The Gourmet Bakery Cafe

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I remember that day when we were headed to the Singapore Flyer and upon alighting at the Promenade MRT Station, we realized that it was raining hard. There was nothing we could do but stay warm and dry at the PARCO Marina Bay which is just above the Promenade MRT Station. While there, we decided to have a leisurely chat about love, life, and travels, at a pretty corner cafe. 

We spent a good hour and a half waiting for the rain to stop at The Gourmet Bakery Cafe in PARCO Marina Bay. It’s a bakery, cafe, and deli in one. It serves coffee and tea, breads, pastries, sandwiches, as well as salads, soups, pasta, and hot meals.

We got cafe latte and warm apple pie. I’m no coffee connoisseur but having been born in the Kapeng Barako (varietal of liberica) capital of the Philippines (Batangas, that’s right), I can tell that there was nothing spectacular with the coffee. In fact, the foam art was not even perfect and looked haphazardly done.

The warm apple pie was also so-so. I figured it was too sweet for me.

I did like the design of the dessert fork though 🙂

Food may not be exceptionally good and the price wasn’t cheap either, but we did not have any right to complain because the cafe gave us shelter as we waited for the rain to stop. That plus the wait staff were friendly and service was good. While I would not include it as a must-visit on our next trip to Singapore, I’m still glad we stopped by The Gourmet Bakery Cafe. At the end of the day, a cup of coffee is always good when it’s raining outside. And more especially so if the moment is shared with the one you love 🙂 

Mel’s Drive-In @ Universal Studios Singapore

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There’s quite a lot of options for places to dine in within Universal Studios Singapore. At the time we went there, however, hubby and I were too hungry to even discern what kind of food our palates really dictate. We just headed to the very first restaurant we bumped into and it happened to be Mel’s Drive-In. 

Mel’s Drive-In is a diner based on the 1973 film, American Graffiti. The diner serves burgers, fries, floats, milk shakes, and an assortment of Coke products. The theme is ’50s drive-in and the restaurant features golden oldies on the jukebox. What’s unique with Mel’s Drive-In in Universal Studios Singapore is that it serves Shiok Burger. Shiok Burger is actually one made of spiced chicken floss, onion rings, guacamole, and turkey bacon on beef patty.

We didn’t get the Shiok Burger combo though. We went heavy on the meat and got the double burger combo 🙂 And what’s our verdict? We loved our meal! The beef patties were juicy and really flavorful. And because it’s a diner, the meals came out fast and what’s even better is that the combo meal wasn’t expensive. Apparently, it’s one of the restaurants inside Universal Studios Singapore that’s always jam-packed so I’d say it is safe to recommend Mel’s Drive-In.

Meanwhile, here are some of my photos. Enjoy and til my next foodie post!

~o~

NYDC and Holland Village

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Ahh, this photo certainly confirms I’m Asian. I do that hand-sign in my photos all the time, anywhere, and Holland Village is no exception. I reckoned I have all the more reason to do it here  because I’ve been wanting to visit Holland Village for a long time. So as a way of welcoming you to this post, there you have it, my default Asian pose 🙂 

Holland Village, or Holland V, is a small yet busy place near the Queenstown area in Singapore. The neighborhood is not as busy as nearby Orchard but it’s a place where you’ll see lots of expensive housing and luxury cars.

It’s not a popular place for tourists but it’s definitely a place highly frequented by the younger Singaporeans and expatriates. What dominates Holland Village is that string of eateries and watering holes with shops that sell both traditional and non-traditional items. Getting there is not a problem anymore because Holland Village has finally got its own MRT which has the same name, the Holland Village Station 🙂 As with the locals and expats living in Singapore, I went to Holland Village for the food.

a food court / hawker area that sells affordable meals

Holland Village Market and Food Centre

lots of bars in the area

there’s a variety of international cuisines

we got really interested with this shop, the Academy of Rock

off-food, I was glad I found Sasa in Singapore and I’ve been intending to buy bliv-Off With Those Heads but I went to have lunch first and forgot to go back 😦

La Nonna is one of the better Italian restaurants out there and it also offers a great lunch deal on weekdays

We settled for a New York diner called NYDC which stands for New York Dessert Cafe. I saw the dessert display and thought maybe I should have a taste of something from that chiller before I leave Singapore.

Unfortunately, I didn’t even get to that part where I had any space left for desserts as their portions for hot meals are really big.

We were thinking of getting a pasta dish and as soon as we saw their Diner’s Journal (that’s their menu), we were intrigued by this dish called “The Meatball That Ate Manhattan.”

