29-30 April 2017 – Singapore then heading home – AND the trip wrap-up!!! [Singapore]
This is it, the last instalment of the 2017 trip…… the day in Singapore eating (yes more satay), swimming and then checking out butterflies, waterlilies and more food at Changi airport. An overnight flight (with not much sleep) and it was home. Another amazing trip done and dusted. But wait, there’s more……. the usual trip wrap-up with all my ridiculous trip statistics and everyone’s favourite memories of the trip!
Our body-clocks were well and truly messed up and all being rather tired we slept pretty well. The super-comfy Westin beds certainly helped too, it was like sleeping on a cloud! I woke up by 8am but the kids had to be awakened at 10am, and would have slept longer except that we really wanted them to sleep on the overnight flight that night. They weren’t too pleased about being woken up, I know that feeling kids! Somewhat ironically it was the first time all trip they’d slept for over 12 hours.
We didn’t have breakfast booked with the hotel and we weren’t that keen on springing for an expensive buffet when we were all tired and not that hungry. We had managed to eat our body weight in satay and dosa the night before…..
The plan was to head to the food court in the Asia Square which was apparently open. It turned out it wasn’t really open except for a bakery/cafe.
So the bakery it was, for coffee and a pastry, mostly because we really wanted that coffee! The pastry was pretty good considering it’s Singapore, which is not known for its great pastries, particularly considering the humidity. Given we’d just been in France 24 hours earlier, it wasn’t an entirely fair competition though. We were already missing French pastries and it had only been one day!
We considered that our starter breakfast and decided to walk back over to Lau Pa Sat (the Satay Hut) where we had feasted the night before. It is conveniently open 24 hours a day and it had been at least 14 hours since our last satay, so why not?
At that time of the morning Lau Pa Sat was pretty much only populated by tourists (and mostly ones with small kids at that). It was a rather different atmosphere to the night before, but still plenty of great food.
With full tummies it was back to the hotel for our last swim in the rooftop pool. With an evening flight out of Singapore we did have time to do a little more sightseeing but all feeling rather weary from 5.5 weeks of non-stop travel and adventure, we’d opted for an easy day before it was back to reality the next day.
The pool was pleasantly warm, despite the light rain that was falling. We’d had pretty nice weather the previous afternoon and evening, but today it was back to typical Singapore haze and afternoon rain.
It would have been lovely to laze around the pool drinking cocktails and watching the kids play, but our check-out time of 2pm was looming, so it was back to our room for one last hot shower in the awesome bathroom before checking out. Our stay at the Westin had been incredibly pleasant and a rather relaxing end to a hectic holiday.
We had quite long time to fill until our evening flight out of Singapore. Rather than store our luggage at the hotel and walk around in the heat, we decided we’d head to the airport early and spend some time checking out some of the facilities in Changi airport other than the Qantas Club! We visit Changi airport fairly often but rarely take advantage of any of the free airport activities, opting instead to head to the Qantas Club, which is particularly nice in Singapore!
It was back down to the nearby Downtown MRT and off to the airport, a reverse of the trip we did a mere 21 hours ago. It takes well over an hour to get to the airport but with minimal luggage it is quite an easy trip .
When we arrived at Changi airport we retrieved our luggage from the luggage storage facility (money well spent) and discovered we were too late for early check-in but too early for normal check-in, go figure!
Luckily we found a few activities around the airport to keep us busy including some colouring that even amused Anto!
When check-in finally opened we discovered that (as often seems to happen), despite doing our seat allocations well in advance, one of us had again been moved – this time an adult, rather than Soren as usually happens. We did manage to get re-seated together but it did require a ‘demotion’ to row 45…… oh well, we were all planning to sleep anyway (a good theory that never seems to work out).
Changi airport also has plenty of activities once you have cleared immigration and are in the secure section of the airport. Today we figured we’d visit the (free) butterfly garden. Butterflies are usually a favourite of the kids.
It is not a huge butterfly garden but there were an impressive array of different butterflies, most out feeding. They also had display cases of butterflies in various stages of their hatching process.
While we were wandering all over the airport, we took the skytrain over to T1 and checked out the waterlily garden. This airport has everything (it’s all free too)! Maybe next time we’ll get to the movie theatre.
