What I packed – Photographer – Europe – 2019

Check out my Amazon page for gear that I personally use and products similar to those I pack on my travels (many of which are listed below).

For this Eurotrip, we had planned to visit many cities and countries but doing so by the most efficient and cost effective of options. To do so, we took many flights with Ryanair and well, if you have flown with Ryanair, you can barely carry anything on those flights without having to pay for it.

With the restrictions of Ryanair as our template, I had to leave behind my goto bags – Wandrd PRVKE 21 and the North Face Basecamp Duffel – S. I traded those in for this Swissgear Travel Tote and that was it. The size restriction is (40cm x 20cm x 25cm).

With that being said, I had to sacrifice a few things but as a Photographer, it’s hard to leave things behind in case you need it. I did put Photography gear as priority and in the end, I brought less clothes and did more laundry. If you actually look at all my photos of me during the trip, it just looks like one long day since I wear the same things in all the photos.

For this trip, we had to deal with many temperatures going from 0°C to a high of 31°C. This is not an ideal situation for the limited space but I somehow made it work.

Wearing onto Plane

-Lululemon Tights – these tights are amazing because they are super lightweight but also feature pockets!

-Tank top

-Sports bra

-Hoodie

-Sneakers

-Socks

-Rain jacket

 

Swiss Gear Bag

-Passport International Drivers License

-Money – EU, GBP, DKK, SEK

-USB – 64GB

-D750 28mm

-Batteries – 2

-Nikon charger

-Mogics – power bar

-Phone charging cable + plug

-Samsung T5 SSD external + cable

-Card reader + cable

-Macbook Book Air

-Mac Charger

-Astrolapin

-Memory cards x 10

-Eyedrops – Rohto 40

-Glasses + case

Packable purse

Packable bag

-Powerbank

-Toothbrush

-Toothpaste bites (great for reducing liquids as well)

-Contacts

-Contact solution x3 travel size

-Tweezers

-Nail clippers

-Razor

-Laundry soap sheets

-Underwear x6

-Socks x3

-1 sports bra

-PJ’s (1 shorts + 1 shirt)

-1 shorts

-1 t-shirts

-2 tanks

-1 tights

-1 longsleeve

– 1 swim bottoms

-Strepsils

-Tiger Balm

-Sanitary items

 

Berlin, Germany – Edinburgh, Scotland – 2019 – Day 21-24

10/01/19

Berlin, Germany

Our time in Berlin has more or less been a wet one and this day was no different. We took the train to Sachsenhausen – a concentration camp that was used from 1936-1945 to the end of the Reich. It had interned 200 000 prisoners during its time. The came is about 1.5 hours outside of the centre of Berlin by train. Remember to get a train ticket for zone ABC. There are street clothed transit police on the trains who come around and check your tickets and 2 other tourists got caught and fined for not having the proper ticket for the zone.

To visit is free but you can pay 3€ for the audio guide and it is definitely worth it. There is so much information that we were only there for 3 hours and barely scratched the surface. The moment we arrived, the whole mood was set with heavy rain coming down upon us. We were drenched.

We hopped back onto the train and back into the centre of Berlin we went to meet with Lea for a late lunch and to grab tickets from her. She recommended a theatre production and wanted to take us our first night but we arrived too late. There is an abundance of Vietnamese living in Berlin and many restaurants specializing in an array of Asian cuisine in one – Viet, Thai & Japanese cuisine served in one place is the norm here.

After lunch, we parted ways so Lea could go back to work. We went to check out Tempelhofer feld – once a concentration camp and an old airport which now serves as a working natural habitat, park, concert venue, skatepark etc. The weather was a little better in Berlin than where Sachsenhausen was. This park would be nicer to visit on a sunny day to bike around in.

We’ve been told by many people here in Berlin that we must check out Klunkerkranich and so we did. Who would have thought to turn the top floor of a mall parking into an outdoor garden dance club venue. When Google maps told us where to go, we were very confused as this wasn’t your typical mall either. It is actually very quiet up there. Not to mention the views you get of the city line from there. You have to enter by going to the 5th floor parking and walk up the 6th floor ramp. It does cost a fee to enter (3-5€).

We ended up going back to the main area in the city but this time it was to try out this bakery called Berliner Pfannkuchen Café – Backerei & Konditorei. We grabbed ourselves a raspberry donut – not too sweet but the filling was plenty. Apparently these aren’t donuts but German pancakes according to the name.

We met up with Winnie’s friend Sarah at Cafe Cinema who is working for the Canadian embassy in Berlin. We were talking about Futurism and how there was a part in the exhibit discussing whether we would want our life data to be stored on USB’s for future access or deleted. Sarah’s response to that topic was “German people with their past history would rather have that stuff deleted. Germans don’t trust that data to be out there and that is also why everyone pays for everything in cash – no trace.”

