Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Europe self-guided trip: Train and place to stay

Sorry it took me so long to update. I had been procrastinating once again. And I don't even know what's wrong with me these few days, lacking the will to even upload photos to facebook.

But as promised, here's a new blog post!

Before I start, let me briefly give some details of the trip. Me and my girl friends had planned to go for a long Europe trip and after rounds and rounds of discussions, we finally narrowed down to just 5 cities, 4 countries: Paris > Brussels > Amsterdam > Cologne > Berlin.

After listing out our tentative routes and calculating the costs, we decided to buy the InterRail Global Pass, which allows us to travel in Europe within a consecutive period (in our case, Travel 5 days within 10 days). It basically means that within that 10 days, you get to choose 5 days as your 'travel days' and on those days, you can just hop on any trains connecting cities to cities (unlimited amount of train rides on the same day). A pretty flexible and cost effective package I would say, but will only be worth it if you travel to many places or travel to as far as you can. Like for our case, if we did not plan to go up north to Berlin, we wouldn't have gone for InterRail. So I guess you just have to do some calculations before deciding to whether take up the package or just buy the usual point-to-point train tickets.

I suggest you read up this page it's really informative. My tip is that you should always avoid any high speed trains like Thalys for example because even with a valid InterRail pass you will still need to pay for the reservation fees which is very very expensive and not worth it. Apparently, any train connecting France is always the trouble maker so do check out the best option available. Other than that, in other countries, you can just hop on any IC or ICE trains you like and show your pass to the conductor when being asked to.

Anyway, we went to Paris by boarding the Eurostar from London (excluded from InterRail). The train ride lasted for 2 hours plus and we reached Gare du Nord around dinner time. First thing to do is of course, check in the apartment we have pre-booked online.

Super cosy right! Ok clearly I snatched these photos from the website because.. oh well the ones i took were damn blur and unflattering. Haha

The white sofa is actually a sofa bed! It's super comfy!
  Many fluffy pillows and extra duvets :)

We realised that staying in big cities like Paris especially can cost quite a bomb. At first we searched for hostels but really, we couldn't find any cheap ones. Then, one of my friends recommended us the website 'Airbnb' where people list their properties out for others who are interested to stay over.

If you are planning to go for trips around the world but want to save some money on accommodation I strongly recommend this website to you. Most of the time you will be out exploring the city and to me, as long as there's a safe place to sleep, I don't mind squeezing with my friends. In fact, we all slept well without having anyone to sleep on the floor at all.

Anyway here you go, my readers, click on this referral link  so that both of us can benefit. You can get around £16 off your first trip (not kidding, trust me it will save you quite a lot!!).

What I would say is that, if there's a lot of you traveling together, then this will definitely be a great choice since you all can squeeze in one apartment, unlike hostels that will charge you per person per night. For instance, we had 6 people in our group and when we searched, we put 4 people and all those apartments that came up were just perfectly spacious enough for 6 girls. At the end of the day each of us just had to pay £10 per night, which was like half of the price if we had chosen the hostels instead. Plus, you get to stay over a local's apartment and they actually provide you with everything like clean towels and toiletries. You even get a kitchen and washer too. Like the one we stayed in Paris, the owner even said we can listen to her CDs, read her books etc. haha.

I will update about our first day in Paris soon, stay tuned!