Europe trip; book your ticket online!

Posted by Fico , Saturday, May 28, 2011 7:03 AM

I would say most of the transport ticket during my trip to Europe was booked while i was sitting nicely in deep Sumatra jungle a.ka while i was on my working day in remote place and while at home (where i have to sit on the porch dancing with mosquitoes and trying to get full bars signal at same time).

There are more than one traveling website that said we must book in advance to get the cheap ticket to Europe, and it does really work that way. The more you sit and wait to the departure date the more the price sky high!! do not wait, book your Europe trip tickets early! (6 months in advance better!!).

The thing you need for online booking? of course, good internet speed, and a credit card!! ^,^

The tickets that i got online is my return flight with Lufthansa from Singapore to Paris and Munich to Singapore, which is open jaw (i think i will explain about what open jaw is somewhere). Also i got my self a return Eurolines bus ticket from Paris to Brussels. And the last one is the train ticket from Paris to Strassbourg i order it from SNCF website.

For the Lufthansa flight ticket i got help from a travel agent, since my credit card limit only like $500 and the flight total cost is around US$900 (return).

And the Eurolines buses, i did it my self, with my very limited French, yepp i did the website is in FRENCH language maybe that time i was so careless that i didn't see the top right side for ENGLISH language, but the link i gave here already in English.

The same thing happens for the train ticket from SNCF, its all in FRENCH language. Oh dear... do use the online google translator for your kindness if you don't know FRENCH language!! First page is in English but when you about to go to SNCF booking page (when you click "buy a ticket" button on the top left previous web) it doesnt have "english options" well again unless if i really did missed the button of course!!

But the truth, with my very limited French, i could easily book the buses ticket and the train without hassles! its not that hard, really!

Most of the ticket that i got are with cheap fare/promotion rate. For return bus ticket i got it for 18 Euro (Paris-Brussels-Paris) and for the train ticket---well this is the most amazing one, FIRST CLASS on TGV train, which is the super fast train, i got the very last seat offer for 40 Euro only!!! the normal rate for TGV train 1st class is above 100 Euro, and 2nd class is like 36-40 Euro or something so, i got it dirt cheap!!! hehehe.... (the advantage of joining the mailing list!! they will alert you for cheap price!!) sometimes the last minute deal could be this cheap, so keep your eyes open on the website!

For the train from this website you still had many other choice for trains. I think the cheapest train is the sleeper class at night/night train. But from Paris to Strasbourg where  i want to go to its only took like 2 hours and i dont need the sleeper class! oh and also, the 2nd class not that much difference than 1st class, so no worry about the comfort thing.. its only 2 hours trip! (train is very clean and nice also!!)

Don't wait too long! its worth the online booking!! (price & the QUEUE-its killin'!!)

Brussels-City That had its Own Signature (Day 4-Part 1)

Posted by Fico , 4:56 AM

All that is gold does not glitter Not all those who wander are lost. ~ J.R.R. Tolkein

I woke up at 6am. None woke up yet....

I already prepare my stuff last night, so i grab the toiletries and my chargers and attack every electric socket that i found the other night... its quite danger because you will never know who walk by and took it hahah.. but i only did it at toilet--girls toilet and at kitchen.

Hot shower made me really fresh! after drying my hair i went to dining, feel happy woke up early so i dont have to queue on shower and i got the socket for my self hahaha! at least i will have my ipod and cellphone the whole day!

But.. ekkkk... why theres already over 15 people on (disini lah puzzle kehidupan terungkap... cewek bule jarang mandi!! LoL)

Breakfast is free at Van Gogh... so i grab as many as i can.. this is breakfast i know.. but i want to eat a lot of bread!! and jams!! hahaha

After breakfast i went to Metro and go straight to the Cinquantenaire Park the home of lots of main monuments/must visits museum in Brussels.

European Union Berlaymont-HQ of Execitive EU in Brussels

Me in Brussel European Union HQ

EU Comission Building in Brussels

Cinquantenaire Park

Robert Scuman-One of EU founder

Cinquantenaire Jardin at Brussel.. the tree and flowers also the art work.. so beautiful! (me too!)

Cinquantenaire park with Triumphal Arc on background

Small flowers on the grass.. wild flower..just like me hehe

Small flowers on the grass..its wild flowers!

Some of the art work at the Cinquantenaire Park Brussels

Triumphal Arch at Cinquantenaire Park Brussels

I loooove this picture so very much (pre-weds kind of?)

Why we can't build any park like this?

Brussels Triumphal Arch

Brussels War Museum

This is for 5 years old prince... so... tiny

Time bomb with actual..clock!! hahaha

I adore him for his leadership-admit it, he is great leader! meet Mr Hitler

SS Troops uniform

More armories.. ohh my knights!!

