Running

Semi Marathon de Longwy Recap plus SOS Call for Advice from Other Runners

After a summer of travelling around the various mountainous regions of France for trail racing, the Ninja Turtle found herself last Sunday in the town of Longwy, which borders Luxembourg, toeing the starting line of a road race. The event offered up the 10K and a half-marathon distances, and since the Ninja Turtle’s original intention was not to race, as she has another trail coming up in two weeks that she’d like to stay injury-free for, she went with the latter option. She was simply there to get some mileage in for the week, while showing some moral support to a friend.

The Ninja Turtle was going through a weird phase where in spite of, or because of, all the gorgeous landscapes she’s been racing through, running around her little town just didn’t seem to cut it anymore. Quite simply, she was starting to find her running routine boring and was losing motivation at an alarming rate.

Coincidentally, her neighbour Mickey Mouse expressed the intention around the same time to start working on his fitness. A few months ago, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle invited Mickey Mouse along to one of the Turtle’s races. Inspired by the experience and the race day vibes, he was determined to start fighting back against the first signs of middle-age spread and bought himself a pair of runners.

So the Ninja Turtle did what any good neighbour would do – she offered to take Mickey Mouse running. Mickey Mouse would get the guidance that he needed, while the Ninja Turtle got to re-kindle her passion for running by sharing her knowledge with someone. How’s that for a win-win?

Mickey Mouse played a lot of sports, especially soccer, in his younger days. He’s blessed with a pretty good baseline fitness, doesn’t smoke nor drink to excess, so it was merely a question of getting him back into a regular routine. Just to ensure Mickey Mouse would truly commit, the Ninja Turtle gave him six weeks to train up for his first-ever 10K road race.

The first time they ran together, the Turtle brought him to their local park and after a 5K warm-up followed by 5 sets of hill sprints, Mickey Mouse was pooped. He started expressing mild concerns for the 10K distance, but the Turtle was unfazed. Mickey Mouse has a motor mouth, and if he wasn’t talking during 95% of their run, he’d probably have a lot more wind to do some actual running.

Not long after, the Ninja Turtle told Mickey Mouse that they’d aim for the 10K, but not worry about the speed. Sure enough, by the 8th kilometre, Mickey Mouse was talking a lot less, while the Ninja Turtle took over the talking, alternating between distracting him with nonsense and cheerleading him with encouraging phrases. They made it to 10km in just under 1h 3min, and the Ninja Turtle was satisfied.

For the final session before race day, the Ninja Turtle once again got Mickey Mouse to aim for 10K, but said they’d be aiming for a negative split out-and-back. The Canal de Jouy was the perfect training ground for this – on one side of the river meant for cyclists, it’s trail-like with sand, soft dirt, roots, holes in the ground and stones, while the other side designed for joggers, the ground is smooth, even and flat. Unused to the challenges of a varied terrain, Mickey Mouse was the quietest he’d ever been (at any rate, the quietest that the Ninja Turtle has ever known him to be) as he focused 100% on running without tripping and falling. Several times throughout the run, the Ninja Turtle checked in to see how he was feeling, and when they got to 6 miles, the Turtle yelled “sprint time!” and they did a lung-busting 400m fast-finish.

Mickey Mouse was as ready as he was ever going to be.

Race day approached, and the trio valiantly woke at 7.00am. After only 4 hours of sleep (because her neighbours upstairs were doing unspeakable things at 3am in the morning and the noise prohibited sleep until they stopped) the Ninja Turtle wasn’t feeling very flash. Two cups of coffee later, GodzillaPin was driving the 70km to the starting line. Early start aside, it was overcast, windy, and en route, it started pouring. The Ninja Turtle could only hope that Mickey Mouse wasn’t completely discouraged. Thankfully, the rain had stopped when they reached the starting line.

About 300 runners at the 10K and Semi-marathon de Longwy on 13 Sep 2015.

About 300 runners at the 10K and Semi-marathon de Longwy on 13 Sep 2015.

