While everybody else is out ushering the new year, I’m just gonna stay at home to mend my
broken heart (it’s not broken anymore!). Wait, before you say anything else, that amount excludes the expenses. (food, food, food, shopping). There were 3 of us so (amount/3).
We decided to go to Europe in June, started booking for what’s necessary in late September, finalised everything by October and off we went to Europe in November. We took overnight trains (point to point ticket is much cheaper than the rail passes) to the next city (saved a lot on hotel) and we weren’t concerned about having a really good hotel too. We took the cheapest train ticket so we had to sit and sleep at the same time. If you’re lucky, they might give you a cabin that has the bunk bed. We were lucky once.
For hotels, decent was fine and I must say that there weren’t many complains! Except for one hostel. It would have been even cheaper if we chose hostels instead of hotels but I’m not used to having strangers sleeping with me. I don’t know how I sleep with people around and it would be so embarrassing to fart in the middle of the night or sleep walk or sleep talk. You know what i mean?
Oh, I used Couchsurfing to meet the locals. Check out my profile for an example. Don’t worry, just post a thread. If someone replies an offer to show you around the city, check out their reviews. It’s been safe for me and I’ve met so many people through CS. It’s very useful given the short amount of time I spent in every city. They can even offer you a couch for free.. I didn’t opt for that because I wanted privacy and had 2 other people with me but if I was alone, I would opt for that.
I was given the opportunity to plan everything out (with inputs) and am proud to say that it went well.
Singapore to Riyadh to Paris to Munich to Vienna to Prague to Edinburgh to London and back to Paris.
Since we were travelling from city to city, it is best that you set aside the amount of money you think you need for every city (very very important). I set aside about €150 per city (very important to control what you are going to spend on.) I am going touch on what’s important. Daily activities would depend on your interests. If you’re only interested in sleeping in the hotel, so be it!
Here’s the itinerary breakdown :
6 November (Depart at 5pm local time)
S$758.00 (We found out it became cheaper if we booked it later)
Return flight – Saudi Arabian Airlines.
SIN to RUH – 8 hrs 30 min
(4 hour layover)
RUH to CDG – 6 hrs 50 min
7 November 2013 at 6am. (CET)
It was my first international flight and it was pleasant. I’m not a difficult person so, i don’t quite demand for any of their services. All I wanted was to sleep. The plane was pretty empty so I buckled myself up using the belt on the middle seat and made my own fort. I had the row to myself and I slept for most of the hours. Oh by the way, it happened throughout my journey to and fro. Whole row = no backaches, cramps whatsoever. You just lay there like a boss. But the food… let’s just say we really really needed to eat during our flight and there weren’t any NTUC or Kopitiam we could depend on, onboard the plane. Period. The crews, let’s just say we laughed a lot. But I wouldn’t mind flying with them again.
We needed to shower. Badly. Our train to Munich wasn’t until 7pm so we checked into Ibis hotel at CDG for 2 hours. They have a room charged hourly (about S$50) so we rested and showered and bought a train ticket to Paris EST. (i think i’m talking too much)
Paris EST to Munich (http://www.raileurope.com.sg)
Per person : $52.60
Rule of thumb – Don’t look for hotels that require you to travel a distance (unless you have to). I’d google map the distance between the hotel and the train station first, since we would arrive and depart at the same station. We don’t want to risk forgetting things and needing additional travelling time and then missing out on our overnight train. Nightmare.
8 to 10 November (2 nights)
Hotel per person : S$81.00
Meininger hotel in Munich was one of the best. It was 20 minutes by foot from the station. Polite staff – actually, that’s all that matters. I met someone who lives in Munich for a couple of hours too. He showed me around and we had a really good time. We planned to go to Salzburg, Austria for a day trip but something went wrong with the train and we were stranded for 4 hours. Luckily, I met a German girl in the overnight train and she told me to visit Chiemsee, Bavaria. We alighted there and no regrets at all!
Munich to Vienna (http://www.raileurope.com.sg)
Per person : $52.60
We arrived only at 11 am because we missed our stop and ended up in Hegyashalom (borders of hungary). Note: Communication is key. Always know where the train is going and set an alarm 30 minutes before you were set to arrive. And of course, I had to lose my friend’s jacket that had my wallet in the pocket along the way. Luckily, all the monies for every city were kept separately. That’s why I said it’s important! I had almost 100 euros in that wallet, a credit card and a debit card and my ezlink card (don’t know why i had it inside). I couldn’t make a report for the loss cause the police officer said it’s not within their jurisdiction and I had to go to the magistrate court which was god knows where. And I still owe my friend a new jacket. LOL
11 November to 13 November (2 nights)
Hotel per person : $55.00
Meininger hotel downtown Franz in Vienna was just as good as the one in Munich. Really good and really cheap. Staff were as friendly as the one in Munich. Even better, actually. You could walk around Vienna and not get tired of it. It’s really beautiful. Clear blue sky, friendly people, nice architectures. I think i walked for about 12 hours a day, and for the last day, I took a 1.5 hour boat ride but I fell asleep throughout the ride cause it was boring.
