Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

If you're following me on IG (@msskinnyfat), you'd know that Jr and I recently travelled to Germany on the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) on a whim. Before i get down to sharing more details of our trip and the highlights, here's a quick overview of our self-drive trip. This plan was put together and finalized in -drumrolls- 3 nights. We wavered between taking the train and driving and thus our itinerary actually changed 3 times. Anyhow, we eventually decided on driving, which gave us more flexibility in terms of our schedule and Autumn is a good time to enjoy the great German autobahns and scenery. 
Day 1
Flight to Frankfurt, Germany
Stay- Niu Charly near the Frankfurt Main train station (the breakfast spread was surprisingly good)
Day 2
Pick up car
Baden Baden
Stay- Holiday Inn Express Baden Baden
Day 3
Baden Baden
Drive through Schwarzwaldhochstrasse Motorway for the Black Forest experience
Mummelsee Lake
Strasbourg, France
Stay- Freiburg, Busses Guesthouse
Day 4
Triberg Waterfalls (Go to the waterfalls only if you have time for a 1 hour hike if not it's a waste of time). 
Stay- Hotel Sonne Füssen (highly recommended!) 
Day 5
Füssen- Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle (this will practically take the whole day). 
Oberammergau- We wanted to do the Alpine Coaster but we missed the season by 1 day. This is not available during winter. Ettal Abbey for their liquor distillery (we skipped this as we were tired from the day of touring the castles).
Stay- Quartier, GaPa
Day 6
GaPa- Partnachklamm hike (failed because it's closed for works). We did half a loop from the top of Eckbauer and almost killed ourselves on the steep icy paths. It would be best to ski down if there were snow. This took us about 1.5h. 
Mittenwald (can skip)
Stay- Quartier, GaPa
Day 7
Lake Eibsee- this is a 2h walk around and fyi there is no food around. You could take the cable car up to Zugspitz (Germany highest peak) but it's probably not worth it. We would if we were skiing.
Stay- Schwan Locke, Theresienwiese
Day 8
Took a BMW M2 and drove out of Munich for the day.
Ingolstadt Village- outlet shopping and Laduree
Nuremberg- Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Stay- Schwan Locke, Theresienwiese
Day 9
Took pre-departure ART test. near the Residence has short queues and was very fast.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site (English tours are at 11am and 1pm and is at least 2.5h. It was really cold when we went and it would be colder in winter. 
Stay- Schwan Locke, Theresienwiese
Day 10
Explore Munich
Flight to SG

More details on recommendations in a fuller post hopefully soon but this should give you an idea on the key stops if you were to drive from Frankfurt to Munich!