Despite it being the 37th edition, the Semi-Marathon de Longwy was terribly organised, and the Ninja Turtle will never run it again, nor does she recommend the race to anyone. The organiser’s website offered no information on starting time and place, which she found on another website. Driving into town, there were no signage of the event, let alone mile markers and signage to the starting line and bib collection. Showing up at Place Darche, she had to approach another runner to ask where bib collection was, only to be told it was at the Uni building about 2km away. GodzillaPin drove the gang for bib collection, where the volunteers didn’t even bother looking at, or collecting their medical certificates, before driving back to Place Darche for warm-ups and the start.

Mickey Mouse's first race experience. Had they trained enough for the event?

Mickey Mouse’s first race experience. Had they trained enough for the event?

While speaking with another runner at the starting line, the Ninja Turtle learnt that the race was to finish at the Uni building where they’d collected their bibs. So after the starting gun fired, the Ninja Turtle was less focused on running, and more busy trying to locate GodzillaPin to make sure he knew this piece of information.

The Ninja Turtle making sure GodzillaPin knew he had to meet them at the Uni building for the finish, because he has a tendency to daydream or get hopelessly lost, missing a lot of the Ninja Turtle's finish line moments.

Found him! The Ninja Turtle making sure GodzillaPin knew he had to meet them at the Uni building for the finish, because he has a tendency to daydream or get hopelessly lost, missing a lot of the Ninja Turtle’s finish line moments. Also, a quick kiss for luck!

The Ninja Turtle spent the first few kilometres trying to warm up. Despite those ridiculously pink gloves (hey, it was the only colour available in kids size at the store), her hands were freezing, as the wind had picked up and the rain started again. She marvelled at the runners in tank tops and shorts while she was sporting her winter undergarment and a windbreaker. About 4.7km in, as they approached the halfway mark and where the 10K route diverges from that of the half-marathon, she was finally warm enough to take the gloves and windbreaker off. Mickey Mouse was still in sight, about 150 yards ahead of her, looking pretty strong.

Looking at her TomTom watch, the Ninja Turtle did a double-take. At the rate she was going, she was due to reach 5K in just over 25 minutes, which would mean a PR for the distance. In any other circumstances, this would have been cause to celebrate, but setting a 5K PR in a half-marathon race is not only insane, it’s downright stupid. The Ninja Turtle slowed down and reached 5K in 26 minutes, which actually, was still a PR.

Don’t panic, she thought to herself as she approached the first water station. Slow down, drink some water, catch your breath, regroup.

“What are you doing? Keep running, don’t stop! You can throw the cups along the side of the road!” one of the volunteers at the water station yelled at her. Chastised, the Ninja Turtle continued.

With the 10K runners gone, the adrenaline and pressure to run fast! dropped a couple of notches, and the half-marathon runners exited Longwy, starting down a country road. The Ninja Turtle was a little afraid to look at the GPS HRM watch. She was no longer sure what the strategy of the race was. She had fully intended to take it 100% easy, given the niggles she was experiencing in her right heel (new problem) and her left knee (old problem). She also failed to execute her pre-race BM (big problem), and was paranoid that running too hard was going to result in a mess (literally). The change in pace and scenery helped her relax a little and she tried to sing along to her playlist.

Towards the 9th kilometre, the runners entered a forest and by the 10th kilometre, the Ninja Turtle couldn’t resist taking another peek at her watch. 53 minutes 17 seconds! That’s another PR, and suddenly, the Ninja Turtle decided to stop piss-farting around and take the race a little more seriously. At this rate she was going, she could very possible break the 2-hour mark (her last 21.1km was completed in 2h 01m 12s and she finished the race in the medical tent after her blood pressure plummeted upon crossing the finish line).

The next fuel station was at the 11th kilometre, after a steep descent of about 13%, where the Ninja Turtle finally got to put her trail experience to good use as she gleefully overtook 4 runners. Old habits died hard, however, as she stopped a minute for 2 cups of water and 2 handfuls of raisins, in no real hurry to continue. The volunteer raised an eyebrow and tapped at his watch. The Ninja Turtle left in a huff.

