Escape plan to Croatia/Slovenia September 2016

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Croatia/Slovenia 2016:

Total duration 18D18N
Singapore is 6hrs ahead of Croatia and Slovenia.
Flight time is 11hrs 25mins on Turkish Airlines from Singapore to Istanbul, Turkey followed by a 1hr 50min flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia after about a 4hour transition at Istanbul.
Return is 2hrs 30mins from Salzburg to Istanbul, a 11hrs layover then a 11hrs 5mins flight from Istanbul back to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Istanbul at 10pm, arriving at 425am in Istanbul and fly off again at 920am arriving in Dubrovnik at 1010am. Return flight from Salzburg is at 1125am and touching down in Istanbul at 255pm and flying off at 150am and finally touching down at 555pm.

Day 0 Flight to Istanbul
Day 1 Arrival in Dubrovnik, old town visit
Day 2 Day trip to Perast and Kotor
Day 3 Day trip to Mostar and Blagaj Tekke
Day 4 Dubrovnik to Neum to Split
Day 5 Day trip to Hvar and Stari Grad
Day 6 Krka National Park waterfalls and Sibenik
Day 7 Split – Diocletian Palace and old town
Day 8 Split to Trogir to Zadar
Day 9 Plitvice National Park waterfalls and towards Zagreb
Day 10 Zagreb old town towards Opatija, Motovun visit
Day 11 Opatija to Pula to Rovinj
Day 12 Rovinj to Porec, border crossing, visit Postojna Cave and Predama Castle to Ljubljana
Day 13 Ljubljana old town and castle
Day 14 Ljubljana to Skofja Loka to Lake Bled, Bled castle
Day 15 Lake Bohinj and Trenta Valley
Day 16 Lake Bled to Salzburg, Mirabell gardens
Day 17-18 Flight to Istanbul then Home Sweet Home

This annual family trip we wanted to do a road trip as it would be easier for us to manage with toddler in tow. With a car, we could get from place to place at our own pace. A few other options did surface (such as Eastern Europe – Prague and Budapest) but we were more in favour of this itinerary as we thought in terms of security these countries had less issues as it seemed less popular amongst tourists and therefore lesser target for security issues. Though we had concluded that it was really difficult to travel with a toddler from our Europe trip last year, I guessed wanderlust got the better of us?

Budget – Depends – budget buster for us due to choice over comfort.

The total amount spent was about 12k SGD, mostly coming from the plane tickets and the car with all the tolls and petrol. Accommodation was the other major contributor especially in Turkey airport. Food expenditure was not very high and comparable to Singapore’s standard of eating out at a normal restaurant, unlike in other European countries. Croatia had its own currency and there would be some losses due to double exchange from SGD to Euros to Kunas.

Complexity – High without car. Ours made easy due to car and Google maps on data plan and GPS.

Although there were multiple border crossings, it wasn’t really difficult with our own transport since we have everything with us most of the time. Road signs were clear and easy to navigate. Only roads in old towns were narrow and parking were challenging to find. We had to purchase data SIM (12-15euros?) which eased the navigation bit as Google map was accurate to the dot. The map that was used in my Garmin GPS was neurotic, often choosing the smaller roads which made the journey longer than it should have been thus unreliable.

Escape plan to Switzerland and France June 2015

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Switzerland and France 2015:

Total duration 15D14N
Singapore is 6hrs ahead of Switzerland and France.
Flight time is 12hrs 40mins on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Zurich.

Morning flight on 12th June at 1:20am and arrival in Zurich at 8am.
Return flight is on the 26th June at 11:45pm and arrival in Singapore at 5:55am.

