Category Archives: UNESCO Site

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

Last Day in Europe

Finally, we woke up to the last day of our Europe Tour. Our departure flight out of Amsterdam to Zurich was 8.05 pm. Connecting flight from Zurich to Singapore was 10.45 pm. So this left us with an entire day to explore Amsterdam one last time before saying good bye to this beautiful city.

As for breakfast, we consumed all those food we bought from the supermarket since this was our last day in Europe. Coffee and tea were self service in our room. Although breakfast was simple, it was good to get us started. It was still pretty quiet on the street when we looked out from our room windows. We decided to explore some attractions nearby before returning to check out and then leave our luggage with Hotel CC. We would then explore attractions further away from the hotel.

Exploring Attractions near Hotel CC

Out on the street so early, we encountered the same situation the day before. The streets were filthy and smelly. However, city cleaners were already out on the streets getting into gear with their cleaning up operation. Auto street sweeping machines were deployed and the streets would be ready to welcome visitors quite soon.

This morning, we walked through the red light district which was pretty dead at this hour. The first place we visited was the Oude Church. This was quite a sizeable church but what was the church doing right in the red light district, we failed to figure out. Anyway, this 800 year-old church is one of the main attractions here. This is a significant historic building. It was closed when we were there but we would probably not pay to enter the building. The church building was however, pretty nice.

We then crossed the canal and then another canal and enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood. As expected, the streets were quite empty. It was still very early and shops were not open yet. This was a rather different experience as we had a very excited busy and noisy day in Amsterdam the day before.

We continued walking to find the Nieumarkt and reached an open area in another quiet neighbourhood. To our disappointment, this market wasn’t open on the day of our visit. So we walked back towards the main train station enjoying canal sights and a peaceful morning in Amsterdam. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

Rotterdam Holiday Inn Express

We woke up to an exciting day as we prepared to head to our final destination – Amsterdam. As usual, we went to the restaurant for the Express Breakfast. We liked the clean and pleasant ambiance there and the breakfast was pretty good even though it was just an express breakfast. With breakfast done, we went back to our room, did some last minute final packing and then returned to the lobby to check out.

The staff were really friendly. Holiday Inn Express was a great place for us to spend two nights here with very reasonable hotel rate. The location of this hotel was great being so close to the train station. We got to explore Rotterdam and Utrecht the past two days. Staying over in Amsterdam would cost us more than three times the cost for accommodation for these two nights.

Rotterdam to Amsterdam

We then left and walked to the train station to head to our most expensive accommodation in Amsterdam. That was why we only stay one night there. Very quickly, we reached the train station. We had already purchased train tickets the previous day so we went straight to the platform and shortly after boarded a train to Amsterdam.

The journey was just an hour and the ride was pleasant. We were eager to get to Amsterdam early to spend more time exploring this great city. Once we got out of the train station, it was a very great feeling. This city was gorgeous. We walked towards the left to head to Hotel CC not far from the train station. We soon walked into a side lane but found the street filthy and smelly. A moment ago we were awed with the sight of this wonderful city but now taken by surprise with this darker side of the city. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht

Waking Up in Rotterdam

Morning came quickly. We liked it better staying in modern Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam than the quaint old world charm Domstern Hotel in Cologne. We slept very well. Our stay in Holiday Inn Express came with express breakfast so we went to the restaurant about 7.40 am shortly after waking up to another sunny summer morning.

The restaurant was at the further end of the lobby and lounge area. It wasn’t crowded when we arrived. The ambiance was pleasant, restaurant was presentable and clean. Breakfast selection was not very much but more than sufficient. After all, this was just an express breakfast and we were more than satisfied even though this couldn’t be compared to the German breakfast we had the day before at Domstern Hotel in Cologne.

After breakfast, we returned to our room to rest a while and then prepared to head out to visit other cities in the Netherlands. It was a bright and windy summer morning as we made our way to the train station. We went to the train office, took a queue number and waited for our turn to purchase our train tickets. Unlike the previous evening when I came to enquire about train tickets, the office was pretty busy this morning.

Rotterdam to Utrecht

Finally it was my turn to speak with the staff. Since it was already a little late, we just purchased return train tickets to Utrecht. We probably didn’t have sufficient time to visit Leiden. We also bought train tickets to Amsterdam for the next day as well as train ticket from Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport for our departure day.

So we entered the train station and went to the correct platform to wait for our train to Utrecht. The train station was very busy. Staff were deployed to help passengers with questions concerning their train journey. It was a pretty easy affair for us and soon we boarded our train and were on our way to Utrecht.

Actually, we came to Rotterdam via Utrecht the day before so we knew what to expect. The journey to Utrecht was pretty short, just 40 minutes ride away. By now, we were into the 8th day of our Europe Tour and the summer weather was getting much warmer. Apart from some chills we experienced in Vienna and Berlin, it was very good so far.

Utrecht Train Station

Very quickly we arrived Utrecht Station. This station was very pleasant. We then made our way through the mall connected with the station. We approached the tourist help desk and were attended to by a very nice lady staff. She gave us all the information we needed as well as a map.

Before leaving the train station, we did some shopping at the fashion shops here. My dear wife and son bought stuff at Bershka and Stradivarius. It was about time to do some shopping as we had just another three more days in Europe before leaving for home. With shopping done, we exited the train station. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht

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 3 Prague Historic City

Great Morning in Prague

We woke up to the trams plying the street in front of our apartment very early in the morning. Since this was summer in Europe, the sky was already bright before 5 am . But it would be too early to hit the streets to explore this beautiful city in Prague. All the shops would not be open yet so we lazed around for a while. Forget about the TV though, there was nothing to watch where all the channels were in European languages.

After some time, we made nice aromatic coffee with the coffee maker. We bought snacks from the supermarket at the corner of the street the day before so breakfast wasn’t an issue. The simple breakfast was good enough to keep us on our feet for our adventure later. The host provided a list of restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner so we planned to have another round of breakfast at one of the cafes not far from our apartment later on.

Exploring Quiet Prague Early Morning

Once we were ready, we left our apartment slightly after 7.30 am, still very early. The streets were nicely lit up this summer morning, but pretty quiet without crowds on the street like the day before. Instead of turning right to walk towards the church, we turned left to walk towards Vitava River. We would be visiting the castle district across the river first before coming back to shop at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Walking along the pretty empty Wenceslas Square all the way, we turned left to locate Café-Café as recommended by the host. We found the café but it was closed. Apparently, we were too early. It would open only at 10 am. We didn’t understand why we were recommended to come here for breakfast. We thought having breakfast after 10 am would be brunch where we could skip lunch. Anyway, we had already eaten something not long ago. It was just curiosity for us to try out breakfast in Prague.

We then walked on enjoying the beautiful morning wandering along beautiful streets. We soon reached the Old Prague House where we had a nice dinner the previous day. The courtyard dining area was closed as well. But we actually enjoyed this peaceful ambiance under the bright summer sun. It was so pleasant here, a little cooling under shade as well. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 3 Prague Historic City

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

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