And this is it. It’s not spaghetti with meatballs. It’s a GIANT MEATBALL with spaghetti! I mean look at that big-bad-ass-King-Kong-of-a-meatball! Kudos to the name, it’s indeed the meatball that can eat the whole of Manhattan 🙂

The meatball was yummy and beefy and really flavorful. The spaghetti was something that didn’t impress me though. It was soggy and I can’t taste the bolognese well. No amount of parmesan cheese helped in lifting the flavors that should have been there. It would have been a more satisfying dish if they just served that humongous meatball by itself.

On the other hand, we find their selection for mains really nice. We wanted to try all of them but we settled with their fish and chips.

Now, this one is really yummy. We loved their good ol’ fish and chips. The fish was fresh unlike the one from Arnold’s Fried Chicken. The salad was also perfect and so was the tartar dip.

It was only when I was adding my blog’s watermark to my fish and chips photo that I realized that it looked like the cancer awareness ribbon. Cool!

Despite the lack of flavors in the pasta, overall, we still had a delightful meal. However, I don’t think we’ll be eating there again the next time we go back because there’s just so many restos in Holland Village that it would be a waste to just go to the same one again.

But for those of you who want to try a taste of New York while you’re in Holland Village, I can recommend NYDC. One of the wait staff who served us was a Filipino and he’s courteous and attentive to our needs. He volunteered to take photos of me and hubby and he informed us right away that they have free WiFi so he can give us the password should we need it. Good service can totally make up for the flavorless spaghetti bolognese.

That’s all for now. Another foodie post is coming up so please come back friends 🙂


Universal Studios Singapore

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I used to be a theme-park junkie but I stopped being one when the whirling teacup ride became more appealing to me than a roller coaster. Yet I admit that I can’t say no to occasional visits to a theme park as good as Universal Studios Singapore. As always, the challenge for me is to capture a traffic-free photo of that globe.

I probably spent a good 30 minutes just trying to get a traffic-free photo of it but I just can’t. Visitors just seem to flock on weekends (guilty here!).

Then I realized that cropping could be my best friend, and yup, it didn’t fail me. Voila, no more tourists in the photo! 🙂

 

In all honesty, Universal Studios Singapore is not one of those things we included in our list of places to go to for our recent visit to Singapore. We reckoned we’ll just be seeing the same things we saw in Hollywood.

But I’m glad we still went because Universal Studios offer something we didn’t find in Hollywood and vice versa. So it’s a good thing to visit both 🙂

By the way, if you ask me which is better, to buy tickets at the gate or to grab them online, I’d say get it online. There’s no discount for online ticket purchases unlike the Singapore Flyer which gives a 10% discount for online ticket purchases, yet I’d still suggest that you get your Universal Studios tickets from their website than at the ticket counter.

I heard that Universal Studios Singapore only sell a specific number of tickets per day so you don’t wanna wait in a long queue only to find out that the tickets for that day are sold out. Plus, with your online printable ticket, you can just head directly to the entrance and skip the long queue at the ticket counter.

So what did I like about Universal Studios Singapore? I like looking at the Battlestar Galactica dueling coasters and I get a high just hearing the brave ones scream as they enjoy the thrilling ride. One half of the ride features an inverted roller coaster track which is in blue, and the other one features the traditional seated roller coaster, which is in red.

Singapore may not always be the first when it comes to introducing new stuff. Look at iFly Singapore that came only after Genting Sky Venture in Malaysia has been operating for a long while. Or let’s look at the giant Ferris wheels where  the Singapore Flyer came much later than the London Eye. But when Singapore brings something in, rest assured that it is always bigger, better, and will almost always get a world record in terms of achievement. iFly Singapore is the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s tallest and biggest Ferris wheel. Well, well, guess what, Battlestar Galactica is the world’s tallest dueling coaster tipping at 42.5 meters or 139 feet. Singapore got some big bad-ass attractions, don’t you think?

Then of course, I also liked Transformers The Ride. This one is still under construction in Hollywood and was just launched last December 2011 in Singapore. One of the best rides, in my opinion, ever! I so wanted to get inside again but the line was long and we still wanted to see the other attractions. Next time for sure.

There were a lot of great street acts and performances in Hollywood but they don’t have this. Filipino friends, do you recognize these guys? 🙂

Yeah! They’re the StreetBoys! Remember them? They had a lot of fun doing their stuff and it’s just contagious. The crowd adores them. The crowd laughed and danced with them. I’m glad that even if the group doesn’t have a career in local show business anymore, they still have a career over there in Universal Studios Singapore. But I’m wondering, do they get free rides to Transformers The Ride? Wow, they’re so lucky!

