Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Journey down memory lane (Day 1 - 11 March 2015)

Hubby and I are going on our second honeymoon!!! This is our first long trip without the two little ones ever since they are born. This is also my first "leave" after becoming a stay home mum...Our trip will be 10 days from 11th March 2015 to 21st March 2015.

Both of us are excited as we will be going back to Nottingham, to visit our university where we spend few years there back in 2004-2007 for me and 2005-2006 for hubby. We will also be going to Switzerland for 5 days, visiting Top of Europe, Lucern and a short stay in Zurich.

We actually booked our air ticket about 6 months in advance, however we did not proceed to book hotel, car rental, flight ticket to Switzerland and train ticket until about 2 weeks before the trip as we were still a bit unsure whether our two bubbly kids are able to be away from us for the next 10 days. We did a trial 2 weeks before our trip whereby we leave our kids at my MIL's house and they manage to sleep with my MIL without daddy and mummy beside them. After the trial, we were more assured so we started our planning.

Planning took longer than we expected. We have a few MUST DO in mind- visiting University of Nottingham, attending Sunday Service at Cornerstone Church, 5 day trip to Swiss. In between the MUST DO, we are contemplating between a day trip to Paris, Stonehenge, farm stay, Bath or London. After much brain storming and planning, we decided to forgo Paris due to the recent terrorist attack, we pretty much explore London while we were studying so we finalised to do our farm stay, visit Stonehenge and maybe Bath as well if time permits. 

Some tips that I gather after 2 weeks of researching:

1. If you wanted to stay in Hilton Hotel in London, do plan for staying for Saturday or Sunday. For some unknown reasons which I didnt know, the price drops tremendously during weekend stay. We paid SGD 240 for a night stay in Hilton Tower of London which is in central of London, overlooking Tower Bridge and river Thames. What more can I stay, for the price and location, it is definitely worth it!

2. If you are visiting Wengen, Switzerland, do check the hotel website besides Agoda, etc... some hotel e.g.: Hotel Baeren website offers half board accommodation (room, breakfast and dinner) at the same price as Agoda (which only offers room and breakfast) for last minute reservation up to at least a month before check in date. This is a mistake that I make so do not repeat the same!!! I am still very "sad" that i didn't checked properly before booking!

3. If you would like to dine in Michelin Star Restaurant especially the three stars one, do make reservation ahead of time. As we only finalised on our trip planning 1-2 days before departure, most of the more popular ones are fully booked and we can only be placed on waiting list. But lucky for us, some of the reservations were cancelled and we received email from the restaurant to be placed on reservation and we are excited to be lunching at Gordon Ramsey Restaurant this coming Friday 13th March 2015. Definitely looking forward to our lunch date this Friday!

List of 2015 Michelin Star Restaurant in United Kingdom:

4. If you will be visiting Nottingham and want to experience life of a university student staying on a pretty campus, there are some residence halls which are up to short term stay rental and they are of great value of 55 pounds per double en suite room per night which includes a brunch! This is definitely a steal. Do check out the university webpage here.

On top of last minute booking, we also kinda only got our luggage bag last minute like a few days before departure as my old luggage bag is spoil. Packed 2 days before departure, send our little cuties back to my MIL's house one day before departure. We decide to travel light this time so we squeeze both our clothes, shoes, winter jacket all into a 24 inches American Tourist luggage bag which we bought at SGD 126 from Samsonite outlet store in IMM, Singapore. Hubby carry a backpack while i carry my handbag and that is all the things that we bring for our 10 days trip!

Luggage tips (how to squeeze 10 days UK Swiss Trip into half of a 24 inches luggage bag):

What I bring along are
- A pair of Jeans
-2 T-shirts
-A dress for my dining experience at Gordon Ramsey (3 star Michelin restaurant)
-A pair of sports shoe (to wear to Top of Europe Snow Mountain)
-2 sets of sleeping clothes
-A thin winter jacket
-A cardigan
-2 pair of socks
-A pair of gloves
-One scarf
-A packet of sanitary pad
-A container to protect my bras for washing machine
-Bra and underwears (3 sets)
-Very minimal make up items
-Some medicines (panadol, flu medication etc)
-Some grooming item (nail clipper, lotion etc)

We will be utilising the coin operated washing machine and dryer here thus not bringing lots of clothes. Plus we want to travel light as well.... enjoying and taking in the scenery rather than lugging big lots of luggage items. Amd we did it, manage to squeeze with minimal extra spaces as well on hubby's side of luggage bag.

My side of luggage for our 10 days trip in a 24 inches luggage bag! I am proud of myself
Some toiletries and medicines
Day 1- 11th March 2015

Our flight is a connecting flight at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We started our journey from Singapore Changi Airport at 6.40am flight. We woke up at about 4.15am, showered and leave our house at about 5am, reached airport at 5.45am. We have checked in online the night before and the check in counter are pretty empty so we just dropped off our luggage, chose a seat for our connecting flight (as we chose the wrong one online and didnt manage to change due to some system error with the system). Hubby did some research on and manage to choose a great seat (details will be below).

We reached KLIA on time at 7.40am and we love the peanuts served on board of MAS airline. We had breakfast at Old Malaya Kopitiam followed by a cup of Mocha at Starbucks (cause a small cup of coffee at Malaya Kopitiam is RM 12.60 which a huge cup of Mocha in Starbucks cost RM 15.90. Both places provides free wifi which is great! Do note that Starbucks only provide one password per receipt which can be used on one device so if you need more wifi password, do purchase your drinks seperately.

