Wednesday, July 10, 2024
HomePhilippines TravelOur 27-day Europe journey – Journey Up

Our 27-day Europe journey – Journey Up

Touring to Europe has at all times been on our journey bucket checklist. We initially hoped to go on a European tour in Might 2020 for our tenth marriage ceremony anniversary, however everyone knows what occurred that yr. Prior to now few years, I’ve realized that life is brief and we must always take the time to journey and luxuriate in life whereas we will. Quick ahead 4 years later, and the dream got here true after we lastly went on our first-ever journey to Europe to 10 international locations for nearly a month in June 2024.

As first-time vacationers to Europe, I considered sharing our itinerary, visa expertise, issues to do, the place to remain in several European cities, and different sensible suggestions that could be of curiosity.

Touring to Europe entails quite a lot of planning particularly for Filipino passport holders who first have to safe a Schengen Visa. Initially, we deliberate to restrict our journey to simply 2 or 3 international locations and journey for under 2 weeks given Artwork’s restricted trip days from full-time work. However because it was our first time in Europe, my dad and mom who had beforehand traveled there recommended we take a bundle tour to get rid of some journey uncertainties and avail of refundable journey reservations.

We used the companies of the journey company TRAVEL ENTERPRISE CORPORATION based mostly in Ortigas Heart, Pasig to make flight reservations (not precise bookings), journey insurance coverage, and safe a Visa appointment. We utilized and bought our visas from the Italian Embassy in Manila for the reason that bundle tour began in Rome and we deliberate to remain in Italy the longest.

Other than the hassles of securing all the necessities (financial institution statements, Revenue Tax Returns, Employment certificates, and so on.), the Visa software course of was easy and didn’t contain any interviews. We simply needed to submit all our paperwork and get biometrics completed and wait, which is at all times a nerve-wracking course of. Fortunately, we have been granted a a number of entry visa simply 4 days after we utilized and given extra days than what we requested, so we modified our flight dates and prolonged earlier than and after the tour.

NOTE: As soon as your visa is accredited, you may change your itinerary and go wherever you need inside the Schengen Zone. There’s no border or passport management between international locations. Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless greatest to enter by the nation you utilized in and keep there the longest.

From Manila, we flew by way of Etihad Airways to the Fiumicino Rome Airport in Italy, with one layover. The flight time (9 hours to Abu Dhabi + 6 hours to Rome) plus airport transfers took virtually 24 hours due to a layover delay. To get to town heart from the airport, I booked a Fiumicino Airport – Rome Bus by Terravision (P379) to the Rome Termini by way of Klook . You may as well experience the prepare on to town, however the bus is cheaper than the prepare (€14 or P885) and is safer when you’ve got massive suitcases. You may as well use Uber and Freenow in Rome should you favor personal transport.

Our flight again to Manila was from the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam with a journey time of over 17 hours (6:25 hours to Abu Dhabi + 9:10 hours to Manila) together with the two hour layover. You’ll be able to e-book shared bus transfers to the Amsterdam airport (P411) however we simply booked a taxi to the airport from the lodge (€45). Take notice that there’s a 6 hour time distinction between the Philippines and Central European international locations.

Different airways that fly from Manila to Europe embrace Emirates, Qatar Airways, and China Southern Airways. In response to numerous information studies, Philippine Airways (PAL) is eyeing to renew flights to Europe with direct flights from Manila to France by 2025.

We explored Rome in Italy on our personal for 4 days earlier than the beginning of the 15-day tour to eight different international locations, which included a go to to historic websites in Rome and Vatican Metropolis. For historical past buffs, Rome is a tremendous vacation spot due to its historic archaeological websites and historic landmarks just like the Colosseum and the Roman Discussion board.  

I discovered Rome very walkable and simple to navigate on foot. We ended up strolling greater than 10 km a day simply to go to the totally different vacationer spots and church buildings, and rented bicycles to cowl extra floor. It felt secure strolling round and biking within the much less touristy areas. The spotlight of Rome for me was biking to the Appian Manner (an historic highway constructed to move troops exterior the smaller area of higher Rome) and Trastevere (a hipster district recognized for craft beer pubs) on rented bicycles.

Rome isn’t an inexpensive vacation spot, however there are quite a lot of free sights and inexpensive meals choices even in the midst of the busy vacationer areas. I discovered the meals right here extra flavorful in comparison with different European cities and loved chowing down on pizza, pasta and beer.

We prevented the crowds by visiting The Colosseum within the late afternoon and heading to Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and different landmarks within the early morning (round 6:30 – 7:00 am). I’d have liked to go to different Italian cities like Florence, Milan and Lake Garda, however we determined to take it gradual first to save lots of our journey finances and power for the opposite costlier cities. 

