Photo Essay: Salzburg Old Town

One of the downsides of traveling to Europe in autumn is that the weather can be unpredictable.

It was gloomy the whole time I was in Vienna as well as when I arrived in Salzburg.

My dorm mates said it rained the whole time the previous day, so I fervently wished that the skies would clear up the next day.

I guess Lady Luck was on my side because the sun was out the day I went to Salzburg’s Old Town (Altstadt).

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Autumn showing off

My hostel was just a few hundred meters from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, so I decided to just walk to Salzburg Old Town. Actually, when I was in Europe, I would walk to get to my destination whenever I can.

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Hohensalzburg Castle in the distance as seen from Mirabell Gardens

Before heading to the Old Town, I spent some time at Mirabell Gardens admiring the fall foliage.

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Grand Tour of Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

My first cross-border train ride in Europe was from Prague to Vienna, so I was very excited.

The train was modern, clean, very comfortable, and even had WiFi on board which made the 4-hour journey bearable. The scenery along the way was pretty, too.

Scenery on the way to #Vienna #Austria #katgoestoeurope #centraleurope

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It was drizzling when I arrived in Vienna, so I didn’t push through with my original plan of going to the Old Town. I just went around the Westbahnhof area.

Next day’s agenda consist of only one thing: Schonbrunn Palace – the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs.

I inquired with the hostel’s front desk about the best way to get to Schonbrunn Palace and the receptionist said I could walk. I looked at the free map provided, and it looked like it was just down Mariahilfer Straße…and it was, only it was more than a 2-kilometer walk.

Ten minutes in, and I already regretted the decision.

But then shortly before reaching the palace, I passed by Auer-Welsbach Park, and was mesmerized with the beautiful fall colors. I spent a few minutes watching kids play football, and even tried to chase some squirrels. LOL

The palace offers several types of tours – some you can do on your own with a free audio guide, some with a palace guide for an additional fee.

I chose a guided Grand Tour of Schonbrunn and paid €19.40. Some may find the price steep, but I don’t mind paying that amount for an hour of being cultured. :p

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2016 – The Year I Made My Childhood Dream Come True

I think everyone will agree when I say that 2016 is one of those years that we all want to forget because of all the crazy sh*t that happened in this world.

Personally, my year didn’t start off right when I spent the second week of January confined in the hospital for 4 days for facial cellulitis. Ironically, it’s also when I found out I got the big project I was waiting for which kept me busy the whole month of February.

In March, my mom and I went back to Hong Kong and Macau where we enjoyed 13-degree weather even though it was already supposed to be spring.

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We went back to Disneyland, the happiest place in the world, but skipped the other tourist sites. It was the first time in 4 years that we traveled again after her second breast cancer ordeal, so I wanted the trip to be as relaxed as possible.

Unfortunately, weather wasn’t on our side on our way to Macau. The fog was so thick there was zero visibility. We were stuck at sea for about an hour before we were allowed to dock at the ferry terminal.

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Similarly, our flight to Manila the next day was cancelled because of the fog.

Within 24 hours, we went from sleeping in a 5-star hotel to sleeping on the floor of Macau International Airport. But my mom was such a trooper. I’m so proud of her.  😀

April and May were months of canceled trips to Palawan and Cebu, respectively, but at least we still got to squeeze in a little family outing at South Forbes before summer ended.

June to September was crazy! I had to juggle a full-time job and 4 side projects because I decided, you know what, it’s high time I go to Europe! Work hard, travel harder, ika nga!

I honestly didn’t keep my hopes high of getting a Schengen visa, but I guess the travel gods love me after all. haha I couldn’t believe I’m finally going to fulfill a childhood dream!

A day after my birthday, I flew to Europe. 🙂

Nag-trabaho. Nag-ipon. Nag-Europe. Ganern!

This Euro trip was the second time I traveled solo. Sure, I feel resfeber prior to embarking on one, but I never feel alone, lonely or afraid when I’m already on the road by myself.

Anyway, my first stop was Prague, the capital of Czech Republic.

I couldn’t have picked a better jumping-off point. I was totally smitten! It was everything I imagined Europe to be (and more).

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Prague’s Old Town Square look like something straight out of a fairy tale.

The city is brimming with beautiful structures, lively squares, and each neighborhood has so much history the world know so little of.

And did I mention it’s pretty affordable too?

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Met this lovely Pinoy couple in the walking tour. They were like my parents for a day. 😀

Next stop was Vienna, Austria.

I tried to soak in some culture, so I joined a guided tour of the Schönbrunn Palace.

More than the impressive rooms of the palace, I learned a lot about the House of Habsburg – one of the most powerful royal houses of Europe of their time. I’m not even a museum kind of girl, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Also met Vins and Yosh of The Poor Traveler because we coincidentally stayed at the same hostel!

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Love locks on Makartsteg Bridge over the Salzach River, Salzburg

After a few days of gloomy weather, Mr. Sun finally came out when I went to Salzburg.

I didn’t have any expectations of Salzburg. All I know prior to going there was it’s Mozart’s hometown and where they filmed The Sound of Music. But man, Salzburg is gorgeous! I actually regret that I only stayed there for 2 nights.

Still, I’m grateful I got to visit one of my top dream destinations – Hallstatt! It still makes me giddy just thinking about it.

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Overlooking Wolfgangsee. I still can’t get over this view!!!
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Going to Hallstatt was a dream come true!

I spent a night in Zurich just to break the journey, and went to Interlaken the following day.

Blue hour #Zurich #Switzerland #katgoestoeurope #backpackingeurope #Europe #eurotrip #centraleurope

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On the train to Interlaken, I met two Pinay nurses who work in Saudi Arabia who were also traveling around Europe. We planned on going to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen together the next day, but we didn’t see each other at the Interlaken Ost Station at the time we agreed and the train was about to leave, so I hopped on without them.

