This Pipe Player Could Have Fainted on Stage!

I only had 8 hours to explore Tallinn. When my love of the city started to grow, time’s up. I should head to the next destination as scheduled. Reluctantly, I became a sheep, following the rest of the packs (read: passengers) obediently to walk back to the Princess ship docking at Saaremaa Harbour, the Port of Tallinn. While the rest turned right, I walked straight instead to the source of the rhythm of a brass instrument that reminded me of a Scottish pipe. I wasn’t familiar with the song being played, but for sure it wasn’t an American pop music. May be a folk song, or a local pop music. That’s why it triggered me to approach the sound of music.

Shortly after, I was face to face with an adolescent playing a bagpipe. Right in front of her feet, a tote bag was left open, functioning as a “piggy bank” for keeping tips from tourists.

The port has been the main location for cruise ships to anchor, carrying thousands of international tourists worldwide, who spend a day or even some hours (yep, they don’t have much time in the world) in Estonia during their trip to European countries situated around Baltic Sea. No wonder that the blond teenager in front of me tried to get a stroke of luck from the situation.

playing music

With her bagpipe, she could use the opportunity to be anyone she wants to be. A cultural ambassador, a professional musician or just a street artist collecting small changes, it’s her call. She managed to keep the strain smooth and uninterrupted at the beginning. All the notes, the melodies came out flawlessly by heart. Though I couldn’t tell the quality of her performance since I know nothing about the instrument.

I took my camera out of my pocket to immortalize the moment before it was over. A moment later, something happened. When I pressed the shutter button, I heard a pitch. More than once. It seemed that the melody was getting out of the line. It just didn’t sound right. What was going on?

I believe the mind controls one’s gesture, physical movement. Anxiety, distraction struck her. Her eyes didn’t look down any longer to her busy fingers opening and closing the pipe holes. Those eyes were staring at the lens instead, posing like a model, leaving the core mission of her presence: to perform beautifully and bring some money home.

I bet she loves camera and selfie too, like many other teens in today’s generation and that’s all right. As long as she kept concentrating to her music. But she failed to do so. She lost her focus from the moment my lens was on her. I stepped aside, hoping that she was back in track. Anyways, I had to make myself back to the “pack”.

Coincidentally, I looked back for no particular reason. I saw another man behind me doing the same thing like I did. And guess what happened next. The pitch was worse than ever; that no one was able to distinguish the piece she was playing. It was on and on and on, lasted longer than I expected.

What if she was performing on a live concert, or a competition, where thousands of spectators are on her? Where those camera flashes blink repeatedly, ceaselessly, blinding her eyesight. Something she still needs to deal with it, overcoming her nervousness, anxiety during performance.

I think to myself: she could have fainted on Eurovision!

Street performance is one of the best ways to practice and I was glad she had guts to that despite the weaknesses. Best of luck for this young and pretty blond girl. She still has a long way to go to reach her dreams.

Time for my ship to leave the port.

Hüvasti! 

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Kegelgasse, Vienna: Where Hundertwasser’s Modern Art World Lives On

VIENNA: MORE THAN JUST CLASSICS

Vienna should thank its past rulers, musicians, painters, architects who have made the city rich in history, culture, and art. Schönbrunn Palace marks the glory of Habsburg Kingdom and the birthplace of Marie Antoinette. St. Stephen’s Church or Stephansdom is a prominent Gothic church in Austria. Mozarthaus is the apartment where Mozart wrote many of his masterpiece compositions.

The story behind those beautiful places fascinates millions of tourist worldwide that popularizes the Austria’s capital.

Nonetheless, the classics are not the only things to embrace in Vienna. At Kegelgasse, it treasures modern art in the form of unconventional architecture works by Friedensreich Hundertwasser: Hundertwasserhaus and Hundertwasser Village.

Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was an Austrian artist who at first gained popularity from his paintings. However, his architecture works he started in the early 50’s actually made him more well-known and become one of the most prominent artists in the 20th century, performed in particular way as seen on his paintings, using vibrant colours, rejection of straight lines and nature-oriented style.

It was my third time to visit Vienna, but my feet had not touched the ground of Hundertwasser’s property for some reason I cannot remember. Thus, I had to make it happen no matter what.

