A Dream Come True: 12 Days in Europe



A dream come true—this pretty much sums up my whirlwind trip to Europe late last year. Never have I ever imagined that I would be able to take this trip in this lifetime, let alone in my early twenties, in my own capacity, and for the most part, all by myself.

Like most avid travelers, I’ve always wanted to go to Europe but the seemingly expensive cost of travelling around the continent, along with the difficulties in getting a Schengen visa, held me back. But thankfully, everything just perfectly fell into place this year and I found myself wandering and gallivanting around seven cities and six countries in Europe for 12 days.

I wouldn’t have survived the “what-the-hell-let’s-do-this” phase, all the planning and bookings, the long-haul flights, and the first four days in Europe without my travel buddies who also happen to be my former bosses. On my fifth day, I relied on my own courage, stubborn will, and wanderlust. And I made it! Now, I can proudly share with you that yes, Europe is possible!


Eurotrip 2015
This was the route of our Eurotrip covering Central Europe and Scandinavia. 

Twelve days were certainly not enough to squeeze in all the European destinations I’ve long been planning and dreaming to visit. It was a whirlwind vacation as I tried to see as much as I can of Central Europe and Scandinavia. Was the rush worth it? Did I enjoy? Hell, yeah! If I had the time, of course, I would have loved to travel slowly but it was my only chance of roaming around Europe and I made sure to get the best out of the experience.

Admittedly, there were some hiccups along the way but they all faded into the background as I focused on the moments that matter— drinking hot wine in the middle of a Viennese food market, waking up early to walk through Prague Old Town and on the Charles Bridge before it was flooded with vendors and tourists, feeling like a local in Berlin, being whisked away from Copenhagen to Stockholm by a tilting high-speed train, and surprisingly, enjoying the expensive and freezing city of Stockholm.


Prague-Charles Bridge
Admiring the view from Charles Bridge in Praha. 

There were a lot of blinding highlights, among many memorable others but for now, here’s a quick preview of my 12-day Eurotrip: 

KIEV, UKRAINE

(2 hours)

Kiev-Airport
Art display at the Kiev Boryspil International Airport.

Kiev—the cold city with equally cold-hearted citizens. We were only at the Kiev Boryspil International Airport for a 2-hour layover. Our airport experience was scathing. The transfer desk was not manned despite the long and urgent lines; no airport personnel cared enough to help and answer inquiries; heck, they weren’t even smiling nor greeting the passengers; they even had the nerve to shout at us. Thankfully, it was only a quick layover and soon, we were off to our destination.

Kiev-Airport
Autumn in Kiev, Ukraine. 

GETTING TO KIEV: Kiev was a short layover from our Manila-Dubai-Vienna flight which costed around Php15,000. We nabbed a promo fare from Manila to Dubai. From Dubai, we flew with Ukraine International going to Vienna with a short layover in Kiev. Had we booked the Dubai-Vienna leg earlier, the fare could have totaled to just less than Php10,000. Unbelievable! It was unusual and risky; we encountered a lot of questions and inquiries from the airline staff and immigration personnel but since we were on a purely-for-leisure trip and weren’t dabbing into some illegal stuff, everything went well, eventually.



VIENNA, AUSTRIA

(2 days) 

Vienna

I am not exaggerating when I say that Vienna is beyond flawless! This picture-perfect city proved to be an immaculate beginning to our eventful Eurotrip. There’s so much grandiose and glory in this city of beauty—from the responsibly-preserved architecture, the charming traditions, and the royal-imperial culture to the world-renowned museums, works of art, and even the fascinating side-street food markets! Just wow!

There was no shortage of exciting things to do and beautiful spots to visit. We didn’t mind walking aimlessly even if it was freezing. If you are to get lost, get lost in Vienna and I swear, it will lead you to something stunning! 


Michaelertor-Vienna
The Michaelertor-- the main entrance to Vienna's Hofburg Palace.


GETTING TO VIENNA: From Dubai, we had an eight-hour flight going to Vienna (layover in Kiev is included) via Ukraine International. 