The next part of the race wound through the town of Gorcy, where a handful of spectators had come out to cheer the runners on, but a majority of the townsfolk just went about their usual Sunday business. The exit of Gorcy was where the organisers warned was the beginning of a steep climb for the runners, going uphill for the next 3.5km. The Ninja Turtle kept her head down and focused on her breathing, mentally prepping for the climb and thinking of no one and nothing except the possibility of a sub-2 half-marathon.

After 800m of a gentle uphill slope, the Ninja Turtle noticed she’d overtaken 3 other runners, and looked up ahead. She was still waiting for the steep hill to make its appearance. Sure, they were gaining elevation, but it was no more steep than the roads of GodzillaPin’s home village. By the time she’d reached the next fuel station at 15km for 2 more cups of water, she was halfway through said “massive climb”, and that was when she realised just how much her trail running had skewed her expectations. She’s used to crawling up cliffsides at 3kph, and for once, it was a pleasure to be moving along at 10kph on the toughest climb of a race.

The last kilometre of the climb saw her overtaking 6 runners, three of them women and all of them sporting running club T-shirts. She won’t deny it, she felt a little bit pleased with herself.

As the runners re-entered the town of Longwy, the Ninja Turtle got one final kick up the backside at the water station. She’d stopped for another 2 cups of water and 2 handfuls of raisins, but this time, she needed a little rest to catch her breath. Her vision was starting to blur a little and she was feeling a little nauseated, so when the volunteer shouted “come on, you have 4km left, don’t loiter around here”, she was tempted to throw a fistful of dried fruit in his face.

Instead, she nodded weakly and continued. Looking at her GPS watch, it read 1h30m. She’d completed 17km in the time it usually takes her to run 15km. Her mind too weak to do complicated sums by this stage, but she noted that even if she dropped to 8kph (5mph), she’d still meet her 2-hour goal. A part of her wanted to slow down until she wasn’t seeing double, another part wanted to see just what she was capable of. Miserably undecided, she decided to stop overthinking and just run, and that she wouldn’t look at her watch again until the race was done.

Back in town, the spectators were still hanging around in clusters. The children in particular, were incredibly enthusiastic, and in this final stretch, the Ninja Turtle received no less than a dozen high-fives from the kids. In fact, she had no qualms slowing down to properly high-five the young ones, because each time she got one, it was like a health-pack in a video game that turbo charges her speed for the next 100m. The good: she overtook another 5 runners in the last 2 miles. The bad: only one out of those five was a woman, and she looked way older than the Turtle, which meant no change to the category ranking. The ugly: the woman was very upset about being overtaken, and even with her earphones on, the Ninja Turtle could hear her bursting into sobs and she started yelling at her husband, who was running alongside her.

The last kilometre brought a surprise and a mental boost the Ninja Turtle badly needed. She was so dizzy and nauseated that she almost missed GodzillaPin!

True love is hiding in the bushes and jumping out to scare your partner when they're about to vomit from running so darn hard.

True love is hiding in the bushes and jumping out to scare your partner when they’re about to vomit from running so darn hard, then running alongside them saying “allez allez, you are almost at the end!”

“You’re doing awesome, babe!”
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“You just have to reach the Uni, you’re almost there.”
“My mouth feels claggy. I got raisins stuck in my teeth. I want to sit down.”

The runners had to loop around the track before crossing the finish line, and the Ninja Turtle gave the last few hundred yards everything she got.

Smiling for the camera but inside, she was screaming "are we there yet?! how can 100m be so goddamn far?"

Smiling for the camera but inside, she was screaming “are we there yet?! how can 100m be so goddamn far?”

No medical tent this time round, but the Ninja Turtle did treat herself to a 5-second sit down on the grass once she crossed the finish line. Sweet reprieve after being chased away from every water station, but she was once again hurried away to make room for other runners coming in. GodzillaPin was there waiting with a big grin and the most romantic phrase ever uttered “bravo baby, you were running really fast!”