HURRY UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

It was 5.10 pm. To catch the tram 1 to Hetzgasse, where the famous Kegelgasse is located, the tourist map redirected me to walk until the end of main shopping street, where I found all restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlours looked so tantalizing, most probably because my hunger was on its peak. Moreover, the pinkish cafe I passed by sold wiener schnitzel as their main menu. Yummy!

But thank God, the tram station was situated across the street from that pinkish cafe. The LED digital board mentioned that it would arrive within 2 minutes and it kept its promise. I hope I would be there before 6.

THE CUTTING-EDGE WORLD OF HUNDERTWASSER

hundertwasserhaus

Seeing a tall building painted with graphic patterns of uneven squares in multiple colours, the vines on the wall façade, trees and bushes on rooftops, with the dome on top resembling a Russian Orthodox Church, there’s no way that I could be in the wrong place. Even if I didn’t hear the preliminary announcement inside the tram.

That unusual apartment building was so-called Hundertwasserhaus, situated on Kegelgasse 34-38, designed and constructed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, together with Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan, from 1983 to 1985.

Although Hundertwasserhaus succeeds to reveal originality and peculiar beauty that draws attention to many visitors worldwide, the discrepancy of the unique landmark remains: the inside of the apartment is not accessible for public viewing.

facade of Hundertwasser Village

Then, he refurbished a car tire factory on Kegelgasse 37-39 to let visitors enjoy his interior design, situated in the opposite side of Hundertwasserhaus, under the approval of its owner Klaus Kalke, into Hundertwasser Village from 1990 to 1991. He placed the “Kalke Village” sign next to the main entrance to honor the factory owner.

Hundertwasser Village is not purely a village with inhabitants living permanently. It actually incorporates cafes, fast food parlours, souvenir, art and museum shops under one roof. I was lucky enough to manage to get in at 5.45 pm, a quarter minutes before closing time, when most crowds already left the site. Some stores had their rolling door pulled down to mark the end of the operational hours on that day.

the cafe at hundertwasser village

At a glance, the modern art village is heavily-targeted for tourists and art lovers who want to chill out and do some (souvenir) shopping, while feeling the “presence” of Hundertwasser through the cutting-edge ambiance he created.

Though I failed to have a dining experience at the café, I guess I didn’t miss much since they do not serve signature dishes. There’s nothing particular at the souvenir shops either as I can get key chains, fridge magnets, postcards, tote bags with “Vienna” inscription elsewhere (may be for less). At the museum shops, however, they have more than just Hundertwasser related merchandise. The options of Klimt, Schiele, Mozart and Sisi are also available.

Regardless what they sell, I think they have done a pretty good job at combining cheapo and artsy goods simultaneously in attractive visual merchandising.

two-storey artshop

No two people (artists) are the same, yet Hundertwasser’s interior somehow reminds me of Spain’s Gaudí. Cobblestone, squared tiles (some are irregularly cut), mosaic and bricks mingle harmoniously on the surface of the bar table, pathways, staircases and certain parts of the wall, combined with monochromatic colours as a balancing element of vivid colours presented in the design.

hundertwasser village interior

Vines, trees and bushes appearance in certain spots, including on the balcony above the main entrance sign, confirm that nature is part of the fundamental design of Hundertwasser. Some trees located on the higher level even touch the ceiling and turn sideways to adjust the space they live in.

staircase and trees

mozaic walls

The stair-shaped natural stone fountain is not something to overlook as well, I personally love the soft shades of pastel colour lighting coming out of it.

fountain

TOILET OF MODERN ART

Most of the time, I avoid prepaid toilets in Europe whenever possible. However, I was glad I wasn’t too thrifty to insert €0.60 into the machine for the Toilet of Modern Art entrance fee. Hundertwasser is the master of surprises – It’s a mosaic-domination toilet and the most quirky and coolest place for “nature calls” design I’ve ever seen in my life!

toilet of modern art

toilet alley

ladies toilet

In a nutshell, the existence of both Hundertwasserhaus and Hundertwasser Village (also Kunst Haus Wien, not far from Kegelgasse, another Hunderwasser’s architectural work that houses his painting collections) is like a modern oasis in a big city surrounded by the renaissances, the rococos, the baroques, the gothics and many more old-fashioned eras. His works are indeed refreshing and awakening my senses, suggesting that differences are beautiful and there’s nothing to be a shame of.

