In my last blog post, I talked about the 5 useful apps I use for my solo travelling. As promised, here are the other 5 apps. Enjoy!
I trust that most of you have one of the weather apps in your phone. It is so helpful to know the weather condition of the destination you are going to in advance. Some places in Europe, you get 3 different weathers in one day! So I usually check the weather in the morning before I head out. In doing so, I know if I need a water proof jacket, an umbrella or whether I should put the thermal wear. It help you to plan your outfit for the day and know what to pack.
I use this app a lot even when I am not travelling. This app comes in handy when you travel to a country where you don’t know the language and would like to communicate with the local or understand the sign.
In addition, you can also use this app to translate signage or labels, by turning on the camera. I love this when I go to supermarket and want to make sure I get the washing detergent, not the floor cleaning soap 😊 I also use this when I go to restaurant to help me translate the menu.
Ok, I do not have a camera but instead, use my phone to take all the photos and VDOs. The major problem is that you run out of space and have to start deleting some. So the Google Photo app come in handy, as when you are connected to Wifi, it will automatically upload your photos and VDOs to your account on cloud.
You can get access to the images and VDOs later and it is super easy to use and search for something. There are some other apps like OneDrive from Microsoft or DropBox that you can use to save all the files as well.
Mobile banking apps
When you travel for a long time, you will need to take care of some financial stuff back home or even some cash when you are overseas. With the mobile banking apps, I can manage things easily including paying for bills or transferring money.
Like I mentioned in my previous blog, many banks (in Thailand) now offer Travel Card which is a debit card that you can exchange the foreign currency at a very good rate using the money in your saving account.
You can use this card paying in your preferred currency overseas, without transaction fee. Furthermore you can withdraw cash from ATMs overseas at a low fee. If you live in Thailand, there are many banks start offering this service including SCB, KTB, Citibank and KBANK. I am using SCB Travel Planet card.
I recommend you open PayPal account (free) and link it to your credit or debit account. It gives you conveniences when making online payment such as buying flights, train ticket or pay for hotel.
Why? You do not need to pick up your credit card and enter the 16 digits, which is the last thing I want to do when I am in a public place. It has other benefits such as transferring and receiving money. If you are online shopper, you know that there is a buyer protection as well.
Hello everyone! Sorry that I haven’t updated my blog for a while. I have been busy travelling!
Ok as promised, I have listed the 10 apps I use prior and during my travels which I decide to separate into two blog posts. I will not include the social media apps as those are personal preference.
I don’t know how I will survive the solo travelling without
Google Maps. The app is a real-life saver. I remember more than ten years ago I
did a roadtrip with a friend and we still used the printed guidebook, printed
map and relying on the road sign! Now you just enter your destination and the
app will tell you your transportation options, the distance and the time it
If you want to take public transportation, it tells you which
mode of public transportation, bus number, metro direction, the departure time
and the next one. If you decide to go on foot, it works just fine too.
Pro: Easy to use, smart, reliable, accurate
Con: You need a decent Internet in your mobile phone, it consumes a lot of battery if you use it all the time.
Omio – Formerly Go Euro (For travelling in Europe)
I love this app and told some of my European to use it. It is a meta search app dedicated to travelling in Europe. You simply enter your origin, destination and travelling dates, the it will show you options of transportation which include trains, buses and planes as well as estimated price. You can easily book the ticket on the app.
I use this app a lot to search for trains and book the ticket. You can use e-ticket which it is in the app to present it to the train staff.
I love AirBnb! I use it a lot especially if my stay lasts more than few days. When you travel around, pack, unpack, sometimes it feels nice to have a homey feels staying in a home or even sharing the apartment with a local. You can cook, prepare a meal, do laundry and just have your own privacy and feel like home.
If you prefer to stay in hotel, guest house or hostel, these two OTAs (online travel agents) are my top two. Sometimes you get special discount or privilege like free breakfast or free upgrade from your member status.
I usually use these two apps when I look for a hotel to stay for few days or arrive late or have a flight late. Why? Because most hotels allow check in 24 hours or late without extra charge, and you can also leave your luggage for free there while exploring the city waiting for your flight or train.
For this reason, AirBnb may not be ideal if you have such travel conditions.
Travelling solo may sound scary for many people, but also exciting for many and that includes me. I have been travelling solo a lot, especially to overseas. Several years ago, I saw a great quote and then told myself that once a year, I have to go to a place I’ve never been. As a result I have been doing it so well.
“ONCE A YEAR, GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE.”
I still remember the nervousness and excitement when travelling by plane outside of Thailand for the first time. Being a 17-year old, I flew to the US all by myself and my English was not so good. I was just a kid. But that changed my life completely because I have been addicted to travelling since.
