Sunday, July 29, 2018

23 Days in Europe (Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Rome, Florence, Venice, Zurich, Paris, Brussels, Lisbon, Barcelona, Istanbul)

This is my longest travel outside the Philippines 
and I am enjoying every minute of it.

13 countries
22 cities
23 days

Note - I have listed at the end of this blog 80 plus tips in traveling in Europe. Must-Read! Enjoy

Day 0
Batangas - Manila - Clark - Dubai

I boarded the Emirates flight bound to Amsterdam at Clark International Airport since it was cheaper by 100 USD. The stopover was in Dubai and after two flights, I reached (Schipol) Amsterdam.

Day 1
Haarlem, Netherlands

I was billeted in Haarlem since the hotels in Amsterdam were a bit expensive. It was only a 15-minute ride using the train to Amsterdam. Going to the hostel, I boarded the bus to Haarlem.


After doing my check-in, I immediately toured the city.


The name of the hotel is niu Dairy and I paid 147 euro for a 2-night stay.


I explored the outskirts of the town by foot.


The town is not that big but it has its own tourist spots.


Day 2
Amsterdam



After the train trip to Amsterdam, I immediately tried to locate the hop on hop off tour. But since it was early, I went first to one of the famous spots in the city.


The famous Red Light District, but it was still close.


Then, I boarded the tour. It is composed of a bus tour and two boat tours.


You will definitely enjoy these tours! The Venice of the South.


Day 3
Amsterdam - Munich

I saved the last spot for the last day and I went to a windmill. There were no tulips since it was summer.


Afterwards, I took the Transavia flight to Munich. It was past 10 pm when I reached my hotel.


The name of the motel is Leto Motel and I paid 93 euro for a 2 night stay.


Day 4
Munich, Germany


I boarded the hop on hop off tour in Munich and toured the city.


My favorite spots are the English Garden/Park and Marien Platz.


And of course, drinking beer at the Hobfrauhaus.


Going home, I further tasted the other brands of beer. Cheers to Munchen!


Day 5
Munich - Vienna

I took the train to Vienna and there I met my cousin Ryan Ramilo and we went to Szombathely, Hungary.


He was kind enough to let me stay in his apartment for 3 nights. 
Thanks for everything!


Thank you din sa Blue Label at red wine!



Day 6
Budapest, Hungary

I stayed at my cousin's house and went to a different country everyday.
First stop was Budapest. The sight of  Budapest captured my heart.


I love Budapest so much!


This is one of the must-see cities in Europe.


The Danube River and the bridge connecting Buda and Pest.


Day 7
Prague, Czech Republic

One of the most beautiful and cleanest cities in Europe.


Again, another hop on hop off tour featuring the Charles' Bridge and Prague Castle.


The view from the Prague Castle is majestic!


You will love the parks.


You will love the churches.


You will love the Prague pork ham.


Day 8
Vienna, Austria - Rome, Italy


This time I did not do the tour alone instead I was accompanied by my cousin Ryan and we went to the churches, plaza, and castle.


We also went to various churches.


The interior of the churches here are a work of art.



Past 11 am, I went to the airport, took the Wizz Air flight to Rome.



I stayed at Domus Helena and paid 93 euro for a 2-night stay.

  Before I knew it, I was at Fontana di Trevi.


There I experienced one of the best and happiest days of my life.


I was in cloud 9 and in high spirits!


Day 9
Rome, Italy


Another must-see city in Europe!


Another hop on hop off tour and the main attraction  was the Vatican City.


Rome is CAPTIVATING!


The Colosseo


Do not die without visiting Roma.


That night I went to the Colosseo for the 3rd time.


Day 10
Rome - Florence - Pisa




I boarded the Italo train to Florence and after arriving in Florence, I placed my things in the hostel and boarded another train and went to Pisa.


I stayed at Hotel Ezperanza and paid 43 euro for a one-day stay only.


Pisa can be reached by a 1-hour train from Florence.


And saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While there,  I tasted pasta for dinner.


Going home in Florence, I tasted the Gelato!


Finally, after the long day, I witnessed the beauty of Florence at night.


Mesmerizing and romantic.


This is Florence or Firenze.

