Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Summary of My 2018 Autumn in United Kingdom & Europe Trip

Finally my long and never-ending travelogue has comes to an end. I can't believe it took almost 4 months for me to blog and complete My 2018 Autumn in United Kingdom & Europe posts where I covered 4 amazing countries - United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and Italy and also cities such as London, Porto, Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid and Milan. 



Summary of My Trip Itinerary

Day
Destination
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
Kota Kinabalu → Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur → Muscat → London
London
London
London → Porto
Porto
Porto → Lisbon
Lisbon + Sintra
Lisbon → Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona → Madrid
Madrid + Segovia
Madrid + Seville
Madrid
Madrid → Milan
Milan → Muscat
Muscat → Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur → Kota Kinabalu

Flying With Oman Air
What brought us to this trip is because I happened to stumble upon shockingly cheap deal by Oman Air. A round-trip from Kuala Lumpur to London and exit Milan for the cost of RM1,800 which is certainly so hard to resist with this incredibly cheap fare. Coincidentally at the same time, Malindo Air was having promotion where a round-trip from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur for as low as RM225. In total, the whole fare cost us RM2,025 only. That's completely a great steal! 

2018 Oman Air 01

It's my first-time 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. Honestly speaking, I'm not loyal to any airlines. As long as the fares offered by any airlines are cheap and great bargain, immediately I book without any second thought. 

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. 

Visa & Currency Exchange
Visa is not required for Malaysian passport holders to visit these four countries. However, this will change from 2021 onwards. Malaysians will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver, which will be obtainable through the online application system. For more info, you can check out here.

Before embarking for the trip, it's advisable to print out your return ticket cause I noticed that UK immigration clearance seems to be strict and tight. Some of them will request to have a look at your return ticket. 

As for currency exchange, I believe all of you should know by now;
United Kingdom - British Pound (£)
Portugal, Spain & Italy - Euro (€)

and these currencies shouldn't be that hard to find cause it can be found in majority money changers. 
For Kota Kinabalu area, most of the times I exchanged at Wisma Merdeka Mall or E-Globex at Jalan Pantai. 

I don't normally use any credit or debit cards when I'm travelling but for this round, I decided to give BigPay card a try. And guess what, I'm so in love with this card for its flavourable and best exchange rate. You can read out my post here: 5 Reasons Why You Should Apply BigPay Card.

Airlines & Trains Reservation
I always made reservations and booked tickets in advance especially for airfare, train and bus tickets prior to my trip in order to ensure that my trip goes well and stress-free during the journey. In addition, the earlier you book, the cheaper deal you'll get.   

Here are the reservations I made to get from one city/country to another:
  • London to Porto - Flying with RyanAir.
  • Porto to Lisbon - Took Comboios de Portugal train. 
  • Lisbon to Barcelona - Flying with TAP Portugal.
  • Barcelona to Madrid - Took Renfe AVE high-speed train.
  • Madrid to Milan - Flying with RyanAir for the second time cause it's pretty cheap. 

Apart from means of transportation, there are several top-tourist attractions I booked earlier too in order to avoid the insanely crazy long queue. For your information, Portugal and Spain are the most visited European countries recording more than 20 million visitors per year. Therefore plan your trip ahead and don't be like us where we didn't buy our tickets in advance for Royal Alcazar and causing us to queue for more than an hour under the rain. 

Internet Data
The most common question I always got; SIM card vs pocket WiFi - which will I recommend? I experienced both and from my own personal experience, I would definitely recommend to get prepaid SIM card better. Even my friends are agreed with me on this cause it's more convenient and hassle-free than renting pocket WiFi. Most of the times I got my prepaid SIM card from Hello1010. So far I used in over 10 countries and I don't have any problem with it. 

2018 UK & Europe Sim Card Hello1010-1

Recap of My Travelogues

Day 2 - 4: London
A Repeat Trip To London With Oman Air
2018 London Tower Bridge 02

Day 5 - 6: Porto, Portugal 
2 Days in Porto
2018 Portugal Porto 07

Day 7 - 8: Lisbon, Portugal 
Keep Safe & Stay Vigilant When Visiting Lisbon
2018 Portugal Lisbon Tram 28 02

Day 8: A Day Trip To Sintra from Lisbon
Pena Palace of Sintra
2018 Portugal Sintra 12

Day 9 - 11: Barcelona 
Adeus Lisbon and Hola Barcelona
Park Guell - Gaudi's Iconic Park in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's Unfinished Masterpiece
Barcelona's Other Top Attractions
2018 Spain Barcelona Top Attractions

Day 12 - 15: Madrid 
Farewell Barcelona! And Our First Day In Madrid
A Day Trip To Segovia From Madrid
A Day Trip To Seville - Royal Alcazar & Plaza de Espana
Fourth Day In Madrid - Our Last Day In Spain
2018 Spain Madrid, Segovia & Seville

Day 16 - 17: Milan The Last Stop - Milan of Italy
2018 Italy Milan Duomo di Milano 2

Total Expenses For 17D15N Trip
I have shared most of my total spending in each individual post. Hence for this post, I only select and highlight those essential cost for your quick reference.

PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
£/€
RM
Air Fares
Oman Air KL – London – Milan – KL
RyanAir London – Porto
TAP Portugal Lisbon - Barcelona
RyanAir Madrid – Milan

Long-Distance Trains
Porto – Lisbon
Barcelona – Madrid
Madrid – Segovia – Madrid
Madrid – Seville – Madrid

Admission Fee
Livraria Lello of Porto
Pena Palace of Sintra
Park Guell
La Sagrada Familia
Royal Alcazar of Seville

Others
12GB Travel Prepaid Sim Card

-
£46.40
€100.57
€44.67


€18.50
€57.47
€20.60
€76.45


€5.00
€13.30
€7.50
€15.00
€11.50


-

1,802
249
499
219


90
286
99
368


24
64
36
72
56


135


TOTAL
3,999

For our accommodations, it costs an average of RM150 per night throughout the 15 nights. Well at least it still stick to my initial budget of RM150 per night cause it seems to be pretty impossible to find the one with the budget of RM100 or even below. Bear in mind I tagged my mom along for this trip, therefore my budget allocation will be slightly higher than my own solo trip. 

CITIES & COUNTRIES
NAME OF THE ACCOMMODATIONS
NO. OF NIGHTS
AMOUNT
Local Currency
RM
London, United Kingdom
Holiday Villa Inn
3
-
610
Porto, Portugal
HM – Bonjardim Duplex Charming Apartment
2
-
283
Lisbon, Portugal

LX Center Guesthouse
2
€42.00
206
Barcelona, Spain

Hostal LK Barcelona
3
€80.49
401
Madrid, Spain

Apartmamentos Moratin Las Letras
4
€123.33
602
Milan, Italy

iH Hotels Milano Ambasciatori
1
€44.67
219
TOTAL (RM)
2,321


CITIES
AMOUNT (RM)
TOTAL (RM)
Transport
Food
London – 3 days
Porto – 2 days
Lisbon & Sintra – 2 days
Barcelona – 3 days
Madrid – 4 days
Day Trip To Segovia
Day Trip To Seville
Milan – 2 days  
224
36
125
78
124
20
26
197
197
164
120
275
131
41
78
105
421
200
245
353
255
61
104
302

TOTAL
1,941
Exchange rate as at October 2018: 
£1 = RM5.47
€1 = RM4.86

And that's pretty sum up my 17D15N trip to United Kingdom and Europe last year.

Next travelogue - perhaps Japan, Macau, Sri Lanka, New Zealand or Vietnam maybe. Too many backlogs but too little time. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Last Stop: Milan of Italy

After travelling in Europe for 16 days, we then proceed to the next country which is Italy - the fourth country we intended to visit after United Kingdom (London), Portugal and Spain. Italy is our final stop before going back to Malaysia. Talking about Italy, actually I've been there 11 years ago and covered few cities like Florence, Rome, Orvieto, Verona, Venice and Pisa but surprisingly not Milan. Therefore for this round, I intentionally to include Milan as part of my itinerary. 

FROM MADRID AIRPORT (SPAIN) TO MILAN-BERGAMO AIRPORT (ITALY)
Madrid Airport is not far away from the city center. The best way to get to the Madrid-Barajas Airport is by taking metro. However, I decided to call for Uber cause it's a hassle for both of my mom and cousin to carry their heavy luggage up and down if we travel via metro/subway. For flight to Madrid, we took Ryanair due to its incredibly cheap fares. 

2018 Italy Milan RyanAir to Bergamo Flight
#1: With RyanAir from Madrid to Milan Bergamo

As for Milan, there are four different airports; Malpensa, Linate, Bergamo and Parma. RyanAir will be flying into Bergamo Airport, which is about 45km away from Milan city center. In order to reach Milano Centrale Station, the ideal option is by taking bus which can be found immediately outside the arrivals section of the airport. A single-trip costs €5 per person and the bus generally run every half an hour during the day but less often during night, sometimes might taken an hour or more. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Fourth Day In Madrid - Our Last & Final Day

Since it's our last day in Madrid, we try to make a relaxed and laid-back one. No more another an hour long day-trips like we did to Segovia and Seville two days before. Plus, we had been travelling for more than two weeks, it's our 15th day here in Europe and so, we want something which is free and easy type. My mom and cousin would love to visit Primark (not again!) for another shopping spree and so, I proposed that we do the sightseeing activities first before end our day at their favourite shopping store.


Before we get ready for the day, I accompany my mom to few nearby supermarkets to get groceries in order to prepare for our breakfast. As you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we should eat like a king. My mom told me that she is pretty satisfied with the place I booked in Madrid because not just that she can cook and utilise their modern and fully equipped kitchen, she is also enjoying using their washing machine. I'm wondering, so many things to wash meh?

