Tag Archives: Europe

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 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 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 (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