1) I always hear friends and colleagues complaining that they avoid going to London because Heathrow’s airport tax is expensive. I do agree with them. So how to make it cheaper? Simple – fly to London, enjoy the city, take Eurostar train to Paris, then fly home from Paris. Most frequent travelers do it this way. And yes, even after you add the cost of Eurostar train ticket, it’s still cheaper than flying out of Heathrow.
2) Once you are in Europe, take the train to go from one city to another. I know, driving in the UK is very easy, but it can be really tiring, especially for the driver. A friend of mine drove for 8 hours from London to Edinburgh. She reached the city feeling exhausted. How to enjoy a holiday when you are deprived of energy?
3) If you plan to visit 3 castles or more in Scotland, take the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. For GBP 28, the pass allows you to visit many historic spots for 3 days visit and expires in 5 days. Say if you visit the 3 most popular castles:
- Single tix: Edinburgh Castle GBP 16 + Stirling Castle GBP 13.00 + Urquhart Castle GBP 7.40 = GBP 36.40
- Historic Scotland Explorer Pass for 3 days = GBP 28
4) Buy entrance tickets online as much as possible. It saves cash (from discounts and combos) and time (avoid long queues), the two major things I certainly don’t wish to waste when I travel.
1) If you are ever in the Scottish Highlands, this place is a must visit. Must!
2) Head to Urquhart Castle, it’s very historic. Needless to say, the view of the loch from the castle is fantastic.
3) Take a cruise around the lake. I didn’t get to do this because by the time we finished visiting the castle, it was already late afternoon. But I bet it would be nice to see Nessie up close and personal ;-)
|Handed the postcard to the staffs at Urquhart Castle to be mailed on 28th April 2012...|
|...arrived in KL on 4th June 2012. So long it took to reach me, I thought Nessie ate it!|
1) The best time to visit Edinburgh is in August – the month of Edinburgh Festival. A lot of events take place during the month, including the world renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Tix to the tattoo are limited, thus they can be very expensive and you need to buy them months in advance. So if you plan to go this year, start looking for the tix now!
2) Edinburgh Castle is a must visit. Must!
3) Climb up the 287 steps of Scott Monument. You’ll get a very nice view of the city. Bear in mind it can get very windy and cold at the top, so be sure to wear gloves and jacket.
4) Buy something tartan. They may look tacky and all the same when you see so many of them at the stores, but trust me, once you bring them home, they look really good!
|Got the postcard for free after climbing Scott Monument. Put it in a mailbox at Edinburgh Waverley train station upon leaving the city the day after...|
|...reached my mailbox on 31st May 2012. By the way, because it looked so plain, I decorated it with the flowery pattern myself.|
1) Buy an Oyster card to travel everywhere using public transport. It’s cheap and easy.
2) If it’s your first visit to London, I’m sure you wish to see Madame Tussauds, London Eye and London Dungeon at the very least. Like what I said in my earlier entry, get a combo tix for those, which saves you a lot of money.
3) Go to Primark to buy cheap yet good quality clothes. There’s a big one at Oxford Street, right in front of Marble Arch tube station.
4) Go to Lillywhites to buy sports items. You can get most (if not all) football teams’ jerseys there. And they can print the name and number on the back too.
5) Missing nasi lemak and mee goreng mamak? Fret not, there are many Malaysian restaurants in London. I personally like Bonda Café at MARA House. Their food tastes exactly like home.
|Bought it at Madame Tussauds, simply because I like the teddy bear shape. And the royal outfit suits this year’s Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebration...|
|...I was so worried I would never see it again because of its odd shape. Fortunately the teddy bear hugged me on 4th June 2012, the same day as the Loch Ness postcard.|
1) Be careful of pickpockets and beggars at the train stations, especially the crowded ones like Gare du Nord.
2) If you are into designer goods, buy them in Paris. You’ll never get Louis Vuitton and Longchamps cheaper anywhere else. And after you deduct the tax refund, they become even cheaper!
3) Macaron lovers, forget Ladurée, go for Pierre Hermé.
4) Book lovers, go to Shakespeare & Co. across the road from Notre-Dame Cathedral. Buy a book and get them to stamp the first page.
5) Take a stroll along Champs-Élysées and enjoy browsing the luxury stores. Even if you don’t buy anything, nobody will mind.
|Mailed it in on 4th May 2012 as I walked out of the metro station near my hotel...|
|...arrived in my mailbox on 16th May 2012. Excited to see they did traditional franking on the stamp, which is rare nowadays.|
1) If you are in Paris and you have an extra day to spend, take an early morning train to Versailles and visit the magnificent Château de Versailles. Spend the whole day there. For me, even one day wasn’t enough, I would prefer two!
2) This is one of those places you must buy your ticket online, unless you enjoy queuing up for hours, which I bet no one does.
3) Once you reach there, head to the information counter and get a map of the estate. It’s very useful.
4) Try to finish visiting the main palace by lunch time, so that you have ample time to see the gardens and the rest of the estate afterwards.
5) Don’t ever attempt to walk from the main palace to Grand Trianon like I did. Let me tell you this: I love walking everywhere in the world, yet even I found it tiring. Like what Aida commented, “Take the damn tram!”
|Put it in a mailbox near Versailles train station in the evening of 4th May 2012...|
|...received it on 15th May 2012 and the postcard proudly became the first among others from this trip to safely arrive in my hands.|