Three Days in Singapore.

 

Part 2 of 4:

 

During my one month Asia-Pacific study abroad trip overseas, I guess you could say Singapore was our main port. First we flew from Indianapolis to JFK in New York, from there on to Frankfurt, Germany, and finally landed in Singapore via Singapore Airlines on July 22, 2011. It was my first flight longer than 4 hours, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. I’ve never been afraid to fly, but I was slightly nervous to be flying over the Atlantic and even more nervous that I didn’t really know anyone who would be on our flight. The flight from JFK to Frankfurt was amazing with pretty good food and lots of good movies to choose from, making the long flight much better than expected.

 

What’s the longest flight you’ve taken and where were you heading?

 

We landed at Changi airport and it was stunning, complete with a butterfly garden and full size movie theater. We took a bus to our hotel, Hotel Royal, where the staff greeted us with welcome drinks- some kind of specialty fruity beverage that had us all ecstatic to be on the ground at our first destination. My initial impression of this beautiful country was how incredibly clean it was. There was no litter anywhere, no one was walking a dog, the air was fresh and the streets were spotless. We later learned that it is illegal to litter throughout the entire country, a crime that warrants punishment of literally cutting off the hands or fingers of the offender. Some penalty, right!? I’d love for America to take a tip from them!

Changi Airport Singapore

On the first day, we took a riverboat scenic tour near Clarke Quay, allowing us to see the amazing architecture around the city. The best things I really recall were the Marina Sands Hotel and the famous Merlion statue. The Marina Sands Hotel has an infinity pool on top and we were all instantly mesmerized by how gorgeous that building truly was.

I don’t really know the full story behind the Merlion, so if anyone knows it, I would love to hear about it!

 

The first day included lots of walking and sightseeing, making it tough since none of us were able to adjust to the craziest jet lag we’d ever experienced. Even still, it was an amazing first day! We went to various markets and took in so much of the culture in just one day. No matter how excited we all were, we all slept like babies on the first night.

 

On day two, we went to the mall for breakfast to a coffee shop that was in a pet store. I’m still not even sure how that worked out but the coffee was good! We went to one of the greatest zoos in the world, where I was absolutely in heaven. There was so much space and so many awesome animals that I had never seen in a zoo before. The dugong was definitely my favorite and the restroom was outside in the middle of the jungle. We went to the Battle Box Museum, commemorating the events that lead up to Japan taking control of Singapore from the British. It’s always strange to me to learn about wars like this in other countries but it’s amazing to learn so much about unfamiliar places.
After the museum, we came across a festival in the quad outside of our hotel that threw us right into the culture. There was dancing and some shows that kept everyone entertained. It was similar to a small town fair, but so much more lively and colorful! We had dinner at the food court near our hotel before swimming in the pool and getting to know each other better.

singapore festival

We managed to go out to the bars at Clarke Quay that evening and we had a blast! I’ll never forget seeing a Burger King Bar, where they had every kind of beer you could imagine on the menu. Who knew!? I was amazed to learn English is one of the primary languages in Singapore, so communication was so much better than originally anticipated.

 

On the third and final day in Singapore, we slept in late, finally able to adjust to the time change. We took a bus to the airport, where we all split up and enjoyed the whole day exploring the most gigantic airport I’ve ever been in. I watched Despicable Me in the theater for the first time and visited the butterfly garden, seeing all different species of pretty butterflies before meeting back up with everyone where we had dinner at an Indian Restaurant.

changi airport

Just a few hours later we were off to Sydney!

 

Regardless of only spending a few days there, Singapore was absolutely beautiful and I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment. So many new relationships were formed, new cultures were experienced, and another country to check off my travel bucket list. I was absolutely in love with my life and couldn’t have been more thankful to be half way across the world, essentially on my own.

 

Anyone been to Singapore? Can you share some of your favorite experiences there? I wanna hear from all of you!

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East Coast Excursions.