WHERE TO STAY: When we booked our guesthouse days before the trip, we were not aware that it was in a Benedictine monastery! Benediktushaus in Freyung, Inner Stadt is such a pleasant surprise—the vibe is so relaxed; there’s a tree-lined courtyard; a truly Viennese and extensive breakfast spread; it’s within walking distance of all the main tourist attractions; and there was a European food market just outside our doorstep!



 PRAGUE, 

CZECH REPUBLIC

(4 days)

Prague Old Town Square
The City of a Thousand Spires

I’ve heard and read a lot of people singing praises for Prague so naturally I set my expectations high for this city. And it did not disappoint! It’s teeming with everyday wonders and old-world charm that it’s almost impossible to describe how much character and beauty this golden city really has. The cobbled streets, the red-roofed abodes, and the thousand spires surrounding the city beckoned us to another era. It felt like a dream; like we were trapped in a time warp; like magic.

Nearly everything about Prague was a highlight—the food, the skyline, the façade of Baroque houses, the historical cafes and restaurants, the classical plays, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the view from the Astronomical Clock Tower… I could go on and on.


Charles Bridge At Night
Charles Bridge at night

One of my personal favorite memories from the trip was exploring Old Town Square on my first night alone. Trldenik (a cylindrical sweet pastry) and hot chocolate on hand, I sat at one of the benches in the square and watched the bustling performances. The spires of the Tyn Church and the Astronomical Clock Tower stood proud amidst the square’s chaos and the light of the November moon illuminated the splendor of the city. Over and over again, I was thinking, “Thank you, Lord, I made it to Prague!”

GETTING TO PRAGUE: This was our first European rail ride! We booked our tickets through www.cd.cz/eshop and rode a blue Czech railjet, which operates most departures. There are also the red Austrian Railways railjet but we found that it's relatively cheaper to book your tickets through the Czech website than the Austrian booking site (http://www.oebb.at/). Travel time was around four hours and the cost of our ticket, including seat reservation, was 22 euros or 607 CZK. Police staff randomly checks on passengers so make sure that you have your passport and other pertinent travel documents on hand.


WHERE TO STAY: We had a wonderful and historic stay at the Hotel Clementin Old Town. Located in the narrowest preserved building in Prague, this charming boutique hotel is smacked at the center of Prague 01—the Charles Bridge was a few steps away and the Old Town Square can be reached in around six minutes.  The Staromestska Metro Station is also nearby. There’s a complimentary breakfast spread accompanied with a one-pager daily news and “what’s-hot” digest. The hotel staff was equally delightful.

If you are eyeing a more affordable yet still comfortable stay, check out Sophie’s Hostel at the newer part of Prague. Voted as one of the world’s top luxurious hostels, this boutique hostel is chic and modern: the designer dorms and private rooms are well-equipped and comfortable. I actually thought that the facilities and the service are more of hotel rather than hostel quality. It’s half an hour walk from the Old Town Square but if you want to set out from the touristy side of Prague, then this one’s a good choice. The I.P. Pavlova Metro Station is only a 2-minute walk from the property.   



 CESKY KRUMLOV,

CZECH REPUBLIC

(1 day)

Cesky Krumlov
A panoramic view of the charming town from Cesky Krumlov Castle

If there was a fairytale world, then Cesky Krumlov would be it. From the moment I knew about this place in travel blogs, I made a pact with myself that I must make it there. There was no way I’m going to the Czech Republic without visiting Cesky Krumlov—even if it meant going alone and embarking on a 3-hour land travel from Prague with a local bus line where most staff and passengers speak a different tongue.  

Most tourists just come to the country to visit its captivating capital. Not many know that further down the Southern Bohemia lies a small, sleepy town waiting to be discovered.


Cesky Krumlov Vltava River
The Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov

I truly felt Cesky Krumlov’s simple charm and modest medieval feel as I walked around, with the huge castle overlooking the dreamy town and the Vltava River winding its way around it. The castle, and the whole town itself, is one of the most charming and well-preserved ones in Europe. It very well deserves its UNESCO World Heritage Site title. My time in the little town was fleeting but I know that it was exactly the kind of European countryside experience that I've been dreaming.


