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The Golden Circle Tour

I should probably also add to the title of the post: on a very wet and windy day.

Our time in Reykjavík was limited. The deal for return flights and 3 nights hotel stay translated to only 2.5 days for activities – a fact not communicated to us until weeks after we’ve paid for this little promo. Had we known, we would have rethink the trip, and likely did it quite differently. No time for to cry over spilled milk here. We would just make do the best we can, and that included taking organised excursions so we at least get a taste of what Iceland is like.

Golden Circle Tour

We ought to be smart enough to judge the weather forecast before we booked onto a tour, but as the 2 full days that we had were both predicted to have a bunch of mixed conditions, our brains short-circuited and we failed to notice that one day would be warmer than the other (thus higher probability of being a nicer day). We picked the wrong one to take in some of the best sites outside of the Icelandic capital.

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Grillið Restaurant

When it comes to the monetary aspect, Iceland is not for the faint-hearted. Food in particular don’t come cheap. Bearing that in mind, LT and I thought, why not splurge a little? Instead of paying dearly for supposed budget eats, we would indulge in higher-end dining that would actually be comparable in price to that in Paris. This way, we won’t feel like we’ve paid too much for what we can get cheaper in Paris; instead, we will get fine dining at the “regular” price. Another plus point – we will experience Icelandic dining at the top level.

Grillið Restaurant


We had our first evening meal at Grillið Restaurant, situated on the 8th floor of our hotel. As we were there very early, the place was practically empty and we scored a table next to the windows, affording us some impressive panoramic view despite the falling rain and setting fogs. Chef milled about in the kitchen that can be openly observed via see-through glass panelling. I find the interior decor a little tacky though, featuring the signs of the zodiac.

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First impression: Reykjavík

A few months back, I saw a travel deal to Reykjavík that was all too tempting. I managed to wrangle my friend LT to travel together with me, and since hotel was already part of the deal, suffice to say we didn’t do too much pre-trip research. Two days before departure, I had a quick root-around the cyberspace and did a couple of things: book our airport transfer and made a reservation at Dill Restaurant.

Departure from Paris

We left Paris for our long weekend break on a cloudy afternoon (oh it was bright above the clouds, of course), and were greeted with an even cloudier sky on arrival in Keflavík International Airport. I mentally went through my wardrobe option in my backpack and prayed I have not under-prepared for the trip. It was the end of April and I was banking on early spring weather (even I wasn’t delusional enough to think we’d get early summer weather), so I was probably alright. At worse, I’d just do some shopping.

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At the brocante

I have noticed, in the period that daylight savings is in operation, big bright banners start to crop up just about everywhere. Brocante! Vide grenier! Salons d’antiquaires! (Garage sale! Empty the basket! Antique salon!)

At the brocante

Held usually over a weekend at a specific location, these pop up markets have some pretty interesting things to sell. However, because I am just that wee bit lazy, I haven’t specifically went to one for the purpose of browsing. Besides, I am not a natural shopper – I wouldn’t know if I hit a bargain or have overpaid for something that used to belong to someone else.

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The joy of raclette

Winter get-together chez Chloé invariably means there would be at least one raclette session, if not another couple of sessions of aligot and mont d’or too. These cheese-filled events are relatively easy to organise, feed a good crowd, and everyone’s always content after that.


What’s fun is that Chloé has a good old fashion raclette apparatus, unlike the more modern contraption/grill that is used to heat up sliced cheese inside some small pans. You don’t get to racler properly with the grill apparatus! (And yes, she even has the specific knives to racler the cheese.)

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Start, pause, stuck…

Writing a personal blog should be easy, right? After all, these are my experiences that I’m trying to put to pages. However, every so often, I find myself starting little snippets and then paused, not entirely sure how to finish them up without putting everyone to sleep, and all the while thinking “why would anybody think they are interesting?”.

Chocolate of Patrick Roger

The following is the equivalent of the text on type-written-but-crumpled-on-the-floor pages. Maybe I will revisit them one day, but it’s a lot likely that I won’t. At least I can now get rid of the random text documents – we shall be exploring the theme of “thing I don’t have since moving to Paris” today – sitting in my draft folder. ;)

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(Stealthy) free ride

And this is how they ride for free…

Take the public transport often enough and the various methods employed by fare evaders would have been clear. However, as the general consensus holds firm to the principle of “it’s not my business to say anything” it is easy for these folks to get away with it.


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The Gardens of Versailles

A walk in the park is a fairly romantic thing to do, and there are quite a few gardens and parks around Paris perfect for such endeavour. However, if you want a walk somewhere unforgettable but still easily accessible, you can’t beat the beautiful setting of the Gardens of Versailles.

Garden of Versailles

There is a certain grandeur that’s unrivalled at Versailles. The formal garden of its l’Orangerie, the classic French gardens and occasional labyrinths, and the bosquets lining the basins and the grand canal – all the elements that evoke timeless admiration of the beauty that lies before one’s eyes. Judge it yourself, although note that these photos were taken at different times of the year. (Hint: it’s good to visit it multiple times throughout the year)

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Kisses in digital age

First year uni, freshers’ week. I still remember the flutters in my stomach the first time I received a text message from this cute guy I have just met the previous evening, signed off with “kisses”. A mere hour later, another guy I also met during the same social event, also attaching “kisses” to the end of his email. Surely I cannot suddenly be so popular for everyone to be sending kisses my way?

Kisses by Claire

Ah, the naïveté that was me in my youth, and on getting to know the charming “Latin-Europeans” – mainly French, Italian and Spanish – for the first time.

Little did I know, those kisses were merely equivalent to the air/cheek kisses I’ve been getting in greetings to say hello and goodbye, only in these cases, in written form. Had I received a message from a girl that ended with “kisses”, I probably would have think twice about its significance and not jump onto the “someone-had-a-crush-on-me?” bandwagon. The other shoe dropped when some of my new Latin-European friends, of both genders, concluded their text messages or emails with “kiss kiss”. Aaaahhh…

Embarrassing, right? Oh well, at least for a little while, I felt the thrill of the geeky girl who garnered the attention normally reserved for the homecoming queen ;)

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Cimetière du Montparnasse

Yet another year in which I fail to make it home for Cheng Beng – a customary “festival” similar to that of All Souls Day on a Christian calendar.

The last time I participated in the tending of our family ancestors’ graves was just before I moved to Europe, half a lifetime ago. Normally the timing simply didn’t work with my schedule but this year, it came incredibly close. I was home for my brother’s wedding recently, and it crossed my mind to extend my holiday so I can finally join my family on this year’s occasion. However, with work being incredibly busy, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to tack on another week to my ten days trip.

Cimetière du Montparnasse

And thus, rather peculiarly, I have cemetery in my mind. I think back to the Asian-styled tomb and final resting place of people near and dear to me, and at every turn, I also get flashbacks to the cemeteries that I’ve visited in Paris. Normally, according to my grandmother, one should not go to a cemetery bar specific event (like a funeral) or occasion (like Cheng Beng). However, I am less particular about keeping away from the Parisian cemeteries.

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