The Ninja Turtle was in a hurry to look for Mickey Mouse. Unsurprisingly, she found him outside the Uni building, gasbagging at a group of poor innocents who’d done nothing to deserve it. The Ninja Turtle interrupted his soliloquy, and he looked genuinely surprised to see the duo.

“Oh my goodness, you’re looking in great shape for someone who’s just completed a half-marathon! You don’t even look tired at all!”
“Go to hell. How did you do? How are you feeling? What was your finishing time?”
“I was completely dead at the end. GodzillaPin saw me as I crossed the finishing line, I think I had my tongue out.”

And so he did.

And so he did.

Mickey Mouse had finished the 10K in a remarkable time of 52 minutes and 54 seconds. For a first-time racer with only 6 weeks of training, it was a pretty impressive performance. The Ninja Turtle was immensely proud of Mickey Mouse completing the race, but more so by the fact that he’d expressed the desire to race again.

As for the Ninja Turtle, she’s added yet another PR to her 2015 racing calendar – 1h 52m 40s for a half-marathon distance. She knows she ought to be happy, but she’s been feeling strangely indifferent (and physically sore). When one goes into a race treating it like a training run, and then beating an ad-hoc time goal determined mid-race by over 7 minutes, the brain has problems interpreting the situation. With a trail race coming up on 27 Sep, she’s spent the week foam-rolling, massaging and stretching. Perhaps with deeper reflection, the finish time will take on some meaning, and she’ll know what to make of it.

How do you recover from a half-marathon?

What advice would you give the Ninja Turtle with regards to her racing attitude, strategy and performance?

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Arts and Culture, Running

A Tribute to Vaco

When I first arrived, you jumped upon me
Knocked me over, and licked me with glee
Back then, the French tongue, I could not comprehend
But you showed me with no words that we’re to be friends

Your eyes were huge, your heart was bigger
You always wanted to share my dinner
But never mind if I gave you no food
It never destroyed your joyful mood

You taught yourself to open doors
Despite your only having paws
And knew when bedtime rolled around
You’d nuzzle us, then head underground*

When I first started running years ago
Unfit as I was, the going was slow
As I slogged through valleys resembling canyons
You came along as a faithful companion

Until your joints gave out one fine day
No more runs, but you still loved to play
Sure, age was slowing catching up
But deep down inside, you were still a pup

Who roamed the street we lived on, free
Strutting between number 2 and 3
To check on Grandpa and Grandma Rabbit
Your loyalty was a daily habit^

You were doing fine, but all of a sudden,
We got the news: you went to doggie heaven
I didn’t even get to say “Farewell,
I love you, good doggie, you were swell”

Goodbye dear Vaco, you’re one of a kind
You’re loved by those you’ve left behind
Though you most sadly did depart
You’ll forever live on in our hearts.

*For many years the dog’s bed was in the basement, where it was cooler and more comfortable. He’d jump up on his hind legs, open the door and descend the flight of stairs when he decided it was bedtime, but never before wishing us goodnight by licking a hand or nuzzling against us.

^Grandpa and Grandma Rabbit live about 100m down the road from GodzillaPin’s parents’. The dog would once again, open the front door and let himself out, cross the road carefully and trot down the pavement to make sure the old folks are OK. Every single day. That dog had more filial piety than most human beings.

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Food, Travel

Sonic the Hedgehog’s Birthday Food Tour

Last weekend, the Ninja Turtle got to spend a few days with her best friend from Australia, Sonic the Hedgehog. He’d taken a few days off work and was initially planning to go to Bali for the weekend, but of course, the Ninja Turtle found that idea most absurd and offensive – go to Bali while she was in Singapore? And sit alone on the beach, crying into a cocktail as he turned another year older? No way. He was coming over to Singapore instead, and they were going to eat themselves stupid.

Dressed for the tropical heat, Mother Turtle takes a quick snap of the duo getting ready to hit the town.

Dressed for the tropical heat, Mother Turtle takes a quick snap of the duo getting ready to hit the town.