Brussels Flag

Anyone i know???

Great Mosque of Brussels

Brussels, Belgium First Night (day 3)

Posted by Fico , Thursday, May 26, 2011 9:39 PM

Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it won't get you anywhere ~ Van Wilder

This is the very first time i went to place that i known a little. We know Paris in Indonesia we talk about it a lot. But Brussels-Belgium?? No..i don't know the president, i don't know the flag... what do i know about this city/country?? i browse it AFTER i book my bus ticket from Paris while i was still in Indonesia. Belgium is so small! Sumatra island is much bigger than the whole country it self!
So tips from me after traveling there, go to the neighbourhood cities beside Brussels.. especially Brugge the 2nd Venice in Europe... they said its worth the visit, and i found this after the 2nd day in Brussels!

First impression about Brussel I got while I was still in Eurolines bus. It’s a smaller town compare to Paris. The roads are smaller, and somehow there are more people with lighter hair color than darker. The street are mixed between the aspal and cobble rocks. Its had its own character I think. Somehow i think i see more blonde here... errhhhh... ok.. this is interesting.

When I was arrive its around 7.45pm at Gare du Midi/Zuidstation station. I was thinking to stop here because it’s a middle train station (well that’s my best translation!). The train station is so big that I got lost! I try to find the “METRO” system. I could understand the France language.. its just the same like in Paris whenever I try to “vous parlais anglais?” they will say “non” and kept talking in French while I will talk in English… once again I was “lost in translation”.

The language they use in Belgium is French and Dutch. So, all of the street signs and directions are in both languages, French and Dutch. But I don’t mind. It’s kind of great to hear this mix. Indonesia back then was colonialism by Dutch, for over 300 years. But too bad we don’t speak Dutch! (even Mr T ask me why i am not speaking Dutch??errh i don't know..because they dont even allow Indonesian to STUDY and learn READING??) back then only people who work with Dutch govt who given the opportunity to learn and study in School. My family roots never like Dutch hahahah! so we dont speak dutch (i think back then they also consider anyone who speak Dutch as traitor!)

Again the cultural mixed here, blend into the city life. The buildings, people, and foods are so various. I like the town in between, it’s like standing in gray area. It’s richer with the twist!

My first mission after finding the Metro train station is try to understand how it work!! I had the map on my ipod so I know what direction I should ride in.

Ok, it’s a different system than Paris, the ticket machine (it’s called “GO”) almost the same. But this time I had coins so, I get 5 jump/ride pass for 7.30 Euro. The ticket just made of thick paper, with size of ATM card. Kind of remind me the train ticket card to go to Sentosa Island in Singapore. For other choice of tickets you could see at this website/STIB.

I pick the 5 trip because theres no way I would want to use day ticket because its 8pm and I was exhausted and really need sleep! It’s the 4th day since my traveling, so I guess the jetlag still there but I kept pushing myself… and yah.. hahah I just want to sleep early!

Don’t lose the ticket! You will need to validate it in a yellow box machine on the entrance. Hehe don’t play fool here folks, there plenty security at the train station, so better not forget to validate the card because they did check it randomly.

With this ticket actually you could use it/mix it with bus or tram ride. So it’s very efficient! Also you could book the ticket online, but I am not so sure how this work. I prefer to do it at the train station. And no queue like in Paris, so no worry! 

But of course for the comparison between bus, tram and metro, my fave ride is the metro because it’s the fastest. In Brussels there are 4 metro lines and 2 tram lines, so you don’t have to squeeze in like in Paris. It’s a small city once again, and plenty transport choice.

Also I do notice that it’s very friendly to wheelchair. I like it, because I think it’s fair enough!

When I am waiting for the train, I made mistake reading the sign, that I go to the other way instead to the direction that I should go (hehehe). I just laugh at myself because its silly! Especially when you’re dragging a huge purple luggage.

From Garde du Midi I take the direction to Simonis-Elizabeth, its 7 train stop to the Botanique/Kruidtuin. In the train I met with a boy with a very friendly smile. He works in one of chocolate shop in Brussels. We talk quite a bit. He kept saying Brussels is very good and safe.. haha ok! we talk abit about tourism in Brussels and its nice to know new people here, his name is Max..thats sound European.

When he needs to go down we did something ackward, as he said good bye, when i give him my hand to shake he pullm e instead to kiss my cheek and hug, errrhh i froze and i could feel my face warm, i bet i blush, and he the same as must be could feel i feel shock hahah! ok.. this is how they said good bye.. ok..thanks God my body alarm not set to "on" hahah so i wont slap him hahah! i wash blushing so much that i could only grin! (its not our culture!!)