Day 11
Florence  - Venice, Italy


The following morning, I went to the top of Plaza Michaelangelo.


And saw Florence from a different perspective.

Then, past 12 noon, I boarded the Italo train to Venezia or Venice.


Train ride was good for more than 2 hours.


I have to ride the waterbus before I could reach the hotel.


Venezia


And this is the place where I stayed - We_Crociferi and I paid 43 euro for a 1-night stay.


We_Crociferi


Venezia was so beautiful that night.

Day 12 
Venice - Zurich, Switzerland

From Venice, I boarded the Alilaguna boat to Marco Polo Airport and paid 15 euro for the boat ride.

At the airport, I boarded the Swiss Air flight to Zurich. Arriving at the airport, I used the local train and went to my hostel.


I stayed at City Backpackers and paid 89 swiss francs for a 2-night stay.


Zurich is expensive.


I watched the sunset at the lake.


This is Zurich.

Day 13
Alps
Weggis - Lucerne - Pilatus


I paid for the Pilatus tour in the amount of 149 swiss francs.


Along the journey, we passed by Weggis.


We went also to Rigi and Lake Lucerne.


We stopped at the City of Lucerne.


Then, went to Pilatus.


We had to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain.


Then, rode another gondola and reached the top.


And that was the moment!


Landscapes were fascinating!


After 2 hours, we went down the mountain using the steepest railway in the world.



We boarded the boat back to Luscerne and the bus back to Zurich.

Day 14
Zurich - Paris, France

I boarded the train to Paris and after 4 hours and 20 minutes, I reached Paris.


It was already past 5 pm when I reached my hostel and I decided that I still have to visit the two world-renowned spots in Paris!



I stayed at Enjoy Hostel and paid 93 euro for a 2-night stay.


Arc de Triomphe


Eiffel Tower


Both of them are on the same train line (line 6 or the Green line).


Day 15
Paris

Paris offers a multitude of attractions  but today I have only one thing in mind.


Musee du Louvre


The main attraction of course is MONA LISA


 And then saw many paintings of Da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo.
But the sculptures are equally superb!

VICTORY OF SAMOTHRACE


VENUS


SLAVES OF MICHELANGELO

Day 16
Paris - Brussels

From Paris, I took the Thaly's train to Brussels. Travel time is only 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was 11 am when I arrived in Brussels. Paris' train system is undoubtedly the best in Europe so far. It is efficient, clean and easy to use.


My hotel was Hotel Sabina and since I arrived early, I went first to the Central station since my check-in was 1 pm.


The hop on hop off tour is in front of the Cathedral at the Central Station.


There are two lines for the tour, namely: the Red line and Blue line. The Blue line is the Atomium.


The Atomium is one of the Belgium's landmarks and here you will see the mini- Europe.


A must-visit place is the Grand Place.


Everyone was touching this sculpture. I did too.


Belgium's icon



After the tour, I checked-in at Hotel Sabina and paid 100 euro for a 2 night-stay.


After the tour, I went back to the hotel and was mesmerized by the sunset at 10 pm.


Day 17
Brussels, Belgium


The tour will not be complete without tasting the waffles, beer, and chocolate.



Belgian waffles!



Belgian beer!


Belgian chocolates


And since it was a Sunday, I have to go to church.


Another beautiful day in Brussels.

Day 18
Brussels - Lisbon

My Ryan Air flight was scheduled 4 pm in the afternoon and one last visit to the Grand Place will not hurt.


You will love this place!



Along the way, I passed by the Botanical Garden. Around 11 am, I went to the airport to catch my 4 pm Ryan Air flight to Portugal.


My hostel is Yes Lisbon and I paid 70 euro for a 2-night stay.


From my hostel, you can already see Lisbon,


I love Lisbon already!

Day 19
Lisbon

I have so many options for my tour on this beautiful day and so I chose the tram tours and the Sintra tour.


I woke up early even though I was pretty drunk that night.


Again, there are so many tours. But I chose the two tram tours. Hill Tram Tour for 20 euro (1 hour and 30 minutes). And the Belem Tower Tour for 15 euro (1 hour and 30 minutes).


