Belated Honeymoon Begins in Venice, Italy.

08 Jul 2019 – Mon. 

We finally arrived in Marco Polo Airport to embark on our long awaited holiday. So many people had told me that with the triplets in my belly, we might not get the go-ahead to go on such a long trip abroad, but thankfully, Dr Edwin was quite supportive and even wrote a medical note to say that I was fit to fly just in case any airline staff enquired.

The first thing we had to settle upon arrival was the pick-up of our rental car. This was our ride for the next three weeks of holiday.

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We drove to our hostel for the night, deciding to go simple and no-frills because we were only planning to be in Venice for about 24 hours. We stayed at O&G Hotel and managed to park the car overnight at the multi-level carpark about 70m away. This is generally more ideal in Italy because there’s surveillance within the carpark and we could have peace of mind that the car would be left untouched.

We chose to take a straight bus from right outside the hotel, right into Venice, where I finally got to lay eyes on the floating city.

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It wasn’t as filled as I’d expected – always a good thing. Flo and I meandered our way through small alleys and mini piazzas, and I was struck by the oldness of the buildings.

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With the number of tourists who trod along their paths every single day, it’s difficult to imagine actually living in Venice. The fact though is, many people do!

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We were blessed with the bluest of skies and the gentlest of breezes that helped keep us a shade cooler under the scorching sun. I marvelled at how roads had been replaced by water, and cars, with small boats and gondolas. Indeed, the charm of Venice is in their less hectic way of life because their primary mode of transport felt nowhere near as rushed or as chaotic as the traffic on the mainland roads.

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We stopped by Cantina do Mori, recommended by Everybody Feeds Phil, for a little bite since we hadn’t had much of a lunch. We were also close to dinner so we didn’t want to fill up either.

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There were lots of small bites available on the counter, half of which we couldn’t quite make up although they looked intriguingly delicious.

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In the end, we settled for a Spinach Frittata, Eggplant topped with Cheese, and a Sardine Polpette.

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They were served as they were – cold, but definitely tasty. For hungry tummies, it would have been nice to have hot food go down our throats but these nibbles were enough for the time being.

I also liked how there were fountains all over Venice to ensure that no one suffered from dehydration. These are free, public water fountains so those with empty bottles get to refill them, and those without bottles can just put their hands under, or head, and drink away. On hot days, these fountains also provide water to slap onto one’s arms, legs and face in order to cool down. Most of Italy has water fountains all over the place, but we found that there were a few areas had none.

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Can’t go to Venice and not spot a gondola with a singing gondolia.

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And no, we did not ride a gondola because I’m a cheap-skate tourist. I refuse to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a boat ride even if it should be for the experience. I was happy to experience Venice by foot and I don’t think riding a gondola would have made my visit there any more exceptional. Furthermore, Venice made sure that Flo and I didn’t leave without an experience that will be imprinted in our memories forevermore – you’ll find out what happened nearer the end of this post.

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From where the bus had stopped us, it took us quite a while to locate the main Piazza. All the signs that were pointing towards Piazza San Marco seemed to lead us into a bit of a loop. Just as well because it meant that Flo could get his scoop of gelato, the first of many over our three week Italian road trip.

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We did manage to reach the piazza…

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And marvelled at the beauty and grandeur of the Basilica di San Marco. As well as the hoards of pigeons that possibly outnumbered the number of tourists within the piazza! I mean we marvelled at the population of pigeons, not that they were beautiful or grand. I’m no pigeon lover.

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As you can see behind our wefie, it wasn’t anywhere as crowded as I imagined it would be.

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We relaxed a while on one of the steps surrounding the piazza, taking in the sights, observing Korean tourists do multiple, choreographed jumps to get the perfect photo, Instagram boyfriends or husbands taking photo after photo of their partner in various poses and angles, watching children chase after pigeons… It was really nice to sit back and absorb the activity around us, until my butt began to hurt. That was our signal to go in search for some dinner.

Flo and I settled on Trattoria Al Gazzettino, a restaurant highly recommended on Google, since all the ones I’d listed were closed for the day or only opened at 8pm which was too late for our soon-to-be rumbling stomachs.

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We didn’t have a reservation (should have done the typical Asian thing and made one since every other Asian did! And I won’t lie, I usually make reservations even back home because I’m one of the anomalies who hates queueing up), so we had to wait a solid hour before a table was ready for us. In the meantime, we were treated to alcoholic refreshments at the back, obviously I declined, as well as a little tasting of some kind of cold risotto.

