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Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Honeymoon Series [vi] - Venice and Milan, Italy

After completing the tours to beautiful Tuscany region in Honeymoon Series Part 5 (click here), we readily moved on to Venice and Milan, two of the most beautiful cities in Italy. The weather in November was starting to get chilly, especially with the constant rain.

A unique water taxi ride took us to Venice's Islands, where the city centre and St. Mark's Square awaited us. Needless to mention, when one thinks of Venice, one thinks immediately of the bloated canal with its romantic gondola boat rides.

San Marco 1, 30123, Venezia, Italy
Website: http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/en/home/
Opening hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm

It was one of the gothic Venetian palaces that commenced building since the year 1340, used to be the residence for the Doge of Venice, a supreme high authority. Today it is a museum exhibiting secret itineraries tours, The Doge's hidden treasures, and educational services, etc. Ticket prices are 19 euros each.

Piazza San Marco, 30124, Venezia, Italy
Website: http://torreorologio.visitmuve.it/en/home
Opening hours: 10.00am to 4.00pm

An early renaissance building dating back to the 15th century, is a symbol of importance, history and practicality in St. Mark's Square itself. It is an extraordinarily elaborate timepiece displaying the time of the day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and current moon phase. Today it also houses a museum where one could see the clockface(s) up close and the clock's mechanism. Ticket prices are at 12 euros.

San Marco 328, 30100, Venezia, Italy
Website: http://www.basilicasanmarco.it
Opening hours: 9.30am to 5.30pm

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, this is one of the city's most famous churches and a classic example of an Italo-Byzantine architecture. It was also once known as the "Church of Gold" (Chiesa d'Oro) for its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, with its opulent design and gold ground mosaics. Visitors to the basilica must observe strict dressing in this sacred place of worship, and no photography is allowed within. Entrance fees are at 5 euros.

Tickets on sale by the shores of Venice. Gondola looks like a canoe; it is the traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat. For centuries it was the chief means of transportation and most common watercraft in Venice. Rides cost around 80 euros for 40 minutes, for up to 6 passengers; after 7.00pm the base rates increase to 100 euros.

For a tour, the gondolas would traverse the canals where passengers would pass through many bridges - 2 of the most famous being the Rialto Bridge (oldest bridge in canal) and the Bridge of Sighs (made of limestone and has windows with stone bars). The latter was romanticized but the original name had its legend about hearing sighs of the condemned as they were being led to prisons - this bridge houses 2 overlapping corridors and was used as a bridge to transport prisoners.

Piazza Castello, 20121, Milano, Italy
Website: https://www.milanocastello.it/en
Opening hours: 9.00am to 5.30pm

A castle built in the 15th century, once housing the noble family, this magnificent building now houses 12 mini museums within, ranging from Palaeolithic history to 1950s furniture. Ticket prices start at 5 euros.

Via Carlo Maria Martini 1, 20122, Milano, Italy
Website: http://www.duomomilano.it/en
Opening hours: 9.00am to 7.00pm

The third largest church in Christendom, this stunning building was built of brick and later upgraded to marble. A staggering 3,500 statues adorn the cathedral's exterior and there are 52 pillars within the interior. Ticket price for visits to the cathedral and museum is at 6 euros; whereas visits to the terrace range between 4.5 euros to 13 euros.

Via Filodrammatici 2, 20121, Milano, Italy
Website: http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/index.html

Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra.

St. Mark's Square at Venice houses many branded boutiques for shopping. However, Milan would be the shopper's paradise and fashionable city. The shopping scene is hot in Milan.

From Quadrilatero d’Oro, Milan’s golden shopping rectangle - made up of four streets of pure fashion, the Quadrilatero d’Oro is every shopaholic’s dream. Head to the Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni or Via Sant’Andrea for the best of haute couture, with famous names including Armani, Prada, Versace and Roberto Cavalli.

There are also main departmental stores hidden in the shadow of the Duomo, as well as Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (termed the world's oldest shopping mall). The main "high street" shopping is at Corso Buenos Aires if you are not looking for high fashion. Finally, Milan is surrounded by belts of outlets and factory stores - so take your pick of where to splurge and shop till you drop.

Other than hotel's breakfast and snacks along the long bus rides, we had 2 meals for the day. One was lunch at a gorgeous Italian restaurant recommended by the guide; the other was McDonald's (no photos, sorry) in Milan due to time constraint and the rain. Admittedly I enjoyed the cheeseburgers there and it was refreshing being able to pair with Beer as part of their set meals. Price point was similar to Singapore's.