To end the night, Lea recommended this play at the Deutsches Theater Berlin called the Ugly Duckling. The Ugly Duckling, the Little Mermaid mixed with Berliner dragqueens, what more can you ask for. It was such an amazing show that touched upon each individuals story. Definitely recommend!

Our time in Berlin was definitely short lived. Here is a list that my friend Jaclyn sent me of her favourite things to tell visitors to see, do and eat/drink.

The touristy things:

Hamburger Banhof
Museum Island
Berlinische Galerie
Brandenburg Gate

Berlin Victory Column
Reichstag (if you want to go inside, I believe you have to apply a few days before)
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Checkpoint Charlie
KaDeWe – upstairs market
East Side gallery and/or Berlin Wall Memorial berlin
Mauerpark flee market – Karaoke Sundays
Soviet War Memorial (Treptower Park)
Sanssouci Palace
Teufelsberg

Local stuff:

Viktoriapark – Kreuzberg look out
Landwehr Canal walk Kreuzberg (Maybachufer), grab a Brammibal’s handmade vegan doughnut on the way

Five Elephant, Companion, Bonanza coffee
Do you read me? – Mitte books/magazines
C/O Berlin – Photo
Helmut Newton Foundation
Best schnitzel – Felix Austria (Bergmannstraße 26)

“Secret” Berlin Unterwelten tours  – (Limited tickets and dates, book in advance) This was awesome when we did it.

Ora – drinks
Mexican @ La Lucha
Zola – Pizza
Black Lodge bar
Bar Brutall
Herr Lindemann bar
Zosse bar
Paloma bar

Basalt bar
Markthalle Neun – food market (T, F, S)
Curry wurst – Curry 36

Treptower Park – paddle boating (with wine)

Templehofer Feld (bring bikes to ride on the airport runway)
Klunkerkranich, roof top bar in Neukölln area

Burgermeister

Berghain

Open air clubs: Sisyphos, KaterBlau (day or night experience)
Max und Moritz – good German food and beer

Saam – Korean BBQ

Paris Bar – in the West – Suspiria filmed there

Hallesches Haus. Good eats, brunch and fun general store

10/02/19

Berlin, Germany – Edinburgh, Scotland

Berlin was fun but also very wet. We bid farewell to Lea early in the morning and made our way to the airport in the rain.

Next stop, Edinburgh. The warm sun welcomed us even though it was still around 9-10°C. It was 29-31°C in Toronto the previous day. Must’ve been nice.

We took the bus into the city (not too expensive but takes some time as it is a local bus that stops frequently). Our bus driver did a sweep of the bus before letting us on and found a forgotten watermelon. Once we finally got to our destination, we we’re welcomed by Winnie’s friend Maya and her roommate Nuala. They both are also from Toronto but have been living in Edinburgh for university.

They took us around town but first stop was for food. The Golden Chicken Chili from Union of Genius was absolutely delicious! We ate it on the grass on the university campus.

We walked the Water of Leith Walkway, Dean village, the Princes Street, near the Royal mile, plus many more. We even went all the way up to Calton Hill. You can see the whole city from up there and many monuments to scholars.

We stopped by Red Kite Cafe for some Almond black tea (one of Maya’s favourite coffee shops and tea choices at this place). Slowly made our way back to their place but stopping off to grab groceries as we had decided to make a home-cooked meal together.

Joining us for dinner festivities was their friend Alice. We made fresh basil lemon ricotta ravioli and for dessert, we (Winnie mainly) made ginger cookies.

10/03/19

Edinburgh, Scotland

Started off the morning with the most strenuous of activities for the day – hiking Arthur’s Seat. It was an overcast day for the most part but the 360 view was well worth it.

Walked Princes St and the Royal Mile before stopping for lunch at Henderson’s where I got the vegetarian haggis with potato and leek soup – delicious.

We met back up with Maya and she took us through Princes St garden, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Grass market and Victoria St – Harry Potter fans rejoice in this street that inspired JK Rowling.

With the weather not being the best outside, we went indoors to the National Museum of Scotland (free admission). This museum is housed in a beautiful building and it is a mishmash of the Ontario Science Centre, ROM and the AGO all rolled into one. It also houses Dolly the sheep.

We walked past this Korean restaurant the day before that Nuala and Maya were raving about and we decided to go there for dinner. Kim’s has been Michelin marked and always has a line as they are only open from 530-8PM. We got there in time to be part of the first group of people in. We ordered the beef bulgogi, kimchi jeon, kalbi beef rib stew and bimbimbap.

To walk off the delicious food we ate, we walked over to the canal before heading home.

 

10/04/19

Edinburgh, Scotland

The chilly morning feels where you don’t want to get up from under the covers type of day. It was a chilly overcast 10°C.

