Last year Mrs F. W and I went on a mini trip around the world. I say mini because we were only able to visit a few places in the 24 days we had, but we were able to check a few things off. There was a wedding to go in Asia, we hadn’t been back to the Europe since we moved to Australia and we both wanted to visit the USA (I’ve been before but Mrs F.W had not). It then made more sense to fly back to Australia over the Pacific, which also meant we could complete a loop around the planet which is something I had always wanted to do since many years ago 🙂 .
The budget for this was ‘as little as possible’ and our total spending came to about $4,750 each (Aussie Dollar), of which one third, $1,500 was for the flights each.
In order to not bore you with such a long post and to do the USA segment of the trip justice, that part it will come next time. You’ll also be able to see a break down of what the expenses were, in case you are planning on your own such trip.
On to the writeup!
Penang, Malaysia: Days 1 – 4
Penang was our first stop, where Mrs F.W’s family live. I first went to Penang seven years ago and loved it there and it is always a pleasure to return to (and a potential retirement destination).
Malaysia is world renowned for its food, and for us at least Penang is is the centre of that world. Whenever we visit, the main thing we like to do it catch up on the delicious local cuisine, so a stop-off at a local Kopitiam is always a must.
The wedding we attended was atypical for an Asian wedding, and was more akin to a western wedding with regards to numbers, setting, food and order of events. It was Mrs F.W’s cousin’s special day and meant we got to visit the other side of the island where neither of us had been before.
The cinema in Malaysia at $7 is a third of the cost in Australia, so we like to catch up here whenever we go back (we watched the remake of Aladdin), and irrespective of the lack of hair, a $3 haircut definitely ticked the frugal box.
While delicious food every day is normal, two more important food stops rounded up our stay – Sushi Zanmai’s sushi train is a favourite as is a particular breakfast dim-sum spot called Bali-Hai along Gurney Drive.
Berlin, Germany: Days 5 – 6
The flight from Penang to Berlin was surprisingly good. We booked with budget airline Scoot which I’d never heard of at the time but at $300 each you wouldn’t complain. I was expecting a cramped uncomfortable bus-ride of a journey and there were a lot of bad reviews but it was actually pretty good and we slept most of the way between movies and reading.
Berlin was only a stop-over on our trip, and was part an insurance stop in case we missed the connection in Singapore. As it happened we managed to check in to our hotel early, have a rest and then get a full day of sight-seeing done.
With a transport day pass each we visited Berlin Cathedral, Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, Checkpoint Charlie and Markthalle Neun, with a few currywursts to keep us going.
We’ve enjoyed our short stays in Germany both times we’ve been there (the other time being on our 2015 Europe trip), and is definitely a place we would like to be able to explore in the future.
Wrocław, Poland: Days 6 – 7
We took an early morning Flixbus coach from Berlin to Wroclaw, where my grandparents live. Mrs F. W had not met them in person before although they have chatted on Skype many times so stopping by in Poland was one of the objectives of our trip. We took a taxi to their house which started with us going in completely the wrong direction but we were saved by our Maps app and the driver speaking good English in lieu of our Polish (non-existent).
We were joined also by two more of our extended family so it was great to catch up with everyone. After a couple of hours of chit-chat, home made chocolate cake and hugs, it was time to say good bye and return to the city.
We spent the evening wandering around the old city square which is beautiful. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés around the perimeter, the usual array of souvenir shops, busking musicians and families out enjoying themselves. I’ve been here a few times, the first being about 25 years ago and it’s certainly buzzing these days.
If you get a chance to visit, look out for the little gnomes scattered around the square. I’m not sure how many there are, but there are enough far and wide to keep you or your kids busy searching for them.
England UK: Days 8 – 10
We took a flight with budget airline Ryanair from Wroclaw to London Stansted and picked up our Hertz hire car to drive down to Kent where my folks live, stopping off for a cheap pub lunch in a Wetherspoon’s. I had forgotten how good value these meals are!
Summer afternoons in a beer garden are one of the best things about the UK and something I missed (and my folks still enjoy of course) so it was where we spent a couple of hours after arriving back at their house for catching up with everything home related (a different pub..)
The next morning we were off to Dorset to visit my friend, so fortunately we didn’t have to splash out on accommodation. The south west of England has a more relaxed pleasant holiday feel about it when compared to the grunge and grime of London where I used to live, and is where we’d choose to base ourselves if we return to live there one day. That weekend also happened to be the seafood festival, so there was plenty going on.
A visit to Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast acted as the book-end to our stay in Europe which was another perfect day for some outside walking. We were back to Kent for the last evening as we had to drive to Gatwick airport at 4:00 am for our early flight to New York.
New York: Days 11- 14
The Norwegian flight from Gatwick to JFK was the most expensive flight we paid for on our whole trip ($500 each). This was sadly quite unsurprising as it was also right at the start of the UK school summer holidays, aka peak season.
We stayed for four nights on the edge of Hell’s Kitchen, a short walk from Times Square which was as convenient as we could get and meant we could get out and experience the street life the moment we walked out the hotel door.
We spent an afternoon in Central Park, but being so big we still only reached about half way, as far as the Bow Bridge (which I remembered from the movie Highlander).
The second day we walked some of the High Line, passed
through the Financial District and Ground Zero, followed by the inevitable boat trip to the Statue of Liberty. We paid for access to the pedestal only but that was quite enough to get some nice views. Compared to some sights, the $14 fare was on the fair value side.
Food wise, it was expensive, as expected. We had a Thai meal, two or three fast-food meals, some New York cheesecake and a few trips to Whole Foods which was pretty expensive we soon found out after we took our piled plates to the counter. We ended up sharing a plate the next time, but we did like the location and watching the world go by one very stormy night.
Birdland is a Jazz club near to where we were staying which we went to on our last night and was by far the highlight of our time in New York . We’ve been a fan of listening to Jazz since we moved to Australia so going to see some live music in New York had always been a must do for us. On that evening it was David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band and there were a few numbers that I really liked.
We were pleased to leave our stuffy tired hotel room and New York as well, and don’t plan on returning any time soon as it was a bit too big and frantic for us, not to mention somewhat over budget. Our next destination would soon take us to the opposite end of the spectrum, as we prepare for our road trip which was very much the focus of our trip to the USA. See you next week!
Basic breakdown of costs for the trip so far, per person.
Other Transport: $575 (hire car, taxis, buses, trains etc).
Excursions, souvenirs etc: $335