Monthly Archives: May 2014

Travel Etiquette: Taking photos

Sorry for not posting another post sooner, we’ve constantly been on the road and I haven’t had a lot of time to just sit down and write. We as a society are obsessed with taking photos and documenting many aspects of our lives. Since we’ve been travelling for a couple weeks now, I wanted to point out a few things that I’ve noticed on taking photos while travelling. Take this as a guide or just a traveller’s rant.

  • Don’t use flash when there are signs that tell you not to use flash. There’s a reason that for that. The light from a camera or any light could damage the art piece, furniture, etc.  Please respect the sights and make sure your flash is turned off.
  • Try not to stand in front of the monument/statue/painting for 10 minutes trying to take the right selfie. There are other people who would also like a photo as well. Take one or two and move on. Also, you can ask someone to take the photo for you.
  • Offer to take a photo for someone else. It’s a great way to meet new people and exchange brief travel stories. You never know who you’re going to meet. We met a couple in Athens who we ended up talking to for a couple minutes who were only there for a day and then moving onto a Mediterranean cruise (I’m very jealous because they were going to make it to Croatia – that’s on my list for future visits).
  • When in crowded places, such as stairs for example, it would be nicer to stand to the side to take a photo, not in the centre where everyone is trying to move forward. I know you’re excited to be at the Acropolis but so are the other 100’s of people who are making the climb up to see it.
  • SMILE 😀

Sorry for the rant, this is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while because I know I’m guilty of the things mentioned above but sometimes, it’s not necessary to even take photos. Just enjoy the views and the experience of travelling, you can’t take a more high res of a photo than the memory of seeing something in real life.

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Glasgow, Scotland

We took an overnight Mega Bus bus from London Victoria Station to the Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow. It was an eight hour bus ride that was late to depart – the bus was supposed to leave the station at 11:45pm but we didn’t get on until 12:00am. The ride to Glasgow was pretty uneventful with a lot of green fields and rain, so much rain!

When we finally arrived in the morning, we went straight to our hostel: Euro Hostel Glasgow (318 Clyde Street, Glasgow, G1 4NR). We couldn’t check in until 3:00pm but we left our luggage there while we set out to find some food. We had passed by a Tesco so we retraced our steps and ended up getting an egg salad sandwich and an orange (we haven’t really had any fruit since we had arrived in the UK).  There is a beautiful open square a little further up from our hostel so we went there and wiped down a bench so we could sit. We arrived on a good day – there was a film crew setting up and a lot of extras on the scene (they just looked like a lot of tourists). We didn’t go up and ask what they were shooting for though.

After breakfast, we got a map for the Hop On and Off bus and just followed the route of it on foot instead of paying the price of getting on the bus. We headed towards the Glasgow Necropolis and Glasgow Cathedral. The Necropolis was a small hike up and was well worth the view of the city! Also, it was a very nice stroll since the grounds are well maintained. It was a huge area to cover. The Cathedral was under exterior renovations but was still open so we visited the inside. It was the first Cathedral we went to and it was nice, there was also a basement area that had more information about the history of the place. I am a lover of stained glass windows so there will be many more pictures of them!

Since we still had time until we could check in, we had lunch The Spoon. They had an all day breakfast so my friend and I both ordered it. Simple but much needed protein for our diet. Also, from their website, the Spoon “helps people overcome prejudice from experiencing disabilities and/or social disadvantages.” It’s great to see the community coming to help others. 

In the afternoon, before checking in, we walked to the People’s Palace and the Winder Garden, both by the river. It was a great walk! We checked in and was glad to have booked a budget double room with a private bath. We just relaxed and unpacked toiletries. There wasn’t anything super special about the room but it was ours for the next two nights. There’s a bar attached to the hostel on the main floor that had cheap food.

On our first night, we went to the oldest bar in Glasgow, The Scotia. To our disappointment, they didn’t serve food on a Tuesday night (probably a low night). They had some import beers so we each grabbed one and chatted with the bartender. She was from Dublin and had moved to Glasgow. She told us that they usually serve food during the daytime so we decided to go back the next day. Afterwards we wandered around town and ended up at the Royal Scot for dinner – it was one of the handful of places open that wasn’t fast food. To be blunt, the food was not good. We ordered fish and chips and a vegetarian lasagne with salad. The fish was bland and under salted while the lasagne was way too salty. We didn’t know how close we were to our hostel since it was our first night. Had we known, we would have just had dinner back at the hostel.

It just occurred to me how much we accomplished in one day, even though my friend, L, pointed out that Glasgow wasn’t very big!