Cesky Krumlov Main Center
Cesky Krumlov Town Square


GETTING TO CESKY KRUMLOV: The Student Agency bus is one of the most convenient and cheapest ways of getting to Cesky Krumlov from Prague. Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to be a student to ride the bus—it’s just the name of the company. There’s Wi-Fi on board, free hot chocolate, free newspaper, and free movies. We reached Cesky Krumlov in 2 hours and 55 minutes and the ride costed 7.60 euros, one way. You should secure your tickets at http://www.studentagency.cz. I’ll post a detailed step-by-step guide soon.

WHERE TO STAY: I only went for a daytrip but if you are staying overnight, you should definitely choose Penzion Delanta, Hotel Bellevue, or the Castle View Apartments.



BERLIN, GERMANY

(2.5 days)

Berlin Brandenburger Tor
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. 

It’s true what they say; Berlin is an old city with a young heart. Ask anyone who’s been to Berlin to describe Germany’s capital and ‘cool’ would be one of the adjectives. There’s a lot of history, motion, and art bursting around Berlin and I was pleased to discover those when I went on a free, informative walking tour with Sandeman’s Berlin. It took us through the city center, showing all the highlights and history. Everything was bustling and vibrant.


What I would remember most in my time in Berlin was how I tried to live like a local despite my short time in the city.  I went electronics shopping, bought a new luggage, and had my first try at a coin-operated laundromat. I went to the local grocery and scored super cheap Ritter Sport chocolates. The folks from Visit Berlin gave me a complimentary Berlin WelcomeCard which included free transportation around the city and discounts from tourist attractions, museums, and restaurants among others—my first collaboration with a  city tourism board! Yay!



GETTING TO BERLIN: The route from Prague to Berlin was the most scenic train ride I’ve ever experienced! Seeing the breathtaking scenery of the Central European countryside from the train was so romantic and surreal. I boarded the EC 176 Johannes Brahms which took 4 hours and 45 minutes from Prague to Berlin. The train ride costed 17 euros. I loved the train bistro food! If you have the time, you can check out Dresden, Germany before continuing your trip to Berlin. They say it’s worth a look!

WHERE TO STAY: I stayed at the trendy and colorful The Circus Hostel, which is at the heart of Berlin, between the popular districts of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. The Rosenthaler Platz U-Bahn Station is just right across the hostel. The dorm rooms are modern with each bed provided with a private locker, tables, and chairs. Wi-Fi is free and the best part is that the property has its own restaurant and brewery! There’s also a lounge area and an outdoor sitting area. Such a totally hip and cool place! I’m glad I stumbled upon and joined The Circus!



COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

(1 day)

Copenhagen Denmark
Strolling around Copenhagen

Would it be wrong to say that I was a bit gloomy during my stay in the happiest place in the world? My daytrip in Copenhagen started rough. It was raining when my plane from Berlin landed. Then, when I bought a DKK 36 train ticket from the Copenhagen Airport to the Central Station, the ticket machine failed to give out the change to my DKK 200. From here, it went downhill. You see, I only had DKK 250 so after the ticket machine fiasco, I only had DKK 50. No problem, I thought, I can withdraw and use my credit cards. To my horror, all my ATM and credit cards failed to work! Then I got lost finding the baggage counter at the train station.



So yes, you could say I was a bit down in Copenhagen. But I only had a day to spend in the wonderful city so I quickly composed myself and instead of letting the anger and the frustration linger, I let go because that’s the way it is with travel. There will be bad times. Mishaps and accidents will happen, just like any other day in our lives. But these bad times should not shape our days; our attitude and outlook towards the situation must always shine through. 

By the time I was walking along Stroget, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, I was already my usual happy self. Then I saw the colorful houses of Nyhavn and everything seemed all roses and rainbows again. In the end, it still was a good day in Copenhagen.

A photo posted by GirlChasingSunshine|A.Apostol (@anneisninay) on


GETTING TO COPENHAGEN: To get to Copenhagen from Berlin, I flew with the notorious European low-cost carrier, EasyJet. For 52 euros, I had to leave my hostel at 5:00 AM to make it to my flight and wear layers of clothing to save on luggage space (LCC regulars, you know the drill). The flight took a little more than an hour. How was it, you may ask? Same as flying with Cebu Pacific. You get what you pay for so suck it up.

