Time to book
Ok, so now I am in a few minds as to what I will be with myself with my holiday allowance.
A few trips, 4-6 abroad.
I tend to stick to only a couple as a maximum outside of the continent to save on costs as well as time taken to get there. I think it unwise to have a few days in a far away place.
With flights being what they are and the about of flexibility I have, destinations are not limited, especially with the airports.
Living/working in the Home Counties I have used the following airports: Birmingham, International, Bristol, Bournemouth, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton and Heathrow. Stansted is pretty simply and is the one I’ve used most, despite the costs and times taken to get there, the roads can be notorious if I take National Express, but I avoid the Tube. Takes about 3 hours. Luckily the bus depot this end is close by, 3 minutes in a car so I tend to do half days then fly, return to work.
I typically travel light, merely a 25L backpack (my Jeep day sack has been excellent).
This can limit me, climate wise, however I was in Germany for 5 days, seeing 5 city Christmas market and I simply wore 2 pairs of trousers and 2 large jackets and they were ideal.
I have to be in work at the beginning and the end of the months so there are a few of us who have to try and juggle our holidays, but if I book up far enough in advance, flights/accommodation are normally cheaper/available.
Unusually I have a day remaining from last year so I have 24 days this year.
Cheap flights have come up and I’ve booked a few (for friends as well) flights to Lithuania, mid April, for 1 penny, so I intend to fly to Kaunas, then see the coast, Klaipeda and Palanga (day trip for the latter – merely awesome beaches I understand, and parties), best to stay in Klaipeda, more accommodation and closer to Kaunas. I will also have time to see the capital, Vilnius, and look forward to that.
I have thought of trips for my birthday, mid March, and have thought of Athens or Istanbul for a few days. A work colleague is keen on the trip and I’ve found accommodation with a swimming pool! More info to follow!
Prices are very low (about half what most are) and my friend lives close to Gatwick. The flights are fairly early, so we can walk 15 mins then take a 17min train. Will mean we land midday to check in and see the city!
Both offer islands and it’s a mixture of answers regarding what has more to see, Istanbul was behind in that opinion but has now soared ahead! The trip would mean entire days at some Mosques and entire day trips can be exhausting. Athens has day trips to islands which sound great having travelled around the Ha Long bay island in Viet Nam (UNESCO world heritage) and the Canary Islands.
This week I have also negotiated a deal and as my other half cannot get time off before then, we have booked (on the day she finishes work) to Sharm-El-Sheikh in mid July, 37C! 8 nights in a PROPER 5* all inclusive, private beach, private house reef, hotel. Diving will be on the agenda, in particular the top 10 in the world site, The Thistlegorm, which is a wreck from WWII. Day trips to the Pyramids also seem likely.
Also tempted to complete my Baltic crave which I’ve had some 12 months now, and head to Finland, Tampere was on the cards, then a 2 hour £25 train to Helsinki. However the lack of hostels (despite the rave reviews about the city) I think it will merely be a flight into the capital.
Having said that, the flight (cheapest on Saturday) will reclaim 2 days holiday. Having discussed with my boss, who I booked my holiday time off via, he enjoyed Helsinki and went there high season when many things are closed but culture is in full flow.
Worried about hostel availability then and May should still be warm enough.
All thought of trips have now have the holiday dates accepted and all I need to do now is book.
I am all for museums; In Vienna I covered 6 of the major 8 and spent 3-4 hours in each (most people spend 1-2 hours. I was travelling with (ironically) a Finnish girl, who loves Klimt and she loved the occasionally (which were often) when I would say something like, “Klimp-a-tee-klip-klops”. Anyway, after 30 minutes in the first art gallery she was bored and I agreed to meet her near the entrance. 60 minutes later she was drawing in her art book (she is very arty and very good at copying Klimt and Klimt “fashion” style) I said I enjoyed that section and was about to walk to the next wing of the building. She couldn’t believe I was still taking the art in and we agreed to meet later. Another 2 ½ hours later I left fully satisfied and came away with a list of fantastic artists painting names. Alas, Google search returned nothing about them, or any more images of them
Basically, I have seen a number of parks in guides worth seeing in Helsinki and think a natural state one (Central Park) and a couple of other ones, plus maybe one museum (if worthy) and something else.
The accommodation I’ve found is 100m from the ferry to Tallinn.
I think the last one in the evening is cheapest and it will still be light (my boss said that in high summer the sun sets at 0030 and rises at 0215! I think a day and night in Estonia’s capital and another day and night in Latvia’s capital, Riga, should be ok. The mention of the Vienna art galleries should be noted because, I may “save time” but seeing the culture in the street instead of historical information and artefacts in a museum (unless I am not properly attired for the weather – in Amsterdam the Film Museum was fascinating during a 3 hour downpour!). I’ve heard that in the Baltic’s the museums “may” not be fantastic and using your eyes and ears outdoor can do plenty for the senses and the mind.
This week I have ALSO booked for my partner and me, a trip to Belgium on the Euro star. I have 6 guide books on my desk. We are taking a trip form her house at 0300 Good Friday to Brussels then in the evening taking the train (free 24 hour with those tickets) to Bruges (top 100 cities to visit) and spend a couple of nights there. Onwards to Ghent and the larger yet less to see Antwerp in the following evening.
So…I think by my calculations I will have 6 days holiday left perhaps and I’m thinking of a trip to North Africa in October, alternatively Oktoberfest
Missed it last year as my German travel friend was on a barge trip in France!