Travelling Around Tallinn

Travelling around Tallinn was one of the most difficult I have ever encountered around Europe in a tourist’s perspective. Not only was the journeys difficult, tickets were also confusing to obtain.  There were also only a number of modes of transport you can use as metro and trains are non existent in the city.

Walking- If fit the capital is small enough to walk around ,most of the attractions within the city are very close together, so walking is very convenient.

Bus –  The Buses in Tallinn was very cheap however, you can buy your tickets before you board from some machines situated in some stations, however this can be very difficult to find as there is not many around.  It is also possible to buy your ticket from the driver however this can be very difficult when the bus is full.

Trams- Similar to buses this vehicle is easy for locals but somewhat difficult for tourists. Reason being is that you have to buy tickets before boarding, usually done online which for tourists could be somewhat daunting. There are not many machines around and there is no way to purchase from the tram operators.

Taxi’s- Cheap compared to other countries around Europe but still expensive compared to the other forms of transport in the capital.

Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

 

GIF2.gif

Advertisements

Travelling Around Rovaniemi

Travelling around Rovaniemi is not too difficult. There are only a few ways to get around the various attractions some more expensive than others.

Walking-  Within the city centre walking around is somewhat easy as points of interests and hotels aren’t too far from each other, the only difficulty may come from the snow (if travelling in winter). However from the city centre to the more outer attractions such as the Santa Claus village it would be a much longer and a little more difficult.

20181216_103545

Rent a Car – Probably the easiest and more convenient way to get around, nearly all the attractions and hotels have car parks. Traffic is also none existent here in Rovaniemi, however the only difficulty may come from snow and ice a dangerous feat for those not used to the driving conditions. There are collection points and companies near the airport.

Bus – I did not use the normal public buses so I know very little about them, however I did use the special tourist bus called the ‘Santa Express’ which travels to and from the airport, the city centre and all major attractions in Rovaniemi. The express bus only had limited times, I believe for when flights arrive or depart. It is easy to use but these buses can get very busy.

Tours – Probably the best way to get to and from your artic activities is a pickup/drop off which is usually included in any tours and activities you book. These are very convenient as all you’ll need to do is see your driver in the reception area and they’ll take you to the location you need, this way you can never be late as your driver will probably be your guide.

20181217_101301

Back to Finland Trips,
Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

 

GIF2.gif

Travelling Around Helsinki

The Finnish capital Helsinki has an integrated public transport system where tickets are valid on all mode of transports whether trams, metro and buses. It  had the easiest transport system I have taken from the airport to a city as a tourist.

Walking – If you are fit enough and have the ability to walk around for long distances, then I believe walking around the city is the best way to get around. Take stops in a few places for rest and you should be fine for a whole day.

20181218_124859

Trams – For those unable to walk then I’d say trams are the best mode of transport to use within the city. They come often and are easy to use but remember to purchase your ticket before getting on. One thing to remember is that like any public transport around the world you can expect busy periods where the trams get very full.

20181214_153151

Trains – Better for longer distances like the airport, or other regions. Again very easy, just buy your ticket ahead of boarding. There are no barriers but ticket inspectors and for passenger comfort there are power outlets, small tables, bins and lots of luggage space.

20181214_160818

Metro – I didn’t really have the chance to ride these as walking and trams were sufficient to get around the place. I did notice that the Metro doesn’t cover a lot of destinations. The Helsinki metro is the worlds northernmost metro system.

 

Image result for helsinki metro

 

Bus – As trams were already a brilliant way to travel, I didn’t really have the chance to try their buses.

 

Back to Finland Trips,
Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

GIF 1

 

Reference

https://www.hsl.fi/en/information/how-use-public-transport/planning-journey

Review: Avianca

The Airline

Avianca is Columbia’s flag carrier since 1919 undeFile:Avianca Logo.svgr a different name. The airline which has a fleet of 189, routes into 26 countries throughout the American and European continent.

 

Brief

I used Avianca whilst on my South America trip in a night flight from Lima to Rio de Janeiro.

20180317_115939.jpg

Aircraft and Flight

My flight from Lima to Rio De Janiero used a small Airbus A319 in a 3-3 configuration. The aircraft did incorporate a business class which was divided using a simple curtain assembly, it looked nice however I cant write about it because I flew on economy.