Ready for some food it was off to our favourite Qantas Club where we had plenty of time for drinks, dinner and multiple desserts before our 8pm flight out. We visit this club often enough that we have regular seats, the kids know some of the staff and they have favourite food options! Us adults are also thoroughly sick of their drink options, bring back the Singapore Sling, please!
It was a busy Saturday evening in the Qantas Club and there were plenty of other kids heading home to Australia. Astrid and Soren had a great time playing with other Aussies and comparing travel stories from our recent travels.
It felt like just the other day we’d been sitting here ready to fly out to Helsinki for the European portion of our holiday. We done so much travel, and seen so many amazing places in those 5 weeks. Our legs were definitely a little more weary from all the riding and waking too!
At 7:30pm it was time to head down to the gate for boarding. I never fail to get a little excited when I see that Qantas plane waiting! Anto and I concluded we’d been away long-enough on this trip that we kind of missed Australia, if not the appalling accents we all have. In both Qantas Club and on the plane we noticed everyone was sounding rather ‘ocker’. This only seems to happen if we’ve been away at least a month. We both kept looking at each other and bursting out laughing every time we heard someone spoke. Best we get home soon before we start sounding French!
We’ve done the overnight flight from Singapore to Melbourne or Sydney quite a number of times. We’d been telling all the other slightly weary and concerned parents of young kids how it isn’t so bad….you just convince your kids to go to sleep early on, and the flight goes really quickly. Astrid and Soren are used to drill and despite a few minor protests they settled into their seats and were asleep before take-off – with a promise that we’d wake them up for their ‘middle of the night’ breakfast and some TV. At this point we were feeling rather smug!
Soren was particularly exhausted and had wrapped himself up like a burrito to put himself off to sleep. Nearby passengers and the crew found it rather hilarious. The things you need to do when you are a travel-weary 3-year-old…….
Of course Anto and I were now wide awake and ended up both watching movies and eating our meal and then attempting to sleep. The flight time in this direction is way too short for a decent nights sleep, so trying to grab a few hours before being woken up for landing is paramount.
I think by the time I had eventually dozed off for a whole 5 minutes Astrid woke up and then refused to go back to sleep as ‘she couldn’t be expected to sleep in these conditions’. Apparently she’d become accustomed to business class luxury. Oh the horror! You can imagine how pleased Anto and I were right about now.
She eventually woke her brother up with her antics, and we were feeling far less smug now. With a ferocious tail wind the flight was ahead of schedule, resulting in the crew serving breakfast at 1am Singapore time. At this point we gave up on any hope of more sleep and decided the kids could watch endless TV and eat their breakfast……. which incidentally was not to the standard we’d become accustomed to on our business class flights, particularly the lack of decent coffee!
After having mostly escaped jet lag on the Paris to Singapore leg we feared that we were now in for a rather large dose of it on this leg.
Our flight landed at 4.40am Melbourne time (2.40am Singapore time) and it was a Sunday so there were unfortunately no early flights out to Canberra, so we were in for a rather long wait once we got through customs and immigration. Thankfully that process was super-speedy given the hour and the lack of flights coming in.
We reached the domestic Qantas Club and the kids found their friends from Singapore Qantas Club the previous night, while Anto and I continued our chats with other travel weary parents as we all inhaled caffeine and compared how little sleep we all got.
It was a rather long wait in Qantas Club and all the kids were being very loud and refusing to eat much. Anto and I were a little too jet lagged to care. This is the bit where we consider just staying home next time!
Finally after many hours it was time for our flight to board. The flight was the first one out to Canberra for the morning and seemed to contain both the entire mens and womens AIS basketball teams, so we were feeling very short in comparison…. but at least we fitted in our seats!
With a row to ourselves the kids could spread out and both were asleep pretty much after take off. The crew had figured we’d been flying overnight and took pity on the sleeping munchkins with pillows and extra snacks. We always have the best conversations with those early morning crews about the places we’ve been and how many countries we’ve visited.
I think I may have dozed through part of the flight too as pretty soon we were in Canberra and at 9.30am it felt like it was bedtime. Trevor (aka Grandpa) was ready and waiting to pick us up and we were on our way home, excited to see our animals and be back in our house……
It’s always nice to be home, despite the large amount of unpacking, washing and general sleep deprivation and jet lag. The animals were pleased to see us and the kids were excited to see all their toys. After we return from a trip, it’s like everything is new again.
