Post 2/3- Europe FAQ's + Photo Diary

21 February 2019

You asked for it, I answered. Over my Instagram page, I asked for your questions on our Europe trip. This post is a round up of questions that were asked and my best attempt at answering them. If you'd like further clarification, please don't hesitate to get in touch via comments section, DM or email. I'd be glad to be of any help.

Q. Your Europe Itinerary? 

Here's the itinerary we followed for the 4 weeks we were in Europe. We touched 8 countries.

Day 1-3 London, Stay at a hotel in Slough, near Heathrow Airport
Day 4-6- Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden (Netherlands)- Our base was Ibis Styles Hotel, Haarlem
Day 7,8- Bruges, Belgium - AirBnB at Oostkamp, Vlaanderen
Day 9, 10- Ghent, Belgium- AirBnB at Sportstraat 171
Day 11-13- Berlin, Germany- AirBnB at Knobelsdorffstra├če
Day 14-16- Nuremberg, Germany- Stay with friends at Herzogenaurach town- Day trips to Bamberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Neuschwanstein castle
Day 17-19- Rome, Italy- AirBnB near Vatican City
Day 20-22- Paris, France- AirBnB in Montmartre
Day 23- Bangkok, Thailand
Day 24- Back to Auckland

This itinerary is totally made out of our imagination, whim and logistical preferences. When we planned it, many said this was too much or too rushed, but we haven't regretted it one bit. We didn't want to travel to and from one airport. Having a different city to land and leave from, gave us more options to explore.

Q. Expensive vs Affordable countries in Europe?

Of the ones we went to, I can only speak on their basis. In terms of expenses, it depends on how you would judge a country as affordable or dearer. We found food to be of similar price point in all 8 countries. It was slightly cheaper in Berlin but other countries it was the same (Around $15-20 NZD for a meal for two). If you are looking in terms of shopping, I wouldn't know because we did not buy a single thing from any city, except fridge magnet souvenirs.
In terms of accommodation, the prices were similar too, with hotels in city center more expensive than the ones out of central district. Hence, we had to look for AirBnB's as they were both affordable and location friendly.
In terms of Travel and tourist sites, London turned out to be the most expensive. Rome would be second. Paris third. Lots of sites in Bruges and Ghent (Belgium) were free so we did not pay much for tourist spots. We hired the bikes and roamed around. We hired bikes in Berlin too. Basically a city with lots of tourist spots will end up being expensive as you'll have to pay for entry to those attractions. Hence Paris, Rome and London were more expensive than other cities.

When we researched countries, it did become evident that some countries were actually cheaper, though we did not go to any of them so I wouldn't know, namely Spain, Portugal, etc.

Q. List down your good AirBnB experiences.

AriBnB saved us so much money. Most of our accommodations were booked on the app. The best one was definitely at Rome. It was booked a night before and still turned out to be most amazing. The location was right outside Vatican City complex and we went for casual evening strolls to St. Peter's Square every night. Message me if you need accommodation link.

Second best would be Paris. Even though the apartment wasn't central (Montmartre), it was walking distance to Sacre Couer Basilica. It was also right opposite a supermarket and the entire Rue de Clichy (street) was full of eateries and boulongeries (bakeries). It was an epic food adventure. Moulin Rouge Cabaret studio is also in same suburb. It was quite far from central city though (Eiffel tower and all). Also the apartment had 5 floors of stairs (no lift) so you can imagine what it did to a pregnant woman. Stairs weren't mentioned in the listing. I made it a point to not forget anything in room coz going back wasn't an option.

Third best would be the apartment in Ghent. It was the most gorgeous apartment I've ever stayed in. I still remember the sunset from it huge windows. And most amazing hosts.

We did not like the AirBnB accommodation in Berlin and Bruges as they were too cramped. Husband wasn't comfortable with them. Still good memories though, but I will not be recommending them.

 If you need links for these specific accommodations, message/email me. I'll be happy to help.