Firstly I’d like to start off with something I was not too keen on and that was the Cabin crew’s uniform. It had a red cloak styled jacket with a red cloche styled hat which was designed by a famous Columbian designer. The uniform has had many praise from other fellow bloggers, however for me it was too fancy for a flight (my personal opinion).

The economy seats were similar to that of any other standard airline, it had a cup holder, magazine pouch, foldable table, personal light and air. The seat was leather with adjustable headrest which I always appreciate in an aircraft. Furthermore seats had an entertainment system which for some strange reason I didn’t think they had as it was a small aircraft. Come to think of it this flight was the smallest aircraft I know with screens incorporated in it.

20180321_211103.jpg

Avianca’s entertainment system was (along with ICE of Emirates) one of the most comprehensive and pleasing I have ever experienced. Its program and controls  were very tidy and easy to navigate around in which even the freshest user wont struggle. Firstly the airline’s promotional videos upon boarding, taxiing and before each movies were amazing, short pleasing clips of tourism in South America which makes people want to travel to the destinations in the future. Secondly one thing that I quickly acknowledged that was pretty impressive was the entertainment system’s front, starting or home page whatever you call it. It was easy to use and understand  no matter where you have come from with the upfront choice of languages. Furthermore the division of the adults and children’s menu, I found very plausible. The entertainment catalogue have a comprehensive choice of the latest most notable tv shows, movies and music from Latin America, Europe and the US, so it wont be too difficult for each passengers to be entertained.

20180321_212855 (2).jpg

My service in Avianca was simple, it was a night 5 hour flight so  we only got one meal service. The meal was simple with only a few things to eat including a salad, main dish (chicken and rice), bread roll and a sweater bread I can only think is a traditional desert of some kind, obviously including the normal choice of beverages. The meals were delicious but you can taste the simplicity of the dishes, there were no elaborate ingredients and there was very little to eat so it wont fill you if you was very hungry.

20180321_222301.jpg

After the meal service, as it was a night flight the main lights were switched off or dimmed I can only guess for sleep. Before landing cabin crew gives the relevant immigration cards for ease in arrivals. 

Conclusion

Avianca to me was neutral it had its goods and it had its bad, the biggest positive for me was the entertainment system, a brilliant program with many enjoyable films from western to Latin America, the ease of use was brilliant. The meal for me was a bit of a disappointment it was very simple, small and untidy in its presentation. However ive only flown with  the airline once in a single route so I don’t know its consistency with its other routes. Its a fine airline to fly with and I would definitely try them again.

Back to airline list

Reference

https://www.avianca.com/us/en/our-company/corporate-information/corporate-profile

Photo

http://www.avianca.com (for the logo only)

 

 

Review: JetStar Japan

The Airline

JetStar Japan which started operation on 2012 is the Japanese affiliate of the JetStar group. The Low cost airline which has a fleet of 24 flies 11 Japanese domestic routes but only 4 international flights to Hong Kong, Shanghai (China), Manila (Philippines) and Taipei (Taiwan). JetStar Japan is a joint venture between the Qantas Group, JAL, Mitsubishi corporation and the Tokyo century corporation.

Image result for jetstar japan logo

Brief

I have only taken this airline once in a 3 hour one way trip from Manila to Osaka.

Aircraft and Flight

I believe all JetStar Japans aircraft are an Airbus A320 and its products inside are very basic and plain such as its seats, tables, lighting and even colour theme. The aircraft wasn’t the cleanest and tidiest ive flown on, I had a window seat and it was very greasy whilst the magazines and leaflets (including safety leaflet) were worn and folded. It is a budget airline so I expected the bare minimum service. Food and drinks needed to be purchased which was understandable for a low cost airlines.

jetstar

However the thing that surprised me the most and made the flight was its crew, the best ive seen from all carriers ive flown on. Their respect for the elderly was magnificent, and I consistently saw them assist the elderly from their seat and escort them to the toilet in which they would not leave the area until the person is finished which they will then escort them back to their seat. A simple act like that was brilliant and adds many admiration from me.

