27-28 April 2017 – Paris, London, then Singapore! [France, Singapore]
It was our final day in France and it was another one of those crazy travel days…. freshly baked pastries from our street in Paris for breakfast, crepes and a play in the park then off to London and Singapore in business class luxury. Before we knew it there was swimming and more satay than we could possibly eat in the tropical heat and humidity of Singapore…… all in 36 hours!
Our last day in Paris again started early, the kids just couldn’t get used to the road noise! Not in a rush we finished off some packing and then headed out onto the street to pick up our last Paris treats. None of us were very hungry after eating constantly for days (probably weeks) but we just had to fit in some last baguette and croissants!
Gosh we were going to miss this street! Our treats for the morning were pain au chocolat, croissant aux almonds (which was still warm) and a baguette because we just had to use up the last of our French salted butter and cheese from the Loire Valley.
With the morning free, first on the agenda was a walk down to the Louvre for some souvenirs and postcards (we knew where they are all located) and then across to the Forum des Halles shopping centre for some speed shopping. The kids and Anto both scored more clothes than me yet again. Next trip we need to allow more shopping time in Paris! Somehow despite 5.5 weeks away we still had everything in 3 bags, they were a tad more full though…..
Our apartment check out was 12pm but our flight out of Paris wasn’t until 6pm. We decided it wasn’t worth storing our bags anywhere for the extra couple of hours until we needed to depart for the airport. So, we bid farewell to ‘our street’ and dragged the bags down to the Les Halles playground where the kids had their last play. Everyone sits in a playground with a huge pile of luggage, right?
When we first got to the playground it was quiet, and the kids enjoyed having it all to themselves….. but it rapidly got busy when several daycare groups arrived. While I sat with the pile of bags and kept an eye on the kids, Anto went off to the markets near our street and picked us up some fresh crepes. We still weren’t hungry but had to take advantage of the last crepes of this visit to Paris. Anto returned with one salted caramel and one nutella crepe, they were pretty good!
It was getting cold sitting in the park, and it was looking like storming, so we decided to make an early retreat to the airport since doing anything with the luggage was hard work.
The park is right next to Châtelet metro station where the RER B to Charles de Gaulle airport departs from. We’d already scoped out the lifts into the station so we managed to get all the way from our apartment to the RER (via the park) with only about 800m of walking with bags and no stairs! Can you tell that we have gotten very good at mastering moving luggage with minimal effort?
We lucked out and got one of the direct RER’s to the airport, which was inevitably delayed several times, but was painless if not fast. It generally takes well over an hour (it was quicker to get to Normandy the previous day).
We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Charles de Gaulle airport, so generally know our way around. Unfortunately it is one of those airports that always involves a lot of walking due to ridiculous numbers of terminals and gates. By the time we found our check-in gate we’d walked a few extra kilometres but still somehow ended up being too early for check-in and they refused to take our bags until 3 hours before our flight, beside the fact that the British Airways counters were open. Here commenced an awful lot of sitting around……
Once we were finally able to drop our bags we had a super express run through immigration and security due to our priority status as we were flying business class, and the fact we were in a quiet section of the airport.
We were in the Cathay lounge prior to boarding our flight. Since no one had eaten anything but crepes and pastries all day we tucked into some noodles freshly cooked by the noodle chef, and the kids watched the planes taking off and landing. An activity that apparently never gets old when you are 3 and 5!
As we had booked the London to Singapore leg of this trip as business class on points, we got the Paris to London leg also as business class for no extra points. This resulted in the welcome, but totally unnecessary luxury of flying business on the short hop across the pond.
Our flight took off just after 6pm and both kids were exhausted. Soren managed to fall asleep on takeoff and missed the entire flight. Astrid was looking weary but was thrilled to get her business class food and drink. I must say that British Airways did an excellent kids meal……. and the adult light meal wasn’t too shabby either for such a short flight. Alitalia and Finnair should take note!
After we landed at Heathrow we had to awaken Soren and get off the plane. We were arriving into, and also leaving from T5, but still had yet another security screen. This meant dumping of all our water, including all the Evian we’d filled our bottles with from the Cathay lounge in Paris!
