Monday, 29 April 2013

Long Weekend: Sirmione, Gardaland and Venice

Sirmione is a town by the Garda Lake. We first checked in to our hotel, Hotel Il Melograno. It's a nice little hotel that provides free parking, which was what we needed. It's a decent and clean basic hotel with breakfast provided. It's quite a good deal for it's price.

To get from our hotel to the center of Sirmione, it's around half an hour walk, or simply take the yacht to save all the walking. Yeah, we took the yacht. It's a shiok feeling, especially when the yacht increased its speed! Woo hoo!

We have the whole yacht to ourselves. hahaha

When we reached the center of Sirmione, we walked around the old town and took some pictures of the castle walls. If you see clearly, you will notice that the castle walls were surrounded by water.

Sirmione Old Town

We walked through the Old Town to a long pavement full of trees at the sides. Then we came to the tip of Sirmione, over-looking the Garda lake, and we managed to catch the sun set.

After taking photos of the sun set, we're back at the Old Town, where we saw many people drinking this.

Looks nice and sweet like some fruit punch eh.. The waiter told us that this is Spritzerol and we ordered 2 glasses without hesitation.. Er.. The taste was not what we expected.. It's an alcoholic drink, with bitter orange.. So it tasted bitter and we didn't really like it.. Haha.. Cannot judge a drink by its color..

Our plan for the 2nd day was to have fun at Gardaland! It's an amusement park built on the shore of Lake Garda.

Entrance of Gardaland

The Ramses.. It's a shooting ride in an Egyptian setting.. We were seated in cars with shooting guns and we were supposed to aim and shoot at the green laser light around us.

Pretty laser tunnel in the Ramses..

After the Ramses, we went to take the Colorado boat.. Up up up and down! With a splash!

One of the roller coaster rides, Magic mountain.. Hubby said it's not good. Not only it's not thrilling, it also made him kinda sick as it's too bumpy.. No comments from me as I dun dare to take the ride.

There were 2 other roller coasters which hubby said was a lot better, the Blue Tornado and the Raptor. Raptor gave the best experience out of the 3 roller coasters. It's like the chairlift style and your feet will be dangling in the air when you are on Raptor.

The Fuga Da Atlantide. It's a big boat that could hold 20 people. It went up slowly, then it suddenly accelerated and down it went.. Splash! This was a better experience than Colorado boat even though both rides have the same concept.

We also tried the Mammut, a fast train ride through the mountains. It's not bad, except that it's a bit too bumpy and I had some bruises after the ride..

There are 2 4-D adventures in Gardaland. But it's totally in Italian,and we dun understand a single word. We just enjoyed being jerked by the chair hahaha. -.-

This is the external picture of Magic House, the ride that was totally out of our expectation. It's special and I shall not reveal too much details here. Heehee.

We took this Flying Island, which rose high up in the air and we took nice photos of Garda lake and Gardaland.

There are some other rides which we did not try. Here's the link if you are interested and wanna find out more about Gardaland.

The next day, we continued our journey to Venice!

We stayed in Mestre, a town outside Venice, as the hotels in Venice were more expensive. Our hotel, Hotel Ducale, is again a decent and clean basic hotel with free parking and breakfast.. haha.. It seems like we were always looking for the same kind of hotel. It's very convenient to get to Venice from the hotel. There's a bus stop just across the street. We bought the bus tickets from the hotel reception and took the bus to Venice. The bus journey took only 20 minutes.

A lot of walking is required to get around in Venice. There are no cars in Venice, only water taxis to bring you around and it's not cheap. Good thing about getting around in Venice is that there are signs at each turn to direct people to the popular places like San Marco, Rialto or Piazzale Roma etc.

The signs to direct people to popular places. I think without these signs, we would never be able to find our way around Venice. It's truly a maze. We dun even know how to read the map as everywhere looked quite similar. 

Here are some photos of the canals, bridges, or roads we took in Venice.

Gondolas in Venice.. Taking the Gondola ride is quite expensive. It's around 50 Euros for one hour.

There're also a lot of shops selling exquisite mask or Venetian costumes.. 

Finally, we reached Piazzale San Marco (Saint Mark Square) after walking for 40 minutes from Piazzale Roma, where we alighted the bus. We found out later that there's a free walking tour that starts from San Marco. Prior reservation is required. If you are interested in the free walking tour of Venice, here's the link..

Piazzale San Marco

View from harbour of San Marco.. And yes, that's the water taxi..

Bridge Rialto..

Grand Canal in Venice..

Piazzale Roma

Our dinner that evening was at Alfredo's! Highly recommended by Tripadvisor. It's a small shop located in one of the small street, around 10 minutes walk from San Marco.. it's quite hard to find but it's totally worth the hassle of finding it.. Dun expect it to be a restaurant with proper seats and tables, its more like a takeaway shop with only 5 chairs.. You may stay in the shop to enjoy your pasta if there's seats available or you can stand around.. The staff at Alfredo's were friendly and showed great hospitality when we were there. The pasta by Alfredo's were really delicious.. Simply one of the best I have ever eaten.. And it's super value for money!

We ordered Alfredo's mushroom penne.. It looks kinda messy here but the mushroom cream was awesome! Abundance of mushroom, cream and cheese. Ohh.. It makes me drool just the thought of it.