In June 2015, right in the midst of my first quarter life crisis, Southwest Airlines was having a huge sale & I made a split second decision to book a flight to Baltimore. It was $98 round trip, how could I not?! Then I realized, I’d never been to Baltimore and I had no idea what I was going to do there or if anyone was going to go with me. So I started planning. The trip of a lifetime, all by myself. I was going to fly into Baltimore early one Tuesday morning in September, rent a car & drive up the coast. I was elated! I had never been to the East Coast before, so this trip was going to be so amazing for me. My mom decided she would meet me in Maine after 5 days and we’d spend the last 5 days together. I’m so excited to share with y’all my excursions from this trip I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, September 15th: I left Louisville early and arrived in Baltimore around 9:00 am. As soon as I landed, I felt like this was where I belonged. I drove to the National Aquarium and had an amazing morning, talking to some of the employees about potential jobs there and being able to work closely with some of the marine life. There was a beautiful sea turtle who was rescued from the ocean after losing one of it’s feet and they helped restore him back to his full potential. I know zoos and aquariums get a lot of bad press because the animals are held in captivity, but that was definitely a feel good story! Already, I was in heaven. I found an awesome seafood restaurant for lunch on the water and sat outside enjoying every second.

That night, I went to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston RedSox at Camden Yards. That park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! To see a game at every Major League stadium is on my bucket list so I was so excited to check this one off the list! The Red Sox won the game and then I was on my way to stay at the hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was so excited I was actually on this trip that I could barely sleep that night.

Wednesday, September 16th: It was an early morning after a late game as I drove from Greenbelt, Maryland to Falmouth, Massachusetts, making it through 8 states that day. Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I stopped in Philly to see one of the LOVE Statues and grab some coffee. I drove down into New York City, through Chelsea, Manhattan, and the Bronx. I had been to NYC before but driving through was a much different experience than walking or taking a cab everywhere! I didn’t really love the part of Delaware I drove through, but it’s another state I can mark off my list! I made it to Newport, Rhode Island for sunset and I could not be more thankful that I did! The whole town was absolutely beautiful. So quaint and friendly. Peaceful and serene. My destination of Falmouth-Cape Cod was finally reached where I would spend the next two nights. I felt like I was at home, regardless of the fact I had absolutely no idea where I really was. Pure Bliss.

Thursday, September 17th: On day 3, I was scheduled to take a ferry ride to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This was the event I was most looking forward to of the entire trip. Beautiful pictures of Nantucket had been flooding my timelines on Instagram and Pinterest for years and I could not wait to experience it for myself! I woke up extremely early again and drove from Falmouth to Hyannis to the port for Hy-Line Cruises. We went from Hyannis to Nantucket, where I spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering aimlessly through the brick streets and neighborhoods. I never ever wanted to leave. I had lunch at a cute little spot not too far from the port where I had the best lobster roll and the sweetest server. Everyone was so friendly and (seemingly) insanely happy. After being there, it makes me wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. I got coffee from Handlebar Café and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse, where I intended to lose track of time and miss the ferry to our next destination.

Sure enough, I made it back to the ferry and we were on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our port was at Oaks Bluff and I was surprisingly a little disappointed! Maybe there’s just no way it could have lived up to how I felt about Nantucket or maybe my hopes were just too high to begin with. I walked around on the beach for most of the evening and had dinner at one of the places along the river walk. I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t the best dinner of the trip. The beach was beautiful and the sunset that night was single handedly the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. During the ferry ride back, I felt happier than I had felt in years. That night, I stayed in Falmouth again, and fell asleep feeling better about life than I ever had.

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Friday, September 18th: Boston day! One of the most beautifully historic cities I’ve ever been in and I was ready to experience it all. The morning was spent down by the Boston harbor, watching the boats go out and listening to the thick Boston accents from the locals. The best thing about traveling is being thrown in with the locals to see how they do life. I had lunch at Salty Dog at Quincy Market and it was delicious! I walked through the market and watched a magician in the square. I walked up the hill toward the university and sat in the quad to cool off from the heat before visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. There was no game that day so I can’t check it off the list, but I was able to get a ball cap! I can’t wait to go back to see at game at the Green Monster!

Later, I was walking through the mall when my mom called to tell me my grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. She had no details and my mood was instantly turned. I felt completely lost, and for the first time on the trip, I actually felt lonely. I didn’t know what else to do except go back to the hotel, swim some laps and try to wait around for more news. I had dinner at a chain restaurant for the first time on the trip and went back to the hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts to go rest up for the next day.