We had a lazy slow start to the day but I guess it’s needed once in awhile.

Our first stop was to the Dovecot Gallery where we could watch artists making tapestries.

We walked for about 45 minutes and made our way to the Scottish Museum of Modern Art. The main floor was under renovation but at least the second floor has art pieces from one of my favourite artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. We were told that the first floor exhibit is the main attraction – bummer we didn’t get to see it first hand.

We continued on towards Edinburgh Castle where we stopped by a cafe called Deacon’s House Cafe. We ordered the Scottish Cream Tea – plain scone with jam and cream served with tea. We also ordered the carrot cake loaf.

Earlier in the day, we had decided we would do a traybake for dinner so we met with Maya to do some grocery shopping. We also stocked up on snacks for the next few days. We also stopped by some really cute design stores along the way.

After gathering supplies, we made it back to Maya and Nuala’s and prepped dinner. The traybake consisted of red onion, peppers, artichoke hearts, zucchini, thyme, tomatoes, basil, lemon, olives and feta cheese.

Copenhagen, Denmark – Munich – Berlin, Germany – 2019 – Day 16-20

09/26/19

Copenhagen, Denmark – Stuttgart – Munich, Germany

We left Copenhagen early in the morning to arrive into Stuttgart to catch our Flixbus (one of the cheaper options to get around Europe – Similar to Greyhound or Megabus) to Munich. Back to the euro and we felt like we were rich after being in Denmark for the past few days.

Arrived into Munich and we found ourselves a storage locker at the train station and walked around a bit. This was a task in itself as everyone was in town for Oktoberfest and also storing their things at the train station. We walked over to Marienplatz and it was a little drizzly. We ended up buying some chunks of Dutch cheese and also some grapes as well as fresh bread.

Oktoberfest is incredibly busy and many places are booked up or not renting out during this timeframe. The Airbnb we managed to book was located in Wolfratshausen (45 minutes roughly outside of town) and because of that, we called it an early night after our day of travelling. Our Airbnb host was baking mushrooms and her whole place smelt like pizza the entire time.

09/27/19

Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany

Woke up super early and met up with Winnie’s friends Kirtana and Mark. We made it to the festival entrance at the Fairgrounds of Theresienwiese to line up at 8AM. 9AM hit and the mad dash began to get into the specific beer halls. We made it to the doors of HB (one of the most popular ones for tourists) and low and behold beside me stood Scott who I met in Lisbon a week and a bit prior with his Remote Year crew.

It was also a mad push to get in but we got seated. Beer steins were 11.70€ each however beer wasn’t served until 10AM. We also ordered half chickens – which were amazing – also not served until 11AM. I also bought a bottle of water and they give you a chip so you can get a euro back once you return it. A good tip is to refill those water bottles at the washrooms for free! It is also cheaper to purchase food outside of the beerhall not as convenient especially if you have been drinking. Some of the people around us were buying these little viles of white powder and it turns out, it’s a thing to snort peppermint to keep you alert and wake you up as well as clear your nasal passages.

We met many wonderful new friends including Kelcey & Sam (she lives NYC now) from Texas, Caroline & Biscuit from New York, Scott and his friends from Remote Year and Texas, John & Stephen with their friends and Colin (who currently live in Prague) from Orange County and a few older Italian Gentlemen who might be part of the mafia. We went on a weekday so pretty much the crowd was foreigners.

We definitely had a fun experience with Oktoberfest and my first experience drinking and being a little drunk all before noon. Everyone in my group had 2L beersteins and finished them before noon. We stayed in that tent from 9AM-530PM. We came out and walked the grounds a little bit before leaving and finding some food and heading home.

The rest of the day was a write off but well worth it. We went to bed around 8PM.

 

Things to know before you attend Oktoberfest

-Oktoberfest does not take place traditionally in October but from September 21st through October 6th – it falls over 3 weekends and thousands/millions flood the city of Munich.

-If you are looking for accommodations within Munich, BOOK MONTHS IN ADVANCED or be prepared to stay on the outskirts of town and take the train in. If you are daring, there are Oktoberfest camp spots – literal camping in tents with a partying atmosphere all around.

BRING CASH – card is not accepted.

-There is no entry fee to get into the Fairgrounds of Therheresienwiese, but of course the money you spend will go towards beer and food.

Oktoberfest Hours
Opening day: 12:00 – 10:30pm
Weekdays: 10:00am – 10:30pm
Weekends and Holidays: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Tents Open late: Käfers and Weinzelt open until 1:00am

-Temporary beer tents are set up in advanced for each beer hall with long benches and picnic tables. Be ready to share seating with strangers.

-Oktoberfest is not just about drinking in beer tents but it is actually an amusement park with games and rides.