Conclusion

My single JetStar Japan experience was short and simple. It had what you would expect from a budget/ low cost airline. The biggest positive I witnessed in this airline, is their care and service for the elderly,, it was just really nice and uplifting to see. Other than their service there was not much to be negative or positive about, for travellers with a tight budget this airline is a good choice.

Back to Airline List

 

Reference

https://www.jetstar.com/au/en/about-us/jetstar-group
https://www.jetstar.com/au/en/about-us/jetstar-group/jetstar-japan

Photos

Asacyan
http://www.jetstar.com/au/~/_media/E6989764BB994326A7CCD30923908F69.pdf

 

Review: Emirates Airlines

The Airline

Emirates airline is the flag carrier of the middle east nation of the ‘United Arab Emirates’ and is known to be one of the most prestigious airlines in the world with numerous awards most recently being trip advisors ‘Best Airline of 2017’.

Brief

I am most passionate about this airline (I don’t work for this company) due to the many different services I have received throughout many years of flying with the airline. I usually fly Emirates when I to go to the Philippines (usually yearly) and although I could get cheaper flights elsewhere and use staff travel through the airline I work with, I always opt to fly with Emirates.

Please click on each chapter:

  1. Emirates at the Airport.
  2. Emirates Business Class Lounge
  3. Emirates Flight London > Dubai
  4. Emirates Flight Dubai > Manila

Conclusion

In overall conclusion Emirates deserves their prestigious reputation. Whether economy or business they have opted to compete at the highest level and resist the changing market to go cheap on their service and products. All my flights throughout the years have been consistent with very few to little flaws.

Back to Airline List

Reference

Emirates.com

Photos

Buisness class (https://www.flickr.com/photos/45236612@N00/3867029487/)

 

 

 

Peru Rail

Brief

Peru Rail is a railway operator that services locals, tourists and freight. It was founded by a Peruvian entrepreneur and a British company  in 1999. Mainly operating in the southern region such as Cusco, Arequipa and Puno20180319_042142

Cost

I only know the price to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo, and it is quiet expensive and ranges from £60 – £100 (even more) depending on time and how busy it is.

Untitled

Experience

Peru rail is ha20180319_034403.jpgnds down one of the best rail transport I have ever experienced. The old carriages with the river and mountain scenery was like no other I have done before. Furthermore their service was delightful and goes well with the vacation ambience.

Our first and onwards journey was at 05:05am from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is advised to arrive at the station as early as 30 minutes before the train departure where the train station and ticket office officially opens as well.

Remember your baggage does have a size limit of 157cm/ 62 inches (height, 20180319_035509.jpglength and width) and a weight limit of 5kg. However for those travelling from far and who do not have a hotel or hostel to leave your baggage, there is a free bag drop at Ollantaytambo station. Although it is not always manned and you may need to get attention to get someone to attend the facility and take your baggage. Another thing to remember is your passport, because upon entering the boarding area and train, the attendants require both tickets and passport.

In the station (rail side) there is a small basic café, the train was already parked and there is plenty taking pictures with the train. There is not too much security and safety precautions at the platform and plenty of tourists walk along the rails.

20180319_042142

The carriages are divided between local and tourist passengers, which sounds wrong but with good intentions. Local passengers carry huge amounts of baggage and I believe their carriages would be plain and basic. On the other hand the tourists carriages are designed for the extra experience, the walls are covered with Peruvian artwork (wallpaper) whilst the table has a map of the Inca trail. Furthermore the tourist carriage has enhanced seats and a sunroof window for extra views of the mountains ahead.

20180319_044804.jpg

All train tickets have allocated seats and not a free for all or first come first serve basis. Some seats are facing the direction of the journey and some facing rearwards, there are also 4 grouped communal seats and the standard 2 grouped seats. My experience for my onward journey was a 4 grouped forward facing communal seat which can be either awkward facing other people or good in meeting other travellers, for me it was more positive as we got to meet two other young travellers which we conversed throughout the trip. The carriage was not too congested and I say my onwards experience was positive.

During the journey there is audio with Peruvian music and facts of Machu Picchu. There is also complimentary snacks and drinks which mimics that of an airline and heavier food to purchase if you want. On my onward journey we were given cookies and I chose to have mango juice but there were choices of various juices, water, tea and coffee.

