Summer 2016, Fondest memories.
Having traveled 70 days in Europe by all sorts of means: Bus, car, train, hitchhiking, by foot, getting into various situations, here is some practical stuffs I would like to share with you:
1. About bus:
– I use GoEuro website to compare prices before buying them. I find them really easy to use and the information given is very precise. I manage to grab a lot of €1 bus tickets using this website and it saved me a lot of money. A LOT.
– When your bus gets delayed more than 1 hour, don’t put up with that! Act and fight for your customers’ right. Europeans are all about human rights so when my bus got delayed, I thought to myself why not, and called the customer service. They compansated me with free train tickets so that I can get to my destination faster and it was way more comfortable.
– If you are on a really budget trip, try to book a night bus to save on accomodation. And it gets you to your destination wayyy earlier than the mass tourist. Double win!
2. About flight:
– I personally use Skyscanner app to scan for the cheapest flight tickets, but that is just the first step! Click into the official websites and check again before you press the purchase button. You might get it cheaper.
– Ryanair is one of my favorite budget airlines because it flies on time and its really CHEAP. I got my London-Dublin ticket with just €9.99. A lot of people complain about their luggage policy, but since I always travel with only a bagpack, it doesn’t borther me.
– Although I also always use EasyJet and love it, dealing with customer service was not easy during my last trip. Missed my connection flight because of delayed Easyjet, not only I couldnt get refunded, I have to pay for a new ticket.
3. About hitchhiking:
– I don’t know about western Europe but hitchiking in central Europe was pretty easy. For security reason, I only choose to ride with families.
– Its easier to get a car in a parking lot or petrol station than at the roadside.
4. About trains:
– Trains in Western Europe are more on time then those in Central Europe. I might be wrong but that was what I experienced. So don’t make your travel itinerary too packed, you might have to spend a lot of time in the train station, or in the train itself if anything happens to the track.
– Don’t stand too close to the tracks, even if you are not crossing the yellow line, there are potential dangers. A friend told me a woman was pushed onto the track by a maniac behind her and she died instantly.
– Boarding the correct train is not enough. You have to board the correct wagon to get to the correct destination. Check your ticket twice before entering the train.
– I’ve used an Interrail/Eurail pass for the last leg of my travels, and I loved the flexibility of it. If you are not residing in Europe, try “Eurail”.
– Always check if your train journey requires a reservation, even if you have a Global Pass.
5. About scams and potential danger:
– Although I mostly traveled solo, I didnt feel unsave at all in Europe. Except for one night when I had to walk 30 minute to my hostel at 3am, but that was my stupid mistake.
– I met with the petition scam gangs, the lucky bracelet merchants, the luggage snatches (yes my bags was snatched away but he dropped them and ran eventually), pickpockets and so much more but Thank God I came out from all of them without any lost. According to my experience, just follow 3 golden rules and you’ll be fine: 1. Have your stand. Firmly say no and if they insist or try to touch you, scream “police”/ go wild with your “reflect system”. 2. Don’t feel shy to shout. 3. Even when you are sitting somewhere, always strap your bagpack to your body. And lastly, of course, be alert.
6. About accomodation:
-Couchsurfing remains my favorite but also, I felt that it is misused by some people out there, sadly. So for safety reasons, I’ll only stay with ladies or personal friends I met during the trip. Always check the person’s facebook page too before acepting a host/guest… at least that is what I do.
– For hostel, I normally compare prices through agoda. Recently, I upgraded my requirements when it comes to choosing a hostel. After experiencing bedmites, blood-stained sheets, creep roommates, dodgy area etc, I no longer opt for the cheepest deal. I’ll compare ths hostels in all posible aspect and for this, the website Hostelgeeks comes in handy. It introduces the concept of a 5 star hostel and you’ll never accidentally book a creepy place ever again.
7. About booking tours:
– I use “Get Your Guide” website to search for tours, in my opinion, it works really well.
– I would prefer a smaller group tour to keep the authenticity of the experiences.
8. About currency:
– I think it is safer to withdraw certain small amount of money everyday than to bring a pile of money on a trip. For this, always check for the processing fees before you press proceed on an ATM machine.
– When changing currency, always ask for the service fees FIRST! Some of them were really sneaky and tried to hide the crazily high service fees if you don’t ask before hand! My friend was charged 20 pound in a currency changer, so beware!