Vienna to Prague (http://www.raileurope.com.sg)
Per person : $52.60
14 to 15 November (1 night)
Per person : S$46.00
We used Airbnb. Highly recommended. We got a place at a museum rooftop house. Check out the link. We needed to take a break from all the travelling and this place was perfect. Prague was cold. Very cold. Very, very cold. I met someone there, and we walked around and he bought me drinks so I literally didn’t spend anything in Prague. Well except for souvenirs. The apartment had a kitchen so we cooked whatever that we could so we didn’t spend money on food. We brought some stuff from Singapore so we made do with what we had. One thing about Airbnb though, you need to read the reviews first. That’s where the trust element came about. The host was really nice. Really, really nice. I made a mistake by booking the flight to edinburgh the next day, but no regrets. We never really fancied Prague anyway. Their hot chocolate is the worst. Yucks.
Prague to Edinburgh (1.5 hr Flight)
One way flight : $88.50
15 to 19 November (4 nights)
Per person : $147.60
Again, we used airbnb. We had the whole apartment to ourselves so we cooked everyday. The apartment was a little bit haunted and I had nightmares for every night i was there but all in all, it had a really comfortable bed and comforter. That is all that I need to feel comforted. Oh, you know they have the hop-on and hop-off tours right? Don’t use it (unless you don’t have the time). Pay about £3.50 for the bus ride and it’s unlimited. Take out the map, check out the popular location that the company use, find out the bus services that goes to the touristy spots and voila. You only pay that little amount. All you need to do is to hop on the public buses and hop off whenever you feel like it. It’s a clever move. Do it in London too. Sorry tour operators, I meant well for my friends who need to save as much as they can.
Edinburgh to London (http://www.raileurope.com.sg)
Per person : $63.00
London (New : Things you can do in London)
19 November to 26 November (7 nights)
Per person : $276
We initially booked a W14 hostel at West Kesington but it was a nightmare. It was cheap. But it was a nightmare. The hostel was under construction, there wasn’t a good wifi, we were never told all that. We had to climb 4 steep storey high. Eew, just eew. We were so spoilt by all the good hotels then. We didn’t have a choice but to stay there for 2 nights else we have to pay extra for a night that didn’t happen. I stayed up all night trying to look for an alternative and voila. Airbnb saved us! Our host, she’s superb. She made us a chocolate cake. Her house was really really clean and tidy. It smells good. It was also a 2-3 minute walk to the train station. I have short legs, so 2-3 minute walk felt like a 100m sprint. If it wasn’t for the bad hostel, we would have ended up paying only $188 per person in London.
London to Paris (http://www.raileurope.com.sg)
Per person : $85.00
26 to 29 November (3 nights)
Hotel per person : $111.60
We stayed in Ibis Budget hotel and it was pretty decent. I was really sick and I had to miss disneyland. Someone offered to show me around Paris in one day. We managed to walk for about 8 hours and my fever was running high but hey, I was satisfied. I stayed in the next day and we flew off the following morning. My 2 month old phone was stolen at Montmatre. It happened so quickly, i wasn’t able to react. Don’t tell anyone, but it happened just as I was about the enter the church and I cussed. Lol and please, please remember to make a report of the stolen item because you can claim it from your insurance. I wasn’t used to making claims so i forgot all about it until a couple of days later.
There you have it. A grand total of $1,869.50 for the 2 flights, all our accommodations and trains. I am not a big spender, and it depends on the kind of things you’re interested in. I met a lot of local people, so i didn’t waste a lot of time looking for places, they know their way around and i saved a lot of money on the transports. If you go there, you’ll know what i mean. What’s important is to spend within your means and not having to come back to pay your debts. It’s not worth it really.
Tomorrow, I’ll be paying off my credit card bill (because my wallet was stolen and I couldn’t activate my debit card before my friend flew off to London to pass me my cards) and my chapter in Europe is closed.
Don’t forget to make comparisons between the hotel’s actual site and other platforms such as hotels.com or bookings.com or agoda or cheaptickets.sg. It’s very useful because some would offer better perks than the other and some would be cheaper. Take that extra time to check them out.
You also need to have good travel companions. You should learn to give and take. You should give others a chance to speak and give their opinions. It worked for the three of us and we barely had any disagreements. And i’m proud of that because it’s my first time travelling for 3 weeks and everything went oh so smoothly.
For Couchsurfing and Airbnb, if you do good to people, in return they’d do the same for you. Leave them a positive reference after you’ve met them in person to show your gratitude and in return, they’ll write one for you. It’s also a good way to “market” yourself the next time someone wants to approach you for any kind of assistance.
One last thing is to note on the check in and check out time. Make sure you take that into consideration when you plan for your train rides too. Should you arrive early, check with the hotel to see if you can place your luggage there, otherwise, look for an alternative locker. You do not want to bring around your luggage of 20kgs if there’s still time before checking in. And I must say that the prices for every single one i’ve quoted would vary. Do keep a lookout.
I hope this would be somewhat useful to some of my friends. Share it with your friends if you have to. I had fun. You should try it too :)
ps. http://www.airbnb.com/c/nabrani – sign up for airbnb using my referral code. you’ll get some discounts off your first booking! :) i’ll actually get some too. it’s an amazing way to travel.