Travel Tips

East meets West in Singapore

Travelling to Singapore by air:

Most overseas visitors will enter Singapore from the airport.  It’s a very nice airport and a friendly place.  The security guards checking our passports even gave our kids candy! There was a nice selection of restaurants and shopping while we waited at the airport. Changi airport  even has a wonderful kinetic rain display which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch.   See it in action on their YouTube post.

Business

Singapore is a very business-like place.  It is a financial capital in Asia, and a good place to meet to have international business meetings.

Cosmopolitan
Singapore
Singapore

You will encounter a variety of cultures in Singapore.  The majority of the population is Chinese, and there are also quite a few Malays (Singapore was originally part of Malaysia) and Indians.  In addition to that cross-section of Asia, I was surprised to find some of the best French pastries and also authentic Italian food that I have ever had the pleasure to try.  As a business hub for Asia, people come from all over the world.  I felt like the European influence when it came to restaurants was something totally unexpected.  It is truly a place where you can feel like the whole world is meeting up to do business.

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Aruba

Aruba is a small island that is Southeast of Venezuela, although it officially belongs to the Netherlands. On clear days it is even possible to see Venezuela on Aruba’s south-eastern coast. Aruba’s native language is Papiamento. “Aruba consistently receives the least rainfall in the Southern Caribbean.” Says Aruba Tourism Authority. “We are also located outside the Hurricane Belt, so you can expect excellent weather no matter what time of year you choose to visit.” 
Aruba is an island paradise with beautiful sandy beaches. Just soak in the the beautiful sunshine or go snorkeling at Aruba’s beautiful Eagle Beach. The opportunities are endless, as long as you know how to safely travel there.
The most practical way to travel to Aruba is by plane. For example, the Reina Beatrix International Airport has direct flights from many major cities including New York and Los Angeles.


Salzburg and the beautiful Salzkammergut region of Austria

Salzburg is around 2 hours by train from Munich and less than 3 hours by train from Vienna. Most of us remember watching the Sound of Music filmed in beautiful Salzburg Austria. The beautiful Schloss Mirabell Gardens is where the Sound of Music “Do Re Mi” was filmed.

Mozart, the classical composer was also born in in Salzburg, Austria. You can visit Mozart birthplace and museum in Salzburg.

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, Christmas Carols and Advent are beautiful traditions observed here during the Christmas season. The song “Silent Night” is Austrian after all.

Salzburg (salt fortress) became an important center due to the salt trade. The fortress Hohensalzburg overlooking Salzburg is majestic. Stroll around the old town center and soak in the beauty of this place.

But that is not all. The Salzkammergut region is beautiful with Alpine ranges and lakes. Enjoy the beauty of the Austrian countryside. Take a trip to Hallstatt, Austria. This is an amazing place of beauty with the beautiful Hallstatt village hugging the lake.


Christmas in Little Sweden USA

Lindsborg Kansas USA (also known as Little Sweden) is a cute little town to visit anytime of the year. You can find all things Swedish here from liggonberry jams to beautifully painted wooden Dala horses.
In Spring, you should get tickets for Handel’s Messiah Easter Performance at Bethany College. It is worth it.
If you come visit in the Summer, enjoy the MidSummer’s Festival. You will see real folks dressed in real Swedish national costumes performing beautiful dances.
The town offers several stores to purchase good gifts and souvenirs. Enjoy some good Swedish food at the Swedish Crown and pasteries while you are in Lindsborg. I love the Swedish Meatballs (Svensk Köttbullar) with the dill potatoes. Finish it off with some Swedish Almond Cake or some Ostkaka (creamy custard).
Christmas in Lindsborg is fun as you get to celebrate the European Swedish heritage right in Kansas. The traditions are kept alive in fun ways. You will see young girls dressed up in white carrying candles for the St. Lucia Festival. The are plenty of fun activities all day for the St. Lucia Festival.
I think Christmas time is extra special in Lindsborg as many festive events lead up to Christmas. Everything from Christmas (Jultide) Concerts to traditional Christmas Services (Julotta Christmas Morning Service and Annandag Jul Day After Christmas Service) at the Bethany Lutheran Church. Enjoy a little bit of Sweden right here in the USA!


European Christmas Markets

The European cities come alive in Winter for Christmas. The Christmas Markets spring up everywhere especially around the Old Town centers or squares. There is even a Christmas market at the Munich International Airport.

GERMANY
The backdrop of beautiful Gothic churches like in Cologne (Germany) and Christkindlesmarkt Nuremberg (Germany) will take you back in time. German towns become festive with Christmas markets. With Christmas delicacies and lovely Christmas Music, you will become a child again for Christmas. You got to try some Nuremberg Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread) and Feuerzangenbowle (red wine and rum punch).

Czech Republic
The Christmas markets in Staroměstské náměstí Prague (Old Town Square) and Wenceslas Square (5 minute walking distance from each market) in Czechia (Czech Republic) are a real treat. Stroll along the beautiful wooden huts with all sorts of Christmas ornaments and gifts. Eat some trdelník (grilled rolled dough cake) while you shop.

