When was the last time you did something for the first time?

You might have noticed that this post’s headline is a question – and a very thought provoking one, I would guess. In my impression, we often lose ourselves so much in our daily routine that we forget how important it is to get out of our own comfort zone every once in a while and try something new. So last week I finally I did something new again, something that I have wanted to do for a long time, something that has challenged me in a completely new way: I gave my very first Zumba class.

Some of you might now say: “Why is she making such a fuss about this? She hops around in a Zumba class every second day, so by now she should be able to perform some Salsa steps in front of a few people without much ado.” I’d like to say: “Yes and no.”

Almost everything in life can be done in three different ways: bad, satisfactory and exceptionally good.

A bad Zumba teacher might not know his moves, he might occasionally forget to cue and his body language might tell you, that wearing colorful clothes and dancing to Reggaeton is not his favorite way to spend his time. A teacher that does his job satisfactory performs flawless moves and smiles bravely the whole hour, but he does not get the party going. An extraordinary teacher will leave you soaked with endorphins and longing to come back to class – something that happens rarely, but when it does, will leave you in a state of utter bliss and happiness. To not be a bad teacher is easy, even being satisfactory can be achieved without much hassle – but being really, really good is hard and takes time and practice. Of course I aimed to be at least okay during my first class, but getting the nervousness under control was harder than I expected. I did neither know the gym that hired me or the people working there, nor did I have a clue what kind of teacher the participants were used to.

So I stood there in front of this place called “Happy Fitness”, forty-five minutes early and everything but happy, sweating already and pathetically trying to remember the cool-down moves that I had thought of the day before. It was horrible. But I made it through the one-hour class – and guess what? It went okay. The people were friendly, they liked the music, we did some chit-chatting and everybody was polite enough not to mention how red my face had become during the workout. When I walked home, was soaked with endorphins.

And then I realized: making it through tough situations or accomplishing something special that seemed out of your range of capabilities is the best guarantee to experience a little high once in while. So why don’t we do it more often?

When I fell into my bed that night, exhausted and then finally happy, I made a half-year resolution: I will try to experience more “first times” from now on. And I will not limit myself to anything specific – it might be something creative, like a Japanese cooking class, a challenging activity like an Alpine crossing or simply taking a detour on the way home to check out the new café in the neighborhood (who wants to go with me?).
“Firsts” are not only fun, they can also teach us how to handle situations we are not familiar with – and this is a skill everybody can profit from, since you never know what life is gonna throw at you at some point.

So, in order to keep the promise I made to myself I will report here regularly about my “firsts” – and maybe you will get inspired to leave your comfort zone as well and throw yourself into unchartered territory. Because whatever happens, one thing is certain: you will always return by one experience richer.

 

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Ignorance is bliss or: why stalking never leads to something good

Yes, I admit it: sometimes – during long train rides to Nuremberg all by myself – I tend to do things I am not proud of. A few weeks ago, for example, I watched “Magic Mike XXL” on the way home; a movie about a gang of strippers that features a lot of stupid dialogues and shockingly few naked men. But anyway – I don’t want to talk about naked men (at least not in this article), because another much more interesting thing I recently did whilst riding the train is stalking. We might also call it “researching”, to make it sound more professional. As I said, I am not proud of it – but the guy I stalked, err, researched, can actually consider this a huge compliment since I would never stalk somebody that I don’t find interesting (just saying).

When you find things you don’t want to know

The thing about stalking somebody on the internet is that you rarely find something unexpected or delicate. But what if you do? I actually really did find something about that guy I was stalking that shocked me. Imagine me sitting in the panorama lounge just behind the train conductor (my favorite seat), taking turns looking at the passing landscape and then again at the mobile phone display in my hand for like an hour. I was flabbergasted. My feeling for interpersonal things had apparently completely failed with this guy because I would never have believed him to have such a special “hobby” (if you can call it that). [As a side note: I will not write publicly what his special hobby is, but if you are interested in knowing more we can talk it through over coffee. Or – probably better for the occasion – schnapps.]