Day 0 Preparations for long trip and the flight
Day 1 Zurich City
Day 2 Basel and Strasbourg
Day 3 Nancy stopover and Reims
Day 4 Usines Center Paris Nord and Rouen
Day 5 Normandy Beach and Mont St. Michel
Day 6 Blois and Chateau Chambord
Day 7 Chateau Chenonceau and Lyon
Day 8 Galleries Lafayette and Annecy
Day 9 Annecy and Geneva
Day 10 Lausanne and Montreux
Day 11 Zermatt and Riffelalp
Day 12 Gruyere and Bern
Day 13 Brienz, Lungern viewpoint and Lucerne
Day 14 Mt. Rigi and Zurich
Day 15 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan hijacked the initial plans of progressively extending flight time for our baby. The SG50 promo that gave 50% discount on amount of Krisflyer miles redemption on selected destinations were just too good to be missed. What better time to travel to Europe with such low miles required? Zurich was one of the destination and we had to decide between Central Europe or France/Swiss. We chose the latter as it gave more assurance in terms of higher probabilities of modern facilities should we urgently require for our baby.

Budget nature: Euros were somewhat low but high Swiss Francs made the trip a little expensive.

Even without the tickets, the entire trip came up to be around SGD5k for the whole family. The travel in France was rather bearable with the weakened Euros but the Swiss standard of living was just too expensive, made worse with the decoupling of the Francs against the Euros.

Complexity: Getting around in a car was easy in France, but difficult in Swiss.

Driving in France was fairly easy, but long distances to cover. Reststops along the highways were good for rest and lunch. Driving in Swiss was extremely difficult in cities. Parking were hard to find and roads were crowded with other modes of transport. The long distance travel with crying baby in a uncomfortable car made the journey really unpleasant. Tolls along the French highway collect quite a sum of coins while vignette issue in Swiss was covered since we got the car from Zurich first.

Escape Plan to Munich December 2011

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Munich 2011:

Total duration 4D3N
Singapore is 6hrs ahead of Munich.
Flight time is 12hrs on Lufthansa from Singapore to Munich.

Morning flight is on Lufthansa on 17th December at 11.59pm and arrival in Munich at 6:05am.
Return flight is on Lufthansa on the 20th December at 7:05pm and arrival in Frankfurt at 8:15pm and  transfer to 10:05pm flight and arrival at 4:55pm in Singapore on the 21st December.

Day 1 – Arrival at Munich, Erding, Neuschwanstein Castle and Hofbrauhaus
Day 2 – Xmas markets in Munich and dinner with the awesome folks of Erdinger
Day 3 – Erdinger factory tour, Erding Xmas market and Home Sweet home

This escape plan was a free trip that I won over a Facebook contest jointly held by Erdinger and Lufthansa. A trip to Erding a couple of days before Xmas to get the Xmasy feel with snow and a drive to Munich and Neuschwanstein was a perfect end to a great year of escapes.

Budget nature: Affordable in this particular escape.

With the tickets and accommodation already taken care of, its just some of the beers that we would need to pay for.

Complexity: Easy to get around with public transportation and driving on the Autobahn.

It was very simple to get from Erding to Munich using the train and driving on the Autobahn even during snow was not difficult, though it was a first. Of course, we had free transfer to and from the airport.

Escape plan to France, Italy, Greece and Britain March 2011

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to France, Italy, Greece and Britain 2011:

Total duration 16D15N
Europe is 6hrs behind Singapore.
Flight time is 13hrs 25mins on Singapore Airlines direct to Heathrow Airport.

Flight was on Singapore Airlines on 27th March at 12:45pm and arrival in London at 7:10pm.
Return flight was on Singapore Airlines on the 11th April at 11:10am in London and arrival in Singapore at 7:20am.