When you can, I’d counsel you stroll as a lot as doable. Rome’s public transportation is environment friendly and simple to make use of, however many pals warned us concerning the excessive incidence of pickpocketing, which we witnessed whereas taking the subway.

Issues to do in Rome

  • The Colosseum 
  • Roman Discussion board
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Piazza Navona
  • Spanish Steps
  • St. Mark’s Basilica and different free church buildings
  • Trastevere
  • Through Appia
  • Largo di Torre Argentina
  • Villa Borghese

The place to remain in Rome

Vatican Metropolis, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, is a separate nation from Italy. This landlocked enclave inside Rome is taken into account the smallest state on the planet and will be visited in simply half a day should you’re already in Rome. 

Strains getting in right here will be notoriously lengthy, so we took a skip-the-lines tour to enter and visited the Vatican Museums, which shows the gathering amassed by the Catholic Church all through the centuries, together with a number of of essentially the most well-known Roman sculptures and masterpieces of Renaissance artwork on the planet. 

The guided tour included a go to to the Sistine Chapel, which comprises the ceiling painted in fresco by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, thought of a cornerstone work of Excessive Renaissance artwork.

Issues to do in Vatican Metropolis

  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Sistine Chapel
  • The Vatican Museums
  • Vatican Necropolis
  • Raphael’s Rooms
  • Vatican Gardens

From Rome, we made our option to Venice by bus, stopping at Villa il Leccio close to Tuscany for lunch. The scenic drive handed by rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and medieval cities. Tuscany is understood for its olive bushes and wheat, traditionally planted collectively to type the most effective produce in all of Italy, in addition to wines.

From the mainland of Italy, we boarded a ferry to Lido Island, a small island within the Venice lagoon the place we stayed for two nights. Lido is far quieter than its well-known neighbor, however from right here you may go to the principle vacationer space of Venice simply by way of water taxis.

Venice, generally known as the “Metropolis of Canals” is one in all Italy’s most picturesque cities, with putting structure and exquisite bridges set amidst winding canals. Venice is constructed on an archipelago of 118 small islands related by over 400 bridges over the advanced community of canals.

Venice has been used as a filming location for motion pictures like The Italian Job, On line casino Royale, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Regardless of its immense reputation and value, it continues to draw vacationers. We loved wandering by the maze of alleyways to hunt for Libreria Acqua Alta (a comfy, offbeat bookstore with books piled on prime of gondolas and lovely resident cats), sipping on Aperols and Bellinis, and the scrumptious home-cooked salmon risotto and seafood pasta meals within the lodge we have been staying in.

Issues to do in Venice

  • Gondola rides 
  • Piazza San Marco
  • St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Ponte de Rialto
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Venetian glassmaking
  • Libreria Acqua Alta
  • Murano and Burano Islands

The place to remain in Venice

From Venice, we headed over to Austria in Central Europe, which lies within the Japanese Alps. Most of us are aware of Austria having grown up watching the traditional movie The Sound of Music. The actual von Trapp household as soon as lived in Salzburg and the film was filmed in and across the metropolis. Austria is famend for its pure landscapes, literature, artwork and music. It’s the birthplace of classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss.

We stayed 2 nights within the capital metropolis Vienna, had picnic meals within the gardens of Schonbrunn Palace, strolled across the metropolis heart, visited the colourful Hundertwasserhaus artist’s village, tried Schnitzel, watched an entertaining classical Viennese live performance, and went craft beer looking at night time.

What struck me essentially the most about Vienna was how clear, neat and arranged the whole lot was. It’s no surprise classical musicians thrive right here. All the pieces felt so orderly. Their trendy public transportation works on an honesty system, with no ticket boundaries at stations and no formal, everlasting ticket checks on subways, native trains, trams and buses. Vienna felt very peaceable, walkable and secure. I’d suggest Vienna for solo vacationers.

Issues to do in Vienna

  • Schönbrunn Palace
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  • The Ring (Vienna’s historic metropolis heart)
  • Hofburg Palace
  • Hundertwasserhaus (artist village)
  • Viennese Live shows

The place to remain in Vienna

From Austria, we traveled to Slovakia, a small nation that was previously a part of Czechoslovakia earlier than it formally break up from the Czech Republic. Whereas we didn’t keep lengthy right here, I favored the vibe. Locals in cafes and memento retailers have been pleasant and welcoming. The capital Bratislava is the one capital on the planet that borders two international locations (Austria and Hungary), making it good for day journeys from these international locations.

Bratislava, set alongside the Danube River, is surrounded by vineyards and mountains, crisscrossed with forested mountaineering and biking trails. One of the best place to go is the pedestrian-only, 18th-century outdated city recognized for its vigorous bars and cafes. From right here, you may see the reconstructed Bratislava Fort perched atop a hill overlooking the outdated city and the Danube.

