The Holiday

Inspired by the movie The Holiday , I decided to travel alone to some cities I’ve never been before, so I would not feel kind of alone during the Christmas – NYE holiday. Sounds sad, but when your family is living in another continent of the world – spending the holiday and bumping at friend’s house or friend family’s christmas party is kind of tradition for me for 8 years already.

So I booked the train passes for two countries for 5 days journeys from Eurail (PS. This is only eligible if you do not have EU nationalities, and if you have EU nationalities you need to buy your passes from Interrail).

My first stop was Grenoble, France.

Is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps. It took only 4h to get to Grenoble from Paris Gare de Lyon with TGV.

Bastille Hill

If there’s one place I always come back to, over and over again, it’s Bastille Hill. I’ve been dreaming to visit this landmark since a long time. The Bastille, an ancient series of fortifications on the mountainside, overlooks Grenoble on the northern side and is visible from many points in the city. The Bastille is one of Grenoble’s most visited tourist attractions and provides a good vantage point over both the town below and the surrounding mountains (source: wikipedia). To get to the Bastille hill, you need to take Grenoble-Bastille cable car, or well-known as “Les Bulles” (the bubbles) as it mostly looks like a transparent egg-shaped cable car.

 

My second stop was Milan, Italy

I actually only had one day out in Milan, well I kind of booked the train tickets at the last minute during the holiday season. So, I didn’t have much choice only to spend whole day in Milan. Here I’ve gathered a few of places that I’ve visited in one day.

Castello Sforzesco di Milano

It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections. (Source : wikipedia)

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Piazza del Duomo

Is the main city square of Milan. It is named after, and dominated by, the Milan Cathedral (the Duomo). The piazza includes some of the most important buildings of Milan (and Italy in general), as well some of the most prestigious commercial activities, and it is by far the foremost tourist attraction of the city.

If you like historical buildings, this is the perfect place to visit.. What I did was standing in the middle of the city square and look all the stunning buildings surround you.. it was really breathtaking.

Duomo – Milano City

Milan Cathedral. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy (the larger St. Peter’s Basilica is in the State of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world.

Honestly, I would not recommend you to visit Piazza del Duomo & the Cathedral during the holiday. Well, I was hardly enjoyed the walking and sight seeing in this area as it was too crowded and too many people did the same thing (read: taking pictures).

 

 

Naviglio Grande

The Naviglio Grande is a canal in Lombardy, northern Italy, joining the Ticino river near Tornavento (23 km south of Sesto Calende) to the Porta Ticinese dock, also known as the Darsena, in Milan.

It is actually pretty hype area to have a drink or social meet up after work. You won’t get thirsty arround here. The area is filled with pubs, bars and restaurants.

Where I stayed:

As I needed to catch up very early train to France, I chose to stay at this Hotel. 10 minutes walking from Garibaldi Train Station.

Holiday Inn Garibaldi

Address: Via Valtellina, 2-4, 20159 Milano MI, Italy

Good Address to eat:

Andry Ristorante Pizzeria
Address: Via Rovello, 10, 20121 Milano MI, Italie

Last time I went to Italy, I tried deep-fried seafood, it was really delicious, and it made me promise to myself, if one day I take another trip to Italy, I will eat the same dishes. So, I did! I went to the local pizzeria, not really far from the landmark Castello Sforzesco di Milano. I ordered Gran Fritto Misto, it was mix deep-fried seafood with fried courgette (zuccini).

Mün Fine Asian Kitchen
Address: Piazzale Baiamonti, 2 20154 Milano Italia

I found this place by chance in the Chinatown, as I supposed to go to Korean restaurant that permanently closed. It’s a very fine fusion japanese restaurant with reasonable price. I ordered different kind of dishes and everything tasted amazing.

Last stop before going back home – Paris, France

For some people spending NYE is very important, for some people might be not. But me, I like spending quality time with my closest friends, like most of French people do.

Where to stay:

I kind of booked the hotel couple weeks before the holiday started, so this was the one I found that pretty affordable during NYE. It situated in 11th arrondissement of Paris and pretty calm area. The room was comfortable and modern for Parisian hotels, but the most important thing is they provide you free mineral water and kettle for tea/coffee for each room.

Hotel Hor Les Lumières

address: 39 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris

Good address to eat:

After craving Korean food when I was in Milan, my friend finally brought me to eat some Korean food, and it was really good. Here’s the address:

Ossek Garden

14 Rue Rampon, 75011 Paris
What to order:
Korean barbecue (marinated beef )
Beef Bibimbap in a hot stone pot

Good address to dance:

We spent our NYE dancing at this place. But actually, the restaurant is also open during the day for simply having coffee, casual drinking or even lunching.