-Bags are not permitted. Fanny packs and little purses are acceptable.

-If you choose to dress up, you can actually purchase a dress (dirndls) or lederhosen at the train station

-Many people end up standing on the bench and try to chug their beers, this results in that person being kicked out of the beer hall. It’s a precaution in case they vomit from chugging so much beer.

-You will not be served if you are not sitting at a table.

-There are no small beers – 1L beer stein is what you will get

-You will not get a hangover if you ONLY drink beer – Germans have a beer purity law so the beer is made with very few fresh ingredients.

-You can line up at 8AM and do the mad dash to the beer tents when gates open at 9AM

-Beer does not get served until 10AM and food 1030AM

-If you have the chance, check out Oktoberfest at night – live music (different experience than during the day – or stay all day long)

-As a tourist, weekdays are your best bet as weekends, millions of people including locals will be attending and it gets incredibly busy.

-The last day of the festival (October 6th) is apparently the most magical

 

More to know

https://happytowander.com/oktoberfest-must-knows/

https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-survive-oktoberfest/

https://www.bigboytravel.com/europe/germany/munich/oktoberfest/best-tips-and-tricks/

09/28/19

Munich – Berlin, Germany

Spent the day just walking around Munich after our Oktoberfest shenanigans the previous day and making sure we had ample time to recover if needed. The sun was out and turned out to be a good day to explore. So many cute little streets and neighbourhoods we ended up wandering through.

Made our way to the English Garden and watched some people catching some waves on the Eisbach river.

Walked past this alien spaceship structure which turned out to be an installation for the Pinakothek der Moderne. The whole building was just beautiful to look at.

Stopped to grab a bite at Dean & David – chicken curry bowl. Since we had time and the weather was much nicer than the first time we made it through Marienplatz, we went up to the tower at St Peter’s Church. It costs 3€ to go up but it is a narrow stairwell for majority of the way up and it is used to go up and down.

We purchased some sustenance and caught our train from Munchen hbf. We took the DB all the way to Berlin (lent my shoulder to a new Italian friend along the way) where we came in quite late. For our stint in Berlin, Winnie’s friend Lea graciously hosted us.

09/29/19 

Berlin, Germany

Our first full day in Berlin was a rainy one but at least we were accompanied by Lea.

First stop was to the East Side gallery of the Berlin Wall to check out the art pieces and of course the famous kiss art mural. Every so often, the murals get redone as a new commission.

We learned majority of things are closed on Sundays but one positive are the flea markets. We went to 3 of them – RAW Flohmarkt, Boxhagener platz and Mauerpark (On Sundays in the summer or when its still warm out, there are usually karaoke in the park).

We spent some time exploring Friedrichshain and made our way to Monsieur Vuong for lunch. I got the Pho Bo and it was much needed and satisfying to have a soupy meal on a wet and cold day.

We did stop over to Zeit fur brot where we got the apple cinnamon roll, walnut and maple syrup roll as well as fresh walnut and date bread.

With it being so wet outside, we wanted to go to the spa – Vabali but of course there was a huge line of people who also had the same thinking as we did. We did not wait in line and continued on. Did I mention in this weather, the Berlin Marathon was also happening. There were so many people running the city.

We walked about 20 minutes but made it to Futurium to be greeted by another line. We waited and the line moved quickly. It was also free admission. The museum discusses many possible future outcomes and sustainability. Very thought provoking but also a lot of information to take in. You also get a bracelet to keep and at each station, if you wanted to learn more about that topic or wanted to remember what you were interested in, you could use that code online and gather the information for later to continue the topic after your visit.

After being out all day in the rain, we decided to buy some groceries and make a home-cooked meal. Remember how I mentioned many things were closed on Sundays. Grocery stores are also closed BUT you can only find the open ones in the metro terminals.

We roasted beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. While we waited for all that to cook, we started off eating the fresh bread from earlier with cheese and grapes.

09/30/19

Berlin, Germany

Oh what a windy and wet start to the day. We took the bus and hiked up to Teufelsberg to only find out it is open wed-sun. It was still a lovely little hike.

Made our way to Alexanderplatz where they had a little Oktoberfest market set up. The sun came out and we walked to Hackescher Markt and walked through the alley to see some graffiti artwork. There were also so many cute little shops in the die Hackeschen höfe.

Walked by Berlinerdome (cathedral) and walked to museum Island and finally to the Brandenburger tor. There were so many tourists around and especially runners who ran the Berlin marathon the day prior as the gate was the finish line.

Just down the street, we saw the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Below is a free museum that follows various families throughout the Holocaust.

We continued down to Potsdamer platz – a little plaza that also has pieces of the Berlin Wall on display. This square is important because the road connecting the two cities crossed through this square.

