Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My 3rd Europe Solo Trip For Three Weeks (Sneak Peek)

Looks like my backlogs forever will never complete cause I just came back from another trip again. Yes, this is my 3rd round of solo trip to Europe after I experienced the first solo trip to Europe in 2017 as well as last year to Istanbul, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. I never thought that I will get addicted to travel alone cause previously, travelling solo is never my cup of thing. But somehow, life hits me so hard and I realised life is too short and I only live once. If I don't do it now, then when? 

I can say this one is impulse buying (not again!) when I saw another hard-to-resist deal from Singapore Airlines June last year. And I don't know what got into my mind, I decided to book a three weeks trip in the end. Somehow, I did regret and almost want to cancel this trip of mine due to work commitments but with the support and encouragement by the boyfriend, I proceed at the end. Turns out many things I didn't book in advance - including hostels as well as ground transportation especially the intercity one. It's so not me cause normally I will book everything and plan my trip well prior to the trip. But I glad that everything went well and smooth though I encountered several uncomfortable experiences and issues.

Three weeks - I've been to 8 different countries and 16 various cities & towns and for this post, I specially highlight those I really love the most, such as:

2019 Europe Romania Peles Castle
#1: Peles Castle in Romania.
I spent almost a week travel around Romania cause there are so many beautiful and mesmerising cities and towns in this country that worth for visit.

2019 Europe Sofia
#2: Sofia, Bulgaria
I encountered an uncomfortable experience nearby the bus station during the beginning of my trip but then that don't stop me from discovering the beauty of Sofia.

2019 Europe Macedonia Skopje
#3: Skopje, Macedonia
Do you know that this is the birthplace of Mother Teresa? There is a small memorial house dedicated specially for her.

2019 Europe Macedonia Ohrid
#4: Ohrid, Macedonia
The downside of didn't plan the trip well. I did a day trip to Ohrid from Skopje and it's really a quick and fast visit. I should at least overnight at this amazing and spectacular deepest lake of the Balkans.

2019 Europe Kosovo Prizren
#5: Prizren, Kosovo
With its rich cultural heritage, cafe culture and mountain backdrop, Prizren is Kosovo's best kept secret.

2019 Europe Albania Berat
#6: Berat, Albania
One of the oldest town situated in southcentral of Albania, this town has its nickname known as "City of a Thousand Windows".

2019 Europe Montenegro Kotor
#7: Kotor, Montenegro
This is one and only town that make me stay for almost four days but still, I refuse to leave. Normally I will stay maximum of two days in a city/town and I chao immediately but not this one. Kotor does looks alike Dubrovnik to me.

2019 Turkey Istanbul 091
#8: "World's Largest Tulip Carpet" in Istanbul, Turkey
Back to Istanbul for the second time. However, I found out Istanbul is overcrowded with tons of tourists. I hardly visit any of their attractions cause everywhere long queue. But I glad finally I managed to witness the tulip festival after saw it from the Internet few years back.

#9: Done with 6 out of 8 Balkans countries. Guess which two I don't make it.

P/S: Really wish that I can finish all my backlogs as soon as possible before my next trip is approaching soon. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

2 Days in Porto, Portugal (2018) - Part 2

When comes to talking about Portugal, the first city will instantly hit one's mind is none other than Lisbon. But then, have you ever heard of Porto before? Neither do I. I never knew about Porto until Mytravelmatez shared with me about this coastal city and he said I should make a visit there. And so here I am in Porto for another new discovery and adventures together with my mom and cousin all the way from London after spending three days three nights there.

First time with RyanAir. I heard so much about RyanAir but never have I ever experienced it eventhough visited Europe couple of times, not until this trip. One way trip from London Stansted to Porto can be so cheap - it's like £17 (approx. to RM94) but after all those add-on such as baggage fee and seat selection, ended up in average we paid £46 per pax. Wondering why we rather pay for the seats instead of waiting for the time to check-in? Read below:

RyanAir London to Porto
#1: Got to experience flying with another new airlines again - RyanAir

Under the strict new rules starting May 2018, any passenger who arrives at the airport without having checked in beforehand will subject to a fee of £55. And even if you have checked in but arrive at the airport without your boarding pass, again you will being charged a boarding card reissue fee of £20. Bear in mind, you can only do web check-in and print your boarding pass within 72 hours from your scheduled departure time. This mean that anyone on a holiday of longer than three days, you might need to access the internet and the more hassle is you need a printer to print the boarding pass, which may not be easy abroad. To avoid all these hassle, I rather reserve and pay the seats and print in Malaysia rather than wasting my time trying to look for a printer in London. 

