Tuesday, June 18, 2013

am back

Yes, am officially back from my two weeks vacation in Europe.

Unfortunately, I don't have the copies of our pics as we only used one camera and when I attempted to borrow the memory card, she refused to lent it to me (maybe scared of me losing it). So this will be just a super long wordy post coz I need to write everything before the details fade in my memory.

So here it goes. Our journey starts in Greece.

We originally planned to stay for 4 days, unfortunately I bought the wrong ticket dates so we adjusted it to just three days.

We were supposed to have a long ass connecting flight but when we arrived in Cairo, we kindly asked the desk if the morning flight is not full and can still accomodate us. Luckily, flight is not full so they manage to squeeze us in the early flight. Whew!

So we arrived early in Athens than expected. Taxi fare is around EUR50 wtf! That's around AED250!

Anyway, we arrived safely in our hotel and was amazed by the oh so big room of Intercontinental Hotel considering it's not an executive room yet but only deluxe. We requested a connecting room so Blesie and Rahyan got the twin room while I got the double room and connecting door was kept open so it's like we're in just one super big room. I liked the room and toilet as it's super spacious but too sad as I cannot watch tv as you need to pay for it plus wifi connection was like EUR8.50 for one hour! Nothing is free in this damn hotel. Wtf!

Anyway, we immediately explore the city and went to Acropolis right away. Went there by walking and almost died under the excrutining heat of the sun. Structures were amazing and roam around to take pictures in every possible angle. Hah!

After that, went to the shopping street and got crazy for all the restaurants and lots of stuffs! Bought a few souvenirs coz I'm still in thrift mode (which later I realized is such a wrong move). After that had an authentic Greek dinner but not amazed by their pork souvlaki as am the kind of person who loves flavorful foods. But their salad is a must. Veggies were freshed plus the dressing is to die! Super love it. I think I'll start to eat more salad if salads were this good.

Anyway, it's a long day in Europe now and it's already past 9pm but it looks like it's only 6pm. But we need to head back to the hotel now as we're tired from the flight as we don't have sleep from day before (have to extend in the office up to 9:30pm to finish last minute work then crammingly pack my things and later realized it's already 1am and need to catch the 2am bus).

Second day is just city tour. Then last minute we decided to go to Santorini. So we bought the flight and boat tickets even if it's not in our original budget.

taken from my mobile, too bad it's a bit cloudy

Santorini is a yay! Am so happy to be there though a bit sad coz weather not cooperative that day and it's cloudy and windy so we didn't enojoyed the cruise tour we bought as we can't swim in a cold and windy weather (they also went to a deep part were only well experienced swimmer were encouraged to swim and let us amateurs go look and sulk!). Also went volcano trekking and we were not dressed appropriately, had to buy a shawl as it's windy and am wearing a sleeveless and very short romper (which I used the shawl to cover my lower half otherwise people behind me can see my ass). Tiring but not really satisfied coz I felt a day is not enough to enjoy Santorini. Didn't manage to see the sunset. Another sad thing was that I lost my favorite shades *cry*.

Next journey - Italy!

Easyjet was such a shitty airline. Flight was delayed three times so we arrived in Rome super late (instead of arriving 8:30pm, we arrived 1:30 am). Rooms given to us by Marriott is not connecting room so next day we just occupied one and got extra bed instead.

got this from Rahyan's fb - our pathetic shot sitting on Vatican corner

Early morning went to Vatican and have to wait for a very long time so we can see the Pope giving message. There's a large crowd coz it's a special sunday. After staying long under the sun, rain suddenly showered on us so we were like wtf!?. Anyway afterwards, caught by a fellow kabayan who invited us in their nearby souvenir shop to buy some stuff. Bought rosaries for my family and friends (almost died when I pay for it coz it's so expensive) then went for lunch. Authentic italian spaghetti, pizza and salad is to die! I almost cried coz spaghetti was so super delicious, we were imagining we were relieving the moments in the movie "eat, pray and love". After that went back to Vatican so our rosaries will be blessed. Had to queue and squeezed ourselves to get inside (got stopped by security as I'm wearing skort above the knee and they are not allowing ladies to go inside the church with bare knees - so had to wrap my cardigan around me). After that, had a very expensive ice cream coz we only went to that ice cream shop for the free wifi. Then missed our bus back to the hotel so we had to catch a taxi instead.

