vendredi 30 août 2013

How do I pay for my travels?

Prague! A 12hours bus ride( 70euros back&forth)
Number one question (travel related) I get is this one :

How can you pay for you trips?
How do you afford travelling that often?
Emy, do you have any tips to save money to travel?

There are already quite a few very good posts regarding that matter, on various travellers' blogs, but I thought I might just as well add my few cents. Feel free to add your tips if you have some!

1. Save save save save save save save save and finally save!

A night in the train in Ukraine=one day for free in Lviv

You'd be surprised by how much money we spend daily, monthly without realising it. Food, movies, clothes, books, grocery shopping, restaurants, bars, cosmetics ... you name it! When it comes to saving, there is no little economy. I find it really helpful to set goals for yourself. For example if I have 500euros left after having paid my rent, bills(...) I'm trying to save at least half of it and i DO NOT TOUCH it no matter what. It goes into another bank account, the savings one and stays there. Do that for 3months and you already have more than 600euros, which is more than enough to travel. Even if you were to be able to save only 100euros, it would be 300euros, and yes, you can travel with 300euros. 

There are so many ways to reduce your daily life expenses, I'm not going to talk about that, but the internet is full of tips, and really most of it is good sense or just giving up on a few things.

2. Be prepared!
If the world belongs to those who wake up early(french idiom), good deals come to those who plan either far ahead or at the very last minute. I'm not a big fan of the last minute plan, unless you have somewhere to crash on and are really lucky. I'm already trying to plan a possible trip for my birthday which is in January. Calculating the expenses such as youth hostel(or couchsurfing?), which place would be the best&still cheap(?), what is there I want to visit and should save money for? How much, approximatively is it going to cost me to get there? at this time of the year? bus, train or plane? ... And then, I book my tickets&hostels about two months in advance in order to get the better deals.

3. Travel cheap!
I'm not saying everyone should travel cheap, however if you find it hard to afford travelling, there are definitely things you must forget and things you should do!
Take the bus. Or rather, don't hesitate to take buses or trains instead of planes. Planes aren't always the cheapest way to travel! Bus rides can be quite long, but sometimes twice cheaper!
Youth hostels and not hotels. Couchsurfing or camping. Not only is it more friendly, warm and interesting, it's also a great way to save money!

Cook&prepare sandwiches. Do I need to explain that really? Oh food. you so expensive sometimes.

Also you may want to stay away from super touristy places that aren't really worth your time, or at least not buy/eat anything there. Prices obviously will be much higher.
Seasons also play a big part in the prices of rooms&flights. October or November might not be the time of the year you had dreamt of, but it may be cheaper!

Venice/Florence/Siena/Cinque Terre for pretty cheap too!
So here you are, these are my main advice or what I usually always do to be able to travel often(or at least sometimes)! I hope this helped a bit!

vendredi 23 août 2013

The grass there is greener.

I fell in love with Budapest probably before I even stepped in the airport. In my parisian room, on my bed, browsing online I was typing those words to my friend " I am going to love Budapest, I'm sure I will!". That's how my relationship, this amazing romantic relationship with Budapest started. The minute I walked outside of the airport, into the train that would lead us to the center of the town I knew I was right, I knew I was going to love Budapest, and I knew I would be sad to leave.

I didn't stay very long there unfortunately, the first time I visited the city my stay was two days long. Despite it being brief, and after two years, I still remembered the streets, the metro, the cafés and the feeling of the setting sun on the bridges above the Danube.

Back in Paris after my first visit, I realized how much I wanted to go back! I spent hours online searching for bars, museums, churches and parks ... dreaming of everywhere I would go next. "Next" was actually going to be a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't stay as long as I wanted to originally, well I'd like to stay forever, hopefully one day will be able to move there for a while, but I definitely had time to enjoy and discover more of beautiful Budapest!

First thing was Vajdahunyad vára or Vajdahunyad castle.

There are actually two castles in Budapest. The "Buda one" and the "Pest one" if one could say so. Both are extremely different, and extremely worth the visit.

I know I was supposed to write about Kiev, but I felt like this blog needed a bit of Budapest!
Because I miss it, I do miss it everyday, I miss the quietness and timeless beauty, I miss the peace that I find when I'm there. And I'm pretty sure you can't get bored of Budapest right? Even the name sounds so romantic and elegant! It's just my second home, what can I say!

lundi 19 août 2013

Kiev or Lviv? Kiev!

-Where are you going?
I was a bit surprised to hear someone speak to me in french, as I had had difficulties making myself understood in english from the staff of the train stration, and it took me few seconds to actually process that I wasn't being spoken to in english but in my own language.
- Well you need to change... you need to go in another wagon, this one will stop at the border ok?

His french was hesitant but good, and we thanked him vigurously, as we felt the eyes of other passengers on us. Apparently few travellers chose the option of a  22hours trainride to rejoin Kiev from Budapest. 
Or should I say... What is supposed to be a 22hours journey. Because it ended being way longer for us.

I've always thought that trains had this special feeling, this romantic, nostalgic charming touch, especially trains in India or Eastern Europe. They just don't feel the same as french trains. It is naturally and very enthusiastically then that I decided we would go to Kiev by train. 
I couldn't find many informations or details online, only that it was cheap long and that there was a train leaving everyday around 6pm.
We bought our tickets the very day in one of Budapest two train stations, I can't remember the name I'm sorry.
On the different wagons were written either Russian railways, Moscow or some unknown names but no Kiev. We couldn't book bunks ( for some unknown reason) so jumped in one of the sitting car, and that's right where we were told that we would have to get out and change car at the border.