Never mind the banality of food, drink and souvenir varieties, it’s not really the purpose of the visit. I was happy enough to get a €1 iPad-sized postcard of Hundertwasserhaus, after all.

As soon as I left the unconventional art village at 6 pm, I did what I desperately needed to do: eat! And the signature Viennese dish, wiener schnitzel, at the pinkish café would be my choice for the evening.

The Search for the Apartment: from 30 to 150 Minutes

Budapest Keleti pályaudvar looked quite shabby for an international railway station in Europe with lots of bird droppings on its chairs, stairs and floor. Well, I guess the shadow of comfort I got from Wien Westbahnhof in Vienna, the station from where I departed, was still all over me.

Budapest is the place to expect the unexpected, including finding the apartment I booked to stay for the next 3 nights. A free map from the tourist info marked with our apartment and subway locations didn’t do much of help either. The address I needed to go as stated on the top right side of Booking.com itinerary:

Belvárosi Apartmanok, Hold utca 29, 05 Belváros – Lipótváros, Budapest 1054. 

Having both hands dragging suitcases, each weighing 20 kgs and the other one 2, I couldn’t walk fast. Moreover, I had to go upstairs from Nyugati Station basement to the main street while lifting my suitcases up one at a time. The actual total staircases I had to climb, including heading back and forth to pick my luggage, was about 100 steps. I kept wondering why railway stations in Budapest are way too stingy to invest on those things.

Hold utca was a long street and having a bad orientation could lead me nowhere. I kept walking straight on the row of odd number buildings to keep me in track. Even though I passed the same street twice, which was such surely a waste a time and energy, the double-digit I was searching for had not appeared yet.

Nyugati Station

But suddenly I found the Andi Studio signboard, next to the building number 31, with a graphic image of a woman wearing an aerobic suit. I looked up and saw number 29 steel plaque above the gate in front of me. The number was too dark to see after the sun went down as there was no spotlight shining on it. OK, got it. But what now, a gym class?? I really wanted to call the contact number in the itinerary, yet unfortunately my mobile phone credit was not enough to make any international calls. Besides, there was no phone booth in the neighbourhood.

Keleti Station

On the right side of the wall, there were doorbell panels with tenant name plates next to them (strangely, Andi Studio plate wasn’t there). I pressed a doorbell button with Belvárosi Apartmanok plate several times. Since nobody responded, I pressed other bells regardless who the tenants were, including Herbalife office. I didn’t care. But still, no response.

The Parliament Gate

I knocked the thick wooden door in front of me, although I wasn’t sure anyone could hear it. Again, no response. I became so skeptical, blaming the website that it mislead me to a place that didn’t really exist. Guests’ testimonial saying that Belvárosi has a very strategic location and beautiful view, where does it come from?

I pressed my right ear to the door, waiting until I heard the sign of life behind it. Suddenly, I heard clinging sound of keys. Was anybody there? After that, I heard another sign of life: the sound of a key inserted into a keyhole. The left leaf door swung backward. I saw a man somewhere in mid 30’s and his girlfriend walking out from that door. What a relief!

I hurriedly approached them to get the answer of my confusion. The man, an Italian nationality teaching in an American university in Budapest, said I came to the right address and it is actually a residential apartment, not a hotel for tourists. Being a true gentleman, he initiated to call the number I previously intended to call. He spoke English with hints of Hungarian words on the phone with the apartment official.

Buda Castle at Night

His tone of voice sounded more certain, “So I can leave her there?” The other party replied briefly. Then, he ended the conversation, “Thank you, bye.”

“Well, you know, you should go to this address. They should tell you that in a better way.” His index finger pointed to some other digits and foreign words that I missed on the left side:

One-bedroom Apartment (3 adults) – 1055 Kossut tér 13-15

Hold utca 29 is the company office address, not the accommodation itself. Unless anyone gets the key from its employees, nobody will be able to enter the apartment. Later on, I noticed that the map shown on my paper belongs to 1055 Kossut tér 13-15, not Hold utca 29. That’s why I got it all wrong!