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Once we were seated, we didn’t have to wait too long for dinner to be served. I zeroed straight in for the Seafood Stew. When it arrived, the absolute joy on my face was so obvious that the lady at the next table couldn’t help but smile and comment on how excited I looked. For sure I was excited – being in Zurich and Hamburg meant that I’d hardly eaten any hot food for a week. A week may not sound long but trust me, it felt way longer than a week for me and the thought of hot food sent thrills down my spine.

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The fish, mussels, river prawns and squid were so fresh, and the broth was bang full of crustacean flavour. I was in heaven. A bit of a salty heaven but still heaven nonetheless. The sodium levels were a little higher than I’d have liked but all in all, I was pleased as pie.

Florian too, was perhaps even more pleased with his dish than I was with mine. He had Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Scampi.

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If you have me for your wife, you best be prepared for my fork to go into your food at every meal because I can never resist a taste of whatever Flo orders. This plate of pasta, though nothing to shout about in terms of presentation, was pure delight. The noodles were cooked perfectly al dente, the flavours of the vegetable and scampi all tossed and coated in a light sauce was pretty amazing. I have to admit, Flo’s dish was better than mine. Mine was delicious. His was damn near perfect! – I’d say perfect but we all know there’s no such thing as perfect.

We were stuffed after our food, so reluctantly declined dinner. Still, we were treated to a slice of chocolate cake with a couple shots of alcohol and biscotti.

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We had a nibble here and there but couldn’t find any more space to pack it all in. It was an awesome first meal in the legendary land of pasta. As we went on with the rest of our holiday, we found a few places that trumped this trattoria, and others than didn’t quite measure up. You’ll see.

Anyway, we decided to take a long stroll back to the bus stop we’d alighted from, to return back to our hotel since we had a lot of food inside our bellies that needed digesting. A quarter of the way back however, we found ourselves in the midst of lots of crashing. We saw restaurants in front of us that had diners eating al fresco, battling with the sudden gush of winds that were blowing table cloths off, and along with, filled wine glasses, and tableware. It felt rather surreal.

Flo and I turned back only to see looming black clouds not far behind us. We ran over one of the bridges and turned right, into a sheltered boat stop, just as drizzle turned to a rush of water pouring down from the sky. Not long after, we could hear the wind howling and the beating of heavy raindrops against the metal walls and ceiling of the shelter. The air turned cold and rain was coming in from both entrances. Then, we found ourselves, along with the others who’d managed to find their way to the shelter, being pelted by hail. From pebble-sized ice, they quickly became about an inch and a half in diameter. Thankfully, someone managed to get the door of one of the entrances to shut so we were able to huddle in the corner, and keep warm.

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It was a total freak storm and when the rain finally slowed, it was still more of a heavy drizzle and Flo and I had quite a way to go to reach our intended destination. In the end, we hopped onto a water taxi, and got ourselves a free ride back to the main station.

There, we bought tickets for the 10.15pm train back to the station close to our hotel. Only, the bad weather meant that it was to be delayed but there was little to tell anyone how long more it would take and whether there were alternative trains we could take. There were lots of passengers getting frustrated and riled up.

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After an hour and a half, we finally departed.

Flo and I were knackered from our long day and fell into bed soon after reaching our hotel. We were up earlier than we’d have liked because our check-out time was at 10am. Once we had checked-out, we stopped over at a cafe nearby for some breakfast.

I had this bread roll with mozzarella, tomatoes and lettuce. It was ok. I wasn’t so impressed by the whiter than white bread but the fillings were nice if not for the slather of mayo. Haha.

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On hindsight, I guess the mozzarella may not have been pasteurised but a lot of their offerings consisted of cold cuts so cheese it was. Flo had a bresaola with goat cheese panini. I believe there may have been some turmeric in the bread dough, hence the colour, and the poppy seeds on top were the icing on top especially after it’d all been nicely toasted.

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Then, it was off to Modena!

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Hamburg Stopover.

We spent the 6th and 7th July weekend around Hamburg. It was really a touch and go trip because we were there specially for Flo’s good friend’s wedding. It was located in an old castle about a 2 hour drive away from the city.

The Hamburg weather was decent when we arrived. The ceremony took place without a hitch. It was simple, elegant and quite beautiful.

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After the vows were exchanged, we walked back to the old castle, which looks a lot more like a manor, where the skies turned grey and rain started to pelter down. It went on and off, on and off for a good couple of hours, while the cute couple tried to carry on with photo taking. It was too cold and wet for me and I started to feel sick from all the standing. Babies were obviously a little uncomfy and told me so by making me throw up.

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The initial plan as we heard was to have tea outside on the expansive lawn, but the grumpy weather continued and we were finally led indoors, into the warmth.

