Since I was a kid, I always dream to further study in UK, following Daddy’s footstep during his younger days. Coming from a middle class family with 6 other siblings, I can only rely on getting scholarships if I want to study there. Sadly, it didn’t happens.. I recall I missed out the application date to apply for the JPA scholarship after SPM, and competition for other scholarships were also very tough. When I started to travel, Europe is always in my bucket list to go, and my parents also always voice out their desire to go back to their study place in UK. Daddy & mama stayed in UK for few years and my elder sister Kak Dura was also born in UK. I keep telling myself that if I got the opportunity, my first travel to Europe will be with my parents. Alhamdulillah.. during my trip to Surabaya early Feb 2015, I’ve found a very cheap flight ticket to Amsterdam via Garuda Airline and without any delays, I quickly grab the flights for me, Mama & Daddy & Kak Dura. A return flight by Garuda Airline from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam with transit at Jakarta for rm1200 is very good bargain right ?.. And as to date, I’ve made 3 trips to Europe, all thanks to very cheap flight ticket that we manage to grab online.
I’ve been telling myself to write before I forgotten the lovely places that I go, especially to Europe. The trip was a month from the reservation date. With only one & half month to plan for our trip, I tried to do some research and book the transportation & accommodation needed. Since we have only 14 days and this is my first travel to Europe, furthermore I’m traveling with my parents, I decided to have more leisure trip and decided on routes (KL-Amsterdam-London) – Paris – Brussel – Amsterdam – KL. I managed to grab cheap flight on amsterdam – london via Garuda Airlines also so that we can start our travel in London. On 29 March 2015, we started our lovely journey to Europe.
The first leg of the travel to London was quite tiring, as we had to transit in Jakarta for almost 9 hours due to some flight delay and we almost missed our connecting flight in Amsterdam. Luckily I’ve made the wise decision to book the same airlines for the amsterdam – london routes and they were able to help to send our luggage direct to London although we made 2 separate flight booking. It was the furthest flight that I’ve taken that time, and luckily I didn’t experience any jet leg after the flight. Thanks to Garuda Airlines hospitality, the 24 hours journey still feel enjoyable as the long distance flight was very comfortable and they even allow us to use the lounge during our 9 hour transit in Jakarta. Even upon arrival in London, we had managed to spend the rest of the day exploring the city until night.
Our first 5 days in London was amazing. I’ve booked a rental car which we pick up upon arrival at the Gatwick Airport for our daytrip outside London. Yeah, as always, we love roadtrip cause we can explore any places that we want to go. Driving in London was very easy and enjoyable. On second day in London, we had a day trip to Cambridge University and Cranfield University, where Daddy used to study during his postgraduate study. We visited the house where Daddy, Mama & Kak Dura used to live, and even had and short visit to Bedford Hospital, where Kak Dura was born.
The next day, we had a daytrip to Oxford University and shopping spree at Bicester Village.
We spend the next 2 days exploring London city as much as we can, thanks to the internet data that I bought at the airport.. hahaha Mr Google map really helps alot on our navigation in the city. Although we stayed a bit outside of the city, at Kilburn Priory area, it still manageable as its located about 10mins walk to the nearby Kilburn Park station on Bakerloo line and about 20mins train ride to the city. We used the rail alot to travel between places, however, we walked alot too, for a day, we walked more than 10km until our feet became sore.. hahaha.. We managed to watch the changing guard ceremony at the Buckingham Palace, visit the Westminister area & the Big Ben, visit the Tower of London and it’s famous Tower Bridge, hang around St James Park, Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, and shopping spree at the Oxford Street and Bayswater area. We also manage to visit the Malaysia Hall and have a nice lunch and the Malaysia Kitchen there.
We took the famous Eurostar train to our next destination, Paris. To avoid difficulties during our travel, I’ve managed to bought all train tickets required for our trip through online and just show the printed ticket at the station. It really helps us to plan our journey ahead. We ride the train from the St Pancras Station late afternoon around 4.50pm and arrived at the Paris Gare Du Nord station after dark. The 2.5 hour train ride was quite comfortable and relaxing, even we were at the standard class seating. Although we had lots of luggage with us, the luggage space was sufficient to put all our luggage. Ohya, there’s even free wifi that we able to use to fill our time on board.
In this second leg of our europe trip, we only had 3 days to explore Paris. The time seems short, alhamdulillah, we managed to visit most of the places it our bucketlist. Our first day in Paris, we managed to explore the Eiffel Tower and its neighbouring area, from there we walked through the nice streets and buildings until we reached the Champs Elysees neighbourhood, explore the shops along the Champs Elysees boulevard until we reached the Arc de Triomphe, visit the Notre Dame and its nice riverside walk, and also a visit to the Grand Mosque Paris. On the second day in Paris, we took the train for half day trip to Versailles Palace and spend the rest of the day exploring the paintings in the Louves Museum especially visiting the Monalisa masterpiece. On the last day in Paris, we visited the Sacre Coeur area, visited the Pompidou Centre, have a short visit to the Disneyland Paris and having some shopping spree at the La Vallee Outlet Village.