The next heroic thing he did was to walk with me, showing where 1055 Kossut tér 13-15 was. The place was right across the left-wing side of the famous Hungarian Parliament Building. In other words, Booking.com didn’t bully me at all on this one. I was instructed to wait in front of the real building I would sleep tonight to get the key. In the mean time, I received a text from my former schoolmates who was about to share the room with me, asking what Andi Studio signboard thingy got to do with the apartment. I replied that the address wasn’t the one they came and join me instead.

Parliament Building at Night – birds (or moth, I’m not sure) flying high above the dome makes it look like a Gotham City
The view from the apartment window. Day and night constructions create loud and terrible noises in a goodnight sleep.

I utterly said millions of thanks to the Italian gentleman who spared his time to help the lost Asian gal standing on his doorstep. I thanked God for sending me someone with a decent profession who speaks excellent English to show me the way.

If only I called the apartment contact number earlier. If only Booking.com gave clearer (or additional) information in order not to confuse me. If only I were a bit smarter. The search of the apartment would take only 30 minutes, 45 minutes the latest, not 150 minutes! At 9.15 pm, the head office woman, who spoke whatever languages that came to her mind from English, German to French with the skills of merely touching the surface, arrived with the key and took us to our room on the 2nd floor.

The Apartment Ground Floor

My 2 gals asked me how I carried the heavy luggage all by myself. Their jaws dropped when I said I used stairs. As we headed to McDonald’s at Nyugati Station for dinner, they showed me descending slopes on the right and left-wing entrance of the station for those who drag suitcases like me! I guess I learned it the hard way.

A joyful reunion with my former schoolmates for the first time after graduation was an indescribable feeling. No matter what happened, I think it was the best painkiller of an enduring journey before a package meal from McDonald’s!

My dinner: Tzaziki McWrap

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EUROMAP

EUROMAP illustrates my trip to European cities from August to September 2012 through a custom map I created with Google Map. I only include this chapter in the end of the post related to the Eurotrip I did in that month. Please feel free to enlarge and click the blue arrows to view further comments about places I visited. Have fun with it, that’s what it’s made for!

Happy-Go-Lucky in Aarhus

Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, was the next destination of Princess Cruise excursion after Oslo. Aarhus is as compact as Copenhagen where you can reach anywhere on foot. Even so, you need to know that another implicit meaning of traveling by cruise ship is you can’t have it all. What do you expect to know everything about a place in less than 24 hours? You might need to choose between visiting a royal palace, a viking museum, or just skimming all landmarks without reaching particular places.

We only had 7 hours to explore the city. We didn’t lock specific “targets” as long as we managed to see Aarhus Cathedral and Den Gamle By.  Hey, did I say we didn’t lock our  “targets”? Whatever. The Aarhus Cathedral is just 5 minutes walking distance from the harbour. So yeah, there was no need to chase it at all.

the wooden door and fresco gate
fresco ceiling

The church looks plain at a glance with less sculptures and much more painted white walls than frescoes. Taking a better look at the frescoes, I said to myself, “Man, this cathedral must be really old.” The colours are not as bright and contrast as those in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican.

the altar
war ship model made for Peter the Great

Aarhus Cathedral was built after year 1190 and finished in 1350, dedicated to St. Clements, the patron saint of sailors. It is one of the few preserved Romanesque churches in history and the longest church in Denmark with 93 meters length. The frescoes, created between 1470 and 1520, once covered most parts of the wall. Nonetheless, they are only a few remains nowadays. I can imagine how beautiful the interior supposed to be, and it still is despite the fading colours of the frescoes. I guess the sculptures are just complementary of the design, otherwise it looks too chaotic.

Besides, it also stores a model war ship, hanged on the ceiling and failed to ship to Peter the Great in Russia because of the shipwreck in Skagen. Local fishermen bought the model and donated to the church. Don’t forget to listen the beautiful sound of religious music from the largest organ pipe in the country inside the cathedral!

even a wooden sculpture knows how to use iPhone!