This discovery not only occupied my thoughts during the train journey, but also in the following days – I even conducted some meta-research about this unusual hobby in order to frame my many thoughts on the subject. But the quintessence always remained the same: I had the feeling that I didn’t know this guy at all and that I had completely misjudged him – although actually nothing had happened in the real world.

Dealing with knowledge you shouldn’t have

So there I was: confused by some piece of information I had found on the internet and actually angry with myself that I had not stayed true to my belief, that the best way to get to know people is by talking to them – in person, face to face. Luckily, once the initial shock had subsided, reason returned to my brain and I thought: what the hell, I will just pull myself together and ask him about this the next time I see him. Maybe there is some reasonable explanation or maybe I misunderstood the website I had found (although this seemed very unlikely to me).

Nevertheless I was left with a stale aftertaste that I could not shake off and I kept asking myself: might not knowing something sometimes be better than knowing it? Not that this is even remotely comparable, but wouldn’t a wife be happier not knowing that her husband cheated on her some years ago? Could not knowing everything about a person potentially save marriages, friendships or beginning love affairs?

Returning to the real world

Let’s face it: the internet is not the real world. People communicate differently, they present themselves the way they would like to be (but not the way they really are) and they sometimes try to realize phantasies they would not act out on in real life. And maybe this is what the internet is for, maybe this is okay – as long as those people are decent in the real world and do not hurt their fellows with what they are doing online. What I found during my stalking session on the train to Nuremberg does not hurt anybody (actually, it does quite the opposite…) and it’s not turning this guy into a bad person. A weird person maybe, but not a bad person – and certainly not a boring person. And who knows? Maybe he would have told me about his strange hobby some day himself and then I would not have had the time to brood over the subject – I would have been forced to react spontaneously and instinctively. I would probably have giggled, as I usually do in situations like this, and I would have asked him to explain to me why he does what he does. And then we might have had a wonderfully funny conversation about an interesting topic without any stale aftertaste at all – an experience no amount of internet-“research” could have taken away.

So what do we learn from this? Stalking is bad and experiences in real life always trump what happens on the internet. For my next journey Nuremberg I will definitely bring a book – or download another stripper movie, just in case 😉

All eyes on Offenbach

When I tell people that I live in Offenbach they usually respond like this: „Ohhh, really? Why?“ – as if living in Offenbach was a bad fate that has somehow befallen me involuntarily. Let me assure you: I decided to move there five years ago very consciously (and sober) and I even enjoy living in this colorful city that has way more to offer than you might expect. But I probably have to take a little more time to explain this negative reaction to all of you, who do not live in the Rhein-Main area and thus do not know anything about Offenbach.

Diversified in every detail

Offenbach is the tenth largest city in Hessen, very close to Frankfurt and the city with the highest proportion of foreigners in Germany. In December 2016 the proportion of people with a migration background was about 60 percent – which might make some people feel uneasy, although there is not need to feel this way. People expect the crime rate to be very high – although Frankfurt’s crime rate has always been on top of Offenbach’s (in fact: Frankfurt has just recently handed over the pole position in Germany’s crime ranking to Berlin). Instead of giving in to petty prejudices I suggest to focus on the great amount of diversity that all those foreigners brought to Offenbach. Offenbach has a vivid culture and arts scene, lots of international culinary hot spots and one of Hessen’s most beautiful weekly fairs.

Beautiful in an unconventional way

Due to a great amount of destruction during world war two there is not much left of Offenbach’s original buildings and houses in the city center. There is no sugarcoating it – Offenbach’s city center is ugly. But: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you keep your eyes open you will find lots of beautiful locations that might not always correspond to the classical idea of a beautiful cityscape. For example, did you know that Offenbach has two castles (one of them hosts the Hochschule für Gestaltung), a neo-baroque town palace and an old slaughterhouse that has been repurposed to house apartments, a hotel, restaurants and a cultural center?