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The newlyweds cut into their magnificent cake, each layer a different flavour.

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There was another table on the side filled with more cakes – cheesecake, fruit cake, tortes… And another one at the other end of the room filled with sweets, chocolates, brownies. It was sugar heaven. I didn’t think 100 guests would be able to finish the lot, but polish off nearly everything they did! In Singapore where people are so weight and health-conscious, the wedding cake above would have been more than enough, with more to spare.

There was an open bar as well for guests to ease into the evening’s programme.

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At around 7pm, we were ushered into the dining hall where we were served a soup to begin. Flo said this is a very traditional wedding soup in Germany. It was rather on the salty side, and had pieces of egg, white asparagus and potatoes, as well as a grain that resembled Israeli couscous.

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Thereafter, the rest of dinner was served buffet-style out in the cold. Brrr! They had meats that were smoked on the spot being served so we had a choice of smoked beef, lamb, chicken, fish and cheese for vegetarians, and there was also a table of cold salads. I would have loved to go for fish but swordfish was the fish of choice for the day, so chicken it was. I have to admit that the chicken was well cooked – exceptionally tender and juicy.

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It was a long few hours thereafter, for me at least because I was tired beyond words. We took our leave around 1am, back to the BnB that we were sharing with Jens and Les. I don’t think German weddings are particularly my thing because they last a long time. Of course, that’s not to say I will never ever attend another.

Next morning, we checked out and drove to the city centre to have a look around, and to find some breakfast. We found the only cafe that seemed open and they were offering an all-you-can-eat breakfast without an option for ala-carte. Offerings weren’t great but we made do.

The town we were in, Celle, is full of quaint, dated buildings.

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They looked even prettier because the weather was gorgeous.

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BUT. As we all know, weather in Germany can be so unpredictable and by the time we were back in Hamburg, the weather took an abrupt turn. Warmth turned to cold and sunny skies turned into threatening clouds that unleashed rain upon us while we were in Hamburg city. Just as well we’d already had our fill of Bismarkherring Brötchen from dock 10 and were already on the way back to the car – only had to run a few hundred metres in the rain to reach it!

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Sidenote: Couldn’t be sure if pickled herring is safe pregnancy food so sadly, I couldn’t have one to myself. Instead, I had a bite of Flo’s and had to be satisfied with it. So much yum especially when it’s off my current menu.

Days 3-5 Zurich, Switzerland.

03 Jul 2019 Wed.

Midweek, upon Flo’s recommendation, I walked to the lake once more, but this time, going to the right side of it instead of my usual left.

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I also walked a different route that was off the Bahnhofstrasse, and found myself appreciating a lot of the architecture of the building along the way.

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The right side of the lake also had a little garden where people were lazing on the grass, walking their dogs and doing the usual morning shenanigans that Swiss people enjoy doing on a lazy weekday morning.

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Flo had mentioned that further down, there was a public bath. I walked further down to reach it thinking it would be a bigger park not unlike the one to the left of the lake. I only found out upon reaching that it was an area that you had to pay to get into so I scrapped that idea and returned to this first place.

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There were boats docked in the marina.

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And some benches facing the calm of the lake. So I picked a spot and did some reading.

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Thereafter, as the sun raised a little higher, I carried on back towards the main city, still finding reasons to be in awe of it.

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From the South of the city, I walked all the way up to the North where the University Park was.

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I love how Zurich is filled with greenery and water. It’s such a beautiful, calming balance. It makes the air feel so fresh and even in the heat, there are lovely spots to cool off under.

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Found another reading spot to continue with my book while resting my feet.

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After this stop, I made my way back to the hotel to be a lump the rest of the evening. Dinner was at Hiltl – the oldest continuously open vegetarian restaurant in the world. It’s similar to Tibits (I believe Tibits are a spinoff from Hiltl), and basically, you fill your plate with whatever you want from the myriad of dishes that they have, and based on weight, you pay.

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Being in Switzerland means that your plate is generally never very cheap. Haha. I told Flo to avoid adding gravy on our plates because that’s unnecessary weight.

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The food was pretty awesome although as with all things, there were some hits and some misses. Thankfully more of the former than the latter. The food somehow managed to sit quite heavy in my tummy that evening so we took a nice stroll after dinner before retiring for the evening.

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04 Jul 2019 – Thu.

Next morning, I had on my agenda a walk to the Aqueduct area. But first, a daily walk to the lake. And a short read.

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My reason for wanting to go to Gerwerbeschule which was a bit of a walk out of the main city was because Zen had shared with me that a friend of his from when they were in culinary/hospitality school in Lucerne, had a little coffee cafe running there.

