night

5 things to do on a layover in Singapore

Hello,

welcome back everyone. Singapore was the first stop in our Indonesia itinerary. Why Singapore? you might ask. When travelling from London there are no direct flights Indonesia that were convenient, also neither of us had visited Singapore before. The connecting flights from Changi Airport are also quite short and frequent, so Singapore was a great place to overcome the jetlag, get used to the equatorial climate and start the trip to Indonesia.

Singapore feels like a melting pot of cultures, religions, food and lifestyle. With futuristic architecture on one side of the town and traditional markets on the other it truly feels like a place of contrasts. When taking the underground metro from The Quays to Chinatown it seems like going back in time. There's Orchard Road with huge shopping malls and shops like Hugo Boss or Louis Vuitton and then there's Little India where people trade fish and vegetables in crammed and noisy market halls. 

Singapore isn't cheap. Compared to its neighbor Indonesia it's actually quite expensive. Average price for lunch is about 8-10£, coffee costs around 3£. If you want to save some money most shopping malls have some decent food courts that offer a large variety of local and international street food. 

 

We only stayed a total of 3 nights, two at the start of our trip and one at the end. Here are a few sights that you shouldn't miss and that are definitely worth your time:

1. Gardens by the Bay

The Gardens by the Bay is probably one of Singapore's most photographed site. The highlight of the park are undoubtedly the massive artificial metal tree structures that rise above all other plants in the area. The trees are illuminated in different colours at night (themed light-shows take place at 7.45pm and 8.45pm), best times to visit is probably very early in the morning or late evenings.

For about 15£ per person you can also visit the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Particularly the Cloud Forest was quite interesting, also refreshingly cooler than the rest of the park. The gardens itself are free, so you can visit multiple times if you like. 

2. Southern Ridges

The walk along the Southern Ridges was one of my favorite things to do in Singapore. It took about 2-3 hours, but we stopped many times for photos and coffee breaks. There were a few steep stairs along the path but the view over the city from the peaks are quite stunning. Even thou you're still in the middle of the city it feels more like walking through a jungle. There is also a tree top walk from where you can enjoy a unique view over the trees and foliage, sometimes there are even wild monkeys. The whole walk felt very quiet, we rarely saw any other people. Compared to the hot and hectic city this was a very relaxing experience.

Also there's a very chilled cafe at the top of Mt. Faber, which is quite amazing for an iced coffee and an great view over the harbour. 

3. Marina Bay Sands

The big question you'll probably ask yourself: Is it worth it? Rooms in Singapore's fanciest hotel don't come cheap, but the infinity pool on the 57th floor is really quite breathtaking. The hotel is a big tourist attraction and the pool gets very busy at peak times, particularly around sunset. The best times for a relaxed swim is early mornings and late nights (pool opens at 6am until 11pm). There are 2 types of rooms, one with view over the Gardens by the Bay and one over the city. Our room had city view which was quite spectacular, I would definitely recommend this side. Also hotel guests have free access to the observation deck, from where you have an almost 360° view over the city.

4. Botanic Gardens

Another entirely free thing to explore is the Singapore Botanic Garden. Very quiet and relaxing, I found it to be a much welcome break from the city life. There are many walks and trails through the gardens, the rain forest part is probably the most impressive. 

5. Quays at Night

The perfect end-of-day-walk! Start at Read Bridge and keep walking east on either side of the river. There are plenty of places to grab food or drinks. Once you reach the Merlion, a half lion half fish stature you'll have a fantastic view over the Singaporean skyline and the Marina Bay Sands. You can walk all the way around the bay, there's some pretty amazingly designed bridges and colourful buildings. 

Bonus Breakfast Tip: My Awesome Cafe

We had a great breakfast at "My Awesome Cafe". Great coffee and scrambled eggs and some pretty awesome shakes. If you're in the area that's definitely worth a visit:

202 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore, 068639
9:00 morning till 12:00 midnight

 

The New York City Digest

Hi all,

after coming back from New York City I went through the pictures and I really have to say that four days can't do justice to such a big city. I was actually pleasantly surprised how beautiful a lot of the pictures turned out. I was also the first time I took the Sony A7rii out for a field test. 

On the first day it was incredibly hot. With temperatures well above 30°C we started the day in the Central Park. We also made our first encounter with the New York City Subway. 

After a few hours of strolling around the park and at least three stops for coffee (jetlag!) we headed downtown for Grand Central Station. 

It was already late afternoon by the time we left the station, and temperatures we're still climbing, and so was the amount of people on the streets. A lunch break was well overdue so we went to the nearest park for a sandwich and (more) coffee. 

After a few hours of rest and some New York City burgers we decided to end the day on the roof of the Empire State Building. We deliberately arrived there quite late around 9.30pm to avoid the queues and get some nice shots of the New York Skyline with all the citylights on.  

Conveniently Times Square was right next door so we took some snaps and enjoyed the famous scenery. It was also almost midnight and streets were still packed. They don't call it "The city that never sleeps" for no reason.

The next day started grey and rainy. And rainy days are usually an excellent opportunity for some culture, so we decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. The museum itself is quite gigantic and we easily spend a few hours exploring everything from Roman Statues to Egyptian tombs.

