Sunday, April 30, 2017

[STOCKHOLM] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: 28 April 2017
SAS (Berlin - Stockholm) - 760.00
Airbnb (2 Nights) - 310.00
Flygbussarna (Round Trip) - 215.00
SL (24h Ticket) - 120.00

Saturday, April 29, 2017

[STOCKHOLM] Colder, Blonder, Pricier

I try to avoid Scandinavia whenever I can. As they say in Europe, as you venture farther north the people become blonder, the prices go higher, and the weather gets colder. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My problem is that my return KLM ticket is dated May 1. My Schengen visa expires April 30. Do you know how expensive rebooking a KLM ticket can be? And so I had to look for alternatives and when it comes to cheap long-haul flight between Eurasia, Norwegian is the name you should always remember.

Friday, April 28, 2017

[BERLIN] Budget and Itinerary (2)

KLM (Manila - Berlin - Manila) - 575.00
AXA (Schengen Low Cost) - 38.00
German Embassy (Schengen Visa) - 60.00
IIK BerlinerID (German Course/2 Months) - 945.00
IIK BerlinerID (Single Room/2 Months) - 990.00
Food Allowance (EUR10 x 60 Days) - 600.00

Monday, April 24, 2017

[SOFIA] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: 21 April 2017
Ryanair (Berlin - Sofia - Berlin) - 165.00
Airbnb (2 Nights) - 50.00
Metropolitan (one-way) - 1.60
Art Club Museum (Bolognese + Water) - 10.40

Sunday, April 23, 2017

[SOFIA] A Tale of Two Churches: The Big One

Just think of these two churches as two sisters who are polar opposites of one another. Boyana is the shy one, timid and quiet yet her beauty shines through thanks to her simplicity. Alexander Nevsky is the one with all the bling bling, glittering in fine jewelry from head to toe. If sheer opulence was to be the sole criterion for inclusion on that UNESCO World Heritage list, then this sister is a shoo-in. But the UNESCO maintains its own standards. But why compare? These two are both charming in their own right.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

[SOFIA] A Tale of Two Churches: The Small One

Once again, I was that Asian holding the immigration line. The officer asked what my purpose in Sofia was. I said tourism, then showed her my Sofia-Berlin boarding pass for Sunday. She wanted to see the ticket. I gave her a confused look asking why the ticket when I’m already showing you the boarding pass? It took her around half a minute to realize it, and then she let off an audible laugh. I also chuckled because I didn’t want to be an unforgiving jerk. We then added each other on Facebook, got married, and had four kids.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

[BERLIN] Caught Ticketless on the Tram

There are days when you just know that the universe is shitting you. Today is one of those days. For those who are not accustomed to how public transportation works here in Central Europe, let me give you a brief orientation. You can ride the subway here in Berlin without having to pay anything. You see, there are no turnstiles or gates preventing you from going to the platforms. If you are from Manila, this is downright strange. After a few weeks of residence here, though, you just get used to this trust system.

Monday, April 17, 2017

[NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA] Budget and Itinerary (2)

SATURDAY: 15 April 2017
Ryanair (Berlin - Cologne) - 30.50
McDonalds (McToast Ham + McToast Bacon + Hot Choco) - 4.28
Deinbus (Cologne - Aachen) - 10.00
ASEAG (Einzelticket) - 2.70
Hans Wurst (Hans Hotdog w/Pommes & Pepsi) - 8.90

[AACHEN] The Geographical Ménage-à-trois

Oh no, you got offended by the word “Threesome!” I’m so sorry that you’re such a prude. But we’re not really going to talk about sex in this blog entry, but rather about this spot in the forest where the borders of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands converge. There’s nothing erotic about that, unless you find hiking a la Blair Witch Project into the woods somehow titillating. But I’m not judging you, dude. To each his own fetish, no? Now let’s talk about the super sexually-charged topic that is political land borders.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

[LIMBURG] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: 16 April 2017
Belgian Rail (Liege - Maastricht) - 5.60
Saigon Cuisine (Chicken Fried Rice w/Coke) - 12.50
Toilet (Maastricht Hbf) - 0.70
Arriva (Maastricht - Aachen) - 6.00

[MAASTRICHT] Lunch in the Netherlands

Given the proximity of cities within the Euregio, you can just lump most of them together in a single day. As they say: Breakfast in Belgium; Lunch in the Netherlands; Dinner in Deutschland. Of course you can always add #blessed at the end of your post to annoy the hell out of your friends, those who think that you need to ride a jet to shuttle back and forth between these cities. But then again, their being geographically challenged is the least of your problems. Besides, fate seems to favor the geography geek.

