When it comes to green spaces, Singapore has it all – rooftop gardens, sprawling parks and nature reserves – and, what’s more, you don’t have to travel far to reach them. In the 1960s, then-PM Lee Kuan Yew set the wheels in motion for Singapore to become a Garden City. Singapore’s status as a Garden City, or a City in a Garden, owes as much to this man’s vision as it does to the nation’s collective support for his project.
If you regularly tune into this blog, you’ll already know that a trip to the zoo ranks pretty highly on my list of things to do if there’s one in the area. (See Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2, no pun intended, if you need to be brought up to speed.) We therefore set aside a full day (and evening) to explore everything that the award-winning Singapore Zoo and Night Safari had to offer.
Singapore may be a teeny weeny territory, but what it lacks in surface area, it more than makes up for in its vibrant cultural landscape. Catch the MRT to Kampong Glam, Little India or Chinatown (or all three, if you have time), and while away the day in their bustling hawker centres, picturesque side streets and local markets.
Singapore is a fusion of untamed jungle and slick skyscrapers, a melting pot of cultures, traditions and cuisines. We only spent a few days in Singapore – slap bang in the middle of our trip to Hong Kong – but the little time we had there was enough to cement Singapore’s place on my mental list of favourite places.
I love Lyon. I lived there for ten months, so I might be a teensy bit biased, but it’s an absolute cracker of a city. It’s overlooked by so many city breakers – which is perhaps no bad thing, for it means it doesn’t get completely swamped with tourists like my current hometown – yet has lots to offer the discerning visitor, from world-class museums and cultural venues to picturesque streets and top-notch grub. Although you could easily spend longer than a weekend in Lyon, à la Travel Man, I’ve compiled an itinerary for time-poor visitors wishing to get a flavour for the city in a short space of time. If you missed it, you can catch up on the first part by clicking here. Otherwise, grab yourself a brew and settle in for part two . . .
If you were planning a city break, Lyon probably wouldn’t be the first city to come to mind. Cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam tend to spring to mind first; second-cities rarely get a look in. Lyon, however, has cultural gems aplenty, stunning panoramic views and a foodie scene (or should that be boulangerie scene?) worth writing home about; in other words, all the essential ingredients for a memorable city break. While I was living in Lyon, I had a number of visits from family and friends, and therefore played tour guide a fair few times, pruning and refining my itinerary each time. Whether you’re plotting a city break or simply fancy an armchair getaway, here’s part one of my tried-and-tested guide to Lyon*. On y va !
All too soon, our final day in Paris rolled round. Our initial disappointment that a repeat of yesterday’s chocolatey breakfast wasn’t to be soon gave way to delight as we noticed a string of market stalls lining one side of Boulevard Auguste Blanqui. With breakfast temporarily pushed to the back of our minds, we wandered past a metre-high pile of radishes, crates of seasonal fruit and displays of fresh seafood; stumbling upon outdoor markets like these is something I’ll miss when I move back to the UK. A hundred metres or so down the street the market came to an end and we eyed up a promising boulangerie with an outdoor stall piled high with breads, tartlets and viennoiseries. Munching away, we continued walking towards Denfert-Rochereau.
If our jam-packed first day in Paris taught us anything, it was that relaxing breaks most certainly aren’t our forte. We did at least think about having a relaxing weekend and, after all, it’s the thought that counts. Day two in Gay Paree began (of course) with a trip to a conveniently-located boulangerie for breakfast; opting to save a few cents, we consumed our torsades au chocolat and delicious hot chocolate outside on a bench.
According to Audrey Hepburn, Paris is always a good idea. I’m not so sure I agree with her, but on this occasion Paris was certainly a convenient idea. Back in October, as soon as the third week of classes was done and dusted, I whizzed up to Paris on the TGV to meet Laurence for a long weekend. Since Fridays consisted of a single translation class from 8-9:30am, I booked myself on the 10:04 TGV to Paris and motored to the station as fast as my legs could carry me – though as it turned out, I walked faster than anticipated and arrived before the platform had even been announced.
Synonymous with windmills, clogs and – of course – fields of tulips, The Netherlands attracts tourists by the canal-ful each year. Its capital, Amsterdam, buzzes from dawn ‘til dusk: besides the famous Red Light District, it’s also home to a wealth of museums – ranging from the historic Rijksmuseum to the moving Anne Frank Huis – and an array of (rather intimidating) cycling routes.