On the way to Den Gamle By, the famous old town of Aarhus, we walked through the main shopping street, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum until an empty gloomy shop window and a tacky Vietnamese wedding gown shop. So where was it?

the bird statue marking our way back to the ship
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum and “Your Rainbow Panorama” by Olafur Eliasson. It permits visitors to walk in circular motion to view Aarhus in different colours depending on the angle

“Just walk straight there, we’re on the right direction.” said my cousin, our co-pilot of the day. He tried to convince everyone after one of us popped up a question, “Are we there yet?” . “Don’t say that it’s under construction when we arrive!” We laughed out loud.

From the other side of the street, we saw some groups of people heading to the left side. Also the back row of old houses with workers hammering nails and drilling bricks. The whole area was surrounded by wall to seclude itself from the rest of the city. We believed that was our Den Gamle By and we hoped it wasn’t under construction! Surprisingly, it requires an entrance fee to go inside. To be honest, we haven’t  visited any old town with a fee. Moreover, the queue to the ticket counters was freaking long, implying that it was still open for public. Finally my parents, aunt and uncle didn’t feel like going in.

Den Gamle By is a man-made open air museum, founded in 1909, to exhibit the lifestyle of the old Danish settlement, from traditional houses coming from all cities in Denmark, museums, shops, streets and yards. No wonder why we need a ticket!

Since there was no ticket controller right in front the old town entrance, some other tourists, including some Chinese couples, managed to sneak in without being noticed. An inspiring act, haha! My cousin and I decided to do the same!

old bed
old house interior
Strike a pose before escaping!

We didn’t know how things work there and we could get caught anytime. I took pictures quickly and my cousin  the co-pilot struck a pose in front of the camera just before we escaped. We succeed fulfilling our curiosity without spending a dime in less than 5 minutes and didn’t get caught!

hip hip hurra!

Our 2 favourite Danish words: tilbud and hip hip hurra. Everytime we saw the word tilbud, items sold in stores are on sale. And Hip Hip Hurra is what? The Dutch calls it Hip Hip Hoera, with exactly the same pronunciation as the Danish one, the English calls it Hooray (do I still need to translate this?). Eventually my family and my cousin’s bought same items: discounted placemats, as the only souvenir we think is useful, cheap and light to bring.

modified rooftop

While heading back to the harbour, we passed by an old house with an additional glass attic on its modified rooftop. I could see chairs and a table inside from the distance, assuming that it’s an extended meeting room. I found it a breaking through design, sort of like IM Pei‘s glass pyramid in the middle of the iconic Louvre courtyard. Nonetheless, my mom called it destruction of an antique design.

Aarhus embraces a slow pace of life and happy-go-lucky kind of atmosphere, one of the perfect places to visit where you don’t need to think too much about almost everything without being isolated from a modern city life. Sometimes, chasing tourist attractions doesn’t mean much compared to spending quality time with your family. Just go with the flow and it will be very relaxing. Aren’t they the reasons why you need a holiday(s)?

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EUROMAP

EUROMAP illustrates my trip to European cities from August to September 2012 through a custom map I created with Google Map. I only include this chapter in the end of the post related to the Eurotrip I did in that month. Please feel free to enlarge and click the blue arrows to view further comments about places I visited. Have fun with it, that’s what it’s made for!

Days at Baltic Sea

 

Baltic Sea Cruise routes in chronological order: Copenhagen – Oslo – Aarhus – Tallinn – St. Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Copenhagen

Twelve of thirty days of my recent Eurotrip was at sea. Seven months after Costa Concordia disaster, my family and I took a Baltic Sea excursion from Princess Cruise (where both brands are coincidentally under the same parent company, Carnival Corporation), starting from Copenhagen (as marked by the following black dot).

For many, a cruise ship is a luxury vehicle sailing to reach any desired destination. But for many others, it is actually the destination – far more important than where it docks. So let’s skip the disaster part, and let me tell you the meaning of Escape Completely, as mentioned on Princess Cruise’s tagline.

NEW IN TOWN

Emerald Princess

Once being on board, you’re registered in the town hall of Emerald Princess, the name of the ship taking you to Baltic Sea. Your cruise card is the second most important thing you need to carry at all times after your passport to enter your stateroom, make purchases and re-board the ship.

