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Italian Diaries Part 2 – Early yet late

So, the last part was about the eventful start to our Italy trip that you can read here.

Our Day 2 was to be at Venice so we started early from our accommodation at Milan, took the first metro (literally) to the central station to catch our train to Venice.

We had booked our tickets online way in advance and got a cheap deal that offered us a first class travel, so S was quite excited about it. Our tickets were booked such that we take the 1st train from station A to station B. catch another train in the 10 minute transit time, that would take us to Venice. What we didn’t know was that the second train was going to go back to station A before changing it’s direction to Venice. Some logic these online portals have in assigning such tickets.

We reached the station well ahead of departure time and boarded our first train. Happened so, that our train was delayed. We tried asking the station masters if we could take the train on the other side of the same platform that was leaving earlier than ours, since we had to catch the connecting train. They spoke only Italian and it sounded as good as Latin to us. We had just then heard from our friends who had done an Italy trip a month before us, about how they’re very strict in the Italian transport and there’s a chance of being levied with a hefty fine. So we didn’t risk it and remained on the correct train. Our train happened to be exactly 9 minutes late. We had just about a minute to rush to the other platform to catch our connecting train. We jumped out with our luggage and ran to the platform in time for the train doors to get locked and watch it leave. The security there advised us to go to the information centre and ask them to replace our tickets for the next train for no extra cost. The earliest train was at 8.20am and the time the office opens was at 8.30am. If we missed that train, we would have had to lose 3hrs to take the next one (with another connecting train involved, now that’s scary!). We tried gesturing to the employees who came in early trying to get them out and catch a word but they denied to speak to us until the official opening hours. Yes , very friendly indeed. We finally paid an additional sum (a huge one, sadly) for the first train to Venice and headed out. We finally reached Venice 2hrs later. What an exciting start to the day, no?

In the meanwhile, we filed an online refund request on our way, explaining the situation and hoped we get our excess expenses back since whatever happened wasn’t our fault. After 4 months of repetitive reminders and explaining, we finally got the refund cheque on our first wedding anniversary. Yay 🙂

5 Budget-Friendly Tips For Travel To Edinburgh

A lot of us usually travel on shoestring budgets, especially those of us that try to make short trips often. We figured some budget-friendly ways to save unnecessary expenses when you make a trip to Edinburgh. Here are a few:

1. Maps
You’ll find a number of free maps in the airport (just near the exit) and information centres. Sometimes, you are even given a free guide book along with the map. Do not spend money on purchasing maps from shops.

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10pm Sunset in July 2016, at Calton Hill

2. Transport from the airport
If you are travelling to Edinburgh by air, you may require to use the bus/tram service to the city from the airport, if you’re using the public transport. In buses, there are two services that can be availed. The Airlink is the fastest mode to reach the city from the airport but it is an additional expense of 7.5GBP per adult with an open return and this ticket cannot be used on any other public transport. However, if you have a spare of another 30 minutes, you could take the public transport bus no. 35 which takes you to the city. This way you could purchase a day pass for 4GBP per adult, that can be used for the entire day on all modes of transport (except the tramlink/Airlink that require a separate ticket).

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Old Town, Edinburgh

3. Bed-and-breakfast or hostels
We have figured that using services like that of BnBs or hostels helps to save a lot on accommodation. Most of us tend to use these accommodation spaces only to crash in the night and freshen up before heading out the next day. If you do your research and book in advance, you may find some very pocket-friendly deals that would help you use your excess funds for other things.

4. Breakfast from supermarkets
Some BnBs do not provide breakfast(although called Bnb, that’s right). What next? We figured purchasing basic essentials like fruits, cereals and milk serves for breakfast for a good 3 day trip. This saves the wallet from spending on fancy expensive breakfasts outside if you didn’t intend to go for one.

