Coffee @ Home

Arrived home late last night so coffee today was my first back at my favourite Café in Engadine (Steam Brothers). So good I had a flat white and a latte. Must admit after a few weeks without it, Vegemite is heaven on toast.

Changi Airport Singapore

I’m on the final leg of the journey home, back at T3 at Changi for the flight home to Oz. The checkin was a T3 but the plane actually departs from gate C1 which is technically in T1. Plenty of time to walk or take the skytrain. You can walk all the way around through T1, T2 and T3 but will take some time as the airport is massive.

Checkin area is massive. No queues.

Coffee was at Hudson’s, for an airport coffee not too bad. Better than the one I had here just over 5 weeks ago on my way to London. Apparently it’s the only Hudson’s store outside Australia. It’s pretty much standard chain based coffee, I certainly wouldn’t seek it out at home.

On the skytrain between Terminal 3 and Terminal 1

Lots of things here at Changi to keep weary travellers entertained between flights and waiting for departure. All of these are on the “air side” of the airport after passing through emigration.

The Lilly Pond garden.

Interesting display

Carp pond

Cactus garden

Butterfly garden. Unfortunately only thing active at this time of the morning was a moth.

You can watch the planes go as you go !

And the plane is here, with a little rain outside

Singapore, Happy Happy!

After I arrived yesterday, checked in and had the obligatory Singapore Sling by the pool I headed out to look around for dinner.

I settled on one of the oldest Hawker food centres in Singapore, the Telok Ayer Market. I had a fantastic Thai beef dish. Absolutely delish.

Singapore is certainly one clean place and obsessed with health and hygiene. One of the reasons I love this city. Each food stall is rated from A to D on a food safety / hygiene scale.

A – You could basically eat of the floor

B – Yeah, pretty good

C – Would you really want to chance it

D – This will probably kill you

For reference, almost all the food stalls in the Hawker centres are B rated. Only one was rated A which was a sushi place.

The metro (MTR) here is really good, seems to go most places. The hotel I’m at has one right next to it, you can get to it via the mall right opposite to completely avoid the humidity here.

When on the metro, after the English announcements, there is one that sounds like “Happy Happy Platform” It couldn’t possibly be that, so I googled it and it’s “Berhati hati di ruang platform” – Malay for “Please mind the gap between the platform”.

The MTR also have lots of little rhyming cartoons asking people to be mindful of other commuters.

At the metro stations, no free phone charging for you!

Even in conformist Singapore these share bikes are treated with contempt. Saw plenty of broken ones here.

My wifi router at home looks like it’s finally packed it in, so went looking for a new one. They have a shopping centre dedicated to geek stuff. They had the one I was thinking of, but the hassles of brining such a massive box home far outweighs the cost saving of buying it over the web at home, so I didn’t bother

Today after my awesome coffee I went down to the gardens at Marina Bay. I didn’t actually go in, the crowds were insane and they wanted $35 so I just walked around the outskirts of it and took the shuttle bus around it

Pictured is the famous Marina Bay hotel with its equally famous infinity pool. This is where I really wanted to stay, but at around 3 times what I’m paying for where I am, which is already a fabulous hotel, I wasn’t prepared to hit the wallet for that one this time just to swim in the pool. It would have to be a fantastic swim for $1000.

I did a little shopping, all of it for Emma since I went past one of her favourite clothes shops.

Before packing for the last time and heading out to find some dinner I had a dip in the pool here and a cocktail.

More than halfway home, Singapore has been an awesome place to break the journey in two and readjust to the clock in the part of the world. Daylight hours flight home tomorrow.

Went across the river to Clarke Quay for dinner. Plenty of nice food options here. All seemed to be rated “A” on the it might kill you scale. I had Mexican. Once the sun was down walking around outside was really pleasant.

Coffee For The Common Man

A friend of mine who lives in Singapore sent me a list of potential coffee places to try here (Thanks Janice!). One on the list that wasn’t that far from my hotel was “The Common Man Coffee Roasters”. Not only close but the name piqued my interest so off I went late in the morning after a significant sleep in.

Before even entering I could see this would be good, hardly anyone around and the place was pumping with people and a small queue had formed for tables. Plenty of awards posted on the walls for things they had won over the years

I think even the Baristas were surprised at how busy they were today they took a break from their coffee making for a few seconds to take a snap of the crowd on their phones, so I used that as an opportunity to ask them if I could take their photo, as I was sitting right behind the coffee machine. They of course obliged

The coffee was exceptional of course as I’d trust Janice on any food recommendation any time.

I had a granola with fruit and Greek yoghurt for brunch. Also delicious.