Hungary
If you wish to try all sorts of delicious food, you should check out the Budapest Christmas Markets at the St. Stephen’s Basilica ( St Istvan Bazilika) and the Christmas Market at the Vorosmarty Square in Budapest, Hungary. You won’t be in hungry in Hungary, as this market offers you tasty regional food and not just Christmas cookies. Try the Kürtőskalács (Chimney cake) and Goulash Soup (Gulyásleves).

Austria
How do you beat the beauty of the Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) in Vienna, Austria? Ice skate around the “tree of hearts” in the nearby park and enjoy some Viennese Gluhwein (mulled wine).

France
Strasbourg Christmas market (Capital of Christmas) is a fusion of both the German and French cultures in the Alsace Region of France. Christkindlsmärik first took place in 1570. Try the Christmas bredele (small cakes) made in this Alsace region. It comes in different flavors. Strasbourg Christmas Market is one of the oldest and the most beautiful Christmas market that blends both the French and German cultures into a wonderful Christmas experience.


Vienna, the city of palaces!

It is amazing how many beautiful buildings and palaces you can find in Vienna (Wien), Austria. The emperors kept building and building new palaces and beautiful buildings.

Flying to Vienna
You can fly into Vienna Airport (VIE) in Schwechat (in German Flughafen Wien-Schwechat). The airport is around 11 miles from Central Vienna and around 35 miles from Bratislava, Slovakia. In Slovak the airport is called Letisko Viedeň-Schwechat. Vienna International Airport makes a good hub to base your travel into the center of Europe.

Getting to Vienna by train
Take a train to Wien Mitte which is like 10 minutes walking distance to the stunning St. Stephen’s gothic cathedral (Domkirche St.Stephan or Steffl). Vienna has lovely pedestrian streets. From St. Stephen’s, you can stroll on the Graben to Kohlmarkt to Heldenplatz.

Heldenplatz
Once you get to the Heldenplatz, you can find your way around to see various magnificent buildings in this area. Check out the Hofburg, Neue Burg, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Albertina. There is also the Volksgarten and Burggarten (Castle Garden). You can also visit the Schmetterlinghaus (Palm Haus). There is really one fascinating building after the other.

Viennese Food
Take some time off to enjoy some good Viennese food. The emperors knew how to eat. You may wish to try Wiener Schnitzel (cutlet) and Tafelspitz (beef). Try some really good desserts such as Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy pancakes with apple sauce and powdered sugar), Viennese Apfelstrudel , and Sachertorte (chocolate cake) with your coffee (melange) at the local cafes. Cafe Demel is a famous bakery and chocolatier that you could visit.

Summer Palaces
You will need more time to visit the Summer Palaces of the Habsburg rulers located around the city. They are spectacular. Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens are really huge. You can also visit the magnificent Belvedere Baroque Palace and Gardens. You can see the great display of wealth of the emperors. This city is really a city of palaces!


Cruising the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean has many beautiful places that can be explored by ship. The Mediterranean itself can be a destination. Enjoy sailing on the blue waters enjoying your favorite food while visiting with friends or family.
Each Cruise package has many different options. Cruises may divide the Mediterranean between the Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean (Adriatic Sea). The Western Mediterranean Cruise may visit places like Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France), Monte Carlo, Civitavecchia (for Rome, Italy) and Naples (Italy). Eastern Mediterranean cities may include Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Athens, (Greece), and Santorini (Greece).
There may be trips inland to cities like Florence (Italy) and Rome (Italy). You can either sign up for the cruise tours at port or venture on your own self-guided tour or hire a local guide at lower expense. So you can have both the convenience of the cruise package or your own custom itinerary.
There are so many things to do on a cruise. For an example you can have a great family reunion with members of the family of different ages all dining together on the cruise. The ships are handicap accessible and so both young and old can find things to do together. Each can choose to enjoy the cruise at their own pace. Lay on deck and soak in the sun. Enjoy the pool. Eat to your hearts content. Watch the entertainment on board. Sleep in your own cabin. Get a cabin with an ocean view so you can enjoy the views. It is a basically a floating city. The cool thing is this “hotel” takes you from one city to another!


The Romantic Rhine

You can cruise the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands via the German Heartland to Basel, Switzerland. Rhine starts its journey from Lake Toma, in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden and winds its way to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Rhine actually passes through Switzerland, Liechtenstein , Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. There is so much history along the Rhine. It used to be the boundary between civilized Europe and untamed lands beyond. There is so much to see along the Rhine.

Rhine Falls, Switzerland
Rhine Falls or Rheinfall in German is Europe’s largest waterfall. In some ways resembles the Niagara Falls between United States and Canada. Rhine Falls is located near Schaffhausen , in Switzerland just across from the German border.

Lake Bodensee
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is one of the lakes on the Rhine. Bodensee borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland. You can basically visit all 3 countries by boat. Principality of Liechtenstein is around 30 minutes by car from the Bodensee (Lake Constance).

Basel, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine is a good transportation hub to pretty much get anywhere in Europe, especially to your Alpine destinations. A good place to rest and sight see in the lower elevation before going up into higher altitudes of the Alps.

