Thursday, May 10, 2018

Summary of My Solo Trip To Europe & Travel Expenses

A quite number of friends and blog readers of mine actually requested for my Europe trip itinerary. Let me be clear here. It's not that I'm not willing to share but because for this time around, I wrote it down instead of typing in the computer. Yes, a handwritten itinerary like the old-school time. 

2017 Europe Itinerary

Besides referring to the Lonely Planet and few travel books I got from the previous MATTA Fair which held in Kuala Lumpur, most of the times I was fully relied on the sim card I bought from Taobao (my friend helped me to purchase it cause I can't read Chinese. Yes, I'm a banana) 

Lonely Planet Europe

In case you unable to purchase from Taobao, don't worry cause I found Malaysia's online site that selling travel sim card - Hello1010 (check out their site here). Of course the price would be slightly higher comparing to Taobao but I can't find any better online store than this one. Why I don't use pocket WiFi? Let me do a simple calculation. The cheapest rental rate per day is RM28 and because I will be travelling for 18 days, the total I have to bear all by myself is RM504. One of the downside of travelling alone - no one to share the cost with. 

Hello1010 Travel Sim Card

Here is the summary of my trip to Europe covering 6 different countries and 9 cities:

Day 1: 8th September 2017 BKI → KUL
Initially I supposed to fly with Thai Airways with short transit in Bangkok but due to all the flights delayed caused by MAS, they compensated me by switching to fly with Emirates. Of course, flying with Emirates there would be short transit in Dubai.

Day 2: 9th September 2017 KUL → Dubai → Copenhagen, Denmark
Landed in Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport. Exchanged money in the airport and took train headed to Central Station. Didn't wander around the city much cause not in the mood due to missing luggage.
Stay: Copenhagen Backpacker Hostel

Day 3: 10th September 2017 Copenhagen → Budapest, Hungary
Flew with Norwegian from Copenhagen to Budapest. Took bus 100E from the airport to the city center. Shopping around Vaci street (one of the main shopping and restaurant street in Budapest) cause I don't have any extra clothes to wear. Visited St. Stephen's Basilica, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion.
Stay: Essential Hostel

Day 4: 11th September 2017 Budapest, Hungary
Kicked off my day by visiting Great Market Hall. Then, proceed to Liberty Statue or Freedom Statue, Liberty Bridge, Shoe on the Danube Bank, Hungarian Parliament Building, Hősök Tere, Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Buda Castle. 
Stay: Essential Hostel

Day 5: 12th September 2017 Budapest → Vienna, Austria
Took train from Budapest-Keleti Railway Station to Wien Hauptbahnhof (Vienna Main Station). Bought Vienna Card (24 hours - €13.90, 48 hours - €21.90 or 72 hours - €24.90) for unlimited public transportation ride and discounts for the museums and art galleries. Visited Schonbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Graben Shopping Street, Imperial Hofburg, Wiener Rathaus and Vienna Opera House. I even visited Cafe Central for a cup of Viennese style coffee and cake.
Stay: Wombats City Hostel Vienna - The Lounge

Day 6: 13th September 2017 Vienna → Salzburg, Austria
Took OBB train from Vienna to Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Salzburg Main Station). Upon reaching the hostel, I signed up with them for a Panorama Tours: Sound of Music. It offers two tours daily; leaving at 9:15am and 2pm and the duration takes about 4 hours covering Leopoldskron Palace, Hellbrunn Palace, Mondsee and Mirabell Garden. Once the tour completed, I went to Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart's birth house) but it was closed by the time arrived. 
Stay: International Youth Hostel Salzburg

Day 7: 14th September 2017 Salzburg → Hallstatt, Austria
Left Salzburg to the magical town of Hallstatt. Took bus #150 from the bus terminal outside of Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Salzburg Main Station) to Bad Ischl. Once arrived Bad Ischl, board on the train to Hallstatt. Continue the journey by taking ferry to across the Hallstatt Old Town.
Stay: Gasthof Bergfried