9. About water:
– You can drink directly from the tap in almost all of Europe, expecially Switzerland! You don’t have to spend 2CHF on Evian water bottles everyday!
– DO NOT drink from a circulating water fountain.
10. About manners:
-please please please oh please behave. Especially this: DO NOT CUT QUEUE! It not only brings humuliation to oneself, it also bring humiliation to one’s home country, because yeah, human judges. Do I even need to say this? Yes, because in Italy someone started a fight because of this and I injured my hands after being pushed down the bus accidentally.
11. About languages:
– English won’t get you everywhere! I know, I was shocked too. I thought English is the international language and I’ll be okay traveling across Europe but — Surprise! Especially in some part of France, Germany, Poland, Czech and Hungary, I needed to use a lot of body languages, google translate and thank God I managed to get around places in Central Europe with my broken Russian Language.
12. About photos:
– Nope, I don’t have a “secret” photogragher standing behind me all the time. The trick of taking photos when traveling solo is: 1. camera stand (mine is about the size of my palm), 2. Burst mode, 3. Ability to ignore stares a.k.a shamelessness. (haha, I am kidding but yea, ignore the stares.), 4. Stamina to run back and forth.
13. About Clothes:
– It might be Summer time but never be fooled by European summer. Prepare some warm clothes, and preferably bring a raincoat. It was raining most of the time during my visit, breaking 3 of my umbrellas. I never even bother to get the 4th. R.I.P., umbrellas.
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Last but not least, here is my exact itinerary:
62. Riga, Latvia. (Group)
61. Budapest, Hungary. (Group)
60. Plitvice, Croatia (Solo)
59. Stein Am Rhine, Switzerland. (Solo)
58. Rhinefalls, Switzerland. (Solo)
57. Strasbourg, France. (Solo)
56. Colmar, France. (Solo)
55. Florence, Italy (Solo)
54. Ljubljana. Slovenia. (Solo)
53. Vintgar, Slovenia. (Solo)
52. Lake Bled, Slovenia. (Solo)
51. Hallstatt, Austria. (Solo)
50. Vienna, Austria. (Solo)
49. Cesky Krumlov, Czech. (Solo)
48 Kutna Hora, Czech. (Solo)
47. Prague, Czech. (Solo)
46. Krakow, Poland. (Solo)
45. Wroclaw, Poland. (Solo)
44. Szcetin, Poland. (Solo)
43. Potsdam, Germany. (trio)
42. Berlin, Germany. (trio)
41. Neuschwanstein, Germany. (duo)
40. München, Germany. (duo)
39. Salzburg, Austria. (duo)
38. Lucern, Switzerland. (duo)
37. Zurich, Switzerland. (duo)
36. Bern, Switzerland. (solo)
35. Geneva, Switzerland. (duo)
34. Interlaken, Switzerland. (duo)
33. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. (duo)
32. Zermatt, Switzerland (duo)
31. Konstanz, Germany. (group)
30. Meersburg, Germany. (group)
29. Titisee, Germany. (group)
28. Tübingen, Germany. (duo)
27. Köln, Germany (duo)
26. Gent, Belgium (duo)
25. Bruges, Belgium (duo)
24. Brussels, Belgium. (duo)
23. Giethoorn, Netherlands (duo)
22. Zaanse Schans, Netherlands. (duo)
21. Amsterdam, Netherlands. (duo)
20. Kinderdijk, Netherlands. (solo)
19. Rotterdam, Netherlands. (solo)
18. London, England. (duo)
17. Loire Valley, France. (duo)
16. Provence, France. (duo)
15. Vaucluse, France (duo)
14. Chamonix Mount Blanc, France. (duo)
13. Paris, France (duo)
12. Milan, Italy. (solo)
11. Cinque Terre, Italy. (solo)
10. Pisa, Italy. (solo)
9. Vatican City (solo)
8. Rome, Italy. (solo)
7. Verona, Italy. (solo)
6. Procida, Italy. (solo)
5. Capri, Italy. (solo)
4. Almafi Coast, Italy. (solo)
3. Burano & Murano, Italy. (solo)
2. Dolomites, Italy. (solo)
1.Venice, Italy. (solo)
** accompanying this post, some of my favorite photos from the trip. #europetour #europe