Darren and Janet

Joined May 2017Living in: Adelaide, Australia
  • Day2

    Caching and the Botanic Gardens

    Yesterday in Singapore ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

    First activity for Sunday morning was a caching event we were hosting in a park across the road from our accommodation. Given there's so few tourists here, and only about 6 active cachers in Singapore, we weren't expecting a big turnout, so 1 person was ok!

    After a bit of a chat with ZacharyKZH, a local cacher with 130 hides, he offered to accompany us to a few caches, and we ended up having lunch with him and caching until 2pm. He led us down some shortcuts and backroads we would never have found by ourselves.

    After lunch we ventured into the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the most visited botanic gardens in the world (5 million visitors a year), which also has the world's largest display of orchids (1,000 species) and 250 species of ginger on display.

    It turned very humid late afternoon so we caught the bus back to our apartment and had a dip in the pool, before a thunderstorm rolled in.

    Dinner was at a small hawker centre on Orchard Road, with only a handful of other diners.
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day1

    Hot transfer and humid Singapore

    February 15 in Singapore ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    We had a delayed flight from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur, so our already tight 1 hour transfer window was squeezed to less than 30 minutes. Luckily we made arrangements on board and were moved to the front row of economy so we could be first off the plane.
    We were met at the gate by an airport official to escort us to the next gate... they were holding the flight for us, so he took off running! We jogged halfway across the airport, caught a shuttle train to the other terminal, and made it to the gate 10 mins before take-off. Good service Malaysian Airlines 🙂

    We arrived in Singapore and had some caches to find at the airport before we headed to our hotel - one was at Jewel, a $1.7bn entertainment and retail complex between the terminals, and home to the world's tallest indoor waterfall, the Rain Vortex.

    The train into the city must be the best value airport transfer anywhere - $1.87 each! When we got to the hotel we were temperature checked before we could go in (and every subsequent time we enter), then wandered down Orchard Road for dinner and supplies. There's still plenty of people on the street after dark, with the temperature still around 30 degrees , and rather humid.
    Read more

  • Day27

    Big British Bucharest Quiz

    June 12, 2019 in Romania ⋅ 🌫 30 °C

    Our last full day in Romania was the hottest of the whole trip, with 32 degrees forecast.

    We left the hotel about 9am for a walk to the east of the city. We bought some apricots from a street seller and continued through the backstreets until we reached the Fireman's Tower. Originally designed as a fire lookout tower and water storage, it was never used for the latter because there were no pumps in the country strong enough to pump the water up, so it was used as lookout tower until the buildings around it got taller and blocked the view.

    We had tea in the old town, before attending the Big British Bucharest Quiz Night, Europe's largest quiz night, held every fortnight. It's held over 2 floors in an old town bar, with big screen and cameras used to relay the action upstairs. There were 37 tables competing (200 attendees). As I'd emailed the quiz master to register our attendance, he gave us a goodie basket of Romanian souvenirs and included a number of Australian questions... which thankfully we got correct! We were a table of 3, with Marina, the host's girlfriend... and we finished 10th overall !☺
    Read more

  • Day26

    Bucharest backstreets

    June 11, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We spent the day walking the backstreets in the south of the city, discovering more great street art, parks, palaces, churches and abandoned buildings. And finding caches of course (including a First to Find on a newly published cache).

    We had a coffee break in a cafe opposite what was to be the Academy of Art and Literature, which was under construction before it was abandoned in 1989. New apartments now adjoin it on both sides.

    We also visited Xenofon Street, a narrow street of steps that was one of the most visited streets in Bucharest because of the painted waterfall cascading from top to bottom. It is now in such a state of decay that it is barely recognisable - we were there in search of a cache, but we chatted to an American tourist who made a special trip across town to see it! She was so disappointed! You can see what it used to look like at https://www.trover.com/d/1EMhz-strada-xenofon-bucharest-romania
    Read more

  • Day25

    Back to Bucharest

    June 10, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    It's the final day of our Romania tour, so we departed Curtea de Arges at 9am in order to arrive in Bucharest around lunch and avoid the afternoon traffic.

    Gabriel dropped us at our hotel in the city centre, and we went for a walk in search of lunch and caches. We found the former at a lunch bar packed with locals, so we figured it must be good. We took ours to the park and enjoyed it amongst the pigeons and a team of gardeners sprucing up the park ready for summer.

    The caching took us to the Holocaust Memorial, commemorating the lives of Romanian Jews who died in the Holocaust, and acknowledges Romania's role.

    There are numerous abandoned buildings across town, the two most striking occupy an entire city block and were under construction when Communism ceased, and haven't been touched since 1989.

