5 Questions For Accommodation

Most of my beloved readers and followers might be interested to know this, or maybe not. But, during the course of my 2-weeks in Europe, we experienced the best and worst (sort of) of both worlds. Maybe I’m still not the expert on such matters, anyhow, I would like to share my 2 cents worth, just for discussion sake.

 

1) Location, location, location

Throughout my stay, the number one question before I book a hotel or staying via couch-surfing is — location. This is a must especially if you are planning to leave early for a flight or that you’re planning to get around easily without lugging your suitcases along the cobblestone pathways.

My preference is to stay near the departure point, especially if the departure time is awkward, e.g. 7am Eurostar to Amsterdam from Paris. If that can’t be done, usually if you’re traveling by plane, no one wants to stay near the airport, you can choose to stay near the train station. But those places might be a little seedy for your safety, although I need to stress here that I never felt so when I was around Europe. Another choice would be at the interchange point for the Metro (underground) or tram stops. An example would be the République Metro stop in Paris, it interchanges with no less than FIVE different underground routes.

For those that prefer to call themselves travelers (instead of tourists), couch-surfing locations might be suitable. These are usually in the suburbs, and you get to mingle with the locals, waking up to the sounds of the neighbourhood. Although, like us, you might even find such locations right in the middle of the city. Nearer than the hotels!

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5 Things We Did WRONG On Our Eurotrip

Planning the European trip took up about 4 weeks altogether over the course of 8 months, starting from buying the flight tickets, right up to planning the itinerary and making last-minute adjustments during the trip itself.

All said and done, we still encountered some problems and thus lessen some of the gloss of such a wonderful trip. Come on, you must be dying to find out what went wrong after following this blog for the past one year!

Not having a smartphone

I was actually waiting for the launch of the new iPhone 5, so we decided to wait and brought along our outdated phones for the journey. Since we weren’t actually using them for calling and neither did their photo capturing quality came to good use. They, together with their chargers, became dead weights.

I want the iPhone 5!

I want the iPhone 5!

Currently I’m using an iPhone 5, and with the amount of apps one could install on such devices, it makes traveling simpler (and lighter). We could do away with the guidebooks and printed material altogether. Just download the app for the particular country that you will be traveling to, including those travel planning apps, such as TripIt and Google Maps, and you’re good to go!

A word of advice, these high-end products could be a target for theft in the less developed parts of the world.

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GeoGuessr

Let’s explore the world!

GeoGuessr is the latest craze that has been linked and re-linked all throughout the internet recently. If you are a frequent user of Google Maps then this game is for you!

The game pretty much explains itself, you will be given 5 random locations (or rounds) throughout the world, and all you have is the Google Street Map view to find out where you are. You can zoom in, zoom out, walk around, turn around, look everywhere around you to come up with the best possible answer. Click where you are on the map given to you, and you will be given points based on how close you are to the actual location. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

Try to beat my score of 27771, which was my best ever score, since I would usually score an average of 12000 – 15000 points per game.

Here are a few tips:

1) Try to find the national flag while looking around.

2) Storefronts with addresses are a good bet.

3) Worse comes to worst, advertisement boards and truck logos would come in useful.

4) Knowing the local currency and its international symbol might help, especially near gas stations and restaurants.

5) Having a basic knowledge of the local written language.

There are a few drawbacks though which could influence the outcome of the game, such as my top score of 27771, I was dropped at two distinct landmarks, giving me a near perfect score for both rounds. Then, for the next two, I found myself at intersections with the town names on it, including the state they were in. These made up for my last round which I guessed wrongly, about 5000km difference from the exact spot.

The drawbacks:

1) Some Google Street View are too blurry for you to even read anything from the signs.

2) You might be dropped in the middle of some interstate, hundred of miles from the nearest town and with no cars in sight to help you out.

3) Having played the game for almost a week, I had about 2-3 repeats of the same map. Haven’t encountered even one from my own country. (Maybe the game could identify me as someone from around the South East Asia region, hence giving me locations OTHER than here)

4) The United States and Australia ranks among the most frequent locations being dropped at.

5) Having the original Google Map on a separate tab is considered as cheating.

So there you go, click on the link and get lost! (No pun intended) Post your scores here if you like.

 

Rome Day 3 (Part 3)

“It’s finally night time,” QS said.

We were sitting around a Chinese restaurant, courtesy of my parents, they have had enough of cheese and Italian pasta.

“Tomorrow is the last day,” quipped GC. Time sure flies. Two weeks ago, we were on the flight from KL to Paris, now we’re just 18 hours away from our flight back to KL from Rome via Heathrow. Yes, that’s courtesy of MAS Airlines, who suddenly decided to forgo all direct flights from Rome back to KL, AFTER we had bought the tickets.

There is one good thing about Rome, and that’s their night scenery, all the ancient history and architectures are light up at night and this portrays them in a different light all by themselves, pun intended.

Night view of Trajan's Forum (click to enlarge)

Night view of Trajan’s Forum (click to enlarge)

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Rome Day 3 (Part 2)

Luckily we had on our hats. The sun shone down brightly on us as we started walking towards Castel Sant’Angelo. There were plenty of tourists milling about on Via della Conciliazone. Everyone was with their sunshades and umbrellas.

“Can’t imagine this. We had rain and cold weather previously and now sun?” queried the wife.

“You’re talking about Paris and Amsterdam, that’s like a few hundred miles away from here, towards the north,” I replied.

Everyone here enjoys walking in the sun

At the end of the street, we arrived at Castel Sant’Angelo. We have had enough of museums and history facts, time to just sit back and relax. So we found ourselves a hot dog and burger stand with seats just right in front of the place, alongside the river. Ordered some burgers and start to watch people walk by.

I just couldn’t imagine that anyone would prefer to walk in such a weather back home, but here, everyone is enjoying the sun.

Castel Sant'Angelo (click to enlarge)

Castel Sant’Angelo (click to enlarge)

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Rome Day 3 (Part 1)

This was our last day of the marathon run around Europe for the past 2 weeks. We have entered Europe via Paris and will be leaving back home from Rome. One continent, 4 countries and 5 cities. What a blast!

“Our last day?” exclaimed the wife.

“Yes. After this, we’re heading back home,” I said.

Galleria Borghese has a time limit of 2 hours viewing time, not to mention reservations in advance

As was the recurrent theme, we had to wake up early again. This time, there was a deadline. We are going to visit Galleria Borghese. Not the usual museum that we were used to, for this one, we had to book early, there are only a limited number of tickets and viewing times is limited to 2 hours only. No ifs or buts.

It was not an easy place to get to either, there are no Metro stops near the area, the nearest is by bus. So off we went to Rome Termini to look for the Visitors Centre. Lo and behold, the place was not even opened yet.

“What? It’s almost 8 and they aren’t open yet?” asked the wife.

“Yes, surprisingly. Lucky for us, I did research in advance, just wanted a confirmation from the Visitors Centre,” I replied.

“Let’s go and search for bus #910.”

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