…and not boring at all

If you live in Frankfurt and never dared to take the four S-Bahn stops to downtown Offenbach I have two words for you: do it! There is so much to see, do and eat that all the prejudices you might have had will vanish immediately. And if not – feel free to contact me and complain 😉

Here are seven ideas for a great Saturday in Offenbach:

11am – 12am: Buy your groceries at the saturday fair

Take the S-Bahn from Frankfurt, get out at the stop “Markt” and walk to the Wilhelmsplatz. This is where the weekly fair takes place. Immerse yourself in the cheerful hustle and bustle of all the people doing their shopping, meeting friends or having a chat with the salespeople. The atmosphere is just so enjoyable and all the people are very friendly. If you want to buy something to take home I suggest cheese or fresh handmade pasta (or both).

12pm -1pm: Grab a little lunch at Wabi Sabi and a coffee at Laier’s café

Since you might get hungry after all the strolling between the stalls of delicious food I suggest you have a little lunch at one of the best Japanese restaurants I have ever been to: Wabi Sabi. It is located at one corner of the Wilhelmsplatz and thus in walking distance from the weekly fair. If you are a Sushi lover I suggest you order “Everybody’s Darling” – a nice combination of Sushi variations.

What’s after lunch? Coffee! So head over to Kaffeerösterei Laier, a nice little shop selling coffee, chocolates, tea and various other delicacies. There is a tiny café adjacent to the shop where you can get some delicious coffee – and you can also order one of those awesome little chocolates from the shop to accompany your drink.

1pm – 1.30pm: Check out the Büsingpark and the Büsing Palais

Now it is time to see some cultural highlights! In just ten minutes you can walk from the Wilhelmsplatz to the Büsing Palais, Offenbach’s neo-baroque town palace. The area around the palace is nice as well, so take some time to stroll around and explore the park.

1.30pm – 4pm: Take a bike ride to Rumpenheim’s castle

One of my favorite places in Offenbach is Rumpenheim’s castle and the park surrounding it. Here is an idea: get yourself a bike at the Büsing Palais (here is a call-a-bike station) and ride along the Main river to the castle. Especially in summer this is a very nice route for a ride that will take you past a few beautiful locations on the Main.

4pm – 6pm: Stand-up-paddling at the harbour

After having checked out the castle I suggest you ride with your bike to Offenbach’s harbor. Although this location is called “Hafeninsel” (which is hard to translate, it might be something like “harbor island”) it actually is not a harbor anymore, it rather is Offenbach’s most popular development area. At the Hafeninsel you can see modern-style architecture, eat in hipster restaurants like the Heimathafen or have a picnic on the nicely designed steps leading down to the water. But you can also rent surfboards and do some stand-up-paddling (SUP)! Most of the time the people renting the boards leave them ready for you right next to the water – so you just have to pay, get on the board and start to explore the area from the water. Ahoi!

6pm-8pm: Have a fancy dinner at Backschaft

After all the SUPping you will be hungry, which is why it will be convenient if you managed to get a table at the very awesome restaurant called “Backschaft“. Since the Backschaft is very famous it is required to reserve a table approximately four weeks in advance (I am not kidding). But it is worth the wait: you will dine exquisitely on a refurbished boat in a grandiose atmosphere.

8pm- 10pm: Open air cinema at Hafen 2

To round off a nice Saturday in Offenbach I recommend you take a nice twenty minute walk from the Backschaft, passing the Hafeninsel again, and head to Hafen 2. Hafen 2 is a café and an event location which is very popular in the summer because it hosts concerts and open-air-cinema-nights. They do not show any blockbusters, but rather arthouse and independent movies, that will inspire reflection. Check out the program in advance and find out whether there is an interesting movie – if not, Hafen 2 is also worth to visit for a casual drink with a view on the river. From there you can easily grab a cab home to Frankfurt or walk to the S-Bahn station “Kaiserlei”. If you are not tired yet – the famous techno-club Robert Johnson is right next to Hafen 2, but does not open until midnight.

