May 21, 2018

Marsiling Park re-opens with 3 New Playgrounds & a Mangrove Habitat for Kids!

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After a 22-month makeover, Marsiling Park is finally open and it features plenty of activity areas and amenities for families with kids!


Formerly known as Woodlands Town Garden, the old park had a seedy reputation with dated playground equipment and dim lighting come nightfall. Now, just take a look at the transformation.



Popular elements of the park - such as the viewing tower, Chinese pavilions and stone bridge - have been retained and improved, including the addition of boardwalks which extend to the water at certain parts around the perimeter of the reservoir.


The park also features an enhanced mangrove forest with more than 1000 saplings of mangrove species, such as Api Api and White Teruntum. Families will be able to learn more about mangrove ecosystems, thanks to the information panels erected at the area.


For kids (and the monkies) though, the main highlight of the park has got to be the butterfly-shaped playground with climbing ropes!


This is keeping in theme with the numerous butterfly species that can be found within the park, and the playground is complemented with educational interpretive boards to let visitors learn more about these butterflies.


There is also a ninja warrior-style playground located just opposite the butterfly playground, which might just appeal to older kids.



Got younger kids? Then head to the Fun Play area located at a short walk away (nearer to the car park entrance).




Here, kids get to hit on play equipment with musical elements for an interactive play experience.



There are also several spaces for play activities, such as Ribbonscape which is a play and rest area with colourful benches located among the trees.


There are also swinging benches too!


If you are feeling peckish after all the play, there is a 24-hour F&B outlet at the park.


Teh Tarik Cartel serves a wide range of food, from fishball noodles and chicken rice to nasi bryani and roti prata. It even has a mini kids seating corner for children.


After the revamp, I have to say the park is now so much cleaner, brighter and a lot more family-friendly. Definitely worth a half-day visit if you are in the Woodlands area!

A TIP: The playgrounds are not exactly sheltered so it can get really hot if you go during the later mornings and afternoons. Remember to slab on those sunscreen!



Useful Informatiom

Marsiling Park
Address: Woodlands Centre Road adjacent to Bukit Timah Expressway
Admission: FREE


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May 18, 2018

From Frankfurt to Home - Our Lufthansa Premium Economy Flight Experience

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Sponsored Review

Last December saw my family and I go on an amazing adventure to Switzerland and Germany to soak in the winter fun, and part of what made the experience end on a fittingly high note was our flight back to Singapore from Frankfurt on Lufthansa German Airlines.

If you had read my previous post on our pre-flight experience, you will know that Lufthansa makes flying so enjoyable and friendly for the kids... even before take-off! Well, it turned out that our 12.5-hour in-flight experience was just as comfortable and uneventful - which is always a good thing especially if you are travelling with kids!


On our return flight, we had the good fortune of flying in Lufthansa Premium Economy which made the monkies (okay, me too) extremely excited since it is a class that is positioned in-between business and economy.


Premium Economy seats are in a 2-4-2 configuration as opposed to the usual 3-4-3 configuration in Economy class, which essentially translates to more space! But flying Premium Economy offers many more benefits, like enjoying more refreshments including your very own water bottle at your seat.


Amenity kits which contained an eye mask, earplugs, socks, refreshment towel and toothbrush with toothpaste were already placed at the side of our seats when we boarded.


More importantly for me though, was the spaciousness of my comfortable seat. I was told that the seats in the Premium Economy class are newly designed and offer up to 50% more space altogether on all sides. Just look at that legroom!


For a person of my size, that IS saying a lot.

As for the monkies, they have other priorities when it comes to flying - whether an airline's in-flight entertainment is up to scratch.


All Premium Economy class seats enjoy a larger in-seat screen, which the monkies wasted no time in checking out all the movies and shows that Lufthansa's in-flight entertainment had to offer.


There was a nice variety of new releases, movies, TV shows and music. Ale, especially was pleased with the kids' offerings, and started on the movie Captain Underpants (yes, again!) right after take-off.


Can I just add that the monkies promptly ignored me right after I snapped this photo?