There is a metro line heading straight to the city centre from Porto Airport. The ticket can be purchased at the machine in the station. But because there was no one to guide us, I bought the wrong ticket. Luckily just one instead of three. The ticket is known as Andante and it's rechargeable ticket for the price of €0.60. As for the fare of the travel card, it depends on which zone you are travel to. Since the airport is consider in Zone 4, therefore a single trip cost €2. 

2018 Portugal Porto 00 - Porto Airport 01
#2: Aeroporto do Porto (Porto Airport)

If you are looking for an excellent and ideal location, probably you can take these two into considerations; somewhere close to Trindade or Bolhão stations. And I chosen the first one where I booked a short-rental apartment not far away from Trindade station.

2018 Portugal Porto HM - Bonjardim Duplex Charming Apartment 01
#3: Our two nights crib in Porto

Speaking about the apartment I booked in Porto, we kinda enjoy it cause it has almost everything - there's a kitchen for us to cook, two comfy beds for us to have a good night sleep, a clean and chic bathroom with basic amenities, excellent and great location within short walking distance to majority of the attractions. However, there's one and only major issue why I didn't give full rating is because there's no elevator. Imagine that the property is located on 4th floor and with our two huge luggage bags - it was absolutely like steps to hell while carrying our bags up.

HM - Bonjardim Duplex Charming Apartment
Date Stayed: 9 October - 11 October 2018 (2 nights)
Room Rate: €80 per night and it's fit perfectly for three guests (approx. to RM132 per person per night). Booked from Booking.com

Oh well! On the first day in Porto, we decided not to do any sightseeing but just walked over to nearby supermarkets to buy some groceries. The good part of travelling with mom is that she will prepare and cook a hearty meal for you so you won't feel homesick.

2018 Portugal Porto A Homecook Dinner
#4: A hearty dinner for three. Thanks mom!

Since we had adequate of rest the day before (more than enough), it's time for us to dress up, get out for another new adventures - exploring and discovering the second largest city of Portugal.

1) Mercado do Bolhão - Known as Bolhão Market, it's a traditional market where the local get their fresh vegetables, meat, fish and flowers from. The market is very close to where we stayed but unfortunately during our visit, the market was temporary closed for renovation. So close, yet so far. I guess my mom will be very excited if she get to experience the "angmo" market but what to do, luck wasn't on our side.

2018 Portugal Porto Bolhão Market

2) Livraria Lello - One of the oldest bookstore in the world, Livraria Lello is often described by visitors to be the most beautiful bookshop in the world with its stunning neo-Gothic architecture. It's rumoured that this bookstore was a direct inspiration for the world-famous author, J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter book series. I thought it's free to enter into this bookstore but I was wrong - one have to purchase ticket before entering and it costs €5. You can purchase the ticket online here

2018 Portugal Porto Livraria Lello 01

2018 Portugal Porto Livraria Lello 02

3) Igreja do Carmo - Not far away from Livraria Lello is The Church of Our Lady of Carmo. Obviously I was attracted by its remarkable large blue and white mural ceramic-tiled wall. 

2018 Portugal Porto 01

2018 Portugal Porto 02

2018 Portugal Porto 03

4) Ribeira - Tucked on the riverbank of Douro, it's one of the oldest neighbourhood and the most important historic centre of Porto. Here, you get to see a row of colourful and vibrant townhouses which making this place another Insta-worthy spot. Ribeira is lined up with plenty of traditional restaurants where you can savour some of Portugal's typical dishes which I will share more later. 

2018 Portugal Porto 08

2018 Portugal Porto 06

2018 Portugal Porto 05

5) Gaia - Just across Dom Luís I Bridge on foot whether in the bottom or the upper platforms to reach the other side in case you want to witness the picturesque neighbourhood of Ribeira, like what we did. But we walked through the bottom platforms cause the upper one not for the weakheart. And if you are looking for wineries and vineyards, Gaia is famous for it. 