Ee eventually located the nearest lounge to our gates, the same one we’d been to with Astrid 4 years earlier. We all grazed on some more food, noting that the British just don’t do food as well as the French. The kids ran off some steam in the play area, which was a good idea before the long flight to Singapore.
As we departed the lounge they were quite taken with the large horse outside the BA lounge.
Our flight was departing from remote gates so when we’d checked into the lounge we had been warned it would take a while to get down to our gate. Obviously in a travel (or food) induced stupor, we hadn’t been rushing until we got out of the lounge and saw the boarding for our flight was already closing. We had a very quick stop by the Heathrow post box so Astrid could post her postcard back to school from the official Heathrow mail box.
Once we realised it was 20 minutes until our flights departure and we had an enormous escalator to get down and then a train to the remote gate, we figured we’d better bolt. We weren’t the only ones running, there were a few other people running along with us….
There was a slight panic at the thought of missing the flight but we figured our bags were on the plane already, so we had a little grace. We did manage to get to the gate before they started pulling bags off and we weren’t the last on the A380, but close to it.
We were in business class on this flight and had the 4 middle seats. The configuration of these seats was much better than our earlier in the trip business class flight on Finnair. The kids had the middle 2 seats and we could reach over the partition to see them and give them a hand with meals. Anto and I were on the aisle seats (and Anto had no one behind him), so while it wasn’t very private it was pretty easy access to the kids.
Despite being after 9pm Paris time when we took off, both kids didn’t want to sleep until we were in the air. They had their welcome drink and once we had finally taken-off we laid their seats down, and they were luckily asleep before the meal was served…….
After a whole day of eating I figured I might as well go for dinner number 4 and had the dinner. Unlike our Finnair experience I actually got the vegetarian meal I ordered, and the staff were somewhat useful! The 3 course meal was fairly good, as was Anto’s. Despite a rather tiring few weeks, we were now feeling rather awake so we both ended up watching movies while we ate. This is always the problem in business class, enjoy the service or take advantage of the lay-flat seats and sleep. Luckily with 14.5 hours of flying time there is time for both!
Dinner took the entirety of the movie I was watching and then it was time to sleep. The lay flat seats were pretty good and I got quite a few hours sleep, through to 7.30am Paris time. Probably more sleep than I averaged most nights of our trip!
The kids woke up an hour before me and watched TV, while being waited on hand and foot by the staff. Their multi-course breakfast of fruit, yoghurt, smoothies, croissants and hot egg, bacon and sausage was fairly impressive for a kids meal. Anto and I also got both a cold course and hot course and the food was pretty good overall, much better than our experience with Finnair.
The kids happily watched TV and ate for almost 2 hours until it was time for the descent into Singapore. The whole flight was very painless and the 14 hours passed almost too quickly, unlike when you are sandwiched back in economy!
Before we knew it we were landing in Singapore, where the local time was 4pm, but it felt like the morning to our Paris adjusted body-clocks…..
Being up the front of the plane we were off the plane pretty fast, had collected our bags, and even made it through immigration in about 10 minutes…. unlike when we landed in Singapore 5 weeks earlier and we had stood around in immigration forever with tired kids.
We’d decided to only take minimal luggage with us into Singapore as we were only staying a little over 24 hours on this visit. We had packed 2 of the big bags up to be left in storage at the airport, and just took the backpack and hand luggage with us. Once we eventually found the location of the left luggage service, it didn’t take too long to rid ourselves of our extra bags. The only issue was that the bags had to be hand searched for security screening and everything was crammed in so tight that the poor guy had trouble getting it all back in again.
Having been to Singapore rather frequently we at least had the advantage of knowing exactly where we were going. It was off to the sky train and then the MRT for the transfer to the city. We had our transport cards from previous visits so it was a very quick transfer. We had decided to be lazy and take the 3 MRT option that involved minimal walking as it was hot (particularly after the last few days cold weather in France) and we were tired. The MRTs were as usual fairly busy but compared to riding metros around Italy and Paris they seemed so clean and new!