Oh, and for passengers who fly Premium Economy, they get to check in two bags each weighing up to 23 kg free of charge – twice as many as in Economy Class as well as being able to use selected Lufthansa lounges for a small fee.

After takeoff, the flight attendants brought menus and the first round of drink service. Kids onboard the flight were not left out either as the attendants brought around items for them.


The monkies received this very useful pouch which looks like the dashboard of an airplane and can be hung at the back of the seat. In fact, they have been using this at home to store their stuff!


We had two meals onboard and while the food was pretty standard fare, I give it extra marks for including a Chinese food item into the menu. Yes, it was such a joy to eat RICE again after 2 weeks in Europe. LOL.




In an effort to combat jet lag, I usually instruct the kids to sleep after their in-flight meal. But as all parents should know, things do not usually go according to plan - not when there is the allure of the in-flight entertainment to keep them occupied... meals or no meals.



Not that I am complaining though, because I took advantage of FlyNet Wi-Fi, which was priced rather affordably at 17 Euros for unlimited usage for the entire flight! Which meant that I could catch up on my social media feed, upload a few photos and get some of my blogging work done. The signal was okay overall - I didn't try streaming videos though - and I was satisfied with the service.

Much like her, I reckon.


Personally, I love the Premium Economy class on Lufthansa because it is a nice in-between option for families. Travelling on Business Class with the whole family can be a costly affair so the Premium Economy Class offers a nice compromise with a few premium perks without business class prices.


With that, our epic Europe journey ended on a wonderful note. The memories gained from those 17 days are definitely something that I will always hold dear. A special thanks to Lufthansa for putting everything together!



Lufthansa is operating daily flights to and from Frankfurt and flies to and from Munich 5 times weekly. For promotional fares, visit lh.com/sg.


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May 17, 2018

Frankfurt for Kids

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Visiting Frankfurt? Congratulations as you have chosen an interesting part of Germany to visit. Frankfurt may be the business hub of Germany and the largest financial center in Europe, but that does not mean families have to feel bored here.

As a matter of fact, we spent a wonderful 3 days in Frankfurt during our final leg of our Europe trip - after Munich and Stuttgart.


Frankfurt has many museums and art galleries to visit and there are plenty of festivals and other events that take place throughout the year. If you are in Frankfurt during the weeks leading up to Christmas like we were, then the Christmas Markets are not to be missed.

Getting around Frankfurt is superbly easy too as the city has a good subway, tram and bus transportation system. You can buy day tickets for groups which are really economical although I would recommend buying the Frankfurt Card which offers unlimited travel on all public transport in Frankfurt including Frankfurt International Airport (FRA). This travel card is available for one or two days and offers up to 50 % discount on city tours, museum admissions and further attractions. A one-day card costs €10.50 for one person or €22.00 for a group of 5 (worth it!).

So armed with the Frankfurt Card, these were the family-friendly attractions we visited:

The Römerberg



To put it simply, you can’t go to Frankfurt without visiting the Römerberg.

In the heart of Frankfurt's Old Town, the Römerberg is an irregularly shaped square with the Justice Fountain at its center. Not only is it Frankfurt's most picturesque public square, it's the city's busiest pedestrian zone and home to a host of delights, from picturesque mediaeval buildings to historic markets.


Despite extensive damage from bombardment during the Second World War, the Römerberg’s unique architecture has been painstakingly restored. These include its many open-fronted shops, once common throughout the old town, and the Römer, with its 11 lovely buildings, faithfully reconstructed in 1954 from original 15th- to 18th-century floorplans.

One of the best times to visit Germany is definitely in December when the famous Römerberg Christmas Market - with its 30-metre-high Christmas tree! - is in full swing. One of the oldest and largest in Germany, it is as if we had stepped into a fairy tale - and found ourselves with a great excuse to sample local delicacies like rainbow sprinkles-coated Unicorn almonds!


"I'll fart rainbow gas and pass rainbow poop if I eat this." So said Ale when she first saw this at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. It tickled the lady boss so much that she gifted a pack to Ale! LOL.

Luckily for us, there were no rainbow fireworks in the toilet.


