Travel Bug.

The past year we have been traveling extensively from our US trip to Euro trip! It has been amazing! All those research, numbers, headaches and late night thoughts; no never regret any of it! I just love planning!

But i guess the aftermath of it all! I miss traveling heaps! I miss hopping on the plane and land in an airport I haven’t been before; discover something new, new places, new food, new sights and new vibes!

One thing for sure, i will never trade my travel experiences; the good and the bad and definitely i will always choose YOU to do it all over again! The best of all is when you are able to hold hands with your bestfriend, the love of your life and explore the world! For that i am so blessed to be able to experience it…

Soon, we will have a little one in tow! Ive always dreamt of exploring the world with my little family and always foresee the husband pulling the little one on his lil trunki through the airport..  InsyaAllah.. We shall continue to explore the future together! 😘

A + A Eurotrip 2015 ~ Rome

Finally the last leg of our journey! Got early bird first class seats on our journey from Pisa to Rome. It took about 2.5 hours as our train departs at 9.30am and we got to Roma termini about 12pm. With our luggages we took the subway to Vatican where our Airbnb was. It was so cosy and nice! The weather was a tad too hot but it was great!

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We rested for awhile before heading out to Vatican Museum as we pre purchased/pre booked the tickets. Highly recommended for you to purchase prior and book the timing of your visit online before you get there. It was so crowded and we are so relieved that we have purchased it online. Its such a good experience, the wall murals and the architecture.  The Sistine chapel cannot be photographed but it was so surreal for us to be there.

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The sun was about to set, we didn’t want to queue just to enter the Chapel so we just walked around and take photos! We were so hungry as we only had Breakfast in the morning. So we decided to venture out to grab early dinner and the famous Gelato at Vatican! It was awesome! The Nutella gelato was super good! It was a highlight of our day! We decided to have an early night rest before another big long day the next day at the Colosseum and the Outlet Centre!

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Woke up early and made our way to the Colosseum via Subway! A bonus when your Airbnb is only about 3 minutes from the Vatican train Station! We wanted to cash out for the day and decided that we shall wait till we get to the Colosseum to do so. When everyone advise you to take care in Rome especially Pickpockets, you have to be alert at all times! We had the same advice in Paris too and thank god nothing happen! So it was so crowded in the train, and we are like a stop away when a group of local teenagers suddenly jumped into our carriage and crowded the entrance. I knew they are up to something as they were moving from one carriage to another. And i try to get Ali’s attention but he was blocked by another lady behind me.

So our stop came and i told myself, I’m just gonna hold on tight to my bag and phone in hand and just push my way out! I’m glad i did, as soon as i got out, i was relieved and continue walking as Ali is usually behind me. So i turned around and he wasn’t there so i walked back quickly to the carriage and he was struggling to get out of the train! i was so pissed that i can see all these teenagers we blocking him intentionally and finally he pushed his way out and carried this girl by the waist to get out of his way. So as he got out i said what happened (by this time, the train already left!) He said that the group of teenagers were blocking him and he stopped and looked down and found his bag that was on his chest the whole time was opened. A kind Italian man came to us and said the kids took Ali’s Wallet! Omg that one time he switched off! It was just so incredible and fast how they did it. He had his wallet at the bottom of his pouch and heaps of items like sunglasses, cases, camera at the top of the pouch. This thieves grab his wallet! We gasped. I was more angry than ever but thank god there was no cash in the wallet but a pain as all his id and bank cards are in there.

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We had to go from one cop to another to report with none knowing how to speak English and at last we are at the Police Station! It took as an hour to report the case, even though we are the only one in there. With the language barrier and all, it was frustrating and at the end of it all, the policeman gave us a report to write! like seriously after all that questions and explanations! We didn’t have the mood to do anything at all, we even missed our Colosseum tour with the 3rd ring underground pass! I was quite devastated and pissed. but things happen! We try to be positive again and continue with our plans to the Colosseum we go!

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The colosseum was amazing! Such a shame that we didn’t get to go on the tour! But oh wells it was a good experience to be there and learning about heaps of amazing things! Even when the sun is scorching hot!