Issues to do in Bratislava

  • Bratislava Fort
  • Michael’s Gate
  • The Blue Church
  • St. Martin’s Cathedral
  • Bronze statues of varied figures (Napoleon’s Military Statue, Schone Naci, ČUMIL the Manhole man, Hans Christian Andersen Statue, and so on.)
  • Obchod v Muzeu (Oldest Store in City)

Then it was onwards to the Czech Republic, the place we stayed for two nights within the capital Prague. The Czech Republic is known for its beer, with Czechs consuming essentially the most beer per capita on the planet, and so they’re pleased with it.

I discovered it refreshing to see locals socializing and ingesting overtly alongside the riverside and parks. The vibe in Prague was very inventive and laid-back. Folks have been pleasant, and meals and drinks have been inexpensive.

Apart from visiting a couple of architectural websites and landmarks, we visited the Prague Beer Museum, tried Goulash (a thick beef stew made with onions and spices), strolled round Charles Bridge at night time, stumbled upon a stunning bookstore with a den, and drank craft beer in a bike-themed bar beneath a bridge.

I liked the vibe in Prague and wouldn’t thoughts staying longer subsequent time.

Issues to do in Prague

  • Prague Fort
  • Charles Bridge
  • Outdated City Sq. 
  • Astronomical Clock
  • St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Wenceslas Sq.
  • Dancing Home
  • Lennon Wall
  • Kafka Museum
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Prague Beer Museum

The place to remain in Prague

After crossing the border in Germany, we stopped first at Regensburg, a UNESCO-designated Outdated City, residence to 1,500 heritage buildings, together with the 800-year-old Stone Bridge and Ninth-century Alte Kapelle. Right here, you’ll find the roughly 900-year-old Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg, one of many oldest eating places on the planet.

Then it was off to Munich, Germany’s third-largest metropolis after Berlin and Hamburg, the place we stayed for one night time. Munich is residence to centuries-old buildings and quite a few museums. It’s famed for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls.

Our introduction to Munich was strolling by the famed Hofbräuhaus. Based in 1589, the most well-liked beer corridor and one of the crucial well-known on the planet. Rowdy celebrations have been in full swing on account of ongoing Euro Cup. We additionally went on a stroll across the outdated city corridor space to gaze on the Glockienspiel, a world-famous mechanical clock, together with hordes of different vacationers.

Issues to do in Munich

  • Glockenspiel
  • Marienplatz
  • Hofbräuhaus
  • Neues Rathaus (city corridor)
  • English Gardens
  • BMW Museum
  • Oktoberfest (September to October)

The place to remain in Munich

From Germany, we made our option to Switzerland passing Liechtenstein, one other tiny European nation splendid for day journeys. The sixth-smallest nation on the planet is situated between Austria and Switzerland, and is understood for its medieval castles, alpine landscapes and villages linked by a community of trails. The capital, Vaduz is a cultural and monetary heart and fundamental vacationer hub, residence to a row of memento retailers, cafes and museums.

Liechtenstein is visa-free or provides visa on arrival entry to 180 international locations and territories together with the Philippines. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have an airport of its personal and is normally accessed by both Austria or Switzerland by land (which do require visas). The closest airports are situated in Switzerland and Germany.

Issues to do in Liechtenstein

  • Vaduz Fort
  • Kathedrale St. Florin
  • Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (trendy and up to date artwork)
  • Postmuseum (Liechtenstein’s postage stamps)
  • Vaduz Metropolis Prepare

Then it was off to Switzerland, one of many international locations I used to be most excited to go to. We stayed 2 nights within the Lucerne, one of the crucial lovely Swiss cities. Nestled between mountains and a shimmering lake, Lucerne provided essentially the most picturesque views of the lake and snow-capped mountains.

Our lodge was conveniently situated proper throughout the lake and we loved strolling right here and watching the swans and geese swim. There are a couple of eating places by the lake, however you may as well take out meals from stalls or have a easy picnic by the lakeside.

The highlights of Switzerland included using the Cabrio cableway and funicular railway (relationship again to 1893) to go up Stansershorn, which had a tremendous mountain view and consider deck. We additionally took a scenic cruise round Lake Lucerne, strolled across the Outdated City, visited the Chapel Bridge, a wood bridge decked with vibrant work that spans the Reuss River and spent a leisurely afternoon strolling across the gardens of Meggenhorn Fort totally free. 

Whereas Switzerland was essentially the most lovely nation we visited, it was additionally the costliest. The price of on a regular basis objects in comfort shops, meals in eating places and beer felt considerably increased. Locals use Swiss francs right here, which is stronger than the Euro. Switzerland is one other nation the place I’d have liked to remain longer, particularly to strive the totally different trains to different cities.

