Planning time begins again! After five months pause where we digested our last overseas trip, we are back to serious planning for our next overseas holiday, pouring through travel brochures, books and websites searching for accommodation options, timetables and any other useful information.
We were going to stay in Australia this year, but B’s brother is holding a wedding reception in Singapore, which is a convenient transit point for further travels. Taking advantage of earlybird airfares we will stay a short time in Singapore, with a day trip to Johor Bahru in Malaysia to fix up B’s identity card. We were originally going to stay for a week, but we realised that we didn’t have enough time in Europe. Plus there is comparatively little to do in Singapore that we haven’t already experienced there before.
So, the day after the wedding, we fly out to London and explore the city for a couple of days. Then we go across to the continent to travel around Spain and France. From Paris, we fly back to Australia via Tokyo, where we spend a few nights.
Singapore hotels are so much cheaper than those in Europe. At the moment it looks like we will be staying at the Allson, which is convenient for the wedding, transportation and food courts (a comment from on person who stayed there was that the nearby food court looked a bit dodgy – to us that usually means that the food is great!). The Gallery Hotel is where I really want to stay, funky design, lighting and pool, free broadband. However, Robertson Quay is inconvenient for MRT travel and we need easy access for a number of planned activities.
The flight out of Singapore is about 11:30 at night with British Airways. I’ve never flown long distance with them, so I hope that it will be as pleasant as the Qantas trips have been (ie, plenty of fresh air). Arriving at London just before 6 am. This time we will actually get out and explore the city that we have only glimpsed from above. Now that I have read some travel guides about London, I’m quite excited about exploring the city.
The next leg we haven’t quite worked out yet. I was thinking of flying to Madrid, but it seems that there are limited cheap flights there and I don’t relish fighting for seats or endless delays. However, the rail journey is quite long (it slows down once you reach Spain). I’m going to investigate a sleeping compartment for two. My concern is mostly about the security of our belongings.
We have wanted to visit Spain and Avignon in France ever since we were planning for our honeymoon. And when we were on the bus between Paris and Mont St Michel on our honeymoon I promised myself that next time I would stop to explore the French country towns, which seemed so different to those in Australia. Twice we have visited Paris, but we have seen so little of the rest of France. This is hopefully our chance to remedy that situation.
We are also hoping to relax more on this trip. On our first trip to Europe we spent every night in Paris. While we spent very little time in the hotel (apart from sleeping), it gave us a continuity to the holiday. Our second European holiday saw us spending no more than three nights in a row in one hotel room. We were always rushing to catch train and it often felt like we didn’t have time to stop and smell the roses. This time we will still rush around to see the sights – in some places – but in others we can, I hope, fall into the rhythm of the town.
The same is true of Tokyo. We have run around much of central Tokyo. This time we want to return to some of the better places, visit Nikko, find beauty as well as shopping for those items available only there. We know what food we like and what we don’t. So less exploration, more appreciation.
Finally, how can we afford to travel overseas once a year? We ain’t rich and paying for this trip may be a bit of a struggle, especially with the uncertainty surrounding my job. We bought early-bird tickets and intend to save, save, save. It helps not having expensive vices like alcohol, cigarettes, fancy restaurant outings and multiple cars. And if you aren’t expecting five star luxury, the travel itself is not necessarily that costly.