A Dublin excursion

One of my fave pastimes is going on kayak.com to check out cheap flights. Sad, I know. But in October I saw a relatively cheap flight to Dublin. For only 150SFr roundtrip, that would normally be a steal.. but the problem was that I didn’t have any holidays left (I’ll be taking it in December for an extended Christmas break), so I basically only had one full day in the city. So… To book or not to book!?!

I thought about it for a couple of weeks… bit the bullet and purchased the flight. This definitely won’t be my last time in the Ireland/UK area, but I had no idea when the next time would be.. So whatever. It wasn’t ridiculously expensive to go for the weekend, so I decided for it. And I have absolutely no regrets! Carpe diem.

I originally booked a dorm room at a hostel in the city centre, but after thinking.. and thinking.. I basically arrive late at night on Friday and leave super early on Sunday morning, so I wanted to stay somewhere comfortable where I have my own space y’know? It’s not like I can’t afford booking a hotel anyway, so I decided to stay close to the airport so it’d be convenient to take my 6:30am flight on Sunday.

So on the Saturday, my itinerary was paaaacked because I basically had to do 3-4 days worth of touristy activities in a day. I got the adult rambler pass (€6.50), which basically gives you unlimited travel for the day. I (wrongly) read online that you can purchase the day pass when you get on the bus, but that’s not true.. and because of that I had to pay an extra one-way fare -.- So if you know you’re going to be taking a lot of transport, make sure you get the pass before you get into the city, preferably at the airport.

My first stop was the Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison turned museum. It’s one of the most visited sites in Dublin because of its historical significance in Irish independence. I took the bus from Aston Quay.. it took about 10 mins? The bus didn’t indicate the stops so I went a bit too far and had to walk back. If you’re uncertain at all just ask the bus driver, and I’m sure he/she could help you.

This is the entrance of the jail. Entrance was only €2 for students, with a 1-hr guided tour included. Our guide was very professional and I learned a lot during the tour

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Crystal hunting in Innsbruck

This was my second consecutive weekend of travel, which I was TOTALLY excited for. I can’t can’t can’t believe I had my GA pass for so long (11 months now!) and didn’t take advantage of it to the fullest. Obviously I still saved loads of money though, cuz if you average it out, the pass costs about 200SFr/month.. You have to pay for it upfront, which is a bit hefty, but if you calculate it by month and usage blah blah then it really is worth the 2400SFr price tag. Even back in Toronto, if you get a monthly TTC pass it costs at least $100. So 200SFr for unlimited travel in a COUNTRY?? Totally worth every penny. Or centime. Whatever.

So when I was still in school, I normally spent at least 300SFr of travel each month. Plus I made a lot of trips to the airport this year (holy crap, thinking back.. it was a lot!!! England, Spain, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Iceland, etc etc).. and without the pass, each trip costs something like 40SFr. Very expensive.

But STILL. I really wish I did more trips around Switzerland and to some of our border countries. Oh well :( I think it mostly had to do with the fact that Jacky was in Leysin and I went up to see him nearly every weekend. Oh the things we do for love.

Anyway. Maria and I visited Vienna in the summer of 2010 and we LOVED the city!! The people were gracious, the shopping was wonderful, and there was just so much to do/see. I’ve always wanted to go back to Austria because I know there’s loads to do in the country besides the capital. So when I realized that a round-trip train ride to Innsbruck would only cost us 50SFr, I totally jumped onto the opportunity!!!

I emailed my friend Amrutha to see if she was interested, since she has a GA pass also and lives closer to Innsbruck than I do (she lives in Basel, the Swiss German part of the country, hence closer to Austria). She was excited about the idea so that was it!!

Because we lived in opposite ends of the country, we met in Zurich and boarded the train to Innsbruck. The train ride was really comfortable and didn’t feel long at all. In fact, going to Zurich felt like more of a drag.. For me, the entire trip took about 5.5 hours from my apartment to the Innsbruck hauptbahnhof (main train station). Amrutha booked a room at the Ibis Hotel and it was SO convenient.. like the hotel was actually connected to the train station.  Yay for us.

The moment you step out of the station, it’s like.. woow. Unlike (most of) the Lake Geneva area, you are actually so close to the mountains. They make an amazing backdrop in photos.

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Lyon day trip

When I first moved to Lausanne in September, I left my weekends pretty low-key and didn’t go out much. It felt nice at the time, being able to relax after a summer of travel as well as being able to settle down into my new apartment. But after a couple weeks of nothingness, I decided I really needed to get out and explore as much as possible since I have absolutely no idea how long I’ll be in Europe for (after January, I mean).

Since I have a General Abonnement Travelcard that allows me “free” travel within Switzerland for a year, I figured this was the best opportunity to see the country (and beyond) for the remainder of my time here. I actually considered refunding the card since I live so close to work and don’t use the train anymore, but I did some calculations and realized I’d save more money by keeping the pass. With that said, I planned the following trips for my October weekends: Lyon, Innsbruck, Dublin & Liechtenstein.

My first destination was a day trip to Lyon, France. Since I basically traveled free all the way until the end of the Swiss border, in other words, I paid for only Geneva to Lyon and back. In total, I spent less than 5 hours on the train and the trip cost me 60 SFr. Not bad! The train ride was hassle-free and comfortable. After arriving in Lyon, I headed to the metro for my first stop, the Institut Lumière.

The Institut is considered the birthplace of cinema where  Louis Lumière patented the ‘cinématographe’.

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A Saturday in Liechtenstein

Before I write about my Vaduz day trip, I wanted to say that my dad is coming to visit! Yayyy! It’s his first time in Europe. He’ll be dropping by on the way from Hong Kong back home to Toronto (he’s visiting my grandpa, he’s really sick). He’s only in town for a day though so I really have to plan everything well. Anyway!

I’ve been wanting to visit Liechtenstein for a long time now since it’s so close to where I live, about 4 hours away by train. One of the smallest countries in Europe, it is landlocked with Switzerland to the west and Austria to the east. Since I have a General Abonnement travel card, all I had to pay was the bus ride to cross the border (round-trip cost me 11.40 SFr, very affordable). Basically I took the train from Lausanne to Zurich (2 hrs) and then Zurich to Sargans (1 hr). Once at Sargans, I took bus #12 that took me all the way into the Vaduz city centre, about a 30 minutes bus ride.

A special-edition double decker bus to cross the border. It was so cute, you have kids’ voices announcing every stop. Aside from Dublin and London, I haven’t seen double decker buses anywhere else in Europe. They make my excited and super giddy :)

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Gorgeous Reykjavik

I’ve always always always wanted to visit Iceland (I know I say this for every single country but still!!) Jacky went during Christmas time in 2010, and he told me all about how gorgeous the country is, amazing things to do like ice climbing etc etc. So of course my interest was piqued.

The cheapest way to get to Reykjavik is from London – I paid no more than $150 round-trip. Another option would be to fly transatlantic, either from London to the U.S./Canada or the other way.

Joc and I booked a couple of tours, and that’s probably the best way to travel around Iceland besides renting a car on your own. If I was with a group of friends, I think renting a car would be preferable since you can drive to more remote areas less frequented by tourists. Our first tour was the standard Golden Circle tour, where you can see the national park Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss and Haukadalur, home of the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.

I honestly don’t know why I thought it’d be warm in Iceland, probably because we went in August and we read that the days were really long during the summer months… anyway, bad assumption. It was pretty cold, but we braved the wind like the Canadians that we are.

It was gloomy and rainy all day :(

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