Day 8: 15th September 2017 Hallstatt → Cesky Krumlov → Prague
From Hallstatt to Prague, I booked shuttle service from CK Shuttle with a brief stop at Cesky Krumlov before continue another second leg to Prague. If possible, do include this picturesque town of Cesky Krumlov besides visiting Prague. I was utterly regret for didn't plan my trip well.
Stay: Ritchie's Hotel & Hostel

Day 9: 16th September 2017 Prague 
Because my train to Krakow was expecting to depart at 11.09pm, I have almost a day to venture around Prague. Visited Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, Prague Dancing House and hiked up the hill for Petrin Lookout Tower. Then, continue to Lesser Town for St. Nicholas Church, Prague Castle and John Lennon Wall. Took overnight train to Krakow which takes about 8 hours train ride. 

Day 10: 17th September 2017 Krakow, Poland
Arrived in Krakow Glowny, the Central Train Station of Krakow. Check-in into my hostel for quick bath. Practically I didn't do nothing much when arrived Krakow cause I need to do my laundry. Right after I done with my laundry, I went to Galeria Krakowska, a shopping mall nearby my hostel because it rained whole day and I can't do any sightseeing. 
Stay: One World Hostel

Day 11: 18th September 2017 Krakow 
It's bright and sunny day on the second day in Krakow. Therefore, immediately I went to Old Town for Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) and St. Mary's Basilica in Main Square. Then, continue to picturesque street of Kanonicza for Saints Peter and Paul Church. Next, Wawel Hill for Wawel Castle, Wawel Cathedral and Dragon's Den. Ended my tour in Krakow by visiting Kazimierz, once a former Jewish quarter.
Stay: One World Hostel

Day 12: 19th September 2017 Krakow → Warsaw, Poland
From Krakow to Warsaw, I took PolskiBus which the journey took about 5 hours bus ride and arrived in Dworzec Autobusowy Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West Bus Station). To get to Central Station, board on the train heading to Centrum Metro Station. I was being penalised while taking bus from central station to my hostel. Another bad day again!
Stay: Dream Hostel

Day 13: 20th September 2017 Warsaw, Poland
Did sightseeing around Warsaw including Stare Miasto (Warsaw's Old Town), Wilanow Palace, Chopin Monument and Lazienki Palace in Lazienki Park, Warsaw Uprising Museum and Warsaw Uprising Monument. I bought a 24-hour ticket to get around Warsaw by using the extensive public transportation including bus and train.
Stay: Dream Hostel

Day 14: 21st September 2017 Warsaw → Helsinki, Finland
Flew with airBaltic from Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport to Helsinki with short transit at Riga, Latvia. From Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, I took airport train P or I to get to the city centre.
Stay: Hostel Diana Park

Day 15: 22nd September 2017 Helsinki, Finland
Started my day by taking bus to Sibelius Monument. Then, took bus to the market square (known as Kauppatori in Finnish) for Old Market Hall, Uspenski Cathedral and Helsinki Senate Square. I even took ferry to Suomelinna, a World Heritage Site. Bought a HSL Day Ticket which includes unlimited ride on bus and ferry.
Stay: Hostel Diana Park

Day 16: 23rd September 2017 Helsinki → Copenhagen, Denmark
Finally, back to Copenhagen again by flying with Norwegian, a low cost airline but it offers free WiFi to all passengers on its transatlantic flights. Done with check-in into the hostel, straightly took bus to Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Square, Amalienborg Palace and Frederick's Church. Before going back to the hostel, I stopby and wandered around the City Hall, Statue of Hans Christian Andersen, Tivoli Gardens and more. 
Stay: Danhostel Copenhagen City

Day 17: 24th September 2017 Copenhagen → Bangkok → Kota Kinabalu 
My flight leaving Copenhagen was expecting to depart at 2.25pm. Hence, I took the opportunity to visit Christianborg Palace before leaving the capital and largest city of Denmark. Home sweet home on the next day with Thai Airways. 