I stay in Van Gogh Youth Hostel. Yep, it’s the famous painter. He once live there… uhmmm.. ok its very nice actually, I’ve seen the pictures of the hostel from internet. I take the mixed dorm room, the cheapest one for 18 euro per night plus you got breakfast. They also had shared kitchen that you could use.

I brought some food from Indonesia. I gave some of the food for my first host in Paris. He went to Indonesia before, so I bet he like the peanut paste for gado-gado, the mixed veggies salad… plus the pasta could be used as sate, the barbeque in stick also Indonesia food.

Check in at the hostel they said they’re full. But then I show them my booking mail, lucky I print out everything. I said I booked the room, and I got the mail. She then ask me to fill up the form, hand out my passport—they had rule some people over 35 not allowed to stay at  the hostel unless it’s a group.
I look around the lobby, there are plenty students, maybe its like a tour. They speak in Germany and some in Dutch.

I got my room key, and getting to the room i see, wow... there are asian, but hahah why they look not friendly?? errh.. never mind. Get into my room... oh my.. this is the most WEIRD bunk bed. I got the 2nd/top bunk...but...WHY THERE IS NO STAIRS?? how the heck i get up there??

Its actually not that hard for me as i like climbing. Im quite a pro since kids as my house fence is 3 meters high!!(and i escape most of time! hehe) I put my luggage on the wall.... and then i use it as a step to get to the top, and i try to jump from top.. wow... this is quite high!!! boys and girls do not try this at home!! hahaha!
 It was 9.30 and i decide to get some hot shower. I already told about the electric power as bad side at this hostel. But hey... dont call me McFika gyver.... heheh.. so with towel and my toilletries i walk through the hostel. I found some places where i could actually recharge my stuff.

At kitchen, at common room, also near lobby. After that i went downstair near the pool table, the shower kind of reminds me of swimming pool shower!
The smell and the cubicles hahaha! i see another plugs there, and the toilet you could close the door. So i took shower and recharge my cellphone and ipod!! finish shower i feel sleepy. Get my self a noodle cup and eat it quick at kitchen, everyone still talking and drinking beer. Its hell of crowd. I like it. But none try to speak with me just the guys look and stare and ....why they feel shy?? i am the only one who had brown skin... and it feels good once again!! hehehe (feel like a cougar in rooster cages hohohohoh). I had to remind my self most of guys in here prob much younger than me!! haha 

I just try to understand what they talk about, i could hear some english, buyt very little, mostly french, and dutch also germany.

After brushing my teeth i get back to my dorm and use my eye mask and EAR PLUGS. There are two girls get in and said they want to g o to party and there are 3 guys, they seemed like arguing wether there are people in 3 beds that they want to stay in. I look at them, without saying anything as i already on my bed, using my sleeping gears... they short of saying sorry.. hey.. i try to get some sleep here!!!

Tomorrow more about Brussels and more pictures for sure!!


Posted by Fico , 5:44 AM

Those who visit foreign nations but associate only with their own country-men change their climate but not their customs. They see new meridians but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets return home with traveled bodies but untraveled minds ~ Caleb Colton

...................Gare de l'est Paris to Gare du Midi Brussels....................

The bus driver drive the bus with moderate speed... for sure Indonesian bus driver go twice faster than this bus driver.

Next to me an asian girl, seemed shes a student, but she didn't talk much. I don't know what happen to asian people when they go to Europe. Seemed their polite and friendly nature as in Asia are gone. She's obvious a chinese decendent, but i can't really sure where shes come from. From her english she could be from Malaysia or Singapore, as i could hear the "Sing-lish" a bit on her tone.

I remember my friend Lee also agree with this. Without pointing as certain races, we agree some asian doesn't want to gather with other races, or even speak with local languages or try to get along with other people outside their races. I can not understand why.

Why you travel so far away while you only want to be with people from your country? i thought when you travel you want to see new people, learn new languages, food, customs etc (eating rice at Europe seemed bit.. weird--once a while its ok),

Anyway, i enjoy the view.. enjoy the huge grass field... seeing horses, farms... everything so different than Indonesia. I don't want to sleep! i want to see more...

On my ipod i listen to Angel by Sarah McLachlan, i feel so happy i had the chance to see all of this. First Paris, and now the outer part of Paris on the way to Belgium...

I wish i could record all of this in my head and play it back when i go back to Indonesia.. this is all beautiful on its own way... flowers are different, street signs...