2018 Portugal Porto 07

2018 Portugal Porto 09

6) Via Catarina Shopping - Before leaving Porto permanently, a trip without shopping is incomplete, especially for my mom. And so I found a shopping street located not far away from where we stayed - less than 10 minutes walk. We spotted a shopping mall with a pink facade attached in front of the building. The mall might be small but at least my mom managed to leave with something that catch her heart. She's happy, I also happy lor...

2018 Portugal Porto Via Catarina Shopping 01

2018 Portugal Porto Tram With Blue Tiles


1) Pastel de Nata - This traditional Portuguese egg custard tart is obviously the most iconic pastry in Portugal and certainly there's no reason you could miss out cause it's everywhere across the city. We got ours from Manteigaria Bakery - the shop is nearby the Bolhão Market because some locals said this is as good as the famous one in Lisbon. One creamy custard tart costs €1.
2018 Portugal Porto Manteigaria Egg Tart

2018 Portugal Porto Manteigaria Egg Tart 01

2) Francesinha - One of Porto's most iconic dishes which you shouldn't miss. Francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich with steak, ham, fresh sausage, spiced smoke sausage and cheese in the middle covered with melted cheese and hot thick tomato and beer sauce. This mouthwatering sandwich will make you crave for more and no wonder it's being listed to be one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world. 
2018 Portugal Porto Francesinha

3) Bacalhau - It's a Portuguese word for salted cod fish. Since it's very popular in Portugal, hence we gave a try for it but frankly speaking, I don't really into it. I tend to eat the potatoes more than the main meal itself. 
2018 Portugal Porto Bacalhau

Guess my friend was right. Porto is indeed one charming and fascinating city that anyone shouldn't miss when comes to visit Portugal. Even my mom and cousin love this vibrant city too. Two nights might seem short but it's time to move to another city - Lisbon. To get to Lisbon, I decided to take the train simply because I love train ride more than bus. In Porto, the city is served by two major train stations; São Bento and Campanha station. Both stations will lead you to Lisbon but then if you are taking train from São Bento, you need to alight at Campanha station and change to another platform. Well, at least we didn't make the wrong choice for departing from São Bento station cause the station itself is such a beautiful sight to behold. As for my train ticket, I bought it online here and you may check the timetable and fare too.

2018 Portugal Porto São Bento Station 02


RyanAir London Stansted to Porto

HM - Bonjardim Duplex Charming Apartment (2 nights)
Add: City Tax

Andante Single Trip
Andante 24 hours
Train Porto to Lisbon

Admission Fee
Livraria Lello

Food and drinks (In Average After Divide 3)
Lunch – 1st day 
Groceries and fruits for dinner
Manteigaria Pastel de Nata
Lunch – 2nd day

Postcards and stamp
Shopping – Ipanema Sandal













Note: Exchange rate&nbsp €1 = RM4.86 as at October 2018

The official currency in Portugal is the Euro (€).

Before I end my post, do you know that Porto has the world's most beautiful McDonald's? Seriously no one told me about this until I accidentally bumped into the signboard reflected about this. Just by looking at the entrance of this McDonald's Imperial, there's a giant bronze eagle instead of the typical huge yellow "M" word. And when I stepped into the restaurant, I was amazed with the colourful stained glass window behind the counter. It's really impressive and mind-blowing - not like the McDonald's I used to know.

2018 Portugal Porto Most Beautiful McDonald 01

2018 Portugal Porto Most Beautiful McDonald 02

With this, now you don't have any excuse for not to include Porto into your Portugal's list cause trust me, there are more things to do and see waiting for you to discover in Porto. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Repeat Trip To London With Oman Air (2018) - Part 1

It's always one of my wishlists to bring my mom to London and Europe cause she never been to any angmoh (Western) countries before, including Australia due to family commitment. And finally my wish being granted when I happened to stumble upon cheap fare offered by Oman Air. A return airfare whereby fly-in London and fly-out Milan for RM1,800 which is certainly so hard to resist with this kind of temptation. And so happened at the same time, Malindo Air was having promotion where a return flight for Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur for RM225 only. All-in-all, the total fare cost RM2,025. Absolutely a great steal! 

