Visiting Prague for a few hours

After we spent two and a half days in Germany, we bought tickets to… Prague. It was a long time on my wish list and being so close to the city of my dreams, we decided to go. Another reason – only 34€ for a return ticket and 3-hour journey. This is exactly what I was missing while living on the island. Freedom of movement, be it train, bus, car or plane and variety of destinations. Prague was on my wish list for over 5 years. Therefore I did not mind waking up at 4 in the morning, to catch up the bus at 4:45.

Sunrise caught us somewhere on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Admiring the scenery, one phrase from Vanilla Sky got stuck in my head: “Open your eyes. Open your eyes, David!” Little did I know then, who I will meet that day in Prague.

We arrived early morning when the city was still asleep. Quick wander in the Old Town square, while it was tourists free, was a great idea for beautiful pictures. We realized we had no local money, and when ordering our breakfast, tried to figure out why the pancakes were that expensive – 35€. They were 3,5 €, in fact.

When we returned to the city center half an hour later, it was already crowded and full of tourists and local artists. It was then, that we met the hero of our day and the source of our love towards Prague – Dave.

John Lennon wall in Prague

Meet Dave. Czech Dave. He was our tour guide in Prague. He also is the most passionate tour guide I have ever met in my life. A true lover of his home city, Prague. A great speaker and a superb psychologist. For 2.5 hours of our tour, he kept the group, (about 25 of us) entertained, motivated and curious.

I would like to tell you more about Dave’s life. When he was 18, he moved to the US to improve his English and accidentally stayed there 14 years. He is a fan of running. He participated in countless marathons and runs. The last one was on 10th of Sept of this year, in Prague. It all started years ago, once he was chosen to run for a cause, spreading awareness of potable water around the world. He ran 16 countries, on all continents with that NGO, and it was how he started traveling the world. Since then, many years later, he runs his own cause called Water is Life.

Before we started our tour of Prague, Dave managed to remember each one’ of us country of origin. I was amazed to meet people from so many countries. As the group was getting bigger by the minute, I felt truly blessed to be there. I was a citizen of the world, in Prague, together with other citizens of the world. We were all united by our love towards travel. It was amazing! We had people from 3 states in Canada and 5 in the US, Brazil, Colombia, UK, France, Germany, India, Turkey, Israel, Malaysia, Australia, Ukraine, and Moldova, of course.

Astronomical clock in Prague

Let me tell you a little about Free Tours. It is a worldwide movement, where volunteers, students, guides or anyone passionate about travel can become a guide in any city of the world. The tour is free of charge, it covers the main city attractions and it is tip based. You tip the guide, at the end of the tour, and this amount is completely voluntary. Lately, many tour companies started providing free tours, however letting the tourists know that they also provide paid tours of different attractions. Usually, it is not the company that the tourist is choosing to go on the tour with. It is always the guide. During the free tour, you bond so much with the tour guide, you like the way he or she tells the story of the city, and later you realize that you want more. And you go for a paid tour. This free tour we had in Prague was the first one we agreed to go to. Before we hesitated, and I am not sure why. Now I am eager to try this service in every city I will visit.

After lunch, we met with a couple of friends, who became locals 8 months ago and went to a magical place.

To be continued…

Frankfurt on Electric bike

Frankfurt on bike

I ride the bicycle with a frequency of once a year, best case scenario. Naturally, every time feels like the first time and I have to learn riding again. This is why each offer to go on the bike freaks me out. It fades away within 20-30 minutes. Still, I prefer to ride far from the city and any means of transportation. Pedestrians also. Any moving object in general.

When this Frankfurt trip was fully planned by Pavlo, I had no choice but agree with his ideas. So, when I learned about a new experience of driving an electric bike, I was not too happy. Deep inside, I was hoping it would rain or my husband would change his mind. Not a single chance. When day X came, I was calming myself that Frankfurt is full of bikes and bike lanes, so the drivers must be loyal to such beginners like myself, in case I get stuck in the middle of the road.