There were many sites to see and places to visit along the two tours.


But the highlight of the tour is the afternoon tour for 20 euro.



The Sintra Tour!



We visited castles and chateau!


It was really an AMAZING EXPERIENCE!


Wait there is more! 

CABO DE ROCA


I love Portugal!๐Ÿ˜


Another fabulous site!



Thank you guys for this treasured experience!


Day 20
Lisbon - Barcelona

I boarded the Tap Portugal flight to  Barcelona.


I was fetched past 3pm at the Barcelona Airport by Kuya Dennis and Sheila.


We immediately went to Monserrat. 
Thank you Kuya Dennis and Sheila for this.


Of course I made a wish at Monserrat.


 And there was a drinking spree that night.

Day 21 
Barcelona

Waking up from a terrible hangover, I fixed myself and walked towards Plaza de Catalunya for my hop on hop off tour.


Along the way, I passed by Rambla.


There are two lines for the Barcelona Tour bus (Red and Blue) and I paid 25 euro for the tour. I boarded the blue line and went to Sagrada Familia.


After the blue tour, Rommel and I toured the city using his scooter.


We went to so many places such as the Cathedral.


The Nude Beach (yup!)


Past 2pm, we went a resto and partake our eat-all-you can lunch!
 Thanks Rommel for this one. Bigtime!

I was tired that afternoon and went back home.

Day 22
Barcelona


The following day, I stayed inside Rommel's house and waited for my flight.


Day 23
Istanbul, Turkey

It was a just a 3-hour stopover. I was so tired. I still loitered around the airport.
Then, 1:05 am, I boarded the Turkish connecting flight back to Manila.




This blog is dedicated to Mozart.
Europe was not part of the tour this year.
After the Japan, Korea,   Beijing, Vietnam and Australia tour, I've had enough.
You said no. So I said yes.
I went to Europe to see you. Seeing Europe was just an after thought.