People ask if I am not scared or feeling lonely, those feelings come sometimes. However, when you do travel solo more often, those feelings disappear and just leave you excitement and satisfactions. You just smile to yourself. Travelling makes me happy and richer.
“LIVE WITH NO EXCUSES AND TRAVEL WITH NO REGRETS”
Here I have summed up my tips for travelling alone and hope that can help you to prepare your first or next solo trip. I am speaking from a female perspective and from my direct experience. Here are the 8 things I do for my solo trips.
I am not talking about owning the latest smart phone or carrying cool gadgets with you, but you should be tech and Internet savvy. Why? You use Internet to search for information to plan the trip from visa application, transportation and accommodation options, attractions information.
Don’t be afraid to embrace yourself with technology and machines. Many services now use just robots, no human. For example, you may have to do all the airline check in, baggage drop off and print the luggage tag yourself, or in supermarkets that you may have to do self-check out.
Now it is even easier as there are apps which supply all these to you. You should know some useful apps such as Google Map, Google Translate and they can make your travel easier. I will write about useful apps in the next post.
2. Always carry a mobile with Internet
Ok guys, we live in the 20th century. Internet is like oxygen, you cannot live without it. I always carry a mobile with Internet for the peace of mind. I love walking around the unknown city so sometimes I need Google map to bring me to the place. And sometimes Google Translate to communicate and understand the signage.
My current mobile now is Android phone with two sim card slots. I can have my Thai sim card to get the messages from Thailand and another sim card mainly for Internet. It is pretty useful.
3. Keep your memories in photos: Camera or good mobile with camera
I am not a professional photographer but I love keeping memories in the photos. I use my mobile to take all my travel photos and connect to my Google Photos account and Microsoft One Drive. The photos are synced automatically to the Drives on cloud. Voila! You got all you photos there and can empty the space on your phone. You may carry an external hard drive to do that as well.
4. Know the weather conditions and prepare proper clothes
Check the weather condition of the places you will go to. I usually travel with comfy cotton pants (no belt if possible) and sneakers when flying. When you travel to cold countries, dressing with layers is a key. Bring some heat-tech for the inner layer, then a shirt and your outer jacket or coat. You should bring a warm sweater as well for when you are indoor.
In winter, most places will have heaters inside, so if you are staying indoor a lot, two layers will suffice and you can remove the outer one if it is too warm. You don’t need a super ultra heat tech inner wear, unless you go skiing or hiking with snow, otherwise you can turn to be a roasted pork.
When you are in the cold country, you do not want to have the hypothermia which is when your body loses the temperature, and that can be very dangerous. Our body usually loses the heat through head and feet. So always keep your head and feet warm, and wear scarf to protect your neck and chest from exposing to the cold.
5. You are always safe when you know what you are doing
I have been to places, like Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, you name it, where people say they are dangerous with a lot of pick pocketing and scammers. For me the good thing about travelling alone is that you don’t attract people. They may even think you are from there because you don’t speak in your language to your friend or family, so you are not distracted. Keep your valuables in your bag, out of sight and not to attract the theft.
6. Two is better than one
I always make copies of my important documents including passport, visa page, air ticket, insurance paper and keep them in my backpack and suitcase. Now with technology, I usually scan these documents and keep them on emails or Google Drive. Same as cash, I carry some cash with me and keep some at home or hotel in a safe, not a lot of amount though.
7. Finance: Cash, Debit card and credit card
Bring enough cash to spend during your trip but not too much. Because carrying a lot of cash is not a good idea. If you need more, go to ATM. In Europe, most of the shops and restaurants take card. I use debit and credit card a lot when travelling in Europe, Australia and Japan. Check with your banks for the fee and rates. Try to get small notes from your exchange kiosk or bank and most places will accept them.
“NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST”
Several banks (in Thailand) offer a Travel Card which you can use as a debit card when overseas with no currency exchange fee during the transaction. You just need to transfer the money from your saving account to top up in the Travel card. Then buy your preferred currency such as Euro, US dollar, Japanese Yen, UK Pound to put in your card. The rate is pretty good, the same as the currency exchange kiosks.
I will provide some more info about the travel cards in the next blog.
8. Positive Attitude
This is a very important thing to bring with you. Be positive, learn new things, embrace to new cultures and surroundings but have precautions in the things around you. Be friendly and open to make friends with locals and learn some of their languages. You will be loved!
Last but not least, always check in with your family and friends. Keep them posted of where you are so they do not worry about you and you feel connected with them wherever you are. This can help you cope with feeling lonely.