The journey (Onwards) took over 2 hours and you can just disembark and go on your way.

Returning I took the 15:20 journey back to Ollantaytambo. Everything was definitely a bit more complicated than my onward journey. Firstly finding the station was difficult as it was not the same place I arrived (disembarked) from but a 5 minute walk up the hill. There were also much more people taking trains at this time and the station was very congested. Furthermore identifying your train is confusing as there is always one small screen with many similar numbers and times, the language barrier was also a problem. I found tourists helping each other rather than asking the attendants or relying on the info board all through till entering the train.

Returning I had a 4 grouped communal rearward facing seat, which for me was a bit uncomfortable as the guy opposite me on this route kept hitting my legs with no care at all. The snacks we were given returning was better though with some Inca corn which was actually very nice. Again I had mango juice but my brother had tea which was not a good idea as this journey was a little bit wobbly.

Overall Peru Rail’s journey to Machu Picchu was an amazing experience. Everything was just out of the ordinary from the train to the scenery. Its something I probably will remember for some time to come and I don’t think many would come close to the experience ive had.

 

Reference:

Perurail.com

 

Travelling to Machu Picchu

How to get there

Machu Picchu is one of the most difficult place to reach and the reason for strong planning and research before travelling. Firstly getting to the country Peru is the first hurdle. Remember Cusco is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu but only a handful of international flights actually fly here. So Lima is usually the entry point to the country itself and a flight connection to Cusco is usually the norm as taking bus would take too long. After reaching Cuzco the journey still isn’t over as there is still a mission to get to Aguas Calientes the nearest village to Machu Picchu. There are various options to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but 2 popular methods are by doing a 4 day trek called the ‘Inca trail’ and the other is by commuting to a town called Ollantaytambo then taking train to Aguas Calientes.

Inca Trail

First method is the world famous ‘Inca Trail’. Now I don’t know too much about this as I didn’t do this method but from what I am told it is a 4 day walking journey from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo. The Inca trail is for the adventurous travellers and this method of reaching Machu Picchu is definitely the more scenic way.

20180319_134215

Commute

The other method to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is by commuting. It is important to remember that there is no direct trains from Cusco straight to Aguas Calientes and a stopover at Ollantaytambo is inevitable, making the travel to Machu Pichu a 2 phase journey.

The Cusco to Ollantaytambo trip (about 1.5-2 hours) can be done in various ways with the easiest being a private taxi which I could imagine to be expensive. Another way is by taking what is called the shared taxi which is usually a van (sometimes a car) that takes a bunch of travellers to Ollantaytambo at once. The positive with shared taxis is that it is very cheap at only 10 soles or 20 soles for a smaller car. The bad is that there is no timetable and the journey only starts when the van is full, which is not good for people on a tight schedule. Other ways to get to Ollantaytambo is by bus but this could prove to be too complicated for travellers as there is a couple of changes.

20180318_165221

Once at Ollantaytambo the next phase can begin and its much simpler than the first phase. All you need is to buy a train ticket at one of the 2 operating companies Peru Rail or Inca Rail (the more luxurious option). The train journey takes about 2-3 hours and depending on your operator includes a complimentary drinks and a snack. (Peru Rail will discussed on a separate blog) Please note that there is a baggage size and a 5kg weight limit.

One thing I didn’t mention is that Peru rail and Inca rail do offer complete transport from Cusco to Machu Picchu but a higher cost is expected. They will arrange their own bus to and from Cusco and Ollantaytambo.

After arriving at Aguas Calientes another short bus ride is required to get to Machu Picchu itself. There is only one official bus ride and it is quiet pricey. The only other way is to hike 1.5 hours up to the location. However I highly advise to take a ride up as there is plenty of walking at the site itself.

20180319_070944.jpg

Once the bus drops you off at the entrance of the Machu Pichu site, your journey is done. You have arrived at one of the greatest places in the world to visit, all there is to do now is to enjoy.

Next: The Machu Picchu Experience

View this post on Instagram

The Machu Pichu experience…

A post shared by Ian Nino (@sunandthreestars) on

 

Preparations for Machu Picchu

To visit Machu Picchu I believe careful planning is required as it is not as straight forward as visiting the likes of the Coliseum and Eifel tower. Remember the site is in a undeveloped rural area so various transports and hotels would be needed and you would require to plan a base city to travel from.