Duoro Valley is a mandatory wine lover stop when one is in Porto Portugal. While Duoro Valley is known for their Port wine, they also produce other wines. Of course, the best way to learn about the various varietals is to drink them! You could do a self drive if you wish as the valley is only about 1.5h away from Porto. However, be warned that the roads can be treacherous, especially when one has a bit to drink. I decided on a wine tour so that the burden could be taken off us and we could just enjoy the drinking along the way! 
I picked Duoro Exclusive after doing my research. The small team consists of locals from the Wine Valley and they'd drive from the Valley to pick you up from Porto and back. Each Gold Experience tour takes a maximum of 7 person and you can also opt for a private tour. What drew me to this tour is not only the learning experience but also the great food that's offered in the package. While most of the tours would bring you to traditional taverns for lunch, our wine-lunch was at the one Michelin star DOC Restaurant by celebrity Chef Rui Paula, right next to the Duoro River. And all of that was only for 190€ per person.
Our guide Sandra picked us up bright and early at 9am and gave us an explanation of the history and geography of the valley along the way. We learned that Duoro has the oldest DOC for Port (1726) and the same grapes/blends are used for both port and table wines. Blends are huge in Portugal wine producers and they can have anything from 3 to 40 varietals in a bottle (it's mad). Even their fields are blended- you don't get a single plot of anything, they are all mixed!
As Duoro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, everything is done by hand- From building the vertical dry walls of shale and slate, to the harvesting of the grapes. It's hard work and dedication!
O Porto. O sweet wine. The magical port of Portugal is the second largest city in Portugal, the first being Lisboa of course (read my Lisbon travel review here). Spend some time here exploring the old district of Ribeira, which dates back to the Middle Ages, take in the architecture and winding streets in the UNESCO World Heritage square, and of course, sample all that sweet liquor that Porto has to offer, preferably by the Duoro River. 
Day 1: Start in Ribeira and be prepared to get lost in the historical labyrinth.  
For sights, you could check out the Porto Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace (Sé Do Porto), the latter is the religious centre of Porto.  
I was fascinated with the São Bento train station, considered one of the most decorative of European stations. Illustrative blue and white azulejos tiles depict significant scenes of Portugal's history. Story was that the city waited for a long time to build the station, on the site of the Convent of São Bento da Avé Maria as there was still 1 living nun in the convent. The convent was quickly demolished once she passed.
For refueling, there are plenty to eat in the Ribeira District. For breakfast, let's indulge in something sweet. Leitaria da Quinta do Paço is known for their divine eclairs which are filled with the lightest Chantilly cream in those airy choux pillows. I felt like i've sinned but boy do they taste sooooo ethereal. The chocolate one was light (it was a chocolate icing), and lemon was tart and refreshing but balanced by the light sweetness of the cream. They actually makes a really good breakfast! Balance that guilt with their hearty sandwiches if you must. 
We had dinner at Jimão Tapas e Vinhos, which specialises in small Portuguese plates. The octopus with black pasta was a standout for us, also order the gambas, and give that avocado with bok choi a go too. The charming restaurant gets packed so do make a reservation. Ask for the table upstairs that overlooks the peaceful streets of Praça da Ribeira. 
Other restaurants that you could consider visiting are Taberna Santo António, Taberna do Largo, Tascö and others that The Culture Trip has recommended. The Mercearia do Bolhão also has some food options available (visit the wine shop there)!
Day 2: Get high on Port (if you haven't already)
Head over the iconic Ponte Luis I Bridge that spans the Duoro River and cross over to Vila Nova de Gaia, the home of Port, for a port wine education. If you don't know where to start, check out Porto Walkers, a tour company that is run by Porto locals only. 
We visited 3 wine lodges and sampled too many drinks. My prior knowledge of port was limited to Graham's Port wine. But on this tour, we learnt about the different types of Port (white, ruby (aged in bigger barrels), tawny (aged in smaller barrels); blended Port (everything else), vintage Port (single year Port, only selected years), Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV), and Colheita (vintage tawny Port aged for more than a decade).
On the tour, we visited Ramos Pinto, who was founded by a controversial man who understood the appeal of sex in selling alcohol. Then we headed to Quinta Santa Eufêmia, which serves a lighter but longer lasting Colheita. 
We ended the tour on the rooftop bar of Ponta Cruz after a massive tasting of more ports in their tasting room. 
We were told you see the best sunsets here. Get a Cruz Rosemary, which is a white port-onic. You'd be surprised at how refreshing it could be, and not too sweet as well. 

Grab a bottle of whatever you like while you're on the tour. We hear the 2011 Vintage is one of the best. For vintages, you gotta finish up in 3 days. For the blended Ports, you can savour it over 6 to 8 months. 
Before or after all that drinking, dig into the heart attack that is the francesinha. The devil's croque madame this is, filled with cheese, ham, sausage, steak and topped with an egg and a slightly spicy gravy. Order one to share before 2 - 3 person. 
Cafe Santiago and Cervejaria Brasão are popular local spots. Well we had ours at Santiago and tbh, it was a rather underwhelming sandwich. 
May i recommend that you head over to Casa Guedes for a humble but out of this world pulled pork sandwiches that only costs 3.20€ a pop. Do not be surprised by the long line outside and be ready to wait for this and make sure you don't stop at one. 
A sweet ending again with the world's best chocolate cake (self-proclaimed) by Carlos Braz Lopes. The cake is definitely not the best i've eaten but it was dark, and light enough to be satisfying. Give it a try if you have space. 