I feel so lucky i met good peoples a long the road so far... i just wish i had my best friends and sisters to see what i see now... the wonder of different part of the worlds...

It is something when you see the world in a humble way...

Last Morning in Paris, still a wacky day! (Day 3)

Posted by Fico , Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:29 PM

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist ~ Russell Baker

On last day in Paris i actually made an appointment with Guillaume to woke up and get out of his apartment at the time he leave for work. Its pretty normal for couch surfer host, well for security reason that's for sure. I short of ok with that. But then he said, i could leave later and return the key to him at his work place. I could wake up pretty late and pack my things, while he leave for work

I just can't believe how he could be my host! he trust me, and its an honor! i did clean up as i could while packing and just to show a little thank you for him. I really do appreciate what he gave me (roof and dinners and loads of stories about Paris! also accompany on the tour yesterday!). I can not ask for better host than him!! (he's the best host ever for me!!).

Couch surfing is one of the best thing that i ever done for sure!

After clean up i decide to do my last walk around Paris. Believe it or not the last place is the most important for me; a visit to Arc de Triomphe and Champ Elysees!

From Guy Moquet station (only 100 meter from Guillaume apartment) i went to the Metro station Charles de Gaulle Etoile near the Arc de Triomphe. Walking up stairs from the train station to the road, when i turn my self there it was.... Arc de Triomphe. Now i know how the French aka Parisien feels about their country.

Its a fabulous building, stand there so arrogantly, so beautiful... i just stand still just few mins to stare and look at it, and say..oh wow..

Champ Elysees street on my back (taken from Arc de Triomphe)

The famous Arc de Triomphe and Me!
I went to the passage near the street cross, it goes down the street. Very convenient to cross the busy road! but..errhh its same like every corner of Paris (well most of...) its smell like urine! yucks...

Passage under the street to Arc de Triomphe

And the first thing i did notice like the Eiffel Tower yesterday.. its HUGE!!!

Top of Arc de Triomphe

Names of brave soldiers Arc de Triomphe

Champ Ellyses

Amazing street!!

Narsis di Arc de Triomphe Paris
While i was taking pictures and busy with my camera.. i didn't notice a young guy (cute tho) taking my picture as if he hug me from my side!! and his friends were laughing at his silly act! when i did notice i just stare at him and he said something in French... i don't understand i said in French (je ne compre pas!) but he kept saying something in French, and his friends laugh even harder!

He ask one his friend to translate but its not much helping so we were lost in translation. He short of saying want to take pictures with me! hahaha i said ok... but then errh why he hug me like that!! ohh (TT.TT) i don't even know his name!! hahahaha! but he and his friends sound fun and they are actually nice!

The guy who "hijack" me at Arc de Triomphe
After fussy fuss with lost in translation we said "au revoir" his friend said enjoy Paris! i said yes!! and then we walk separately i still took some pictures and stay there for a while... i want to remember how is it feels to be at Arc de Triomphe... because its not like everyday i could come here!!

And i don't want to be that kid of "tourist" that came, took pictures, and go. I want to feel what is it like to be there.... the air, the sky, everything! even the pollution! hehehehe

Marching a long the Champ Elysees... i was so happy! wooow this is the famous street that i've been dreaming to walk at!!

Errrhhh.. why i met with this guy again??? and you know what he said?? he said its a FATE?? LoL whattt?? hahahahahahahah!! nooo!!!
My admirer and his hugging habit-Champ Elysees
I swear if i met him ever again.. hahahahahaha... no i don't want he's kind and funny..but why he can not speak any english???? also.. hehe my heart is somewhere else *wink* (kalo yang single ntar gue daftarin deh!)

Me at Champ Elysees!

I try to enter one of the branded shop there.. all i could do is grinning... i can not affort even a small tiny pin hahahah! well... so much for shopping here.. i love it.. but no.. i am not into branded stuff..just too bad! hahah i am a "cheap" girl hehehehe

Louis Vuitton Champ Elysees-Paris

After walking along the famous Champ Elysees, i walk pass through the garden that belong to the Palais de Elysees. I walk along the Champ Elysees Avenue and end up in front of Tuiletries Jardin close to the Louvre.

At 1pm i went back to the Guy Moquet and get my stuff.. leave a thank you note for Guillaume and went to his hotel and leave the apartment key for him. I can't stop saying thank you for him, because he's been so nice!

I went through a painful METRO ride from Guillaume work to the Gare d'est ! its a reminder to write here.. girls!! do not bring your huge 26" luggage if you want tp pass through over 6 metro station!! they had no elevator and no lift!! so you have to lift your luggae along those freakin stairs!! it will be the best if you carry a back pack.....

Next will be Brussels!!