J65 @ Hotel Jen Tanglin

Just last week, I gushed over my weekend at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore (HJTS), and promised to share more about J65 – HJTS’ very own F&B outlet. So here’s a long pictorial essay. As a precaution, do not proceed on an empty stomach as it will be sure to growl at these food-porn up ahead.

I had the pleasure of trying the hotel’s dinner and breakfast buffet during my stay. With a name inspired by the Singapore international dialing code (+65), HJTS’ new all-day dining restaurant J65 is open to diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. HJTS is one of the only hotels in Singapore to offer net pricing at it’s F&B outlet, meaning that diners get no unpleasant surprises at the end of their meal. HJTS’ other dining outlet – Jen’s Kitchen On-the-go – offers locally roasted coffee and snacks 24-hours a day.

First, let’s talk about Hooked! – Seafood Dinner, which is available on Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm to 10pm. The vibrant restaurant with a modern market look and feel offers an eclectic fusion of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine alongside the buffet’s signature selection of fresh Fin de Claire oysters, sushi and sashimi, tiger prawns, Boston lobster and Sri Lankan crab. Hot dishes include soup-baked cumin red mullet and lobster bisque, poached sweet clams, grilled sea bass and other seafood treats.

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The layout of the buffet starts with the salad bar and cold dishes in the middle, and grilled meats and hot dishes at the side, but I couldn’t make up my mind, and so decided to attack the grilled meats for starters. The hand-carved meat cuts offered all kinds of red and white meats, including Iberico ham and roast with fancy trimmings. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Pork knuckles, anybody?

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin grilled meat

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin grilled meat

A trayful of cheesebaked mussels for my birthday pleaseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin baked mussels

Fancy meat, bread pudding, cheesebaked mussel: a plate full of (sin and) happinessJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin on my plate

This corner of the buffet is built to resemble the classic Singaporean hawker centre: note the hanging roast ducks and chicken, layout of a gazillion chillis and sauces, plus satays and authentic peanut sauce. 6 types of regional laksa (Singapore, Penang, Johor, Thai, Sarawak, and curry) are cooked on the spot by the skillful chef. J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 3Here’s all 6 of the laksa selection!Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Laksa SelectionJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Laksa

It was sooo hard to make a choice! Finally went with Penang Laksa.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Penang Laksa

Singapore chicken rice with all its accompanying sauces and condiments; once you’ve eaten at J65, you’d have tried a big portion of Singapore’s renowned delicacies
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Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Chicken Rice Booth
And my favourite: SATAY! A pity they only offered chicken. Would have loved me some lamb or beef.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin satay

This is one helluva fascinating buffet area: the YUSHENG BAR. As it was nearing the end of the Chinese New Year, you could make your own yusheng at J65, and toss in fresh salmon from the Japanese sushi bar right beside it. Staying true to the Southeast Asian/Singapore tradition indeed.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 1

There ain’t no lack of fibre at this buffet with this well-stocked salad bar. Tantalizing bowls of pre-tossed Thai-style mango salad, a mixed deli couscous, delectable choices of cut beetroot, shaved carrots and tomatoes are all the fibre you’d need in a meal or two.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin saladJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salad barJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salad

Finally onto the seafood bar. The mussels are especially fresh. Some of the oysters tasted a little strange, but it could have been just my taste buds. The crab was amazing though.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafoodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafoodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafood

I must say, the sushi platter and fresh salmon / sashimi are the fastest to go, once restocked. I loved the fresh salmon! The selection was not bad at all (though I couldn’t waste anymore tummy space on rice)J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin sushi

Here’s a peek at what filled our plates at dinner:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salmonJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Meat FestJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin PlatesJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin MusselsJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin plate

What’s dinner without desserts? It’s like I have a separate mood centre in my brain that lights up at the sight of desserts (and coffee, too). So much happiness on this table right here.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin dessert bar
Look at this spread!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin coconut tart desserts

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DinnerJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cupcakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin chocolate cakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin mango mousseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Cakes and DessertsImpressed by this selection of ice cream, really! The matcha was to die for (actually had the matcha at breakfast, scroll down for my matcha with sprinkles)J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin ice cream bar

This pistachio cake with chocolate fudge, and chocolate cupcake were out of this world.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DessertsThe pistachio bits were really darn goodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin pistachio cake