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The Palatine Hill is one of the seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands above the Roman Forum. We did a quick sightseeing as it was getting too hot and sweaty! Since we weren’t in the best of moods, we decided to have a perk me up shopping session so we head down to Roma Termini clutching our bags of course as we are just still shaken by the ordeal, We got bus shuttle tickets (15 Euros return) to Castel Romano Designer Outlet! They say Florence is the place to go for Prada and Ferragamo Outlets! The outlet in Roma was okay but they don’t have Prada. So i finally got myself a pair of Ferragamo Varinas! Been dreaming of owning it for years! It wasn’t the best outlet we have ever been to but it can do as it was the only outlet in Italy we are able to visit! Ali tried to get out of taking subways after that but i managed to convince him otherwise! we hold on to each other tight and made sure theres no teenagers, we did saw a group at the platform as we are about to board but we quickly change carriages instead! What a day!

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Finally the finale, to be honest, we can’t wait to go home. Period. Our flight doesn’t leave until 10pm that night so we head down to Roma Termini with our luggage using Uber! It was such a fancy ride, we were surprised! Just like we did in Venice, we dropped off our bags at the Baggage Storage at Roma Termini for 6 hours. I must remind you, please set aside about 45mins to an hour for the whole process as the queue can be really really long! Once our baggages are settled, we went up to Terravision to get Airport Shuttle tickets which costs us 4 Euros one way from Rome Termini to Fiumicino Airport. This place is quite hard to find so you do need to ask around as Rome Termini is HUGE!

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Our first stop was Trevi Fountain! And to our disappointment, it was undergoing renovations! So upsetting we walked all the way only to see all these scaffoldings! What a day! Oh wells, we did had lunch at this amazing place along the Alley! Still can’t beat the pasta we had in Venice!

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Our next stop was the Spanish Steps! I’ve seen it in Postcards and always in awe! But….. it was just too crowded and people dipping their feet in the fountain! So disappointed again, so unlike the photos in the postcards! We end up sitting at an overpriced cafe having Gelato! 😦

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

We decided to walked back to Roma Termini and of course we try to buy souvenirs along the way. We decided to shop around Roma Termini waiting for time before we depart as our Shuttle leaves at 7pm. Rome was great despite the disappointments and incidents! A journey for once in our life! Yes we love Rome so much we checked in 4 hours before! LOL Omg Tax Refund was so confusing, we were going from one terminal to another, it was just too tiring! We just felt so relieved to be on the way back to Melbourne. It is definitely going to be one hell of a long flight! So long Europe, thank you for the memories!

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A + A Eurotrip 2015 ~ Pisa

After a great morning discovering Ferrari world, we caught a cab back to Modena Train station before we got on to 2 sets of train rides to Pisa. It wasn’t that bad, we only had an hour to wait in between the train rides from Florence to Pisa. So here we go Modena → Bologna → Florence → Pisa 🙂 The journey takes us altogether about 2.5-3 hours. We caught the train at 3:30pm and got to Pisa at 6pm! It was indeed an experience and a good journey! DSCN5602

Got a cab from Pisa to our hotel; Hotel Pisa Tower. We chose this location due to the proximity of this hotel to the Tower of Pisa! The room was clean and amazing! With 2 large luggages in tow we were very delighted to have been allocated room in the main building and on the first level! Thank god! After a long day on the trains! We can’t be bothered to go up anymore staircases and what nots! The staff are friendly and very helpful too!
DSCN55781 thing to take note was that we discovered, taking a cab to the hotel from Pisa Centrale station is €7.75 and the shuttle that the hotel provided to the station is €5 per person. So you work out the math if you’re traveling more than 2 persons 🙂 Ever since we reached Italy, i was just addicted with fresh bread dipped in Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar! Its just awesome! Of course after the day we had, we are just famished! We got awesome shots before the Sunsets and off we set foot to have our dinner!

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Pisa was indeed awesome you know one of those places you just want to strike off your bucket list of travel places! And Alhamdulillah i am glad we did it. We had an early night before we set off another train ride the next morning to Rome!

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A + A Eurotrip 2015 ~ Paris

What a start to the morning! We missed our Eurostar Train! We didn’t even think that there was going to be Traffic! So we got Uber who was on time but Traffic was so bad! We had to get off half way and take the subway to Kingscross! By the time, we reached there, the counter is closed! Gahhhhh ended had to pay £60 to get on the next train! Little did we know Hana & Kev surprised us with a pair of first class tickets! We were shocked when they served us food on the train! But it was such a good experience! Thanks again guys! =))

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It was about a couple of hours ride before we reach Gare Du Nord. Enough said, after reading countless reviews, we were extra careful with our bags and luggage. We walked all the way to Mercure Gare D’Lest and took us like 15mins! It wasn’t that bad of a walk but with luggage in tow and the uneven pavement, it can be tiresome!

