We have now been home for a 2 months already and part of my commitment to myself with this blog is to share some accommodation, booking, and eating out tips from along the way so here goes.
Flights, flying anywhere in europe from Australia is an amazing reminder of how far away we are and how big Australia is, so we had to consider the best way to do short visits through Europe cost effectively. We looked at the trains, but, if you don’t live in the UK or have a UK address they make it practically impossible to book european trains, unless you buy a Europass, which is ridiculously priced from this end! We decided the low cost airlines was the way to go – it did take a bit of looking around to get flights that worked for us, but we found Jet2.com, Ryanair, Easyjet all comfortable for the sake of a couple of hours in flight. Although if you have never flown with Easyjet or Ryanair prepare for the “you can sit wherever you like!” It floored us a bit it was like catching a bus. The only flights we could get in and out of Prague (we flew Budapest – Prague – Berlin) was Czech Airlines so not so budget but comfortable and reliable and you get a seat allocated. The low cost airlines did require online check in and you need to print your boarding pass fortunately the check in opens 2 weeks before your flight so works well if you are not necessarily going to have internet access at some point. Be careful with the booking, I definitely booked a check in bag with Ryanair for ￡12 each way, but when I had finished my booking and paid I noticed it had dropped off the system – the cost then became £25 each way – but I had no choice other than to add the bag.
Manchester Airport, I have to comment, we flew from Brisbane to Manchester. We were meeting friends at the lunch time and we had arrived at 8am so we thought we would book the Escape Lounge – which we did and paid online. What is not made clear is that you need to check in before you head to the lounge if your check in desk is not open you can’t go through, or at least if you do you can’t get back to check in your luggage. They did refund us but it meant napping on the benches in the arrivals of Manchester – very classy!
Accommodation – we were traveling with friends and we had decided on a reasonable nightly budget, no more than £25 per person per night. In Budapest we were spoilt, the Marriott Executive apartments located on the Danube, 2 bedrooms cost only £100 per night for the 4 of us – a great place to rest after a long haul flight! For our other accommodation in Europe we used and to help us along the way.
We stayed at the Hostel Tyn in Prague, absolutely smack bang in the centre of the old town. it was not the brightest crayon in the box, but location was great, rooms where clean, you had what you needed and the bonus was the vegetarian restaurant next door! We had a room for 4 with communal facilities – the WiFi was only available in the common room.
Berlin was a corker, Circus hostel, Berlin Mitte, really clean, great location, great facilities. Basically the rooms were straight out of Ikea, even though we were on the main road the rooms where quiet. We had a room for four and the bathroom was communal but can offer no faults on this place, WiFi was available throughout the building, nice comfortable reception area to sit and a little cafe that served an all you can eat breakfast for €5 – would definitely go again and recommend.
Slovenia, we stayed at Lake Bled, again another corker, The Jazz Hostel and Apartments. We pre-booked our transfers from the airport using Slovenia Transfers http://www.slovenia-transfers-tours.com When we arrived at our accommodation we were met by the most friendly and I mean genuinely friendly man I have ever met Janos! Firstly he greeted us with an upgrade an apartment for 4 had become available so no 4 bed dorm for us and no extra charge – but he just went one step further everytime. He provided us with maps, and tips for the area and even did our washing because he explained the only laundry close by charged too much.
Dublin, I stayed at Ashfield House, not the best accommodation I had encountered but again for cost and location you really can’t go wrong. Located a stones through from Temple Bar and Trinity College it’s on the airport bus route so to and from the airport is simple it’s a good little find. Breakfast was included in the price again basic but sets you up for the morning!
Eating Vegetarian! As a vegetarian eating out can often be a real pain in the butt! Some people just don’t get it and offer you fish and other places think that cauliflower cheese is the most attractive meal for you.
Budapest: The Hummus Bar, Govindas, Cafe Orchidea
Prague: Bea’s Vegetarian Restaurant (Govinda Style) lots of pasta and pizza places
Bled: Hit n miss, big meat eaters but you won’t starve!