If you're visiting Portugal, I highly recommend a stop over at Porto, and if you have a bit more time, a day or night in the Duoro Valley to sample their wines (yes it's more than just Port). More on Duoro Valley in a bit!

Portugal is the new destination to visit in western Europe and in particular, the sun-kissed capital Lisbon, which bustles with life and energy, just like a mini-NYC. Galleries, museums, markets, azure blue ocean and great surfs, are just around the corner. 
The country aims to please really, with budget-friendly great eats and English speaking locals, it is extremely easy for anyone to visit. Here are some tips to visiting Lisbon, Portugal. 
1. Start with a walking tour of the city. Because it's the best and fastest way to get acquainted with the city's unique neighborhoods and also gain insights on the city's history, as well as tips and tricks known to locals. 
Like how you shouldn't bother paying to go up the Santa Justa lift for the view of the city when you can just walk right up to the top. 
Or how the Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George's Castle, which is perched atop Lisbon's highest hill in Alfama, is a fake castle that is built to rip off the tourists. I say, run up there for the egg tarts at Pastelaria Santo Antonio. They are pretty worth the workout calories.
Greece will always have a special place in my heart. I decided that i wanted to visit the country in 2016. Came end 2015, major upheaval in my life, new job, new relationship status (i was briefly single). Then, a whirlwind 6 months later, dust was settled and everything fell into place (even the relationship part) and Greece happened! The universe has its plans for us really. So anyway, here's sharing highlights of the magical trip we took! This itinerary provides you with IMHO a comprehensive experience as you can get in 10 days. There's history, nature, sun, wine & dine, and city life. What more can you ask for right? Now read on. 
When to visit
A good time to head to Greece is in the May - early June period, before the rest of Europe breaks for summer holidays. It's slightly off peak so accommodation is cheaper, but at the same time the ferry frequencies would have increased so it's  more convenient for island hopping than when it's off peak.

Where to visit
Delphi- 1 night
Meteora- 1 night
Crete- 3 nights (Chania and Heraklion)
Santorini- 2 nights
Athens- 2 nights
Fly into Athens on your choice of airline. Scoot flies to Athens direct now so that's pretty awesome. We took Qatar and it was only S$950/pax. Choose to spend time in Athens first, or to do it at the end (we did it at the end).

We took a car from Athens to Delphi, and then Meteora, and dropped it off at Thessaloniki. It may not be the best thing to do because a one way car rental is A LOT more expensive. This costs $440 for 3 days. 

As we wanted to visit the islands, we decided to take a couple of domestic flights so that we could save some traveling time. From Thessaloniki, we took a flight to Crete island (in order to hike Samaria Gorge, S$150/pax), and then another flight from Santorini to Athens (S$200/pax). Between the Crete and Santorini, we took the ferry (S$100/pax). 

Places of Interests
Delphi in ancient times was considered the center of the world, the place where heaven and earth met. There isn't much to see other than the ancient site. It makes for a nice afternoon stroll to stretch your legs from the drive. Read all about Delphi's history here

We stayed in the suite at Fedriades Delphi Hotel (amazing view from the tub and balcony), which is within walking distance to the archeological site. Restaurants are also readily available in this area. Basic European breakfast is served, Greek yogurt is always available!
Meteora is a must visit for us. It presents nature's grandeur, history, architecture and culture/religion. The monasteries will amaze anyone, even non-believers. My advice is to take note of the opening hours of the monasteries that you want to visit. They are closed on different days of the week and they also close early. Find out more about Meteora Monasteries here.
We stayed at Doupiani House in Kastraki which has a great view of the rocks. This is the view from our balcony. Gorgeous right? Note that it's a little farther from the town so you'll need to drive. The rooms are basic but comfortable.  
Crete was one of the highlights of our trip! If you love nature, you should definitely check out Samaria Gorge, which is Europe’s largest gorge. This National Park is 18km long with unbelievable natural beauty. Spend 4 - 6 hours walking through the gorge (it is mostly downhill and steep at the start). We started at approx 730am and ended at 130pm. Remember to pack lots of snacks for picnics along the way. Fresh spring water is available at the various rest stops and free for refills. 
Agia Roumeli village is where the walk ends and you can enjoy a swim in the Libyan Sea! The easiest way to trek Samaria Gorge is to sign up for a 'tour' and they will settle all the transfers (pick up and ferry) for you.  The trek is non guided but you wouldn't lose your way for sure. We stayed in Chania for easy access to Samaria Gorge. 
Cretan food is also superb. We had our best meal at To Maridaki, which serves the freshest seafood we've eaten in Greece! The chefs are all Greek grandmothers btw. Gosh that grilled squid and fish.. If you have more time in Crete, do check out the Cretan wineries, and get their olive oil! 

