Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but which is best?
So far this year I have been to Holland ((Netherlands) Amsterdam) Italy and Malta and done lots of driving around England. One thing that I have noticed is how stressed I get whilst travelling to my destination, so I have come up with ways I suggest to travel around these locations….based purely on my stress levels.
It would be easy to say cycle, as that is what Amsterdam is known for, but I would hugely disagree.
From the airport grab a train, this only costs around €5 and is direct. You could ask which train to catch, but if you follow the crowds you’re likely to end up in the right place. Don’t forget to validate your ticket…although nobody checked ours, unlike Italy (more on that in a bit).
Once in Amsterdam, there are plenty of maps on posts telling you where you are, after we got our bearings, these were pretty easy to follow. Amsterdam is laid out in a very logical way, therefore by following the canals, we never got lost. We did nearly get run over though… A lot! As expected the cars couldn’t move very fast, and thousands of people took to cycling. What the brochures didn’t tell us was that motorbikes can also use the cycle paths! This made the idea of cycling along a narrow kerbed cycle path a little too daunting for us.
We chose a City Bus (Hop on Hop off) which was great for sightseeing and meant that we could find out where all the places we wanted to see were quickly and keep us sheltered from the rain. This wasn’t cheap at around €19 for 24 hours, but I would say it was worth it. Once we knew how far away things were and had visited the further afield sites using the bus, we took to our feet. This was easily the best method to get around. Gentle exercise and calming, not to mention we got to see areas that the bus couldn’t take us, down little side streets filled with food!
We chose to hire a car, as we were flying into Rome and staying near Tuoro, Umbria.
Driving in Italy was scary, not only was I driving on the wrong side of the road, but I was sat in the wrong side of the car! I expected the gears to be a mirror image, instead everything was in the same place, they’d just moved my seat. After getting used to 5th gear being pushed away from me, I drove out onto the motorway. Never again will I moan about British roads. The 2 lane motorway, with its high sided concrete barriers and narrow lanes, gives the impression of death every time you overtake a lorry, not to mention the impatient Italian drivers who seem to have 4 litre engines packed under the bonnet of eat Fiat Panda except the one I was driving.
Needless to say, driving was not my favourite mode of transport in Italy. Whilst we were there, we too a trip to Florence. As I was already a little tetchy, we took the train which was again pretty reasonable at €15 for an adult and €7 for a child.
Unfortunately, I did not validate the ticket by stamping it in a machine, so when the ticket inspector (a very fine-looking Italian) came and told me I would have to pay for €5 each ticket, I was a little upset. I think at this time my puppy dog eyes must have popped out of my head, as he said he would come back and never did. I learnt my lesson for the return journey and never saw the handsome Italian again.
I am heading back to Rome for a weekend in November and have already decided the best mode of transport will be train followed by the hop on hop off bus.
Having seen the many sites of Malta over the years of visiting my family, I don’t feel the need to do the tourist attractions every time I visit. Of this I am so glad!
Maltese public transport leaves a lot to be desired, with buses turning up when they feel like it, and driving straight past you if they feel like they’re full, even though you know you could squeeze your tiny feet in there! With the (majority of) Maltese drivers considering the roads to be their own and not fully understanding the concept of roundabouts, I feel like I would have a death wish driving in Malta…even though they do drive on the correct side of the road (the left). Luckily I don’t need to worry too much, as my parents tend to drive me where I need to go, and I can sit in the back with my eyes shut, pretending I’m on a roller coaster.
The best way to travel around Malta has to be by boat. There is less traffic, the harbour police ensure speed limits are adhered to, it is very calming, you can jump in the sea when it gets a bit hot and you can find the most secluded beaches, that only 4×4’s can otherwise get near.
The only problem is that most holiday makers don’t have a boat licence (required to drive a boat in Malta), or a boat for that matter. Fortunately for me my parents do, and being on it is the most free I feel.
If you can, go on a trip that allows you to feel the same. But if not, settle for the buses and be patient. Walking in this heat is madness and whilst the island is small, you will faint before you make 3 hours of walking…trust me, I did it!
Whilst in England, I love to drive. Occasionally I will hop on the bus, especially if I know the roads to town near the beach will be busy. I love to walk though, and wouldn’t think twice about a 3 mile walk. Trains in England can be a minefield, but I use thetrainline.com app for all my train tickets, to ensure I get the best price. I always get the train to London and either walk or take the underground. I do have a tendency to get lost in London if I stray too far from the River Thames!