After a much-needed couple of hours rest we forced ourselves up and spent the rest of the day procuring fresh food at the markets and cooking some home-cooked dinner. The kids then blissfully slept for about 16 hours, it’s nice when that part of the plan works out!
After another mammoth trip, the first week at home was spent catching up on sleep and being excited about the simple things in life……having the choice of endless clean socks, undies and clothes every day. Not having to decide what item was the ‘least dirty’ and could possibly be worn again was a novelty. We also had our enormous house to rattle around in….. and the most fun of all was NOT having to re-pack a bag every day! We might have been a little bit over packing and unpacking.
Daily statistics for the 29th of April 2017 in Singapore – the temperature range for the day was 27 to 31 degrees Celsius with an average humidity of 80%. …. and the 30th of April 2017 in Canberra, Australia – the temperature range for the day was 3 to 19 degrees Celsius with a mean of 11 degrees, cooler than Singapore but otherwise quite pleasant.
The total walking for the two days was 12.9km, most of it in airports or with luggage!
That’s it, the end of our 2017 Singapore and European adventure. If you’ve made it this far, well done! I hope you enjoyed the travel tales and seemingly endless pictures.
Here is a little wrap-up of the trip that was…..
It was of course another slightly ambitious trip with a couple of kids! As usual it has taken me quite some time to wade through all the photos and put together the trip blogs, but finally it’s done. Thank you to everyone who has been reading along. If you missed any, they are all now up and ready to be read, and I still love to hear your feedback and am happy to answer any questions if you are planning on visiting the same places.
Length of trip: 38 days (5.5 weeks)
Countries visited: 6 – Singapore (twice); Finland; Estonia; Netherlands; Italy (including Sardinia); France. This was the first time to Finland, Estonia and Italy, the others were repeat visits.
Distance travelled (as measured by tripit): 37,964km
Cities/towns visited: At least 28, although there were quite a number of smaller towns and villages that we rode to, and explored during our bike tours, that I lost count of. This trip had an awful lot of moving around, we often stayed only 1 or 2 nights in many places, with the longest stays anywhere being (Singapore 3, nights in 2 different visits), Rome (3 nights) and Paris (4 nights). If it wasn’t for the bike tours moving our luggage during tours we might have gone insane with all the moving around.
Flights: 12, including 3 business class that we all throughly enjoyed.
Long distance/international trains – 8, significantly less than the 24 of our 2015 Europe trip – but we did do the 17 hour overnight train from Venice to Paris in a sleeper car to make up for it! I lost count of the number of local trains, metros and buses we caught….. lots!
International ferries – 1 from Helsinki (Finland) to Tallin (Estonia) which was a huge hit with the kids
Bike tours 3: a tulip and flower fields tour of the Netherlands with Dutch bike tours; a tour of Sardinia Island (Italy) with Discover France; and the Castle and Chateau tour of the Loire Valley (France) also with Discover France.
Total days riding: 14 days in the saddle with a total of 680.3 km of riding and 4,421m of elevation (not bad towing 2 kids, and a fair bit of gear). On 8 different days we covered between 50 and 70km.
Temperature range: We had it all on this trip. The temperatures ranged from minus 9 degrees celsius to 41 degrees celsius. A 50 degree range! We had everything in between too, including sunshine, rain and snow – often jeans and T-shirt one day and thermals the next day. It made packing rather challenging as we had to cater for all weather conditions and take cycling gear as well….
Total luggage: Speaking of the packing challenges, we went over with 3 suitcases for the 4 of us, in reality it all fitted into 2 but the extra was for shopping. We came back still in the 3 bags and with around 60kg of checked luggage which was reasonably impressive…….. but Anto still wasn’t happy about how many bags he had to drag around!
Kilometres walked: 423km. Astrid did all of it, and Soren a fair proportion, the ergo is getting less and less use these day.
Photos taken: 5,695 or over 177GB of photos – that is why it takes me so long to edit the ones that end up in posts!