Calle de la Rasse, 4538, 30122, Venezia, Italy
Website: https://www.facebook.com/lanuovagrotta1876

As photos above, the decor is beautiful - heavily leaning on maroon and white tones, with exquisite art pieces and chandeliers dropping from the ceiling. Service was pretty all right, and food was not bad (not mind-blowing). We had a very palatable clear Seafood Broth, followed by Black Squid Ink Pasta (my pasta lacked murky taste of squid ink, but there was a tarty tomato taste to it - I believe they didn't clean the pan after cooking a tomato-based pasta), and loved the Tiramisu. We spent around SGD$60 each on lunch here.

We were supposed to stay on the waters in Venice, Italy (Hilton) but unfortunately due to a change in schedule, that plan was scraped. Instead, we stayed a night in Milan itself.

Via G. Mazzini 63, Somma Lombardo, 21019, Milano, Italy
Website: http://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/italy/hilton-garden-inn-milan-malpensa-MXPSLGI/index.html

A quiet, low-rise hotel of un-remarkable design and located near the Milan Malpensa International Airport, this hotel is rather comfortable and has the basic facilities such as fitness centres, restaurants and Wi-fi. The rate is about just 90 euros a night with breakfast.

Photosource: https://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Hotel_Review-g187870-d613798-Reviews-Hilton_Molino_Stucky_Venice_Hotel-Venice_Veneto.html

Guidecca, 810, Venice, 30133, Italy
Website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/italy/hilton-molino-stucky-venice-VCEHIHI/index.html

The original hotel we were booked for in Venice, overlooking the beautiful canal and boosting of a large sparkling pool itself. The rates for bed and breakfast are 359 euros per night.

Therein concludes our Italy tour. Lookout for Part 7 of The Honeymoon Series, where we venture into France.

For backtracks:
(i) Honeymoon Series part 1 - selecting the destinations (click here)
(ii) Honeymoon Series part 2 - researching and booking (click here)
(iii) Honeymoon Series part 3 - preparing for the trip (click here)
(iv) Honeymoon Series part 4 - Rome, Italy (click here)
(v) Honeymoon Series part 5 - Siena, Florence & Pisa, Italy (click here)

[Poem] The Eroding Years

The amorous thoughts
Remind me of ironies;
Of childhood memories
So blithe, and vague,
And the years that eroded
In between the lines.

And look at you now,
All muscles, in that M convertible
So white, I'd love a ride;
And all the what-ifs
Filled up the spaces
In which you could've been mine.

copyright ©  Winepoetess 2016

[Poem] All I Want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas 
Is you down the chimney, 
Smoldering me with your gaze, 
Silencing me with your Cupid's bows. 

All I want for Christmas
Is a hot bubbly tub so foamy, 
Enveloping our bodies beneath, 
While you deepen within me. 

All I want for Christmas 
Is wine savoured upon your skin, 
Made warm by your pulsing blood, 
Your tongue entwined with mine. 

All I want for Christmas 
Is time, the power to turn it back; 
Unwrapping you like a Pandora's Box, 
The first taste is the sweetest.

Copyright © Winepoetess 2016

Outfit of the Day - shamrock green off-shoulder dress

"Fashion is all about happiness. It's fun. It's important. But it's not medicine." - Donnatella Versace

Spotted this jade green (looks like spring green in photos, though) off-shoulder dress and fell in lust, so had to make it mine. Accentuated with a belt and clutch, and we were ready for high tea at the elegant W Hotel.

Dress: Takashimaya
Belt: Unknown
Bag: Christian Dior

Outfit of the Day - black dress with zippers on shoulders

"Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy - but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don’t bother you - don’t bother me" - Yohji Yamamoto

If only I knew. Should've trusted my gut feelings. Should've headed out when I should. For that 'chance encounter'.

Another raven black cotton dress, short and loose-fitting, with silver zippers on shoulders and cowl neck. Suitable for work, casual, and outings.

Dress: bought in Hong Kong
Earrings: Chanel
Necklace: Dior
Bangle: Hermes

Outfit of the Day - black shirt dress with gold buttons

"I work in three shades of black." — Rei Kawakubo

Wanted this shirt dress so bad, so after a little pondering, I decided to get it. Besides the military chest pockets (not real pockets), gold buttons and belt,  this dress was of the correct length as well. A comfortable yet formal dress suitable for work and outings.

Dress: Miss Selfridge (SGD$99.00)
Bag: Gucci
Bangle: Hermes
Watch: CYMA

[Poem] Scared to Sleep

Fears keep Morpheus' embrace at bay, 
As I lay awake in the nights; 
Sleepless, afraid to go to bed, 
Yearning the adventure of dreams 
But dreading the rays of daylight. 