Second day went around the city to tour. We missed the bus again going to city so we went by taxi. Heavy traffic so had to pay a lot for taxi fare. We opt to walk around coz they look so near in the map. Walked to every tourist spot we could find in the map and at the end of the day, we were dead tired. Never walked so much in my whole life. But we were able to buy ice cream in the blockbuster shop called "Old Bridge". Their ice cream was huge! Love it!

Third day went to countryside as suggested by our guide/driver Marco. Had a nice but short trip so evening we went out to hunt the first restaurant were we ate the oh so delicious spaghetti but failed to find it so we eat in a different one with a different taste :(

Fourth day is such a waste coz this was supposed our flight going to Paris but when we found out that our flight was cancelled due to strike, we went to train station and attempted to buy a train ticket only to find out that it's also on strike. No choice, we decided to extend our stay in Rome and have to buy a new ticket (even if it's not in our budget) going to Paris coz if we're just going to rebook our original ticket, we will not have time to roam around Paris even for one day and we are really desperate to see Paris and if we're going to rebook our ticket to Amsterdam, it's much more expensive.

So we decided the next day to go to Florence instead of Venice as tickets going to Venice was quite expensive. Took a guided tour but was not able to explore the whole Florence. It was so hot and passed by in those authentic leather shops and almost died coz I really want to buy a lot of authentic leather stuffs but too expensive for my wallet (especially that  leather jacket *sigh*). So only bought a gift for my Pop and another bag for me. Also on our way, our bus passed by on some shops selling hand made stuffs. Bought some super delicous white chocolates and was too tempted to buy this 12 year old balsamic vinegar coz its so delicious but was too expensive and too big to squeeze in my already full luggage.

Next morning we have a very quick breakfast (super love the pork sausage and bacon) in the hotel as we don't want to miss the hotel bus going to airport this time. Got it in time for our flight. :)

Next journey - France!

It's colder than I expected and my cardigan is not enough to warm me. Trip to hotel was a challenge as airport is way too far to the city and hotel to take taxi, also all people were using metro with or without luggages. As you know, Paris is an old city and thus their metro subway. No escalator or lift (maybe there is but we just didn't see it) so we have to carry our luggages up and down all the way. And since their metro are all interconnected, it's a long journey before we found our right train. Once we arrived in our hotel (locationwise - good; roomwise - too small but already forewarned before that most rooms in Paris were small), we immediately head out as we only have this day to roam around Paris. We passed by first to buy some jacket and tights for me coz am already freezing. Also bought the day and night tour of Paris so we can save time in going to all the places we want to visit. Badly wanted to go inside Louvre coz always wanted to see it (especially when I got the copy of Da Vinci Code) but queue was too long and it will take all our time *cry again*. Passed by in Louis Vitton shop and there's a long queue outside. I was like, wtf! Building structures were amazing, I was left in awe. Eiffel tower at night is amazing. I was like a little girl giggling underneath it coz before I only saw it in pictures before but now I was there. Even if my lips were starting to get purple due to cold weather, that didn't stop me from posing for pictures.

 Far shot from Louvre coz we just hop off from the bus

Next morning was another challenge for us. You see, we can't buy the train ticket as machine is only accepting coins and we were like beggars asking every single person passing by to change our money. Location was somewhere far and no nearby shops were open yet and no taxi is passing by. We're in a panic already as we may miss our flight. A very good samaritan took pity of us and gave us all his coins so we were able to buy the tickets going to airport. In the airport, we are literally running. It's like we were in amazing race that we have to push away people in our way if necessary, did self check in but still need to queue in line to drop our luggage. KLM already announcing our names as we are the last ones to board the plane. Good thing we still made it.

Last journey - Netherlands!