So finally we reached the hotel in the laneway. The hotel is in such a great location. 10mins walk to Gare Du Nord and 3mins walk to Gare De Lest station. There’s also restaurants and supermarket nearby. The rooms are worn out but very clean. I wonder though the walls might be really thin as we can hear every noise from the corridors like the slamming of doors even when our neighbours closed their toilet doors too!

After we settled in, we took the subway to Galleries La Fayette to see what’s the chaos all about. The moment we stepped in, all we saw are queues and crowds of Chinese tourists! As I don’t really have much to purchase, we were more like surveying the designs they have and how much the cost before we head into the boutiques. So here we are queuing to go into Longchamp and this female Chinese tourist jumped our queue as we were about to go in. I just held my hand up to her and ask her to stand back in line. Ridiculously annoying! Head up to get some Pierre Hermes Macaroons before eventually leaving for the Louvre since we are so over it!

Louvre

Louvre

It was nearly sunset when we got to the Louvre. The crowd was just nice however as we were ushered in, there was a couple massive crowd of tourists, it was like a cat and mouse game for us! We had to go over to the famous exhibits before the crowds gets in! And when they do the floor was flooded with little room to move. But indeed it was such a great experience! So surreal to be there, but do be careful there’s quite a number of people trying to sell you souvenirs and they can be really persistent too like following you around.

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Since it was already dinner time, we thought we would have dinner before heading back to the hotel and rest. It was getting colder too. As we scroll through the list of Restaurants around the area, we head on to Djakarta Bali which is about 5 minutes from the Louvre. Yes it is pricey. Yes it is fancy. My only regret is that i was seeking asian food in Paris and not look up the website of the restaurant first. The quality and taste wise was just okay. We get better Indonesian food in Melbourne even. I do think my Indomie goreng was so much better than the small serve of Mee Goreng that we were served. We did felt a pinch. Don’t think we will be returning.

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On our second day in Paris, we head down to Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris first thing in the morning. Tourists always confused between the two lines into the Cathedral. One is in the middle which is to going into the Cathedral and there’s another at the side of the Cathedral that is going into the Tower.  Both the queue is really long. We were more interested in the tower than the Cathedral and boy was the staircase narrow enough to only fit a person going up the tower! 387 steps to the South Tower, it can be quite claustrophobic for some. It does cost €8.50 per person. But the view is awesome!
Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries

Rightafter, we catch the subway to Musée d’Orsay and stroll through Jardin des Tuileries before we got to Angelina to have brunch! I only came here for the Mont Blanc and Hot chocolate! It was a delicious kind of experience but a tad too sweet for my liking! We then have a walk down Rue Saint Honoré and Rue Cambon to see the famous Chanel boutique! Unfortunately, the Longchamp bag that I was looking for wasn’t available at the Rue Saint Honoré boutique. So we began walking down Champs Elysees. It was beautiful how the roads are all connected to Arc De Triomphe! Managed to stop by Ladurée Le Bar to try some macaroons. I personally thought Pierre Hermes was better.

When we reached Arc De Triomphe, Ali looked at me and said “We are not climbing up that tower too. Are we?”. I slowly nodded and quickly said, “We’ve bought the tickets Already!” So we did painstakingly after walking around the whole day! It was such a good view of Paris. We did stop by for Crepes before heading to the Eiffel Tower. We were famished by then, ended up eating at this Kebab shop in more like a University neighbourhood. We nearly didn’t manage to get the Seine River tour but we did! Alhamdulillah!

Arc De Triomphe

Arc De Triomphe

It was quite boring and crowded but definitely great to experience in it if people actually sit down and not block your views! Just my 2 cents worth! The highlight of it was when we got off the boat, the Eiffel tower lights up! It was breathtakingly beautiful! We proceeded up to the Eiffel Tower as we were booked in at 10pm. I know it was late. Please remember to book your Eiffel tower viewing (Level 2 or Top of the Tower) ASAP! We booked this like 2 months before and it was all gone except for the late night ones and for Level 2 only! The Top of the tower got sold out really quick too! You might want to quickly get your hands on it and book it online. Don’t fall for tour traps which you’ll have to pay three times more!
That’s our days spent in Paris City! The City lights they call it. Headed off as we have an early ride to Paris Disneyland!

A+A EuroTrip 2015 ~ Spain (Madrid & Barcelona)

Finally back from our Europe trip! It has been a wonderful journey yes even with the bitter memories but we gained such an amazing experience! An experience we can never forget and definitely encourage everyone to do it just once in their lifetime! To explore the unknown, to get lost, to venture in a new city and be mesmerised!