Mainz to Kobenlz, Mid Rhine, Germany
The mid Rhine is probably the most romantic part of the Rhine. German towns from Mainz to Kobenlz, Germany will take you back in time. Take the Rhine ferries to slow down and soak in the beauty.

The Moselle River to Luxembourg
The Moselle River meets the Rhine River at Kobenlz. Moselle can take you all the way to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxembourg actually means Little Castle). Towns along the Moselle such as Zell and Cochem are simply breathtaking.

Heidelberg, Germany
Take another detour along the River Neckar (Neckar meets the Rhine at Mannheim) to Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is both romantic and picturesque. It is definitely worth the detour.

Netherlands
Keep following the River Rhine and you will end up in Rotterdam, Netherlands which is Europe’s largest port with plenty of good places to eat and shop. For the romantic side visit Amsterdam.


Lauterbrunnen Valley to Jungfraujoch Switzerland

Switzerland is also known in Latin as Confoederatio Helvetica. That is why their internet domain is .CH. You will need to use the Swiss Franc (CHF) when in Switzerland.

Flying to Switzerland
If you are flying from the USA, you would probably fly into either Geneva (373.6 m – French speaking area of Switzerland) or Zurich (408 m -German speaking area of Switzerland). Basel Airport ( EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg ) is also an option but it is actually located in France. Basel EuroAirport serves Germany, France and Switzerland.

Altitude Sickness
Take your time in these lower elevations to acclimate to the altitude. You should drink plenty of water as you recover from your flight especially if you are flying across the Atlantic from the USA.

Interlaken
From any of those cities, you will need to get a train to Interlaken ( the city between lakes Brienz and Thun at 566m). Interlaken is a good base to explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Bernese Oberland. The train system is excellent in Switzerland and runs on time like Swiss clockwork.

Bernese Oberland and the Lauterbrunnen Valley
There is so much to see in the Bernese Oberland (Bernese Highlands) area. You can use Interlaken as a base camp to travel further south in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interlaken has all the modern conveniences you need. If you are not into too much walking, just ride the train from Interlaken Ost Station to Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch (Virgin Pass) is the highest railway station in Europe or Top of Europe. You will be going up in elevation from 566 meters in Interlaken to 3454 meters in Jungfraujoch.

Jungfraujoch
There is more than one way to get to Jungfraujoch. You can take the train from Interlaken (566m), Zweilütschinen (652m), Lauterbrunnen (795m), Wengen (1274m) (car free), Kleine Scheidegg (2061m) (beautiful place to stop) and then on to Jungfraujoch (3454m). The other option is to take the train from Interlaken, Zweilütschinen, Grindelwald (at 1034m another very beautiful place), Kleine Scheidegg and on to Jungfraujoch. Take one way up and another way down as the journey can be the destination on this route. You will pass through Alpine scenery and then on to see the snowy peaks above timber line. Jungfrau stands at 13,642ft or 4158m. Jungfrau, Eiger (3967m) and Monch (4107m) peaks form a massive range overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a must see area of Switzerland. The contrast between the snowy peaks with the green Lauterbrunnen valley with many waterfalls is a site to see. The picturesque Lauterbrunnen village with the 300m high Staubbach Falls cascading down the mountain is breathtaking.

Wengen
From Lauterbrunnen, you can take the cogwheel train to Wengen (car free) to get a gorgeous view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Take time and smell the mountain air and soak in the Alpine scenery. Beautiful view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley for your photos for instagram.

Gimmelwald Village
Or from Lauterbrunnen, take a cable car to Grütschalp and then by mountain rail to Murren. Then hike downhill to Gimmelwald Village to go back in time. Enjoy the alpine scenery, the flowers and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It is well worth it. There is even a gondola that goes to Schilthorn from Gimmelwald for more exploration. The options seem endless. You can be lost in the Bernese Oberland and loving it.


Flowers for your English Cottage Gardens

The neat thing about travelling is you get to see, explore and learn more than one way of doing things, for an example gardening. I love the English way of gardening and their romantic herbaceous gardens. So here are some flower ideas you can add to your garden here in North America. Start with the Spring Flowers like Tulips, Crocus and Daffodils. It will sure cheer your mood from the Winter blahs and welcome Spring! Plant flowers like Iris, Roses, Peonies so they will bloom after your Spring flowers are done. So there is always some beautiful flower blooming throughout the year. Add Yarrow, Daisies, Cone Flowers, Echinacea, Sunflowers, Foxglove, Columbines, Hardy Geraniums, Hollyhocks and Rambling Roses to the mix. Heirloom Roses produce the most heavenly fragrance. Plant herbs like Lavender, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Sage and Rosemary along the curvy paths you create with gravel or stepping stones. Consider adding flowers like Asters, Oxeye Sunflowers (blooming late Summer) that will flower till the last Frost. These flowers will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden. Don’t forge the Evergreens! This will give structure to your garden so it will look pretty when in snows in Winter. Bring a little bit of English Cottage Garden feel to your back yard!

  • Allium
  • Kansas Peony
  • Iris
  • Miniature Roses