The flag on the right side signifies the country you visit
outdoor sports

Bring the map to find where you can find the ship’s luxurious facilities, from fitness, library, casino, discotheque to photo studio, so you don’t need to sacrifice your needs, hobbies and habits completely. Only machine rooms, crew’s cabins and the least wanted places to go – jail and mortuary – are not on your map. Without it, some passengers cannot find their own stateroom on the first and second day! Getting to know other passengers travelling with you could make you feel like home, too.

Skywalker Nightclub

NEVER ENDING FOOD SUPPLY

fine dining experience

Variety of food is two thumbs up! So yeah, you’ll always wonder what they have for buffet, tea time and fine dining. Later on, you’ll get some clue about food availability.

I got it starting from the 4th day on. My favourite fennel salad with shrimps is available 24 hours only at International Café on deck 5. I could get double chocolate chip cookies at Horizon Court and Café Caribe on deck 15 during lunch and dinner, except breakfast. Pizza and ice cream parlour opens on deck 15 from 11 am to 11 pm. I could customize my orders at the five-star quality fine dining as long as it is on the menu. For instance, replacing shrimp cocktail with spaghetti Alfredo or skipping the fatty dessert to keep up a strict diet program.

Syamsi, an Indonesia crew, proudly poses for the farewell ice cream cake. It marks the end of the cruise on the way back to Copenhagen.

ENTERTAINMENT ON BOARD

“Life shows are like a box of chocolate. You never know what you gonna get.”

Princess Theater saved the best for last. I didn’t really fancy the first week shows, until I missed one of the best music performers on the last day! However, I managed to watch “International Crew Talent Show”, where the crews demonstrated their hidden talents, from traditional Balinese dance, belly dance, singing, drama until piano performances. To be honest, some crews sang as good as the professionals the company hired, even better!

For passengers who love singing, they can join Princess Pop Star competition. It’s like American Idol with more diverse nationalities. And my uncle made it to the grand final! Yeaayy! Or join Texas Hold’em Tournament for gamblers!

Princess Dancers

As a classical music lover, I found The Alegria String Quartet rocked The Piazza on deck 5. From Strauss, Mozart, Vivaldi until The Beatles, the 4 pretty ladies were violin and cello killers. On their peak performance, the Quartet’s leading lady asked a passenger’s participation to hold her violin’s bow. Then, she drew the strings across the bow the passenger held instead of drawing the bow across the strings. The audience was stunned and finally gave the longest applause in the end of the show.

Liam Steward, the singer and pianist entertaining at Crooners Bar every evening, could kill any song with that blew the audience away. The fact that he’s a hunk is an advantage!

Alegria String Quarter’s Peak Performance

ALL INCLUSIVE?

Knowing that you paid everything in advance, you might immediately believe that all kinds of facility, food and beverage are included in the price. My best advice is: do not hesitate to ask, especially with names or words that sound specific and rosy.

There are extra charges applied for alcoholic drinks, yoga, massage, particular activity like “creating your own matryoshka“, and specialised restaurants like Sabatini’s and Crown Grill have $25 cover charge. Internet connection costs $.79 per minute. Since it is only possible to use satellite to get the network at sea, the connection is slower than that at home and office. My cousin knows it best. He spent $11 for sending 2 short emails!

Holiday in a luxurious cruise ship is not a budget trip. It is meant for those who indulge, reward themselves with achievements in life: marriage, birthday, wedding anniversary, career promotion, successful business or just a family gathering. Certain retired couples with decent amount of retirement funds spend the rest of their life in the ship. Youngsters need to have more savings to pay the trip. FYI, the price for “non-free” food and drinks on board are fair, not too overwhelming. Nonetheless, there is no harm to think wisely before you spend.

INTANGIBLE LUXURY

Princess top deck

Departing, arriving or on the way to destined cities, the best place to witness breathtaking views are the outdoor section of deck 15 and 16. Oslo and Warnemünde are the prettiest cities seen from the top deck, as well as Stockholm while heading to and leaving the harbour (not when it docked). Moreover, clean breeze, sunshine and 20 degree temperature made the place heaven on earth that did not happen everyday.

feeding seagulls with ice cream cone (I know it’s not the best pic to capture the moment!)