 

 

Ridiculously beautiful: The Andaman on Langkawi

Have you ever been to a place that seemed so ridiculously beautiful that you had to pinch yourself to make sure you were not dreaming? I have. And sometimes, when I sit at home on my sofa, back in everyday life, I have a hard time realizing that those vacation pictures (check them out below) actually show the not-digitally-enhanced truth; that it was really this beautiful and overwhelming. So: for all those planning a secret wedding abroad or looking for the ultimate beach holiday or those of you who just don’t want to fly to Bali, since everybody seems to go there these days, I think I might have the perfect recommendation.

Hello paradise!

Langkawi and especially The Andaman hotel have set my new standard for a dream-beach-vacation (although I am not a dream-beach-vacation kind of girl, as you might know). Langkawi is an island at the north-west coast of Malaysia and it was our last stop in this amazing country before we headed back to Singapore. We took the ferry from Penang (the article about Penang is coming up soon) which, by the way, featured muted Japanese vampire movies on an outdated TV screen whose image faltered all the time (this is my way of saying: bring a good book if you want to be entertained, for example The Children Act by Ian McEwan). The ride took about three hours and we were dropped off in the south of the island. Since The Andaman is located at the north of the island “cosily tucked away between a 10 million-year-old rainforest, the tranquil Datai Bay and an 8,000-year-old fringing coral reef” – to quote from their website – we had to grab a cab that drove us across the island for an hour until we finally reached our paradise-like resort. And from then on I kept being paralyzed by the sheer beauty and perfection of this very recommendable resort that will leave none of your wishes unfulfilled.

Private everything

I would probably be better off in telling you what The Andaman does not offer, instead of telling you all the stuff that it actually offers. For the fun of it, let’s write down a well-structured list of bullet points for those of you who are keen on the naked facts:

  • They have a private beach, which is very clean and not overcrowded.
  • They have private fishermen, who will bring fresh seafood to the hotel (and onto your plate) every day.
  • The hotel is surrounded by a practically “private” rainforest with, so to say, private animals that you can watch any time.
  • The hotel offers two guided rainforest walks each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, where you will be told everything about the amazing flora and fauna of the area.
  • The resort has six restaurants of which we tried out three. The food in each of them was delicious, but also very pricy for Malaysia. I liked the restaurant called “Jala” best since they offered the fresh seafood caught by the private fishermen (you can see a picture below).
  • There is also a nice air-conditioned gym that offers free daily classes of various sports. I did a core workout and yoga and enjoyed both classes very much.
  • The breakfast is insane. I have never seen a breakfast buffet as extensive as this – you can choose between all kinds of continental breakfast options (bread, toast, eggs, pastries, fruit, yoghurt, smoothies), American and British breakfast treats (sausages, baked tomatoes, beans, porridge, roasted potatoes, donuts, pancakes), salads, freshly made omelets or scrambled eggs from a dedicated counter, vegetable soup with Ramen and several Malay or Indian dished like Nasi Lemak or Mee Goreng.
  • There is of course a Spa, a guy that will help you plan trips across the island, entertainment for children (there were actually quite some families with little children), a fancy bar with live music at night, a game room with a foosball and a ping-pong table and a huge swimming pool (for when you have had enough of the tub-warm sea water).

So what’s the catch?

There is none. I have actually nothing to criticize. This place gets five stars on each and every scale and is absolutely worth the money. Go there and enjoy.