Me? I was just contented to be sipping my Glühwein while the ladies go on the famed Carousel ride.



 Historical Museum Frankfurt


Just a stone's throw away from Römerberg is the Historical Museum (Historisches Museum) which was founded in 1878 and is home to collections related to Frankfurt's rich cultural history from medieval to modern times.

Our visit started with the Snow Globe, a new addition which showcases the history behind Frankfurt and what made the city what it is today. Visitors get to pick from eight histories, each being told through a series of amazing models within a snow globe.


The museum has 15 collector’s areas where objects about Frankfurt and its history are collected. And truth be told, most of their significance are lost on me - primarily because I am not familiar with the history of Frankfurt. Still, some of the artifacts were pretty intriguing.


Fortunately for the kids, there is the children’s trail which runs through 12 collector’s rooms in the Collector’s Museum. Interactive stations with a free activity booklet have been created specially for children so the visit did not turn out to be that dry for them.


Of course, interest stations like making your own stop-motion short clip and building blocks sure helped!



Senckenberg Natural History Museum


If you are in Frankfurt with the kids and only have time for just one attraction, make Senckenberg Natural History Museum that ONE choice destination.

Because dinosaurs ALWAYS enthralls the kids, no?


Yes, dinosaurs never seem to go out of fashion for kids no matter the age... especially since the museum is one of the most modern museums of natural history in Europe, and the second largest of its kind in Germany. EVEN BETTER, it is home to Europe's biggest exhibition of dinosaurs!




Along with its numerous displays relating to our planet's biodiversity and the evolution of organisms, the monkies declared this as one of the best museums they had ever been to. I reckon the sheer number of life-size replica dinosaurs that greeted us in the museum's forecourt won them over.

Or this giant leg.



Expect to stumble upon some quirky and interesting exhibits like this mummified cat.


Or even this well-preserved Edmontosaurus - so well-preserved that some of its skin is still intact!


It's also home to the world's largest collection of stuffed birds, along with an extensive exhibit outlining the development of mankind. Much like our Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, but only much much much bigger!


I reckon it will probably take more than half a day to make the visit worthwhile, but we had to make do with only 2 hours as it was the final day of our holiday. Sob.


One of the places I had wanted to visit but could not due to a lack of time was the Frankfurt Children’s Museum, or Kindermuseum. I read that it is a great place to explore for kids, especially on a rainy or chilly day in Frankfurt. Not only do kids get a chance to exercise their brains, they are encouraged to touch and play with the interactive exhibits too.


Rüdesheim


The gateway to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage site, Rüdesheim is a romantic little village easily accessible from Frankfurt via a 1-hour train ride.

And it was love at first sight.


Walking through the town feels like stepping into a fairy tale. The cobblestone pavement, the half-timbered houses, the dazzling scenic views - no wonder it is one of the top recommended towns to visit from Frankfurt!




Seriously, Rüdesheim why do you have to be so beautiful?


But the town is not just all about being highly instagrammable, there are plenty of activities to keep families busy too - or in our case, a total of 9 hours!

Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet

With a charming facade like Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet's, we didn't need an invite to venture inside. And what an experience it turned out to be - with one of the most extensive collections of self-playing instruments in the world!


We went on a guided tour of the quirky museum and saw (& heard) a range of music contraptions from tiny music boxes to huge piano-orchestrion. with many of them decades old.


Highlights include a snuff box with a musical songbird dating back to the early 19th century, Bernhard Dufner’s band of 27 automatic dolls, and the incredible mechanical violins. I really felt like a child again among the wondrous, automated dolls and their musical genius in this gem of a museum, which could be considered as one of the most unique in Europe.



Ayd even managed to try out one!


Truly an enchanting museum, which made me feel like buying the snuff box with the songbird from the shop... until I saw it cost €3,000. 😱 Really made me like a child again in a toy shop: everything also feel like buying but no money. LOL

Drosselgasse


At the heart of Rüdesheim’s old town lies the charming Drosselgasse, a cobbled street filled with historic buildings, restaurants, bars and shops. Did you know that the Drosselgasse attracts more than three million visitors on a yearly basis due to its authentic and magical atmosphere? Mind-blowing stuff. 