Now to work out what to see here in Singapore before flying home tomorrow.

Goodbye Europe

Sitting here in terminal 2 at Heathrow having my last coffee here before my flight to Singapore. It’s called the Queen’s Terminal, and I’m sure she really loves it, but doubt she ever comes out here. I wouldn’t either if I owned the Royal Air Force and wanted to fly somewhere.

Two weeks ago right here the coffee was really good, today it’s average. Different Barista. I must have been super lucky two weeks ago.

Random shots around the terminal.

Gate announced, it’s in the second part of the terminal, 10 minutes walk away.

Home for the next 14 hours until we land in Singapore.

Black Gold

My Train to Brussels leaves at 12.15pm so this morning was a lazy on of packing and heading out for coffee at Black Gold, the cafe I found yesterday. There are probably other good ones here but they are probably well hidden. Coffee just really isn’t the focus of Amsterdam.

I love the concept of this Café, the black could either refer to the coffee or the vinyl records or even both.

It’s so quiet in the part of Amsterdam, I asked the barista when it gets busy and his comment was on a nice day like this it probably won’t get busy at all.

Like most of Europe, people here have a stronger acceptance of dogs everywhere, whilst I was having my coffee another couple strolled in, with their dog on a leash ordered some coffee, stayed 5 minutes and off they went. Another subtle little reminder that whilst the coffee here is equal to the good ones at home, I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Commonwealth on Bikes

After breakfast today I turned up for the city tour. These ones are way more popular than the country tours and Mikes Bikes split us into 3 groups to make it more manageable. I landed in a group with mostly Canadians plus myself and two Aussies from Perth, hence the post title.

Our guide (Sander) was a native Dutchman who was born and raised in Amsterdam so had plenty of great little stories and historical antidotes to keep us amused as well as a little bit of ribbing about the car centric cultures of our respective homelands. I’ve got to say I believe the Dutch (as well as the Germans and the Danish) are correct, bikes first makes sense. The infrastructure they have invested in as well as the general attitude is amazing.

The Mike’s Bike office where we start. Of note is that Mike’s Bikes here in Amsterdam and Bike Mike in Copenhagen are not related in any way apart from name. Both do great tours

Sander explains that there are historically three types of houses in the Amsterdam. The one on the left is a typical family house from the period. Windows were taxed so houses tended to be long an narrow. The one in the middle used to be a stable, wide doors for the horses and storage above for the hay. The one on the right was a warehouse and the large windows in the midd were once for loading in goods. They are all now very expensive and desirable houses or apartments.

As Amsterdam sits on layers of sand, mud, clay repeat for hundreds of metres down, the houses and streets all sit on timber piles, similar to Venice. As the piles settle into the more stable clay, things subside a bit. Nothing in Amsterdam is straight. Even the footpath is uneven everywhere.

If we had any doubt on the soggy ground beneath everything, Sander removes this instantly when in a park and jumping up and down on the grass. Where I’m standing moves with the vibrations. For us used to solid ground it’s somewhat unnerving. Sander also explains the technical difference between a Dam and a Dyke. A Dam stops the flow of water when its built across a river, A Dyke is built alongside a river to stop it overflowing or control its direction. The English equivalent would be a levee.

Park with small wading pool for kiddies

We push our bikes through a book shop !

The three crosses of Amsterdam on a street bollard. Otherwise an interesting design….

Sander points out some brass squares in the pavement. Close inspection shows they have the names of Jewish people who were deported from Amsterdam during the war and killed by the Nazis. This one person was murdered at Auschwitz. All the more chilling looking at this considering I’d been to Auschwitz only a few weeks before. Click the text to read about that.

Sander explains the difference between a true cafe and a Coffeeshop. The Coffeeshop is the “pot/weed house”. To quote Seinfeld, not that there is anything wrong with that, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m happy with the coffee alone. A Café can be either a bar or what I would term a Café or a combination of both.

De Wag building

We covered 10km on the tour. Here is the map. Thankfully it was overcast and cooler today although it did go over 30 in the late afternoon.

If you do one of these tours, I’d recommend doing one as early in the day as you can, there are less people about and less traffic.

After the tour I take Sanders suggestion and head over to the Resistance Museum. I’ll post about that later. I had lunch in the restaurant attached to the museum.

A number of bike companies through Europe have used the same bike model. They are sturdy and very comfortable. I’ve researched the bike, they are make by Electra, now a subsidiary of Trek. I either rode the 3 gear or 8 gear model. Fine for flat cities, for Australia I’d only look at the 21gear or electric model.

I can tick off an item on my bucket list now, ride bikes in the Netherlands.