WHERE TO STAY: I only stayed for one whole day but I was initially looking at booking a bed at the Urban Hostel Copenhagen which has glowing reviews.



STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

(2.5 days)

Stockholm Sweden
The breathtaking harbor view in Stockholm. 

I went all the way to Scandinavia from Central Europe because I found the cheapest fare going home to Manila from Arlanda. Stockholm is nothing like I have seen and experienced before. It’s a Scandinavian gem—one that’s freezing cold and freaking expensive. But every shudder I got from the icy weather and every penny I spent in Stockholm were totally worth it.


Stockholm Gamla Stan
Stockholm's Old Town also known as Gamla Stan

For some reason, it felt like home. It must be the beautiful harbor and the sparkling sea just like what I had back home in the Philippines.  Everything in Stockholm was so photogenic. I found myself falling in love with its islands, the historic colored houses and narrow alleyways in Gamla Stan, the stylish establishments, the Vassa Museum, Djurgarden, the Royal Palace and everything else in between. Despite the numbing temperature, I felt warm and welcomed in Stockholm.


Djurgarden Stockholm
Enjoying the many museums in Djurgarden, Stockholm.


GETTING TO STOCKHOLM: From Copenhagen, I rode the SJ, a tilting high-speed train, travelling 200 kilometers per hour. It was awesome—five solid hours of feasting over the scenic countryside and hinterlands of Scandinavia! I dare say that this is the way to go to Sweden! I booked my tickets online at www.snalltaget.se.

WHERE TO STAY: There’s a reason why City Backpackers Hostel is the most highly-rated hostel in Stockholm. If you’re incredibly social, wants to meet people, and have a crazy good time, then this is the place for you! The Central Station is just a short walk. There’s free pasta in the kitchen (eat all you can!), a table football, and lots of common rooms and lounges.


Overall, it was such a beautiful and unforgettable trip—one that brings twinkle to my eyes up to this day. Europe took my breath away and I can only hope and pray to come back again one day. 


“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”~Anatole France


How about you? What goal have you accomplished lately? What steps are you taking to fulfill your life's biggest dreams? Follow my Eurotrip adventure on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook by searching for the hashtags #GirlChasingSunshine and #Europamore. Thank you for dropping by! :) 

62 komento

  1. www what an amazing trip! I haven't been to any of these places but i hope to one day !

    TumugonBurahin
  2. Wow you did so much in a short amount of time! All great choices :). Love the pics!

    TumugonBurahin
  3. Absolutely loved this post, sounds like you had an awesome time! It reminded me of my first trip to Europe. My best friend and I hit five countries in 12 days. We had a total blast! I also really loved reading about your time in Vienna and the Czech Republic. I'm looking to go there this summer!

    TumugonBurahin
  4. I loved reading this post! You got to see so many places in only 12 days it's unreal! I always enjoy seeing Europe from another person's perspective having lived here whole my life. I hope you get to come back and enjoy southern Europe too! Spain, France and Italy are just breathtaking... Safe travels :)

    TumugonBurahin
  5. Hey girl! I applaud you for the making the most of your time! You did a seriously good job. So happy you got to explore Vienna. It's a beautiful place isn't it? I spent three months teaching English there and had a wonderful time.

    TumugonBurahin
  6. That really means Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Great selection of cities. I have been to just the last two. I would be very happy if I can also do the first three, like you did!!!

    TumugonBurahin
  7. You're braver than I am but it sounds like you had a wonderful trip and the good experiences far out weighed the bad ones.

    TumugonBurahin
  8. I'm so glad you got to have this experience, Ninay! Most of my trips to Europe have also been "whirlwind" trips, where I try to squeeze in as much as possible! I've been to Stockholm before, and I'm very much looking forward to going back this summer for TBEX. I want to visit Copenhagen as well, since that will be a first for me.

    TumugonBurahin
  9. I live in Prague and I visit these cities frequently. I love them all equally. So glad you got to visit them and experience them! :)

    TumugonBurahin
  10. Beautiful pictures! You're so lucky!