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The area is quite ‘hipster’ and the coffee shop was a little hidden within a residential area. Still, there was a hive of people rushing in and out for their morning coffee. I believe they are barista champions, hence the good coffee and strong following.

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Since breakfast was still digesting, I had to skip the tempting looking pastries. I also had to skip the coffee unfortunately.

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I settled instead for the Rooibos tea.

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Unfortunately, Zen’s friend was out that morning owing to a late night the night before. I did meet her partner who was very warm and hospitable though.

After the tea, I carried on further to the aqueduct. There was quite a lot of construction work going on there but the area within the curve was quite lovely. They had lots of concept stores as well as bistros and restaurants.

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There was also a huge park where children and parents were playing under the gentle rays of the sun. It looked the perfect place to go with friends to relax and not worry about a thing.

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It was quite a walk and I was pretty tired after covering the whole of Zurich from bottom up. So as usual, I spent the rest of the day resting my feet before Flo and I had our picnic dinner up at Lindenhof once more.

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Dessert was Täuscher truffles. We had the white chocolate ones first.

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They weren’t anywhere as sweet as I thought they would be. I think they were still dark chocolate, just covered in icing instead of cocoa. And their liquid centres were just heavenly – rich and smooth and luxuriant. They weren’t very small but they went down too quickly.

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05 Jul 2019 – Friday.

Too quickly, my week exploring Zurich city had flown by but I think it was the perfect amount of time to see most things I wanted to see. Any longer and I would have needed more company.

Skipping the lake because of all the hustle and bustle from the festival set up, I went to the old botanical gardens.

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The grounds weren’t particularly big but there were some pretty flowers to be seen.

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The garden is set up a lot like a small hill. So you go up, up, up and at the top, there’s a little viewing point.

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It wasn’t particularly busy at all but they were people taking their morning walk around there which was nice, otherwise I might have felt a little too alone.

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I enjoyed the quiet and the stillness of the old botanical garden. I haven’t yet been to the big botanical garden in Zurich as I wanted to save it for our next trip… which might be when we actually move there for good. Maybe.

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Once I’d had my fill of greenery, I walked back down and went in search for something for our bubs.

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Flo and I thought we’d pick up a little onesie for our babies – one in Germany, one in Switzerland and one in Italy, since these three countries comprised our holiday this time around. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to find anything fitting in Germany. We found a onesie and a pair of socks in Italy but my poor judgement meant that that one’s size was quite a bit smaller than this one I bought in Zurich. Boo! Anyway, still super cute and I’m still super happy with this set!

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After this picture was taken, I walked over to the tram station to get a ticket to the airport where I was to meet Flo for the main course of our holiday – ITALY!!!!

Zurich: Days 3 & 4.

01 Jul 2019 – Mon.

First thing Monday after breakfast, I walked Flo to his office which was a mere 8 min walk away, before walking further towards the Zurich Lake.

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It was still quite early in the morning so it was nice and cool, the skies were a gorgeous blue and the water in the lake was crisp and clear. Flo was right when he said you can actually see right to the bottom of the lake through the water because it’s that crystal.

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I wandered around the gardens situated next to the lake, watching people taking a dip, mummies pushing baby strollers, joggers jogging past, couples walking their dog. It was a hive of peaceful activity.

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I found a spot to read and people watch. You’ll see many photos of my book in the next few posts where I’d stop and read a few chapters before carrying on exploring the city. I managed to finish my book just before we left Zurich which was just as well because it was meant to accompany me while Flo was at work.

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Zurich lake was also an area I visited almost every day apart from the last day we were there. Towards the end of the week, the lake wasn’t quite so serene because they were putting up tents and structures and sound systems for the Zurich festival that was to happen Friday and Saturday, right after Flo and I left. So I gave my second favourite place in Zurich a miss on Friday morning because it was too noisy and teeming with construction work.

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As the sun crept up, I decided to go back towards the main city area to look at some of the landmarks I’d pinpointed prior to our trip. I walked to Grossmünster…

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Admired its architecture and its age, before I carried on, past the river that cut through the city where people were fattening up the swans with stale bread…

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Walked under one of their many bridges…

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Admired more of their architecture…

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Before reaching another old landmark, Fraumünster – a lovely 11th Century church. I believe the church is open for entry at certain times of the day, but when I went, the interior was closed otherwise, I would have loved to have gone in to see their famous Chagall windows.

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Still, I was able to wander around their compounds, silently ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the beauty of it all.

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Loved the archways!

