10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 2 Vienna to Prague

Morning in Hilton Vienna Danube Hotel

We woke up pretty early and found the streets a little wet. There were some light rains overnight. Our bus to Prague was at 8.55 am. The terminal is about 10 minutes walk away from Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront Hotel. So it wasn’t an extremely early morning bus ride and hence we had a relaxing simple breakfast before checking out of Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront Hotel. Our breakfast was the carrot cake and muffins we bought the day before and the coffee and tea we made on our own.

After freshening up, we went to the lobby to check out our room and then left Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront Hotel. We really enjoyed this hotel which was very comfortable and convenient for our purpose. Getting from the airport to Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront Hotel yesterday was very easy. Going to the bus station to catch a bus ride to Prague this morning was even easier within walking distance to the bus station nearby.

Heading to Stadion Bus Station

We reached Stadion Centre quite easily but along the way, there were police stationed at traffic junctions controlling traffic. Apparently, there was some sports event taking place this morning. There were quite a lot of people outside the stadium. We were still early so we went into the mall to check out what was there. Unfortunately, nothing was open. There were some people inside the mall waiting and also to use the washrooms in the mall. We also visited the washroom one last time before heading out to the bus bay to wait for the bus.

The bus was already there with passengers boarding the bus when we reached the bus bay just outside the mall. It was a very easy process with the bus guide checking our print itinerary and then tagged our bags for storage. We then went up the bus to sit according to seat number on our tickets we purchased online. Moments later, all were onboard and the guide came up to request everyone put on seat belt.

Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 2 Vienna to Prague

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 1 Singapore to Vienna

Singapore to Zurich by Swiss Air

Our flight to Zurich was a red-eye flight. The flight was almost full. Meal was served shortly after taking off during cruising. It was already past midnight and we were actually looking forward to catching some sleep and not late night supper. Moreover, we are not fans of airline meals. We just ate whatever we felt were more appetizing. To say the meal was fantastic would be a lie even flying great airlines like Swiss Air. We just got the meal over with so we could catch some sleep.

So with meals out of the way, we slept as much as we could. The night was exceedingly long flying east to west. It wasn’t a good idea to stay awake with the onboard entertainment system. We would rather have more energy to explore Vienna when we arrived. Most passengers onboard were civilized so there wasn’t much disturbance and we could sleep most of the time.

Breakfast was served after nine hours of flying time. We found breakfast tasted better than the dinner we had earlier. Maybe we were too tired after midnight and we couldn’t enjoy the dinner. Perhaps we were more enthusiastic as we felt we would reach our destination soon after breakfast. Anyway, the ambiance onboard was pretty fine.

Flight crews also went to rest after serving dinner. Drinks and snacks were provided on a self-service basis located at the corridor near the toilets. This is a good practice for long haul flight so crews could perform their duties efficiently and effectively. As we approached Zurich, the scenery from the air of Switzerland was so awesome. Transfer information was also displayed to prepare passengers to get on to their next destination. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 1 Singapore to Vienna

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour from Vienna to Amsterdam (2017)

We just came back from a 10 Days Europe Tour last week. When Swiss Air launched a promotional fare to Europe in July last year, the offer was too attractive to forgo. We managed to book a flight to Vienna via Zurich and return from Amsterdam via Zurich for only $668. This was a too good to miss trip with such low airfares. In fact, in 2013, we likewise visited Europe flying Swiss Air at around $700. So our flight itinerary for last month was as follows:

Flight LX 179 Singapore to Zurich 23.35 pm6.10 am
Flight LX 1574 Zurich to Vienna 7.10 am8.30 am

Flight LX 735 Amsterdam to Zurich 20.05 pm21.30 pm
Flight LX 178 Zurich to Singapore 22.45 pm5.20 pm

This time we brought our elder boy along for this Europe trip before he begins studying in university in a few months’ time. So we had to decide which cities to visit from Vienna to Amsterdam and where to stay that could accommodate three persons in a room. We had to look for accommodations that are strategically located to minimize travel time and cut down unnecessary transportation cost.

We had visited Vienna with other children a few years back, so we would stay the first night in Vienna for our elder son to enjoy attractions in this city. From Vienna, we would travel to Prague to stay two nights. Next would be onward journey to spend another two nights in Berlin. From there, we would visit Holland before flying home. But the journey from Berlin to Amsterdam would be quite long. So we broke the trip down to stay a night in Cologne before heading to Holland.

Unfortunately, the cost for accommodation in Amsterdam for the three of us for three nights was insanely expensive. It cost over $1000 for three nights’ accommodation somewhere not even very near the heart of Amsterdam. This wasn’t really justifiable considering our airfares were so cheap and accommodation cost was too costly for this city alone.

So our next best option was to stay outside of Amsterdam. We found staying in Rotterdam for two nights was a better option leaving the last night for Amsterdam before flying out of Amsterdam via Zurich to come home. In fact, the cost for staying two nights at Holiday Inn Express in Rotterdam was less than one night stay in Amsterdam. Anyway, we would not be staying in Amsterdam and simply spend time in that city alone for four days. Staying in Rotterdam allowed us easy access to Utrecht and Leiden. In addition, we would be visiting Rotterdam as well.