5. Sandeman’s New Edinburgh Free Walking Tours
No, we weren’t paid by the organisation to promote them. We had been to the 2.5 hour free city tour offered by Sandeman’s New Edinburgh tour and we cannot recommend it enough. Not only do they cover a number of spots in the city we might otherwise miss, they also give a lot of fun-facts alongside. Hey Harry Potter fans, you have some treats in the tour too!

We hope this helps. Have a wonderful trip to the nature-lovers paradise!

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Splendid view after a hike up to Arthur’s seat

Italian Diaries: Part 1 – Storm before the calm

This is going to be a series of posts from our trip to Italy last September (2015). It was one of the best trips we had had and that’s probably because of the number of things that initially went wrong, so we have heaps of stories to share. The first “event” was the most thrilling among all of it and funnily happened just as the trip to the airport began!

So, after the airport run we had during our previous trip to Isle of Man, we decided to be more cautious and ensured we had everything checked. We took an express to the airport from one of the London terminals. Both of us had a backpack and suitcase each to take care of. Since we didn’t have much leg space, S decided to place his backpack on the luggage rack above the seats. As the train slowly moved into the train terminals within the airport, we noticed a stationmaster rushing towards the other end of the train. It’s funny how we noticed him that particular day when we usually do not take note of their presence except during ticket checks. We disembarked from the train and head to the luggage drop. As we joined our concerned queue, S noticed he was missing his backpack. Yes, he had left it in that luggage rack in the train and didn’t realize until 10 minutes later that it wasn’t on his back. That backpack by-the-way had all the important articles concerning our travel (and otherwise) including our passports! He dashed for the exit when D realized we entered through another door. She yelled out to S and pointed to that door, through which he ran as some passengers entered. As the door closed, D, who was guarding the rest of the luggage, realized there was a no-entry sign over it. Scary images of how getting caught for entering through a restricted door could just worsen our situation rushed through D’s mind among prayers to procure the bag. Oh, and there is also a consistent announcement that is usually made in all trains that any luggage left unattended would be removed and perhaps destroyed. Now one can imagine the mental trauma we would have possibly possessed in those moments of panic.

Meanwhile, S ran down escalators coming upwards, to reach a junction with two express trains on either side and unaware of which one we were on! Mind you, the trains don’t really stay for long after the passengers have got off, so one cannot be sure if even one of those trains was the one we were looking for. Remember that stationmaster we noticed for no reason? He was our saviour, standing in front of the train that still held S’s backpack. S approached him and enquired if this was the train that arrived from London and informed him that he had missed his bag. Since we hadn’t reserved our seats, we were free to occupy any unreserved seats and hence he had no clue of which coach we were on. The stationmaster simply said, “Get on the train and run, if you find your backpack, take it and get off immediately.” S got on and dashed through the compartments. Thankfully, he found the backpack in the third compartment from where he got on, and got off immediately. The train doors closed and it moved out of the terminals in less than 5 seconds after that. S came back up the same way we had come about 20 minutes before, to join D and the trip the Milan began.

Sounds like some movie sequence? No, this was for real. It is amusing to relive those moments now when we are far more relaxed. But it was one hell of an adrenaline rush as we were going through it!

North Terminal and The Cold Summer

This incident occurred when we were heading to Isle of Man, United Kingdom. It is this pretty little island to the west of UK. We were quite excited about this trip since we were making this trip on S’s birthday.

We woke up early, packed ourselves some breakfast and set off to catch the train to the airport. We reached much ahead of time, surprisingly. Since we had just a backpack each, we found ourselves a corner close to the gates, with some charging points where charged up our phones as well as ourselves with some breakfast. When the gate information for our flight was announced, we were among the first few to reach the entrance to the gate, 25 minutes prior to close of boarding. We tried to scan our boarding passes, in vain. While D spent time scanning the boarding pass in all angles possible wondering what could possibly have gone wrong, S dashed to the airport authority to confirm what was happening. We found out that we were at the wrong terminal.