Do not be afraid of travelling alone. Step out of your comfort zone, go somewhere you have’never seen. you will not regret.
“FEAR IS ONLY TEMPORARY. REGRETS LAST FOREVER.”
In my next post, I will write about the useful apps I use for travelling. Until then, ciao!
After departing Madrid, I spent one night in Seville, the capital of Andalucia in southern Spain. This region is so different from the north, its beauty simply takes my breaths away.
The first thing on my list here was to see the Royal Palace Alcázar, a filming location for Dorne in the mega hit HBO series, Game of Throne. Yes I am a GOT fan!
Did you remember how mesmerized you were when seeing Dorne for the first time? Here I am at the Royal Alcázar and feel like I am dreaming.
Seville’s royal palace complex was believed to have been built in the 10th century. This architectural wonder is a result of a combination of Mudejar (Moorish) and Gothic styles.
The palace was built by the Muslim Moorish dynasty. Later on the Christians regained the power in the region, and the additional constructions began. For me this is the greatest harmony of Muslims and Christians work of arts.
It is the product of many monarchs throughout the great history. The decoration, ornaments and architecture of Islamic, Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance styles will stun you.
A high speed train from Madrid which takes about 2.5 hours will take you to Seville. Alternatively, you can fly to Seville Airport from many major cities in Europe. If you do not have many days to spare, I suggest a night or two will be good here.
The Royal Alcázar, along with the Seville Cathedral which is located just in front of the Alcazar are UNESCO site.
Winter is slow season for Europe, I was lucky to be able to walk-in and got the ticket. If you visit in Spring or Summer, an advance purchase of the ticket would be a good idea and will save you time.
If you are an art lover and history buff, Madrid will not disappoint you. The city has various museums for you to enjoy but the museum I will talk about here is Prado Museum, or Museo Nacional del Prado.
The Prado Museum has made it to my top 3 favorite museums. Together with The Uffizi in Florence and The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as the Prado Museum has the finest European art collections.
This is one of Madrid’s best museums and one of the most visited art museums in the world. The collections include those, especially European arts from 12th to 20th century.
You can admire the artworks from the world’s famous artists including Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Diego Velázquez. My favorite piece here is the Bible story oil canvas – David with the head of Goliath by the Italian painter Caraviaggio.
The Prado museum celebrates a 200-year anniversary in 2019. The museum building was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. It became a national museum and opened for public for the first time in 1819.
Once you got through the security at the entrance, you can take the free museum plan from the information counter. I recommend an audio guide which costs you 6 euros but trust me, it is worth it. The audio guide has trails plan for you to choose for 1, 2 or 3 hour visit. This saves you a lot of time and you get to admire the must-see pieces.
The Museum opens from Monday to Saturday, 10 AM – 8 PM and 10 AM – 7 PM for Saturday and public holiday. The ticket is 15 euros and you can save time by purchasing it online.
If you are flexible with time, the museum offers free admission in the last two hours before closing. I went on Sunday and got a free ticket to enter the museum at 5 PM. There may be a long line, but do not give up. The line is moving fast.
Last but not least, I wish you an artsy day in Madrid!
One of the best experiences while visiting Logroño is Pinchos night out. I love it and am doing it everyday here! It is the Spanish version of street food 🙂
What are pinchos? Pinchos are similar to tapas but being served in one portion while tapas are small dishes to share, for instance. People usually order a pincho with a glass of a beer or wine.
Where to go? Calle de Laurel is the street you head to for pinchos and it is located in the city centre old town. The street is usually packed on Friday and Saturday among the locals and you can expect groups of friends and families even with kids to gather around late evening.
What time to go? 10 PM is a good time to go there. The delicious and inviting smells of charcoal grill and the chatty conversations of people will draw you near.
How it works? Each bar has its own specialty and the idea is that you bar hop and try a little bit of this and that. Here are my favorites;
1. Chistora a la Brasa at Bar Paganos. Chistora is a soft chorizo on the charcoal grill wrapped in a bun and it is to die for. I have to come here every time I am in Calle de Laurel
2. Grilled Champignon at Bar Soriano – I love mushrooms and this place makes me drool with the smell of grilled champingon and topped with a piece of shrimp. If the place is too packed, you can go to Bar Angel too. I tried at both places.
3. Setas at Bar Cid – tasty mushroom that goes well with a corto! It is similar to mushroom we have in Thailand.
4. Grilled sirloin with blue cheese spread on a toast at Bar Donosti. The mix of the creamy blue cheese spread on the toast and grilled sirloin just melts in my mouth, on the other hand, you can also choose the pepper spread instead of blue cheese.