Watching seagulls flying high so close to me, on the same level as I stood was another unforgettable experience. While a passenger was feeding seagulls with an ice cream cone, everybody laughed and took pictures of aggressive birds pecking the cone edges with hints of vanilla ice cream left inside.

stateroom corridor

$11 per day gratuity for the crews is part of the company’s house rules. However, making friends with them is what money can’t buy. It broadens your horizon about life behind all the luxurious service and facilities, from long working hours until their tradition, i.e. how Indonesian crews celebrate Indonesian independence day at sea. Since they come from various countries, who knows they have the same nationality as yours!

Besides, far far away from traffic jam and air pollution, picturesque sea view (especially for a city girl like me), friendship with other passengers are also priceless. For everything else, there is MasterCard Princess Cruise Card.

Give me more time to put my journey in words for all cities I visited. This I promise you in my next post.

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EUROMAP

EUROMAP illustrates my trip to European cities from August to September 2012 through a custom map I created with Google Map. I only include this chapter in the end of the post related to the Eurotrip I did in that month. Please feel free to enlarge and click the blue arrows to view further comments about places I visited. Have fun with it, it’s made to do so!

Things I Shouldn’t Do While Travelling

Greetings from Budapest! Until the day I write this article, I’m still on the third week of my Eurotrip.

image

I post this through WordPress mobile version since I don’t bring my laptop. I promise to deliver more holiday pics as soon as I finish my journey.

So far, I’ve learned something from the trip, especially things I shouldn’t
do during the trip. Not something new to be honest, only things I forget and ignore.

DON’T BRING SPARE MEMORY CARDS
For those who are on a long trip and love taking pictures, not bringing spare memory cards is a disasterous decision. Resizing, sorting and deleting unwanted pics every night is a waste of time and energy. Moreover, bare in mind that if you have an old digital camera having less than 10 megapixels, you only can use a 2GB memory card. Higher capacity memory cards won’t comply with the old system. That’s why 4GB card doesn’t work on my 6 year old Lumix camera with 6 megapixels. It’s time consuming to search for an electronic store in touristic areas and 2GB cards are getting rare in the market nowadays.

LEAVE THE TOILET BOWL OPEN AFTER USE
It’s not about Feng Shui. I advise you to close the toilet bowl lid in wherever and whatever hotel you stay to keep your belongings away from the toilet bowl. When I was in Copenhagen, I accidentally dropped a 15 ml body lotion into a toilet bowl. What happened next was unexpected. That small bottle was sucked in automatically into the flushing hole instead of remaining still on the base of the bowl! I didn’t have time to catch the flowing bottle at all. In fact, the hotel toilet bowl has an automated vacuum capability, even without pressing the ‘flush’ button. Luckily the lotion was a complimentary from the hotel. What if it happens to your diamond ring??

CARELESS WITH SMALL CHANGES
Holiday is meant for relaxation. However, sometimes you just don’t want to sweat small stuff, including small changes you get from the store. I lost €20 change in Warnemunde just because I didn’t recount my changes before leaving the store. I spent approximately €7 in the cafe, then I gave the cashier lady a €50 banknote. After getting back to the cruise ship, I suddenly realized that I only had €23 left in my wallet! I supposed to have another €20 with me.

I wasn’t sure what was going on. Most probably the lady gave me wrong amount of change. However, I mostly suspected that my other €20 was gone with the wind. She put 2 times €20 bank notes and some coins on top. I grabbed the coins first and took too long to find my coin wallet. The wind was pretty strong at that time, the cashier was close to the exit door (no doors, btw) and the notes were brand new and smooth.

I believe one of them fell down because of the wind but I didn’t realize it. Nex time, grab the whole change all at once and arrange it in the proper place later on!

DO NOT LEARN FROM THE PAST
My history as a clumsy traveller repeats: I lost my 72 hour pass in Budapest on the second day! Years ago, I lost my ID card, ATM card, debit card, a few bucks of cash, public transportation monthly pass etc. It’s been my unwanted daily dose for a long time. I suppose to be more careful and do not hold maps, brochures and a card altogether at the same time. I’m sure it fell down, again….

Well, that’s all for now. I promise to tell you more stories of my journey after returning to Jakarta. Cheers!