Throwback Friday: Romance in a one-way street

I wrote my very first blog entry in August 2005. I was nineteen, the internet was still relatively new at that time and blog-tools, that one could use for free, were very rare. It was exciting. For every entry I wrote into my live journal I selected a specific song that was listed above the article itself and matched the topic I tackled in my text. Often my entries were extremely personal and related directly to stuff that had happened to me at that time. Most of the time I remained true to my core theme: love in all its facets. Unfulfilled love, love gone to pieces, long- and short-term relationships, having crushes on the most impossible people or relationship-stuff that had happened to me or somebody I knew. There is one text that still speaks to me very strongly since its thesis remained stuck in my head for all those years. I want to re-post it here, although it is in German and the movie-reference is outdated (I still love this movie, though, you should check it out if you haven’t seen it yet). It’s about unfulfilled love and why this can sometimes be so damn romantic.


Woody Allens aktueller Film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” bietet alles, was ein perfekter Film für mich enthalten muss: eine verzaubernde Geschichte, schöne Bilder, grandiose Schauspieler und interessante Gedanken, auf die ich selbst noch nicht gekommen bin. Einer dieser interessanten Gedanken manifestiert sich gegen Ende des Films, als sämtliche Beziehungen zerbrochen sind und die Protagonisten mit letzter Kraft versuchen die Scherben ihres seelischen Trümmerfeldes beiseite zu räumen. Als Erklärung, warum wir alle immer wieder destruktive Beziehungen eingehen, uns das Herz brechen lassen und immer wieder aufs neue hoffen, dass Menschen sich ändern, wird hier eine sehr sinnige und zutiefst melancholische Begründung geliefert: Nur unerfüllte Liebe kann romantisch sein.

Je mehr ich über diesen Satz nachdachte und ihn einsickern ließ in meinen Sumpf der vergangenen und aktuellen Erfahrungen, umso bewusster wurde mir, wieviel wirklich darin steckte. Ist es wirklich die Suche nach Romantik, die dafür sorgt, dass wir uns in Menschen verlieben, die wir nicht haben können? Ist es die Sehnsucht nach Sehnsucht, die uns die Kraft gibt, über einen langen Zeitraum hinweg alles für einen Menschen zu geben, ohne, dass man etwas zurückbekommt? Ist es wirklich ratsam, die Geschichte des leidenden Werther für sich selbst neu zu schreiben, nur um intensive Gefühle zu erleben?

Beschäftigt man sich ein wenig mit dem Begriff der “Romantik”, so stellt man schnell fest, dass diese besondere Epoche der Zeitgeschichte geprägt ist von genau denselben ambivalenten Elementen, die auch diese These beinhaltet. Das “Schöne und Erhabene” als Kernaussage der Romantik bezeichnet alles, was den Menschen fasziniert, ihn reizt, anregt und geheimnisvoll wirkt, als das Ideal. Perfektion ist der Tod und wird als langweilig angesehen.

Die unerwiderte Liebe ist somit ein nicht perfektes Beziehungsgerüst zwischen zwei Personen, das inspiriert und den Liebenden zu Höchstleistungen antreibt.

Liebe wird definiert als ein “Sinn für- und Glaube aneinander”, dessen größter Ausdruck die Hingabe ist, wobei diese durchaus auch nur einseitig erfolgen kann.

In der Romantik war die unerfüllte Liebe ein die Sinne anregender Zustand, der die Liebenden durch den wohligen Genuss des sich-in-Melancholie-suhlens belebte. Ist es heute auch noch so? Wenn ich zurückdenke an die letzten Jahre, dann muss ich mit etwas Widerstreben selbst zugeben, dass auch ich die romantischsten Gedanken und Gefühle meist in Zusammenhang mit einer einseitigen Liebe erlebte. Oft ist es gefühlsmäßig viel intensiver jemanden von der Ferne aus anzuschwärmen, als dann mit ihm im gemeinsamen Bett zu liegen. Vielleicht sind es die ganzen Fantasien, Hoffnungen und Erwartungen, die wir bei der unerfüllten Liebe auf den anderen projizieren, welche die Romantik nähren. Denn ist man dann erst einmal zusammen, holt einen die Realität leider oftmals sehr schnell ein und zerschlägt all die Luftschlösser, ehe man sie überhaupt komplett aufgebaut hat.