Issues to do in Lucerne

  • Stanserhorn
  • Chapel Bridge
  • Lake Lucerne
  • The Cruise
  • Meggenhorn Fort

The place to remain in Lucerne 

Crossing again by Germany

From Switzerland, we crossed again to Germany and stopped for lunch in Heidelberg, which is residence to Germany’s oldest and one in all Europe’s most respected universities. Heidelberg can be recognized for cuckoo clocks.

From right here, we proceeded to Sankt Goar and cruised by Rhineland, passing vineyards and fantasy castles. We stayed one other night time in Koblenz, one of many oldest cities in Germany, earlier than one other lengthy drive to Netherlands.

The place to remain in Koblenz

On the way in which to the Netherlands, we handed by the city of Cologne, residence to the Cologne Cathedral, the most important Gothic church in northern Europe. This superb church options immense twin towers that stand 515 ft (157 meters) tall. The cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Web site in 1996.

Netherlands is world-famous for its windmills, tulips, clogs, cheese and vibrant bike tradition. We spent two days visiting the Dutch countryside, went inside a conventional windmill, realized how conventional wood clogs have been made, and took a ship cruise across the canals.

Amsterdam was the final cease of the tour, however we prolonged our keep for an additional week, and determined to go to Belgium, leaving most of our baggage in storage within the final lodge we transferred to. 

We additionally frolicked in Vondelpark, toured the Heineken Brewery, walked across the notorious Purple Mild District and had dinner in Chinatown as a break from Dutch meals.

Issues to do in Amsterdam

  • Windmills
  • Vollendam
  • Monnickendam
  • Canal cruise
  • Heineken Brewery Expertise
  • Purple Mild District
  • Vondelpark
  • Zaanse Chans
  • Anne Frank Home
  • Van Gogh Museum

The place to remain in Amsterdam

We booked tickets on the spot to journey by NS Worldwide prepare from Amsterdam to Brussels in Belgium, which is about 2-3 hours away. At this level, we have been a bit drained from the fixed shifting round and wished to relax out a bit and Brussels was a terrific place to do this.

The lodge I picked in Brussels was not as costly as Amsterdam and was centrally situated close to the Grand Place, so it was simple to discover on foot. We spent 3 nights in Brussels and determined to skip Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp to take it gradual.

We loved the beer tradition, walked to parks and church buildings, did a self-guided tour of the comedian e-book route, went meals tripping, tried totally different Belgian beers and candies. I additionally met up with a Belgium-based buddy (Aleah of Solitary Wanderer) and had a pleasant catch-up session over Belgian waffles and occasional.

Issues to do in Brussels

  • Grand Place
  • Les Galeries de Royale
  • BoursBeurs
  • Manekin Pis 
  • Chocolate
  • Beers
  • Comedian E-book Route
  • Bruges and Ghent
  • Luxembourg and Dinant

The place to remain in Brussels

Again in Netherlands

From Brussels, we took the FlixBus again to Netherlands (which was cheaper than the prepare) and spent one other three days in Amsterdam.

One of many issues Amsterdam is understood for is its vibrant biking tradition. The town has extra bikes than individuals and the spotlight of our final leg was biking across the metropolis. There are numerous biking routes round Amsterdam that we have been selecting from, so we tried to do 2 in someday.

We ended up happening an 80-kilometer experience to Zaanse Schans, a historic neighborhood that has the look of an 18th/Nineteenth-century village, and Marken (a coastal village with a port and conventional homes) and again to Amsterdam the identical day, profiting from the lengthy daylight (the sundown was at 10pm).

Amsterdam can be recognized for historic figures like Anne Frank and artists like Vincent Van Gogh. I’m glad we have been capable of pre-book museum tickets for the the Anne Frank Home and the Van Gogh Museum on the day of our flight again.

I really feel extraordinarily grateful for this journey to Europe. It’s been a whirlwind of memorable experiences together with journey errors that would have been prevented (however at the least we now know higher). Every European nation and metropolis had a distinct character and vibe. There have been some locations the place I wouldn’t thoughts returning to and staying longer, different locations I’m glad with seeing simply as soon as in my lifetime, and different locations I want we might have included if our time and finances permitted.

However general, I believe our first journey to Europe supplied a terrific overview of various nation highlights and what to anticipate on future journeys.

10 COUNTRIES: Italy, Vatican Metropolis, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium

16 CITIES (within the order we visited): Rome, Vatican, Venice, Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Regensburg, Munich, Vaduz, Lucerne, Heidelberg, Sankt Goar, Rhineland, Cologne, Amsterdam, Brussels

I’ll strive my greatest to put in writing extra detailed nation guides/travelogues (particularly the DIY bike excursions, memorable beer experiences, and notable museums) and hyperlink again to them on this submit, however for now I hope different vacationers will discover the fundamentals and sensible info useful for their very own journey planning.

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