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Most of my mornings in Switzerland started early and by lunch, I always managed to clock 10 000 – 12 000 steps, sometimes more. Lunch was usually a simple affair bought from Coop City just 2 min from our hotel, and consumed in our hotel room. Thereafter, I’d spend the afternoon lazing around until Flo ended work and we’d either eat somewhere, or pick up dinner and find a nice spot to eat it.

On Monday, we bought a few things form Coop, before taking a short hike – and I mean like, 10min up winding, steep alleyways, to get to Lindenhof. I mentioned Zurich lake being my second favourite place in the city. Well, that’s because Lindenhof was my favourite.

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I loved how just a short walk up could lead to a gorgeous view of Aldstadt (Old town). And while it wasn’t the highest of places, it was lovely being able to look down and soak in the entire vibe and energy of the city while digging into the sweetest strawberries, munching on cheese, and filling our tummies.

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The simplest things are really the most wonderful things!

02 Jul 2019 – Tue.

Tuesday morning, despite the forecast suggesting rain, it looked to be another clear day. So once Flo and I had parted ways, I once again made my way towards the lake. Nearing the lake, I found a little farmer’s market going on.

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It was a bit of a bummer we didn’t have a little pantry to cook in otherwise, I would have loved to pick up some fresh produce. Everything looked incredibly tempting! There were booths piled high with big chunks of cheese…

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The smell of fresh bread wafted through the air. I could hardly contain the envy at watching people pick out fresh loaves of bread to take home.

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There were stalls selling fresh flowers, and there were others selling a wide array of vegetables, fish, or meats. If we lived near Zurich city, I’d be here every week, or whenever this market was opened – I’m assuming Tuesdays because I didn’t come across it the rest of the time we were there.

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From the market to the lake, the skies suddenly turned grey and I could feel the lightest patter of drizzle on my head. I managed to find shelter at the head of the lake just at the heavens opened.

Thankfully, I had my book to keep my company, as well as a couple of elderly men who continued with their fishing under the gazebo. They didn’t manage to catch anything while we were there a good 40min.

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When the rain finally let up a little, I decided to try and make for our hotel since I hadn’t a clue if it was going to come pouring down again, or when it was going to clear. On the way, I stopped by teuscher, a chocolate wonderland, partly because I wanted to buy some champagne truffles that I’d heard many good things about, and partly to get a breather from the heavy drizzle outside.

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So much yum!

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I bought two dark chocolate champagne truffles, and two white ones. You’ll get to see them luscious balls of deliciousness in my next post.

After leaving teuscher, I found that the rain had let up so instead of returning to the hotel, I decided to make my way to Niederdorf. It’s located by the Aldstadt and is an area known for being a little alternative.

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It was still early when I reached Niederdorf so not many shops were opened yet. Still, it was nice to soak in the atmosphere without the hustle and bustle that comes with the afternoon when more tourists are out.

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There were lots of cute little shops around, and eateries littered the small alleyways.

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When I’d had enough, I took a stroll back to the main city along the river.

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And wandered around without bothering to track where I was going since it’s nice to get a little lost sometimes. Moreover, Zurich city is pretty small so there’s hardly a chance of getting really lost especially with GoogleMaps by my side.

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In this picture below, you can see Lindenhof where Flo and I had our picnic dinner the previous evening. At the bottom half of the photo is the baden – a public bath. This one is for women if I recall correctly.

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In the evening, I met Flo just round the corner from his office, in front of Sprüngli. He’d been raving about their Luxemburgerli, so we decided we’d buy a box of 4 to try after dinner.

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Luxemburgerli are essentially mini macarons.

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Sprüngli also sells decadent looking cakes…

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As well as confectionary and chocolates.

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They also have a cafe but we gave it a miss this trip. Flo mentioned they have really good breakfasts but since we had breakfasts provided every morning at our hotel, it didn’t make sense to spend on a crazy expensive first meal of the day.

Anyway, after our quick stop in Sprüngli, we walked back towards Niederdorf for dinner at Rheinfelder Bierhalle. Flo mentioned that their Cordon Bleus were the best, but I wasn’t up for anything so sinful that evening and really just wanted soup.

I tried their Broccoli Soup which was really salty and tasted very much of stock cube.

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Flo had his extra large Cordon Bleu which he was really excited to dig into.

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But he had to wait for me to take a picture with it first.

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He was a little disappointed with it though because he remembered the cordon bleu to be less oily, more chunky, and more extra large.