5. Zapatilla at Bar Tennessi. Love the crusty toast topped with jamon and cheese. The zapatilla here is to die for!
What to drink? Crianza or Corto? Well it really depends of your pinchos. In La Rioja, they have 4 classifications for red wines which are 1. Rioja 2. Crianza 3. Reserva and 4. Gran Reserva. Crianza is an everyday wine as it is refreshing and not to heavy. As a result, you will see many locals order a crianza. Another popular drink is Corto or a small beer.
How much and how to do the pinchos night? Pinchos night out is best to do with a group of friends (or family). What I experience here is that each of us chips in money and appoint one person to be in charge of the bill at the bar. Let say you put 20 euros each. You can expect to pay approximately 3-5 euros per person for a pincho and a drink in one bar.
I am already drooling now writing about this! there are many pinchos bars for you to discover. Keep me posted of your new discoveries. i Wish you a gastronomic evening in logroño. good luck and bon apetit!
A capital of the province of La Rioja in northern Spain, Logroño really exceeds my expectations. I love the easy going and chill vibe as the city is not yet exposed to over tourism like in some other European cities. Many foreign travellers visiting Spain tend to aim at big cities like Madrid, Barcelona or in southern Spain like Seville, Malaga or Granada. I will tell you 4 reasons why you should add Logroño in your itinerary for Spain.
First, the great FOOD SCENE. Here people enjoy good food, good wine and easy going life. You can get really good meal with a reasonable price here in nice restaurants. However, as foreigners, you should know that people here take eating seriously, as they tend to spend a few hours for lunch and dinner. My lunch time here is usually from 2.30 – 5 PM and dinner is around 9 PM onwards. For food lovers, you cannot miss a chance to visit Calle del Laurel in the old town and enjoy trying different pinchos or small tapas being served in one portion. There is so much to write about pinchos hence I will dedicate another post just for them.
Secondly, La Rioja is famous for WINES! You will find world class wineries just in less than an hour drive from Logroño. Fortunately, I had a privilege to visit some of them, including Vivanco Wine Museum, Bodegas Ysios, and Marqués de Riscal.
Thirdly, the reasonable PRICE for food and drinks here which is cheaper than other cities in Spain. For example, you can get a decent glass of wine for just less than 2 euros, the bus ride is 70 cents anda pincho is around 1.5 euros.
Fourth, ARCHITECTURE here is second to none. The Spanish appreciate arts and in La Rioja, design lovers will never get bored. Located 1.5 hours away is Bilbao International Airport and that makes it convenience for international travellers. The gem of Bilbao is the Guggenheim Musuem, designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry who also designed the Hotel Marqués de Riscal at Marqués de Riscal winery.
I hope the above 4 reasons can convince you to visit this northern region of Spain. I guarantee you that you will be having amazing times!
Wine, museum, Picasso and perfect sunset! What an incredible experience all in one at the Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja, in the north of Spain. I have been to some of the world’s finest wineries in Australia, Italy and France but the experience at the Vivanco is so unique.
The four-floor wine museum occupies the area of 4,000 sqm in six
rooms. It was designed by Spanish architect Jesús Marino Pascual.
I love the museum as it gives you all information from the beginning to the end in producing the finest wine and the process involves a lot of people from harvesting, collecting the grapes, bottle making, the barrel making, transportation, the glass etc. In the museum, you can also indulge in the finest wine related arts including the pieces from Piacasso, Andy Wahol and Dali.
The Vivanco Museum on Wine Culture is among the world’s best. The museum was inaugurated in June 2004 by King Juan Carlos I and was a private initiative of the Vivanco family, winemakers since 1915, which transformed their private collection into a museum project.
What an educational and pleasing experience and I recommend a visit if you are in La Rioja.
I love Cappucino! Don’t you just love the creamy milky foam on top that gives you smooth, wam and relaxing pleasure. I order it in the morning and afternoon when I go to a coffee shop in Thailand. Thais love coffee with milk and with ice! But but but….when you are in Italy, you may need to leave that habits behind. What I learned during my travels and hanging out with Italians in Italy, they drink cappuccino only before noon. They consider coffee with milk, like the lovely cappuccino, as breakfast. In the afternoon, they only drink Espresso, or if they crave for milk, they will go for Caffè macchiato which is espresso with a little milk foam on top.
So next time you are in Italy, you know when to order your cappuccino. I love it with a croissant (In Italian- they call it cornetto) with jam or Nutella inside, a perfect breakfast for me!
Buongiorno! Vorrei un cornetto con la Nutella e un cappuccino!