Category Archives: Germany

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 7 Cologne to Rotterdam

Cologne to Rotterdam Itinerary

We were finally heading to the Netherlands after this very brief stopover in Cologne. Initially, we planned to stay three nights in Amsterdam. However, the hotel rates in Amsterdam were insanely high. Our next best option was to stay two nights in Rotterdam before eventually staying the last night in Amsterdam and then fly home.

The hotel we booked for Rotterdam was Holiday Inn Express costing around 178 Euro for two nights for three persons. This rate was less than half the cost for a night stay over in Amsterdam for the same period.




Our train ride departing Cologne was 10.39 am with a change of train in Utrecht. This allowed us plenty of time to enjoy breakfast that came with our booking of Domstern Hotel in Cologne.

Nice German Breakfast at Domstern Hotel

It was already 8.30 am when we showed up at the cozy restaurant which wasn’t very big. The restaurant’s furnishing was like our room with an old world charm type of ambiance. There were some guests already having breakfast when we went to the restaurant.

Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 7 Cologne to Rotterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 6 Berlin to Cologne

Last Morning at Suite Novotel Berlin

We entered the second half of our Europe Tour beginning from Vienna eventually terminating in Amsterdam. Having spent two nights in Berlin, we would be travelling on to Cologne. Actually, our original intention was to head straight to Holland but the journey would be a little too long on the train. So a convenient stopover would be Cologne along the way to Rotterdam.

This morning, instead of making tea and coffee in our room, we went to the lobby to get our coffee and tea from the facility provided by Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel for guests who prefer a quick fix breakfast. Those little snacks available on the table were good too. So with coffee and tea back in our room with more snacks we bought the day before, our simple breakfast was taken care of.

Our train to Cologne was 1.34 pm so we still had the morning to explore Berlin one more time near our hotel. As such, after packing up, we left Suite Novotel Berlin to explore some parts of the neighbourhood nearby where we missed when we first arrived two days ago. It was a very good day this morning with clear blue skies. The day before was cloudy and so cold even during summer.

Exploring Neighbourhood Near Suite Novotel Berlin

This time, we headed south of the hotel and checked out the quiet neighbourhood. It was really quiet and we hardly met anyone on the street. After roaming the streets, we headed back north towards Checkpoint Charlie. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum wasn’t open when we arrived.

We then turned right to explore further east from Checkpoint Charlie. It was a leisurely walk. Modern and old buildings in the vicinity were pretty interesting and the streets were orderly and clean. However, we came across a drunkard shouting at two young Caucasians probably in German which we could not understand. Some cafes were in the process of opening and we saw staff preparing tables and arranging chairs.

Having roamed around this side of the neighbourhood we returned to Checkpoint Charlie. Tour buses were seen on the road waiting for action for the day. There were a few visitors this time when we were back to this place of interest. The American GIs were manning the checkpoint on the street with the American flag noticeably at half mast like the previous day joining UK in the solidarity mourning the victims during the recent terrorist attack in Manchester. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 6 Berlin to Cologne

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 5 Berlin City Tour

Berlin City Tour

We entered the fifth day of our Europe Tour. When we arrived Berlin from Prague in the afternoon the previous day, we only walked around to nearby attractions from Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel. This day would be spent exploring the city of Berlin on foot via public transport.

As Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel came with all the facilities of a mini kitchenette, we had a simple breakfast with food purchased from a convenience store a day earlier. The coffee and tea were good and we were satisfied with the snacks for the moment expecting to pick up more food during our street pounding later. From our room window, we could see it was a cloudy morning.

We then left our room and went to the lobby preparing to leave for the day tour of Berlin. At the lobby entrance, a coffee machine was setup on a table. Various types of tea bags were available as well together with snacks for hotel guests to grab a quick bite to get on for the day. We had already eaten but I still made a cup of coffee to carry along and then left the hotel.

We realized it was a windy morning when we exited Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel. Moreover, we noticed many people were wearing jackets but we didn’t think much about it. After walking less than two minutes along the street, we decided to return to our room to get more clothes. It was freaking cold on this summer morning. We probably won’t last through the morning with our present attire.

Topography of Terror

With our jacket over our body, we confidently walked towards our first attraction for the day, The Topography of Terror just few minutes walk away. It was already 9.45 am when we arrived. Opening hours start at 10 am. So we waited for a short while and then joined the other visitors to enter the premise of The Topography of Terror.

The first exhibit is the walls around one side of the compound. There are holes exposing the rusted steel bars on the rugged walls. A barrier is erected before the walls to prevent visitors from getting too near damaging what is remaining on the walls of this historic site.

Next we went a level slightly below ground level along the walls to check out the other wall structures inside the compound. A glass shelter is built to protect this part of the exhibit and also to allow visitors to stay longer to read the articles posted on some parts of the inner wall structures. The information was rather sobering, a reminder of the terror that was committed under the Third Reich where this place was once the headquarter of the secret police during that time. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 5 Berlin City Tour

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 4 Prague to Berlin

Waking Up to the last Morning in Prague

Waking up early needed no effort at all. The early morning running of trams outside the apartment was our natural alarm clock. In addition, the sun rose so early during summer. We would be heading to Berlin this morning. Our bus ride with Student Agency Bus was 8.30 am.

We had already requested the host to book us a car. The driver would be waiting for us outside the apartment at 7.30 am. So there was no rush at all. Our simple breakfast was those snacks bought from the supermarket the previous day and of course coffee and tea were available in our apartment.

After breakfast, we did another final round of packing, got our bags and then left the apartment. Checking out was very easy. All we needed to do was to leave the keys on the dining table, close the door and leave the apartment.

Transfer to Florenc Bus Station

Once outside the apartment, the street was still quiet. We didn’t see anyone waiting for us. A moment later, a big burly man walked over from across the street and waved at us. He had parked his car over the other side of the street. So we walked with him to his car just a very short distance from the apartment and loaded our bags and got into his car.

Our transport this morning was a nice black sedan car. The car was very new and he drove patiently and safely to Florenc Bus Station. The journey took under 20 minutes even though we got stuck at one of the narrow streets waiting for a small truck to unload stuff. It was a pleasant ride and a nice chat with this friendly driver.


The cost for the ride was just 130 CZK. This saved us a lot of trouble having to take public transport to the Bus Station with our bags, not to mention having to figure out buying tickets from the ticketing machine. Moreover, cost for public transport for three of us would come up to 72 CZK.

Florenc Bus Station

It was just 7.50 am when we alighted and walked into the Bus Station. We should be waiting at Platform 24 for our bus to Berlin. But we were still very early so we entered the ticketing hall for a look. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 4 Prague to Berlin

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)