What to do in Singapore and from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 8

If you’re just checking in for the first time, I’ve got 7 days of what to do in South East Asia that you can check below! Otherwise welcome to the continued journey bringing us to day 8 back in Singapore.

Day 1: Singapore Popular Tourist Sites

Day 2: Sentosa Island

Day 3: Little India

Day 4 & Day 5: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 6: Running Tour of Singapore

Day 7: Bintan, Indonesia

On this day, I ventured out to Marina South Pier in Singapore by metro to catch a 10am morning weekday ferry with Singapore Island Cruise. The cruise ventures to a couple of the smaller islands (St. John’s, Lazarus, and Kusu Island) off the southern part of Singapore, just past Sentosa Island. The ferry first brings you to St. John’s which has a connecting land bridge to Lazarus, from there they give you 2-3 hours until the ferry picks you back up at St. John’s Island for a quick trip to Kusu Island for 45 minutes and then back to the mainland by late afternoon.

St. John’s Island

Known as an old quarantine island for immigrants who suffered from cholera and leprosy, now vacant for campers, tourists and homeless cats and my main reason for this adventure. The ferry dropped us off at a jetty near a lagoon. I made a quick tour of the main lodge and campground sites before feeding the homeless cats that all seem to hang out by the bridge landing before heading to Lazarus Island. After a 15 minute feeding session, I made my way over to Lazarus which took about a 15 minute walk.


Photo 1: Welcome Lodge to St. John’s Island, Photo 2 & 3: homeless cats of St. John’s Island


Lazarus Island

Here is where the more tranquil and quiet beaches rest. I think mostly because it was a weekday but also being a secluded island, I basically had the place to myself except for a docked boat and two other ferry passengers. Although I’ve read, weekend trips here will be packed.


Photo 1: Bridge Walkway between St. John’s Island & Lazarus Island, Photo 2: Enjoying the quiet beaches of Lazarus Island


Kusu Island

After about 3 hours, the ferry picked us up for a brief stop at Kusu Island. This is a legend island known for its Tortoise Temple and fostering turtle sanctuary. The layover to Kusu was only about 45 minutes but have you enough time to visit it’s temple, shrines and sanctuary before heading back to Singapore.


Kusu Island and Turtle Sanctuary


After a relaxing, touring day, I made it back to the main island for ladies night in the financial area. Meeting up with my friend Katie, we started our evening at Level 33 to catch a glimpse of the evening light show of Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We then headed over to The Fullerton Hotel rooftop bar called Lantern which has free drinks for the ladies. After several cocktails, we knew we needed dinner and headed along the waterfront near Merlion Park and ate outdoors at The Pelican to continue to get great views of the evening light show.


Photo 1: Katie & I at Level 33, Photo 2: The Fullerton Hotel Rooftop bar, Photo 3: The light show view from Waterfront


Join me next week as I conclude my journey with a last long run in on my last full day to visit the bizarre tourist attraction called Haw Par Villa.

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What to do in Singapore from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 1

I’ve been anticipating, since my return back from Singapore, to give you all the delicious details of my 10 day South East Asian tour. You can all now release your breath, find a cozy place to take a few minutes to read on about this one delighted, runners perspective on things to do and places to see to get the most out of your sightseeing trip when in Singapore. With the plethora of information, I’ve decided to write this in a weekly series of daily itineraries. Here goes Day 1….

After a 12 hour and 30 minute red-eye flight from Luxembourg with a brief layover in Zurich, I arrived with a loss of 7 hours compared to central European time. Since it was already evening upon my arrival to Changi Airport, I wasn’t expecting to get a full day’s activity in on night one. After an easy 20 minute cab ride, I quickly learned they use Singapore dollars, that pretty much everyone speaks English or at least Singlish, and the drivers side is on the right and the roads are driven on the left. Having passed many open aired trucks on the highway, full of construction workers retiring after a day’s job, I soon discovered the concrete jungle of high rises and constant construction growth to house the 5.6 million, multi-cultural, population of this island city-state. I certainly wasn’t in Metz, France anymore. Regardless of the population, the country itself is only 719 squared km (or 278 squared miles) and actually made up of a total 62 additional smaller islands. It’s a fairly new, independent country founded in 1959, so its architecture is not full of history. In fact, the whole financial district is fairly modern, full of sky rises with evening light shows but I’ll get into that more a bit later.