Hört man sich bezüglich dieses Themas ein wenig um, so stellt man schnell fest, dass die meisten Menschen sehr desillusioniert mit dem Thema Romantik umgehen. Bei einem Dreh im Staatstheater sprachen sogar die derzeitigen Hauptdarsteller des Stücks “Romeo und Julia” auf eine sehr nüchterne und leicht verzweifelte Art über ihre Beziehungserfahrungen. “Mit 18 war das anders…jetzt bin ich realistischer und vorsichtiger geworden” sagt der Romeo-Darsteller. “Alles für die Liebe aufgeben…. das würde ich heute nicht mehr. Es kommt sogar vor, dass ich mich aus einer Beziehung zurückziehe, wenn die Gefühle zu intensiv und mir gefährlich werden könnten.”

Aber selbst wenn die Liebe unerfüllt ist und einseitig bleibt – nimmt man nicht immer etwas für sich selbst mit, und wenn es nur die Romantik ist? Ich für meinen Teil bin froh festgestellt zu haben, dass man sich auch nach einer Serie von liebestechnischen Misserfolgen noch genauso stürmisch und vorbehaltlos verlieben kann wie mit 16. Man kann diesen Mechanismus unterdrücken und verdrängen, aber verlernen kann man ihn niemals. Und wer weiß, vielleicht hält die Romantik ja auch irgendwann länger an, als nur in der Anfangsphase einer Beziehung. Einen Versuch ist es immer wert.

The one time I was unreasonable or: Two nights at the Marina Bay Sands

Some things are really hard to justify: A third piece of chocolate cake on a single afternoon, staying in bed after having slept twelve hours already, skipping the gym in order to binge-watch the third season of “Love” on Netflix – and spending six hundred Euros on two nights in a hotel in a city where you could have rented a totally fine Air BnB for ten percent of this hilarious sum of money. But sometimes you have to be unreasonable. And as so often, it’s worth it (I am virtually winking at you right now). But first let’s back up a little.

One cold winter night in Nuremberg, after having visited the gorgeous Christkindlesmarkt, I was told by a colleague that the famous infinity pool crowning the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore has recently been made accessible to hotel guests only – which came as quite a shock to me since I had planned to go up there during my vacation in Singapore and shoot some awesome pictures of all those rich people swimming 191 meters up in the air. Solution-oriented as I am (yes, I am winking again) the first thing I did back in my hotel the same night was to fire up Google and check out the prices. The second shock was not long in coming: The prices for even the most basic rooms were beyond everything I was prepared to pay. So I went to sleep, disillusioned and a little annoyed. To cut a long story short: two months later I booked a room anyway. Why? I had been carrying the thought of not seeing this gigantic pool and the view from the top of the hotel with me for two full months. And just as you should throw out things you haven’t touched or used in while, I believe you should try to make the things happen that get stuck in your mind for a certain amount of time. So I whipped out my credit card and made it happen.

The room

The most unbelievable thing happened upon checking in: we got an upgrade and were given a fancy premier room on the 40th floor with a view of the Gardens by the Bay. 
A-m-a-z-i-n-g. You can see the room in the picture gallery below, it featured sand-colored interior design, a curtain that opened and closed automatically whenever you entered or left the room, a stylish lightning concept, a little balcony, a huuuge bathroom with a separate shower-room, a freestanding bathtub, well-scented organic bath products, slippers and bathrobes, free mineral water and basically everything else that makes the few times you stay at your room during a vacation and are actually awake more pleasant. Also, at night there was a wonderful peace and quiet so that one could sleep well. I loved it. Another special feature: the chambermaids created little towel elephants that they placed on the bed – check out the cutie below.