Tips in Europe (must-read)
  1. Book your international and local flights/train at least 6 months before your intended departure.
  2. Flight in Clark is cheaper than in Manila.
  3. If you will be visiting many countries, make a table of your flights, hotels and bookings.
  4. Visa. They say that insofar as requirements are concerned, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden offer the easiest visa to Filipinos.
  5. Check your visa. Is it multiple entry? How long is the duration? Bring your travel insurance certificate.
  6. Two basic things. Do not lose your passport or wallet in Europe. Bring a small bag to carry these two basic things. Place it in the small bag than in your pockets. Pickpockets are abundant in some cities like Paris and Rome.
  7. Be mindful of the airport. Sometimes there are two or three airports in one city. For example in Brussels, they have two.
  8. Be mindful of the the time in your ticket. If it is a plane, go to the airport at least three hours before the flight. It is sometimes difficult to find the airport and the terminal. The security check sometimes has a long line. Strict security measures are enforced.
  9. Directions to hotel. If you have booked through booking.com, you can ask the hotel for directions. Go to "make changes or modify reservation" and then go to "message the hotel or make a request." They will give you accurate direction. What metro line, where to alight and some other important stuff.
  10. Payment. It is pretty normal for Europeans to pay in credit card rather than cash. And that is the reason why in Paris Asians are normally the victims of crimes since they bring a huge amount of cash in their bag or wallet.Ask for the receipt if you are paying through credit card and keep it for your record back in the Philippines.
  11. Trains. Trains are pretty much easy to use in Europe. Sometimes, you need two taps (one for entering and the other for exiting) but most of the time, one tap will do.
  12. Travel light. If you can make your bag only 6-7 kilos then that would be great.
  13. Soaps and shampoo. Some hotels do not offer these.
  14. Free breakfast. Not all hotels offer free breakfast.
  15. Water. Bring a container and fill it up with water at the hotel. Almost all countries in Europe's water is potable.
  16. Food. Try the local food. Normal price should be between 9 euro to 20 euro. The most expensive city that I have visited is Zurich.
  17. Low cost airlines. They are cheap but they have priority boarding which means that you will be allowed two hand carry bags, otherwise, only 1 hand carry bag is allowed.
  18. Hop on Hop off tours. All the cities that I went have this. Price varies but the normal range is from 25 - 35 euro.
  19. Check the weather. Sometimes, during summer it will rain and you have to bring either an umbrella or jacket.
  20. Use the train than the plane. It is cheaper and has numerous advantages.
  21. If you will be traveling to various countries, look at the check in and check out time and make sure that they match to your plane or train's departure and arrival. It is better to book the plane or train at around 1pm onwards so that you will be able to maximize your time at the hotel and in the next country.
  22. Summer has longer daylight. Sunset is between 9-10 pm. But it has plenty of tourists! Winter has a shorter one and it has lesser tourists. But it is quite cold and you have to bring jackets.
  23. Laundry. Either your hotel has one or outside the hotel. Normal price is 4-6 euro. For example, 2 euro for washing, 2 euro for drying and 1 euro for the soap. But normally I do my own and use the free soap of the hotel. Travel at day, laundry at night.
  24. Bring only a cellphone (example Iphone X). Travel light. If you can bring a second one, better. I also brought a tablet for watching the movies in between flights and train rides.
  25. Souvenirs. Decide on what you will buy. Flag, coins, post card, ref magnets, or anything else. I normally buy the small and cheapest ref magnets.
  26. Google top 5 spots in the city and choose your destination.
  27. Use google maps in finding your hotel.
  28. Breakfast. Sometimes it is free. Sometimes, I get one extra bread or food for my journey.
  29. Bring your medicines. I have medicines for my cholesterol, highblood, vitamin C and allergy.
  30. Separate your money. Your money should be separately placed in your wallet, pockets or bag. Do not place it in one pocket or container.
  31. Bring a pair of sandals and wear rubber shoes.
  32. Bring a light towel. Sometimes, your hotel will not give you one.
  33. Print all your tickets and hotel bookings
  34. Save the pdf file of all your tickets and hotel bookings.
  35. Know the exchange rate. For example, in Amsterdam the exchange rate of 300 USD was 159 euro but in Zurich 300 USD is 234 euro.
  36. Pay using credit cards if possible.
  37. Withdraw using your atm than doing the exchange. The exchange rate is a little better.
  38. Bring clothes that are easily dried or what we call as dry-fit. Light clothes pls.
  39. During summer, bring shades and sunblock.
  40. If you are walking and there are plenty of people, that is good. But if you are the only person walking in the street. Be very cautious.
  41. If you are in a train, set your alarm at least 10 minutes before the arrival (designated time at the ticket) so that you will not miss your stop.
  42. Place your bags in front of you or at the top of your head so that it is visible to you.
  43. Bring only 1 jacket during summer. Sometimes it is cold in plane or train.
  44. Five pieces of polo and five pieces of shorts/pants would be enough.
  45. Sleep at least 6 hours in your tour. Take your ascorbic acid or vitamin C and keep yourself healthy.
  46. Exercise. You can always do a walking tour. It is cheaper and healthy.
  47. Sometimes you do not need the hop on hop off tour. You just need to know the tourist spots and the train stop. It will save you a lot.