Brasserie Barbès

address: 2 Boulevard Barbès, 75018 Paris
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Photo credit by Brasserie Barbès

 

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Throwback Thursday: Little Swiss in Normandy

In the spirit of #throwbackthursday and how I finally proud living in Normandy :p , I will show you my sweet trip to Bagnoles de l’Orne in Lower Normandy. At first, I had no idea where the town is, I simply found the town when I was searching a weekend great deal on travelbird website. We visited the town in late autumn 2014. I was pretty worried that the town wasn’t that pretty as I expected, I did google before, but you know sometimes pictures did not tell the truth. Fortunately, it was beyond than I expected. Bagnoles de l’Orne was a little town with approximately 2502 habitants surrounded by Andaines forest.

What make me falling love with this town is “the lake” located in the middle of the town which is formed by River Vée, it is kinda remind me of Switzerland. Bagnoles de l’Orne was also well known as typical French bourgeoise residential area, it is filled with superb villas with polychrome façades, bow windows and unique roofing which was built during “the belle époque” quarter.

Well, I can tell you that Normandy has also a little paradise. 🙂

Hello from Dieppe!

 

Dieppe is one of coastal town located in Upper Normandy which famous with their scallops and seafood. Two weeks ago we went to this town to taste some of Dieppe’s culinaire and visit the famous “Marché de Dieppe“(read: Dieppe’s market). The market is the lively Saturday morning in downtown Dieppe. A popular meeting place for supplies, including local farm products, and to meet. Marché de Dieppe is one of the biggest one within the region. You can find not only fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products from local farmer, but also takeaway food, flowers and clothes.

One of my colleague who grew up in Dieppe gave me a list of restaurant which qualified as Michelin restaurant, Restaurant “A la Marmite Dieppoise“.  It’s pretty expensive, but quality cannot lie. They have some specialties from Dieppe, such as la marmite Dieppoise, a sort of seafood soup contains prawns, fillet de turbot, scallops, mussels, and lobster in sour cream. We also went to the famous patisserie “Divernet“, and it’s kinda hard not to taste their amazing patisseries.

 

What I love about Rouen

I’ve been moving to different cities across France – from the south to the north, and now I’m currently stuck in the capital city of Normandy, Rouen. It’s been more than two years living in Normandy, but I’ve never written about Rouen. I usually visit the town on Saturday and when it was not raining. My first year living in Normandy was pretty hard, you rarely had friends visit because Normandy always sounds gloomy and sad, so no one is really interesting to visit this city unless they have reason to go to. But, after more than two years, I’m getting used to love everything about this city. At the end, it’s just a matter of time and how you see and enjoy new things differently.

La Cathedral des Notre Dame
La Cathedral de Notre Dame
  1. It seriously rains a lot – it rains on 4 days in 7 days period, mostly during the weekend. It sounds sad, I know, but if you’re a true Norman, the rains won’t bother you to go out.
  2. You will bring your big-strong umbrella anywhere you go, just in case it’s raining in beautiful sunny day – Say good bye to your small-compact umbrella, it won’t work in Normandy.
  3. You just spent 650 €/month for a big two bedrooms apartment with nice view of the River Seine – I don’t think you will have this good deal in Paris. When I lived in Marseille, I only can afford one small bedroom with 500 €/month.
  4. You can eat proper food in French restaurant with affordable price – I always love eating good food. I rarely had that when I was in the South or even in Lille. Sometimes the price is not affordable, but in Normandy, 5/7 random restaurant I had visited, I mostly have best value for money.
  5. You can have home made foie gras everyday – This time I’m a little bit exaggerating, but you can indeed eat foie gras every season, even in French brasseries. By the way, foie gras is not a paté. Price is from 8 € to 15 € for two slices of foie gras, toast, and salad.
  6. You’re not going to wear your heals when you walk in the town centre – unless you have someone to hold on to. Some streets in city centre are made from cobblestone, and even it’s not raining, it’s pretty slippery.

    Rue des Gros Horloge
    Rue des Gros Horloge
  7. The oldest restaurant in France is in Rouen – Even though I have never had an occasion to go there, but I’m pretty proud to say that Rouen has the oldest restaurant in France. 