Blog posts: 36 with a total word count of 89,000. I really write enough to fill books…
Memories, sweet memories (and highlights): As usual there are way too many to count. That is part of the reason I invest so much time in the trip blogs, it’s all there to look back on. For the short and sweet version though, there were a few stand outs.
For me (Nic): I loved revisiting places I’ve been hanging out to go back to: Singapore, the Netherlands, France (the Loire Valley, Giverny for Monet’s Garden and of course Paris, I never get bored of Paris). Riding the flower fields in the Netherlands is something I have wanted to do for many years and it was spectacular, the best way to see them is via bike, Keukenhof gardens were to die for. I was also thrilled to finally get to Italy. It lived up to expectations – touristy, fabulous food and oh the Roman ruins, just everywhere in the street! Sardinia was a stand out though, it wasn’t even on the first few cuts of the trip itinerary and I adored it: the scenery, the food, the people. My biggest personal achievement was riding up those blasted hills in Sardinia, who would have thought I could have done that (dragging a 3 year old to boot) and survived…. and maybe even enjoyed it a little! It was fantastic to get to another Scandinavian country, Finland, and the beautiful Tallin, Estonia was also a highlight. Looking back at the photos I captured from this trip, so many I adore, so many beautiful places and wonderful memories…… we need more wall space……. and another trip soon!
Anto: Anto is also having trouble choosing highlights as there were too many….. but he loved Sardinia – especially Alghero (a surprise for us, we both want to go back). The Sardinian bike tour was his favourite, he actually enjoyed the hills, just wished he was on his road bike! Anto says he enjoyed riding through the flower fields in the Netherlands (despite the easy and flat conditions) and thought the Maritime museum in Tallin was rather impressive. He had a pretty good run with food, Sardinian cuisine won out, everything was good, pretty much the same with France. Oh French food! We are both still talking about that meal in Tallin too. He thought the day hotel (Crowne Plaza) in Singapore was one of his best ideas before the flight to Helsinki, and rather enjoyable. He highly rates our stay at the very funky Hotel Katanjokka in Helsinki (the converted prison). It was a fantastic hotel with an awesome breakfast. Anto rates the included meal from the bike tour in Santu Lussurgiu as the best of the trip, it was mightly impressive, and we had a lot of great meals!
Astrid: She apparently has too many highlights to choose from but favourite memories for her include: the water-park in Singapore; the snow in Tallin; all the riding, especially in the Netherlands and France when she was on the trailer biker. Astrid says she loved the ‘millions and billions of flowers’ we rode past in the Netherlands. She loved all the gelato we ate in Italy and the visit to the Colosseum. Her favourite gelatos were the super-dark chocolate ones! She loved all the flights but especially the ‘lay-down seats’ (business class) flights. Astrid also loved going back to Paris for her third time and revisiting her favourite park at Les Halles and eating all the delicious food and visiting the Eiffel Tower again. She also liked celebrating my birthday on a flight to Helsinki and by eating Finnish cake in a cafe in the freezing cold!
Soren: Even a few months later Soren is still talking about his trip up the Eiffel Tower, it was worth the cost and freezing our butts off! He also still talks about the ferry trip from Helsinki to Estonia; the snow in Tallin (that snow really made an impression); all the riding we did, especially the barge crossings in the Netherlands and the gelato stops! Speaking of gelato Soren still talks about our apartment across the road from the gelato shop in Rome, he loved watching the gelato being unloaded. He also still talks about the visit to the Colosseum, even if he still can’t understand why there were no lions and giraffes there! Soren loved the overnight train from Venice to Paris (the things that amuse kids), and like his sister, all the business class flights. He is still talking about the views from the Arc de Triomphe, rowing in Rome and around Chambord and seeing the Supertree Grove all lit up in Singapore. He has a pretty good memory for a 3-year-old! Apparently he thinks it’s time to start planning another trip soon, I don’t disagree!
So, where to next? Nothing is planned at the moment, but I’m sure it won’t be long before Anto decides the bank balance and his leave balance are healthy enough for another trip. Now I’ve finished editing the photos from this trip I may have to clean my house and attend to all those other jobs I’ve been putting off. I’m sure that will trigger some more trip planning so stay tuned!
ETA……. since writing this post we *may* have booked another short holiday and be planning the next big Europe trip! It never takes long to get itchy feet 🙂