The pool

Words cannot give enough credit to what it feels like to swim in this pool and enjoy the incredible view from the top. I am not exaggerating. We were lucky weather-wise and experienced a beautiful sunset whose colors were reflected in the water and made the atmosphere even more magical. We went from blue skies to shades of bright orange and finally deep purple (wordplay not intended) with scattered clouds. It was definitely one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in one of the most special locations on this planet.

What else can you expect? The pool was not as crowded as I had feared, but be prepared to see lots of people posing and taking selfies for a tremendous amount of time. Also, do not be scared to turn into one of them yourself, since nobody should leave this place without at least one goofy picture at the edge of the pool.

The rest

Besides nice rooms and the infinity pool there a lot of other things that make staying at the Marina Bay Sands worthwile:

  • Since the Marina Bay Sands is right next to the Gardens by the Bay you can easily walk there, which is quite convenient and definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon.
  • In the food and shopping complex adjacent to the hotel you can choose between 65 different restaurants – most of them extremely expensive – and an innumerable amount of luxury brands shops. I cannot recommend any shops since shopping is not my thing, but I had very delicious dumplings at Din Tai Fung. Going there during the main lunch and dinner hours is not a good idea because people will be queuing and you will have to wait first for a table and then for your food – so try to come somewhere in between. We got a table right away at 4pm and waited for our freshly made dumplings half an hour.
  • Even if it should be a matter of course in such a hotel, I would like to emphasize that the service was very good. The people at the reception were very nice and helpful and also the check-out went smoothly without a long waiting time, although there were a lot of people who wanted to check-out as well. It was no problem to store our luggage till 8pm the same day and we were also offered to take a shower at the gym before the taxi took us to the airport.

And since pictures tell more than a thousand words – enjoy 🙂

 

Hot stuff in Singapore

Traveling large distances always seems very magical to me. You step on a plane, wait for a couple of hours and end up someplace totally different – for example in Singapore, if you’re lucky. Singapore is way more than just a stop-over city. During my 3-week vacation in March I have spent seven days and six nights in Singapore and I have not run out of cool places to see or awesome stuff to do. Since a lot has been written about this great city and its main attractions already (the Lonely Planet offers a solid information basis, as usual) I would like to tell you about my personal favorite places beyond the mainstream that include the most amazing coffee shop (believe me, I have tried a lot of different coffee shops!), the cutest bookstore selling mainly poetry and hand-stitched notebooks, the best place to indulge in some insanely delicious (and expensive) cake paired with an insane city view, the nicest location for some quiet time in this busy city and where to eat the best Michelin-starred hawker food.

But first, coffee! – at “Free the robot”

You know I love coffee and I never leave out an opportunity to taste a new coffee-creation, especially when traveling. So, in Singapore, while I was strolling through a district called “Outram”, I came across this very cute coffee shop called Free the robot that is located on a beautiful street called “Telok Ayer”. The first thing I noticed was the creatively painted exterior wall that featured a red robot that reminded me a bit of the Android logo (in a positive way, of course). Sneaking a peak into the cafe I noticed a very hipster interior design that featured dark wood and retro furniture, combined with awesome graphic art featuring the little robot. So obviously I had to go in and check if the taste of the coffee matched the very appealing appearance of this place. And yes, it did! I ordered the Free the robot signature coffee that contained coconut oil that had been fused into the coffee, as the friendly lady behind the counter explained to me upon asking – and mhhh, what a treat! I have never tasted anything like this before. If you are not into hot drinks while having to endure hot temperatures I can also recommend the cold brew that comes in a flask, as you can see in the picture in the gallery below. It tastes slightly sour and will cool you down immediately. Make sure to plan a coffee break when you are in the neighborhood.

