Hello you gorgeous being! Welcome to my first blog. 🙂 I usually write poems, lyrics, inspirational quotes so if you’re into things like that, like and follow me. Okay?
So back to the topic: I’ll
say scream this once:
SEE the world. Go and see all you possibly can – live, love, laugh and most of all, travel. ❤ – See the world, meet new people, find yourself, have a story to tell. Discover yourself!!! TRAVELLING – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. #Adventure ^_^ I hope you got the message. It is better to experience it once than be told over and over.
So here goes:
Countries (in order of journey): Switzerland, France, Italy, Cote D’Azur (French Riveria in English), Spain, France again (you just can’t get enough of the city of love tbh), Belguim and back to the United Kingdom. It was like from cold to sunny days and back to the cold, hot tea to many tasty gelatos in Italy and Spain (and trust me, it is not just icecream. Noo. Gelato is the winner, the master, the best! So many flavours that taste their name. So many colours and oh-my-taste-buds, so delicious!) back to coffee, tea and store-bought icecreams. Thankful for Haagen-Dazs, Ben and Jerrys and oh-delicious Magnum. ❤
I’d always dreamed of seeing the world but I didn’t know 2014 would be the year. But the signs were there and my Swiss-German friend was one of them. She invited me for the Easter holidays at her home in Switzerland. The other sign was finding & buying these books below while working as a volunteer at an Oxfam book store in Swansea, Wales.
Yeah, so I wished upon a star and it came true.
So eager and all, I started planning – I opened google map and drew out my plan. I wrote down all the cities I would love to go to – Paris, Venice, Bordeaux, were among the top three but although I had booked a trip from Barcelona to Bordeaux, and accommodation, I had to cancel the trip because my first visa application was rejected (rolls eyes). But thankfully, I was able to get a refund from Ibis/ACCOR hotel (which is a good affordable hotel, along with Kyriad hotels) and from Voyages SNCF (gives disocunts to youth below 25 and elders). By the way, you’re lucky if you have a UK passport or any passport that allows you travel to another country without a visa. Very. It’s so much easier to travel.
Okay, so how I did it. How I spent that low on my destinations, accommodations & all (I spent euros but calculating in pounds because that was the original currency):
I knew I wanted to see all these lovely places and I also knew I could not afford all the luxurious hotels I was eyeing on the internet. I knew I wanted to eat and indulge in every country’s delicacy (even though I didn’t know what some were) and I knew I wanted to go sight-seeing, shopping and just having a great time – alone. I actually wanted to be alone so although I’d informed some people, I actually wanted some me-time because I’d been facing some drama and just needed time for me. It was a decision I loved and still love to do. Try it out. Take yourself somewhere fancy and indulge – just you and you. ❤
So when Margot, my Swiss friend invited me over, I was glee with joy and told her all about my plans – but there was still the problem of accommodation. The trip wasn’t something i was worried about because i’m sort-of scared of flying and love a real adventure – travelling by road, sea or whatever makes you see beautiful sights from afar. And road travel is usually cheaper than air travel. I was even meant to go to Switzerland with a coach from London – Eurolines, but this embassy people were like ‘we must frustrate this Nigerian gal. She must not travel. But who’s laughing now? Lol. Ignore me.
Thankfully, there was a solution to the accommodation problem. Ta-da: HostellingInternational – https://www.hihostels.com/
Margot was not the first to mention it. My flatmate Candace, who was planning to meet me in Barcelona had also suggested it but I was like ‘nooo it’s scary and not safe’. But it was very safe (and I believe still is.) In some hostels, I didn’t even end up sharing and in some, you get a key card not just a key. Cool. My favourites were Silk road in Venice (ambiance, clean), Nice Camelias in Nice (the breakfast was amazing and proximity to the promenade is really good), and Sleep Well Youth Hostel in Brussels (funny name but I really slept well). The one in Milan was my least favourite. The room was lovely and all (especially since it had a balcony and lovely artworks on the wall) but hmm.. the toilet and bathroom.. it wasn’t brutally bad but I didn’t like it. I loved seeing, and eating in Milan but I also fell in Milan (with my icecream -sobs-) and got lost in the rain on my way back to the hostel so yeah that hostel is jinxed lol (I kid). Getting lost and falling was not the best experience really but I laughed at myself after so.. In general, the hostels were okay (for a first experience). I would go back to some if I had to do it again. Some gave breakfast and were really clean, with new sheets every morning in most. The staff were friendly, helpful. I would say the general experience was 65% okay and since I was always outdoors, and my luggage – a bag and suitcase were safe in my locker, it is a wise choice for a student. Make sure you also check booking.com and Tripadvisor to verify your choice(s) and read reviews before you pay as some might be non-refundable. I booked everything (besides one) in advance so I also got little discounts on some.
- Hostels are about 15-50 Pounds so it’s really a bargain since you’d be outdoors anyways.
- It’s a good idea for a group of friends since you can choose to share a room as a group.
- You can also check hostelworld.com or google nice hostels for students.