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Day Trip to Seville - Royal Alcázar & Plaza de España

On the second day in Madrid, we head to Segovia, a historic city on the northwest of Madrid.
As for the third day, we proceed to Seville, the capital of southern Spain's Andalusia region. 
Because the train ride from Madrid to Seville takes almost 3 hours even with the high-speed AVE train, we need to get up and leave our place in the early morning. Not even got the opportunity to witness the sunrise in Madrid itself.



FROM MADRID TO SEVILLE 
Just like what I shared on my previous post, there are two different two stations in Madrid - Chamartin and Atocha. The first one served those trains mostly from northbound whereas the latter served trains from southern Spain. Therefore in order to get to Seville, we need to depart from Atocha. Luckily is just less than 10 minutes walk from where we stayed without the need to take any metros. For our round-trip high-speed AVE train tickets between Madrid and Seville, we purchased in advance from Renfe website

Monday, July 22, 2019

A Day Trip to Segovia From Madrid

If you ask me are there many things to do and see in Madrid, I have to be honest with you - My answer would be "No!". But what's the reason behind I stay in Madrid for 4 nights? It's because I want take this opportunity to visit those nearby cities without the need of frequently hop on and hop off along with my heavy and bulky luggage together. 

There are few stunning and amazing cities you can do a day trip from Madrid; cities like Toledo, Segovia, Seville, Avila, El Escorial and more which are perfect getaway to escape from this hustling and bustling capital city of Spain. But because we're pressed for time, we can only pick and visit 1-2 cities only. And so, I began with Segovia first. Oh well, it was actually last minute decision to proceed with this plan after discussed with both of my mom and cousin on the night before we depart to Segovia. Luckily nowadays all the tickets can be purchased through online without the need to get to the train station. I purchased my train tickets online from Trainline.

A Day Trip to Segovia Cover

Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019 Bangkok & Kanchanaburi, Thailand (Sneak Peek)

It's a shame to say that I've yet to complete my 2015 Bangkok travelogue, and now I just came back from the city I love the most. If you ask me what's my favourite country, I would definitely say Japan but if you ask me how about the city I adore the most, I will pick Bangkok for sure.

Instagram
I posted this 4 years ago and even until now, I still stick with it.

Initially I booked a trip to Bangkok with my mom early of this year but due to some personal issues as well as due to work commitments, both of us decided to cancel our trip. But sometimes, things in life come unexpectedly. The boyfriend gave me another surprised by buying a round-trip to Bangkok. Good news to KKians cause AirAsia is currently flying direct from Kota Kinabalu straight to Bangkok, without the transit in Kuala Lumpur. Now I can go back to Bangkok every year. Yahoo!!! 

Since this is my 4th trip to Bangkok, I try not to repeat the things I did and see previously but then looking forward for something new, something which I never done before, like: 

2019 Thailand Kanchanaburi Water Falls-1
#1: We went to Kanchanaburi for Erawan Waterfall which situated more than 4 hours from Bangkok.

2019 Thailand Kanchanaburi Water Falls
#2: The entire length of the seven tiers span approximately 1,500, through the thick rainforest of the park. And guess what? I came here with unprepared - I didn't bring a proper entire but go ahead wearing a off-shoulder top, long skirt and a sandal but I glad I survived the two-hours hike. 

2019 Thailand Kanchanaburi Westory Design Postel
#3: If you are planning to visit Kanchanaburi, do consider to stay in this Westory Design Postel. It's chic and cool stay (although we didn't stay here where we accidentally bumped into it)

2019 Thailand Bangkok First House Hotel Pratunam
#4: After staying in Kanchanaburi for a night, we went back to Bangkok and stay in two different accommodations - both hostel and hotel. My favourite one would be this - First House Hotel just next to Pratunam Market. I will do compilation of all the hotels and hostel I stayed in Bangkok. 

2019 Thailand Bangkok Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market 1
#5: Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market - So colourful and energetic

2019 Thailand Bangkok Wat Arun
#6: Wat Arun - The temple of dawn

2019 Thailand Bangkok IconSiam
#7: ICONSIAM, a newly built shopping mall on the banks of the Chao Phraya River which opened to the public on November last year.

2019 Thailand Bangkok After You Dessert Shibuya Toast
#8: After You Dessert - Finally I got to try this after see all over social media but I personally think it's overrated. 

2019 Thailand Bangkok Shopping
#9: Can't leave Bangkok without shopping. However, I shop less compare to my three previous trips due to our week Ringgit Malaysia. Imagine 4 years ago, the rate was around RM11.25 for 100 baht. Now? RM13.65 for 100 baht. So sad!

P/S: Trying my best to complete My 2018 UK & Europe trip first, before proceed to other travelogues.