For those who don’t know, I’m was visiting my college friend Katie, who was on a 3 month work stint in Singapore, allowing me to take advantage of coming in the first place. So night one was dinner together on Orchard Road, the famously long shopping avenue in downtown and then immediately making an attempt to get a full night’s rest before a busy tourist day the next day. I slept maybe 4 hours and was up by 4am, a blessing and a curse that with age I’ve found jet lag hits me harder with long travel. Reminder: I was still in training for the Paris Half Marathon scheduled the weekend of my return home. Because it’s one degree north of the equator, you’re dealing with super heat year round with incredible humidity, it’s not the ideal climate for long distance runners. But I made the most of my jet lag and hit up the hotel gym and got a 5k interval run in before 7am. After a quick breakfast and having purchased a discounted online ticket for Gardens By the Bay, that included the sky walk, I set out for my first day’s adventure by bus before 9am. By the way, public transportation is superb and incredibly affordable, something I used frequently to get to and from a lot of my adventures because it’s just too hot to run around everywhere

Gardens by The Bay


Pic 1: Supertrees, Pic 2: The Singapore Flyer, Pic 3: Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Near the marina, this eclectic garden mixed with modern day Supertree apparatuses, houses indoor and outdoor botanical beauties. Placed in between the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer, you can get some great photo ops of the iconic structures. My first stop after a short walk around the outdoor gardens was to hit up the sky walk, as recommended seeing before peak day to avoid the heat from the sun. After, I made my way towards the two indoor conservatories; first, the Cloud Forest which encases a 35m (115ft) indoor waterfall and second, the Flower Dome which is the world’s largest column less and eco-friendly glasshouse.


Pic 1: Sky Walk, Pic 2: The Cloud Forest, Pic 3: The Flower Dome


Merlion Park

From the gardens, I made a brief walk over the helix bridge towards Merlion Park. Along the waterfront with another spectacular view of Marina Bay Sands, sits an impressive 8.6m mythical, half lion/half fish, water spewing statue. The landmark is the Singapore mascot.


Merlion Park


Hawker Centre Food Courts

With almost a half day spent, I was getting hungry and found myself making my way towards Chinatown with a pit stop at one of the famously known Hawker Centre Food Courts. Each court has numerous stalls housing authentic, local and nearby cuisines for mere dollars. For sure, should not be missed.


Ramen


Chinatown


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum


33% if the Singaporean population is Chinese and Chinatown keeps authenticity close to home with its several temples, most famously Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Amongst the magnificent 4 story temple are several, narrow, mostly pedestrian only streets that have negotiable markets for souvenirs and fruit stands where you can try a piece of the stinky Durian fruit. After 13 miles of walking, a little shopping and quenching my thirst with a couple Tiger Beers, I met back up with Katie and we made our way to the river for dinner.


Chinatown Streets


Clark Quay

A great area for specialty food and cocktails with a peaceful view is Clark Quay along the river. Clark Quay is home to several restaurants with most providing specialties of Singapore including the soft shelled crab. The crab is stir fried in either pepper or tomato based chili sauce. Paired with sticky rice and garlic spinach, this meal is as messy as it gets but a sweet memory of flavor and fun that I won’t soon forget.


Katie and I having chili crab in Clark Quay


Stay tuned for next weeks blog when I make a venture to Sentosa Island!


Sentosa Beaches


Work Hard, Play Hard

Hello All! I’m back!

Last you heard from me I ran the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. It’s now November. I took October off from the blog, and for good reason, as I was resting, recovering, and then partying along the east coast of the USA.  

After Berlin my father, who came to watch me run, stayed with us in France for a couple weeks. So a few trips were made around Europe until we all flew back to the US the second week of October.

In this period of time (5 weeks), I’ve visited 11 specific cities/towns, 10 states, 5 countries, and 1 district. Amazing! I can’t imagine covering all of it with you, nor do I want to bore you, but I’ll do my best to make a brief recap for ya. 

This week will be Part 1: pre-USA.

Colmar, France 

Quaint town on the eastern side of France, close to Strasbourg. Known for alsascien architecture, cuisine, and the seasonal Christmas Markets.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise

Alsacien Food

Alsacien Food

Colmar, France

Colmar, France

 

Nancy, France 

I’ve visited Nancy, which is 45 Minutes south of Metz, before on my own (click here to read about it). However, I liked it enough to bring my dad down to see it for a day.

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation

Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation

 

Verdun, France 

Known for it’s WWI battle, the small village holds several memorials for the French Military.

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Duoaumont Ossuary

Duoaumont Ossuary

Le Fort de Duoaumont

Le Fort de Duoaumont


Luxembourg 

A small country that boasts beautiful countryside and plenty of historical value throughout.

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

Château de Vianden

Château de Vianden

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Inside Beaufort Castle

Inside Beaufort Castle

 

London, England 

A place I’ve been to several times, but my dad has not. We decided to cross the channel for a weekend.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

The Mall

The Mall

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 

I’ll continue Part 2: USA next week where we trekked along the east coast for 3 weeks!

Quick Trip to Rochefort, Belgium

Earlier this month, I had a random Friday where I had no clients which meant no work. What does one do? They take an impromptu road trip to Rochefort, Belgium.