I wish for the night to last, 
A dark blanket keeping me warm, 
Undermining the ticking hands of clock; 
My body is tired, fatigue coated, 
But I am scared to fall asleep.

Copyright © Winepoetess 2016

Outfit of the Day - black toga blouse with chain strap over sand-colored pants

"The joy of dressing is an art." - John Galliano

All glammed up for simple Christmas lunch with awesome ex-colleagues. I loved this ensemble for its simple elegance and it did not take me long to match the outfit. The loose, chain-strap toga black blouse went well with the tight sand-colored pants.

Blouse: Osmose (SGD$59.90)
Pants: Unknown
Bag: Chanel
Shoes: Pazzion

[Poem} Open

You opened up my eyes 
So I could see what's not mine; 
You opened up my lips, 
Robbing sweetness leaving bitterness. 

You opened up my heart, 
Pouring the contents aside; 
You opened up my mind, 
Stealing away my dreams. 

You opened up my flesh, 
Forging your way to my peak; 
You opened up my world, 
Stripping it off rightful hues. 

You opened up wounds, 
Gaping their way to severance; 
You closed the only window, 
Leading to your soul.

Copyright © Winepoetess 2016

Outfit of the Day - black dress with pearl neckline and fur shawl

"Elegance is a question of personality, more than one's clothing." - Jean-Paul Gaultier

Attending a French charity hightea therefore trying to look French (missing an elegant hat). I chose a sleeveless black dress with chain of huge round faux pearls at the neckline, and draped my faux fur shawl over the outfit. The effect worked rather well, I would say.

Dress: Far East Plaza (SGD$169.00)
Fur Shawl: bought in Australia

[Poem] Of Intentions

I sense the want in you,
Like wine swirling in the glass;
Like flames leaping forth,
Flailing your desires out of bounds.

It was in your eyes,
The heat emanating from your gaze;
It was in our fingertips,
Where your skin touched mine.

Then it all became cold,
When time turned its wheels;
The words I wanted to breathe to you,
Died silently in my mind.

It was in your smile,
The intentions clear as day;
It was in our hearts,
Where forked paths broke the link.

copyright ©  Winepoetess 2016

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Outfit of the Day - black halter dress

"Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life." —Bill Cunningham

Whoever says that one cannot dress up while visiting a beach?

Here's me decked out in a little black halter dress looking all comfortable and letting my skirt flounce to the winds.

Dress: M'phosis (SGD$59.90)
Bag: Louis Vuitton
Necklace: Tiffany and Co
Bangle: Hermes
Watch: Omega

Afternoon Tea at Epiphyte Cafe @ Chinatown

47 Neil Road, Singapore 088827
Tel: 9451 8873

Located amongst the row of shophouses and home to many restaurants / cafes, is another garden-themed cafe with 2 stories and ran by some friendly owners - named Epiphyte.

Besides the greenery lining the walls, turning this cafe into a botanical room, there are pieces of stunning arts as well, making the place very photo-worthy. Level 2 was the lounge area, more apt for chilling out over drinks.

I came here especially for the interesting cakes, and maybe the beautiful pink risotto, but unfortunately they have changed their opening hours to 4pm. So we took lunch before popping by.

The social-media famous Twilight Cake (SGD$12.00) with its gorgeous glossy galaxy exterior with swirls of unearthly hues, core of orange cointreau curd and soft chocolate sponge cake.

Next, The Terrarium (SGD$12.00 + rum shot SGD$3.00), served prettily in a Whiskey glass, looks like a mini garden made of green sponge cake, chocolate soil, apple compote and mint custard. The rum shot was poured lovingly over the mini "forest", watering it with a lovely liqueur infusion to add punch to the flavour. The first bite of the crumbly rum sponge was odd, but it grew on us with each bite.

Along with the desserts were pots of hot Green Tea with Jasmine.

I will try to come back for dinner, as heard very good reviews about the Pink Risotto etc.

[Poem] Tribute to George Michael

George, 'tis your Last Christmas, 
Have you found angels and peace? 
Your sweet December song, 
A melody that didn't save you 
Are you still praying for time, 
Or setting your soul free? 

I never really knew you, 
Until Careless Whisper stole my heart; 
It was all I danced to, 
With Faith, and Fast Love 
Taking the lead at times; 
These were the days of my life. 

Your voice was soothing, 
Healing the pain felt inside; 
Your heart was generous, 
Like Jesus to a child. 
We thought we knew you, 
Through your songs; we always did. 

You know, my mother had a brother - 
He was a dear, a Father Figure, 
Big-hearted like you, died in October.
It makes me think 2016 is the year 
The angels are all called home; 
To a different corner, away from us. 