Feel free to order one of these:Hotel jen Tanglin J65 Desserts Foodporn yummy

These go into your ice cream, or wherever you’d like them, even on your sashimi if you pleaseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Ice CreamJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Ice CreamMore desserts: osmanthus jellyJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin jelly

If you need to load up on carbs, again, no lack of them. Shelves and shelves full of them, to your fancy.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin BreadJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin JuicesJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 6

J65 Hotel Jen TanglinSeafood galore:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Bar

At dinner, we made our own Kueh Pie Tee!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DIY kueh pie tieJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Kueh Pie Tie

So we added everything that was available at the DIY area. Was so tempted to throw in random junk like ice cream and sprinkles in my Kueh Pie Tee shell, but that would be untrue to local traditions, and I suppose is a nono at J65, which has such strong roots in local flavours and cuisine. The buffet isn’t all, there’s an ala carte menu if you’re looking for something more.

I learnt that on other buffet nights, pizzas and other Western dishes would also be available.
Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Pizza BuffetTravellers hunting for authentic Southeast Asian food should definitely make it a point to try J65’s Hooked – Seafood Dinner, because this is where you get the best of both worlds – Western, Singaporean, Asian – you name it, they probably serve it.

Now onto breakfast! After an awesome night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed, and ready for HJTS’ breakfast selection.

At J65’s Sunday morning breakfast, we were greeted by this table full of cold cuts to pair with the great salad bar. And as all good breakfasts should, there were hash browns, sausages, baked tomatoes and bacon. In addition, we also got to choose from a variety of Hong Kong style dimsum (chicken paus, rice rolls), and Malay style beehoon and curry. Good ol’ Peranakan style Kuehs were also available!

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J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin BreakfastJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin buffet paoCereal table, and shelves full of bread behind. Carbs heaven!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cereal barJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin eggsJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin buffet kuehJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin tabao bagWhat went onto our plates:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast plateJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast choiceYes there is KIMCHIJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfastAnd aforementioned to-die-for matcha ice cream!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast dessertsI went for 2 cups of ice-cold desserts: the vanilla and matcha, both decked in my favourite crunchy choco/malt balls.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin ice cream breakfastJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Matcha Ice Cream

Breakfast was just as satisfying as dinner, with the mad selection of meats (which were too heavy for us), and sweets.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Breakfast Buffet

Really grateful to HJTS for this staycay opportunity and for a chance to taste their signature weekend dinner and breakfast spread! Definitely spreading the word, and keeping this place in mind for future staycays. Do click through this Link for HJTS’ room rates and deals!

J65 at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

J65 HJTS BuffetWeekday Lunch Buffet
S$29 net per person
Monday to Saturday
12pm – 2.30pm

Hooked! – Seafood Buffet Dinner
S$78 net per person
Friday to Saturday
6pm – 10pm 

Sunday Champagne Brunch
S$128 with free-flow Champagne, wine, beer and cocktails, or
S$88 net without alcohol

Every Sunday
12pm – 3pm

Book online for a 15% discount on the total bill.

For more information, email J65@hoteljen.com or call (65) 6831 4374.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o17. AYUTTHAYA – OF RECLINING BUDDHAS AND WISHING WELLS

Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.

In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.

The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.

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Gold Flecks on the Reclining Buddha

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It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods. IMG_6665

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Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.

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Wishing well for the weary – only by conquering a treacherous flight of stairs could you be deemed eligible to cast your wish

If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[TAIPEI] oo4. FAST & FURIOUS

Sometime at the end of last year, I took a fast, furious and fulfilling trip to Taipei with Elizabeth, one of 2 people I’m so thankful to have met at Singapore Airlines, both of whom are no longer there but are always ‘there’ with me. Taipei is all about the night markets, shopping and foodie-hunts whilst making friends with new exciting people with so much to share! Hence Taipei always comes with an “OMG I NEED TO DIET” aftermath (which is never followed through).

It’s no secret – Taiwanese are very welcoming people. Step into any boutique, pharmacy or restaurant and you’re likely to be greeted loudly with choruses of “歡迎光臨!” (lit. Welcome) in bright chirpy tones. Even if you’re the last customer of the day, stepping into Watsons one minute before they’re scheduled to close for the day, you won’t be left to roam the aisles alone with nobody to guide you along. This is why I love Taiwan.

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We did so much on this trip, it’s not even funny. Today I’m just gonna tell you about food. There is this glorious buffet style steamboat place at Ximending – Tian Wai Tian Mala Hotpot – with a selection is sooooo vast and good I could feel my waistline expanding just thinking about it. Desserts are an endless selection of Häagen-Dazs ice-cream, completely all-you-can-eat.