(P/S: By the way, please don't keep asking me how I always manage to get all these cheap deals cause to be honest, it really depends on luck and also flexibility.)

It's my virgin experience flying with Oman Air, a national carrier of Oman based at Muscat. Normally I don't have any expectations towards any airlines I will be flying with cause for me, my priority is always the fare itself. But after flying with Saudia Airlines earlier this year to Morocco, I realised Oman Air is much more better than the Saudia honestly speaking.

2018 Oman Air 01
#1: Virgin experience flying with Oman Air

Oman Air's Amenities & Services
  • For economy class passenger, each is entitled to check-in luggage per-bag weight of up to 23 kg.
  • Access a full range of complimentary in-flight entertainment and in-seat USB ports for passenger to charge their electronic devices. 

2018 Oman Air In-Flight Food
#2: In-flight meals

2018 Oman Air Muscat Airport
#3: Short hour of transit in Muscat International Airport. Love the new airport - less crowded

In case you are not aware, London actually has 6 international airports - London City, London Southend, London Gatwich, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted. As for Oman Air, we landed in London Heathrow Terminal 4 and in order to get to our hotel, we opted for Uber cause it's pretty late at night. Plus it was freezing cold, I don't want my mom drag the luggage under the cold weather and get sick on the first day.

2018 Heathrow London Airport Terminal 4

We stayed in Holiday Villa Hotel which is very close to the Bayswater and Queensway Underground Station. Though the room was quite worn out, but the thing I like about this hotel is because it has elevator. Convenient for someone who carry huge luggage, especially like three of us. Plus Malaysian Hall Canteen is just around the corner.

2018 London Holiday Villa Hotel 01
#5: Holiday Villa Hotel, London

Room Rate: RM610 per night for a standard triple room without breakfast (Approx. to RM203 per pax per night)
Nearest Underground Stations: Bayswater and Queensway

If calculate officially, this is the 4th time I visited London. Hence, there are some places I've been more than once, or even twice. You can refer the previous post I did 3D2N in London back in 2016.

1) King Cross Station & Platform 9 3/4 - I miss out this spot from my previous three trips. It's funny how I managed to make a trip to The Harry Potter Studio which located quite distance away from the town but then I fail to visit this notable Platform 9 3/4 which just tucked in the city center. So for this round, no matter how I definitely must go and turned out this is the first place we visited right after arrived in London.

Nearest Station: King's Cross St Pancras (under Circle, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Metropolitan and Victoria lines)

2018 London King Cross Station 01
#6: King's Cross St Pancras Station

2018 London King Cross Station 02-1
#7: Platform 9 3/4 and the Harry Potter shop

2018 London King Cross Station 03

2) Tower Bridge - One of the attractions that I won't miss everytime I in London. Luckily for this round, I'm grateful for the fine good weather. All the photos seems excellent when the sky is blue.

2018 London 01

2018 London Tower Bridge 02

2018 London 02

3) Big Ben, London Eye and Palace of Westminster - Three famous iconic of London at the same spot. As usual, it's still overcrowded with tourists and be careful with your belongings.

Nearest Station: Westminster

2018 London Big Ben 01

2018 London Eye 01

4) Chinatown and Leicester Square - Besides having lunch at Chinatown, we also went to Leicester Square for M&M's World, TWG Tea and the newly opened Lego.

Nearest Station: Leicester Square (under Northern and Piccadilly lines)

2018 London Chinatown

2018 London Chinatown 02 Buffet

2018 London Leicester Square

5) Trafalgar Square - A public square with amazing fountains and marvelous architecture. It's my first time here. If you look at the top of the colomn, there is a statue of Horatio Nelson, who commanded the British Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. Guess that's where the name derived from. Surrounding the square is the National Gallery.

Nearest Station: Charing Cross (under Bakerloo and Northern lines)

2018 London Trafalgar Square

6) Buckingham Palace - We're on time for the famous changing of the guard ceremony. Also known as Guard Mounting, it takes place outside Buckingham Palace from 10.45am and it lasts around 45 minutes.

2018 London Buckingham Palace 01

7) National History Museum - Frankly speaking, museums never my type of thing but this one is super awesome and not like what I expected it to be. It somehow reminds me of the "Night In The Museum" movies. Entry to this museum is free and make sure not to miss the blue whale skeleton in Hintze Hall.

