Monday, 13 August 2012

Preparation before the trip

Like it or not, some attractions in Europe requires hours & hours of queuing. Time is precious especially when you only have like 2-4 days in a city so why waste so much time standing in the  line when you could be using those time in a more meaningful way like - drinking a cuppa cappuccino at the cafe or SHOPPING!! 

Lodging wise, we booked most of them 2-3 months before the trip. Location, price & comfort are our top priorities when choosing the accommodation..

Let's settled it one by one, starting with ~~


Eurostar - Buy this in advance if you are going to travel between London & Paris (This route is NOT covered by Eurail Pass) after you can commit on your travel date & time. I bought mine 90days in advance & cost me only 42.50 for a one-way ticket. 

Eurail Pass - There are alot of agents selling Eurail Pass. Choose according to where you are based in. I found this website really useful cause it has all sorts of informations & tips on Eurail like is reservation compulsory on certain trains, discounts available for Eurail Pass holder & ALOT of other things. Just spend some time reading it, you will sure find some useful tips & info there. For someone based in Singapore like me, I bought mine through STA Travel cause during that time, it turns out to be more expensive to buy it off the Eurail web due to exchange rate. I paid S$504 for a ''5-Day 3 Country'' SelectPass. 

Seat reservation is a MUST for France & Italy and cost between 5-20, which is on top of what you have paid for the Eurail Pass. Booking of seat reservation is available @ the train stations. Try to make the reservation days in advance once you have confirmed the timing, cause seats are limited for Eurail Pass holders per train per timing. 

Side note: 
Some people say that it is cheaper to buy point-to-point budget train ticket versus buying the Eurail. I agree to a certain extent but for someone who prefer more certainty, I went for the Eurail. Click HERE for the comparison for Eurail Pass & point-to-point budget ticket. 


YHA London - Youth Hostel in downtown London. The room is VERY small but for the price we paid, this is considered not bad in London standard. Based on a 4-adult dorm with a private bathroom, I paid £30/pax per night. 

Paris B&B -  I booked my B&B in Paris using Good Morning Paris. The staffs are really helpful & responsive to my email. On top of that webbie, I must introduce another website also, The Alcove & Agapes, it has alot of information on the B&B in Paris & the best thing is it break down Paris into different zones so that you can zoom in to the area where you want to stay in & focus on the B&B there. I booked mine @ Zone Eiffel Tower & cost me 40/pax per night.

I do not have the name to the B&B I booked cause it was all numbered according to their own system. The staffs will shortlist a few of the B&B in that area according to your request & you just have let them know which B&B you want using the numbers given. They will ask you to pay a deposit first then the full amount 1 month before your date of arrival. It is only then, they will send you the details of your B&B with the address & the owner's name. 

Hotel Bernerhof - This hotel is just 2mins away from the Interlaken West Station & directly at the start of the souvenir street of Interlaken. Lodging in switzerland is expensive, in fact EVERYTHING is expensive!! That is why, we booked a 2 queen-sized bed room. It comes with a balcony that overlooks the main street & includes breakfast for the 4 of us. Cost: S$160/pax for 2 nights.

  • Tips: Look up this website before you book your lodging or your railway ticket to Jungfraujouch cause it offers bundle deals & its really worth it if those dates available for the deals fit your travel date. 
S-Design - This is the apartment name we book but I cant find the website I booked this anymore. It is just 3mins away from San Marco Square where most of the attractions are. Go for apartment in Venice if you are going in a group. It is so much cheaper versus staying in hotels & you can cook as well to save $$. Cost:  140/pax for 3 nights.

PLUS Florence - Youth hostel in central Florence. 10-15mins walk away from the train station. 5-8mins walk away from Mercato Centrale. We booked a 4 bed dorms with private bathroom. We were given a room at the ground level with 2 separate bedrooms  & a attached bathroom inside. The room is big enough for 2 pax with a wardrobe & dressing table. Bedlinen is provided together with blanket. Cost: 53/pax for 2 nights. 

Armony Suites - This is more like a 5* hotel than a B&B. The host Lucas is incredibly friendly & helpful. He gave us alot of tips, showed us the way to walk around to live like a Roman, helping us arrange the limousine to the airport. Apart from having a nice host, the place is tastefully decorated. The B&B is very near to the Vatican City & breakfast is served @ a cafe 5min walk away every morning. This place is simply superb. Cost: 115/pax for 2nights

Booking for Attractions: 

Big Bus Tour (London) - This is 1 of the operator in London doing the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour. Buying online can save some $$ if you have already fixed the date that you want to take the tour due to the fixed date discounts promotion BUT limited tickets are available for the promo so the best thing is to buy it as early as you can, just like the Eurostar ticket. I got mine 1 month before the date of the tour @ £22/pax.

Eiffel Tower (Paris) - This is the attraction with the longest queue I had ever seen in my life & for goodness sake, I went there in April which is the non-peak season!! Even with the reservation ticket, I queued for almost 45min just to get into the lift & this queue is probably like 1/3 or 1/4 of that for the ticket office. There are 2 types of ticket available
  • Summit Ticket - Highest point of the Eiffel Tower. Need to queue @ the 2nd floor for another smaller lift to go up (Queue is crazy as well, can go up to hours kind). The management reserved the right to close off this level without warning if they deemed the wind condition is too strong or weather is bad for the day. Cost  14/adult.
  • 2nd floor Ticket -  I went for this level instead. Don't let the word 2nd floor fool you, this is around 37 storey high!! I am glad I took this level when I saw the LONG queue for the lift towards the top level. Cost  8.50/adult

Uffizi Gallery (Florence) - This museum is crazy. Prepare to queue at LEAST 1 hour to buy the ticket if you go without 1. There are tonnes of website offering reservation service for Uffizi ticket but they are mostly external website by those tour agency & the price for the ticket is usually higher cause of the ''service'' provided by them. I bought mine via the official website & that cost me 14/pax10 for the ticket & 4 for the reservation fee to save me from queuing. Haiz, nth is free in this world but I think that 4 is totally well paid when I saw the queue itself @ the gallery. For the reservation, you will be booking a time slot to go into the gallery. Be there 15mins before the time of entry as you need to change the order confirmation into the actual ticket @ the ticket office. 

Vatican Museum (Rome) - This attraction is even more popular than the Uffizi Gallery, so you can imagine how the queue is like. I bought my ticket online @ 
19/pax, including the 4 reservation fee. Same as the Uffizi Gallery, a time slot will be booked & you need to reach 15mins before the entry to change into the ticket. Entry into Sistine Chapel is included in the ticket. 

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