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JUST LOOK AT THE SELECTION! You can take anything, as much as you want, buffet-style.Hotpot selection P1060637 Taiwanese Mala Hotpot Hotpot Ingredients  Taipei Icecream

And of course the ice-cream is for spamming.Ximending Taiwan Ximending Hotpot Taipei Haagen Dazs Taiwanese Hotpot Tian Wai Tian Hotpot Ximending Mala Hotpot Taipei Mala Hotpot Taipei Steamboat

The dizzying selection of soup bases will make you wanna try every single one of them. We tried the non-spicy ones which tasted not too bad.
I think the company was better than the food.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo8.GALERIES LAFAYETTE

And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
– Henry van Dyke

A full-blown visual tour of Galeries Lafayette’s gorgeous interior: other than to gush over luxury goods I took the liberty of snapping otherwise passed-over gush-worthy details. Has anybody ever really highlighted the architectural wonder that is this shopping mall?

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Top-storey view: gorgeous and lofty. You could pretty much see a 360 of Paris.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[DIARY] True Stories of Lucid Dreaming and Sleep Paralysis

Lately I’ve been experiencing lucid dreaming, in which I find myself in total control of when or where I get to cease a dream. It’s been contended that this period of dreaming is not a state of sleep but a period of wakefulness. I beg to differ. How could a wakeful phase occupy such an extensive period of restfulness?

Just last night in Melbourne, I fell asleep from 2am to 10am. In between, I never woke up nor felt the need to. Throughout the whole time I was lucid dreaming. I mean, I knew I was dreaming. I knew I could control when to wake up. I knew nothing was real. My family and I were going through this vivid life-threatening adventure of trying to survive many trials and tribulations in a game-like setting. Almost like those books in which you choose your ending! The scenes were constantly changing to put us in a series of threatening environments. First there was a flood and earthquake, so we were forced to climb out from our second apartment on the 30th floor and enter this arena. I let everybody else step on me in order to climb the hell out. We had to waddles across mud, swim across crocodile and bird-infested swamps. And we fought gigantic purple dinosaur-like creatures to move on to the next level! Is this some kind of 3D animation game? Then we had to eliminate another family with our bare hands, and I did, knowing that it was just a dream. Don’t ask me how I did it. And when it was all over, we returned to our 30th floor apartment like it all never happened, and I (very calmly) opened my delivery package which was a whole box full of Pierre Hermes macarons from Paris (yay!)

Not the first time I’ve had this kind of dreams. Does everyone else get that a lot too?


SLEEP PARALYSIS
DISCLAIMER: Do not read on if you’re afraid of the supernatural, or just afraid.

Close to 2 years ago I started this flying job which involved sleeping alone in multiple unfamiliar hotels and rooms. Very quickly I overcame issues of sleeping on foreign beds, and learnt to ignore ambiguous late-night noises. It doesn’t help that I love watching horror shows, and occasionally those horrific scenes do come back to haunt me. I remember being very freaked out once, alone in a hotel room in Osaka, when I was fully aware of descending into a state of total sleep paralysis. It was my first time feeling a total sleep paralysis.

Hotels in Japan are typically reputed to rank high on international Haunted Hotel lists. So there I was, one evening, tired out from having shopped the day away at Shinsaibashi, lying in bed for a short nap in order to gear up for an overnight flight, when I started hearing heavy footsteps in the room directly above me. Nothing scary right? Walls of Japanese rooms are built hollow and earthquake-proof, to prevent collapse. The footsteps got louder, then faster, then impossibly fast – it started to sound like somebody was actually running with heavy boots on. I was wearing my fluffy eyeshades, as usual, since I hardly turn off all the lights whenever I go to bed overseas.

Too tired to feel scared, I decided to just ignore and try harder to go to sleep. Then it happened. Physically, I’d experienced a sudden electrical shock to my brains, before feeling my entire body shut down. Instead of darkness, my eyes were seeing blinding white light behind my shut eyelids. My limbs were dead weight and completely immoveable. I couldn’t even flutter an eyelid because they felt dead heavy. The footsteps I was hearing continued to pick up speed until it reached a point where loud noise blended into a hollowed out total silence. In my head I was mustering strength to move and trying to scream for help, which will not come since I stayed alone.