I didn’t just have the watery, salty soup for dinner, don’t you worry. I also ordered a cheese sandwich. Of course, I was expecting white sandwich bread but this came with thick, ‘real’ bread as Flo would call it. This came after Flo had finished his food because they’d apparently run out of bread and we were about to cancel but they said that the sandwich was already being made blah blah blah so I did end up being served.

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I wasn’t so hot about the thick layer of butter they’d slathered onto the bread but the cheese was decent and the bread was good. It was heavy so I packed half to bring back.

Dessert was luxemburgerli back in our room.

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We had the rhubarb and the pistachio ones to try. The next day we had the salted caramel and the passionfruit lime.

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The citrus and fruity flavours were really delicious, while the pistachio and salted caramel were a little less impressive. Truly though, they are mini versions of the macaron so they didn’t blow me away the way I’d hoped, what with Flo raving about how awesome they were. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice, just… nothing special for what they are and the price they command.

On a side note, I love these pretty eggs that are sold in Switzerland. They’re known as picnic eggs and are already hard-boiled for you so they were perfect snacks for me throughout the trip. Of course, I didn’t buy these because our hotel provided hard boiled eggs in the morning, so I’d snatch one or two up to snack on in the day time.

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Still, these are great! No need to go through the trouble of boiling your own!

Hello Zurich.

Our month away from home commenced on 28th June. We had our 15th week scan for the babies just before leaving and assured that all three were thriving, off we went to Zurich, Switzerland via London.

Flo used to live and work here, so he was excited to show me around. Only, he had to work the week we were there so aside from the weekend, I did most of the wandering around alone. Thankfully, the weather was pretty good and Zurich city is small enough to get around by foot – I refused to pay for public transport because it’s crazy expensive there.

We landed around noon and quickly picked up some Laugen Pretzel to fill our tums.

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We were putting up at Yannik and Nadya’s home for the weekend before we moved to our hotel, so we quickly made our way there to drop our luggage off. Thereafter, we hopped on a few trains to Uetliberg – a lookout point.

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Initially, we were meant to go there to meet Flo’s dad, Samir, and his twin half-siblings. Apparently there was a change of plans. The message didn’t reach us though, until we were up at the top and Flo managed to latch on to some wifi, so while Samir and the kids were lapping up the sun by Zurich lake, Flo and I were up high taking in the picturesque view of Zurich.

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Once we returned back to the main city centre, Flo showed me a few landmarks for the week ahead. The Central Station…

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The main shopping district i.e. Bahnhofstrasse…

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The supermarkets… where they actually sell Cannabis infused drinks.

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We returned back to Yannik’s in time for dinner and were treated to some BBQ meats and vegetables.

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Next day, Yannik drove us all out of Zurich, so that we could visit Mt Riggi.

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You have the option of hiking up, or taking the old, traditional trams. With me being pregnant, we didn’t give it much thought and decided straight on the latter. It was a very painful decision in the end with it costing CHF64 per person!

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It took us about 20min to get to Rigi Staffel where we had a bit of a bite to eat and soaked in the late morning sun.

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We decided to take a hike down towards the mid-way station where we took the tram back down the the bottom. It was a really nice hike, with it ending just as the sun’s rays began intensifying.

Once down, we scrapped the plan to walk towards a spot where we could go for a dip into the lake within the area because 1. A lot of places may already be full, 2. The nearest place may be a few kilometres way, 3. Temperature had crept up to about 36, 37 degrees Celsius. Instead, Nadya managed to find a hotel across from where we’d parked, that would allow us private access to the lake if we purchased something from their restaurant. We all got ourselves a drink before hopping over to the lake… which turned out to be freezing! Yannik, Nadya and Flo were happy to paddle around in the cold waters, while meek me put my toes in and froze. I ended up cooling down by rubbing the water on my arms and belly, before retiring to the grass and resting.

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In the evening, we were blessed to have Yannik and Nadya drive us to our hotel. It was meant to be a 15min ride but it turned out to be 45min long with all the blocked roads and detours in the city centre. We reached our hotel eventually and after we checked in, Flo and I went for a short walk towards Zeughauskeller for dinner.

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It looks like an old pub but was actually formerly an armoury where weapons were stored back in the day. Flo and I shared a portion of Zürcher Geschnetzeltes – pan-fried sliced veal with mushrooms in a delicious creamy, white wine sauce, served with Rösti.

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It was a generous portion. I enjoyed the buttery, crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside Rösti. The veal was a little on the salty side (which I found to be more the norm around Switzerland, and later, in Italy), but rich and delicious.

We also ordered Aelplermagronen, an Alpine Macaroni and Cheese, with onions and potato cubes in a cream sauce.