Not to far from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts is the 9/11 Memorial. The adjacent and mostly underground museum surrounds the former foundation of the twin towers. It's quite an impressive and agitating exhibition and definitely worth a visit.

When we woke up the following day the sun was out again. The Metropolitan Museum of Arts also features a quite amazing rooftop that overlooks Central Park. 

After another stroll through Central Park we took the subway further downtown. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon exploring Lower Manhattan and the East Village. 

From Whitehall Street at the northern tip of Manhattan you can take the Staten Island Ferry completely free of charge for a tour around the Lower Hudson Bay. 

The last sunset we spent in good New York tradition under the Brooklyn Bridge. To sum up the experience we had and now that I'm looking at the pictures back at home I wish I have had a little more time to discover in particular New York's quieter sides, parks and cafes. 

I've you liked my pictures please follow me on Instagram or Twitter, leave a comment or message me if you want to get in touch. I would love to hear your feedback.

See you soon,

Tobi

My five favourite things to do in Dubai

Hi all,

this journey started, like so many before, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in March at Heathrow Airport. I was waiting in front one of the countless coffeeshops in the terminal for my friend Harry, who's joining me on this trip from Hamburg. At the time we had no idea what to expect, neither of us had been to Dubai before. We also had no idea what an amazing experience this trip was going to be.  

 

About 7 hours, one airplane green curry and a few coffees later we touched down at Dubai International Airport. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton which is pretty central and also really well connected to Dubai's public transport. And being connected is quite important as this city hasn't been designed for walking. It's easy to underestimate distances on a map, and you don't want to get lost in almost 40°C.

In the following I've assembled my five favourite things and recommendations to do in Dubai. Our stay was about 5 days which felt like the ideal time to get a sense for the country, culture and people. Just a quick tip to make the most of your stay, we booked most of the following activities in advance and it's proofed to be quite hassle free and straight forward. 


1. Fly!

Dubai is probably the best opportunity in the world to get a seat in a helicopter. The true scale of city only really reveals itself from the air. Especially the Palm of Jumeirah looks nothing but stunning from above. If it's in your budget, it's worth every penny.

2. Go on a Desert Safari

Going on a desert safari is a great way to experience the deserts around Dubai. Most tours are pretty worry free, starting with hotel pickup, dune bashing, sand-boarding and camel riding as well as dinner under the stars, fire-eater and belly dancing. Now this might sound a bit touristy at first but I can ensure you it's perfectly fine and group sizes are manageable. And most importantly there are plenty of photo opportunities.

3. Sunset on the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is dominating the Dubai skyline like nothing else. You will see it when you land from the plane, from the taxi, from your hotel, pretty much from everywhere. So you're going to regret not using the chance to get on top of the currently highest building in the world. Booking in advance is strongly recommended to avoid long cues, particularly at sunset hours. There is a maximum amount of people that are allowed on the top to make sure it never gets to busy.

4. Visit the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi

Ok, let's be honest. Before looking into what to do in Dubai I had never heard of the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. We went there on our last day and to be frank, we weren't sure at all whether it was worth the 2 hours bus ride to the capital of the UAE - But I've never been so wrong. Today I would recommend everyone to visit this architectural masterpiece. It's indescribably beautiful, the vastness of endless pillared hallways and the grand square right in the centre is simply just breathtaking. And the entry is free, bus tickets from Dubai can be bought on the day and cost around 15£.

5. Go for a walk

Frankly speaking, Dubai isn't ideal for walking. It's pretty wide and open and sometime you might find yourself in front of a 10-lane highway with very few options to cross. However there are a some places that invite you for a stroll, especially the more historic parts of the town:

The area around Bur Dubai and the Creek offer a great insight into Dubai's past before it turned into the metropolis it is today. Great for an atmospheric wander through the narrow alleys of the souks and markets, relax at the river or take a tour on a boat. 

If you're not tired stay up a little late and and experience the amazing Dubai skylines at night. Visit the Marina Walk and the Burj Lake right in front of the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa after sunset for a colourful nighty cityscape. Don't forget your tripod.

A great way to get a relaxing escape from the big city life is to go to the Madinat Jumeirah. It's a contemporarily development area in the style of a traditional arabic village. There are little market stalls and coffeeshops surrounded by palm trees and waterways, villas and hotels. Also this is just a short walk away from Dubai's public beach, offering a great view on the Burj Al Arab.

Bonus tip: Breakfast at Tom & Serg

You can thank me later for this one. The best undoubtedly best breakfast in Dubai you'll get at Tom & Serg. This former warehouse style cafe has everything you can ever wish for, including a Salted-Caramel-Milkshake.

If you want to see more travel photos and always get the latest photos from my journeys please follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

See you soon!

What nights are like in the North

Hi guys,

with summer fading and days getting shorter we thought this was going to be the perfect opportunity to shoot some more night skies. For night-sky photography it's high season, with evenings still being mild and lush, but cloudless and pitch black right after 10pm. Our house was pretty close to the sea and an old pier, far away from cities and streetlights. Initially we brought a torch to brighten up the foreground but we ended up just experimenting with the light, pointing it in various directions to see how it works out in the photo. Great fun, highly recommended photo experiment for September and October. 

For more tips to shoot stars and skies check out my post on How I shot the Perseid Meteor Shower from London. Good luck!