Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving..🚲
These are not my words, but a quote based on Albert Einstein’s wonderful simile comparing riding a bicycle with living happily & successfully 🕺💃 And I, just love to follow his theory 😁
Having traveled extensively within the country on work & pleasure over the years, me & my spouse’s focus in the last three years has been on UK & Europe. Why Europe??? Because we believe it’s the most picturesque & beautiful part of this world, outside our country India ⛵️🚢🚊🌴🍁🌷⛪️🗼🍟🍔🍺
When planning an International holiday, we really have two options. Go through a travel company or do it ourselves. I follow the latter option as that helps me have total control, rather than being controlled..🚣
For me holidays are for cool & complete relaxation & not having to worry about bookings, standing in queues & planning activities to be done..after reaching our destination..🌤️
And what a holiday we had.. flowers, parks, fountains, snow capped mountains, canals, rivers, oceans, islands, beaches, archipelagos, fjords, beautiful landscapes, green cities & countryside, blue sky, the chill, lovely weather with all sunny days, daylight till almost midnight, the historical monuments & landmarks, museums, great architecture, unforgettable train, bus, boat, ship, sailship, steamship & cruiseship journeys, funicular ride, great food & some great music too..So relaxing & refreshing👌We could not have asked for more & we did not 😊
Ideally your planning should start in December for a May – June holiday with flight monitoring & booking around early February, when in my opinion fares are the cheapest, followed by Hotel bookings, Visa, Internal flight bookings, Activities bookings, Internal trains/buses bookings & Foreign Exchange purchase, in that order. If you ask me, almost all our bookings for Flights, Trains, Buses, Hotels, Internal travel in different cities & almost all activities are therefore completed before leaving station 🏠
I land up doing extensive research to plan & mostly use, based on my experience of last three years, TripAdvisor for Reviews & Information, Skyscanner for Air bookings, Bookings.com for Hotels & also sometimes Hotels.com. While booking hotels, it is advisable to book the ones offering the “Breakfast included” option although you may have to pay a little bit more..but it’s definitely worth it. Also opt for “Pay later at hotel” option.
For activities bookings I use Viator, a TripAdvisor company, because they I believe, have the widest options on offer. Also Viator has offers from time to time which are quite good. But do not forget to search Stromma.com if you are in Scandinavia, for all your cruise & boat tours.They are the biggest company owned tour operators here. I also use Google a lot to cross check with company websites whether they are offering better rates, for direct bookings.
Another tip, look for coupon sites.When you go through them & book, you could land up getting up to 10% discount. Not all coupons work though & so don’t be disheartened if they don’t. Keep trying.. Coupons.com though, works. I have been lucky every time & got 10% off on all activities booked through Viator 😊 All the above is to help you get the best deals & save, for the next year 🏦
And now let me share another trick with you which would surely make your next year’s trip more exciting. Since most of your expenses would be through credit card, go in for a Citibank Premier miles credit card or any other card which offers you the option of redeeming miles with flights.You would land up saving a substantial amount from your next year Air travel expenses 🛫
Scandinavia has always been one of our dream destinations & hence decided to fulfill this dream this year, although flight & hotel costs are considerably higher than when travelling to other parts of Europe 🌍
Some choices of cities like Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen were automatic & further research of each country at this time in Summer helped me to zero in on Turku, the former capital of Finland & Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden. Tallinn, we always wanted to visit as it is a green country & was also keen to observe the Russian influence, as Estonia gained freedom from Russian rule only in 1991. And Malmo, in Sweden primarily for the marvel creation, Oresund bridge & to get a feel of this small but nice & beautiful city 🌇
Local travel 🚍🚎🚊🚃
You can go in for the 24/48/72 hours tickets which will cover all your travel on buses, trams, metros & regional trains for that period.It’s a must if you wish to roam aimlessly to see the beautiful countryside. It would also cover your Airport to city & back travel except in Helsinki & Stockholm where you got to buy separate Airport Express train tickets to reach the city central station. Individual tickets can also be used which are valid for 90 minutes, but are not very cost effective. But if your hotel is in the City Centre you may not need to buy these tickets as most cities are compact, walkable & in case you are not too particular about experiencing the countryside. In addition if you go in for the 24/48/72 hour Hop-on-hop-off Sightseeing buses, you would have found the best & most economical way of seeing all the prominent & historical locations in every city..
Food & Drinks🍎🍏🥝🍔🍟🍺🥃
The options are restaurants with outdoor & indoor seating which serve complete meals.Most food is bread/salad/beef/ham/fish based here along with your choice of beer/wine/liquor. Chicken is little bit of a rarity.
You also have the Chinese/Thai/Kebab/Pizza oriented speciality restaurants.Mcdonalds & Burger King make their presence felt in all cities with multiple outlets & are invariably next door neighbours. They have wide variety of all meat/fish combos & is undoubtedly the cheapest food option.
Then you have the speciality food stores like 7 Eleven, Narvessan, Pressbyran etc. which have wide variety of drinks, beer, sandwiches, burgers, chicken chowmein, chocolates, croissants, Ice creams & delicious range of yummy desserts..Most of these are open 24×7..
But Scandinavia is the place for fish, prawn, crab, lobster & you just cannot miss out on this great opportunity. And Bergen, amongst all heads the list with it’s range of delicacies…The streets lined up with shops for you to choose from 🍽️
And if you are craving for some Indian food, you have Saravana Bhavan in Stockholm, Delhi Darbar/Indian Curry House/ Royal Curry House in Turku, Jaipur/Benares/Aahar in Oslo & Arti in Bergen..There are few in Gothenburg too, but we did not quite like their menu..
Those who have a fascination for hard drinks, it’s best bought in Airports during transit as it works out much cheaper.In addition hard liquor is controlled, especially in Norway. There are limited shops selling it & are closed on Sundays. You can of course find it in almost all restaurants,all the time..🕛
Ready to take the ride..Go ahead..You will find bicycles in plenty in Scandinavia 🚲🚲🚲