The pounding footsteps could be heard periodically, now it seemed only in my head and not from the floor above me. Throughout this whole time, I was convincing myself that if I threw aside my eyeshades and saw anything/anybody, I would face it calmly. Though my eyes were closed, I was seeing shadows, moving lights and trails of blazing white, as if the lights were like white hot currents running across my line of vision. There’s a Chinese saying that this kind of paralysis was akin to 鬼壓身 (literally ghost pressing onto your body). It is exactly what this felt like. An unknown source of weight or power pressing you down. Strangely, when I tried to scream, I could feel air gushing through, but just no sound whatsoever. Perhaps I was screaming, just unable to hear myself. Whatever it is, my limbs were useless at this point in time, so might as well tide it through.

I knew physical control was returning to me when the footsteps slash pounding noises in my head were getting slower and softer. Perhaps due to fear the episode seemed to last forever though it might have only been minutes. It was gradual – this ascend back from sleep paralysis. I could feel strength returning, and attempted to flutter my eyelids once more. When strength finally returned to my limbs, I threw aside my eyeshades with vengeance, only to discover the room as it was, and that 2 hours had passed since I last checked the time before plopping onto bed.

I try not to read too much into it, just take it that I was so physically tired my body fell asleep before my mind could shut down. Or perhaps my mind was still running on caffeine and could not go into sleep mode. But what’s with the footsteps? Friends in the medical faculty advised that perhaps I was hearing blood pumping through my arteries. I wouldn’t doubt that. I guess most of my colleagues would attest to having their own encounters, however small or insignificant it may seem. Since the episode, off and on, I’ve been reading up on sleep paralysis – accounts from people who believe in supernatural causes and also from people who prefer to believe in scientific reasons. I choose to leave all options open, in believing that in all dimensions the possibility of encountering something ‘out-of-this-world’ is not entirely impossible.

Believe what you may.

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo7.CARETTE

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris,’ the ghost said, after taking a drag on a small cigarette.”
― Karen Chance, Embrace the Night

The sky decided on delivering a full-blown shower and a trio of very drenched Paris Explorers braved their way on foot across the Eiffel Tower and towards Trocadero. Pretty much everywhere in Paris’ city centre you’ll be able to locate patisseries and cafes that are great for alfresco-dining.

A walking distance from Tour de Eiffel is The Carette Paris where locals and tourists alike can be seen nursing a cuppa, having pre-dinner drinks along the pavement portico, or enjoying a full-course dinner in its premises. Its interior decor is made up of beautiful pristine whites in stark contrast to the red velvet cushions and dark brown mahogany woods of their lounges and seats, which in my opinion is the classiest interior colour combination ever.

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Dinner was: iced chocolate, almond and cinnamon infused hot milk, a slice of insanely rich opera cake, a piping hot onion and cheese soup as well as assorted macarons!P1070099

A handful of pistachio, raspberry, dark chocolate and sea salt caramel, rose, and fudge cake macarons. My favourite was the pistachio. So yummy! ^^ See how Paris has spoilt me on the dessert front? Overloading on good pastries is a given when in Paris! They have an impressive collection of macarons on offer, you can never taste them all.
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And then there was this: the opera cake. I can never have another coffee/chocolate cake without thinking of this one.
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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo4.PONT DES ARTS LOVELOCK BRIDGE

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there,
not even poverty, nor sudden money,
nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong
nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

So we found two very different bridges padded with lovelocks of all shapes and sizes – symbols of timeless promises and devotion to one’s significant other-halves. The first one, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, was tucked away in a corner along La Seine (so if you walked down Notre-Dame to the Louvre you’ll see it on your right-hand side). Unlike the more popular lovelock bridge at Pont des Arts, this one hasn’t collapsed.

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Who could resist not taking selfies in Paris? Couples wishing to locate a spot for their locks will find a better chance at this place, and the view of La Seine is equally if not more breathtaking (sans the human congestion and men touting tourists to pay for souvenirs or a well-taken photograph).

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Oh what a face only a célibataire on a bridge of love would make.