2017 Thai Airways
My virgin experience flying with Thai Airways. And guess what, they served pork as in-flight meal.

CURRENCY
Travelled across 6 different countries, four different currencies were involved. As some of the currencies are not easily found in Malaysia, hence I decided to change to Euro first and changed at the respective country upon arrival.
  • Countries like Austria and Finland are using Euro.
  • Denmark's national currency is Danish krone. The ideal place to exchange currency is at the Central Station. €1.00 = 6.90 Kr on average*
  • The official currency for Hungary is the Hungarian forint (HUF). I found out Great Market Hall offers the best rate. €1.00 = HUF295 on average*
  • The currency for Czech Republic is koruna. €1.00 = CZK24.80 on average*  
  • Poland's national currency is Polish zloty. €1.00 = PLN4.2350 on average*
*The rate I exchanged in September 2017

TOTAL TRAVEL EXPENSES 
I have shared majority of the breakdown of the total damages in the previous posts. Here, I simplify everything for easy reference - which including means of transportation, hostels, entrance fees, food, shopping and misc I spent throughout the 16 days in Europe.

PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
RM
Flight with Thai Airways

Cities
Budapest – 2 days
Vienna – 1 day
Salzburg – 1 day
Hallstatt – 1 day
Prague – 1 day
Krakow – 2 days
Warsaw – 2 days
Helsinki – 2 days
Copenhagen – 2 days

Transportation
CK Shuttle
Overnight train

Miscellaneous
Travel sim card (Bought from Taobao)
2,591


805
496
572
676
318
370
619
1,473
1,286


319
177


95
TOTAL:
9,795
Bear in mind by the time I exchanged to Euro last year, the rate was €1.00 = RM5.12 which consider very high cause currently the rate for Euro is RM4.76. Deng! Feel like want to cry now. 

As for my travel and shopping haul, most of the times I bought fridge magnets, postcards and stamps in each and every city I visited.

2017 Europe Travel Haul 01 Fridge Magnets

2017 Europe Travel Haul 02

And hereby I'm proud to conclude that this is my final post for my solo trip to Europe travelogues. Like finally! Now I'm thinking which travelogues should I blog next - New Zealand, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Sweden & Norway, Vietnam or even Nepal and Bhutan.

Previous Posts on my 2017 Solo Trip to Europe

Monday, May 7, 2018

Europe (2017): My Flight To Europe Wasn't Smooth-Sailing

Honestly to say, never in my life I would imagine that I will plan to do solo trip to Europe. Never ever, seriously. This is because I experienced travelling alone before and it's not my kind of thing. 

Somehow, something happened two years ago and I realised life is too short and you only live once (YOLO, like they always said). So when I came across a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark flying from Kota Kinabalu with Thai Airways was a great steal, immediately I bought without thinking any longer. I didn't even have the ample time to ask any of my friends to join along for this trip cause I know most of them have other travel plans. I never fly with Thai Airways before, therefore I was so eagerly want to experience it.

Because I was going alone, therefore I didn't do any research beforehand and just let everything go with the flow. The only things that I booked earlier are the accommodations and means of transport between two different cities/countries. 

And now here my never-ending stream of bad luck happened again. Two months right after I bought the ticket from Thai Airways, I received email stating the flight time is being retimed and I was given 6 hours hotel stay in Bangkok Airport transit area. Of course, I accepted the kind option given. Alright, that's fine.

Less than 10 days before my trip about to start, my friend told me that flight from Kota Kinabalu to Bangkok with Thai Smile will be suspended by 30 August 2017. Great, so what now? Imagine that I knew this news from my friend, and there's no any email or call receive from the airlines itself. It's really kinda disappointed. Instead of waiting for them, I myself decided to send an email to them to confirm whether the news of flight being suspended is trustworthy or not. Luckily they replied me immediately to confirm the news and given me two different options:

1) Instead of flying from Kota Kinabalu to Bangkok, now the first option is to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur with MAS and then to Bangkok with Thai Airways.
2) Full refund given for the tickets I bought earlier.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Europe (2017): Copenhagen, Denmark - Where I Started & Ended My Europe Trip

A reader actually email me and she would like to know which country I arrive first and then, return from which country for my solo trip to Europe last year. Well, here's the post specially dedicated for her. 