You were amazing, 
Your songs touched chords so deep; 
Through our long and winding roads, 
You have been loved (surely); 
And we'd never know where or when, 
We might meet again, at the edge of heaven.

Copyright © Winepoetess 2016

Outfit of the Day - silver cocktail dress

"Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself." -- Oscar de la Renta

Christmas shopping starts right now... everywhere's gold, silver, shimmery and glittery. Wouldn't you just fall in love with this shimmery silver cocktail wrap dress with plunging neckline?  I did.

Dress: Osmose (SGD$69.90)
Necklace: Tiffany and Co
Bangle: Hermes
Watch: Rado

Christian Dior's Black Patent Leather Clutch with thin gold straps

"Deep in every heart slumbers a dream, and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess." - Christian Dior.

Dior, simply because it's my favorite.

Black and gold, simply because it's my signature.

Christmas, simply because I'm worth it. 💋

Outfit of the Day - Santarina Getup

"I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman." - Vera Wang

Merry Christmas and Happy Yuletide to all my loved ones and friends. Thank you for being the best presents I could ever have in my life 🎁

Santarina costume: price unavailable.

Outfit of the Day - Brown Short-sleeved Blazer

"This here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom" - Homer Simpson

I can never emphasize enough about the importance of a blazer / jacket for ladies. Even if it is to be a short-sleeved blazer, bringing some brightness and formal touch to the little black dress.  Suitable for work and meetings - simply take off jacket for a night out afterwards.

Blazer: bought in Bangkok (around SGD$23.00)
Black cross-straps dress: bought in Hong Kong (around SGD$59.00)
Bangle: Hermes
Watch: Rado
Earrings: Chanel

Outfit of the Day - Sequined black chiffon dress

"I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.” -Wednesday Addams.

One of my favoritest dresses - a loose chiffony sheath with sequined high neckline like a decorative collar. A dress I feel comfortable in, and confident in - because it hides the unsightly bulges. Suitable for work, dinner and play.

Dress by Dafuni (SGD$89.00)

Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day Brunch at TWG Tea Salon @ MBS

2 Bayfront Avenue, #B2-65  68A, The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018972
Tel: 6565 1837

No stranger to TWG and definitely a supportive fan, regardless of dining there or buying their teas / pastries for gifts, I am happy to be back again for Christmas / Boxing Day. But first, do not be shy to check previous reviews at TWG Ion and TWG Marina Bay Sands.

Photosource: TWG's website

The festive menu looks awesome this year, and what's a complete Christmas without their Red Christmas Tea? 4 of us all ordered the Festive Set Menu (SGD$35.00 full set / SGD$45.00 full set + Mocktail / SGD$47.00 full set + Cocktail).

We started with a soft  mound of very delicious Bread Roll each (though some of us kept it for the Foie Gras later). The fluffy soft bread was so soft and precious; I believe a light poke with the fingertip would cause a dent.

The main course was Pan-seared Beef Tenderloin with Nargila-tea infused seared Foie Gras served with natural jus, quince puree and ice lettuce; accompanied by potiron (Winter squash) and Comte cheese pudding. Savoured the buttery foie gras which melted lusciously upon the tongue, painting it thickly. Then moved on to the succulent beef which yielded easily to the knife, beautifully marinated and ever-so gently smokey. The flakey potiron and Comte cheese pudding was tasty as well, a lovely combination of savoury and sweet flavours.

Dessert was served! - Christmas Logcake infused with Red Christmas Tea, filled with Chocolate and Tiramisu Mousse, a rich cherry and blackcurrant centre and red fruit jelly. This beautifully-plated dessert was small but mighty - sweet, strong flavours and contrasts; the chocolate was decadent - the entire creation was almost too pretty to eat.

A soothing hot pot of Red Christmas Tea (notes of festive spices, orange peel andn hibiscus) accompanied the delectable food - not sure if they tweaked the tea, but I remember it used to contain a stronger woody flavour. In lieu of this, one could instead choose the Noel! Tea (blend of black and white tea;  notes of fragrant spices, clementine and rich Taihitian vanilla).

Teas are available in both hot or cold (iced) versions, just so you know.

Finally, Christmas Cocktail in conclusion - bubbly, sparkling white wine, infused with Red Christmas tea - drink was fizzy, sweet not not overly so; crisp fresh notes and rather smooth.

We enjoyed the palatable brunch here at TWG, attentive service, beautiful settings, sophisticated music and catching up. Happy Boxing Day and let's count down to a blessed 2017 New Year, darlings!