We had booked a reservation prior to coming to go to the parliament government building – Bundestag. They have this beautiful rooftop with a glass Dome with 360 view of Berlin. We happened to have booked a time (530PM) when we could see the beginning of the sun setting above the city and it was absolutely stunning and a great way to end our day.

We made it back to Lea’s flat where we had dinner with her flat mates Gaelle, Goel and their friend Heinrich. It was a fun dinner with homemade bruschetta and a lovely pasta dinner with great company.

Milan – Zurich – Prague – Europe – 2014 – Day 4-6

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We walked to Zara station to head back to Central to catch our train to Zurich.

We grabbed a little snack at the station from Bistrot Centrale before boarding our train since we got there a bit early. Crema croissant and a fruit shake (frullati – frullato misto)- 6.50 Euro. We took the Trenitalia train to Zurich but they have tickets where the seating is 3 & 3 but luckily train wasn’t full so Mimi and myself shifted to the empty seats. When we finally arrived, we exchanged some of our Euros for Franc coins and stored our luggage. We then walked the town with a walking tour map. Walked all over and in total, walked 12KM before heading back the station for dinner. Pretty much everything is closed on Sundays. We ended up at Brasserie Federal for dinner and I got the Muotatatler delicious which is Air dried beef, raw ham and bacon which really meant a huge slab smoked ham with potato salad and came with tubes of different mustard. 19,80 francs. NOTE – You can pay in euro /francs but will receive francs for change.

NOTE – Zurich, Switzerland is one of the cleanest cities that you could drink the water straight from the hundreds of beautiful water fountains all over.

We finished eating and walked over to the train board to see no status of our train so we lined up at the check-in desk to see if we needed to get printed tickets but were told that our train wasn’t running as Germany went strike. We went next door to customer service where we waited for a bit and luckily Sandra Buchanan saved us. Apparently this is the third strike Germany had done and it’s usually without warning. Sandra was able to find us an alternate route that left the same night but our route leaves to Salzburg on a sleeper train in which we transfer from Salzburg to Munich then to a bus from Munich to Prague that get to Prague only hours later. Such a complicated journey than expected. Should’ve just booked a plane ticket for 25-50 Euro from the beginning. We ended up wasting time at MacDonalds.

I’ve noticed over here, it is so common for couples to display PDA whether it be hugging, holding one another, sitting on each other’s laps to making out. It’s different. More carefree.

We got into the sleeper train from Zurich Hauptbahnhof to head over to Salzburg.  From Salzburg, we will connect to another train in Munich then a bus from Munich to Prague.

The sleeper train are segregated into small rooms with 6 chairs that can recline all the way down. At the beginning, we had the 4 of us plus one lady then the remainder of the ride had a full 6 with one girl beside me who tiny enough to curl up a ball and sleep perfectly. The train filled with soldiers from the Military who were going home so it was loud as they were celebrating. Definitely not a restful sleep at all. We had to change trains at 430AM but luckily we made it on time and the next train was on the platform next to us. We also took a 6 person sleeper train and had a somewhat restful sleeping moment with only two hours on this train and no one joining us. If we kept sleeping, we could’ve missed our stop and ended up in Budapest but Ricky was awake the whole time.

We arrived at Munchen station in Munich and found glorious food. We ate from Rischart bakery where I paid 3,70 Euro for a pretzel with cream cheese and chives in it (breze). Delicious. We then had to walk out of the train station about 10 minutes over to ZOB which is their Train station with a waiting area upstairs with shops and stores. We got into the DB Bahn Icb double decker bus similar to Megabus. I think this ride was probably the most restful of sleep for all. Plus there was free WiFi! Everywhere else you need to send your mobile number and receive an sms code to use it and for people not using data, it’s impossible to receive it unless you get online.  First world problems I know but how did we survive before this? When I did get internet access I received an email about the delay of the original train…

111014

NOTE – just take money out of the bank (Debit) as the exchange places rip you off. I learnt the hard way. The rate I exchanged at, I already lost $50.

We stayed in an Airbnb in Prague 1 district. We were greeted by Akan who is this lovely Turkish French man who works the medical industry. The apartment itself is astounding. It smells amazing and the look and feel one ups the Milano apartment. It’s a safe street that has a police station beside the sexy sauna. It’s a one way and cars aren’t allowed in after a certain time. It features the original wooden doors and locks but modernized. The kitchen is beautiful however we most likely won’t use it. There are two huge bedrooms plus a living room which Ricky claimed. The toilet and shower are in separate rooms. I could live here.