I also like Shrek’s Far Far Away zone which looks brand new unlike in Hollywood where the castle is already crying for a much-needed repainting job. However, the 4D show is exactly the same. It was a bad decision for us to get in there. Imagine, we just had an awesome indoor skydiving experience that day in iFly Singapore, then we hopped on the Transformers ride, and then we went to the Lights, Camera, Action! by Steven Spielberg. It’s bad having to end the day with a boring Shrek 4D show where the only highlight was Donkey’s saliva getting sprayed on our faces! (btw, I suggest that you visit Lights, Camera, Action! and don’t equate a short queue with a bad attraction; Lights, Camera, Action! doesn’t appear to be popular among the park visitors but it’s really really nice!)

I also liked Donkey Live which is like watching a live comedy show where Donkey plays as a stand-up comedian. He interacts with people and he sings, videoke style! Warning though, the audience was required to sing and dance with Donkey and who knows, you might even get picked for an interview with Donkey himself. Just a heads up, come prepared. But it’s fun and if you love singing, you’ll love the show 🙂

photo not mine

photo not mine

I was looking forward to seeing the Hollywood Dreams parade which was just launched last December 2011. It’s not done in Universal Studios Hollywood but it’s just too bad that we didn’t get to see it in Singapore due to the weather. It rained that day.

Fortunately, before we stepped out of the park, we saw one cute guy getting chummy with the kids. It was Master Po Ping!!!

hubby was holding our iFly certificates in all of his Universal Studios photos and i kept teasing him, "attorney, where is your hearing?" teehee

We were really fortunate because there was no line for a photo op with him! Everyone was still busy grabbing a good seat for the parade but at that time, we already overheard that it’s not gonna happen because of the weather. It’s not that we didn’t want to share the info but we just wanted to have a photo with Po first 😛 Then again, the people were eventually informed about the parade cancellation but by that time, our photo op with Po was done and we’re already on our way out to avoid the impending heavy rain.

All in all, we had a great time in Universal Studios Singapore although I think it would be awesome if  ~

it’s not too crowded because in that case, it wouldn’t be too hard capturing a traffic-free photo of the globe (whaaa I’m back to the globe again!) ~

there’s a behind-the-scenes tram ride like Hollywood’s Studio Tour ~ and

if there’s a good view of the neighborhood outside the theme park and the weather is just as great… sunny but NOT hot. because in Singapore, it was sooo hot that the kids decided to take a bath in the fountain 🙂

For those of you who like it hot, I’m sure you’ll have tons of fun in Universal Studios Singapore. But as I said, we also did despite the scorching hot and humid weather, and we’d probably go back there again. Soon… like April, right hubby? 😛

Til my next post folks. Take care 🙂

iFly Singapore, Amazing To The Highest Level!

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I love this video because it evokes this feeling that makes me wanna skydive again. If you haven’t seen the video, c’mon how hard is it to hit play? 😛 Seriously, I watch this video over and over again if only to remind me of how awesome our first indoor skydiving experience was. I personally wish we have something like this in the Philippines but since we don’t, the best that I can do is to plan regular trips to Singapore to be able to do this again. Anyhow, before you read any further, make sure you watch the video and feel the awesomeness of this extreme sport 🙂

When I first heard that iFly Singapore opened, I thought it was cool but knowing myself, I knew it wasn’t something I would try. The initial plan was to go to Singapore with a couple of friends to watch Wicked. However, our friends didn’t come and it was a blessing in disguise because hubby and I got to celebrate our anniversary in Singapore by ourselves. I didn’t want to make an itinerary for us but iFly Singapore has this certain hook on me that I was pushed to plan this even before we flew to Singapore. In short, I took a leap of faith and booked without knowing what to expect 😛 I didn’t know what happened or what was with iFly Singapore at that time, but the thrill of an indoor skydiving experience suddenly hit me and convinced me that it’s something I should do while in Singapore. And let me tell you, it was THE BEST decision I made and up to now, I can’t think of anything that will top it. Best of all, hubby concurs!

Reaching iFly Singapore is easy. We stayed in Mandarin Orchard and took the Singapore MRT going to HarbourFront station. Upon exit, we headed to L3 of Vivo City and that’s where the Sentosa Express station is. The first stop is the Waterfront Station where Resorts World Sentosa is. That’s where you’ll find Universal Studios Singapore. The next stop is the Imbiah Station for the Imbiah attractions cluster. The last stop is the Beach Station where you can find Palawan and Siloso Beach and of course, iFly Singapore.