Day 1 – Arrival in London
Day 2 – Eurostar to Paris, Sainte Chapelle and Paris city walk

Day 3 – Palace of Versailles and flight to Rome
Day 4 – Pompeii and flight to Athens
Day 5 – Ferry to Mykonos and explore Mykonos
Day 6 – Delos and ferry to Santorini
Day 7 – Roam around Santorini and visit Fira
Day 8 – Oia in Santorini
Day 9 – Return to Athens and explore Athens
Day 10 – Day trip to Delphi
Day 11 – From Athens to Kalambaka, visit the monasteries
Day 12 – 2nd round of visit to the monasteries before heading back to Athens
Day 13 – Explore the ruins in Athens
Day 14 – Day trip to Manchester for a Manchester United soccer match
Day 15/16 – Bicester Village outlet shopping, Oxford visit & Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was initially one that was plan for a visit to Japan but Fukushima happened and we had to change our plan to a return to central Europe with specific places of interest, such as Versailles and Pompeii, a visit to Greece and a “pilgrimage” (as a Man United fan) to Manchester to catch a football match “live” and tick off my bucket list.

Budget nature: Not cheap.

As there were multiple flights in the journey, we tried to exchange Krisflyer miles for partner flights, such as Aegean air for the journey to Athens. The greek islands were on a low season and therefore more affordable but overall, we had to save up for this trip.

Complexity: With planning, it would be manageable.

We managed to get from city to city via public transport and while on the greek islands, rent a car to get around. The temples at Kalambaka were accessed via motorcycles.

We had missed the train to Mont St Michel due to fumbling at the DIY kiosk and we couldn’t retrieve our tickets, as we had purchased earlier online. It was a waste of money and a lesson for us to just proceed to the ticketing counters next time.

Escape Plan to Europe, May 2005

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Europe, May 2005:

Total duration 27D26N
London is 7hr behind Singapore while the rest of Europe is 6hrs behind Singapore.
Flight time is 7hrs 25mins on Emirates Airlines from Singapore to Dubai for transfer. Flight time is 7hrs 35mins on Emirate Airlines from Dubai to London Gatwick International Airport.
Flight time is 2hrs 25mins on EasyJet Airlines from London Gatwick to Rome Flumicino.
Return flight is 6hrs 30mins on Emirates Airlines from Paris to Dubai for transfer. Flight time is 7hrs 10mins on Emirates Airlines from Dubai to Singapore.

Early morning flight on 23rd May at 325am and arrival in Dubai in the same morning at 655am. Transfer to another flight in the same morning at 8am and arrive in London at 1235pm on the same day.
Afternoon flight on the 13th Jun at 505pm and arrival in Rome at 830pm.
Return flight from Paris on the 17th Jun at 950pm and arrival in Dubai at 620am the next morning, transfer to another flight in the same morning at 945am and arrive in Singapore 855pm.

Day 1 Arrival into London, exploring London
Day 2 Salisbury and Stonehenge tour
Day 3 Tower Bridge 
Day 4 Brussels 
Day 5 Amsterdam
Day 6 Sankt Goar and Heidelberg
Day 7 Lucern and Lauterbrunnen
Day 8 Jungfrau visit
Day 9 Liechtenstein and Munich 
Day 10 Dachau Concentration Camp and Innsbruck
Day 11 Verona
Day 12 Venice
Day 13 Florence
Day 14 Pisa and Monaco
Day 15 Nice and Cannes
Day 16 Barcelona
Day 17 Barcelona
Day 18 Carcassonne and Bordeaux
Day 19 Paris
Day 20 Paris
Day 21 Paris
Day 22 London
Day 23 Rome
Day 24 Rome and Vatican City
Day 25 Milan
Day 26/27 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was planned our graduation trip which started off the whole wanderlust. We decided on an almost month long trip with a first visit to Europe. As we were really tight on budget, being recently graduated, we thought it would be great to do a bus tour around Europe with Contiki tour (Day 4 till Day 21), which offered more places to see without breaking the bank! And they say the rest was history.

Budget nature: Not cheap

It was not cheap to go to Europe during times when Euros were almost twice our currency. We managed to get good flight prices through Emirates and we tried to save up on accommodation living in hostels and eating bread for quite some days in order not to spend too much.

Complexity: Easy

Major European cities were very well connected by public transport which we used to get around while exploring. The major part of getting from city to city was taken care by the coach. Domestic flights and interstate trains were easy to arrange as well.