    Erica @ TheBigRedPatchHouse.com

    TumugonBurahin
  11. That's a lot of major places in just 12 days! It's great you got to do part of the trip with your buddies and some by yourself. I definitely want to do a bit of solo travel soon.

    My goal lately? Practicing my photography skills, improving my blog and building connections =)

    TumugonBurahin
  12. 6 countries in 12 days, my head would have spun! Looks like you had a great time, did you sleep at all?

    TumugonBurahin
  13. How exciting that you got to sleep in a Benedictine Monastery in Vienna! We just had a regular rental apartment. From your descriptions and photos it looks like you enjoyed Europe, even though it was a whirlwind trip. Hope you'll be able to come back and see more countries in a few years.

    TumugonBurahin
  14. Awesome! Okay, so I am a little jealous. 12 days in my favorite travel spot in the world! Looks like you had a fantastic time. Copenhagen and Berlin are so awesome and Prague is one of my top bucket lists. I am going there in April 2017 but that seems like a lifetime away. ;(

    TumugonBurahin
  15. How fortunate you are to have visited Eastern Europe and Scandinavia! I have visited nearly all of the countries in Western Europe (some several times) but have not yet been to Eastern Europe. Prague and Copenhagen really look great.

    TumugonBurahin
  16. Great post! Thank you for your travels around Europe! We live in Europe! Unfortunately I am having issues posting my post under my website and my name.

    TumugonBurahin
  17. You really made the most of your trip I must say. Visiting Europe in 12 days is really impossible but you choose some really great destinations. Love your photos as well, especially the one from Copenhagen, love it!!

    TumugonBurahin
  18. Nice trip..! I've never been to Vienna, but I've heard so many great things about the city. Maybe I'll have to add it to my travel list coming up.

    Hopefully you get to make it back to Europe soon and explore some of the other cities you have been wanting to visit!

    TumugonBurahin
  19. As an European I highly advise you to visit Portugal! I'm pretty sure you'll like it.

    TumugonBurahin
  20. You saw more places than I've done on any trip to Europe. And that includes living there for 2 years. So glad you made it there, and you can tell you loved it. I bet you can't wait to go again.

    TumugonBurahin
  21. man you did really well for just 12 days! how much of a rush was it. I love all those places.. its cool that you stayed mostly east as well..and easier on any bidget ahah

    TumugonBurahin
  22. What an amazing trip you had. You did so much in 12 days! I wish I could do that, too.

    TumugonBurahin
  23. 12 days is not a lot but I am happy that you were able to achieve your goal of traveling Europe! The important thing is that you did the trip according to your preference! Thanks for sharing your story, Ninay! May you have more beautiful trips to come!

    TumugonBurahin
  24. I always adore how people can really go to several cities and countries in Europe for such a limited time. One month for a country is always not enough for me, especially in Europe. hehe. Sayang, I missed you in Copenhagen. From there, you should have come to Aarhus, I am currently living there. Hehe. I am happy you made that dream come true.

    TumugonBurahin
  25. Glad you enjoyed Europe! I've been to five of those places and Kiev is on my bucket list as well.

    TumugonBurahin
  26. Glad you had an awesome trip. My sister used to pack up and spend summers backpacking all over Europe when she was young and single.

    TumugonBurahin
  27. Amazing post sis! I am actually thinking of a trip like yours, I want to stay longer in Prague din! What's stopping me right now is, aside from the visa application, tickets to anywhere in Europe from Manila are not something I could buy off a Cebu Pacific seat sale - they are a massive purchase that I cannot make lightly.

    Sis, I hope mag viral tong post mo! Para mas marami ka pang ma inspire! :)

    xoxo sis Project Gora <3 http://www.projectgora.com/

    TumugonBurahin
  28. What a great itinerary so packed yet so amazing! All the nordic countries are great :)

    TumugonBurahin
  29. what a great vacation, it would be my dream to visit here as well, and for 12 days girl that is awesome

    TumugonBurahin
  30. Wow, now that definitely is a dream. I'm going to have to add this to my wishlist.

    TumugonBurahin
  31. I spent a New Year's Eve in Berlin years ago and it was such an amazing time! Berlin really is such a cool place. It's probably one of the best New Year's I've ever had.