The duo’s first stop for the day was Marina Bay, where the DBS Regatta was going on for the SEA Games. According to hearsay, there was an urban beach with food, music and stuff, so they thought they’d go check things out.

There it was!

There it was! It’s hard to tell from the overcast skies but they got there at midday, when it was stinking hot, and time for some grub.

Sonic the Hedgehog burning some calories pre-emptively...

Sonic the Hedgehog burning some calories pre-emptively…

While the Ninja Turtle is too lazy to do more than recline on a deck chair at the urban beach.

While the Ninja Turtle is too lazy to do more than recline on a deck chair at the urban beach.

First meal of the trip: beef and chicken satay, beef teriyaki nachos and Caesar salad, with half a pint of beer and a glass of prosecco. $58 (yeah, it was a tourist trap).

First meal of the trip: beef and chicken satay, beef teriyaki nachos and Caesar salad, with half a pint of beer and a glass of prosecco. $58 (yeah, it was a tourist trap).

A quick walk to see the Gardens by the Bay, which was still incomplete the last time Sonic the Hedgehog visited Singapore...

A quick walk to see the Gardens by the Bay, which was still incomplete the last time Sonic the Hedgehog visited Singapore…

Before jumping on the MRT to Clarke Quay for the next round of drinks.

Before jumping on the MRT to Clarke Quay for the next round of drinks.

Sonic had a Singapore Sling and later, a pint of Stella, while the Turtle went with a Merlot and later, a whisky. Second round of price gouge.

Sonic had a Singapore Sling and later, a pint of Stella, while the Turtle went with a Merlot and later, a whisky. Second round of price gouge.

Dinner was a meal at the Holland Village hawker centre. Sonic tried beef hor fun for the first time.

Dinner was a meal at the Holland Village hawker centre. Sonic tried beef hor fun for the first time.

Day two started with very good intentions of repairing the previous day’s damage…

The Ninja Turtle fixed Sonic the Hedgehog one of her famous fruit platter breakfasts. This one had persimmon, starfruit and roseapple, with plain yogurt, chia seeds and honey.

The Ninja Turtle fixed Sonic the Hedgehog one of her famous fruit platter breakfasts. This one had persimmon, starfruit and roseapple, with plain yogurt, chia seeds and honey.

Better yet, Mother Turtle managed to find mangosteens! It's been years since the Ninja Turtle had last eaten one of these things.

Better yet, Mother Turtle managed to find mangosteens! It’s been years since the Ninja Turtle had last eaten one of these things.

But then of course, they paid a visit to the Ninja Turtle's other best friend the Krazy Kow, and all good intentions were discarded with an evening of food debauchery.

But then of course, they paid a visit to the Ninja Turtle’s other best friend the Krazy Kow, and all good intentions were discarded with an evening of food debauchery.

How to host a quiet Sunday evening chez soi:

1. Find a crazy friend (someone like the Ninja Turtle).

2. Make sure crazy friend is armed with another crazy friend (someone like Sonic the Hedgehog).

3. Let them rudely rock up to your home while you’re still out, armed with two bottles of red wine and some lethal-for-the-waistline snacks like chilli lime soy chips and mixed nuts.

4. Get your boyfriend to stop by for baguette on the way over, because you need a vehicle for the olive oil, dukkah and sundried tomato pesto you plan to stuff your faces with.

5. Let your guests take their wineglasses into the pool because they came with bathers, only to swim 2 half-arse laps in your pool before deciding it was enough, they were tired and hungry.

6. Dig in to the snacks and wine. Your boyfriend also brought a bottle of whisky by the way, just in case.

7. Let snacks roll into dinner, which was a giant pot of delicious pasta (got to line the stomach, you know) followed by Magnum and Haagen Daz ice cream.

8. Continue with the wine. To maximise the pleasure out of all alcoholic drinks, play Cards Against Humanity. (What better game than this to play with someone you’re meeting for the first time, right? Trust us, you’ll get to know that person so well, you’ll never forget them.)