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Onwards to the legitimate lovelock bridge – the Pont des Arts overlooking Pont Neuf at the Louvre Museum! The sheer number of locks amazed me, it’s really no wonder parts of the bridge have collapsed from the weight. Each day hundreds of new locks are added to the walls along the bridge, and seldom have any been unlocked or removed until the recent collapse. Many locks date back to the ’90s! Lovelock bridges are always a sight to behold – the greater significance of the locks far outweighs its physical presence on the bridge. So much hope for the future goes into each, of which the keys are deliberately lost. There’s no question why Pont des Arts remains an important icon in the City of Love.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo2.NOTRE DAME DE PARIS

“Paris is always a good idea.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, which inspired Victor Hugo’s 1831 French Romantic/Gothic novel, stands resolute in the Parisian city center unscathed by ruining tides of time. The state of damnation of the Cathedral is the single most significant aspect of Hugo’s novel, influencing the ebb and flow of Notre-Dame de Paris’ main plot setting and focus of the story’s themes. For anyone who’s ever read the actual novel sans watching the Disney adaptation would understand that the original focus was not on the Quasimodo-Esmeralda-Phoebus love struggle but on the importance of reviving significant Gothic architecture that had served as silent witnesses of history.

The towering 13th Century architecture is regally flanked on both sides by the river La Seine. Blessed by good autumn weather, we had arrived at the Notre-Dame by taking a good long walk from Bastille whilst enjoying the amazing view of La Seine’s banks, cruising yachts, and river diners. Here are some shots I took with my Panasonic Lumix GF6! Please enjoy as much as I did the beauty of Paris’s very own Notre-Dame.

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With loads of love, from Paris!

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Inside the Cathedral: it is really dark and flash photography is (thankfully) not allowed. The stained-glass windows of Notre-Dame highlights Parisian heights of architecture and craftsmanship.

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The South Rose Window:

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Interesting to note: in the near vicinity lies the Crypte archéologique du Parvis de Notre-Dame which displays ancient, medieval as well as recent remains recovered under Notre Dame during preservation works! My colleague introduced me to an amazing documentary – Cities of the Underworld – that “peels away the layers of time-often literally hundreds of feet thick-to expose the incredible pasts lurking beneath some of the most populous cities on earth”. Paris is one of those cities with more than a couple of layers of intriguing histories buried in construction and time.

Notre Dame Cathedral
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II
75004 Paris

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MELBOURNE] oo4. WINTER SNAPSHOTS

What’s great in Melbourne, besides taking photos with koala bears and trying not to get ass-kicked by kangaroos in their local zoos? . Just walk around the central business district and you’ll be surprised by all kinds of quirky finds. Hipster cafes, graffitied streets, an alley dedicated to pub-crawlers, giant chess pieces for challenging an opponent you’ve never met…the list goes on. Winter does not stop Melbourne from being still one of the best places to be.
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I have a confession to make: I’m into grocery shopping. Australia is my favourite place for stocking up big-time on coffee and cereals. Their supermarts boasts the craziest selection of bottled juices and smoothies (that effectively kills snacking urges, because it’s just too damn hard to say no to one of the world’s yummiest gummies (Starburst!) and chocolates (Haigh’s), both of which are classic buys when you’re in this part of the world. Unless of course, you’re a Special K Addict and your luggage is jam-packed with boxes of these stuff.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] A NIGHT AT THE VATICAN

Probably the only time you can catch the night scene outside St Peter’s Square is if you spend the night at Vatican City, or if you’re reading this as I’m about to show you a couple of my night scene captures. Outside St Peter’s Basilica on the day we arrived, there was a huge preparation for an important religious mass that would take place the day after, hence in the evening and well into the night, throngs of people gathered outside St Peter’s Square, setting up temporary food stalls and flea-market style cabins showcasing collections of costume jewellery, fine jewellery, art, tourist mementos, souvenirs, little collectibles of Vatican’s finest architecture, and flowers – from fine skinny stalks to big fluffy bouquets. As midnight approached, the crowd thinned, and melancholic street-lamps were just about the only ones creating shadows on the sidewalks. This is Vatican City at night, for you.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] 10 SNAPSHOTS OF VATICAN CITY

Bringing to you a quick showcase of the world’s smallest independent state – all 109 acres (44 hectares) around St. Peter’s Basilica and the palace of the Vatican. In and around are beautifully preserved cultural sites, lush green gardens, and museums which feature some of the world’s most famous sculptures and paintings. Home to architectural inputs of Bramante, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno and Bernini, its chapels and homes distinctly echoes of Baroque and of the Renaissance.
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St. Peter’s Basilica:

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] VATICAN CITY – A VIEW FROM THE TOP

