Saturday, 14 March 2015

4 days to go - overview on europe transportation

4 days to go.
after months of waiting..

believe it or not, i'm still tweaking the itinerary.
just tiny bits - i'm not a late planner.
in this sense, i'm not a procrastinator. 
not when time means money.

people ask me:
'are you using a london pass? paris pass?
hop on hop off bus? no? whyyyy?' lol.
i'll be using public transport and traveling like the locals do.
why? because it's cheaper for our itinerary.

1) london

hello tubes and red buses! haha. we'll be using Oyster cards - london's version of touch n' go, available for use almost anywhere that tourists normally visit.

i think it's a bit unusual for tourists to ride in those red buses, they will usually opt for HOHO buses.

but i like the challenge, and so far, i don't think it will be anymore difficult than riding a HOHO.

it's essential to have an Oyster, because a paper ticket is definitely more expensive. plus, you can't use cash on the buses.

oyster cards have a 'capping' system -
no matter how much you travel per day, it will never exceed a fixed amount.
for tubes in zone 1 and 2, it's 6.40 pound.
for buses, it's 4.40 pound.

why buses? aren't tubes difficult enough? haha.

tubes travel underground, which means you'll not see london above ground, other than the places of interest you've marked on your map..

we'll use tubes too, just not on my grand tour of london day. haha!

and no london pass for us, well, just because we're not going into any museums/palace/etc. sadly, we just don't have enough time for them.

from london to amsterdam, we'll take an overnight eurolines bus. simply because it saves us from paying a night's accommodation. #cheapskate

2) amsterdam

amsterdam gave me a headache. it has trams, buses, metros. and almost all run with different companies.

as far as i know, no capping system for OV card :/

you can use an OV card - amsterdam's version of touch n' go - but the card alone costs 7.50 euro apiece. yikes!

so i opt for the wonderful day travelcards - you can buy a 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour, and so on travelcards. a 24-hour card costs 7.50 euro, a 48-hour costs 12 euro.. basically, it gets cheaper.

but the downside is - you can only use them on GVB-operated transport. if you'll only be staying in central amsterdam, this should be enough, as their wonderful trams are operated by GVB.

if you want to venture outside amsterdam - to lisse or zaanse schans, for example - you'll need an OV card, because OV card can be used on anything run by any company.

or you can use an amsterdam and region day ticket, which costs 13.50 euro apiece.

the amsterdam & region day ticket allows you to make day trips to lisse, haarlem, zaandam, volendam, etc at a fixed cost.

there's also that i amsterdam card, and the holland pass.... which i won't bother to explain here..

confusing? thus my headache.

i'm using the travelcard simply because it saves me from headache. and because i can budget easily. 

from amsterdam we'll be taking an easyjet flight to basel euro-aeroport.

3) switzerland

completely dependent on my 3-day swiss pass. for people younger than 26 years old, a 3-day pass costs 146 euro. a bomb, i know. i bought it because it's easy to use, valid on bus, trains, boats, cable cars etc, and because we'll be traveling across switzerland, a lot.

a heartbreakingly expensive piece of paper.

when purchasing the pass, you also need to pay for shipping - you can't print them at home. and the cost of shipping to your home in malaysia? a whopping 25 euro. and they actually ship from singapore. what a rip-off.


from basel, we'll be taking a train to lucerne. spend half-day in lucerne (including a mt rigi excursion) and then another train to interlaken, which is followed by a train to lauterbrunnen.

the next day, weather permitting, a cable car ride up to schilthorn (add on CHF40).

the day after that, a train to interlaken, then back to basel, where we'll be taking a TGV train to paris.

you get why i need the pass? flexibility. otherwise i would've had to book a flurry of train tickets in advance and imagine if we missed any of them. and they're not exactly cheap, either.

switzerland is a very, very expensive country to travel to.

4) paris

in paris we will be using those normal t+ tickets - a carnet of 10 tickets are discounted at 14.10 euro. these are valid for use on metros, RER, buses, and also at the montmarte furnicular.

yes, they are really small.

paris also offers paris pass and day travelcards, but i think we'll be relying more on our feet than the metro (i didn't even bother to learn paris' bus routes).

to be honest, the metro scares me. the stories of pickpockets at any metro station, especially the bigger ones are infamous. thus, my feet will be taking the brunt of the work, and the carnet of tickets will be more than enough.

also, isn't it scary to be jetting across countries without a tour guide or group?

yes, very much. yesterday i was freaking out about all these; what if all my plans actually fail and we got stranded in abu dhabi airport wtf -.-" then i soothed my frantic mind with thoughts of harry potter studios tour.

it's scary when you haven't planned, and you know nothing about those countries. you really need to put time and effort into studying them, making plan B and C, but above all pray that everything goes well. not perfect - but well.

you can't go off into europe without knowing anything. that will be frightening, and to be honest, a bit stupid. it's not everyday you can go to europe. if you're not rich, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip. your not-knowing will cost you money, and more importantly, time.

this concludes my sharing of the day. more sharing will be done when i have actually experienced each mode of transport - bus, trams, metros, trains, cruises, and one flight - which means, after i get back from europe ;P

which reminds me - 4 days to go!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

10 days to go

the past few weeks has been an emotional whirlwind for me.

scared, worried, excited, anticipation, frustration.

this is really, the first time i've done such a huge itinerary, 
comprising of four countries on the other side of the world, nonetheless.

and i've been totally crazy.

i'm particularly not very excited about london.
london is very expensive to travel to now, 
the pound remains so strong against our ringgit.
everything is going to be freaking expensive.
but then i booked a tour to the harry potter studios,
now i get giddy thinking about our first day in london.

and then amsterdam.
i've loved amsterdam since i first read about it online.
canals, tulips, windmills. what's not to love?
i'm a bit surprised i haven't fallen in love a long time ago.
amsterdam excites me to no end,
until my thought brings me to..

on sort of a last-minute whim, i added lucerne into our itinerary.
why ever not? i thought.
all the transportation needed is covered in our swiss pass.
might as well make good worth of its value.
switzerland is beautiful whichever way you look.
i'm excited about the views, and the possibility of snow.
i wished we could stay here longer.

and paris.....
enough said.
i have an eiffel tower charm on my bracelet.
the back of my phone is covered with an eiffel tower art.
paris will be challenging, it's notoriously known for crime.

my itinerary is done.
i'm now finishing 'my guide',
which includes everything from transportation working hours and important exits,
attractions opening hours, halal eating places, mosques, prayer times.
there can't be too much planning, haha.
i'm such a woman.

10 days to go.