After 2 short transits in KL and Dubai, we finally reached Madrid at 8:30PM. It was a very tiring flight, I’ve never had to have a full 5 meals on board an aircraft before. I had to turn down a couple meal services as I was too tired. As mentioned in my previous post, we used Mozio to book for our transportation to our Airbnb Apartment. We had to wait for 30mins as we are sharing the shuttle with a couple of others. Which wasn’t that bad for the price that we pay. For taxis in Madrid, they have a flat fee of €30! We paid about AUD$28 for the shuttle.

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Our AirBnb apartment was cosy,clean and for the location it was worth the price! We did set a budget of getting an accommodation for AUD$100 a day! We did have a total of 18 nights so definitely budget is quite important in our trip! We had our first tapas for breakfast at Tapas 44 and it was awesome! I think it was the best one.

Tapas 44

Tapas 44

Madrid is a very cultural city with the Palace, the Plazas, the Facades. When you’re in Madrid, have some Churros! Among the places we visit were Puerta De Sol, the Palace, Plaza Mayor. But the weather was cold, rainy and rather gloomy while we were there! So it has been about running seeking shelter and warmth!

And i wonder why we shopped heaps in Zara! Well, definitely hit Zara and Mango when you’re in Spain. Cheap Cheap Cheap! We used Tripomatic app a lot during our holiday trips. It’s great as it features all the must see attractions and restaurants that you need to visit in each city and you can plan your daily itinerary as well! Very useful!

We spend about 4 days in Madrid and another 4 days in Barcelona. We were giving each city ample time just afraid we did get jet lag like we were in New York last September. We spend each day walking throughout our day. Due to the proximity of our apartment to the City, we walked almost every where except to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

We cab it to the stadium as it was starting to rain. The stadium tour was awesome and no doubt it was huge! The hubs had a great time and was in awe! Thank god we head there on a Weekday morning, it was less crowded and look who decided to show up, Mr Sun of course! 

On the fourth day we head to Atocha station to catch the Renfe Train to Barcelona. We got the tickets in February and it was an early bird ticket! So pretty happy to grab bargains of course! The trains were spacious, each carriage had a luggage area for you to store your luggages. If you like to know more, Seat 61 is the best train travel guide!

It was such a great weather in Barcelona! Alhamdulillah, we got upgraded from a 2* Hotel Santa Marta to a 3* Hotel Suizo as the hotel was still under refurbishment. As per TripAdvisor, initially there were heaps of mixed reviews regarding Hotel Santa Marta! So we were a little scared but you know to just accept whatever! Then we were told a week before that we were upgraded to Hotel Suizo! We were so ecstatic because it was located right in Gothic Quarters! Such a great location, close proximity to La Ramblas, 2 train stations within walking Distance and great cafes and Tapas bars within reach! Below is the view from our balcony.

Something about the Hotel bathrooms in Spain and Italy, they have this urinal thing at the side. Which we thought was weird. We stayed here for 3 nights and the hubs couldn’t sleep soundly due to the noises and theres really strong smell in the bathroom which i reckon coming from the separate urinal which we never ever used. But i think for the price and location, we are still grateful. We still think its a great place to be based at.

  The highlights of soccer fans being in Barcelona is to catch their game! Definitely had the best time, front row seats and having Barcelona conquered and dominated the match! It was amazing and of course getting to see your favourite players in real life! It was indeed such a dream come true!

Among the attractions that you definitely need to catch is of course the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Plaza Espana, Montjuic Fountains and Barcelona Beach! These places are amazing! We didn’t go into Sagrada Familia, the line is long and you know w just enjoy the facade really. Park Guell, definitely get tickets online! We had to wait 3 hours for the next available time to enter the park! So definitely lessons learnt there! Montjuic Fountains starts at 9pm so definitely worth checking the times before you go as the time changes as the seasons change!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

Park Guell

Barcelona has been such an amazing city and is definitely our favourite city of the Trip! Halal restaurants are so easy to find in the city too!

Insurance ✓ SIM Card ✓ Tickets ✓

So we packed our bags yesterday. Was quite surprise that I did not overpack this time like how I usually do! Was quite surprise myself! And finally my Ripcurl softcase luggage got to retire! The Ripcurl luggage did lasts me for 8 years! It was just the time to replace. Alhamdulillah, American Tourister was on sale so got the Large Suitcase (75cm) for $160! Really wanted the white one! But I chose practicality over fashion and got the black one instead!