We went there on January 21 and at that time, there was a festival going on called Sentosa Flowers. We arrived early so we took the opportunity to go around first and check out the flowers. Can you spot Nemo? 😛

When we booked our flight with iFly Singapore, we were advised to come in at least 1.5 hours ahead of our flight schedule. As with any flight, the first thing we did was of course, to proceed to the check-in counter. Upon checking in, we were asked to present identification and sign a waiver.

After checking in, we were given our tags and training time.

You can check the status or schedule of flights on the board displayed at the check-in counter. From there, you can see whether a flight is fully booked or still with available slots, or whether it’s on training or gear-up or flying time. As soon as I saw the sign that we’re supposed to be on training, I got really excited!

The first room we entered was something like a dark pre-flight room where iFly Singapore videos about skydiving and safety tips were shown.

After a short while, we were told to proceed to the training room where we met our cool instructor, Harvest Wright. We learned that iFly Singapore has the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel. It measures a height of 56.5ft which is about 4-5 storeys high. It is also big enough to carry up to 20 professional flyers at any time to do styles like freeflying, four/eight-way formations, etc. We were also told that we’ll be having two dives with each dive lasting for the approximate time it takes for an actual skydive from 12,000 to 3,000 feet. In terms of time, that lasts about 40-45 seconds per dive.

Knowing these facts got me nervous and intimidated no matter how happily excited I was. At that point, the only thing I did was to trust our instructor. Harvest, just like the other instructors of iFly Singapore, underwent intensive training compliance with International Bodyflight Association (IBA) and as we were told, the instructors of iFly Singapore have over 26,000+ hours of combined flight time. In short, it’s safe and the instructors can take care of us 🙂

Harvest told us what to expect, how to do the proper flight form/posture, as well as some safety guides. He also taught us the hand signals by which he would communicate with us during the flight. Before actually going into the flight area, we had to do some practical exercises which were really simple. Each of us went on that bed to show Harvest our flight posture. He gave us comments and he also tested if we remember the hand signals. I was really excited but at the same time nervous of what it’s really gonna be like.

After training, we went to the gear-up area. For safety, only covered shoes with laces are allowed. In case you came wearing slippers or shoes with heels or sandals, you can rent shoes from them. You also need to get a locker to keep your loose items there like jewelry, coins, etc. At the gear-up area, we got our suit, goggles, earplugs, and helmets. That was the last point we were allowed to camwhore 🙂 Taking photos or videos is absolutely not allowed inside the tunnel.

Your photo will be taken by the iFly Singapore crew and your group’s flight will also be recorded in a video. Copies of the photo and video are add-ons that you can pay for aside from the flight fee. Here’s one of the photos we got. We also got the DVD copy of our video but I’m too shy to post it here 😛 I’ll be posting it soon, I’m just trying to find a way to import the video to iMovie.

I have to say that I’m glad I tried it and as I already said and will continue to say, it’s the BEST thing we ever did and it’s so awesome I can’t think of anything that will top it. My friends could testify that this is something I won’t do on an ordinary basis and that there must be something with indoor skydiving that made me wanna. And that “something” is so hard to explain that  it would be best if you find that out for yourself. I’m seriously considering learning more about this sport regardless of how noob I am but it’s just so expensive having to go to Singapore 😦 *cry* Hey, iFly, can you please put up something like this in Manila? Pretty please? 😀

After our flight, we were given our certificates and Harvest was kind enough to even say something about what he thought of our dives. Truly, iFly Singapore is an amazing experience hubby and I will never forget.

Before I end this post, let me just say a few more things about iFly Singapore and indoor skydiving for those who are still skeptical about it. The structure is very safe. The base has an elastic net of stainless steel and it is capable of holding the weight of about 200 people at 100 kilos each.  Another reason why indoor skydiving is safe is that there’s no room for parachute malfunction or fear of jumping off the plane at the height of 10,000-12,000 feet. You also don’t have to worry about bad weather or something. Another thing, as compared to a tandem jump where a first time flyer is connected to a tandem coach via a harness, here you can fly on your own while the instructor stays by your side to guide you in your posture and to simply remind you to relax. Cost-wise, let’s all admit that skydiving is an extreme sport that is not cheap. However, indoor skydiving costs only about 1/5 of the cost of a tandem jump.

So there, all things are in favor of iFly Singapore. Isn’t it time that you kick your fears aside and get an excellent workout and adrenaline rush? 🙂