It's quite touristy in Venice so there were some other restaurants which we gave thumbs down. Especially those restaurants which has a waiter standing outside and tries to persuade or pester you to go in to their restaurant.. We tried Gigi Trattoria. We were being persuaded by the waiter standing outside of the restaurant to go in and try their food.. The food tasted so-so and the price was not cheap.. The waiters were pushy in persuading you to order more food. The waiter told us that the calamari we ordered comes with a side dish and hence, we ordered a salad. But when the bill came, we were charged for the salad. We were also charged 12 per cent service charge for non existence service. If you want to know how bad this restaurant is, just go Tripadvisor and see their reviews. It's horrible. Definitely avoid at all cost!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Decided on wedding banquet

We dun really have much choice on banquet venues given the number of tables we need, 55 tables. So we can only choose those places with really big ballrooms.

We listed a few choices..

1. Mandarin Orchard
It's nice and service is pretty good. Location is good too. But it's too expensive for us.

2. Marina Bay Sands
They totally ignore our emails. Maybe they are too busy with those big big clients who host big big events with them and totally ignore a wedding banquet with just 55 tables?

3. Orchard Hotel
The price is a bit lower as compare to other hotels. But we dun like the location and its surroundings.

4. Sheraton Hotel
The biggest ballroom can house a total of 540 people at max. It's barely enough for us and will be quite packed. Moreover, the ballroom is a "L" shape. But the food is delicious, by the award winning "Li Bai", and it's accessible as Newton MRT station is just beside it. We held our ROM ceremony at Sheraton, it's an intimate event of just 5 tables. Sheraton should be our first choice if not for the limited space.

5. Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
It's a bit inaccessible as there's no MRT station near it. We also heard reviews from some of our friends and family that the food is just so-so.

6. Fairmont Singapore
We decided on Fairmont! Reasons? The location, it's easily accessible. Friends who had held their weddings here before said that it's thumbs up for their service. Food is not bad too. We love the pillar-less ballroom and we have the whole cocktail area to ourselves. We signed the wedding banquet during the wedding show and we can enjoy 2 nights stay in their bridal suite.

So yeah! Fairmont is the one! Soooo looking forward to 11 months later!!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


We spent the Good Friday and Easter Monday weekend at Chamonix, Mont Blanc, France!

We drove around 2.5 hours to reach Les Bosson where our hotel was. After checking in, we drove 15 minutes to Chamonix. We took the Train Du Montenvers - Mer De Glace to the bottom of France largest glacier, Mer De Glace. But the cable car to the glacier was closed. We were quite disappointed that we didn't have the chance to tour the glacier.

Even though it was foggy, it's still beautiful and scenic. The scenery portrayed a different feel under the fog.

Le Montenvers, standing at 1913m

So foggy, it gave a mysterious feel.

Snowy white mountains with fogs, love the beauty of nature.

A small Glacier museum which describe how glaciers were formed through documentaries.

Mer De Glace was closed :'(

The train back to Chamonix town..

After Mer De Glace, we proceed to another part of Chamonix, L'Aiguille Du Mini. Over here, we took a cable car up the mountains.

L'Aiguille Du Mini cable car station

In the packed cable car..

Woah!! The cable car was going up at such a steep angle!

Finally, at the top.. There's low-lying clouds that day, and the clouds and mountains were combined.. It's a spectacular view..

A restaurant at this height..

We were up there for only half an hour because it was too cold and the air was too thin. I felt a bit giddy when I walked too fast or climbed some stairs. But it was definitely worth the ride up as the scenery was awesome!

Going down in the cable car. Woah! So steep..

There's no restaurant that I would rave about because we didn't really eat any nice food which was worth mentioning. In fact, we didn't have any good experience with the service of the restaurants that we went. One of the feeling we got was favouritism, or racist. We saw the waiter speaking nicely and was attentive to the table beside us (they were Caucasians), but he was rude to us and ignored us most of the time (we were Asians). On other occasions, it's thumbs down for their service. It's either they had the annoyed look on their face or they didn't even bother to acknowledged that they had taken down what you ordered. We had expected this kind of service because our friends who had been to France had already warned us before. But we still felt unhappy about it, and that did spoil our holiday a little. I really felt great when I was back in Italy because Italians are far more friendly and the service we got at Italy so far was either okay or way better than we had expected!

On the last day before we leave, we took some photos with great views around our hotel..

On our way back to Italy, we passed by this tunnel, Tunnel Du Mont Blanc. It's a road tunnel in the Alps under Mont Blanc mountain. It's 11.6 km long, and is one of the longest tunnel we have ever traveled.
In the tunnel

After passing through the tunnel, we stopped by at a nice little town called Saint Vincent at Valle d'Aosta in Italy. It has a casino and the views are pretty..

That evening, we had our dinner at a restaurant at Saint Vincent. The food was nice and we felt like home dining there. We appreciated their friendliness and good service even more after a few days of bad experience at France.

Romantic candlelight dinner

Grilled beef rolled on a bamboo stick with polenta below. It's special and it tasted great!

 Bolognese Tagliatelle. Simple and nice!

Grilled vegetables 

Creme Brulee with ice cream 

I forgotten the name of restaurant. Sigh.. This is really a restaurant that I would wanna recommend! :(