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And how great that the Global Gig Sim Card arrives in the mail on time! It’s awesome, so far our research goes, we hardly use text or call credits when we are overseas as we mostly use Skype to call, Whatsapp to text and Social Media. So after comparing a couple of the global sims (which are ridiculously expensive!) We decided to go with GlobalGig! 3Gb for $50/Mth or 5Gb for $70/Mth for anywhere in Europe and USA. I remembered I paid for 3Gb for $40 with AT&T when I went to the US. I purchases the AT&T new sim card from Ebay and just top it up online before I leave! That was great and very convenient! Cuz we needed a US number as soon as we touch down to call our AirBnB Host! Overall the best thing about Global Gig and AT&T you can even use it as a hotspot and share the data with your partner! So you don’t have to get 2 sim cards! Well at least that’s what I did!

I usually use and recommend comparethemarket.com.au for my insurance needs. Be it health or travel insurance. Indeed they are great and suits every traveller’s budget! So we got the Travel Insuranz Premiere for $136 for us, couple!  I can’t default it. It did save us a lot of money.  

It was a nightmare exchanging money in Melbourne. Wanted to head down to KVB as they are trusted to have good rates, however, they ran out of Euros! Booo so I headed to my next trusted and best rates United Currency Exchange! And they ran out of Euros too! Nonetheless, I manage to haggle and negotiate with one of the Stores and got my Euros! So lesson learnt, exchange your money to Euros at least a week before you depart! Guess it was just my luck but Alhamdulillah!

It is definitely going to be a long day at work today. And we are finally leaving tonight! Too excited 🙂

A+A EuroTrip 2015

The husband was half hearted when i mentioned that we should carry forward our EuroTrip to April instead of September. But Alhamdulillah we did! Since we missed the Europe Travel Expo last November, we were lucky that the Global Travel Expo was on in February. We did thorough research on the prices of flights prior to the Expo and had our minds made up on a budget.

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This was our second flight purchase from the Travel expos that were organised by Flight Centre Group. You do need to look around and know where your budget is. So far the prices were cheaper than what we expected. Europe is by far the trip that scares us the most, the expenses, the people, the language barrier, we just don’t know what to expect!

We got Emirates flight going from Mel ✈️ Madrid 🚆 Barcelona ✈️ Manchester 🚌 London 🚆 Paris ✈️ Venice 🚆 Maranello 🚆 Pisa 🚆 Rome ✈️ Mel. This is definitely going to be interesting! We booked our Trains in Spain (Renfe) and Italy (Trenitalia) in January/February and got really cheap early bird fares! They usually open 120 days prior to your travel dates. However Virgin Trains and EuroStar opens 90 days in advance! We missed out on Virgin Trains as Manchester – London earlybird train fares was sold out pretty quickly. I guess it was due to the soccer match that weekend! Of course everyone will be rushing to get £15 tickets as compared to £80.60! Oh wells!

I highly recommend the app/website GoEuro to get the cheapest transportation fares in UK and Europe! And what i did was to go on the train/airline/bus website and book it directly. If you book it from GoEuro, you couldn’t choose your seats. We learnt it the hard way! Let’s see if we can negotiate with the train conductor if we can swap seats! lol

Seat 61 will be another website you would want to bookmark! A guide to travelling around Europe/UK (worldwide actually!) by train, including how to buy cheap train tickets! A site worth to visit! Another site worth looking at is Mozio it helps you with Airport transfers! Going to and from Airports is a breeze with Mozio, I’ve got quotes from quite a number of Operators (Cheapest, €65) for my transport from Kyriad Disneyland Hotel to Paris Orly Airport early morning. So far Mozio has been the cheapest (€51). The same for our Madrid Airport to AirBNB apartment in Madrid City. Taxi Fares are €30. At Mozio, I am paying about €21. Well, we shall see how reliable they are in a few days!

Once we got the transportation settled, we started looking at hotels/airbnb! Our budget for accommodations are $100 a day maximum! Alhamdulillah we manage to keep it all under budget! Besides AirBNB, We looked at Hotels combined, Trivago and Expedia. If you found any accommodations listed cheaper (on the sites) as compared to Expedia, they will be able to price match and in return put $50 forward to your next hotel booking! I did that for a couple hotels and its worth it! For hotels in Spain and Italy, you are better off booking directly through the hotel as they do more discounts/freebies as compared to the websites above! Usually, you’ll pay for the rooms upon checkout! So its pretty great! I reckon!

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