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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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

 

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Reference

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Machu Pichu experience…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Travelling around Cebu

Transport in Cebu city mimics that of Manila, however if you want to escape the city and go to the Cebu countryside it could be a little more difficult. The most popular way for tourist to get around is by hotel transports, taxi or rented vehicles.

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Jeepneys in Cebu have a different appearance than the ones in Manila but still have their colourful artwork and design. Usually they are cheap at 7pesos per person, however for tourists this form of transport can be very dangerous and difficult to find your way around. Unless you familiar or know a local that can accompany you in Cebu ,I advise against using a Jeepney.

The majority of hotels in Cebu do have complimentary hour

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ly drop-off and pick-up transports to the main shopping centres in the city such as the Ayala centre, SM Cebu city and the IT park. Marco Polo is one that has this service and this is a convenient way for hotel guests to get around without needing to find a taxi, I personally find these very convenient however working your shopping or touring plans around the hourly pickups or drop offs can be annoying. Furthermore the services only operate around 8-12 hours a day with the first services being around 7am and last being 9pm (depending on hotels). The vans are very comfortable and air-conditioned and from my memory have about 12-15 seats maybe even more. I’ve never experienced the vans being full and any passengers being left behind.

Taxis in the city are convenient for point to point travel, there are plenty of taxi bays and it is very easy to just get one off the streets. They are affordable and can prevent you from going through the stresses and dangers of other modes of transport in the city. They are safe but there may be a few drivers in the city that takes advantages of tourists so just a bit of common sense is required. Other than those few who do cheat there are many that are genuinely friendly and happy to just take you on your journey.

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Cebu Taxi

There is also a mode of transportation called “Habal habal” where one just gets on the back of someone’s motorcycle, this is illegal and very dangerous, some have no helmets and this is not an approved way of transportation. This form of transportation is still used by locals in Cebu.

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Habal habal

To travel outside Cebu city and into the countryside, mountains and beaches, is a bit more difficult. There are bus services to various points of interest such as Moalboal (where the canyons are situated) or Oslob (where the whales sharks are) however I have never honestly used these, so I wont be able to tell you about them. Obviously if you have entered a tour/ trip they would be more likely to arrange your transportation with/without extra fees, they may be a private car, van or an accompanied bus ride. However if nothing has been planned, I advise to rent a car and driver from one of the many companies that do so, these drivers can drive you to any destination of your choosing, they wait for you wherever you wonder, but it is good manners to just give them a bit of money to eat or invite them to eat with you. They are very friendly and act as a tour guide as well, they will also protect and look after you (your own personal chauffeur for the day).You can also pick the vehicle of your choosing whether a 5 seater Toyota Yaris or a 12 seater Grandia for bigger groups. To rent a car it will cost around 5k pesos for the whole day(£70) with the driver but depending on the vehicle you choose.

I’d say travelling in Cebu is fairly easy, it is very tourist focused.

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Travelling around London

Travelling in London is very easy, maybe even one of the easiest in the world (in my opinion). Buses, Underground, Overground and even the Thames clipper connect every region and area within the city. London prices are determined by zones and the duration of travel, buses are £1.50 (as of 2018) for any 1 hour of travel, meaning you can use as many buses within the hour. The underground is charged through the number of zones you pass through, zone 1 is the most expensive to travel, overground is the same whilst the Thames clipper is a little different. London transport are also connected with the Oyster card which is used instead of cash and the paper tickets. Oyster cards can be used with any of mode of public transport apart from the taxis.

The iconic London buses is great for tourism as they journey to nearly every location and attracti20170406_122541.jpgon in the city. Each driver or conductor (which some buses have) are trained very well to answer any enquiries from tourists. London buses are also very easy to ride as you will just tap your oyster card or credit/ debit card upon entry. You may ask the conductor or driver for assistance  whilst audio and visual aid are also available to determine the current location. Like many cities across the world bus journeys are determined by the number and destination at the front of the bus. Be aware that London buses no longer accepts cash and tickets (fares) must be bought before including oyster card credit unless you are using your contactless enabled debit/credit card.

Underground (tube) in my opinion is more comprehensive than its European equivalent, it is a quick and convenient way of getting around London especially for longer distances. The only downside could be in peak times (rush hours) around 07:00 – 09:00 / 15:00 -17:00 when the underground is jam packed full of people, which is undesirable to tourists. Oyster cards are used in tubes and are credited depending on the journey you take (not the time). The tube system is divided into zones, with zone 1 being the most expensive and outer zones being cheaper. The London underground basically covers 80% of the city’s area and there are many different lines specified by colour and special names (such as jubilee line, Piccadilly line and many more).  Many of the Underground stations are just a 15 minute walk form each other so going to your target attraction could be accessible by 2 or even 3 stations.