When we arrived to the bike rental place, the host was super friendly. He provided us with a big red bike bag, which can be easily attached to the bike and 2 bottle of juice. He gave us a tip to ride into the forest, to get a feeling of the bikes. There is a wooden tower with observation platform called Goetheturm, on the south bank of river Main. It is 175 meters high, the entrance is free of charge and on its top you can see the Frankfurt skyline.

I started pedaling with shaking hands and legs, when suddenly… my bike started driving by itself! Wow! What a feeling! Never before I enjoyed riding as much as I did then. With minimum effort, your bikes drives you with a great speed. Now and then you have to pedal for it to ride. You can choose between 3 modes: power, sport and eco. The stronger the power, the less effort is needed from peoples’ side. The battery lasts for 100 km.

It is an amazing feeling to try something new. And I am so thankful to my husband for challenging me in different ways. On our electric bikes we were able to pedal most of the outskirts of Frankfurt, enjoy a very long park ride, see such places which are not on the touristic paths, give our tired feet some rest and breath fresh, post rain air.

On the weekend, on a sunny day, the river bank is full of bicycle lovers. We could not have missed it. We felt like locals. We even enjoyed the sunshine on the green grass along the Main river, with a view on Frankfurt skyline.

Do I recommend this transport in Frankfurt? Definitely! Will I be able to ride a normal bike again? I would, but I would always choose the electric one.

Cost: 29 euro/day. We had the bikes from 10 in the morning, until 12 midnight

Renting place: FrankfurtBikeTour.com

There are many tours on bikes around Frankfurt, and most of the bike renting companies do offer group and private excursions. We prefer planning ourselves, thus we did not join anyone.

 

First impression – Condor Airlines

My acquaintance with Condor started with a visit to their website. Easy navigation and user friendly interface made me easily book our tickets. I liked the option of choosing between Economy and Economy Light, as there was a significant difference of 15 euro for each ticket. You receive your confirmation email, again, super fast. However, you have to wait in order to check in. Only 24 hours prior the departure, the check in becomes available. For those wondering what is the difference between Economy and Economy Light – I do not know. Many considered that the difference is in your included meal on board. I will hurry to break your illusions – Condor does not feed you for free, unless you have pre-ordered and pre-paid your meal before the 24 hours limit prior the flight.

You can tell from the start, Condor is a great Airline. Not only priority boarding passengers come first, also families with children are embarked on the first bus, and regardless of its fulfillment, the bus takes them to the airplane. We took the 3rd bus, it was also the last one, as we are never in a hurry to board the aircraft. You know it is not a low cost airline by the attitude of the staff in the airport. No one is chasing you with measurements and heaviness of your hand luggage, which is great. On another note, most of the passengers are German, which means no one will violate the regulations of the airline.

The aircraft is new, it was blowing fresh air into the cabin all the time when we were on the ground. I loved the security demonstration projected on the screen. Something catchy and funny.

Smooth take off, smooth flight, great in-flight entertainment. The services are offered with a german humor: you can eat a currywurst for dinner, and the crew is encouraging to order it. First, a member of staff was offering to preorder food, then headphones were offered and then we started watching “The Big Bang Theory”, “K.C. Undercover”, some other shows and cartoons I was not aware of. There was an option to listen to them in English and German.

Some information from the captain regarding our flight. At the altitude of 11 km we were flying over Izmir, Thesaloniki, Sofia, Belgrade, Balaton lake, Ingolstatt and finally Frankfurt. Perhaps, I am not longer used to long flights, but the 3.5 hour journey was a bit tiring for me. Maybe, it was due to the fact, that outside was continuous daylight. During this flight, we were chasing the sun. Multiple sunsets in different cities were left behind and breathtaking scenes outside the window were changing rapidly.

Landing in Frankfurt International was another unique experience. Despite the fact that I knew it was a busy airport, I never realised it was that busy. Airplanes landing and taking off each minute, as we were waiting for permission to cross the lanes. Upon our arrival to the hub, 2 buses were awaiting for the passengers to take them to the Terminal.