  48. Visit the churches and pray.
  49. Be careful when asking a stranger for your picture. Sometimes they will ran away with your fone. Normally, I ask either a Japanese, Chinese or Korean. They are very nice, friendly and accommodating.
  50. Document your tour. Either by pictures or videos. Choose where to upload it either in facebook, instagram, twitter or any other app.
  51. Be street smart. Wala ka sa Pinas. Bawal ang _____!
  52. Observe traffic rules and use the pedestrians. Sometimes, I do not but it pays to be a good tourists.
  53. Do not litter.
  54. Study the train lines, routes and stops. Study also how you board the train or alight. Sometimes, you have to press something or maneuver a device. Sometimes it is automatic.
  55. If you have uber, ok. But train and bus are cheaper.
  56. Hydrate especially during summer
  57. Toilets. Most of the time you have to pay for it between 1 euro to 2 euro. Sometimes the sign is "WC."
  58. Do not get intoxicated so much. In my case, I slept twice in the tour bus. Good thing nothing happened to me.
  59. Raincover. It is better if your bag has one. Protection against the weather and thieves.
  60. Bring a cap. It is hot during summer.Bring a thermal jacket during winter.
  61. Adjust tour time to EU time.
  62. Know when the hotel closes at night. Take a picture of your hotel and the street. Sometimes, you have either to bring the key, card or know the password to get inside your hotel.
  63. Learn a little bit of their language. Such as good morning, thank you, am sorry, excuse me, how much, expensive, toilet, expensive, discount, delicious etc.
  64. Know your limitations such as allergy, physical restraints or diseases.
  65. Pray for your health and safety.
  66. In booking flights or trains, there is a site called - "Go Euro," you can book your flights/trains there.
  67. There are low-cost carriers such as Wizz Air and Ryan Air flights which have "priority boarding." In case you have two handcarried baggages, it is better to avail it; otherwise your second bag will not be allowed.
  68. In booking the local train, look at the ticket. If the ticket does not provide for a time or day, it means you can use it at any day or time. If it has a date and time, do not miss it.
  69. Download the apps for your train, airlines or exchange rate. It really gets very handy and it will help you a lot. Make sure you have downloaded or stored enough movies in your phone or tablet. You will watch it later.
  70. In train stations or airports, be mindful of the platform of your train or the gate of your flight. Normally, for the train it will come out at least 30 minutes before departure. For the flight, the gate will be announced at least an hour before your boarding.
  71. Sometimes, central train station or airport has an "Information," you can ask your question or verify the information you needed.
  72. Not all train stations will announce your destination in English such as in Germany and in Paris. Make sure you read the signages of each the station for your intended destination.
  73. Almost all tap water in Europe is potable. You can drink it. Better to ask if it is possible to drink it.
  74. Bring an adoptor. It costs 4-6 euro in Europe.
  75. Travel agency. This is one thing that you should not miss. Handling visa is a different story. Better have the services of an expert and my travel agency is Belle Horizon in Manila.
  76. Padlock. Another thing that you have to bring especially if you are booked in hostels. You have to lock your cabinet or storage area.
  77. I forgot this! Vacuum bag. It saves a lot of space (and also weight) in your bag.
  78. Another thing about trains, in Paris there are lines which serve two destinations. Make sure you read what is written at the front of the train.
  79. Do not make a specific itinerary. I mean yes, alot the nights you will be spending in your destination. But never make a very detailed itinerary in a particular city. Anything goes. Choose when you are there what you like to see/visit. Why? You will end up disappointed whenever you where not able to follow it. Relax! You are on your holiday/vacation.
  80. You can charge your fones in the plane or train.
  81. Wifi. Sometimes the plane, bus or train has it. Be careful in connecting, not all are safe.
  82. Bring a good read.    
  83. Be careful. There will be people offering to sell you drugs on the plaza or parks. 
  84. Portugal and Istanbul have different time zone.
THANK YOU!
Ending my trip, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the following, namely -
  1. Belle Horizon - for my visa (esp. Arkid and Ma'am Jobelle)
  2. Go Euro - for my plane and train bookings
  3. Booking.com - for my hostels
  4. Ryan Ramilo - for Budapest, Praha and Vienna
  5. For Mozart - Rome and bringing me to Europe
  6. For Kuya Dennis and Ate Jane - Barcelona
  7. For Pareng Rommel and Sheila - for Barcelona
  8. For Petina - good talk in Zurich
  9. For Mina - good talk in Venice
  10. For my companions in Sintra esp the Driver Pedro
  11. For Minu - tour guide in Alps
  12. For the staff in Haarlem - gaganda nila
  13. For Patrick - hostel staff in Zurich
  14. For the staff in Paris
  15. For G, W - staff in Lisbon
  16. For my followers in Instagram and friends in facebook - for making me feel as if I were not alone and they were beside me during this long travel
  17. For my brothers - supportive of this travel
  18. For Ate Aleli - Barcelona
  19. For Ate Gina - tips during the travel
  20. For Rose B - for the tips in travel
  21. For Arielle - my medication
  22. For my mother - who is always praying for my health and safety
  23. To myself - for being tough and healhty (kahit malimit lasing)! YOU are one tough hombre!
  24. To the ALMIGHTY GOD for making this travel possible and keeping me safe and healthy! 

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