Between the Krazy Kow and Sonic the Hedgehog, the Ninja Turtle got to enjoy the company of her two favourite people in the world. (Not counting GodzillaPin of course, although to be fair, she’s been friends with them both a lot longer than she’s known GP. So give these two good folks credit for being able to put up with NT for all these years!)

Sonic had only taken a short leave from work, but Day Three was special as it was his birthday! Mother Turtle had plenty of activities lined up…

A birthday lunch at Jin Shan Lou restaurant, in Marina Bay Sands.

A birthday lunch at Jin Shan Lou restaurant, in Marina Bay Sands.

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Both Sonic and Ninja really enjoyed the meal, but Mother Turtle was not quite done with her surprises. On the way home, they casually “dropped by” the Fullerton Hotel, where something awaited.

Chocolate mousse cake from the Cake Boutique! They brewed a pot of tie guan yin tea to go with it.

Chocolate mousse cake from the Cake Boutique! They brewed a pot of tie guan yin tea to go with it.

Happy birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog!

Happy birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog!

Mother Turtle also prepared some kaya (coconut jam) and pineapple tarts for Sonic to bring home, but before they headed off to the airport, there was one last surprise…

DURIANS!

DURIANS!

Happy birthday, Sonic! Thanks for coming to see us in Singapore and spending your special day with us! It has been great fun to have you and we want you back soon!

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Arts and Culture, Food, Running, Travel

Exploring Bruges, “Venice of the North”

What a month it’s been! Every single weekend, the duo have found themselves somewhere new, and this last weekend, the Ninja Turtle and GodzillaPin went to catch up with an old friend in Bruges. The last time they saw Matt Damon was in Mulhouse last October, and a lot has happened since then, so it’s been one long gab-fest to catch up on news, and to make more plans for later this summer.

The Ninja Turtle had very little expectations of Bruges, to be honest. Aside from hearing the phrase “Venice of the north” again and again, there was little else to really look forward to, and frankly, if a city has a reputation of being a geographic equivalent of another more famous city… well, what prospects does it have of establishing itself as a legit destination in its own rights?

Turns out, Bruges has a LOT going for it.

Turns out, Bruges has a LOT going for it.

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There are also plenty of tea houses and snack bars serving waffles, ice cream parlours and every imaginable sweet treat.

Between the waffles, chocolate and ice cream, Belgium cities are the shortcut to diabetes.

And of course, the Belgian beers

There is a beer for everyone in Bruges. GodzillaPin found his beer.

There is a beer for everyone in Bruges. GodzillaPin found his beer.

There’s beer, and there is beer. Belgium’s beer brewing tradition goes back centuries, and is a craft refined by the monks in abbeys, which is why trappist beers are THE BEST. If you ever get a chance, try a blind taste test between a bottle-fermented beer, and any old industrially-produced beer. One of them will have  “living” taste.

Bruges is a very beautiful city.

Is this the best photobomb ever?

Is this the best photobomb ever?

And this is how it earned its reputation as Venice of the North.

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Seeing the fine weather forecasted for Sunday morning, the trio popped over to Oostende, a coastal town which was a 20-minute drive from Bruges. The sun was shining gloriously but the North Sea wind was still cold. The Ninja Turtle went off for a quick 5K run along the promenade while the boys headed straight for the sand.

Matt Damon soaking in the rays.

Matt Damon soaking in the rays.

Matt Damon thought it was funny to secretly tail the Ninja Turtle for a few minutes, and to scare the daylights out of her as she approached their meeting point. It was a close race back to GodzillaPin.

Matt Damon thought it was funny to secretly tail the Ninja Turtle for a few minutes, and to scare the daylights out of her as she approached their meeting point. It was a close race back to GodzillaPin.

Visit Bruges. It’s kind of like Venice, but with beer, chocolate, fries and waffles, which makes it a thousand times better.

A French, a Singaporean and a Swiss walked into a bar... and they drank to the awesome city of Bruges.