Q. Planning the budget for trip?

Ok, I shall drop some numbers here. So me and Husband completed this trip in exact $12k NZD. We booked everything last minute hence we feel we could have done it in 10-11k if we booked travels a few months in advance. This total includes everything for both of us, tickets, accommodation, even the luggage we bought specially for the trip. Both me and husband agree that this trip cannot be done any cheaper, unless you are backpacking. We did not shop anywhere, we did not indulge in fine dining, we both don't drink alcohol (wine!), we walked on foot a lot to save on train tickets, we hired bikes for cheaper where shuttle or transport services were expensive. We also ate at shady joints and survived on burgers (we are both vegetarian). Hence, this amount is a decent bare minimum. I know a middle aged lady from work who planned her trip for a year, booked luxurious hotels and excursions and spent $60k for her 5 week trip. So you see it depends on how low or high you want to go. We did not have the money and travelling was our priority so we did not waste any money on luxuries or shopping.
My suggestion is to set a budget and stick with it. There is less chance of over-spending when you know the limit. Also its best to list down the activities that you will like to do. It's better to stay close to your chosen activities or attractions, hence AirBnB comes very handy. Be sure to ask if breakfast is included or not. Most do and some let you use the kitchen. It saves a lot of money when first meal of the day is sorted. We ate a lot in mornings so didn't get hungry till 1 pm. If it's allowed to use kitchen, always best to shop from supermarkets and make your own. That's what we did. All the cheeses and baguettes.

Q. How far were you in pregnancy and how did you sort out insurance?

I was 23-27 week pregnant when we traveled (End of second trimester and start of third)

If you are planning to travel overseas while pregnant and want insurance cover (you should), most companies cover till Week 24. One covered till week 26 (the one I went for, TID is the company name for those keen) and one offered pregnancy cover extension up to 30 weeks. The cost for 30 weeks one was too exorbitant for our budget. To put that into context, insurance for two of us healthy individuals was $240-ish. Extended pregnancy cover alone was about $900+, totaling 1200 for insurance. Hence I took the risk to be covered till week 26 and leave the rest to chance. So Week 27 of my pregnancy while travelling was uninsured. 

Q. Availability of Vegetarian food?

Me and husband are both vegetarian (Not Vegan). My husband doesn't even eat eggs. So our food was no egg, no meat, no sea food. And we survived fine. Europe is cheese heaven and if you are not Vegan, it'll be a candyland for you. Cheese, Bread, Fruits, fresh fruit juices, Burgers, fries, Pizza, Pasta,  Falafel, kebabs, Onion Rings, bakeries, deserts, gelato- this was our usual food and we loved it to the core. NZ doesn't have so much variety of vegetarian food so we were definitely treated well in food department in all of Europe. However, you might feel different if you were coming from a country like India where vegetarian food variety is too diverse. Here's a sample of what we ate- Let's just say we'd go back, just for the food. 

Parisian Boulangerie treats

Last meal in Paris

Breakfast in Paris, supermarket bought stuff

Pizza on Foccacia bread? Yes please

Warm fresh Baguette is a joy

Falafel pockets and Onion rings in Berlin

Fake chicken vege burgers in Bruges

Found a Punjabi guy in Bruges who fixed us this spicy meal 
Ever had Walnut or Hazelnut burger? Yep! you heard that right. In Ghent (Belgium)

Fried cheese sticks in Haarlem (Netherlands) 
Tasting platter at Leiden village market

Paris- Where Pizza is sold by weight 
Our staple diet in Rome. Veg Doughnuts with Nutella filling

Zuccini flower pizza outside Vatican

Q. Favorite country or place?
Mine- Netherlands. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Coolest country, super friendly people, the most gorgeous houses & gardens, beautiful small towns with windmills & canals, cobbled streets and farmers markets. Straight out of my dreams. 

Husband- Bruges, Belgium. This town has such a medieval charm. The town square is a beauty and so are the city outskirts, when we took our bikes and rode all the way to Holland. Yes! it's possible to cross border. The most gorgeous bike rides by the canal. 

These are the questions I received from my readers. If you have any other query about our trip, please comment below or message me, I'll be happy to answer. 


Europe photo diary to follow-
Ghent (Belgium), Berlin, Bamberg, Rothenburg ob der tauber (Germany)
More photos to come in next post of this series. There are too many for one blogpost!

Part 1/3 of series here. 

The best mode of transport to transpost and burn chunky fries (Ghent, Belgium)

AirBnB apartment Goals at Ghent, Belgium. That Monstera plant!

Carrying my little one in me (Ghent, Belgium)

Belgian Waffles in Belgium

Canal-side (Ghent, Belgium)

Werregarenstraat (Graffiti Street), Ghent

Berliner Dom in background, a very tired me, waiting for the bus, Berlin (Germany)

When you've walked 15k and your feet won't move no more (Berlin, Germany)

Town Square, Bamberg (Germany)
Das Plonlein, Rothenburg ob der tauber (Germany)

The castle that inspired Walt Disney, Neuschwanstein castle (Germany)

Rocking our AllBirds shoes, Rothenburg ob der tauber (Germany)

Europe in Spring- Garden Inspiration everywhere, Rothenburg ob der tauber (Germany)

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