Copenhagen, the capital and most populous city of Denmark is my first pit stop after long hours journey with Emirates. From there, I travelled to Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, Helsinki and ended my trip back to Copenhagen once again. (Can you guess how many countries I managed to cover for this round? If correct, there would be token given.)

TAKING BUS FROM HELSINKI CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION TO AIRPORT
Now back to my previous post. Probably Helsinki is not my kind of thing, hence I think spending 2 days there is relatively adequate to cover several famous attractions and landmarks. So on the third day in Helsinki, once again I check-out earlier from Hostel Diana Park to get to Helsinki Central Railway Station cause my flight to Copenhagen is 7.25am. By the time I left the hostel, the day was still dark and walking alone was kinda creepy and scary but I try to remain calm and continuously walking until I reach the station. Surprisingly the railway station is closed and there is no way anyone can enter through it. Luckily I did my research a night before in case I couldn't make it to the train, so what's my next option - which is to take the HSL bus #615 right next to the railway station. From city to the airport, the first bus departure is at 5.10am and the journey takes 35-40 minutes, depending on the traffic. One trip cost 5.50.

2017 Europe Norwegian Helsinki to Copenhagen
Flew with Norwegian from Helsinki to Copenhagen for RM274 including 20kg baggage allowance. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Europe (2017): From Warsaw to Helsinki, the Capital City of Finland

If you ask me how many days should you spend to travel around Poland - I would say at least for a week so that not only you able to cover both Krakow and Warsaw, but Gdansk (one of the oldest cities in Poland) and Wroclaw. Unfortunately for me, I was pressed for time and therefore, only managed to spend four days in Krakow and Warsaw and yet, I found it's still insufficient enough.

HOW TO GET TO WARSAW FREDERIC CHOPIN AIRPORT 
My flight from Warsaw to Helsinki was estimated to depart at 9am. Therefore I decided to leave my hostel earlier. Luckily the bus stop is located just right in front of Dream Hostel and I don't have to  worry about catching up the bus. Took bus #175 heading to the airport using the 24-hour ticket I bought a day before. The trip took about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic and hence, it's advisable to plan your journey well. 

2017 Europe Warsaw Old Town Bus to Airport
#1: The bus stop in the Old Town "Plac Zamkowy" but then, this is not the bus heading to airport. (For illustration purposes only)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Europe (2017): Dream Hostel of Warsaw - The Best Hostel I Ever Stayed in Europe

Out of the 10 hostels I stayed throughout my almost three weeks trip in Europe, Dream Hostel in Warsaw is the one I love the most. Therefore I think it deserves to have it own post. Here are the reasons behind why you should choose this hostel if visiting Warsaw:


Location - Dream Hostel is smacked right in the center of Warsaw's Old Town (Stare Miasto). It's really convenient as there are abundant of restaurants, cozy cafes, souvenir shops, convenience stores and more within the vicinity. And the best part, bus stop to airport and city is located right in front of the hostel - which is super handy.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Europe (2017): Warsaw's Attractions & Sightseeing

Rise and shine, Warsaw! 
As usual, I woke up earlier than the rest for another adventures around the capital city of Poland. Normally, I got up from the bed before the sunrise but then not because I want to chase the sunrise but in order to capture photos without being photobombed - like they said, the early bird catches the worm. 

WARSAW'S ATTRACTIONS & SIGHTSEEING
As I only have one whole day in Warsaw before leaving, I just selected few best places of interest to visit. 