Breakfast before our connecting flight

Nasi Lemak is served piping hot and hubby is very satisfied. My egg and toast is all right but will be nicer if the eggs are slighlty warmer. Nevertheless we had a good meal.
Hubby's Nasi Lemak with Chicken (RM 25.90) and my toast bread with eggs (RM 11.90)
We will be boarding A380 for our trip to London this time and we were both excited. It is my first time taking airbus! Initially wanted to sit on top deck but after reading reviews that the top deck is more shaky, we decided to sit at lower deck instead.

Seats configuration as per normal Boeing flight 3-4-3
As I mention earlier, hubby did his homework and he found a seat with extra legroom!!! It is seat 74A and 74K on A380. As the row in front of us only have 2 seats, one can get a window seat with extra legroom and there is no need to trouble others when you want to leave for toilet trip! This is amazing!

He found it here at by just entering airline and flight number!

Lots of leg room!
Some other features of A380 is you get your personal charging station ( a 3 pin plug socket and a USB port), there is also a winding staircase at the back of the plane leading up to second floor, and the wings are huge and the engine are huge. Looking out of the window makes me feel like sitting on a huge jumbo jet. Really cool!

Personal charging station under your seat
Winding staircase leading up to second deck
We are all set and ready to fly... I have placed my bag and shoes under the seats and ready for my 13 hours flight! Flights are relatively empty though and many people get to have the whole rows for themselves!

Flights departs on time and lunch was served shortly at 11.30 am Malaysia time. Food are acceptable but I was puzzled at times. I requested for cocktail and the air stewardess replied me that yes, they do have cocktail but when i asked what choices do I have and she asked me what I want. I said can I have a glass of "Sex on the beach" and she asked to come up with the concoction. Well I wasn't sure what are the % of each ingredients in the cocktail and she said she cant prepare it for me...Ended up with a cup of red wine instead. 

They also served unsalted butter with bread... I always thought we only used unsalted butter to make cake, would definitely prefer salted butter for my bread spread. Other than that, food are acceptable.

Chicken with potatoes
Nice snow mountain view as  we flew past Middle East
We were also famished by the time dinner is served at 9.15 pm Malaysia time. I really think MAS should do better with time management. To be honest, passenger's body clock are tuned to Malaysia timing so having a 9 hours plus interval between 2 meals are ridiculous, especially there is only one round of Pringles / Oreo biscuit in between. We were hungry way before dinner is served and when we went and request for additional Pringles or Peanuts, we were told that they ran out of that.
Dinner is finally served, we are famished!

Landed safely at 4pm London time (UK is currently 8 hours behind Singapore time), it is midnight in Singapore and we are really tired after a long and hungry flight. 

Queue up for immigration to get our passport checked and stamp, pick up our luggage from Belt 1B and we went and find the booth for our car rental. There are a row of car rental booth on the right after we came out from the baggage control at Terminal 4. We phoned our car rental company, Sixt and they asked us to wait at Bus Stop Number 2 for them to pick us to to their office which is 5 minutes away.  

Stumbled upon this Sim Card vending machine just before we exited the airport. It is a pretty good deal--for 20 pounds you get a sim card, 500 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts, unlimited DATA (yes!!! unlimited DATA, this is what caught our attention) and best thing is that this is for 30 days (for one whole month!!!). You can purchase this sim card either by cash or credit card and yes, you get unlimited DATA for one monthe!!!! We got the sim card from the company "3" as we are more familiar with their network from our previous studying time. The rest of the phone company all sounds relatively foreign to us.

Sim card vending machine
Sim card promotion at airport
After exited the airport, turn right and you will be able to see bus stop number 2. All the car rental company pick up their clients here, you can see Europcar, Sixt etc.
Bus stop 2
Got our car and we will be driving to Lodge Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, Salisbury which is 1.5 hours away. It is getting dark soon so we quickly start our car and drive away. Stopped by for a quick bite on the highway. I had fish and chips , hubby had Burger King.

KFC even have pay by card booth order by yourself 
The fish and chips are pretty good, i ordered regular size (comes with mushy peas as well). Cost 7.99 pounds for one set.
Tired face with my fish and chips
Close up of my Fish & Chips
Finally reached our Bed and Breakfast at about 8.15pm local time (4.15am Singapore time), we are really tired especially hubby who had to drive almost 2 hours to get here...We called our host Janet once we reached and she opened the door for us, welcome us into her warm house (it was really cold outside). Our bedroom is on the second floor and it is really cosy. We booked this farmhouse on their official website and it costs 40 pounds per person per night, so we paid 80 pounds per night for an en-suite double bedroom. More information on their website here if anyone is interested.

We showered and then both of us fall asleep in no time. And we woke up at 3.30am local time (11.30am Singapore time) thus blogging now.. Today our plan will be going to Stonehenge, Salisbury and probably Bath. Stay tuned to read more on our trip to UK and Switzerland!

Comfortable bed with thick duvet, great for the cold weather
Small living area
Coffee and tea facilities with cold milk, biscuits and chocolates
Next up: Day trip to Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and Bath

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