 

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Tube map on from tfl.gov.uk

 

The river transport called Thames clipper is an incredible way of getting around London however can be varied in destination and somewhat slower than other modes of transport. Nonetheless the Thames Clipper has the best views and go to the main riverside sites such as Westminster, Temple, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Greenwich and many more. The Thames Clipper can also use the oyster card but will be more expensive than other modes of transport.

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picture from thamesclipper.com

 

Taxis in London are one of the most iconic in the world, they are also known as the “London Black Cabs“, they can be taken and stopped anywhere in the streets or designated taxi bays.

Santander Cycles or better known as the Boris Bikes are available and used by both locals and tourists. All you will need is to find a cycle bay, input a credit card, take a bike and ride until your heart desires (or when you reach your destination). It is charged by how long you use the bikes, and when you are finished you simply find another bike bay and re- dock the bike so that the timer stops. The charge will be put on your credit card.

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As a tourist there is no need to rent a car as London has one of the most accessible public transport in the world. However walking is not advisable as London is one of the largest city in Europe.

Overall London is a very tourism friendly city in terms of transport, unlike many places around Europe, London have help present in every underground stations, whilst bus drivers would be happy to help with any knowledge they know. All transport is safe and very comfortable.

Reference

https://www.thamesclippers.com/
Tfl.gov.uk


Photos

thames clipper map  https://www.thamesclippers.com/
underground map tfl.gov.uk

(other photos are own)

 

Metro Manila (Transports)

Transport

Transports in Manila can vary from the different regions. Modes of transportations include taxi, buses, trains, boats, pedicabs and the culturally famous tricycle and jeepneys. Whatever the mode you choose in Manila there will always be a big disadvantage, whether crowds, traffic, temperature or even safety.

The easiest way to get around is definitely by owning a car, with one you can get from point to point to a desired destination. However like I said there will always be the downsides, for a tourist to rent a car is dangerous and unrecommendable, drivers in Philippines are irresponsible. Counter flowing, speeding, beating the red light  are some of the many craziness in Philippine roads. There will also be no reliable structure to the roads, apart from worn out road markings, drivers seems to know some kind of make a lane rule, whereas a 3 lane highway could become a 5 lane highway ( just find space and take it). I do not advise tourists or newbies to drive in Manila, leave it to the locals.

Taxi on the other hand is safer, as you relax enjoy the aircon whilst getting through the traffic, whilst letting someone else do the driving. However locating a taxi could be a job in itself, unlike London where a taxi driver would love a passenger, Manila are more likely to turn a passenger away (depending on where you want to go, and how busy it is). After finding  a taxi be careful by drivers who love to cheat and take as much money as possible, meters could be tapped or they may ask for extras because of traffic or distance. Majority of taxis are good and is the most advisable mode of transport in the Philippines, a ride from Heathrow to London by taxi could cost £50 whilst the same distance in Philippines would be in the region of £5-£10 equivalent.

Railways called the MRT/ LRT (don’t know what they stand for) are definatly the quickest way of transport in Metro Manila. The MRT Starts in North EDSA and ends in Taft Avenue a short commute away from the airport in Manila (basically following the EDSA highway). Tickets are cheap at about 12 -45 pesos or 20- 70 pence. MRT/LRT can get very crowded at peek times and thieves do roam around stations, however I do not feel this should discourage tourists to try it.

Tricycles are more of a local type of transport. They never travel more than a mile away from their base/ station. It is like a shopping district to village type of transport, like corner shop to home equivalent in London. Fares vary from distance although usually 15 pesos per person. Sometimes a tricycle can be shared making it cheaper as locals share the fare. I don’t see a lot of foreigners use this mode of transportation as like I said this is usually for Locals with huge amounts of shopping from groceries or markets.

Pedicabs like tricycles are a local mode of transportation. Difference being that instead of a motorbike stuck to a cabin, pedicabs is a pushbike stuck to a cabin. It has the same approach as the tricycle but more cheaper, these can be found at the poorer parts of the city. I believe Pedicabs are for the poor, I have never seen tourists use these, however what do I know.

And finally the Jeepneys, the leftover American military vehicles culturally used as buses. There is never the same looking jeepney as they all have their own independent image, as their owners cover their vehicles in bright colourful artworks. Unlike the ordinary buses around the world Jeepneys can be boarded wherever in the jeepneys journey, you can also get off at anytime by saying “para” which means stop. There is no need for bus stops, this may be the argument for being dangerous or creating traffic. Jeepneys are an interesting but uncomfortable way of travelling, it may be hot, smokey, wet (when raining), crowded and even dangerous at times. However rightly so this mode of transportation still seems to be popular for tourism.

There are many more modes of transportation, like FXs, Boats however these are only in limited areas and are not usually well known.