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Brighton, England

Since we had a couple of days in London before setting out for the rest of the UK, we decided to take a day trip to Brighton. It is easily accessible from the train system. We looked up train tickets and it was cheaper to buy all four tickets at once with return so we got tickets and hopped on the 11:10am train. It took around an hour to get there, so not a bad ride at all.

Brighton Train Station

Brighton Train Station

We walked down to the water first to see Brighton Pier and the beach. It was an interesting beach because instead of sand, it was made up of pebbles – hard to walk on but very pretty to look at. Next we walked to the Royal Pavilion where it was surrounded by a lovely garden. We didn’t go inside because there was an entrance fee and it was a lovely, sunny day so we stayed outdoors instead. In the midst of walking, we found a small market up an alleyway so we went to investigate. It was really cute! Along with all the walking, we stopped off at a pub and got food. My fish sandwich was delicious!!

Also, we were very lucky to stumble upon the Brighton Festival (happening throughout the month of May). There were a lot of different musical acts and other artistic exhibitions happening throughout the city. There were some strange things that we saw – people dressed up in costume taking requests on the piano, people dressed up in colourful cone-like costumes just wandering the streets.

Overall, it was a great day to just wander around and experience a new city. This was just the beginning of a series of day trips we would be taking throughout our trip. More to come as we move onto our first real stop: Glasgow.

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Wimbledon, London

For our first stop, we flew to London to visit some friends who live there. It’s my second time there and I’m not sure what it is about London, but the people seem more posh or it might just be the accent. Below is some info on the visit. I’m trying out a new format, let me know what you think 🙂

How to get there: Flight, Train

We landed at London Heathrow Airport and it is connected to The Underground Tube System. However, I must warn you that the walk from the terminal to the Tube was probably around 10 mins. When you get to the station, you can buy single tickets to Wimbledon station or you can purchase an Oyster card that you load money onto and can use throughout the Underground system. My friend and I both had Oyster cards so we just loaded it with money at one of the kiosks. Be careful which kiosk you go to; some are labelled as only accepting debit/credit, debit/credit/cash – no change, or debit/credit/cash – with change. We spent some time at a kiosk trying to put the top-up on our credit cards and it wasn’t working at all. We eventually found one that took cash and topped up the cards.

For the trains, looked at where we could transfer to get to Wimbledon station. We went from Heathrow to Earl’s Court and then to Wimbledon. Very easy to find.

Wimbledon 3 Wimbledon 2

Where I stayed: Apartment

Host: Friends’ place
Type of room: Living Room
Cost (per night/per person): $0 CAD
Nights: 3
We slept on a pull out couch throughout our stay. We were just grateful that they were putting us up for our first couple of nights in Europe. It felt surreal that we were actually in Europe – more like we were just visiting friends for the weekend and crashing on their couch.

Yummy Stuff

Sights and Sounds

  • The Commons
  • Windmill Museum
  • Buddhapadipa Temple
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Booking Accommodations

Along with booking transportation, accommodations would be the next step in planning a trip. We didn’t have a budget set out for accommodations but kept a simple rule of under $50 CAD per night, per person. It might seem like a lot to some people but we have been working adults for a couple of years so it’s us being hopeful in living in some sort of luxury – ie. not having to share a bathroom with others as much as possible.

Planning for a spring/summer trip quickly taught us that places get booked up quickly, especially for Dublin, Glasgow, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. For some of the cities, it was due to major sporting events and for others, we’re actually not sure why.

We used the following websites to book all of our accommodations:

  • Air BnB – people post their own places for short term stays
  • Hostel World – Online hostel bookings, ratings and reviews
  • Hostel Bookers – Online hostel and hotel bookings, ratings and reviews
  • Booking.com – Online hostel and hotel bookings, ratings and reviews

Like booking transportation, we spent a lot of time on the phone and the Internet to figure out where we wanted to stay. There were a lot of factors that we kept in mind: where are the “touristy” areas, what’s close to our bus/train station, can we get from where we arrive to the hostel by walking there, the type of rooms available (dorm vs. private rooms), and the price per night per person.

Below is a list of the places we’ll be staying separated into hostel, hotel and AirBnB categories. I will be updating this post by linking to my reviews on our stays with these places . I didn’t name the AirBnB places, they will be in my review posts. Also, I don’t have a full list of the places we’re staying at with the tour, so will also update as we go.