If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu

We finally had a chance to shower and freshen up then we finally left the apartment at 4PM. The sun was actually already setting. We walked down to the main street which led us the old city buildings. We walked around and went to dinner at V Kolkovne (8 – 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město, Czech Republic) in the Jewish quarter that is on the Michelin star list and it was amazing for traditional Czech German dishes. I got the goulash soup, pork hock and the mixed light and dark lager which in the end cost 400cCZ which is approximately $20CAD or under. We walked in the square/old town city hall area. We pretty much walked everywhere the Prague 1 area. Average temperature this time of year was 9 degrees throughout the day. They also are allowed to smoke indoors at bars still. Everyone speaks English here so there is much better communication than Milan.

Itinerary – Europe – 2014

1106-2014 Europe – Milan, Zurich, (enroute via Salzburg & Munich) Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, Iceland

 

My friends (Mimi, Ricky & Aaron) found the crazy one-way flight deal for $177USD (From New York-Milan; a week to get to Prague-Paris-Hong Kong). We did however alter it so we would goto Amsterdam and then a layover in Iceland before returning back to Toronto. In total, we travelled for 2 weeks.

If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu

Here is the itinerary.

 

11/06 – Toronto – New York – Milan

FLY – YYZ-JFK; JFK-MXP

 

11/07 – Milan

AIRBNB – District 13 – Milan

-Meet Mimi & Aaron at MXP Airport

-Malpensa Express train to Milan Cadorna Station

-Walk around Corso Como

-Dinner – Eataly

 

11/08 – Milan

-Piazza Del Duomo

-Lunch – Osteria al 29 Pizzeria

-Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio

-San Lorenzo

-Chinatown & Navigli

-Dinner – Gia Como OR Da Oscar OR Osteria Luna Piena

-Chinatown – Massimo del Gelato

 

11/09 – Milan – Zurich – enroute to Prague

TRAIN (Trenitalia)– Milan – Zurich – Prague (Train went on strike) – DETOUR

-walk around Zurich

-Lunch – Brasserie Federal

TRAIN – Zurich – Salzburg – Munich (detour)

 

11/10 – Enroute to Prague

BUS – Munich – Prague (detour)

AIRBNB – Prague 1

-walk old city

-Dinner – V Kolkovne

 

11/11 – Prague

-Charles Bridge

-Kampa Park

-Lunch – Bistro De France

-John Lennon Wall

-Petrin Tower

-Midday snack – Café Savoy

-Dinner – Pho Vietnam

-Dessert – Café Louvre

 

11/12 – Prague

-Lunch – Café Lovre

-Havelske Trzsnice

-Prazska Trzsnice

-Dinner – Kolkovna Salavran

 

11/13 – Prague – Paris

FLY – PRG- CDG

-Breakfast – La Bottega Di Finestra

-walking the Jewish Quarters

TRAIN – RER – Gare Du Nord

HOSTEL – Vintage Hostel

 

11/14 – Paris – Amsterdam

TRAIN – Paris – Amsterdam

-Store luggage at Gare du Nord

-Lunch – Collette

-Sacre Coeur

-Montmartre

-Galleries du Lafayette

 

11/15 – Amsterdam

AIRBNB – Amsterdam Nieuw-West

-Dinner – Hunkar Restaurant

 

11/16 – Amsterdam

-Central Station – Pick up iamsterdam card (2 day pass)

-canal cruise (iamsterdam card)

-Stedelijk Museum

-Lunch/Dinner – Pompa

-iamsterdam sign

-Red Light District

 

11/17 – Amsterdam

HOTEL – Citizen M

-Library

-Lunch – Vapiano

-Science Centre Nemo

-Dinner – Chinatown – A Fusion

-Hartman et Hartman

 

11/18 – Amsterdam – Reykjavik, Iceland

FLY – AMS-KEF

AIRBNB – Reykjavik

-Dinner – Snaps

-grocery shop – Hagkaup

 

11/19 – Iceland

DRIVE

-Seljalandsfoss

-Skogafoss falls

-Solheimajokull glaciers

-Lunch – Halldorskaffi

-Vik

-Reynisfjara Beach

-Dinner – Fish Market – Fiskmarkadurinn

 

11/20 – Iceland

DRIVE

-Skaftafellsjokull – Skaftafell – Vatnajökull National Park Iceland

-Lunch – Halldorskaffi

-Dinner – Bæjarins Beztu

 

11/21 – Iceland – Toronto

FLY – KEF-YYZ

-Blue Lagoon

-HOMETIME

 

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Rhine Valley – Munich – Contiki 2011 – Day 4

09/15/11

Woke up to a chilly morning. Hopped onto the bus and off to Munich.

Contiki tours is all about the youth movement as you need to be between the ages of 18-35 to travel on this tour. Sophia made all us come up to the front and do introductions – name, occupation, where you are from, green, yellow or red light (green being single, yellow being complicated and red being taken) and of course a joke or embarrassing story. It was actually really fun as you get to see the personalities of everyone.

