I just got home last Sunday (around midnight) from Hong Kong and boy was I melting when I got out of the airport. I have been traveling for years but this is by far the craziest one I had.
From getting lost in Paris Metro to seeing the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, here are the highlights of my trip!
I flew from Manila to Hong Kong and from there I flew to Amsterdam. I arrived late but I was able to squeeze in a little tour and dinner with my siblings. Saw the famous canals. Little did I know that there were lots of flying insects there when the sun goes down. But overall, I’m happy to be able to explore the place as I have been in Schiphol airport for more than 3 times and this is the first time I went out. *grin*
Finally saw the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t as big and tall as I thought. LOL. I have been to Dubai, saw and went up in Burj Khalifa. I have also visited Harukas 300 which is the tallest building in Japan. I was able to visit Malaysia last year and saw the Twin Towers. However, when I saw the Eiffel Tower at night, it was amazing!
This was the situation in Louvre. You’ve got to swim in a pool of people to be able to catch a glimpse of Mona Lisa’s smile. I enjoyed touring the different areas of Louvre and I hope when I visit again it won’t be this crowded.
I was able to attend my cousin’s wedding in Tuscany. I had a blast with my family and I drank too much wine that I have mistaken it for water. LOL.
I mean, would you look at these wine bottles? They’re humongous!
I couldn’t count how many bread I ate during this trip but I can say that I have been eating bread every single day. I thought I love bread so much, and maybe I do, but not how it is prepared over there. It’s usually cold and very hard. And I’m not exaggerating when I say “very”.
I had a great time in Venice even though it was friggin’ cold. I fell in love with the old buildings and even though the smaller canals were quite smelly, it was still nice to be able to experience cruising with my family.
I’m not your typical sporty girl but I like watching the Olympics, tennis matches and basketball games. Tennis is something me and my brother enjoy watching. I have seen a lot of great players and most of all, my two favourites, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova!
We have visited almost all the popular tourist destinations in Paris and Rome but it was TOO crowded that it decreases the enjoyment. There were ambulance everywhere because people faint or they trip on something. I’m so glad I did this trip with my family and not alone or I would’ve gone insane! I like to travel alone but as we were exploring the tourist spots, I’m glad I didn’t.
Here are my tips on how to stay sane when you only have less than two weeks to explore three countries:
- Don’t be too ambitious in your itinerary, especially if you work online like me. We had a lot on our plate. I have to listen to a meditation app just to calm myself down from too much stress. I’m a very relaxed traveler. I usually stay in one city for a week or two and explore tourist destinations when it isn’t that crowded. Here’s what our itinerary looked like: Few hours in Amsterdam, flight to Paris, stay there for 3 nights, bus travel to Firenze (20 hours), attended a wedding (1 day), went back to Firenze, bus travel to Milan the next morning, visited the cathedral same day, bus travel to Venice the next morning, explored the canal at night, train ride to Rome around 1pm. I wasn’t able to sleep enough and I had to work on top of all the tours that we had so it was quite stressful. But overall, I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll travel that intensely again. LOL.
- Bring a water bottle. I left my water bottle in our hotel in Paris and I didn’t know that water is so expensive in this side of Europe. LOL. I’m someone who drinks water a lot so I spent a lot of money buying water and had to drink water from the faucet because the stores close early near our hotel. I had no choice. I walked around 3-4kms looking for a store but they were all closed.
- Take pictures, but don’t forget to enjoy the view and the present moment. Everywhere you go, you’ll see tourist with phones clad in their hands, taking pictures, videos and after that they leave right away. I remember when I was near the Mona Lisa painting, there was an old woman enjoying watching the painting and this young guy was taking selfies with the Mona Lisa painting behind him. After he took photos he started to walk to the exit. The old woman told him “You didn’t even look at the painting”. He just shrug his shoulders. This is a great reminder to all of us even to me. Sometimes I’m so excited to share in my social media the things I’ve seen that I fail to enjoy what’s really in front of me.
- Make sure your cards work internationally. Before I left, all my cards were updated to the new EMV ones and I didn’t know that the main card I’m using can’t be used for international withdrawals. Sad. Good thing I brought my old card and I was still able to use it. Imagine if you fly to a new country and you can’t withdraw money. That would be too much of a hassle.
- Have coins ready. There are ticket machines that accepts coins but not bills. I had to fall in line in CDG airport to buy train tickets to the city center and when it was my turn, my card was declined because I didn’t know I can’t use it for international transactions until June and the machine doesn’t accept bills only coins.
- Be cautious! I’m not a cautious traveler. I’m very trusting. And not always vigilant. But when my sister was trapped by three guys while boarding the train and lost her phone, money and passport, I realized I have to be cautious. The good news is we found her passport. That was such a crazy and long day!
- Buy a sim card or have mobile data on your phone. My Lycamobile sim didn’t work while I was there. When I got lost in Paris Metro, my brother had to get me an Uber ride. I have to find establishments with free wifi to be able to communicate with him. I remember crying in the metro because I was so tired and exhausted after traveling and carrying all my bags from one station to another.