Cable Car


If you want to focus on taking in the scenic views over the Rhine valley without taking straining walks up the hills, Rüdesheim’s Cable Car transports visitors all the way up.


The views from the heights of the cable car offer an impressive panorama over the vineyards and the shimmering waters of the Rhine river... though it can get rather cold if you are there during Winter!


Niederwald Monument


Right at the top lies the Niederwald Monument which was erected between 1877 and 1883. The monument stands an impressive 38 metres tall and was erected to symbolise the re-establishment of the German Empire following the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Weighing a mighty 32,000kg, the central figure of Germania holds the German Imperial Crown aloft in her raised right hand whilst resting the left on the Imperial word.

More importantly, the monument offers stunning views over the Rhine and Nahe valleys.


There is also a restaurant near the cable car station at the top -  Am Niederwald restaurant - which offered us the perfect excuse to escape from the cold briefly.


Nothing like hot chocolate and some soup to warm those tummies!


Rüdesheim Christmas Market


For obvious reasons, the Christmas Market only happens in December every year. But with over 120 stalls presenting products, specialities and customs from twelve different countries, I have to say this is one of the most atmospheric markets that I have experienced.


What is more left to be said? You just have to make a day trip to Rüdesheim when in Frankfurt. It will be well worth it.


The food

I don't usually do this but we had two memorable eating experiences in Frankfurt so I have to document it. One of them was Dauth-Schneider, with a history dating back to 1839.


If you are looking for authentic, no-nonsense German food in Frankfurt, you HAVE to come here for a meal.


Walking in, I immediately knew we would enjoy our visit. A massive multi-roomed tavern with a great rustic look to it greeted us, along with a convivial feel to the restaurant.


And the food certainly did not disappoint. Check out the size of the pork knuckle!




If you have kids who love burgers (like mine!), then dining at Die Kuh die lacht (which translates to “The cow that laughs”) is a must. A burger restaurant, Die Kuh die lacht has been one of the pioneers in the burger business in Frankfurt but it does not serve the the fast food grub that one is accustomed to.

In fact, it prides itself in using regional products, with no additives at all. Even better for the monkies, they got to design their own burger as well!


There are a wide variety of toppings and sauces to choose from, including the choice of patty which has beef, chicken, salmon, vegetarian options. Safe to say, the monkies found a combination to their liking and each created their very own burger which they promptly declared to be the best.



As for the taste test, both the patty and bun were almost perfect and coupled with other toppings, it made for a tasty meal!


Our accommodation

Just like our stay in Stuttgart, we plonked ourselves at Maritim Hotel Frankfurt for our 2-night stay in Frankfurt.


The Maritim hotel chain is a 4-star German-owned hotel chain, and is present in 33 cities and towns in Germany. Its greatest selling point is its rather central location, just steps from Frankfurt Messe (a huge convention centre) and two bus stops away from the Frankfurt Train Station. Guests have direct access from the hotel to Hall 5 of this complex, which hosts music and comedy gigs as well as prestigious conferences.

It is also a 10-minute walk away from Senckenberg Natural History Museum! Key features of the hotel include a superior floor, which can be used by guests who wish to have more privacy; and Frankfurt’s most popular Japanese sushi restaurant.

Rooms-wise, I have definitely seen better but at least they are adequate. Personally, I am not too particular about hotel rooms as long as they are clean and comfortable for my family and for that, Maritim Hotel Frankfurt ticked those boxes.



As an added bonus, Maritim Hotel Frankfurt gifted each monkie a haversack filled with chocolates and goodies... but the most prized possession of Ale has got to be this Maritim monkey soft toy, which was even checked in by her as a 'flying passenger' on our Lufthansa flight back to Singapore!


Thanks, Maritim Hotel Frankfurt for the warm hospitality!

Frankly, 3 days in Frankfurt is far too short to fully enjoy what the city has to offer. But overall, Munich, Stuttgart & Frankfurt, you three have been awesome. Thanks for all the wonderful memories!


We will definitely be back. Until then, Tschüss!



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