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It rained the whole time I was in Switzerland, but that didn’t stop me from exploring. I think it even made me a pluviophile (at least while I was there).

Swiss people are some of the jolliest and nicest people I’ve met. Good vibes lang sila lagi!

Yes, Switzerland is ridiculously expensive, but it’s worth every damn centavo IMO.

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Here, Switzerland, take my money. LOL

Finally, I spent the last leg of my Euro trip in Italy.

My first stop was Florence – capital of the Tuscan Region, and often referred to as the cradle of the Renaissance.

#Firenze #Florence #Tuscany #Italy #katgoestoeurope 🇮🇹 #asuszenfoneselfie

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Florence and I started on the wrong foot when a bus inspector tried to extort €50 from me, so we had an altercation. I demanded to be taken to the police station to which he sheepishly said “No. No. No polizia.” He must have been bummed I didn’t fall for his modus operandi. Laking third world ‘to, huy!

As a result, I missed the earlier train I was trying to catch so that I could go to both Pisa and Cinque Terre on the same day. Oh well!

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I went on a day trip to Pisa, and had the best Quattro Formaggi Pizza. #rhymingskillz Suddenly, all is right in the world again. LOL

Another item ticked off my bucket list was Cinque Terre – the 5 colorful fishing villages along the Italian Riviera.

It was crowded, as expected, but tolerable.

Of course I didn’t pass up the chance to eat the quintessential seafood spaghetti in Vernazza while watching people frolic in the beach.

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Cinque Terre

Finally, no trip to Italy is complete without going to the eternal city of Rome!

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The Colosseum, Fontana di Trevi, St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon and The Vatican Museum

I love how most of Rome’s famous landmarks are kind of close to each other, but man, I’ve never seen as many tourist per attraction as in Rome. It was crazy! Hindi uso off season sa Rome, bes. Eternal city kaya eternal rin ang pila. hahaha Even though I bought my tickets to the Colosseum and to the Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel online, I still had to line up to go inside.

And the food…oh my goodness, Italian food! Grazie mille for contributing to my ever expanding waistline. LOL If you’ve seen Eat Pray Love, the part where Julia Roberts had to buy a new pair of jeans just because she couldn’t fit in her old ones anymore, yup, pretty much the story of my life. haha

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So that’s it! That pretty much sums up my 2016.

I’ve been vitamin sea-deficient this year, so I’ll probably focus more on beach trips and local destinations next year. I also hope to explore more of East Asia.

Happy Holidays, everyone! See you on the road and cheers to more adventures! 😀

This is my contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ 2016 Year End Blog Carnival. The compilation will be hosted by Mervin of Pinoy Adventurista.

Backpacking Central Europe: Itinerary

Planning a trip to Europe can be quite overwhelming. So much so that I drafted 5 itineraries (maybe more) before I finally picked which one to submit to the embassy.

You see, even with its extensive rail networks, there’s just so much to see in each city/country that you can’t possibly visit them all in one Euro trip.

So for my first Euro trip (yes, I plan to go back!), I just focused in Central Europe. Why? Frankly because that’s only what my budget allowed haha

I was actually surprised people were interested with my itinerary because, according to them, it’s not the ‘usual Europe route’.

What I’m going to share here is my actual ‘itinerary’, and not the one I submitted to the embassy. I found that over the years, I have become less meticulous about making itineraries and following it to a T, so you may feel that it’s ‘too relaxed’.

Sure, I could have visited more cities/countries in 21 days, but I’m way past the stage of jamming as many sights/attractions in a day. I’m on vacation, after all, and not on a mission.

Anyway, here it is. Feel free to modify according to your preference.

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Europe on a Budget: 4 Countries in 21 days for Less Than Php85k

Aside from how I got a Schengen visa, another question I often get is how much I spent in Europe. While I wouldn’t exactly say Europe is affordable, going to Europe on a budget is definitely not impossible. You just have to know where and when to go.

So, how much do you need?

Here’s an infographic that’ll give you an idea how much you need per day depending on where you want to go. It ranks European cities from 1-56 (cheapest to most expensive) for your convenience.

Infographic by simplyholidaydeals.co.uk reposted in Matador Network and Daily Mail UK
*This is not a sponsored post*
As you can see, Western European cities are twice to thrice more expensive than the Eastern European ones.

Personally, I chose to just concentrate in Central Europe and Italy. I allocated at least €90 per day during the planning stage, but actually spent only about €75 per day on average.

It’s also important to note that I went in October-November, autumn, which is the shoulder season so accommodation prices were lower than if I went in summer.

As for my actual expenses, I religiously logged them using the app, TrabeePocket. No expense was spared – not even the €0.20 I paid for printing.

If you’re not traveling solo then you might want to consider the app, Splittr. It’s perfect for tracking those “Ikaw na muna magbayad.”/abono moments. :p

Again, this is not a sponsored post. I just find the app really useful.

Continue reading “Europe on a Budget: 4 Countries in 21 days for Less Than Php85k”

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa at the Czech Embassy Manila

I just got back from a 3-week Eurotrip/birthday trip. The minute I posted on social media that I was in Europe, several people messaged me asking how I got a Schengen visa.

If you’re a non-Philippine passport holder, you might be wondering why getting a visa is such a big deal for Filipinos. Let’s just say traveling to a first world country with a Philippine passport is akin to being a contestant in American Ninja Warrior. We have to go through so many obstacles just to prove to embassies and even our own immigration officers that we’re not going overseas to seek greener pastures.

But wait, there’s more! It gets even harder when you’re female.

My single-entry Schengen Visa from The Czech Embassy Manila

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