Our flight to Zurich was a red-eye flight. The flight was almost full. Meal was served shortly after taking off during cruising. It was already past midnight and we were actually looking forward to catching some sleep and not late night supper. Moreover, we are not fans of airline meals. We just ate whatever we felt were more appetizing. To say the meal was fantastic would be a lie even flying great airlines like Swiss Air. We just got the meal over with so we could catch some sleep.
So with meals out of the way, we slept as much as we could. The night was exceedingly long flying east to west. It wasn’t a good idea to stay awake with the onboard entertainment system. We would rather have more energy to explore Vienna when we arrived. Most passengers onboard were civilized so there wasn’t much disturbance and we could sleep most of the time.
Breakfast was served after nine hours of flying time. We found breakfast tasted better than the dinner we had earlier. Maybe we were too tired after midnight and we couldn’t enjoy the dinner. Perhaps we were more enthusiastic as we felt we would reach our destination soon after breakfast. Anyway, the ambiance onboard was pretty fine.
Flight crews also went to rest after serving dinner. Drinks and snacks were provided on a self-service basis located at the corridor near the toilets. This is a good practice for long haul flight so crews could perform their duties efficiently and effectively. As we approached Zurich, the scenery from the air of Switzerland was so awesome. Transfer information was also displayed to prepare passengers to get on to their next destination. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 1 Singapore to Vienna→
When our children were little, visiting the Zoo, the Bird Park and other attractions in Singapore were regular affairs. When they became teenagers, going out with their friends had taken on a higher priority for them. As such, other than bringing the children for overseas vacations, we seldom visit local attractions any more.
However, since this year is the fiftieth year of independence for our nation, many great offers to celebrate this joyous time have been rolled out. My sister-in-law bought a number of tickets for the Gardens By The Bay at $10 each which was at a substantial discount. So we got three tickets from her and brought our elder son to visit this attraction as he had not visited the two conservatories at the Garden before.
It was also during the time when the Gardens By The Bay was hosting the beautiful tulips from Holland during the spring festival, so it was just the right time for us to visit the conservatories. We had never been to Holland and the closest we ever got to Holland was when we drove from Aachen, Germany to Brussels in Belgium some years back during our Europe tour. Incidentally, our elder daughter was also visiting friends in France, Holland and Germany where she would be seeing many beautiful tulips over there so likewise, we would also be enjoying our tulips over here without having to fly to Europe.
Travelling to the Gardens By The Bay was pretty easy by taking the MRT train to town. Exiting the Bayfront MRT station and simply following the signage brought us to the Garden proper where the famous Marina Bay Sands was right across the road with that signature cigar shape or boat-like structure on the roof of the buildings. It was not very hot in the morning yet so a slow stroll to the conservatories didn’t take much sweat and effort. It was really a nice walk at the park.
There are two conservatories at the Gardens By The Bay; the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. We went to the Flower Dome first as this was where the tulips would be on display. We were quite excited as we had never seen live tulips before and we hoped one day we might visit Holland during spring to feast our eyes on some beautiful tulips. This time however, tulips were coming our way without us having to fork out expensive air-tickets to Holland just to admire tulips.
So in a couple of minutes we arrived at the conservatories. We presented our tickets and made our way into the Flower Dome. Once we entered the conservatory, we were greeted by a very nice gate with beautiful purplish tulips arranged around it giving a soft European feel of the place. This was the second time my wife and I were visiting the Flower Dome. It was so different from our first visit. The main exhibition and display area was transformed into a fairytales wonderland.
Rows and rows of tulips with many different colours were on display with a fairytales-like theme. From above after the entrance, we could see the entire arrangement of tulips in the middle of the garden with fairy tales characters as accompanying decorative items. At another display area, a windmill, a symbol of Holland stood proudly surrounded by more colourful and eyes pleasing tulips.
The entrance gate was a popular first station where visitors spent time taking pictures. So there was a small crowd at the entrance. We came during a weekday so it was fine. During weekends, it would be a different story.
Proceeding down to the middle was where majority of tulips were on display. There was a queue for entry to the Flower Field display area. One section was for entry to admire the tulips and another end was for exit. There were some workers pulling out and removing some tulips that had already outlived its glorious beauty and fresh new tulips were being planted while we were visiting.
The tulips were arranged according to their colours to decorate the fairytale house in the middle and all these different colour tulips blended in very nicely. It was a feast for the eyes as well as great picture moments for visitors. There were professional photographers busy at work with their expensive equipment and huge lens fitted on tripod to capture the beauties of these tulips at various angles.
We took our time to enjoy this special occasion and mentally capturing this fabulous sight on top of our picture taking with our humble smart phones. We wanted to remember this event as long as possible as we won’t know when would be the next occasion where we could feast our eyes on such uniquely beautiful flowers again.