[LIÈGE] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: 16 April 2017
Belgian Rail (Aachen - Liège) - 9.50
Toilet (Liege - Guillemains) - 0.50
Le Point de Vue (Classic Breakfast w/Extra Bacon and Eggs) - 10.90
Toilet (Liege - Guillemains) - 0.50

[LIÈGE] Breakfast in Belgium

The problem of the day was whether the soft copy of our Belgian Rail tickets was valid or not. Their website had contradicting instructions. On one hand, it said that we can just show the ticket to the officer on our smartphones, which made sense because there were barcodes on it anyway. And then another page of the website said that the soft copy of the ticket was just the proof of purchase and that we had to print it out, the hard copy serving as the actual ticket. WTF, Belgian Rail? Make up your mind?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

[AACHEN] Dinner in Deutschland

Dinner in Germany happened during the first night, actually. Landing in Cologne, I had to take another bus to reach Aachen. I chose Deinbus for this particular trip. I am a Flixbus fanboy but Deinbus is not bad. They also have WiFi and with matching magazine rack to boot. Okay, it wasn’t a rack per se, but you get the idea. The best part? There were just two of us onboard. Hahaha. I wouldn’t be surprised if Deinbus went bankrupt next week. How do they earn money from this kind of scenario?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

[ZURICH] Budget and Itinerary

SATURDAY: 8 April 2017
EasyJet (Berlin - Zurich - Berlin) - 95.50
Airbnb (1 Night) - 40.00
ZVV (Einzelticket) - 6.80
Starbucks (Choco Chip Cream) - 8.40
ZVV (Kurzstrecke) - 2.70
China Restaurant Chopstick (Lemon Chicken w/Rice + Coke) - 17.50

Saturday, April 8, 2017

[ZURICH] Don't Go to Switzerland They Said

It’s freakin’ expensive, they said. Well, they were right, but what I love about Switzerland, or maybe just Zürich, is how you can survive here cashless. Visa took care of everything. I’ve never really appreciated Contactless technology until now. Getting out of the airport, we keyed in our destination on the ticket kiosk thingy, waved the magic plastic and voila! Ticket. I’m not saying that it’s hard to find decent money changers in the city but if you’re like me and you’re a bit allergic to cash, then you’ll like Zürich.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

[LOMBARDY] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: 2 April 2017
Baltour (Rome Tiburtina - Milan Rogoredo) - 17.00
ATM (Biglietto Urbano) - 1.50
McDonalds (Breakfast) - 4.60
Signorvino (Carbonara + Water & White Wine/4) - 14.00
ATM (Biglietto Urbano) - 1.50
Eataly (Gelato) - 2.20
ATM (Biglietto Urbano) - 1.50
Orio Shuttle (Milano Centrale - Orio al Serio) - 5.00
Ryanair (Bergamo - Berlin) - 22.00

[MILAN] Italy the Modern

I was a zombie in Lombardy. A typical one-way flight from Rome to Milan will set you back EUR 50 (~PHP 2,750) if you fly with Al Italia. From the perspective of a Southeast Asian who has seen better days as far as cheapo airlines are concerned, this is already a good deal. But then I saw an overnight bus from Baltour/Eurolines that cost no more than EUR 17 (~PHP 935). You depart from Tiburtina at 11:35 PM and arrive at Rogoredo at 06:30 AM. Good deal? I don’t really recommend it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

[LAZIO] Budget and Itinerary

THURSDAY: 30 March 2017
Ryanair (Berlin - Rome) - 25.00

[ROME] Sono Pazzi Questi Romani

As the second day of my Roman Holiday was split between the Vatican and Rome, it meant less time for the latter. In my head, though, it was fine because we still had the whole Saturday the next day anyway. On my very touristy list of priorities, only the Fontana di Trevi and the Coliseum were left to cross out. And so after dragging my Roman friend to Burger King and her reacting with a grimace and a groan (Italians, they love their cibo don’t they?), we hopped on the Metropolitano en route to the Colosseo.
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