We rode on the coach for about 5-6 hours with a 45minute break in-between. Munich is a beautiful city and by far the prettiest. The people here are also quite beautiful as well and tall. PDA is normal here. Our hotel for the night was Haus International. It is a very popular hotel especially during Oktoberfest. They have these drunk-proof locks for the rooms with a swipe key then a turn knob. Their logic is that it is more difficult to clean inside the rooms if you puke in there so they would rather you puke in the hallways for easier cleaning. We got dropped off and given time to explore for a few hours around the main square – Marienplatz. We stopped by the Peterskirche Church where for 1,50€ we climbed the stairs to the top of the tower to see the wonderful view from up above. I am definitely out of shape. We wandered around for a bit and ended up getting Haagen Daaz – Creme Brûlée was so good. We waited until 5PM to see the glockenspiel ring and move about; it was nothing fancy but something to say we saw in person. We entered into a cafe to grab something light to eat and I had my German-made 1955 Walzflex TLR camera around my neck and an older gentleman noticed it and gave me the nod of approval.

Our group dinner was at a Bavarian beer hall – Münchner Haupt’ Gasthaus Biergarten – where we had a litre of stein which is the minimum you can get here – I finished mine! It is indeed an arm workout. Remember, if you don’t mix alcohols, you can drink as much beer as you want and there will be no hangover! As for dinner, I had the traditional pork knuckle which reminded me a lot of the chinese crispy bbq pork but saltier. Crystle chose the chicken option and the fries tasted like Mcdonalds. We had live entertainment with some people playing instruments then performances by 4 ladies in the traditional dirndl dresses come and perform by twirling and also playing multiple cowbells at once to create a wonderful tune. Everyone had a great time at the beer hall that we continued the party on the bus with everyone standing and dancing. We then got back to the hotel but for some odd reason, after having some alcohol in me, I got the door open on one turn of the knob. There was a bar in the basement where we continued the party. Just a great time by all.

All in all, Munich is beautiful in general. The architecture is amazing and even some of the buildings look like paintings. Very colourful and a very clean city. I just wish we had more time there.

Amsterdam – Rhine Valley – Contiki 2011 – Day 3

09/14/11

Buffet breakfast to start the day. Europeans like their deli meats, cheeses, plain yogurt and hazelnut spread in the mornings. After breakfast, Christian dropped us all off at Centraal Station for free time. Being September, it was windy and chilly. We took the tram (#2 or 5) down to the IAMsterdam sign and surrounding area. The tram was pretty cool I guess – a preview of what the LRT (Light Rapid Transit) is to come in Toronto. A 24H pass is 7€ and basically when you enter the tram, you just tap the box and it will beep; to exit you need to tap again to let you off. The line for the Van Gogh museum was pretty long and the Rjksmuseum was under construction so we decided to walk the same route of the tram and get to see the city and hop back on when it got closer to the time to meet up.

We ate at Allstars Diner for lunch where I got a apple pancake. The syrup isn’t as good as Canadian maple syrup but it wasn’t bad. While you are in Amsterdam, you need to get yourself stroopwaffel whether you prefer to eat it with or without a coffee is up to you. Stroopwaffels are 2 little waffles with caramel inbetween and the perfect treat when you grab a coffee; you place the waffle on top the coffee and wait for the caramel to melt – delicious! We didn’t have enough time but you also need to have some moo frites – french fries with mayo. The weather had changed and there was a light drizzle as we waited for the whole group to gather and load back up onto the bus. Amsterdam has so many bikers and bikes everywhere and just like what I learned in Sociology of the everyday living, it’s organized chaos with lanes dedicated to pedestrian, tram & bikes etc. What I find particularly funny is that the police here drive Volkswagons while the taxi drivers drive Mercedes Benz or Audi cars.

Off to Rhine Valley – St Goar in Germany.

Facts of Germany:

The highways are called Autobahns.

The highways used to not have speed limit as Hitler didn’t want his tanks to be stuck in traffic.

Germans are convinced that driving faster is safer as you need to pay more attention.

Population of 82 million.

in 1990, Germany became unified.

German fashion sense is shorts, socks and sandals.

They are proud to have unleashed David Hasselhoff to the world.

When Oktoberfest comes around, Germans get dressed up in their lederhosen & dirndl.

Germany is 1/3 of the most industrial countries and one of the starters for the EU to get together and unify the use of the euro.

Older cars need to pay taxes so rare to see any older cars.

1200 breweries. Produce over 100 million litres of beer a year. German beer is brewed to the laws of 1516 – no preservatives therefore no hangovers.

Rhine valley is mostly famous for the wine they produce and the castles. German white wines are generally sweet riesling grapes that have to be handpicked as the vineyards are on hillsides. Often one vine will produce only one bottle of wine as the dry freeze process is tempermental. Besides Canada, Germany and one other countries are known for their ice wines.