With accommodations and cities to visit settled, we looked out for opportunity to book train and bus tickets between cities early to enjoy substantial savings. We were eyeing for bus tickets from Student Agency Bus for bus transfer from Vienna to Prague and from Prague to Berlin. Travelling by bus would be cheaper and would not take much longer to arrive. Moreover, this bus company offers beverages onboard as well as onboard entertainment like flying in a plane.

We also booked train tickets from Bahn for transfer from Berlin to Cologne and from Cologne to Rotterdam. Train tickets booked early were pretty affordable. So we booked our bus and train tickets as soon as they were available for booking online. We just needed to print out the itineraries and it was that simple. With accommodations and transfers all booked, it was just waiting to activate our plans for this Europe Tour.

Hence, our itinerary for this 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour is as follow: Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour from Vienna to Amsterdam (2017)

6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 6 Danang

Catching Sunrise at Pullman Danang Beach Resort

Our king bed was really so comfortable and we didn’t feel like getting up. But we had to catch the sunrise this morning. By the time we opened our eyes, it was half past 5 in the morning. So we dragged our tired body and hurriedly left the room. We walked towards the end of the building and went up to the open balcony facing the beach. We just hoped we hadn’t missed the sunrise over here.

When we stepped out to the balcony, it was still pretty dark. Over the northern coast, it was overcast. The ground over at Premier Village Resort was getting brighter though. Some of the villas had their lights turned on. Perhaps guests were already up like us to catch sunrise this morning. The sky towards the south was slightly brighter than the north. It was nevertheless quite cloudy as well.

The beach ahead was quiet with clouds on the horizon. Beach goers were already out on the beach exercising and waiting for sunrise as well. Last year, we were on the beach as well. But because we woke up a little late, we decided just to come out to this balcony on the top floor to wait for the sun to rise.

It was very windy out here this morning. Due to the overcast sky, the sun seemed to be taking a vacation. We waited for quite a long time and was getting bored and tired but the sun seemed to have overslept. There was little we could do and going back to sleep would have wasted our effort. So we continued waiting. Continue reading 6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 6 Danang

6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 5 Hue to Danang Pullman Beach Resort

Great Breakfast at Serene Shining Hotel

We woke up to the last leg of our Central Vietnam Tour. Our train ride to Danang was at 8.56 am. Taxi ride to Hue Train Station was only 15 minutes away. So there was no rush this morning.

This morning, we went to the restaurant for breakfast at 7 am. However, we were not the only hotel guests at the restaurant. It seemed hotel guests were having early breakfast in order to head out for day tours. By now, the waitresses were so familiar with us. It was all smiles again when they served us.

Like the previous day, we ordered quite a lot of food for breakfast. We also collected fruits and watermelon juice. We liked the fruit juice here as they were freshly squeezed and not processed juice. Our food came and our table was filled up. It was another very delicious meal, our last meal in Hue for this trip.

One of the waitresses came and spent some time chatting with us as she knew we were departing for Danang. By the time we finished our breakfast and were about to leave the restaurant, this waitress presented a box of food for us to bring on our trip. The service staff were really great, genuine and sincere. Indeed, Serene Shining Hotel was the right choice for us, a great place to stay. Having thanked this kind staff, we returned to our room.

Departing Serene Shining Hotel

Back in our room, we freshened up ourselves to prepare for the train ride. After a final round of checking this big suite room, we went to front desk to process check out. The final bill for three meals and 90 minutes massage for two of us was just under USD 70.

It was a great stay here even though the location of this hotel was a little further away from the attractions at Perfume River. Nevertheless, walking there wasn’t very difficult either. Front desk staff then helped us call a taxi to the train station. So we left this lovely Serene Shining Hotel in Hue.

Few minutes later, we were on our way to the train station. We passed by the river scene again and like the previous day, the river park was quiet during the morning. Road traffic wasn’t heavy either. In under 15 minutes, we arrived at the train station. It was around 8.20 am when we arrived, still very early to catch the 8.56 am train. Continue reading 6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 5 Hue to Danang Pullman Beach Resort

6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 4 Hue City Citadel and Night Market

Very Good Breakfast at Serene Shining Hotel

Due to the location of Serene Shining Hotel situated in a side lane, road traffic noise was absent. So we slept to our heart’s content. By the time we got up, it was already past 8 am. Breakfast time was of course calling.

Down we went and we found the restaurant already busy with many hotel guests enjoying their breakfast. The friendly waitresses greeted us and gave us the menu to choose what we would like for our first meal for the day. We could choose whatever we wanted from the menu consisting of local Vietnamese and Western food items. So we made our order and then went over to the counter to collect fruits, fruit juice and more bread.

Our food came including Vietnamese coffee which was as expected, quite strong and sweet. We were greedy this morning. We ordered both Western and Vietnamese food for breakfast. The food was very good and we were so full after breakfast. The staff here really brightened our day with all smiles and ever ready to serve and help.