    Dinner was at the oldest beer house in Bucharest, Caru cu Bere, which has at least 100 tables and was booked out later in the evening (Romanians generally eat tea from 8pm, so we could have a table for 1 hour). It has a striking wood and stained glass interior and is popular with tourists and locals alike... the Communist style service fell somewhere between amusing and offensive - perhaps that's part of it's attraction!
    Read more

  • Day24

    Vlad's real castle... just up that hill

    June 9, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We headed south today, down the Olt River Valley Road, stopping at Cozia Monastery on the way. Being Sunday morning the church and grounds were very popular, especially as it's also a pilgrimage site for Romanians as Mircea the Elder (Vlad Tepes' grandfather) is buried there. Vlad and Mircea were both leaders of the Wallachia Region, although Vlad is now more connected to neighbouring Transylvania via the Dracula stories.

    We were also scheduled to visit Vlad the Impaler's real castle (Poienari Citadel), which can only be accessed up 1480 steps through the forest, but it's currently closed due to recent bear attacks. So we just viewed it from below...

    We then drove along the southern section of the Transfagarasan Road (not the famous bit) to Vidraru Dam, before heading to Curtea de Arges, the former capital of Wallachia, and visited the cathedral where the last 4 kings of Romania are buried (the last King of Romania, Michael I abdicated in 1947 when the communists took control, and died in 2017)

    After a walk around town we had a farewell dinner with Gabriel before our tour ends tomorrow.
    Read more

  • Day23

    The eyes of Sibiu

    June 8, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    After returning to Sibiu we spent the afternoon walking in the old town and city walls, had some tea in the main square (currently hosting a food festival), and hosted a caching event at a local cafe.

    Many of the houses in Sibiu look like they are watching you with eyes on their roof, but it's actually a venting system for their attics. Most were built between the 15th and 19th centuries, when the attic was used to smoke meat. The fireplace in the house vented into the attic where the meat was hanging and the eyes allowed the smoke to escape.Read more

  • Day23

    Not driving the Transfagarasan Road

    June 8, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    With a shuffle to our itinerary, had a free morning today, so Gabriel suggested a drive to Lake Balea, and a chance to see the famous Tranfagarasan Road, rated by Top Gear as the best road in the world.

    The road is only open a few months a year from July to October (weather dependent), so if you can't drive the road, the next best thing is to see it!

    We drove from Sibiu to the base station of the cable car to take us to Lake Balea, arriving just after it opened at 9am. This was a good move, as queues later in the day were huge.

    The cable car travels up the valley, over the closed section of the Transfagarasan Road, and it was easy to see why it is still closed. When we reached the top, there was still enough snow to ski on (and it had a number of hardy takers, given there are no ski lifts operating), and Lake Balea was still largely frozen over.
    Read more

  • Day22

    Hunedoara, home of fairy tale castles

    June 7, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We began the day with a walk around the star shaped citadel of Alba Iulia, known as Alba Carolina Citadel (fortress, fortification... the names seem to be used randomly!). It's the largest citadel in Romania and only contains museums, churches and grand buildings... and swathes of food stalls, cafés and souvenir stalls of course. It was never used for housing and is now used like a town square, for socialising and public events.

    We detoured to the town of Hunedoara, an industrial town formerly kept afloat by coal mining, now one of the poorest towns in Romania since the coal mines were shut overnight in 1990.

    Despite being surrounded by factories, Corvin Castle (1440) is a classic fairy tale castle with pointed turrets, drawbridge, moat and bear pit! The interior has been left mostly empty, but there are a number of rooms over various levels to explore, with plenty of information boards to explain the use and history of each room.

    We drove to Sibiu and did a late afternoon walk of the old town with Gabriel, before having dinner at a traditional Romanian restaurant.
    Read more

  • Day21

    Deep in Turda

    June 6, 2019 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We left Sighisoara early to arrive in Biertan when the fortified church opened.

    We were greeted by a group of locals discussing the issues of the day over a beer at the street cafe... and it was 9.30am!

    Biertan Fortified Church (1493) is a huge Lutheran Church, surrounded by 3 levels of fortifications, and only has a handful of buildings within the defensive ring. It's unique feature is the door lock system on the sancristy, the room to protect the village's valuables. It has 19 locks, 4 activated by one key, and 15 by a rotating removable handle.

    The drive to Turda was much slower than planned, as we got caught in some major traffic jams caused by road works on the new Transylvanian Highway.

    The main attraction in Turda is the salt mine, Salina Turda. It was an operating salt mine from the 16th century to 1932, then opened as a tourist attraction in 1992. It now contains an underground amusement park at a depth of 112m, with ferris wheel, row boats, mini golf, a playground, snooker and table tennis tables and ten pin bowling.

    Overnight in Alba Iulia.
    Read more

Never miss updates of Darren and Janet with our app:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android