    TumugonBurahin
    Mga Tugon
    1. Wow, you did so much in such a short amount of time! I love that you made the most of your time in each city too...I hope to visit these places one day!

      Burahin
  32. What an amazing whirlwind tour! You covered a lot of ground in 12 days and I'm sure you'll remember it for the rest of your life :)

    TumugonBurahin
  33. It look like you had an amazing whirlwind trip in Europe. It sucks that you had visa issues getting there.

    TumugonBurahin
  34. What a beautiful trip to Europe. I love your photos. It looks like a wonderful time! There's always going to be hiccups, but I'm so glad that you were able to make such awesome memories!

    TumugonBurahin
  35. Sounds like a challenge worth overcoming! It feels awesome to be able to go to a place (or places) you've always dreamed of going to. Congratulations on your dream come true!

    TumugonBurahin
  36. Looks like you had a great time. I'd love to take a trip to Vienna.

    TumugonBurahin
  37. Unreal! What a fun post to read!! I can't believe how many places you went in such a short amount of time! Thanks for sharing your adventure!

    TumugonBurahin
  38. Looks like you had a wonderful time! I've been to Europe and I'll be back in 2 weeks
    ===rika====

    TumugonBurahin
  39. it looks like you had an amazing time. I've always wanted to travel around europe.

    TumugonBurahin
  40. Oh wow, all your photos are absolutely gorgeous! 12 days in Europe? That sounds a whole lot of fun, no doubt you had a wonderful time!

    www.amittenfullofsavings.com

    TumugonBurahin
  41. You're a lucky gal! I haven't been in Europe yet but hopefully, someday we can travel as a family.

    TumugonBurahin
  42. What an amazing trip! I have always wanted to spend about a month just traveling through Europe. It looks like you got to see and do so much!

    TumugonBurahin
  43. Having a long trip in Europe is also my dream come true! So glad that you enjoyed it and you had fun!

    TumugonBurahin
  44. Wish I could do just like what you did! Although I think 12 days is not long enough for me. Hopefully, someday I could afford a month long trip to Europe!

    TumugonBurahin
  45. That is a total dream getaway for me! I would absolutely repeat every bit of what you did!

    TumugonBurahin
  46. There are so many places I would love to see in Europe. I have been to some of these. I'd love to see the rest (and return again to the others).

    TumugonBurahin
  47. I absolutely love Europe. Want to take a family trip there someday. I lived in England from 5th to 8th grade with my dad being in the Air Force. We visited France and Germany a few times. I'd love to go to Sweden, Italy and Spain. Awesome pictures! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    TumugonBurahin
  48. What an amazing trip! I would love to travel through Europe. My husband is Czech, and has relatives that are still there. I would love to take him one day.

    TumugonBurahin
  49. This look amazing! I would love to do something like this with my family. Someday!

    TumugonBurahin
  50. What an adventure! I heard the Sweden is really expensive and really cold, but I'm glad to know that it's still worth the visit! I'll have to add it to my next Eurotrip itinerary!

    TumugonBurahin
  51. You must have had sooo much fun! I love to travel and Europe is my favorite, so much to see! Gorgeous pictures!

    TumugonBurahin
  52. What a wonderful vacation! I hope I could visit Europe with my family in the future. Thanks for sharing dear.

    Mhaan <3 | Mommy Rockin' In Style Blog

    TumugonBurahin
  53. Always excited to read travel articles about where I live hahaha! Glad you liked! Also a great article!

    TumugonBurahin
  54. 12 days wont be enough for me to explore Europe coz I would want to go everywhere! Good on you for making the most out of it. Glad you had fun!

    TumugonBurahin
  55. As long as i like to travel hope you where enjoying thanks for share

    TumugonBurahin
  56. You are amazing! Imagine all those places you were able to visit in so little time!

    TumugonBurahin
  57. omg. i opened all your europe-related posts. devouring them now! cant believe you did it for 12 days! ang galing!!!! :)

    TumugonBurahin
  58. Oh, the places you have been to, I haven't gone... though I have visited more than half a dozed countries in Europe.
    Now it's time to visit these places.

    Your pictures are gorgeous! :)

    TumugonBurahin

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