We dashed out towards the North terminal where our flight was waiting for us to board, 20 minutes prior to close of boarding. We ran in the direction that we thought was correct, to find only escalators making their way up but none to make our way down. We banged on all emergency exits hoping to find a stairway to solace but couldn’t find any. We had run along the same corridor around 4-5 times, while the people seated there and those entering the area must have probably thought we’re a crazy duo practising for a marathon in the airport. Finally, after 5 whole minutes of aimless running, one kind soul pointed us to a staircase leading downstairs and said, “As you go down, you can find some trains waiting there to take you to the other terminal”. Without a doubt, we freaked out as we ran down because we had, in our minds, confirmed we were going to miss our flight. We reached the landing of the staircase in time to find the doors of the trains closing. A very kind person held and pushed the doors open for the train to hold on for a few more seconds while we thankfully slipped in and were on our way to the correct terminal. We had about 10 minutes before boarding closed while we ran through to the shortest queue and explained to the authority about what happened. She calmly replied, “Don’t worry, this isn’t uncommon”. Probably the most soothing words we had heard in the longest half hour of our lives. We were among the last few to board the flight but were only glad we managed to get there without having to miss it.

We were making this trip in summer, July to be precise, so we had dressed and packed accordingly. As we made our way out to Castletown, our first destination at Isle of Man, we realized we were completely wrong about the weather. It (obviously) rained now and then and was extremely windy. Cold wind, way too strong to be called breezy, pushed us back as we tried walking against it. This island is one of the most laid-back locations you could be at. So much so that you can’t find too many shops opened during the weekend nor trains/buses at enough frequency. We managed to find ourselves a jacket each with “TT-Isle of Man” printed on it and became unofficial ambassadors of the place (as we couldn’t find a single person wearing anything remotely similar, anywhere within the island).

All the running and withstanding cold was completely worth it thanks to the sceneries you come across as you move along the island. The green, the different colours of the water, climbing up hills that overlook large expanses of land. Every single moment is about allowing the breathtaking visuals wallow into you.

Below are some of the pictures from Isle of Man:

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Rain Jinx!

Oh well, that’s a thing we have noticed with us no matter where we head to at whichever part of the year we travel. Rain. It follows us everywhere.

We first discovered it in our first Europe trip, Paris. Yes, a bit clichéd start to euro trips but unforgettable experience nevertheless!

We landed in Paris on a Thursday night. Our flight was delayed and we reached much later than we anticipated, welcomed by heavy rains. We were drenched and so were our suitcases which were left outside the aircraft (yes, it is apparently a cheaper alternative than using a conveyor belt) for us to collect. Warm welcome indeed. Ironically.

Changed plans lured us to Disney land first. For a duo who despised rains, it actually turned out to be an eventful and fun visit. Although we resembled very closely to some Halloween costume clad people in all our pictures from our visit, this turned out to be a unique experience indeed.

Disney

The raincoats and umbrellas turned out to be our saviours for the next few days. We witnessed a view of Paris that was rain washed and looked far different from what we have seen in pictures. The cobblestoned roads of Montmartre for instance, a scene that brings a smile.

montmatre

The sun decided to peep out on day 3 and we made an impulsive trip to Versailles. It turned out to be the best decision ever. Versailles is a  MUST visit if you ever visit Paris. Just about an hour or little further from Paris, this little city and the palace (especially the palace gardens) is a beauty one wouldn’t want to miss.

Versailles

As we got on-board to head back home, the rains were back to bid adieu. Until next time Paris, au revoir.

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                     Notre Dame cathedral

 

No, we did not quit our jobs to travel

Yes, you read that right. And why would you, if you belong to the working middle-class like us?

We are a couple who happen to live in this part of the world that let’s us save up to travel every now and then, to explore different places be it cities, mountains or beaches. That’s exactly what we do.

We have created this space to record some of our experiences (mostly the funny ones) that we encountered during our trips.

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Thank you for dropping by our blog. Happy reading!

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