For our final night of the trip we had booked ourselves a room at the Westin, which is in Tower 2 of the Asia Square and not far from an MRT stop. We hadn’t stayed in this area (or hotel) before but didn’t have any trouble finding it. Hotel reception, however, is on level 32 of the building, which confused us temporarily in our tired state. Unlike our disastrous check-in to our Singapore hotel (the Parkroyal on Kitchener) at the start of the trip, they had our room ready and had upgraded us, given us a late check out, plus welcome drinks!
The room was beautiful and bigger than the majority of the apartments we’d been staying in. The views weren’t too bad either. One of the niftiest features of the hotel was the phone they issued us with which had free calls plus data for maps. A very handy feature since our travelling sim cards were for Europe and didn’t work in Singapore.
Bags dumped in the room and it was down for a swim at the pool. The pool had pretty spectacular views and an impressive infinity edge. It wasn’t a bad way to unwind after many hours of travel…….
All the travel had they were obviously caught up with the kids though, because despite it being a nice temperature in the pool, they did eventually request we get out.
Despite our bodies thinking it was barely lunch time, we figured we probably needed to obtain some dinner. We were keen to visit our favourite haunt from our honeymoon – lau pa Sat (the satay hut). Satay hut is in a historic building in the downtown area of Singapore. Food is available 24 hours a day but in the evenings and on weekends it is a particularly popular location with live music and satay being cooked outside on the street.
We had intended to visit Lau pa Sat during our Singapore stay at the start of this trip but had run out of time. It turns out is was conveniently located rather close to the Westin (on the other side of Asia Square), so a trip was definitely in order this time around. It was only a 300m walk from our hotel, once we got our bearings. We somehow managed to walk about 1.5km in the wrong direction first.
We had missed out on visiting the satay hut with the kids during our 2014 trip to Singapore as it was closed for renovations. Once we arrived we noticed that the buildings are definitely newer and shinier than when we ate there almost nightly on our honeymoon. The food and atmosphere were still pretty good though!
It was now after 8:30pm, and a Friday night, so the whole place was full of hungry diners. We did a quick surveil of the food options and located a table out near the satay kitchens, and quickly had vendors busting for us to order from them. The kids requested satay so they got a set of beef, chicken and prawn skewers. We were feeling rather peckish since it had been a long time since that breakfast on the flight so we ended up also ordering, a mee goreng, a garlic naan, an onion dosa set and a chapati set. This meant there were also a lot of vegetarian options for me, and an awful lot of food………
Somehow we ended up with way too much food, it was rather comical as it kept appearing on our table! Given it was our last dinner out of the trip, it was probably a fitting end.
Sitting out in heat and humidity of Singapore smelling satay being cooked, was very different to our meals in French restaurants and Italian pizzerias of the weeks gone by. It was also hard to believe that it wasn’t that many hours ago we were purchasing freshly baked croissants for breakfast and snacking on crepes in a park in Paris! It doesn’t matter how often you travel its moments like these that you realise how small yet diverse the world can feel…..
After an enormous few weeks the kids were very over-tired and we were now all full to the brim. We waddled the short distance back to our hotel and headed for warm showers and comfy beds.
Despite it only being mid-afternoon in Europe, it didn’t take too much convincing for the kids to fall asleep, even if poor Soren was having a rather impressive tantrum most of the way up the very long lift ride to the room, due to utter exhaustion.
Somehow I’d managed to get enough sleep on the flight from London and was not feeling all that tired despite it being almost 11pm local time. This did mean I got a chance to check out the views from our hotel room while the rest of the family slept…..
It had been a rather crazy day(s) of many countries and of course plenty of food. After a good nights sleep the final hours of our trip would be upon us. After 5.5 weeks away we were all agreeing that we were looking forward to heading home!
Daily statistics for Thursday the 27th of April 2017 in Paris, France – the temperature range for the day was 2 to 11 degrees celsius with a mean of 6 degrees and 60% humidity.
And….. Friday the 28th of April 2017 in Singapore – the temperature range was 25 to 33 degrees celsius, with 94% humidity and a heat index of 36 degrees. A slight difference in climate over the 36 hours!
The total walking over the day and a bit was an impressive 17.3 km!
Up next, the final instalment of this trip – a day in Singapore and then the trip home via Melbourne. All with a little wrap-up of this 2017 adventure.