The Europe Itinerary Part 6

This post will be the last part of my Europe Itinerary blog series. A quick recap on my previous post, if you have noticed the way I planned the time in Paris, it’s different than in Switzerland. It was planned to be more flexible, allowing each planned item to move earlier or later, depending on the actual day itself. In fact, the frequency of metro service is quite high, I do not need to specifically plan the departure/arrival time of each metro service.

Proceeding from my arrival to London St. Pancras, I have arranged with my¬†friend to pick me up from the train station. That should be the end of my Day 6 plan. Next morning (Day 7) I’ve planned to revisit a few usual attractions in Central London. I listed down where I want to go, then I plotted the route to these destinations.

First of all, you need a London Underground Map or a London Tourist Map. Alternately, you can try Google Map online. A sample of my plotted map below.

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On Day 8 (last day) early morning, I will be heading to Waterloo Station, crossing over to visit London Eye. I’ve also arranged to meet up with some of my friends in London for lunch. After lunch, I should be heading to London Stansted Airport for check in. Tips: Allow at least 2 hours check in time for international flight. If at London Heathrow Airport, allow at least 3 hours instead!

That’s basically my whole Europe itinerary. However, when there’s vacation plan, there’s budget! Budget is about money. We need to estimate how much money we need to bring along for spending. Of course you can use credit card, but it’s always safer to keep some cash in hand. Below is my Europe Trip budget for 2 persons, excluding return airfares and travel insurance.

I will cover my next blog series of The Europe Excursion pretty soon. Do check back.

The Europe Itinerary Part 3

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Before I knew I will be riding on¬†a railcar¬†on the longest continuous strub-rack railway in the world, I actually planned to visit “The Top of Europe” 5 years ago. Jungfraujoch (pronounced as Yong-Frau-York), at an amazing 3454 metres, is Europe’s highest-altitude railway station.

Continue from Part 2, I am going to plan my Day 3 itinerary. From a glance, it should be a faily simple itinerary, as I have dedicated a full day to Jungfraujoch excursion. Again back to my favourite search engine, look for “Jungfrau Attractions” and start listing them down on a note or draft.

  • Eigergletscher – Polar Dog Colony
  • Ice Gateway – Ice Palace
  • Sphinx Observation Terrace
  • Jungfrau Plateau – Snow Walk
  • Husky-drawn Sledge Rides (Summer)
  • Ski & Snowboard Park (Summer)

What about time and location (To answer the “How to get there; at what time” questions)? Again, search for Switzerland¬†train schedules using this site. List down all the possible routes and alternative. You might also want to check what is the time of sunrise and sunset to determine what time you need to get up and/or get back.

There are 2 rail routes which will take you up to Jungfraujoch, one is via Grindelwald and another via Lauterbrunnen. Both routes splitted at a station called Zweil√ľtschinen (I think it’s pronounced as “Zwhy-Loo-Chi-Nen”) and join back at Kleine Scheidegg (pronounced as “Cli-Ney-Sni-Deck”), before changing to a cogwheel train up to Jungfraujoch.

Back to my plan, currently you might starts wondering about my accommodation. I planned to stays at Interlaken on Day 2. On Day 3 morning, I will starts my journey to Jungfraujoch. I can choose to stay one night at either of the stops between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch, or stay back at Interlaken. My decision is to stay at Interlaken (another night), since I do not want to carry my backpack with me to Jungfraujoch!

I’ve booked my accommodation through¬†this site for the first day, then I booked a Jungfraujoch Excursion package (which comes with 1 night stays at preferred accommodation) through here. What’s next?

The Europe Itinerary Part 2

Continue from Part 1, we already have the general itinerary in mind, let’s draft a more detail plan. Now we need to focus on (A) timing, as it is very important to our schedule, particularly on our flight and train schedule; (B) attractions, as this will determine how long we will spend in a particular place; (C) budget, as this will determine how much we will be spending.

Start from Day 1 again, Flight D7 2006 arrival time at London is approximately 1650. When we came out from the airport, travel to my friend’s place, unpack, dinner, etc is already late evening. I prefer to rest and prepare for next day. Hence I have no plan for Day 1. On a contrary, if you do not want to stay overnight at London, I suggest you to book the earliest arrival flight to London, then transit to Switzerland (either Geneva or Zurich). Check out my post on Malaysian¬†Travelers¬†to Europe via AirAsia.

Day 2 planned for flight to Zurich, we need to check which airline have flight to Zurich from London, and which London Airports (Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Gatwick, City)? This will be tedious process if you are new to European Airlines, but I have summarized the below based on my research for your reference.

  1. British Airways, operating from London Heathrow and London City Airport. Not a budget airlines. All price inclusive. Breakfast provided in-flight.
  2. Easyjet, usually operating from London Gatwick, Luton or Stansted Airport. Budget airlines. Extra charge for check-in luggage.
  3. Swiss International, operating from London Heathrow and London City Airport. Not a budget airlines. All price inclusive.
  4. BMI Baby, operating from London Stansted. Budget airlines. Extra charge for check-in luggage.