We stayed in an Airbnb apartment fronting the Boulevard de Chapelle, with 2 train station just few minutes away from the apartment. Although the apartment was not as per advertise, the location was great. The apartment was very small to fit 4pax of us, dirty and we had to climb 4storey stairs with high steps with all our heavy luggages. Luckily we were outside most of the time and only stayed at the apartment at night for rest.
Although we had been very cautious on our stuffs and on high alert to avoid pickpockets in Paris, the nightmares still happen to us, as Daddy’s handphone was pickpockets when we on board the train at La Vallee outlet to go back to Paris city. We had managed to confronted the group of youngsters that stealing daddy’s phone, but of course they denied it and nothing was done by the local officers at the train station as well. We were very disappointed as daddy had took lots of photos of the trip using his phone. Making police reports on the lost also was really pain in the ass. Due to no taxis available, I & daddy had to walked more than 5km to the nearest police station at the LaVallee to lodge the police report, only to be disappointed that its closed. Back to Paris City, we had to lodge the police report cause we are going to take the train early morning to our next city, Brussel. While I and Daddy went to search the police station, Mama & Kak Dura packed our luggage, as we only settle the reports after 3am. We really lost lots of valuable time due to this pickpocket, and affect our mood for next few days of travelling.With no rest due to the incident, by 5am, we already check-out from the apartment to take the train to Brussel, our next destination. I’ve made upfront booking through Thalys online and we had planned to visit Brussel city for a day before proceed to Amsterdam for our final destination.
We took the Thalys train early in the morning at 6.50am from Paris Gare Du Nord to Bruxelles Midi and by 9am, we already reached the Bruxelles Midi Station. The 1.5 hour train ride was quite comfortable for us to have a quick rest, as I recall falling sleep the whole train ride. We stored our luggage at the coin storage at the station before we venture to explore the Brussel city. After having a heavy breakfast at a halal cafe just outside the Bruxelles Midi station, we walk leisurely towards the city center. The 2km walk was great as we manage to see lots of nice buildings along the way. We also quite surprised to see lots of halal eateries and even halal groceries there. We hang around the Grand Palace square, go for chocolate shopping, eat Govida ice-cream, nyumnyum, and walk at the nice cobbled street. We decided to have an easy and leisure day at the city center area and by the time we look at the watch, its already 5pm and it’s time to go back to the train station to catch our next train to Amsterdam.. hahaha.. By 7.50pm, we already on the Thalys train to Amsterdam and reached Amsterdam Central at 9.45pm. Its almost midnight when we reached the airbnb apartment, and proceed to rest.
Our stay in Amsterdam was the best amongst the airbnb apartment that I’ve booked so far. Nothing can beat waking up in the morning to a nice view of Rembrandtpark just outside the apartment. The apartment itself was quite big, clean, and complete with furniture and stuff to easy our 4 days stay in Amsterdam. The location itself was superb, about 15minutes from the city by tram with 2 tram lines station just few minutes walk really help us on navigating around the city. There’s grocery store nearby and also few halal eateries to fill our empty stomach. Oh ya, the host also was very helpfull as he patiently waited for us even when we slighty delay arriving at late night to collect the apartment keys. The only complaint that i have is the steep stairs that we need to climb everyday to reach the apartment, which is quite common for apartments in amsterdam.. hahaha..
For the next few days in Amsterdam, we used the tram to visit interesting places within the city, and we walk alot too. The tram lines can be very confusing, but thanks to mrGoogle, we managed to navigate ourself throughout the city. The most important is to locate your current location and know where you want to go, and mrGoogle will inform where is the nearest tram stop with least transfer required. We use day tickets to eased our travel using the trams. We managed to explore most of interesting places within the Amsterdam Centrum area especially the Dam square area, Amsterdam Central area, the Flower Market, Albert Cyup Market street, The Hard Rock, and various nice riverfront area.
The highlight of our Amsterdam visit was a daytrip to the Keunkenkoff Tulip festival. It was an annual grand event that held during certain period of time, and we are lucky that we were in Amsterdam when the festival still on going. We booked the festival ticket from the tourist center at the Amsterdam center area and we went to Keunkenhoff the next day. The bus journey took almost 2hour however its totally worth it. Although at some of the area, the tulips had been crop, the whole area still great. We spend the whole day admiring different types of tulip at the entire area. Its good to see Mama enjoying herself at the tulip garden.
Another highlight of our Amsterdam visit is to the Zaanse Schans area, where we took a short train ride just outside Amsterdam Center area. Zaanse Schans is a picturesque neighbourhood famous for its spectacular windmill, amazing architecture of old & nice cottages, and museum. Although we didnt went into any of the museums or windmill, we really enjoy ourself stroll around the Zaanse Schans area by foot.
We left Amsterdam to return back to Malaysia with mix feeling. The 2weeks Europe trip suddenly feel too short and i wish i could extend the holiday.. We never expected to have lots of shopping during our Europe trip, we came with a luggage & a backpack each and back to Malaysia with 2 luggage & a backpack each.. hahaha.