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This, I can imagine eating in winter when it’s cold and you need the extra weight to keep warm. It was less heavy than the American Mac&Cheese, but still cloying after a while.

We also shared a plate of veggies, well, I had most of it really, because pregnancy makes going for #2 a bit of a chore so…

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This pretty much sums up our weekend in Zurich. I’ll be blogging more over the next couple weeks on my time exploring the city alone, our short stopover in Hamburg, and then our big holiday in Italy! X

Bittersweet Goodbyes.

In early April, we fostered our second dog, Truffles. He was only a puppy – a tiny, skinny, timid little thing that we couldn’t go near to for a few days. It took about a month to get him out of his shell, and to trust us wholly.

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Florian and I expected him to be adopted quickly what with him being a cute little puppy. We went for his first adoption drive in May where there were quite a few interested couples and families, but heard nothing back from the shelter about their interest. We reckon Truffles not being HDB-approved yet may have hindered the process.

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Whatever the case, Flo and I enjoyed having him with us. Sure, he turned out to be a naughty little boy, showing his mischievous puppy side from time to time, but we grew to love him so much.

I loved how every morning, he’d be waiting near the door for me to come out of our room, then sit next to me to get his morning scratch in while we accompanied Florian for breakfast. I loved watching him prance around the living room, jumping onto his toys and chewing on them with vigour. I loved how he’d lap up his food and look to me, anticipating for more to come even though it never happened once. Mid-afternoon, I’d sometimes give him a treat and he’d know to ‘Sit‘ and ‘Paw‘, and more recently ‘Down‘ and ‘Up‘. Truffles is an incredibly lovable, intelligent puppy and quick to learn new things especially where treats are involved.

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Once Truffles had all his vaccinations down, Flo and I brought him regularly-isn to the dog park nearby to run around. And boy, did he sprint around the park doing laps, running from Flo at one end of the compound, to me at the other end, each time we called his name. He’d roll in the grass and give himself a good back rub. He’d plant his nose right into the green before plopping his whole body down, and he’d happily go say Hi to all the big dogs in an attempt to engage in play with them. Still, in the midst of all the excitement, Truffles would still run back to Flo and I to ‘check’ on us.

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Without realising it, 2.5 months passed and Truffles grew so much not only in terms of size, but also in his personality. He’d chase his tail from time to time, and whenever I was at the table doing work, he’d lie beside, content, for hours on end, much to my surprise.

Once in a while, Flo and I would let him off his leash to run around our estate, but Truffles always made sure he could see us, and us, him. As soon as we called his name, he’d come running back, and as long as our balcony door was opened, he still seemed to prefer dashing back home than staying out too long.

Sure, I had to clean his pee pad daily because he’s still too young to keep it all in for long periods of time, but Truffles has since been grass-trained. Sure, I had to clear his fur off our floor every couple days, but it was a small matter compared to how often he put a smile to our faces. Sure, he made mistakes, but he’s still a puppy and I can only imagine how awesome he’ll be all grown up.

Florian and I considered back and forth adopting him officially, but with our triplets on the way, we knew we had to be realistic. We wouldn’t be able to give Truffles the attention and time he needs. We wouldn’t be able to play with him the way we do now, or take him for long walks. While we would have loved to foster him a little longer, we’re also due for a month long holiday starting tonight. So with some pushing, the shelter managed to find Truffles his furever home.

On Tuesday evening, his new family came over to pick him up. Truffles was expectedly anxious and when it was time to go, he wouldn’t walk with them so I had to walk him to the carpark. And carry him into the car, quickly closing the door behind him. He looked disorientated and unsure. Suddenly, I felt the same. As his new family pulled away from the parking lot, I couldn’t help tearing up, thinking how fearful, alone, confused Truffles had to be. And when I entered the lift to come home, I bawled.

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Truffles’ pawrent has been giving me lots of updates about him and while I believe it was a little rough for him the first day, he’s settling in well. I know he’ll be fine. Truffles is tougher than he appears and I believe he will get all the love and attention that he needs. This last picture is one I took before his family came to pick him up. Obviously he was more fixated on some dust on the floor…

Truffles will always hold a special place in our hearts – watching him turn from a helpless pitiful pooping machine to a confident, affectionate, cheeky boy made our time and patience worthwhile. I pray he will continue to grow in confidence and blossom further under the love and care of his furever family. xx

 

Cherry Garden, Mandarin Oriental. & Folklore, Destination Hotel.

Dad’s birthday was on 11 June. The day before, I thought to treat him and Mum to lunch at Cherry Garden, Mandarin Oriental, after our 13 week scan. Dad isn’t big on celebrating his own birthday and doesn’t like the whole cake and candle surprise business, so I knew a nice meal would make his day. That, and knowing that this was his last birthday before being upgraded to ‘grandpa‘.