Nearest Station: South Kensington (under Circle, District and Piccadilly lines)
Opening Hours: 10am to 5:50pm

2018 London National History Museum 02

2018 London National History Museum 03

8) Shopping at Primark - I have to admit I do love shopping but I don't shop high-end items and so, Primark is always my favourite place for cheap shopping. All their clothes are incredibly cheap and we visited Primark almost every night. Imagine you can get a top for £3 (approx. to RM15) and jeans for £5 (approx. to RM30). How I really wish London is my last leg so that I can shop non-stop? Apparently, there are two Primark stores along the long Oxford Street; one nearby Tottenham Court Road Underground Station and the other one is nearby the Marble Arch Underground Station.

2018 London Marble Arch of Oxford Street

From my blog, you can see that I rarely recommend any food cause I'm not particular about food. I can have anything as long it's edible, cheap and convenient. I don't want to waste my time to travel far away just for the sake of food hunting but for this trip, there are two things which I think it's worth to share here.

1) Fish & Chips at Kerbisher & Malt 
"If you want to have something, make sure it worth for your calories", that's what my boyfriend advise me. Therefore for this trip along with my mom and cousin, I brought them for fish & chips which is highly recommended by most bloggers. I'm not good in food reviewing but I can say that it's really good and all of us almost finish everything, except for the chips cause they were too many for us. The choices of the fish are either haddock, cod, plaice and coley and we ordered a full set meal which comes with chips, one sauce and a drink for the price of £9. 
Nearest Station: Goldhawk Road or Hammersmith (under Circle and Hammersmith & City lines)
Opening Hours: 12pm to 9:30pm daily

2018 London Kerbisher & Mat Fish & Chips 01

2) Avolato at Snow Flake 
It looks like avocado, tastes like avocado but it's not a real avocado. It's actually avocado gelato containing at least 60% fresh avocado served in its skin. The stone is a vegan peanut butter gelato with flax seed almond, Brazil nuts and walnuts. One heavenly silky smooth Avolato cost £9.50 (approx. to RM52)

Nearest Station: Marble Arch or Bond Street
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 9pm daily

2018 London Avolato at Snow Flakes

I got my Oyster Card dating back 11 years ago - that's my first time ever to London. Oyster Card is a prepaid card with the cheapest option to travel with; whether via tube/underground or buses. You can buy an Oyster card from any Tube/Underground station ticket machine for a deposit of £5 and the deposit is refundable if you intend to return the card. Prices vary depending on which zone you are travelling to, whether by tube or bus, and even on the time of day. It's hard for me to determine each fare but I think it's best to get Oyster card before start to travel around London for convenient purpose.

Photo Credit To Getty Images

3D3N might seem pretty short for my mom and cousin, but to be honest, I have enough of London. Hopefully not going back in the nearest time cause I prefer to see and discover new city instead. After staying three nights in London, we packed our bags and moved on to the next country - Portugal. We flew with RyanAir which departed from London Stansted. From our hotel, we walked to Paddington Bus Stop situated at Bishop's Bridge and took National Express coach A6 heading straight to Stansted Airport. This is one of the reason I chosen to stay in Holiday Villa Hotel. The journey to the airport takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and the cost is £10. I pre-booked via online in order to secure seat.

2018 London Paddington Bus to Stansted Airport
#24: Bus A6 from Paddington Bus Stop on Bishop's Bridge to London Stansted Airport


Holiday Villa Inn (3 nights)

Uber from London Heathrow to Hotel
Top-Up Oyster Card
Bus to London Stansted Airport

Food and drinks

Fragrances – Burberry & Jo Malone










Exchange Rate £1 = RM5.47 as at October 2018

Sometimes I'm wondering should I do two separate tables for total expenses I incurred for my trip; like one is for those necessasities such as accommodation, transportation, food, admission fee and another one specially dedicated for shopping and souvenirs only cause it's kinda subjective to different individual. By the way, if you are visiting London and love Jo Malone, do buy in London cause it's exceptionally cheap. 

Jo Malone Travel Package
#25: My first ever Jo Malone after been to London so many times