*I received word that my grandma was in better shape than we originally thought but she still spent weeks in ICU at the hospital in Chicago. I changed the details of my trip and knew I needed to be with her.

Saturday, September 19th: Another early morning- I was going on a whale watching cruise! I headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to take a boat out to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. While waiting to board, I saw a local fisherman bringing in all of the lobsters he’d found on his trip. Being able to hold one was pretty cool! I had lunch at Gloucester House Restaurant, where the food was delicious! I ate so much fresh seafood on this trip it was insane.

We finally boarded for our day trip and it was about a 4 hour trip on a ship from 7 Seas Whale Watching Company. It was a blast! On the way out, it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything around us but out to sea even further it was beautiful and we ended up following three different whales for the rest of the afternoon. There were two grown whales that the captain and guide were familiar with and one calf that had never been seen on an excursion before. It was awesome to see how small the baby was compared to it’s mother, yet it was still gigantic! Going back to my love for marine life- we learned how to identify whales based on specific features they each have, so y’all already know I was just in heaven, yet again. We could not have had a more perfect day for a trip like this. I was so lucky throughout the my whole trip to have perfect temperatures and clear skies.

After we returned to the port, I drove from Massachusetts to South Portland, Maine. I drove through New Hampshire, so the only state in the east I haven’t visited is Vermont! I arrived in Portland after sunset, so I stopped at a Target to grab some nail polish and a few of my favorite things so I could pamper myself a little for the first time in several days! I had Otto’s pizza delivery to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed some down time that night. It was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, September 20th: I woke up even earlier than I had any other day of the trip so I could see some lighthouses in Maine before I had to drive back down to Boston for my flight to Chicago. I visited Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and I still cannot get over how beautiful that part of our country truly is. It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up clearing up early, making for some of the best pictures! I hiked the Cliff Trail for a few hours so I could take in every moment I possibly could that morning.

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After a few hours at the lighthouse, I stopped for lunch and headed back down to Boston to catch a plane to see my grandma.

I spent the next 5 days exploring Chicago instead of the east coast, but being with my family during that time was most important. I drove into downtown each day I was there and ended up going to a Cubs game spur of the moment! Of course, it was a blast! My grandma was happy to see me but sorry I cut my trip short for her. Almost two years later, she’s doing great and I still have the best memories of my first solo trip. I will definitely be taking another trip to the east coast.

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Where should I visit on my next trip there? Favorite things to do in Maine, on Nantucket, or anywhere else? Help me out! I’d also love to hear some stories about people who live in the area!

Also, how many of you guys have taken solo trips? Where did you go? I’m planning to take another solo vacay so any tips you have are definitely appreciated!

Puerto Rico

For Christmas 2012, instead of our typical holiday celebration, I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico with my family. When we take trips, relaxation is definitely expected (& always much needed!) but we’re always sure to do a lot adventuring throughout the trip, too. Zip-lining through the Puerto Rican jungle is a memory I can’t imagine forgetting anytime soon. My sister, dad, & I went on a five-hour zip-lining excursion & saw some of the most beautiful scenery you could imagine. Although we didn’t see any mongoose, the different kinds of birds were very cool. From the mountains, to literally zipping through the jungle, it was truly an indescribable feeling.

zip line

We love to hike & find the path less traveled no matter where we go, & being in Puerto Rico was no different.

San Juan was the first trip we had taken as a family that included so much history, rather than just beautiful sand & long hikes to the most secluded beaches. We stayed right on the beach, just outside of Old San Juan. Below are a few pictures taken in Old San Juan, including the San Juan Cemetery. Even though winter there isn’t what we think of it as in Louisville, it still came with some cloudy skies & a whole lot of wind! Even still, it really was so beautiful.

I know better than to believe you’re totally & completely interested in every single city I’ve visited & every single thing we’ve experienced in each place.

Do you like to travel? What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

Or maybe you’ve found an awesome area that is your own little getaway close to home. I want to know about it!

Bucket List!