Once we stepped out of airport, I died. It was freaking cold! Even if am already wearing the jacket I bought in Paris, it feels like am not wearing anything. It was freezing cold, wind was so strong and it's raining. Am literally not prepared for this weather as all the clothes I brought were shorts and light shirts (except for the tights and jacket bought in Paris) and the longest one I have is the 3/4 pants am wearing. I'm even using my neck pillow as wrap for my neck as I was about to freeze to death. Good thing our hotel have a shuttle bus so we arrived safely in the hotel. But I love Netherlands. I fell in love with this country. Of all the European countries I've been to, this is the friendliest one so far. And their English was so clear we didn't have any problem communicating to them. Not once I have to repeat myself to them (in Paris it's so terrible. People will still speak to you in French eventhough you told them that it's English only - with please).

From Rahyan's fb again. Bottom photo was supposed her solo pic but I photobomb it thinking she will not notice it, hehe

We arrived early in the hotel so our rooms were not yet ready. They are offering us not connecting rooms so we decided to wait and roam around outside. Bought a 24 hour bus and boat tour and took the boat tour first. Went to Amsterdam Central and bought a leather jacket on discount (but still expensive) coz I couldn't take it anymore. Got excited for the tulips bulb that I bought for my mom, couldn't wait to go home on October to give it her so she can plant it. Also saw Anne Frank house but couldn't get inside coz the queue was insanely long *sob*. Later on told by Amie that you have to be there very early for the queue. Then later in the evening, we meet Blesie's old friend Amie and had a nice evening.

Next day we took the bus tour and was able to roam around Amsterdam. Still feeling cold despite wearing two shirts and two jackets underneath, everytime we see a sunlight we were running to it to get some warmth. Also went to some kind of countryside to see the windmills. It such a nice thing to feel the serenity of their countryside. It's so peaceful there. Originally planned to go to red district but I sort of became not feeling well so we decided to go home instead.

 windmills are on the other side of this but I like this side coz it looks peaceful

Next was back to Dubai. Have to borrow Blesie's bag coz I can't close my luggage anymore. To think I didn't buy that much. Sadly, I forgot to buy a souvenir for Gab. Want to cry when I realized that inside the airport *sigh*.

Hmmm... I think above already sums up my little escapade. I'm not really prepared for this trip coz I didn't expect the weather in Paris and Amsterdam so I have to spend money buying clothes I may not use in the near future. Thinking that we even consider side tripping to Switzerland, I'll die in cold there.

Overall, I enjoyed our trip. Though the weather in Europe is not suitable for me coz I've got beakouts all over my face, neck and back, dry skin, blemishes coming out on my skin, sunburn (still have the marks of my sandals in my feet), bruises and frizzy hair, still worth it. I just wished I have more money and more time otherwise I so super enjoyed it to the max.

On the other note, I just remember this tipping incident I had. While in Cairo going to Athens, we went to this toilet and the lady who's cleaning it was bit chatty (though she keeps on talking on Arabic but we sort of understand her through gestures) especially when I wet myself by this stupid faucet so I have to dry myself in the dryer. As we were about to go out, she was literally asking for money or tip. We look to each other and told her we don't have Egyptian money with us. She looked at us very disappointed and we were like, wtf! She didn't do anything yet she expected a tip? What the hell. And same thing happens again when we were in Cairo going back to Dubai. When I found out that there's not tissue inside the cubicle, I asked her for some since she's holding the roll of tissue. Speaking to us in Arabic inspite of us talking to her in English, I think it's a bit rude of her.  After washing my hand, she hand me again a very few pieces of small tissue to dry my hand and later on open her palm to me demanding for some money. Seriously, what is wrong with this place? Why are service people so openly ask for money? If people want to give tips, no need to ask for it. If she approach me nicely and gave me ample tissue that will satisfy my needs, I may consider handing some euro coins to her. But no. I don't like rude people and she looked down on us like we were some kind of stingy asian. Grrrr...

Now back to reality, I don't have anything to eat in the flat except for the chocolates I bought in duty free earlier today, I think I'll sleep again after this as am too lazy to unpack my things.

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