We stayed at Kydon, The Heart City Hotel in Chania, which is walking distance to To Maridaki. It was a good idea #becausewine, and the restaurant served us a parting shot of raki (an aniseed-flavored vodka) before we left. We had a giggly walk back. It's good to note that the breakfast spread at Kydon is quite amazing (compared to the regular European standard).
Heraklion in comparison is more touristy and you can get your dose of 'city life' here, especially around the Lion Square area. To get from Chania to Heraklion, we decided to hop on a morning tour to the Palace of Knossos (with our bags), and requested to be dropped off in Heraklion. The morning was well spent learning about the Minoans (and Minotaur), our guide was very informative. There are plenty of tours offered in the city and we booked one when we were in Chania.

In Heraklion, we stayed at Kastro Hotel, a small hotel that is a 3 min walk to Lion's square. It's super basic but comfortable enough. We chose this so we didn't have to wake crazy early to catch our ferry to Santorini  (the only is a 5min taxi ride away from the ferry terminal). From Crete to Santorini, we took Hellenic Seaways. 
And then it was SANTORINI OF COURSE! I don't care how touristy it may be. How can you go to Greece and not visit Santorini right? Don't give me that BS about 'oh, that's for tourist'. The most important thing is that you have fun on your holiday. So on that, YES GO TO SANTORINI. 
To top off that touristy thing, go catch a sunset cruise. We chose this because we wanted to explore the island a bit without the hassle. The cruise brought us to the volcano and hot springs (we swam in it), and then we were off to the Volcanic Red beach, White Beach, and Mesa Pigadia for more snorkelling. A Greek BBQ was served on board and it was quite delicious. The highlight was of course the Oia sunset from the waters.  

We took our cruise with the Santorini Yachting Club, and our hotel helped book us on it. They have various fleets and price varies depending on how private the cruise is. The good thing about going slightly off peak is that you get the same privacy on a bigger boat at a cheaper rate! Prices start from 95€ per pax (for max capacity of 55 pax).
Whatever you do, make time for some wine tasting, especially their specialty dessert Vinsanto! Santos Winery is highly recommended. They are super generous with their tasting portions (80ml each) and the tastings come with snacks too! We were absolutely stuffed. We went with a 12 wine flight and it was only 27€! We also visited Domaine Sigalas which has better food than wines i feel. Art Space is another art gallery-museum-winery that I'd have loved to check out. 
We stayed at Esperas Hotel in Oia, Santorini which is the best accommodation we stayed at in Greece! I'd say splurge on a nice place in Santorini, the view is definitely worth it. We could enjoy the gorgeous Santorini sunset from our balcony. There's also the view of the caldera. Amoudi Bay is a short walk downhill and you can get seafood from one of the restaurants. We had our seafood fix at Katina's. Also check out Melatini for some delicious tapas in Oia. For more food and buzz, head back to Fira. 
And then it was back to Athens
There are plenty of ancient sites so i'll leave it to you to pick and choose the ones you wanna visit. I'd recommend that you do the Acropolis site first, and follow up with a visit to the museum. Of course, visit the Parthenon and its surrounding sites. 
Plenty of amazing restaurants in Athens to check out. See my pins below! Make sure you make a reservation or else you'll not be able to eat at the popular places. 

Hope you find this Greece itinerary useful! Let us know if you have other recommendations. :)