual attractions later in my blog. There are more perks for London Pass so just checkout their website. Do lookout for the discount code on their official website when purchasing and then you are pretty much set to enjoy the sight and sound of LONDON~!

For more information on the London Pass, please visit http://www.londonpass.com/



For my other post on London, click here

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Singapore 115 - Singapore Sling @ Long Bar in Raffles Hotel

I'd tried many Singapore Sling all over the world but this was my 1st time drinking the original Singapore Sling at Long Bar in Raffles Hotel. For S$27++ per drink, one can get this original cocktail named after the place where the drink was developed sometime before 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar. Sipping this cherry red classic tropical cocktail is perhaps the most iconic thing to do in Singapore, if you don't mind the crowded bar filled with tourists and peanut shells all over the floors. Yes, free flow of peanuts are included and this is perhaps the only place you can litter legally all over the floors without getting a fine in Singapore.

Also they are not shy to share the Raffles recipe for the original Singapore Sling so here goes:
30 mL gin
15 mL cherry brandy
120 mL pineapple juice
15 mL lime juice
7.5 mL Dom Benedictine
7.5 mL Cointreau
10 mL grenadine
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Garnish with a slice of pineapple and cherry

The downside was that their service was poor as we struggled to get the servers to replenish our drinks quick enough. Price is on the high side with other standard cocktail (i.e. Manhattan, Cosmopolitan etc) will set you back for S$23++ and a Tiger draught beer is S$18++. Well, it's the experience at the birthplace of Singapore Sling that counts so if you don't mind the touristy bit of it just head to the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel...
  
The original Singapore Sling~!
Snack Menu
Fan anyone?
Peanut shells all over the place
Address: 1 Beach Road 
Tel: +65 6412 1816 
Business Hour: Sunday-Thursday from 11:00-00:30; Friday-Saturday from 11:00-01:30

For my other post on Singapore, click here.

Singapore 114 - Saint Pierre @ Quayside Isle

We were in Singapore in March this year thanks to last minute cancelled Future Music Festival Asia. Since we weren't hangover or exhausted over the weekend, we got plenty of time to explore the little island at our own pace. We drove to Sentosa Island and had brunch at Saint Pierre located at the swanky Quayside Isle. This modern French restaurant is helmed by the celebrity Belgian chef, Emmanuel Stroobant and we picked the place out of coincidence when we were having problem deciding a place for food. Big Teddy made the call to try this restaurant and we were glad that we found this place by chance.
For S$38++ per person, their classic brunch menu comes with fresh watermelon juice, croissants, 1 choice of main  (egg benedict/smoked salmon/beef parmentier) and coffee/tea. We also added 2 waffles at the end for S$14 & S$16 each. The service was top notch and the servers explained every dish professionally and make sure we never run out of water. It was a joy to see the chef in action in the open kitchen and we were extremely pleased with all the food. Honestly it's impossible to find fault with their food made with so high standards even with such simple menu. Definitely worth a splurge here at Saint Pierre when you are in Sentosa Island~!

Fresh Croissant with Jam and Butter
My Egg Benedict with Iberico Bellota Ham and Champagne Hollandaise
Beef Parmentier
Poached Eggs on Smoked Salmon and Champagne Hollandaise
Waffle with Belgian Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream
Waffle with fresh berries and cream fraiche
Watermelon Juice with fresh mint


Address: 31 Ocean Way, 01-15 Quayside Isle, Quayside Isle, Singapore 098375
Phone:+65 6438 0887
Hours: Tue - Thu: 5:30pm - 12:00am; 
Fri - Sun: 11:30am - 3:00pm; 5:30pm - 12:00am
Official Website: www.saintpierre.com.sg

For my other post on Singapore, click here.