Food for thought at BooksActually

While some girls can spend hours hunting for clothes in huge department stores I can easily spend hours browsing through bookshelves – especially if a bookstore is as nice as BooksActually in Tiong Bahru, a very cool district of Singapore. I usually buy one book for my book collection when I am traveling to places far away, but at BooksActually I really had to restrain myself from piling up books in my arms until I probably would have exceeded the maximum weight of my suitcase allowed for the flight home. Not only was this bookstore unbelievably cosy and well curated, it also featured a vending machine where you can purchase a “mystery book” if you are passing by (you can see the vending machine in the picture in the gallery below).

BooksActually sells all kinds of books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art and design, travel guides and much more. They also have a little room in the back – guarded by two adorable cats – where you can find little presents or souvenirs to take home. I decided to buy a poetry book with the very promising title Poems for a world gone to shit that you can also order in the online shop if you feel the need to “to make even the most f**ked up times feel better”. And if you manage to head there physically to choose your own book grab a cake at the nearby Plain vanilla bakery afterwards. It will be the perfect afternoon.

20 layer chocolate cake at “Lavo”

You might already have seen the picture of the giant piece of chocolate cake in the gallery below, but: the picture actually does not give credit to this piece of cake because it was so BIG that no normal human being would have been able to eat it in one sitting without passing out due to an overdose of blood sugar. But I need to start from the beginning.

So I had booked two nights at the Marina Bay Sands (there will be a separate post for this memorable experience) and after checking in I had a craving for cake. The first thing you do at this awesome hotel is of course to check out the rooftop pool (which is only accessible to hotel guests, by the way) and the rooftop restaurant which is called Lavo. Upon investigating Lavo’s menu I found a very promising dessert section that listed a slightly expensive “20 layer chocolate cake”. Although twenty-four Singapore dollars seemed a lot to me I thought “What the hell, it’s the Marina Bay Sands” and ordered it. A few minutes later a lady with a black minidress that barely covered her buttocks handed me a plate with a piece of cake the size of my forearm. After having overcome the first shock I dug my fork in this creamy, peanutty chocolate-wonder and enjoyed it all: the sugary taste, the view from the top of this architectural masterpiece and the feeling of being a completely spoiled, perfectly happy human being. This bliss of course ended after five bites because your body can only take so much sugar – but the lady with the short dress packed the remaining two thirds of the cake in a to-go bag for me and thus I was able to extend the enjoyment of my cake two more days. So all in all the giant piece of cake was worth it’s price and matched the giantness that is the Marina Bay Sands very well – an experience to remember.

Swing yourself to rest at Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park is probably a location that is listed in every major travel guide for Singapore. It is an “…iconic hilltop landmark [that] has witnessed many of Singapore’s historical milestones. The hill once sited the palaces of 14th century Kings and served as the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks.” If you are not as keen on historical details as I am it will be enough to know that this park is an oasis of peace and quietness that will let you escape the city hustle for a while. There is a big lawn on top of the hill with beautiful trees and a few Hollywood swings where you can sit and relax and calm down. Have a look at the picture below – it was my favorite spot this particular afternoon.

Hawker Chan’s chicken in soy sauce

A few days before my holiday a former neighbor of mine, who happens to be an Asia-expert, mentioned that there is a guy selling hawker food in Singapore who has been awarded a Michelin star for his exquisite chicken in soy sauce. Upon googling I found lots of reports and reviews about Chan Hon Meng and his famous Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle dish – so of course I had to go there and check it out! You can find Hawker Chan’s restaurant right in Chinatown surrounded by various other stalls and restaurants. Since he got very famous over the past year you have to expect a queue and a short waiting time before you can indulge in your chicken in soy sauce (check out the picture of the dish below). This taste experience in Chan’s rather modest restaurant will cost you only a few Singapore dollars and it will be something you remember – because where else would you get a Michelin-starred meal as delicious as this for this price? Sure enough, the serving is not very large, but look on the bright side: this way you’ll be hungry enough to try even more of Singapore’s awesome cuisine.