What I see, hear and feel

What I see and did..
Biei-Furano, Hokkaido

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Europe Early Summer Trip 2014: The Plan and the Process

We have just got back from the Malaysian school holiday long trip to Ireland, UK, Spain, Italy and Greece; which was from the 31st May to 15th June, 2014.

The plan to go was taken after our umrah trip in February and tickets were paid  before my trip to Vietnam in late March. My daughter who studies in Dublin arranged and created the travel framework that covers the length of stays in each city, booking of flights, buses and trains. She was also responsible for the itineraries in the Spain and Ireland trips. My other two daughters here in Malaysia prepared the itineraries for the Italy and Greece trips. I was in charged of the accomodations and train schedules. My husband was forever the Big Boss and Finance Minister. It was agreed that the main transportation costs would be shared equally as my daughters are already working and have saved. All bookings were under the Big Boss's name and thus, any monetary transactions were done with his credit card. Confirmed documents would be sent to the BB too. All he did in the end, was printing all the documents sent to him and arranged them systematically according to dates of activities. He was also the one who kept all our passports.

The trip covered 8 flights,  4 bus rides and 3 train rides at the cost of a little bit more than 1,000 euros per person, over 11 cities (including the airport cities). Taxi and shuttle fares to and from the airport were not included in this cost. In Spain, we used buses (Alsa) and taxis while in Italy, the trains (Trenitalia) were more convenient. We didn't move much in Greece since Athens was the only city we went to. Taxis are expensive in Italy but not in Spain and Greece. However, in Dublin we rent a car to get us to the west and north Ireland which were 3-hour drive away from Dublin. In between, we walked and walked till our legs and feet hurt. It's very important to invest in a pair of good walking shoes so that you don't have to grimace everytime you take a step. Sandals with straps are better used when you walk the shorter distance.

Nike shoes bought in Rome, Italy, at 40% discount. Gave so much relief to the aching feet.

How much money to bring? Since we have already paid for transportation and some accomodations (some places wanted payment to be made in cash and during check-ins, the money we brought is used to cover foods and souveniers and other petty things. Big purchases were carried out using credit cards. If new cash was needed, we just went to the bank atm and used our debit card with activated PLUS or Cirrus. Make sure you inform your banks you were going overseas and would use  both cards within the stipulated time.

Luggage weights are things that we were serious about. No-frills airlines like Ryanair and Airasia are very particular about the weights of our luggage. On the way to Europe, we purchased only 20 kg per luggage per person, the maximum imposed by Ryanair and 30 kg each on the way back to Malaysia. We carried 2 papa luggage and 2 mama luggage but the smaller ones were put into the big luggage so that we only lugged around 2 big luggages. These luggages were stored at the train stations (Italy), bus stations (Spain) and airports (Italy and Greece) when we made our walk around the cities for a specified period of time. Some accomodations let us keep our luggages there when we arrived earlier than the check-in time or we had to check out before its time. You have to read carefully or inquire when booking the accomodation online.


Clothes are rolled to save space and to reduce wrinkles

Accomodations are plentiful, from backpackers hostels to comfortable hotels. We chosed ones within our budget and convenient locations near the train terminals or near main places of interests. I also looked for ones that could accomodate the four of us in one room with private bathroom as taking 2 double rooms are more expensive than 1 triple room. However, there are times when you don't have any other option. The night we arrived in Rome, we experienced difficulty in locating our 'hotel' which is near the central station and when we finally did, we were told that something was under repair and we would be accommodated elsewhere. '10 minutes' felt like half an hour to the better hotel having to lug the luggages along the way. Thus, we did have the experience staying in uncomfortable rooms for the night but we accepted our fate with positive mind and gratification. Alhamdulillah.

 Near Stansted Airport, London

 Milan hotel, Italy
 Florence Apartment

Backpackers hostel at Cordoba 

Clothings...hmm. For the 17 days, I brought only 9 tops, 4 skirts and 3 slacks, a t-shirt with sarongs (could act as towel and blanket). All were light materials to save luggage weight. No jeans. I know I would be buying clothes here so I brought just half of what I should. I packed them by rolling them and tightly arranged in the covered compartment of the luggage as shown up there in the picture.

Ok..that's all I can think of to write at the moment. Information and relevant pictures might be added from time to time.

Thank you for reading and visit me again.

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