The reason Rochefort stuck out to me was that it was only an hour and half drive from Luxembourg and a previous client of mine told me they went there with their kids to explore the natural caves. And because I’m a kid at heart, I wanted to explore them too.

After an easy drive without any traffic, I came upon the center of Rochefort. A quaint town with a castle over looking the little shops, restaurants, and a cathedral. It was cute but I had the impression there was little to do outside of the previously mentioned activities for tourists.

Rochefort Castle

Rochefort Castle

Rochefort Castle

Rochefort Castle

Belgium Houses

Belgium Homes

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Street Art

Street Art

After stopping by the office for tourism, I learned my assumptions were correct in that there was very little more to see. However when I asked about the caves, I learned they were actually about another 6km drive away.

The name of the caves are called Domaine des Grottes de Han. Located in an even smaller village, the entrance could easily be missed and interpreted as a small shop, which indeed it was as it acted as the ticket booth and souvenir store.  Once inside I learned the tours go every half hour and last a little over an hour and a half. You had an option to just do the tours or they also had an option that included the tours with a “safari” ride to see groups of animals in natural habitats. I opted for just the cave tour and even saved 2€ by purchasing the ticket online (17€). I was then led out back of the store to wait, with about 25 other visitors, to hop on an open air train that would bring us 10 minutes away to the entrance of the caves.

Upon the entrance, I discovered that the tour guide typically speaks in French or Dutch, however he did speak English as well for myself and a family from England. Walking through you learn about how and why the temperature remains about 13 degrees Celsius consistently and how stagmites and curtains and other terms for natural formation occur. You also learn about how 280 million year old sea crustaceans and coral makes up the limestone. We saw so many beautiful natural architecture while learning it takes about 100 years to build 2cm of formation and at the same time the masterpieces are constantly ever changing. There’s even a 5 minute light and music show inside. After walking through, you are let out about a 10 min walk back to the village.

Domaine des Grottes de Han

Domaine des Grottes de Han

Domaine des Grottes de Han is definitely an affordable attraction and a must see for adults and children alike.

A Day Trip to Nancy, France

Since being in France, and more specifically living in the Lorraine section, Nancy has been on my list to visit. Over the past year I’ve driven past Nancy several times with it being about 45 minute drive away, have received Facebook event notifications for concerts and local races there, and have been warned by Metz loyals that “La Lorraine est grenat”! (Metz’s football team colors and Metz and Nancy rival each other in soccer/football). I could get backlash here for being a Metz girl in Nancy but I’m fine with it because, let’s be honest, I’m all Boston anyway.

Photo courtesy of La Lorraine République

Photo courtesy of La Lorraine République


About a week ago I had the chance to make a midweek train visit to Nancy, which by the way is only a 35 minute ride at 14€ RT. Considering how convenient that is, I can’t believe it took me this long to get over there.
Stepping out of the train station, which is about a 400m walk to the center of town, I immediately saw a cathedral mimicking a smaller version of Notre Dame in Paris, called Cure Saint-Leon IX.

Cure Saint-Léon IX

Cure Saint-Léon IX


Using Google travel guide and Trip Advisor, I was able to make a walking plan. Starting at Porte Stanislas, I headed towards Place Stanislas. Here marks a vast and beautiful pedestrian Plaza with open air seating for several restaurants, surrounded in gold plated fences and sculptures with magnificent views of the Musee des Beaux-Arts and L’Hotel de Ville (Mayor’s Office).

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

View of Hôtel de Ville

View of Hôtel de Ville


After a quick rest and a glass of white wine to take in some of the views, I made my way towards Palais du Gouverneur Militaire and Parc de la Pepiniere which was in full bloom with spring flowers. From there I made my way towards Porte de la Craffe which resembles the Porte des Allemands in Metz. I then found Place Carnot that was in the middle of hosting a spring carnival. After having walked a couple hours, I built up an appetite and found a Made in France sandwich shop close to Basilique Saint-Epvre.
Walking towards Governors Palace

Walking towards Governors Palace

Parc de la Pépinière

Parc De la Pépinière

Porte de la Craffe

Porte de la Craffe

Place Carnot Spring Carnival

Place Carnot Spring Carnival

Basilique Saint-Epvre

Basilique Saint-Epvre


After replenishing some carbs, I walked across town to Cathedrale Notre Dame de L’Annonciation. I circled around to find Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon with more fragrant flowers and finishing up my tour back through Place Stanislas to several shopping boutiques before catching one of the trains, that come every 30 minutes, to head back to Metz.

Nancy Cathédrale

Nancy Cathédrale

Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon

Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon

Shopping Center

Shopping Center

Nancy Street Art

Nancy Street Art


A beautiful, walking city, Nancy hosts an array of shops, sites and bites to eat. Having gotten a glimpse on a sunny, spring day helped build my admiration of Nancy. Maybe next time I can even convince Juju to come with me!