It’s not in my natural tendency to share details when writing about my travel but I am going off what’s natural for now as I would share as much as I could learning from this recent trip I had to yey-another-continent Europe!
While I sound perky as I write this, this has just to be so far my most stressful trip because 1) I am not solo and hence, somewhat responsible for other souls; and 2) I’ve always thought of Europe as challenging from visa application to bookings, etc.
Here then is my attempt to be of help to whoever who might across this who may be in the same place that I was prior to the trip.
Image courtesy of Google maps + my doodles
Again I am not used to doing this hence I am far from expert but allow me to share what I’ve experienced so far.
Choosing your route – which among the many?
Europe is vast and once granted a Schengen visa (which essentially covers all except the UK), there’s this wide variety of exciting countries to go to.
Note though that prior to visa application, it is important to already have a sense of countries you will visit, how many days you will stay in each, where you will enter and where you will exit. All these details are important in which embassy you need to apply in, i.e where you will stay the longest and in case of equal days, the entry point.
When presenting documents, all these should be declared in the application and are to be supported with the necessary bookings as well as travel insurance intended for your period of stay.
Traveling to and within
From MANILA, PHILIPPINES to ROME – There are several airlines that fly (mostly indirect) from Manila to Rome but our choice was Etihad Airways given favorable schedule, i.e. we spend time wee hours in transit:
- Leaves early morning in Manila then about 9 hours of flight to Abu Dhabi
- Shorter lay-over period (3-hour) in Abu Dhabi then 6-hour flight to Rome
From FIUMICINO in Rome to CITY CENTER – One can take the train or take taxis at fixed rate of 48 euros. In our case, since we wanted an advance booking, we booked one for the same rate at welcomepickups.com.
Getting around – City is best enjoyed by walking or by taking the hop-on/hop-off tour buses. We did the former but made sure to cluster key sites as follows :
- Vatican x Castel Sant’Angelo
- Spanish Steps x Trevi Fountain x Piazza Navona
- Colosseum x Roman Forum
There are trains that operate at 30-minute intervals. Based on what I know though, only few are close to key places such as Colloseo and Roma Termini.
City and regional tickets can be booked in machines at the station which need to be validated in separate machines scattered either in entrance points or in platforms. English as an option is available in the ticketing machine but not in the validation machines.
From ROME – Pisa is reachable via train from Roma Termini to Pisa Centrale station. Travel time is 3 hours. Tickets can be booked online.
Getting to and getting around center- Walking with train station near areas for shopping which is also close to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
From PISA – Venice is 3.5-hour away with a quick transfer in Firenze S.M. Novella in Florence. Trains can only be booked online at least a month before departure.
Getting to center and getting around – Water taxis, of course! You may opt go public for 7 euros/head or take a private one for 70 to 80 euros.
Public ones can be very crowded. It can be more difficult if you have luggage or huge backpacks because you will have to put these in one of the corners. You can either leave it there to find yourself a spot whether there is more air (if any) or more likely, you’ll have to stay close to it on such cramped space. When boarding also, note that boats can come from and go to opposite directions so it’s best to tell the staff your destination. (Ones we have encountered are friendly and willing to help)
Tickets can be bought in docks or sometimes from the staff on-board. These run on schedule so best to know especially if you’re trying to catch something.
From VENICE – 1.5-hour flight takes one to Paris. Venice and Paris have different airports (Marco Polo and Treviso; and Charles de Gaulle and Paris Beauvais, respectively) with former of each as more popular. In our case, we took the budget-friendly option leaving from Treviso to Beauvais.
To MARCO POLO and TREVISO AIRPORTS – there are buses from public water taxi station Piazzale Roma. These buses follow a certain schedule so best to purchase a ticket online or at the ticket station near the bus stop.
From BEAUVAIS to city center – There are shuttle buses from the airport to city center, specifically in Porte Malliot. There is a metro station near this drop-off point. Travel time is 1.5-2 hours. Tickets can also be purchased online on the airport’s official site.
Getting around – Compared to cities in Italy, sites in Paris tend to not be as close that one needs the help of public transport or UBER.
The metro can be helpful, especially with the digital interactive route finders in metro stations. Single ride costs 1.9 euros.
Deciding on food and alcohol calories to spend on
Of course, Italy is more known for pizza and pasta. True enough, most of its restaurants serve variants of such with cost ranging from 10-15 euros. Another must-try which they usually recommend is this antipasti called bruschetta.
Most restaurants also serve alcohol. While country is more known for wine, I am loyal to beer which luckily is commonly served too – available in small and medium sizes with local brands such as Peroni and Birra Moretti price ranging from 4 to 6. For craft beer, try BREWDOG uphill near the Colosseum or MA SHE SIETE VENUTI A FA, this hole-in-the-wall find in Trastevere.
To keep you hydrated while walking around, a small bottle of water costs 1 euro each. Note though that unless there is a sign that says “water not potable, not for drinking”, you may drink the water or refill in fountains scattered around the city. Most of it are in columns surrounding St. Peter and in plazas. If you prefer sodas or beer, beverage / bibite stands are everywhere especially near St. Peter.
To wait on line or pay more to skip it?
Skip-the-line offers and guided tours are common either online or in souvenir shops or stalls that are literally everywhere. We tried skip-the-lines for Vatican Museum, Leaning Tower and Louvre, and skip-the-line with guided tour for the Colosseum.
Since there can be no comparison from any previous experience without doing so – would just base it on the length of line which in theory we were able to skip – which is longest for Vatican Museum.
For those that are not guided tours, we met a uniformed guide somewhere near the attraction who then gave us tickets and/or audio guide. Then we were in control of the time spent inside.
In VENICE, tourist-popular gondola ride rates are fixed – 80 euros, 100 at night. Docks are scattered at various points. Have noticed though that there is no standard route for tours. Ours took the inner canal route while we’ve noticed some passing through the major one by the Rialto Bridge.
I am not affiliated by them in any way but you may check options and rates at getyourguide.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Correa (or more known to almost all people in her life as Teng) is based on the city of Manila in the Philippines and whenever she can, cools off with routine and gets her doses of happy someplace else. She doesn’t mean to inform and help plan (as obvious with her laziness with details) but hopes her stories and photos can inspire you to create your own.