    Restaurant la Couronne
    Restaurant la Couronne
  8. Town centre always packed on sunny Saturday – It’s like everyone from the suburbs and surrounded cities, also the tourists are going to the same place – you cannot walk peacefully, you definitely cannot ride your bike, no tranquil window shopping, restaurant are packed and impossible to take picture without having people at the background. It kindly reminds me of walking in Champs Elysée, Paris.
  9. Lots of tea-shop, bars and brunch cafeteria in walking distance – from the vintage, classic to modern style. So, when it’s raining, you can just jump in and stay warm.  

    French bar
    Classic French bar
  10.  You’re not very far from anything – from the beaches, Paris, airports, Calais, Deauville and Giverny (Jardin de Monet). Long story short, you will always have a reason to go out.

one day visit to Singapore

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Universal Studio – Sentosa Island

Singapore, a small country in Southeast-Asia which comprises with the main island – linked by a causeway and a bridge to the southern tip of Malaysia – and around 50 smaller islands, includes Sentosa Island where you can find the famous Universal Studio. (source: bbc).

Even if I am Indonesian who supposed to be easy to visit Singapore without any visa requirement, but actually it was my first time to have at least one day for getting around in Singapore. Oh, thanks Boss for the business trip opportunity!

I arrived on Saturday afternoon in June and felt very tired. I was no surprise, I had a very long journey since the day before; 2 hours early train headed up to Paris, 1 hour on Parisian metro and RER, then stuck in the airplane because they announced air trafic before take off, 15 hours of flight to KL, couples hours of transit, before I finally touched down in Changi Airport, Singapore – so I decided to have dinner at the Hotel and sleep.

I was a little bit surprise because I woke up at 7 am in the next morning, which means I did not have to struggle with the jetlag. I’ve prepared myself and had a very big brunch at the Hotel. Oh how I missed having an Asian brunch so much. In European hotels, they would never serve any porridge, fried rice, or dumplings, which is in Asian hotels, they were just a must.

A big breakfast for Asian is very important, because we need to eat a lot in the morning so we can stand to work or study and stay focus until the lunch time’s coming. We usually did not have a coffee break in the morning, I mean we could have a coffee while working, but not literally like a typical coffee break in Europe. I’ve remembered when I was in elementary and secondary school, we’ve never had a pause until the lunch time. So, that’s the reason why we usually have a very big brunch in the morning.

I stayed in Gallery Hotel near Clarke quay, one of a historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area (source: wikipedia). I decided to walk through the riverside and tried to find an MRT station – which is at the end I couldn’t find any. I blamed myself for not bringing any citymaps. Finally I found a city sightseeing hop on hop off- bus stop. I believe I would never get lost with this bus, which was good for a person who’re not be able to read a map like me. The ticket bus was not expensive, I’ve paid only for 17 S$  for adult, and the driver said I still can use it for 24 hours counting by your first validation time.

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yellow citycab in Little India, Singapore

My first stop was in Little India district. To be honest, this was not my favorite district in Singapore, it was very crowded and I didn’t feel safe at all. Unless you love Indian food and Indian Sari, it was a perfect place to visit. Despite of the crowded, one thing I love the most of this district is the colorful houses, it is indeed a little India.

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Colorful shops in Little India

The next stop was Chinatown, a must visit district in Singapore. I love this place a lot, it is simply because I believe that I would never being afraid of starving. There’s food everywhere not only for chinesse food, but almost from all over the world. Which means it would be very difficult to decide where would you make your tummy happy. Despite of streetfoods, cafes and restaurants, you can find also lots of souvenirs shops in Chinatown. By the time you walk through the small street, you will find a giant Chinesse temple in front of town hall where you can find the locals dancing and do some aerobics. Which was quite entertaining.

Budha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore
Budha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore

It was a hot day at that time. Even though I grew up in tropical country, but the fact that I am now living in northwest of France, simply making me feel very uncomfortable with a very hot and humid weather like this, so I decided to go to Marina bay building complex and went into a giant commercial center to have some fresh fake air (read: Air Conditioning). Actually, if you walk on top of the building, you will see an amazing view of Botanic gardens and the art science museum.

Marina bay building complex
Marina bay building complex
singapore flyer taken from Marina bay building complex
singapore flyer taken from Marina bay building complex

It was 6 pm and it’s time to me to go to Singapore flyer, this was actually the first most visit that I’ve had written on my list and I’d save the best for the last. It is simply because the best time to see a city skyscraper is when the sun goes down. The end of my perfect day.

the view from the top of Singapore flyer
the view from the top of Singapore flyer