A French, a Singaporean and a Swiss walked into a bar… and they drank to the awesome city of Bruges.

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Arts and Culture, Food, Travel

Scenes from Bourgogne (and a French wedding)

Bourgogne, also known as Burgundy. Wine country!

Bourgogne, also known as Burgundy. Wine country!

Even the sculptures on the roundabouts celebrate the regional produce.

Even the sculptures on the roundabouts celebrate the regional produce.

Quaint little villages...

Quaint little villages…

A different style of architecture...

A different style of architecture…

And plenty of wine cellars to visit.

And plenty of wine cellars to visit.

Nuit St Georges, home of some amazing pinot noir and chardonnay...

Nuits St Georges, home of some amazing pinot noir and chardonnay…

Bourgogne (especially Beaune) is also known for an interesting architectural feature - the beautifully tiled roofs.

Bourgogne (especially Beaune) is also known for an interesting architectural feature – the beautifully tiled roofs.

Another regional specialty is cassis, or blackcurrants; Dijon produces crème de cassis, which is a liqueur added to wines when making a cocktail kir.

Another regional specialty is cassis, or blackcurrants; Dijon produces crème de cassis, which is a liqueur added to wines when making a cocktail kir. There is a Cassisium open for visits.

Sunday morning on the river Saône

Sunday morning run along the river Saône.

Chalon-sur-Saône lies in the south of Burgundy. It's the birthplace of photography.

Chalon-sur-Saône lies in the south of Burgundy. It’s the birthplace of photography.

A forest path perfect for running and cycling.

A forest path perfect for running and cycling.

GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle were invited to a wedding, and what a wedding it was!

Getting married in an abbey...

Getting married in an abbey…

Offering a bouquet to Mary, which is a tradition in this abbey.

Offering a bouquet to Mary, which is a tradition in this abbey.

Man and wife!

Man and wife!

A cute little wedding car

A cute little wedding car.

And a reception at a "domain".

And a reception at a “domain”.

Put your name on the Nutella so people know it's yours, and to keep their hands off!

Put your name on the Nutella jar so people know it’s yours, and to keep their hands off!

The wedding had a gorgeous pink and orange travel theme.

The wedding had a gorgeous pink and orange travel theme.

And look at dessert!

And look at dessert!

Partying hard, the French way.

Partying hard, the French way.

The boys...

The boys…

And the girls.

And the girls.

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Arts and Culture, Travel

Hello Adelaide!

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and it was with great reluctance that the Ninja Turtle left Sydney – and Sonic the Hedgehog – for the next stop in her itinerary: Adelaide.

So many things to do, so little time! Functioning on 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night while travelling was beginning to take a toll, and the Ninja Turtle saw an impending crash ahead. Luckily, she has amazingly understanding friends who helped her switch gears and slow down.

Catching up with old friends lovely dolphin cruise at Port Adelaide.

Catching up with old friends over a lovely dolphin cruise at Port Adelaide.


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Everyone on board...

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For the captain is ready to set sail!

The weather was finicky – they got the sun, the clouds, the wind, the rain all within 2 hours of the cruise.

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Blow wind blow!

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Some folks fishing for cockles


The cruise ship had a restaurant bar and the Turtle and friends settled in to a relaxing lunch on the water.
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Thanking the real Captain for a safe and pleasant trip before disembarking


As they waited for the weather to change, they decided to kill some time at the Larg’s Pier Hotel.
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Built in 1882, this building is rich in history. It was used as a lookout for German ships during the WWII. Later, it became a favourite hotel for Australian bands such as ACDC to perform in during their early career days. Today, it is an award-winning accommodation with wonderful service at the bar.
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Retaining a lot of its original architecture and design

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It boasts a stylish yet relaxed atmosphere

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And rattan ceiling fans never seen before by the Ninja Turtle

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Hot chocolates and cappuccinos = Happiness

Thousands of people come into our lives, but only a very few stay for long. Friends are the Ninja Turtle’s most precious treasures in the world. Friends worth travelling halfway across the world for.