On this tour, we unfortunately miss Oktoberfest by a day or 2. We finally got to St Goar around 6-630PM where we went to the Beerstein shop and saw some of the limited edition and Oktoberfest beersteins. There was also a Birkenstocks store where it was literally 75% less cost than in Canada as it is made here and is sold at factory manufactoring price – 35-45€. There was also the largest freestanding cookoo clock and you could purchase a smaller version if you wanted. We had our group dinner at Hotel Montag serving up German cuisine including cured meats and spaetzle. Our hotel – Winzerhaus is about 30 minutes away from St Goar. As Sophia had mentioned, that night was to be a quiet night after the wine tasting to recuperate from “amsterdamage” for those who went a little too hard. We went to Urbarer Winzerkeller for wine tasting for 8€. There are 2-3 groups of 3 travelling on this bus so each day, we battle on the bus to see who gets the room of 3 or room of 4 where a single traveller joins the room of 4. We had Elizabeth “Tay” from originally Chicago but lives in Tuscon, Arizona join us. She’s a funny lady and has a little one year old girl at home. Each of us had our own bed however our room was at the very top floor and it was only stairs.

Itinerary – Contiki – 2011

0911-2411 European Horizon

I joined Contiki tours for their 7 countries in 10 days tour – European Horizon. I added on 3 days in Paris. I travelled with my friends Klarice and Crystle.

What you need to know about Contiki:

-you need to be between the ages of 18-35

-your itinerary is already planned for you (there are optional activities provided) a schedule for each day will be provided by tour guide

-Bus driver and Tour guide aren’t paid too well so tipping is much appreciated at the end of the tour (they get accommodation and maybe a stipend for food during the tours)

-You are allowed one luggage to go under the bus but it will be has to meet restrictions and weight.

-Depending on your journey, a Contiki sleeping bag will be provided (which adds to luggage)

-Travelling solo is great in these tours as you meet people

-If you are travelling with a group less than 4, it is usually 2 or 4 to a room so if you are an uneven number, you will room with different people each time

 

09/11-12 – YYZ – London

-Arrival at Gatwick

-take train towards Victoria

-Hostel: Royal National London Hotel

-Oxford St – shopping

-Contiki Group Meeting

 

09/13 – London – Amsterdam

-Check luggage

-Take Contiki bus enroute to Amsterdam via ferry

-Enroute via Belgium

-Hostel: Hotel Slotania

-Booze cruise down the canal

 

09/14 – Amsterdam – Rhine Valley

-Dropped off at Centraal Station for free time

-IAMSTERDAM sign, museums etc

-Meet up and enroute to St Goar, Germany

-Hotel: Winzerhaus

-Wine Tasting – Urbarer Winzerkeller

 

09/15 – Rhine Valley – Munich

-Enroute to Munich

-Dropped off at Marienplatz for free time

-Peterkirche church

-Bavarian Beerhall – Munchner Haupt Gastuhaus Biergarten Festsall

-Hotel: Haus International

-Party in the basement of Haus International

 

09/16 – Munich – Austrian Tyrol

-Enroute to Hopfgarten, Austria

-Rafting option

-Hotel: Haus Schnoneck

-Paragliding or Mountain biking option

-Party night with another Contiki bus

 

09/17 – Austrian Tyrol – Venice

-Enroute to Venice, Italy

-Camper – Trailers: Camping Fusina Hotel Venice

-Speedboat to Venice

-Gondola optional

-Meet up with Samantha

-Free time

-Speedboat home

 

09/18 – Venice – Swiss Alps

-Enroute to Lauterbrunnen with stopover in Luzern

-Chalet: Camping Jungfrau

 

09/19 – Swiss Alps – Interlaken – Jungfrau

-free day in Lauterbrunnen

-optional cable car ride up the mountain

 

09/20 – Swiss Alps – Paris

-Enroute to Paris

-Champagne and escargot

-Hostel: Etap Hotel Paris Porte de Montmatre by metro avenue de saint ouen

-free time

-Eiffel Tower with partial group

 

09/21 – Paris

-Champs de Mars

-Fragonard – Perfumery

-Drop-off by Arc de Triomphe on Du Champs Elysse for free time

-Goodbye dinner at La Bonne Franquette

-Pass by the Moulin Rouge

-Cabaret – Nouvelle Eve Cabaret

 

09/22 – Paris

-Final goodbyes with Contiki group at breakfast

-Optional bus ride to airport

-Hotel: Novotel Vaugirard Montparnasse

-Shopping Rue de Sevres & Galleries du Lafayette

 

09/23 – Paris

-Meet up with Luis

-Notre Dame

-Galleries du Lafayette & surrounding shopping

 

09/24 – Paris – CDG- YYZ

Homebound via Charle De Gaulle Airport

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