Moving on to another area, there were more tulips on display surrounding a windmill reflecting the beauties of Holland on foreign soils. Including fairytales figurines in the display of these wonderful tulips cleverly brought up our childhood fantasies of beauties and goodness in our innocent world. It was pure indulgence in the aesthetic sense. Under the cool and dry climate in this conservatory, we hardly felt tired at all moving around to enjoy these beautiful flowers.
Besides the main attractions of tulips in the Flower Field area, the Flower Dome also included other sections displaying plants and flowers from other regions in the world. For those who love plants and flowers, the Flower Dome is an attraction not to missed when visiting Singapore. While the climate in Singapore may be hot and humid most of the time, the Flower Dome offers a very comfortable climate being cool and dry for visitors to take their time to enjoy the flowers and gardens in the conservatory.
So having had enough visual enjoyment of these flowers and had enough beautiful pictures taken, we exited the conservatory. Next we went over to the Cloud Forest Conservatory next door. Ticket was required again at the entrance of Cloud Forest.
Upon entering, there was a chill rushing out to invite visiting guests into the conservatory. Besides this chill, there was noise of rushing waters near the entrance. Once we entered into the conservatory proper, a huge waterfall greeted us. The entrance was also rather crowded as visitors not only stopped to admire the waterfall but were reluctant to move forward as they would get wet. We had to move in sideways to get into the conservatory without getting wet but it was getting cold as well because the temperature in this conservatory was maintained quite low around 23 degrees Celsius. Due to the effects of falling waters from the 35 m tall waterfall, the temperature was actually much lower. We didn’t bring along a jacket but we saw some visitors putting on jackets and some put on waterproof windbreakers.
We simply moved on around the giant structure planted with lush vegetation from which water from the waterfall came pouring down from the top. We went into the entrance at the middle and took a lift to the top to start our visit to enjoy this conservatory. On top at the Lost World level, the vegetation replicates the cloud forest at around 2000 m above sea level. We took pictures of the pitcher plants up there. The ferns also offered a very calm and refreshing mood up there.
Moving slowly around the platform, we made our way down to Cloud Walk and The Cavern enjoying some flowers and the greeneries along the way. Soon we reached the Waterfall level from here the water began its outpouring. After this, we went through the Crystal Mountain level out to the Treetop Walk taking in a spectacular view of the canopy above the trees. The mists from the waterfall also gave a mysterious visual effect to the surrounding lush green vegetation. Eventually as we took our slow stroll on the platform, we reached the Secret Garden to enjoy other plant lives and greeneries and then back to ground level again.
It was close to noon and our bellies were signaling we should look for a place to replenish our already spent energy for the morning. So we left the conservatory and made our way back to the Bayfront MRT station. It was a great morning outing which was both enjoyable and educational.
Visitors should allocate more time to visit other attractions at the Gardens By The Bay. An early morning walk or jog would be nice to take in the impressive view of the city skylines and the reservoir at the bay area. An evening outing would be great as well as the Gardens By The Bay will be lighted up where a musical display at certain timings at the Supertree Grove area will provide a rhapsodic atmosphere as well as a romantic ambience very conducive for a nice dinning experience and an evening enjoyment against the backdrop of the amazing Marina Bay Sands laser light show at the roof top.
Since we were going to do a little shopping after lunch, we took a train ride to Bugis MRT station which was just two stations away and went to Hotel Ibis Bencoolen for lunch. It was an easy walk from Bugis MRT station. Walking through the busy area of Bugis, we soon reached Bencoolen Street and entered the hotel.
This hotel offers excellent food at very reasonable price. You could order three dishes from the Tapas menu at only $17. Those dishes available on this menu are local food you can find at the hawker centres such as rojak, laksa, carrot cake, chicken rice, fried Hokkien mee, char kway teow and so on. So if you go with a friend, you could sample six different dishes of local hawker food just at food court prices.
Besides the Tapas menu, set meals from choice of Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and a healthy choice set that comes with a drink costs only $16. The a la carte menu also offers the normal hotel food such as sandwich, cheese burger, fish and chips, pasta and others at just $12.
For us being Accor members, with substantial discount, there is no better place to have a great meal over here in town.
After lunch, we went to OG Mall just 3 minutes walk on the right of the hotel. This is a busy area with many shops as well as a hawker centre nearby. There are always special offers going on at this mall. So after spending some time buying stuffs that we needed, we made our way home.
It was a great day to visit an attraction downtown. It was also a happy day for us to be able to bring our elder son to visit the Gardens By The Bay to enjoy those amazing tulips for the first time.
It is much better to visit during weekdays because during weekends, the crowd size present would prevent you from enjoying the attractions more fully, especially when you wish to take pictures of the beautiful flowers at the Flower Dome. We will visit the Gardens By The Bay again the next time when they have some interesting exhibition and display of nice and rare flowers.