There are a few things you’ve got to consider before travelling to Machu Picchu, aspects such as weather, altitude, food, tickets, transport and many moreUntitled

Tickets- Before travelling to Machu Picchu it is advisable to pre-book your tickets as there are long queues and there is a restriction of the number of people they allow in the site. Furthermore if you wish to enter Huayna Picchu there is a limit of 400 people a day, 200 in the morning (07:00-11:00) and 200 in the afternoon (11:00-14:00) so reserving your ticket as soon as possible is highly advisable

Remember to print your tickets- Firstly you have to keep in mind Machu Picchu is a rural mountainous area and because of this there is little to no Wi-Fi or electronics so be sure to print your paper tickets and fully charge all your gadgets for your personal use.

Plan your hotel and transports- Remember the site is in a undeveloped rural area so various transports and hotels would be needed and you would require to plan a base city to travel from. Cusco city may be too far and complicated to travel from on the day (especially for tight schedules), so I believe either Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes to be a more desirable stay for ease of commute to Machu Picchu.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1064.JPG

Bring food and drinks- Machu Picchu is a whole days visit with long walks and tiring climbs so food and drinks are important. There is lots of restaurants at Aguas Calientes village however at the Machu Picchu site there is nothing for sale. I highly advise for each person to bring a big bottle of water and some nibbles as there is a lot of walking and it can get very hot at times.

Bring Cash and Passport- Another advice is to have plenty of cash as only a few establishments take credit card. Passports are also used for entrance to the site so it is equally as important to remember.

Prepare for Altitude- As Machu Picchu is 2,500 metres high, the air is thinner and oxygen less that normal, this could result in sickness and headaches. To prevent this I advise to climatise in one of the towns/ villages nearby first before going straight to Machu Picchu. However I also advise to be prepared bring Coca leaves to chew and for a tea, go to the pharmacy and ask for altitude sickness tablets.

Know the climate-  Lastly before travelling one of the most important fundamental to keep in mind is the climate. You have to remember that although Peru is known to be a hot dry country, Machu Picchu can be the opposite. As the site rises above the clouds you can imagine it being wet and sometimes cold so bringing a jacket and rain coat is advisable. Although the attire you bring should be good for both the climate but also for the activity ahead as there is plenty of walking and climbing.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1055.JPG

After taking these on-board then all you need to do is relax and enjoy the famous mountain attraction.

Next : Travelling to Machu Picchu

Travelling around Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a modern city with up to date transportation just like other large cities around the world. The city includes undergrounds, trains, buses and taxis, most often used was the MTR which serves stations very near to all the points of interests in Hong Kong.

20170403_092621
Sheung Wan Station

Hong Kong’s rail, subway service or “MTR” serves various routes within Hong Kong and even across mainline china, it also offers connections to and from the international airport (airport express). Just like the London Underground’s Oyster card, Hong Kong has the Octopus Card, and you can use this to top up credit to use on journeys from one place to another. MTR offers Tourist Octopus Card which can be bought at any station, and if there is value still left on the card, the remaining value can be refunded at the airport. The MTR railway network has 10 commuter lines and connects nearly all of Hong Kong. It is comfortable and reliable, I have not experienced any delays. Part of the MTR company the Hong Kong buses looked packed and was difficult to understand so as a tourists I opted not to take them.

Taxis is difficult at times, they operate just like any other taxis around the world but has extra charge for the number of luggage’s and other conditions. Furthermore the language barrier is a little tough as all my experiences in communicating with the drivers have not been easy. However unlike other taxis around the world I think that the drivers are relatively friendly, honest and safe. There was no funny games such as no change for notes (all change was received to the penny). I have used Hong Kong’s taxis and have not had a problem in the slightest, all drivers have been very fast though.

536687_10150735535668375_1641036062_n
Tsuen Wan

As Hong Kong was also a territory of Britain in the past, driving is also on the left. So renting a car wouldn’t be too difficult to do. Just keep in mind other road user’s attitudes can differ.

Reference

http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/our_network_introduction.html