Overall, I enjoyed this flying experience with Condor very much. I cannot wait to fly them next time to another, yet unknown destination.

Packing light for trips

I used to be that type of girl, who packed the whole house when going on holiday. So many times I ended up not wearing even half of the clothes. It was very natural and I never thought something will change. But it did, and I am happy ever since.

I was once travelling for a weekend to Geneva, Switzerland with a whole day layover in Venice. I have never been there before, so I was determined to spend the whole day exploring. My friend Cristina lived there, so having even a small suitcase would harden my movements around the city. Naturally, I decided to take the smallest, yet the most comfortable travel bag I owned. Great decision! I did not have to worry about dropping it at a deposit box and to collect it later, thus wasting time. Moreover I arrived at Treviso airport and was departing from Marco Pollo, which was, to say the least, very inconvenient.

As the bag problem did not bother me, I was free to absorb every drop of my experience in Venice. Eating delicious gelato and true Italian pizza, drinking coffee at Piazza San Marco, buying souvenirs and catching up with an old friend – it was all perfect. As a result, we spent an amazing day exploring the city and being guided by a local  was beyond my happiness.

The days in Geneva flew in an eye blink. I could not know, that my boyfriend had a surprise for me in mind. He had a back ticket with him to Budapest. I was beyond happy, but confused about the size of my hand luggage (40*20*7), and the amount of days spent in Hungary. So, with a pair of jeans, a sweater, a dress, a pair of shorts and underwear, I was boarding the plane. Pavlo told me not to worry, as shops existed especially for these kind of occasions. I ended up spending a whole month in Budapest. And guess what? I survived. As long as I had my essentials with me, I was doing great. All I needed to have with me was my computer, as I had a remote writing job back then, and my hair and tooth brushes. I realized then, that I was a super happy human being – I did not need much. Since then, I stick to the minimalism philosophy. I’d rather end up in a new place with no clothes, than have a bunch of clothes in one city.

 

Goodbye, European Roaming

Great news for all travellers and not only! As of 15th of June, the whole European Union goes Roaming-free. It means that you can text, call or browse the internet in any European country, at the price of your local service provider.
This is probably the best news for tourists from overseas coming to Europe, rather then for the europeans. Our tariffs were made user friendly long time ago, and it did not affect us as much. Now tourists from all over the world can use only ONE sim card across the whole European continent, without being followed by scary telephone or internet bills. It is a great means to stay online and connected anywhere you go. One sim card means saved money, which can be spent on souvenirs, food or that museum ticket that was on someone’s bucket list for a long time. “Roam like at home” will also be available in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein very soon after the 15th of June. Bear in mind, that the package will not be intended for a long usage. It is aimed at travellers and people who travel for work around Europe. It was created this way, to limit someone buying the cheapest option and use it permanently in his home country.
Personally, I have spent quite a sum on sim cards from different countries. However, I am glad i won’t continue collecting them.

Hello, world!

Hi, world! I am Alina and I love travelling. I am a professional traveller at heart and passport stamps 🙂  As of April 2020 I have visited 44 countries and territories. Many of these places were my home.

Since 2018 I live in Berlin, Germany. Europe is my home. Here I was born. Here I feel the happiest. Here I know everything with my eyes closed. Also, Europe is the safest place for travellers: we have a unique currency, we pretty much speak each other’s languages, we are very similar as  people – although unique as nations.

Travel makes me super happy. I get very excited when planning and booking trips. This is how I feel alive. I have sent on holidays tens of family members and friends, and planned something special for an impressive number of people. My readers get inspired to start travelling, forget all the cliches, create memories on low budgets, embrace experiences of solo trips, use my tips and trust me with their holidays.

I am taking you with me into my world of travel. Here I will share my knowledge, inspire you and show the world at its best.

Welcome to the world of Travel with Alina.