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Arts and Culture, Food, Travel

A Visit to Mulhouse

This last weekend, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle headed towards why-the-hell-would-you-go-there?, also known as Mulhouse in Alsace. Truly, this was the sentiment of every single person whom they’d met along the way, most of them were Mulhousians themselves, and truly could not comprehend why the duo would want to visit a town they were clearly not very impressed with, nor very proud of.

What most people didn't know was that Matt Damon was in town that weekend.

What most people didn’t know was that Matt Damon was in town that weekend. For this alone, Mulhouse was worth visiting.

We jest.

Mulhouse is really quite a nice little town, and we had Lady Luck smiling upon us with great weather to boot. Two glorious days of sunshine saw the trio going wild.

Oh yes. Truly dangerous characters, they were.

Oh yes. Truly dangerous characters, they were.

Comparisons – and unfavourable ones at that – have been drawn of the Old Town of Mulhouse to Colmar and Strasbourg. While it’s true that the same architecture can be found in the latter two, there is something in Colmar and Strasbourg that cannot be found in Mulhouse: too many tourists.

You get the same pretty buildings, without a surfeit of tourists crawling around like insects to ruin the photos.

You get the same pretty buildings, without a surfeit of tourists crawling around like insects to ruin the photos.

Also, this may be the reason why Mulhouse is surprisingly friendly on the wallet. Mulhouse is known for its museums, and within the old town itself there’s the Historic Museum within the Hôtel de Ville (pictured above) and the Museum of Fine Arts, both of which are free to visit. A fun fact learnt during this visit is that prior to being a part of France and Germany (albeit for a very short while), Mulhouse was an independent state, and a part of the Swiss confederation.

The dominant religion was Calvinism, which meant the town's main church is not a Catholic cathedral, but rather, known as the Temple Saint-Étienne.

The dominant religion was Calvinism, which meant the town’s main church is not a Catholic cathedral, but rather, known as the Temple Saint-Étienne.

Architecture aside, the town is also full of little artistic surprises. From sculptures to graffiti, there was beauty lurking in every corner.

Some art to make a statement...

Some art to make a statement…

Some art for good fun...

Some art for good fun…

And some art, we simply cannot understand.

And some art, we simply cannot understand.

There was even interactive art in the train station of Mulhouse – a piano open to anyone and everyone to play. There’s an ongoing competition where people can get their friends to film them for two minutes, upload the performance on YouTube, and the winner gets a piano.

Here, GodzillaPin was attempting a rendition of Riders On The Storm.

Although we’re not entirely sure that GodzillaPin would win with his rendition of Riders On The Storm.

Among the big-name museums in Mulhouse, they settled on the Cité du Train, not because they’re particularly fond of trains, but because it’s the biggest train museum in the world. After all, the biggest anything in the world merits a visit, right?

It's not a museum of trains, it's a CITY of trains. It was truly impressively huge, even with about half the museum currently shut for health and safety reasons due to a damaged roof.

It was impressively huge, even with about half the museum currently shut for health and safety reasons due to a damaged roof.

It displays a collection of various trains used by the French railway network through the last couple of centuries...

It displays a collection of various trains used by the French railway network through the last couple of centuries…

And is good fun for the family, especially the kids.

And is good fun for the family, especially the kids.

Fun and games aside, it was an indulgent weekend…

With plenty of good food...

With plenty of good food…

Great drinks...

Great drinks…

And naughty in-betweens.

And naughty in-betweens.

Twice they missed out on dining in their first choice restaurant – the first because it was inexplicably shut on a Saturday afternoon, and the second because the restaurant was filled on the Saturday night and none among the three of them thought to make a booking in advance. Nonetheless, they found substitute restaurants, and in the span of two days, dined upon Thai, Italian, traditional Alsatian and Japanese.

Mulhouse – the city of gastronomy?

Not quite, but if you’re thinking of visiting Mulhouse, don’t let the strange looks and worrying comments put you off. Perhaps these people are simply discouraging the rest of the world from discovering this little gem in Alsace.

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