It’s no secret that I LOVE to travel. I truly want to go everywhere. To every single country on Earth if I could. To be real though, there are a few places that I would definitely say I have to go before I die. I still haven’t figured out if I’m a mountains or beach kind of girl because when I visited Denver in May 2016, I was instantly in love. Before that, however, I was all about walking down the beach and spending my vacations lounging in the sand. The culture of each city in each country around the world is the most intriguing thing to me. To visit these places would be a dream come true. So here is my ultimate bucket list!

  1. Italy. All of it.

I truly am obsessed with the Italian culture. Everything about it is just absolutely beautiful. The scenery, the food, the people, the art- literally all of it. Ever since I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for the first time, I’ve had visions of myself living in a tiny apartment for a month at a time in each of the cities I want to visit most. I have yet to travel abroad completely solo, but I know it would be so liberating & I will most definitely visit this country on my own. The Amalfi Coast, Rome, The Vatican City, Sicily, Venice, Naples. All of them. Giada de Laurentis is one of the most beautiful women and the fact that she’s from Italy makes me love it so much more. I love watching her show and watching her put her own spin on all of her Italian favorites.

I took a seven week beginners Italian for travelers language course where I was the youngest in the class by at least 25 years. I didn’t feel awkward or intimidated for even a second. It was so beautiful to hear the instructor speak & to teach us not just about the language, but about her experience living in the country I want to visit most. I’ve had many friends travel to Italy & their reports definitely confirm the beauty that I believe lives there. I would love to take an Italian cooking class that would allow me to learn even more about the flavors and country specialties! Is there a better way to experience a culture than by eating all the food? I seriously doubt it. And I definitely will make it a priority to visit wineries along the way! Prosecco is my drink of choice!

How many of you guys have been to Italy? Where did you go? Who did you travel with? What some things I have to see when I finally decide to make it there? All advice & recommendations are appreciated!

  1. Cape Town, South Africa.

Cage diving with the great white sharks is probably the number one thing on my bucket list of life. I am the girl who has watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel since I was in 4th grade. Every single year, my best friend and I would rush home from school, turn on Discovery Channel, and call one another to talk about the show of the afternoon & night. Our fascination with all sharks is likely strange to some, but for many years I thought I wanted to become a marine biologist when I grew up! I mean really, a lot of me still really wants to be!

Great white sharks are known to breach in Cape Town more than any other place in the world. While cage diving here is my top reason for wanting to visit, I’m also so intrigued by the South African culture. Every country has it’s own story- of the people, the language, the food. I sincerely want to experience it all.

Has anyone been cage diving?

  1. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

When I visited Australia in 2011 on a study abroad trip, it was a short four days & we stayed mostly in Sydney. Sydney is absolutely incredible! Unfortunately there wasn’t time to make the trip up to The Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling excursions, though. I’m honestly worried about the bleaching of the coral & the condition of the marine wildlife in the Reef in the meantime because I don’t know when I’ll be able to make it back! I think I’m really just waiting for the right time to travel to the area because I think I might just stay. It goes back to my love for marine life & wanting to help the environment in all the ways that I possibly can. I fully realize one person can’t stop the bleaching, but I know there are so many people who are passionate about the beauty that is being destroyed every single day.

Each time I see the news, I hear more about how a majority of the Reef is dead and will never recover. I’m afraid I may have missed my chance to see one of the most beautiful sights on Earth.

  1. Paris, France.

Is there really anyone that doesn’t want to go to Paris? Doubtful. At least I really hope not. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the language, the food, the shopping. Plus, it’s the most romantic place a girl could think of!

I definitely want to hear all about any trips to Paris you’ve taken. When did you visit and how long do you recommend to go?

  1. Napa Valley, California.

Where would be better for this wine loving girl than to visit America’s Wine Country? My goal is to spend a week there visiting several wineries each day and getting to experience the best wines California has to offer. I’m also a lover of beautiful scenery so I can’t even imagine how much I would enjoy seeing the miles and miles of grapes.

How fun would it be to take a girls trip? Definitely going to put this one on the top of the list!

Favorite kinds of wine? Where should we stay and which wineries are an absolute must to visit?

It’s definitely obvious I don’t know as much about the last two as I do about the first three places I listed. I guess that means there’s that much more to discover and experience in those places? It also means I’m so open to all of the advice and recommendations you all have for me! I would really appreciate any help I can get!