You'd think you'd feel a bit anxious or worried in such a situation, not actually sure where you're going, with nobody speaking english around you, and small but crucial detail, absolutely no money in the currency of your country of destination. But I didn't feel worried at all. Actually people were all so lovely and sweet, willing to help us that it was impossible to feel anxious. The lady from the staff, explained us using a lot of hand gestures and a few words when to get out and where to go.

When we arrived at the border, it was nighttime already and we were pretty tired but excited, finally we were entering Ukraine! 
Little did we know that if yes, we were entering Ukraine, we were definitely not reaching Kiev..
We ended up, somehow, how I don't know, missing our train. At the time of departure we were on the good track but eh, there was no train anymore!
Fortunately, two really nice men helped us. One of them actually took us to the track, carrying my suitcase ( for some reason people always carry my suitcase, I blame my fragile&weak look), but he couldn't speak any other language but ukrainian. Fortunately again, I speak german and understand it pretty well, which was really useful at that time, since the only person that could communicate with us was this sweet young guy, speaking german and russian.
Hop we were into this train, that would take us to Lviv, from where we could take another train to Kiev.
At that point we were tired but not too tired, at least I wasn't. The journey took about 6hours. 6hours out of time, out of space, in the ukrainian countryside, in a crowded train, full of people who clearly had never seen foreigners at that time, in this train. I don't think I can explain how moving and unreal it felt, how sweet people were, how amazing it is to exchange with people without being able to understand each other's language, how eyes opening it is to witness the differences between their lives and ours. This train ride is for me, one of the most beautiful highlights of that trip.

We arrived in Lviv, where an adorable young girl took us to the center of the town. She paid for our bus tickets, invisible ones. Let me explain this. This bus didn't have any bus stop nor tickets. You would get off and on anytime you wanted, and when entering you just had to throw your money on the floor, on a very old&dirty carpet next to the driver and take a seat.
We were told by everyone that we would be able to find a train the same day around 6pm, but after a short visit of the town, after having made our way to the train station, we were told "next train tomorrow morning 5:50am".
We ended up spending the night in the airport, eventhough we didn't take the plane. That was, just to remind you, the second night without sleeping.

At 3am, we took a cab to reach the main station, waited for 2hours and finally could take the train that would lead us to Kiev. At that point I was pretty sick, and pretty tired. After a 4hours journey, we arrived in Kiev, but that ... will be in another post guys!

Have you ever had such a delay or some adventures on the road due to public transports?
Let me know, I'm sure you have!

jeudi 15 août 2013


First stop of my summer trip was Bratislava. I knew no one who had been there, apart from my friend's brother and he didn't even like it. Online, not many informations but that it is a small city, a cheap one that makes a good place to crash down if you want to visit Vienna.
I wasn't expecting anything particular, but I was pretty excited to discover the city, because really, it is in eastern europe, and I haven't found a place there that I don't like. But I had no idea my stay in Bratislava would be that good and lovely!
I had my first surfing experience in Bratislava. I have hosted people during this summer as you may know but I had never myself, been a guest. Well my first experience was a total blast!
My friend and I were hosted by an amazingly sweet couple, Robyn&Alex and their adorable dog Bubbles. I could go on forever on how sweet, nice, really interesting and funny they are. Hopefully we can meet again soon!
Bratislava is pretty small but very lovely. I am always amazed by the contrast you find in eastern europe between some very old things like public transports for example and the modern, clean, beautiful malls/cafés or little stores which are, wait for it, affordable!
After having spent only a few days in Bratislava, I could easily understand why my lovely host Robyn had decided to move there for a while. It feels good and peaceful, life's sweet and so are people.
It's not really well known, but it deserves to be!
It's definitely a city, and probably a country I will visit again!

mardi 6 août 2013

Somewhere only we know.

I'm currently sitting in the dark, on my bed in front of my computer listening to some sad and melancholic song with a huge glass of water because my fridge is completely empty.
Laundry is hanging, suitcase is lying half empty in the middle of the hallway and my bed though comfortable feels strangely unfamiliar.
It's only been a few hours since I came back to Paris, after a trip through Eastern Europe, stopping by Bratislava, Budapest, Lviv, Kiev and Moscow and I already feel the consequences of coming back to "everyday life".
I need to reply to emails, send letters, get back to people, make sure my papers for school are okay, do grocery shopping and vacuum. I need to get back into the rythm of life, without planes and trains, passport control or new roommates in youth hostels.
It doesn't feel that good at all as you can probably imagine. Yet it feels like home, this flat. I love it. And I love Paris, who doesn't know about my love for the city by now?
However I can't help but miss little things about the cities that were my home for the past few days. All of  them in their own ways hosted us and I feel grateful that I could wander their streets and greet their people. There were so many laughs and smiles during this trip, probably one of the best I ever made if not the best one.
Each one of these lovely cities deserve a well written and thought post, that I don't have time right now to do, but I just wanted to let you know that I came back enchanted and in love from this trip. That Eastern Europe is and will definitely always be my favourite place on Earth and that I can't wait to go back.

Bratislava's streets

Budapest the magnifique

First contact with Ukraine

St Sofia in Kiev

Around the redsquare

St Basil at night

Novodievitchi Monastery

Tolstoi's house in Moscow

Public little library in Moscow's streets