- I don’t know much about airbnb but everyone’s talking about it nowadays so you can go ahead and check it out as it might be a better option for you (and your friend(s).) Now that I’m thinking about it, I remember a student stayed in someone’s house in France and it was okay when I visited her. But it’s a bit scary for me to be honest. Not sure I can do it.
*One more thing, I made sure to book most of my accommodation very close to the city center to avoid having to pay bus fees or get an expensive cab just to sight-see and eat.
- Now, how I traveled:
- London Heathrow – Zurich, Switzerland
- Switzerland: I used British airways – £127.80
- Zurich – Friend’s house, Dintikon (Lenzburg, Aargu) – £0 (Friend’s house)
- Dintikon – Lucerne – £0 (Friend’s car) ps. Lucerne is so beautiful – dreamlike.
- Dintikon – Zurich – £35 to go on any ride – all buses, trains, boats, etc.
- Dintikon – Geneva – £35 to go on any ride – all buses, trains, boats, etc.
(The tickets to Zurich and Geneva were special tickets purchasable by citizens only – [luckily, i knew one], and with an expiry date which was perfect for my travels. I spent a total of 5 days in Switzerland. We went around Aargu and to Lenzburg and then up a cabriolet (not the car; google cabriolet Switzerland) and was extremely scared for my life. up up up to the cold mountains. It didn’t snow in Swansea so I was happy to see the settled snow on the mountains and Margot was giddy with excitement that I should take pictures holding it, which I did. (Feel free to laugh). Anyways, we had fun but then she resumed work and I continued my tour 🙂
- Geneva – Lyon – £20 via SNCF
- Lyon – Milan – £30 via IDbus (now Ouibus) (This was a long journey! I slept, talked, read, looked out the window, used the wifi, peed… i mean i actually got tired of it.)
- Milan – Venice – £19 via Trenitalia
- Venice – Florence – £19 via Trenitalia (but I missed my train so I had to pay £40 at the counter- (so while it’s good to book in advance, ensure you don’t get to the station late. I mean who wants to leave Venice away? Lol. Luckily, I was still able to get to Florence that day). I hadn’t booked any accomodation in Florence but had a travel itinerary from there to Nice (Idk why. Lol) so I started looking for when I got to the train station. Do not try this. I was lucky to find good accommodation on booking.com and thanks to Google map for being the best driver ever.
- Florence – Nice – £45.25 via Voyages-sncf
- Nice – Cannes & Monaco – £1.50 – £2 via the city bus (Cannes and Monaco were bonuses because they were really close to Nice.)
- Nice – Barcelona – £60 via Eurolines
- Barcelona – Paris – £68 via Eurolines
- Paris – Brussels – £19 via idbus
- Brussels – London – £25.50
And from London, I went to Cardiff. The bus in London left late so I slept in Cardiff (in a youth hostel. It wasn’t part of my plan but it was alright.) From Cardiff to my student accommodation in Swansea. My then home-sweet-home. I was happy and tired. ^_^
Now time for some maths:
- Travel: Total including for missed train in Venice = £547.05 (approximately because some payments were made in Euros not Pounds and pounds is lesser than euro).
Accommodation: The accommodation started from Lyon.
- Lyon – £54.30 for a night at Kyriad hotel (close to the stations & my only hotel accomodation.)
- Milan – £47.86 for two nights at Central hostel Milano (balcony view was lovely)
- Venice – £45.90 for one night (it’s expensive for a hostel but totally worth it. I toured till it was time for my trip to Florence (in the evening) the next day.) – Silk Road.
- Florence – 42.79 for three nights. (I’m more a Venice-person so I wished I spent an extra day in Venice than in Florence but got to see a little of the Tuscany area so that was okay. Till today, I miss Venice – it’s just an artist’s city you know. Hopefully go back some day. Anyway’s in Florence I stayed at Ostello del Chianti. It was nice but the place is a bit far (about 1 hour by bus to Florence) and if I hadn’t made an acquaintance on the way, I’d have been lonely there. 3 nights was too much.
- Nice – £49.51 for 2 nights. I looooved Nice. I was close to everything and the breakfast was grand. Nice is a must visit because it’s beautiful and close to other beautiful destinations. Hostel – Nice Camélias
- Barcelona – £22.00 for 2 nights. Oh Candace. So she booked a mixed-dorm for us. It was awkward and all but the nights quickly passed by. Lol. Hostel – Center Ramblas
- Paris – 53.38 for 2 nights at Caulaincourt hotel (shared room) – I was alone after a night and it was really good for a hostel-hotel. The breakfast was also good.
- Brussels – 42.33 for 2 nights at Sleep Well hostel. This was one of my favourites. I remember being indoors more than at the others, indulging in goodies. I went to Haagen-dazs heaven and had the best waffles and ice-cream ever. It was cold and rainy though so I knew the UK was calling lol. C’est fini. That’s all.
- Total Accommodation Cost: £358.07
Grand Total on Travelling and Accommodation is £547.05 + £358.07 = £905.12
Hope you enjoyed reading the review. Feel free to ask any question and If you’d like to see more photos and minimal storytelling – from city to city, watch out for part two (lol sounds like a Nigerian movie).
Mimi Omof (withaheartofart)