Unlike any other experienced, well-planned travelers offering many tips to save your budget and welcoming the possibilities to meet many other travelers from all over the world by staying in mixed dorm in a cheap hostel, I’m not one of them. I am more of a beginner, sudden, careless, private, easy-to-satisfy traveler with just enough budget to spend in a moderate manner.
And I believe that from 7 billions people in the world, there must be some of you who just exactly like me:
- Whose favorite links to read are Lonely Planet, Naked Traveler and many other travel blogs and wishing to be as adventurous as the writers and brave enough to explore what others seldom do when traveling somewhere, but in fact, quite satisfied just strolling around the city, visiting the famous landmarks, taking 2-3 signature pictures with herself in it.
- Who is doubtful to her own capabilities to travel alone but eager to get more experienced.
- Who have limited money but always want to buy magnets and postcards from every cities for collection of self-achievement and presents for family or friends.
- Who is quite satisfied with hot water shower after walking the whole day and checking out pictures taken in camera rather than checking out the hip city night life in famous bar or club.
- Who doesn’t mind spending much more to stay in a decent private room to ensure that she got a good sleep after spending the whole day exploring the city and preparing for another trip tomorrow.
For those of you who’s just exactly like that, I wrote down my experiences and ‘mistakes’ during my traveling in this particular post and any other posts later so you can at least avoid doing the same mistakes and save more money to buy another small souvenirs for your friends, hehe..
In previous post, I told you that I’m currently living in Germany, which is located in the center of Europe, so I always try to set aside some days and budget to travel to countries I’ve never been in Europe. It got easier if I got company, like my close friend, Alis. On the last Christmas and New Year Break, we traveled to Eastern Europe: Prague-Budapest-Vienna-Warsaw for 10 days. We planned thoroughly, discussed the itinerary, choosing the best and cheapest hostel, dividing the task on who books for transportation and accommodation. Perfect plan! And companies along the trip? Of course more fun guaranteed! (I’ll write about this later.)
But many times, I have time and money but no company, like this semester break. Do I just let this break slip away without going anywhere? No way! But I have never traveled alone? Well, there’s always the first for everything. So, in a hurry, I booked the train tickets to Zurich, Switzerland and searched for the cheapest single room available for 1 night. I chose Switzerland because they speak German and it’s just below Germany. So, I guessed I won’t get much trouble traveling by myself.
I’ve read that Switzerland is one of the most expensive country, but I have no idea that the scale would be this different. The train tickets cost me 110 Euro for round trip with City Night Line, so I’ll be spending 2 nights sleeping on the train trip. That’s a logical choice because the cheapest single room in a hostel in Zurich cost me 61 Euro! My Goodness, so expensive!
And it’s not like I have other choice because I don’t really like sharing room with unknown people in mixed dorm. Yes, it’s cheap but you can’t really sleep well. And if I travel by myself, I’d prefer to spoil myself with the most affordable luxury I can get, at least in form of private room. This is my first solo trip anyway, said my brain to justify hundreds of Euros that keep coming out from my wallet and debit card. To save a little bit money, I bring many foods from home. It is a really wise decision, considering the fact that Doner Kebab costs me 8 Euro! My God! So, to comfort my heart (and my wallet), I had lunch along the river, the weather was great and the view was beautiful, really comforting. I think most people in Zurich have lunch here, it’s so crowded, but you can always find some places to sit and eat or read.
The thing about traveling around cities in Europe is, you have to know the scale of each cities as a consideration whether you need to buy daily transportation tickets or not. If you just want to travel around center of Zurich, you don’t need one because the famous landmarks are in walking distance. I have no idea about this so when I arrived, I bought 16,80 Sfr worth of public transportation to 4 Zones in Tourist Center, even though I will only go around Zurich and Uetliberg (2 Zones) and I just need to pay half of it or 8,40 Sfr. So, first lesson: make sure you know the zone you’re going to visit and state clearly that you only want to buy tickets for those certain zones. You can check the price here and the tips for public transportation in Zurich here. Well, since I’ve bought it anyway, let’s just use it without regret. Train in Switzerland is excellent anyway, deluxe quality. Even compared to the same trains in Germany, here in Switzerland it is much much better. Awesome!
Oh, there is also Zurich Card which provide you with free admission to many museums, besides access to public transportation in certain zones for 24 hours or 72 hours, but I didn’t buy it because at first I don’t think I will visit many museums. I spend the rest of the days thinking about it, whether I should buy it or not, but luckily most of museums I visit are free or luckily free on that day, such as Zoology Museum, Paleontology Museum, Focusterra Museum and Kunstshaus Zurich. I only have to pay 8 Sfr for Landesmuseum Zurich which located just across Zurich Hbf, but it’s worth it anyway. The museum is so big and so great!
So here is my suggestion for your trip in Zurich:
Buy daily transportation ticket for 1-2 Zones costs 8,40 Sfr, then travel to Uetliberg, the top of Zurich. The view is marvelous! Then go back to Zurich and visit Landesmuseum (8 Sfr for student). After that, go to ETH and University of Zurich using Polybahn (funicular train). These universities are amazing! Even just looking around inside the building makes me want to study here. What a rare feeling, haha.. Around this university complex, there are also Zoology Museum, Paleontology Museum and Focusterra Museum. Visit them, they are free anyway. You can spend the rest of the day strolling aroung old town, it’s beautiful.
Well, since I didn’t expect that I can manage to explore Zurich in less than 2 days and since I suffered from high fever (I know, such a bad timing), I went back to the hostel very early and decided to take a rest after having dinner and medicine. I realized that I have more than enough time tomorrow to visit the remaining landmarks, so on the next day, I started at 10 PM and go to Kunsthaus Zurich, visit Opera Haus then spending the whole afternoon relaxing in the riverside, walking until Zurichhorn, having lunch, reading and just enjoying the moment. So relaxing. Then I walk back to the city center, visiting Fraumunster Church, Stadthaus, eating at one of the Zurich bridge, drinking hot tea, then reading again in Lindenhof (another great place to get relax) until sunset. 2 hours before my train back to Germany, I just strolled around Bahnhofstrasse, the busy main street filled with luxurious shopping store, then go to Zurich Hbf.
Oh, i forgot to tell you about souvenirs hunting! After I visited Landesmuseum, I go to the shop there and find a really cute Swiss Army knife in small size with different beautiful pattern from Victorinox. I thought it was limited edition and I won’t find it anywhere else, so I bought 2 for 20 Sfr each (around 16,50 Euro). I was so happy until I checked-in in my hostel and saw that they sell the same knife for 16,50 Sfr each (around 11 Euro). My God! I feel so irritated!
I can save around 7 Euro and buy something else with that. Well, whatever. So, second suggestion: don’t be in a hurry, take your time finding souvenirs, compare the price until you get the cheaper one. If you’ve bought many and still find some shops offering more cheaper souvenirs, just forget it. We have to save money if possible but it’s not like our life will be screwed if we pay a little bit more for souvenirs (another justification, haha..)
So, that’s it, my relaxing first solo trip. I really enjoyed it! I hope you find it useful and somehow encourage you to travel more, solo or group! I’ll make sure to write my other travel experiences.