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After our order for a few dim sum items was placed, we were treated to an appetiser of pork belly. Now, I’m usually one to turn away at the sound of ‘pork belly’ – I’m no fan of the gelatinous layers in between the meat and ever since I was little, when given Chinese roast pork belly (‘Sio Bak‘ or ‘Sio Yuk‘), I would carefully deconstruct it to eat only the lean meat and leave behind the fatty layers.

Upon Dad’s egging on to try Cherry Garden’s rendition, I gave the smallest one a try and had to admit that it was incredibly delicious. Sure, it was coated in some awesome, sweet, sticky, spicy sauce, but its texture was more chewy then gooey. I had another piece, before surrendering the last to Dad since I know how much he loves these kinds of dishes (and doesn’t often get to indulge in them).

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We ordered Har Gao with Black Garlic, Steamed Crystal Dumplings with Fresh Mushrooms and Black Truffle, Congee with Seafood, Steamed Glutinous Rice with Cantonese Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms wrapped in Lotus Leaf

My favourite was the Steamed Crystal Dumplings – lovely, delicate, thin, chewy skin that lovingly held a generous amount of vegetable filling. It had good texture and a good whiff of truffle without being overpowering.

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The congee had an ample amount of fish, scallops and prawns. It was smooth and light, although my favourite still goes to Imperial Treasure – I like my congee smooth and thick. Har gow was well executed and the steamed glutinous rice was also very light. The rice used was not as glutinous compared to what we usually get, and not as oily either. I enjoyed their version actually!

We also had a serving of Stir-fried Greens with Mushrooms and Black Garlic

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Vegetables were well executed and we enjoyed the sweetness of the black garlic to highlight the earthiness of the greens.

And finally, we also had these uber cute, Fried Yam Puff with Duck Meat.

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I’m more used to the yam puff filled with minced chicken and dried shrimp. While these were well fried, and the yam paste was smooth and savoury, I felt that the duck in its sweet sauce came on a little too strong.

As dessert, our dear birthday boy decided to order dessert – Yam Paste with Pumpkin Puree and Gingko Nuts, from the Teochew Cuisine June 2019 Menu. This was a single serving. Mum and I had a try before allowing Dad to slowly relish his birthday ‘cake’.

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Dad’s a Teochew boy and it’s not often these days that you can find really good yam paste desserts (Orh Nee) around. We all gave this two thumbs up. It wasn’t too sweet, the pumpkin puree went perfectly with the smooth, rich paste, helping to keep it from getting too heavy and cloying.

Next evening, on Dad’s actual birthday, Flo and I brought Mum and Dad to Folklore at Destination Hotel for Peranakan food.

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We had Ngor Hiang, Chap Chye (always a must-order at Peranakan restaurants!), Beef Cheek Rendang, and Four-Angled Bean Salad. We were pretty impressed with the food, and the generous portions, since most Peranakan restaurants charge the same price but for half the amount of food. For a Tuesday evening, it was pretty well filled. We could have ordered more but luckily, decided to start with these four dishes which ended filling all of us up, along with copious amounts of rice.

The Ngor Hiang was well-fried, not oily, and had good texture from chunks of meat and chestnuts. I liked that they fried the whole piece before cutting it, instead of cutting then frying – just a personal preference. That being said, Mum’s is still the best!!

Chap Chye was pretty robust from the seafood broth used to braise the vegetables in. I still enjoyed it but am more used to lighter versions. Actually, I’m just more used to the Teochew version but am a sucker for chap chye whenever I see it on any menu. I lap it up anyway just because I love the softness and natural sweetness of cabbage juxtaposed the crunch of black fungus and the slippery strands of tanghoon (glass noodles) all flavourful from soaking up the juices of the veggies.

Beef Cheek Rendang was so tender, so melting, and they actually gave a whole cheek which was pretty huge! Dad loved this dish especially. He has a weakness for rendang, especially well executed rendang.

The Salad was refreshing and perfect for whenever the other dishes started feeling too heavy on the palate.

Overall, we all left with very happy, very full bellies, and I think my three little piglets were all stuffed as well from their dinner with Grandpa. I still cannot imagine them this time next year, they should be about 6, 7 months old… celebrating Grandpa’s birthday. I cannot wait! I pray that Dad will continue to be blessed with wonderful health, that he’ll worry less about me, and that he will always be rich in happiness and wealthy in love. I LOVE YOU DAD! Always!