Warsaw's Old Town (Stare Miasto)
The oldest part of the capital city. It is one of the most prominent tourist hubs with cobblestone alley and medieval buildings reconstructed after the WWII such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John's Cathedral. Right in the heart of the area is the Old Market Place which consists restaurants, cafes and shops. 

2017 Europe Warsaw Old Town 04
#1: Warsaw's Old Town, the finest and most picturesque part of the city. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Europe (2017): From Krakow to Warsaw & It's Like Hell Day For Me

It was raining by the time I arrived Krakow.
And when I was about to leave, it was drizzling and miserably cold too.
Well, at least the weather was pretty good to me the day before so that I could managed to cover several notable attractions and popular landmarks around Krakow before leaving. 

I left the hostel right after had the free breakfast provided and walked to the bus station which not far away - less than 10 minutes walk perhaps. This time around, I carried additional thing with me which is the newly bought luggage bag from the shopping mall nearby. In case you're wondering, I actually travel without any baggage throughout my solo trip around Europe for almost three weeks cause the luggage I packed before the trip went missing somewhere in Dubai - not sure whether it's Malaysia Airlines or Emirates's fault (will blog more about this incident in upcoming post) but then always think of a bright side, it's not bad to travel light somehow. 

2017 Europe Krakow Railway Bus Signboard
#1: One World Hostel of Krakow is smack right in between the main market/square and railway/bus station.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Salâm from Iran

I really lost count the trips I had for this year - whether it's my 3rd or 4th trip so far. I have been bitten by travel bugs once again, cause I lost my passion in travelling somewhere in between 2016 to 2017 due to personal reasons but now, I'm craving for more travel adventures - not sure this is good or bad sign anyway.

2018 Iran Isfahan 01
#1: Iran marks the 41st country I visited and it's my first Middle East country I've been.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Qatar Airways, My Favourite Getaway to Europe

It all started when my friend and I planning to see the Northern Lights, or known as aurora borealis. After browsing few airlines, we spotted Qatar Airways is having promo, whereby fly-in Stockholm and fly-out Oslo for RM2,780 which consider to be reasonable and affordable cause both of these cities are well-known to be comparatively expensive to fly in and out. Without thinking any longer, instantly we click book and that's goes our "Duo Trip to Hunt for Aurora Lights". 

2016 Qatar Airways 01-1

Friday, April 6, 2018

Europe (2017): 3D2N in Krakow, Poland


After experiencing more than 8 hours in the overnight sleeper train from Prague, the train finally arrived in Krakow Glowny, the Central Train Station in Krakow. The first thing I done right after I came out from the train station is directly look for the hostel I booked beforehand. One thing I love about Krakow is the train station and the old town are located just side by side, without have to travel far away. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

World's First Michelin Starred Ramen Restaurant - Tsuta, Tokyo

When comes to travelling, most of the times I will always prepare a list of "What To Do & See" in the respective cities/country that I intended to visit. However for the food list, I don't normally do so cause I prefer to eat whatever that's convenient for me. I'm not the type that will purposely travel all the way from the west to the east, or even from the north to the south for the sake of food adventures. 

Not until my recent trip to Tokyo lately, my new travel partner in crime is very particular when comes to food, or should I say he tends to be more picky than me. And this is where I got to know more about the prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants. So I thought why not give it a try at least once in any of these Michelin-starred restaurants since I was in Japan - it's better to experience myself rather than reading all these reviews and comments in blogs and social media, right?

WORLD'S FIRST MICHELIN-STARRED RAMEN: TSUTA
To initiate my virgin Michelin-starred experience,  I gave it to Tsuta - Japanese Soba Noodles. In case you are wondering, Tsuta is the first ramen restaurant in Japan to be awarded one Michelin star dating back in 2015 which drew national and global attention. It is the only ramen shop in the world to be awarded for three consecutive years - 2016, 2017 and 2018.  

Tsuta Tokyo Michelin Ramen 01
#1: Tsuta - Japanese Soda Noodle, the first ever ramen shop in Japan to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star.