2018 travel retrospective

My how 2018 has flown by.

I was lucky enough to start 2018 with a short break in Singapore before returning home in the new year.

Drinking in Singapore can be a very expensive pastime if you don’t know the rules:

  • Go to restaurants that aren’t targeted at tourists or expats – you can still get a long neck of Tiger for around SG$7
  • Drink during happy hour(s) – or more precisely, don’t drink during the couple of hours after the business day finishes when it’s not happy hour. Happy hours are predominantly 2-for-1, so beer is essentially half price
  • Steer clear of hotel bars

TAP Craft Beer has a great, ever changing menu – it’s not cheap but well worth a visit. Alchemist Beer Lab also had a great selection, and Little Island Brewing in Changi Village had a decent food and beer menu with views across the beach – and you pour your beer using a prepaid card, how cool is that! Ji Biru, serving Japanese beers and food, was also good.

My next trip was to Europe in April and May. I transited through Hong Kong on my way to a week in each of Paris and Amsterdam.

Paris in late April was bitterly cold. Far colder than I had planned. My last full day in Paris was 1 degree and raining.

I found Paris restaurants and bars to be either very good, or very bad. Les Balkans in Saint-Michel was one of the worst places for service I’d ever eaten in, and the service at The Bombardier wasn’t all that much better.

Standouts food-wise in Paris were La Reserve de Quasimodo near Notre Dame and La Cochonnaille. For the view head to Le Cafe Du Trocadero and for a decent drink I liked Frog XVIBull’s Brothers Pub and Corcoran’s Irish Pub.

Ironically I had to head 430 kms towards the north pole to get some decent weather in Amsterdam. My what a difference ~2 hours on the train can make.

I like Amsterdam. I think I could live there.

Beerwise there are so many good bars to visit and I’m sure I only scratched the surface. The good ones I found were Gollem, Beer Temple and Cafe De Sluyswacht on the canal.

For food in Amsterdam my best finds were Frenzi and De Nachtwacht.

Unfortunately travel isn’t free so I had to head home, with a stopover of a couple of days in Hong Kong, to make money for my next adventure.

It wasn’t too long until my feet started itching again and I was looking up my employer’s “Lifestyle Leave” policy that allows us to take time off without pay but they average out the loss of pay over the next 12 months of pay, so you don’t take one large hit.

With my leave request approved I got to planning a 3 week trip to Japan. I’d originally planned on a Tokyo-Toyama-Takayama-Gifu-Kobe-Osaka-Tokyo itinerary but it dawned on me, as departure day loomed, that the train line that Takayama and Gifu are on was still cut due to the typhoons in mid-2018 so I had to quickly rejig my itinerary to Tokyo-Toyama-Kyoto-Himeji-Kobe-Osaka-Tokyo and take the hit on the hotel prices so close to departure.

I arrived in Tokyo at the start of October and was quickly on my way to Toyama where I had a great izakaya experience at Izakaya Hosokawa.

Kyoto is a great place with it’s ancient temples and its excellent restaurants and bars. The three standouts for me were BeerBar MIYAMA162Beer Komachi and BEER PUB Takumiya. The meal at BEER PUB Takumiya was probably the best meal of my trip.

Himeji, with it’s beautiful castle, also had some great restaurants and bars. Among them were Kokoromi sake bar and Public House Hosanna.

Kobe was nice and the shoebox size bar called HOPSTAND had great beer and food.

In Osaka my first goal, after dropping off my bags, was to head to Beer Belly in Tosabori for beer and for what turned out to be a superb cheeseburger.

Back in Tokyo for the final couple of days I found several places that will be top of my list for my next Japan trip. Sansa in Minato / Akasaka was just magnificent. Craft Beer Bar iBrew is a standup bar near Shimbashi Station – good beer at a good price. And my last meal of pork katsu at Masamune was a simply superb meal. Sansa and Masamune should be on your “must do” restaurant list in Tokyo.

And with my return from Japan my travel year was complete. Time to dream of my next escape.

As the year wound down I booked my next trip earlier this week, so keep a look out for the next installments of my travel antics in mid 2019!

Happy New Year!