Sight-Seeing Time in Hue City

Back in our room after breakfast, we rested and made ourselves comfortable. We packed and tidied up a little to make it easy for the chambermaids to clean and make our room when we explored Hue City later. From our windows, we could see it was quite bright already but a little cloudy. Once we were ready, we left Serene Shining Hotel for our adventure for the day.

Our first objective was the Citadel. So we walked back to the riverfront at Perfume River we visited the previous night. Along the way, we checked out some sports shops. One of the shops near Le Loi Street before the Dragon Boats area had some sports shoes my wife might be interested. We took a look and told the young man and lady manning the shop we might return to check out the shoes after sightseeing in the city. We then continued walking towards the riverfront. Continue reading 6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 4 Hue City Citadel and Night Market

6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 3 Hoi An to Hue Via Hai Van Pass

Quick Breakfast at Hoi An Travel Lodge Hotel

We woke up slightly after 6 am. This time it wasn’t due to loud annoying singing nearby. In fact, it was pretty quiet in the vicinity this morning. We got up early because we needed to be ready by 7 am to wait for our bus to Hue. So it seemed the previous noisy morning was some event held during that particular day.

Breakfast would only be ready at 6.30 am. We had everything packed and ready to leave after a quick breakfast. So we went down to the restaurant at 6.30 am. Buffet spread was more or less ready. But no one was at the restaurant, not even a staff. We helped ourselves with those food that were available and had a quick meal. Soon, a staff came over with more food.

We didn’t have time to ask the staff to make us a bowl of pho this morning. However, we were given a box to pack some food with us after we told the staff we had to leave pretty soon. Another guest came down and was also given boxes to pack her food because she was leaving the hotel early as well. The quick meal was actually quite satisfying and the take away packed food was a bonus. We could have some snacks on the bus during our bus ride to Hue.

Waiting for Bus Transfer to Hue

After this we returned to our room to freshen up and then took our bags to head to front desk. We returned our room key and processed check out. Having made payment for the airport transfer that cost 340,000 VND we were ready to leave this very nice Hoi An Travel Lodge Hotel. It was 7 am while we waited in the lobby. Front desk staff helped us call our agent and was told the bus was on its way.

The staff in this hotel were really helpful and friendly. We loved the location of this hotel, just a street away from the Ancient Town. It is so convenient to visit the Ancient Town from here. The hotel also provides free bikes rental for hotel guests who wish to cycle around town or to the beach. Finally, our bus arrived at 7.30 am. A young man came into the hotel to look for us and we followed him and boarded the minibus and so that was goodbye to Hoi An for now till the next visit. Continue reading 6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 3 Hoi An to Hue Via Hai Van Pass

6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 2 Hoi An Ancient Town

Breakfast at Hoi An Travel Lodge

We woke up to some annoying loud singing near Hoi An Travel Lodge Hotel before 8 am. The hotel room opens out to a small balcony. From the balcony, we could see the side road was already busy with road traffic where locals were getting off to work. There were quite a number of street food hawkers along the road and locals were having their meals here in the morning.

Back in our room, we couldn’t sleep any longer. We didn’t intend to get up so early as we couldn’t explore the Ancient Town early in the morning. Most of the shops and cafes won’t be open. So we went down to the restaurant for breakfast. Staying on the second floor was quite advantageous as we could simply walk down to the restaurant for our meal.

The restaurant wasn’t crowded. We took our seats and then went to collect our food. The breakfast spread wasn’t huge but was more than sufficient. In fact, the quality of the breakfast was pretty good. We could order Vietnamese Pho separately as well. Of course the breakfast came with beverages, drinks, and fresh fruits.

Preparing to Visit to Ancient Town

After breakfast, we returned to our room to rest and tidy up to get ready for the staff to make our room while we prepared to head to Ancient Town just a street away. It was really early and shops at the Ancient Town might not be open so we took our time to surf internet and watch some TV programs. Finally at 9.20 am, we decided to make our move.

We stopped by at front desk to enquire about their free bike rental. The bicycles were kept just outside the hotel along the side road. Having taken a look, we decided not to cycle to town. The Ancient Town is just a street away. We didn’t see the point having to take care of the bike while we shop. Last year, we stayed over at Hoi An Sincerity Hotel which is much further away from the Ancient Town so cycling to town was necessary. This time we preferred to just walk which was more convenient.

Entering Hoi An Ancient Town

So we left Hoi An Travel Lodge Hotel, crossed the road and walked towards Le Loi Street. The streets were busy already when we crossed the traffic junction. Few minutes later, we were walking into Le Loi Street inside the Ancient Town. Shops were opening and a school was in operation with kids having a great time at the compound. This school looks like a kindergarten. The kids seen here were not wearing any particular uniform, just their home clothes.

Le Loi Street wasn’t busy yet but there were tourists roaming the street like us. Tourists were of course stopping here and there taking pictures of this lovely Ancient Town. The weather was great. It was a very sunny day and yet not scorching hot like our previous visits during the month in May. There was also some wind blowing and so it was also quite cooling especially under shades. Continue reading 6 Days Central Vietnam Tour (2017) – Day 2 Hoi An Ancient Town

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