Based on the above, I have drafted a comparison chart that shows flights departing from London to Zurich on 15th October, 2009:

Once I have a comparison chart, I will base my selection on 2 criterias, time and budget. First I need to get to Zurich as early as possible to avoid wasting too much time. Second, I need a fairly economy flight to minimize expenses. From the above chart, it seems that Easyjet is the obvious choice. However, considering the¬†distance from London to Gatwick/Luton to catch the morning flight, which mean I have to wake up in the middle of the night, catch a cab and travel to the airport, it’s a nightmare!

Approximate Distance of London Airports to London City Center

My second choise is British Airways, although it’s double the price of Easyjet, but I save on my travel time to airport, and I have more choices on flight schedule. Since I stay in East London, the earliest flight to Zurich (ZRH)¬†from London City Airport (LCY)¬†is my best option. Let’s put this down in my itinerary. However, if you plan for¬†a return trip to/from Switzerland, I would recommend Swiss International Airlines for¬†better offer.

Booking BA Flight Online

I know I will reach Zurich by 1055 travel via BA8763, and my final destination for Day¬†2 is Interlaken. I need to find out how I would travel from Zurich to Interlaken. 3 choices: car rental and drive myself; take a bus/coach; take a train. Driving in Switzerland is left-handed drive on the right lane, different from Malaysia (I’ve tried that 5 years ago, it’s daunting!). Furthermore, I need an international driving license. Taking a bus or train is less hassle.

Flight BA8763 to Zurich

After searching from the Internet, I’ve decided to travel via rail. If you are¬†staying at Switzerland for more than¬†5 days, I recommend you to get one of the Swiss Travel Pass¬†for cost saving. I only planned to stay in Switzerland for 3 days, hence I will go for the single journey tickets. SBB has one of the best online services to search, book and pay for your rail travel in Switzerland. I can also search for rail schedules as well to plan my itinerary. How I did that? Search for train schedule from Zurich to Interlaken (you will either route via Berne or Lucerne (Luzern). I have been to Berne in my previous trip. Luzern is my choice this time. From Luzern to Interlaken, there is a rail service call GoldenPass Line, which offers a magnificient¬†panoramic view¬†from¬†inside the coach. This rail service will brings you to the most scenic route in Switzerland.

Now I have an idea of my travel time, let’s plan some visits. Check out Zurich and Luzern attractions from the Internet, and I estimated a stay in Zurich for 2 hours, Luzern for 1 hour. Go back to the SBB website and search for schedules between Zurich – Luzern and Luzern – Interlaken. List down a few alternatives for decision later. This is very useful if you missed a train, or you decided to spend more times on a place; at least you know when is the next train schedule. Up till now,¬†I¬†have drafted¬†something like the above in my itinerary, including also the travel route from where I stay (Belvedere) to¬†London City Airport. I used¬†this to plan for that.

Travel to Europe via AirAsia

This post is meant to provide a guide to Malaysian travelers to Europe via AirAsia. Take note that at the time of this writing, AirAsia do not have direct flights to other European countries yet. You have to transit via London. Let’s take a look on the flight schedules* to London Stansted (STN) from Kuala Lumpur (KUL).

Outgoing Flights Schedule *As of 1st Feb 2010
D7 2008 1230 (KUL) – 1930 (STN)
  1510 (KUL) Р2210 (STN)
  0900 (KUL) Р1600 (STN)
D7 2006 2200 (KUL) – 0500 (STN)

At a glance, we knew that all 3 flights on D7 2008 will arrive at London in the evening, and it would be too late to transit to another European countries. Even if you can make it, your arrival to your destination will be midnight already. Trust me, you don’t want to ruin your holiday catching a late night train or knocking at a guest house/hostel.

On the other hand, I will recommend you to take the D7 2006 flight, which will arrive at London in the morning (next day). At this time, you would have plenty of options to transit to your destination (earlier too). Need help finding transit flights? I used eBookers to search, book and pay for my transit Europe airfares, particularly for London outbound.

When searching for transit flight, take note that London outbound flights will have several options, it might either from London Stansted, London Luton, London Gatwick, London City Airport, or London Heathrow. You must allocate time for your travel between airports, check-in, immigration and custom, etc.

Approximate Distance of London Airports to London City Center

My advise for airfare, book earlier to get cheaper price and avoid disappointment. If you can’t find any available, probably the fare has not been publish yet. This is common to budget airlines in Europe. I usually booked mine 1-2 months ahead of schedule. For non-budget airlines like British Airways, you can usually book and pay for the airfare¬†2-3 months ahead, if you have confirmed your itinerary.