HOSTEL

  • Euro Hostel Glasgow – Glasgow
  • Belfast International Hostel – Belfast 
  • Barnacles Temple Bar House Hostel – Dublin
  • B&B I am here – GIOIA 66 – Milan
  • San Giorgio Villas – Santorini
  • Prague-1 Hostel – Prague
  • Baxpax Mitte Hostel – Berlin
  • Wombats City Hostel – Munich
  • Inner Amsterdam – Amsterdam
  • Station Hostel Backpackers – Cologne
  • Annex Copenhagen – Copenhagen

HOTEL

  • Hotel Giamaica – Rome
  • Hotel Cherubini – Rome (with tour)
  • Park Inn by Radisson Oslo – Oslo

AIRBNB

  • Paris
  • Marseille
  • Nice
  • Athens
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Booking Transportation

With all the planning happening, we wanted to book all of our transportation before leaving home because we’re on a budget and had a limited amount of travel time.

We used a variety of websites to book the flights – hours spent on the phone and Internet to make sure we got the cheapest and fastest travel time options. Also, the airlines listed below are mainly budget airlines (it’s so much cheaper to fly with a regional airline rather than an international one). There are other budget ones such as Ryanairand Virgin Atlantic but we didn’t book with them.

For the trains, the booking sites varied depending on which route we were taking.  For Prague to Germany, Netherlands and Denmark, we went into a Travel Cuts and spoke to a travel agent because we weren’t quite sure how the Eurail passes worked and we didn’t have enough time to wait for the mailing of the tickets to our home. It was good to get an understanding of how the tickets worked. We bought a pass for 6 days of travel within 2 months for $500+ (Select 4 Countries – First Class) but when you book your train tickets on Rail-Europe.ca, you enter whether you have a pass or not, the type and where you’re travelling to. The ticket prices shown are more of a booking fee rather than a full price ticket. The “cheapest” ticket of our travel dates were $12 CAD. In total for the 5 days of travel we spent just over $700 (including an overnight sleeper train). It may seem like a lot but when we looked at train prices without the pass, it was about the same price for the second/economy class.

I knew that we wanted to go on the ferry at some point so Athens to Santorini seemed like the best route. It’s a 9hr ferry ride, which should be an interesting one since it’s a long time to be on a ferry for. I’m hoping for fantastic weather so that we can go out onto the dock. Will update when this happens 🙂

We also booked a 10-day trip with G Adventures from Rome to Prague. It’s in the middle of our trip so it gives us a break from having to get to everywhere on our own. Plus it’s an opportunity to meet new people!

Below is a list of the land, air and sea companies we will be using to travel with:

AIR

LAND

  • Megabus – London to Glasgow, Belfast to Dublin, Edinburgh to London
  • Rail Europe – Paris to Marseille, Marseille to Nice, Nice to Milan, Prague to Berlin, Berlin to Munich, Munich to Cologne, Cologne to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Copenhagen

SEA

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Packing in progress

While booking for accommodations and transportation, I have put together a list of things to pack. It took a while because I wanted to bring everything and wasn’t sure how to pack for colder and warmer weather. The following list is what I came up with:

  • T-shirts (4)
  • Tank tops (5)
  • Long sleeve shirts (3)
  • Hoodie (1)
  • Capris (2)
  • Long pants/jeans (2)
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Bras
  • Bathing Suit
  • Sandals/flats (2)
  • Running shoes (1)
  • Flip flops (1)
  • Toiletries (shampoo/conditioner mix, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts/solution)
  • First aid kit (bandaids, Polysporin, tweezers, gauze, medical tape/scissors)
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf/sarong (1)
  • Medicine (Buckley’s day/night, Pepto Bismal, ant-acid pills, etc.)
  • Day pack
  • Backpack
  • Purse
  • Tea
  • Oatmeal packets

This is the final product!

Packing

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Backpacking through Europe

Over the past couple of months,  I decided to quit my job and go on this travel adventure because it would be  an opportunity to go see Europe without leaving my boss with a temp worker until I came home (considering there’s an event at the beginning of July). Another reason for leaving my job was because I felt that I had plateaued in my job – not feeling challenged enough and there wasn’t any room to move laterally or upward (there’s only two of us in the organization). I left on amicable terms and appreciate all my boss has done for me but I knew I needed to go.

I was debating on how to travel: 1) stay in a couple of cities and have it as home base, then do day trips, or 2) see as much as possible. As you can see from the list below, we decided to the latter.

As mentioned before in my travel news post, I will be travelling to Europe for just over two months. I’ve been planning for the last couple of months, on and off and after sitting down with my friend, we’ve come up with the following list:

  • England
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • France
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Norway

I will be updating as much as I can with info on transportation, accommodation, attractions, etc. on the different places we’re visiting.  Off to plan and pack!

Gloria

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