The view from the top of Vatican City’s St Peter’s Basilica was exhilarating, breathtaking, and worth the claustrophobia-inducing flight of stairs we had to take to the top. Once in your life, or perhaps through somebody else’s eyes, you should see Vatican City from its proudest heights. Here are some pictures I snapped, enjoy! P1040925 P1050009 P1050005 P1050003 P1050001 P1040990 P1040984 P1040983 P1040971 P1040966 P1040964 P1040961 P1040956 P1040950 P1040949 P1040947 P1040946 P1040944 P1040942 P1040941 P1040940 P1040939 P1040937 P1040935 P1040933 P1040932 P1040930 P1040927

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] ST PETER’S BASILICA

We were both blessed and unlucky to have arrived in Vatican City the day before a huge and important event for the Catholic Church. Many parts of the basilica were closed due to preparations for mass. On the upside, we got to witness the procession which arrived to prep the church up. There were massive tables, grand velvet chairs and draped upholstery.

Due to a 3GB flurry of photographs I’d taken of Vatican City, there was a need to split my posts on St Peter’s Basilica into 4 separate pieces (and more to come!).

In chronological order (previous postings):
[ROME] THE VATICAN CITY
[ROME] INNER TRIMMINGS OF THE VATICAN CITY
[ROME] LIVING, BREATHING ART

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] LIVING, BREATHING ART

Ancient art, very much still alive today. The pure gold in reflecting sun’s rays ignites a sense of silent power that only a calm basilica would bring. Mass in this majestic interior must have been a truly empowering and significant event. Am amazed at how this Panasonic Lumix GF6 of mine was able to capture this beauty in all its stunning glory.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] INNER TRIMMINGS OF THE VATICAN CITY

Be amazed at what human beings have achieved. Some dedicate their lives to creating art – intricate gold and bronze details adorn every inch of the ceiling at the St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. How did they get there, you ask. How did the people of the past achieve incredible feats like these. Patience, loads and loads of personal devotion to their craft. In short, people lived and breathed their art.

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[ROME] THE VATICAN CITY

We arrived, early summer morning, at the smallest internationally recognised independent state in the world! Dan Brown aficionados would undoubtedly link Vatican City to Angels and Demons, in which our all-time favourite Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon fights to stop the Illuminati from destroying Vatican City with the newly discovered antimatter. I loved every sequel, but Angels and Demons is by far my favourite Langdon novel. I was extremely psyched about seeing the Vatican with my own eyes!

The exterior was breathtaking – the pristine white columns, striking obelisk, and hordes of tourists snapping photos at every single picture-worthy monument. Summer is the best time for touring Rome. Sharing some of them lovely shots I took outside of the Basilica. Enjoy!

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] GRAN CAFFE ROMA

Breakfast was pepperoni and salami pizza at the Gran Caffe Roma via Vittorio Veneto in Rome, Italy. Alfresco dining in the morning summer breeze gave us plenty of room for people-watching, which brings me to remembering the blatant stares we’d throughout our journey received from patrons of pavement cafes and restaurants. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the first Asian species that these people are seeing. We too have 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth, no? The cafe interior was lovely, the servers were surly (clearly not morning people) and for an Italian joint the food bland and disappointing. Coffee, though, was the only yummy thing. Nonetheless the pizza, beef lasagna and bacon&cheese sandwich managed to satiate our ginormous need for carbs.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] THE COLOSSEUM

Rome was not built in a day. Pardon the cliche but it’s all I could think about right here and right now. The Colosseum is the icon of Roman masculinity being the site of many heroic battles fought within its colossal proportions. I’ve had the nagging suspicion that the Colosseum’s root word comes from Colossus, the legendary bronze statues of Helios at Rhodes, to complement it’s majestic size. I can’t help but imagine the sheer amount of bravery it must have took for gladiators to step onto that battle arena, knowing that this could jolly well be their last fight. I’ve also in my mind’s eye likened the battlefield to the modern day World Cup stadium. It’s just as grand, and it takes every amount of courage and pride a soccer player could possibly muster just to step onto a soccer field – all in the name of glory.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] IN ALL ITS RUINED BEAUTY

What everyone should love about Rome: its historic ruins and scatters of exquisite shambles. Much of this city appears discarded – as if picked apart by fickle historians and deemed unworthy of more than an afterthought. Centuries of time gone by lay preserved in these archived sites, untouched by restoration, that are as common in central Rome as trees are in Hyde Park. Charmed by relics as old as the gladiators, we stopped to appreciate a seemingly forgotten piece of land. Sometimes we forget how beautiful things are, if we just let them be.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean