Sunday, August 4, 2019

21 Days in Europe, Turkey and Dubai (EuropeTour Part 2)

I had to do it again.


This time I was more prepared, organized, and focused!
I am going back to Europe!

Last year's tour was different. I went to Amsterdam, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Pisa, Firenze, Venice, Zurich, Paris, Brussels, Lisbon and Barcelona (23 days).

Here is the link: 
https://junvillegas.blogspot.com/2018/07/23-days-in-europe-amsterdam-munich.html 

For 2019, this is the itinerary - Amsterdam, Iceland, Budapest, Vienna, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Athens, Santorini, Istanbul and Dubai (21 days).

But wait, there is already a 2020 Europe Tour Part 3 and this is the itinerary -  Athens, Rome, Milan, Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Moscow (11 days only).

Well, the 2019 Tour started in Clark where the flight to Europe is cheaper than Manila. I boarded the Emirates flight to Amsterdam (connecting flight was in Dubai). The cost of the flight is P35,000.00.


Day 1 - Amsterdam and Haarlem, The Netherlands

view from the window of my hotel

After more than 16 hours of flight, I arrived in Haarlem. I did not book my hotel in Amsterdam since it was very expensive. Haarlem is just 15 minutes away by train from Amsterdam. I was delighted to have a very nice hotel with a fabulous view of the Haarlem Plaza. Bus ride from the airport to the hotel was 6.5 euro.




I stayed at the Hotel Carillon in Haarlem. 
The cost of the stay is 110 euro for a 2 nights, 1 room stay.



Last year (2018), I stayed also in Haarlem but in a different hotel away from the city. 



The features of Haarlem is identical to Amsterdam.

Tip: Use the metro/train. It is a lot better and faster than the bus.


Past 4 pm, I decided to go to Amsterdam in order to book my tours for the next two days.

I booked the Windmill Tour, The Hague Tour, and  for the last day in Netherlands, I decided to go the Leiden.



Day 2 - Amsterdam (Windmills and Volendam Tour)


Last year (2018), I saw only one windmill. I never saw the Tulips either since they only bloom during Autumn and it was summer when I arrived in Amsterdam. But the windmill tour is a must!


This time I saw the spectacular views of the windmills of Amsterdam!


We hopped from one windmill to another. It was a very fulfilling experience indeed!


After the windmills, we went to the cheese factory in Volendam!



We tasted a lot of cheese in this tour from all sorts and sizes.


Then, we went back to the city and joined my second tour (The Hague and Madurodam Tour) for the day.  So from 9 am to 2 pm was the first tour and for the second tour  was slated from 3 pm to 9 pm. You might be wondering 2 tours in one day, is that possible? Yes,  because during summer the sunset in Amsterdam is 9:45 pm.


This time we will be going to the shoe factory.


After the shoe factory, we went to the glass factory.


Then, went to another spot.


Amsterdam is really majestic!


Then, we went to The Hague.


Last stop was the Madurodam.


These are the miniature houses and buildings in Hague.
The tour ended past 9:30 pm while the sunset was 10:15 pm.


Day 3 - Leiden, The Netherlands
An after thought Tour

My plane to Iceland was scheduled in the afternoon and so I still have time for one last tour and I decided to go to Leiden.


I boarded the train and paid 13.40 euro and went to Leiden. After 20 minutes, I reached my destination. Although the weather was not a bit cooperative, Leiden was still fantastic!


I walked towards the city and aimed for my two destinations.


After 20 minutes, I reached one of the oldest castles in Netherlands.


And then went to one of the oldest churches in Netherlands.


Then, I decided to go back to Amsterdam to catch the plane to Iceland. I arrived in Iceland past 7 pm. 


My problem was the tour for the following days. Good thing I booked one for the following day in Klook.

Tip: Book in Klook in advance it is a lot cheaper. But make sure to view ALL the choices for the tours.



This time the sunset and sunrise were really different. Sunset is 11:45 pm and sunrise is 3:10 am. I almost forgot. I stayed at Circle Hostel. The booking was for 4 nights, 1 dormitory bed and the price was 120 euro. It was the cheapest and the most ideal spot I could find. Iceland is part of the Scandinavian countries where the cost of living is really high. Only one Scandinavian country for me and I have chosen Iceland. Last year (2018), the most expensive was Switzerland. 

Day 4 - Reykjavik, Iceland
My dream destination!

The following morning I was very early in the meeting place for my tour.
Golden Circle Tour and Kerid Crater Day Tour 
Day Tour (BT-GGC)
Price: P2,903 in Klook (from P3,225 other agencies)
Duration: 8 hours

Meeting place - Centerhotel Plaza - pick up at Tour Bus Stop 1 - Ráðhúsið - City Hall (Vonarstræti side)

From my hostel, it took me roughly a 20-minute walk to reach the spot. Problem in the central is that they do not serve early (6:00 - 8:00 am) breakfast (earliest was 9:00 am and tour starts 8:00 am) and to make matters worst, there is only one convenient store.

One more thing the coldest I experienced in Iceland was 8 degrees during summer.


First stop was the Kerid volcano crater.


Then, second stop was the biggest falls I have seen in my entire life.
 The Golden Water Falls - GULFOSS!


For a waterfalls chaser, this is really a superb experience! Two thumbs up! =)


Then, we went to the Strokkur Geiser and there we took our lunch.


Last stop was the Thingvellir National Park! Hiking here is required.
Iceland's tour is primarily hiking and/or trekking.

  
The National Park is one of the treasured places in Iceland!


Thereafter, we trekked again and went back to the city.

Day 5 - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and South Coast Day Tour 


view along the travel
If there is one tour in Iceland that I was not capable of doing in summer, that would be the Northern Lights Bus Tour (P2,751 / Duration - 4 hours). It is only available during winter.  An the Snowmobiling tour which was already fully booked (P12,761 / Duration 10 hours).




And so I have chosen this tour as an alternative and it turned out really good.


Price of the tour is P6,433
Duration is 14 hours.

First stop of the tour was Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. 


Gulfoss was the biggest that I have seen but this one has its own majestic features. By the way, the 20-minute fast-paced hike to the top was really outstanding!



It was really a very long drive to the main attraction. And after more than 3 hours, we reached the Jokulsarlon and had to board an amphbious boat for this tour.



From the boarding area, you can already see the glacier and I was so excited!




There afterwards, we boarded the boat and started our tour. Thanks to global warming the glaciers are now melting faster than man has ever foreseen.


Take me back to the Glaciers!


After the glacier tour, we had to back to the capital of Iceland. The views and sights were really fascinating!



But that was not yet the end of the tour, we had to see another falls.



And another falls before going back to the capital. Now, I understand why it was a 12-hour tour. Imagine, 9 am to 9 pm tour.


DAY 6 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula Full Day Tour
Still in Iceland


My last tour in Iceland was a bit relaxing compared to the previous two which required a lot of hiking. This time the hiking was minimal. This is the west side of Iceland.

Price: P5.503
Duration: 10 hours

First stop in the tour was the charming village of Arnarstapi.



I enjoyed the walking because this time there was no time-constraint.


The landscapes were really outstanding! Good thing I booked this tour.


And then we transferred to the famous black beach in the western part of Iceland.


And then went to another stop - Mt. Kirkjufell.
This is one of the location shootings for the Netflix series Game of Thrones


We hopped from one place to another.



In fact, I lost count and forgot the names of the other destinations.
But this one is ascent to the top of the volcano crater.


Over-all, ICELAND is one of those destinations in earth that you have to see before one dies! You can even say that you have seen heaven already considering the majestic seascapes and landscapes!


Day 7 - Budapest, Hungary
My favorite destination in Europe


I had only one day stay in Budapest and I had to make the best out of it. 
I was in love in Rome and I left my heart there so that it will never again be broken.
But I fell in love with Budapest.

After seeing its grandeur last 2018, I told myself, "You have to go back!" 

Mozart told me that I have to see the castle and the night life and I DID! =)

Hotel Metro


So imagine this, I boarded the plane in Iceland past 2 pm and arrived in Budapest past 5:30 pm. Then, boarded the metro to the city proper, Getting lost for a couple of times. Wandering. Then, finally locating the hotel.

Hotel Metro
1 night, 1 room
57.60 euro


After doing the check-in, I immediately went on foot to Budapest central. 

Tip: Budapest has a 1 day unlimited public transport ride. They also have for 2 or 3 days or 1 week. You can use the train, metro or the bus in your stay in Budapest. 



And before I knew it, I was already on the top of the castle. Thanks Mozart for the tip!


I waited for sunset and then saw the beauty of Budapest at night.

I really LOVE this city!

The Cathedral


Day 8 - Bratislava, Slovakia

Budapest

The following morning, I woke up early and fixed my stuff. I have to go to another country. I was leaving Budapest.





This time I did not use the plane nor the train.

I will commute using bus.

It is a 4-hour ride to the next destination.

Finding the bus stop was one of the terrible experiences in Europe. Again, I got lost.















After several hours, I reached BRATISLAVA!


Bratislava is a city in Slovakia. The town plaza is not that big and you can roam around even with your backpack.



Here I saw one of the most beautiful persons I have seen in my entire life.
I forgot her name. She was kind enough to allow me to have our picture taken.



But the best and fun part was finally I will be able to meet my cousin Ryan Ramilo who resides also in Hungary. Hooooray para kay pinsan! =)


This is the central of the town plaza.



We spent only 2 hours in Bratislava and went to another destination. This time to the outlet mall in Vienna where I did my shopping spree! =)


My cousin Ryan and I ended the day with 2 bottles of expensive red wine and after getting intoxicated, called it a night.

Imagine, I started in Budapest, Hungary. Then went to Bratislava, Slovakia. Then, transferred to Vienna, Austria and finally settled in Szombathely, Hungary! I went to three countries in one day.


DAY 9 - Maribor, Slovenia
Start of our road trip


My cousin and I were very much prepared for this road trip. In fact, we brought the rice cooker!

And so departed from Szombathely and after several hours, arrived at our first stop. 


After encountering a car problem in the border of Slovakia and Hungary, we reached Maribor!


But we stayed only for three hours in the city and roamed around. I even went to a museum.




. One of the destinations was the oldest grape vineyard in the world.

Apartment Trixy

And went to our next destination, this time we headed to Zagreb, Croatia!

This time my cousin and I this time went to 4  countries, 
namely: Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and finally Croatia!

Apartment Trixy
I night, 1 apartment
42 euro


Day 10 - Zagreb, Trogir and Split, Croatia



Early the following morning, I went to the city proper of Zagreb! 


Zagreb is Croatia's capital and only 15 minutes away from our apartment. After 2 hours, I went back, took our breakfast and proceeded to our next destination.


Zagreb to Split is more than 6 hours and we had to stop to partake our lunch. Again, the meal will not be complete without rice.


After several hours, we reached Trogir and stayed at Apartment Kudelik.

Apartment Kudelik
1 night, 1 apartment
58.50 euro


With the kind indulgence of my cousin, I roamed the city.


Honestly, Trogir is the best destination in Croatia.


It is beautiful!


Past 5 pm, Ryan and I went to Split!


Day 11 - Trogir to Zadar to Zagreb to Hungary again!






We left early the next morning.

I have a 10 am flight to catch in Zagreb going to Santorini, Greece.

Everything was going smooth as planned. We were traveling for nearly 1 hour when the unexpected suddenly happened.

Finally, after enduring for more than 700 kilometers, our car finally broke down.









And so our car was towed to Zadar and there it was repaired.
And I missed the flight and booked another flight to Santorini.

After the long repair, we went back to Hungary! =)

Maturity, loyalty and integrity are measured in times of adversity.
No ifs, No buts
No regrets
Just pure and happy memories of Croatia Tour!
(Inuman ito pag-uwi ni pinsan sa Pinas!)


Day 12 - Athens and Santorini, Greece 



And so I took the flight to Santorini from Vienna, Austria.
Thank you sa lahat pinsan Ryan!



After several hours, finally, I was in Santorini!

Originally, I was billeted at Bedspot Hostel but I cancelled it and I transferred to Villa Kastelli for a one night stay. The hostel is in Perissa.


I was given only 12 hours in Santorini to enjoy it.


And so I booked the sunset tour which will start 1:30 and end 9 pm.



It was one of those fast-paced tours again! But it was really awesome!



Ganda ng Santorini!


Finally, the sunset!


Day 13 - Athens, Greece and Istanbul Turkey


I have a layover of 5 hours in Athens. This was part of the plan. I chartered a taxi and went to the city proper of Athens! I paid the taxi 80 euro for round trip ride back to the airport.



Arriving in the city, I was given only 1 hour to see the Parthenon and Acropolis.


And I was able to go to three destinations in the city.


After the city tour, I went back to the airport and went to Istanbul!

Hanedan Hotel
3 nights, 1 room
148.50 euro

That afternoon, I booked all my tours in Istanbul through my hotel.


Day 14 - Istanbul
Istanbul Walks


Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen.



Istanbul offers a variety of tours.
It has two sides, the European side and the Asian side.


The Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are the most important places to see.



Then, I ended the day with the Dinner Cruise.



Istanbul is definitely a must-see city!


Day 15 - Istanbul



It was a long tour. But he best part of the tour was being, knowing and enjoying it with this family from Spain and our tour guide Cengiz.


Day 16 - Istanbul - The Asian Side Tour
The last stay



My tour guide Ogzhan was kind enough to change the itinerary we went to Topkapi Palace.


We boarded various mode of transport in this tour (mini-bus, train, boat).



This tour was a private tour since I was the only customer.


Thanks to my very efficient, hospitable and courteous tour guide! =)

Tip: You need to apply for visa in Turkey. But if you have either a US or Schengen visa, you can apply for an online visa.

Day 17 - Dubai


I was suppose to meet a very special person in Dubai. But luck was not on my side. We ended up not seeing each other. She was the only reason why I went to Dubai. Had I known that she will not able to meet me as planned, I would have extended my Europe or Turkey Tour and will not go to Dubai anymore. No regrets however. Only memories. =)

But the day went as planned for my other friends.  In the afternoon, I met Krystle, my former student in FEU.


Then, dinner with Chin and her boyfriend.


Day 18 - Dubai
Shopping!


I went shopping at Dubai Outlet Mall and Kim was kind enough to accompany me and help me choose what to buy. Thank you Kim! =)



Then, that evening, another dinner with another former student in FEU, Cath!


Day 19 - Dubai


Of course, I saved the best for the last and the last person that I met was Genine!
Thank you Genine for facilitating my visa.

Then, that afternoon, I went to Dubai Mall for the last minute shopping!


Day 20 - Dubai and Manila




Going home....




Here is the ITINERARY




Three visas
1. Schengen visa
2. Turkish visa
3. UAE visa

Unforgettable Moments
1. Happiest Moment - Outlet Center in Vienna 🤗
2. Adventures of a lifetime - Tours in Iceland
3. Jaw-dropping moments - Santorini
4. Relaxing tours - Amsterdam
5. Most expensive meal - Budapest
6. Most beautiful women - Croatians
7. Courteous and polite people - Hungarian
8. Anxious moments - Border of Slovenia and Croatia
9. Adrenaline moments - Athens, Greece
10. Worst stay - Santorini
11. Favorite destination visited - Istanbul
12. Least favorite destination - Zadar, Croatia
13. Will probably visit again - Santorini
14. Lasting experience - Croatia
Airlines I boarded in my Europe Tour 2019
1. Clark to Dubai - Emirates
2. Dubai to Amsterdam - Emirates
3. Amsterdam to Iceland - Transavia
4. Iceland to Budapest - Wizz Air
5. Vienna to Santorini - Eurowings
6. Santorini to Athens - Aegean Airlines
7. Santorini to Athens - Olympic Airlines
8. Athens to Istanbul - Turkish Airlines
9. Istanbul to Dubai - FlyDubai
10. Dubai to Manila - Cebu Pacific
Cities and Countries visited (21 days)
1. Netherlands - Haarlem, Amsterdam
2. Iceland - Reykjavik
3. Hungary - Budapest, Szombathely
4. Slovakia - Bratislava
5. Slovenia - Maribor
6. Croatia - Zagreb, Trogir, Zagreb, Zadar
7. Austria - Vienna
8. Greece - Santorini, Athens
9. Turkey - Istanbul
10. UAE - Dubai

Facts and Figures
In my 22 days of travel in Europe, Turkey and Dubai, I encountered some remarkable and mind-boggling moments/facts, namely:
1. Glacier in Iceland is rapidly melting faster than the rate it was melting 10 years ago.
2. Out of the 40,000 windmills in Netherlands, only less than 20 are operational in Amsterdam.
3. The Prime Minister of Netherlands uses his bicycle in going to office everyday.
4. The President of Iceland just walks to his office everyday.
5. Croatia and Slovenia are just some of the States that separated from the former Yugoslavia.
6. It is not safe to drink the tap water in Santorini.
7. The temperature in Dubai reaches a maximum of 50 degrees during summer.
8. While summer in Iceland is between 9-13 degrees.
9. Sunset in Iceland during summer is 11:45 pm and sunrise is 3:15 am.
10. While during winter in Iceland, 11 am is the sunrise and 3 pm is the sunset.
11. Three things are required to see the Northern lights, namely: (a) winter, (b) no clouds, and (c) complete darkness.
12. Volcano eruption in Iceland is a natural phenomenon. People are used to it and they consider part of their normal life.
13. The Ottoman Empire of Turkey is one of the largest empires before World War 1. They sided with Germany and they lost the war.
14. The Hagia Sofia in Istanbul was first built as a church around 1140, then it was transformed into a mosque and now it is a museum.
15. Mama Mary is said to have died in Ephesus in Turkey.
16. Although Croatia is just a small country, it has produced one of the finest basketball and football players in the world.
17. The oldest grapevine in the world is in Slovenia. It has lived for more than 400 years.
18. The wall of the Istanbul stretches for miles just like the Wall of China and was used to protect the city against invaders.
19. Well, we know that prostituion and marijuana (up to a certain extent) are legal in Amsterdam.
20. The Red District in Amsterdam is just beside or across a church.
21. There was a point in time in the history of Amsterdam where beer was used as a substitute for water due to the scarcity of the latter.
22. The first inhabitants of Iceland came from Norway.
23. For two dirhams, you will already taste the coffee with milk in Dubai.
24. The Turkish coffee is not made in Turkey.
25. Santorini come from the name Santa Irene. The first settlement was a church.
26. The best places to stay in Santorini are Oiya, Perissa and Fira. Oiya is the best stay!
27. The plaza in Bratislava is so small. You can finish touring it in less than an hour.
28. Turks are not Arabs.
29. Roman empire conquered Istanbul. Then, it was overtaken by the Turks. Then, the Crusaders. Then, the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is rich in history.
30. Remember TROY?? It is actually a city in Turkey. Heard/Read the name of the place Ephesus in the Bible? It is also in Turkey. What about Constantinople or Byzantine?? They are old names of Istanbul.
31. If you have some questions, please feel free to google it.


Finally!!!! After 21 days, I am going home.
SALAMAT PO SA LAHAT!
1. Lord, for giving me the strength, patience, determination and courage to do this tour alone. I toured in 10 countries and 16 cities.
2. Kay Mami Lita Villegas, alam ko lagi syang nagdadasal para sa saken. Wag po kayo mag alala binili ko po kayo ng Coach at Pandora!! 😂😂😂 hahaha
3. Sa Belle Horizon, esp kay Mam Jobelle Co Lim at Nikki.
4. Sa mga ka chat ko for giving me comfort and someone to talk to.
5. Kay Arielle Villegas, para sa mga gamot ko at do's and don'ts s pag inom ng gamot. Iba na may pharmacist na pamangkin.
6. Sa mga BFF ko sa FEU for being supportive of my travels.
7. Sa mga kapatid ko, na kainuman ko sigurado bukas pag uwi ko.
8. Kay Ryan Ramilo, pinsan YOU ARE THE BEST!!! Salamat sa Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia at Croatia!! Matindi roadtrip natin!!!
9. Sa Iceland, a friend that I met from Spain. Forgot her name.
10. Sa Athens, yung mabait na taxi driver na nag tour kami sa city in just one hour hehehe...
11. Sa Istanbul, to my tour guides there. I forgot again their names. And also sa family from Spain.
12. Sa Bratislava, sa napakagamdamg nagbenta saken ng ref magnet.
14. Kay Ate Aleli Saludo Villegas, nagbayad ng bill ko muna sa Pinas. Salamat.
15. Sa mga friends ko sa fb, followers at likers ko sa IG at fb page ko.
16. SALAMAT PO SA INYONG LAHAT NA MAKAKABASA NITO!

Upcoming Travels
1. December - Nepal and Bhutan
2. January - Japan
3. May - Italy, Greece and Hungary
4. August - South America
See you soon!!!✈️



2 comments:

  1. Sir,
    can we have ur detailed itinerary for 21 days?and ur expenses,thank you so much..🤗🤩😍

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cge po. PLease give me your email address po. Sorry for the late reply.

      Delete