It's way better than hop-on hop off bus because we were not in an enclosed van. We can feel the breeze, there's a feeling of no barrier from the scenery at its most natural setting. It was worth it.
We had them pick us up from the house which is really great as getting lost again on still tired body was not ideal. And they dropped us off to the restaurant where we have a booking for dinner. Perfect!
The owner is a half Sudanese, half Czech entrepreneur who personally lead our tour. His name is Arman.
Riksha cost CZK 850 per bike, CZK 200 per drop off or pick up so it cost us CZK 2500 in total back in 2014. Obviously four years after, their price increase a bit but not so much to stop you from trying it out.
This is the inside scoop on how the VR Overnight Train or Santa Claus train looks like.
It'll give you an idea of whether seating and sleeping berth passengers can cross visit.
For the purpose of this research, I booked a mix of sleeping berths and seatings. There were 6 of us, 3 sleeping berths and 3 second class seats.
In the end, my sister and I shared a bed while roomies for life shared a bed in the other room. The upper beds in both rooms were occupied by a single gorgeous person (A and J).
Helsinki - Rovaniemi - Helsinki
Helsinki Central Station
Helsinki to Rovaniemi
Leaves at 18:49 - Arrives at 07:13
(Basic Ticket) Upper deck - Second class seats - EU 80 pp
(Basic Ticket) Second class sleeping berths - EU 136 pp
Rovaniemi to Helsinki
Leaves at 18:03 - Arrives at 06:24
(Saver Ticket) Upper deck - Second class seats - EU 35 pp
(Saver Ticket) First class sleeping berths - EU 140 pp
*Saver tickets get snatch-up quickly so you really must book and pay immediately.
Company provider: VR
Booking: slots get book quickly depending on the season. You can book 3 months in advance, which losers like me do. I was on the dot 3 months ahead. I scurried to book our rooms and seats the week our dates opened. Even with that, we missed the "Saver Tickets" to Rovaniemi and almost missed it coming back to Helsinki.
VR Train link here: https://bit.ly/2pBPBht
If you ever do a combo like us, try your best to book cars that are closest to each other. Save that energy and time for meals and chit chats
Gets filled very quickly. Something we realised on our way to Roveniemi. We had to console ourselves with the bar stools and the fact that we are really ready to crash on the bed. Exhausted is an understatement.
Coming back to Rovaniemi, we were smarter. We hang out in the restaurant car first as soon as we got on board.
Even if you book a single passenger for the sleeping berth, the room will be set up for two. *wink wink
From experience in both of our trips, yes, you can. The restaurant car is at the end of the train. Go figure, everyone must have access to it.
First Class Sleeping Berths (Upper Deck)
- ensuite bathroom
- bath towel is provided
Second Class Sleeping Berths (Lower Deck)
- shower room and water closets are shared and are located at both ends of the car
- hand towel is provided
Bigger spaced rooms
These are available on the lower deck, at the end of the car in front of WC. Suitable for passengers with pets, wheelchair or anyone who prefers bigger space for a small additional fee.
Can only be accessed by the shower room key. It only has shower gels so bring in your bath essentials.
Morning Walk - Entire Village and Rice Fields
Starts at 8:30 AM
It's a walk through Kepitu Village (where their restaurant is named after). Inhale the fresh air and enjoy the scenery of rice fields and tropical coconut trees.
Get to experience talking to friendly locals, observe their daily activities as well as learn about Balinese culture and customs in an authentic setting.
*Guide will accompany guests on this walk
*One day advance reservation
Morning and Afternoon Yoga at Yoga Pavillon
7:00 AM and 2:00 PM
A spacious pavillon on the upper level facing the relaxing pool and forest is dedicated for this activity.
The class is conducted by their experienced Balinese Yoga Instructor who has been practicing for years teaching guests the ways and benefits of yoga for body and soul.
Throughout the ancient art of classical yoga, lessons will teach the technique of keeping your mind still, strengthening of body and expanding your consciousness using posture, breath work, meditation, relaxation, all within the confines of the relaxing setting, hearing the water flowing from the river down below.
*Also suitable for beginners
Starts at 1:00 PM for an hour at Yoga Pavillon
Experience Balinese through authentic activities of making Balinese offerings, orientation on the Balinese dress, lesson on Rindik Music Instrument, making of pancak or klat klat, understanding spice knowledge and even Balinese dance.
Afternoon High Tea
Starts at 3:30 PM for an hour at the Riverside Canyon Jetty
Sample their complimentary Indonesian tea with assorted Balinese cakes and pastries in an intimate setting offered at the wooden deck along the river side while you enjoy the water flowing from the river.
"Agni Puja" pool side sunset cocktail happy hours
Starts from 4:00 PM until dusk
An exotic and unforgettable experience at the Kayon Resort. Enjoy a selection of cocktails and mocktails with a special price of up to 40% discount while you enjoy the view of the valley at dusk, sometimes even covered by mist.
Socialise around the fire bale and enjoy the comforting heat.
*Advance reservation is appreciated although walk-ins are also welcome.
As I wrote it on 28 June 2014
Our home away from home is called Prague Old Town Apartment. It was very charming, had tons of character and definitely offered lots of comfort.
That was not the first impression though. Honestly, we were tired, hungry and apparently dehydrated. Few sips of water from Dubai (never again) led to small mishaps creating a snowball of confusion.
We were dropped off at a cobbled street which is typical of Europe. One thing we were glad was we didn't have wheeled suitcases to haul around with us. Still does not discount the fact that at that point, we were very disoriented. The maps just didn't make sense to me or Joseph. We got lost at the start and walked and walked in streets we are not familiar of.
The check-in process was meant to be smooth. Most guest found the place easy. Our host, Teresa and her family were ideal, we were the problem. She even sent her brother to find us but even when the poor man asked us if we were the guests from Saudi, it didn't click in our heads? Thick, eh? After 20 minutes of us walking and him driving about looking for the loopy family, we finally realised that he was looking for us!
We got to the building before the host's brother and I was a little disappointed when we finally found the house’s street. A little embarrassed is the best description because I couldn't stop talking about how charming the apartment was to my husband and then there we were in a street that's not so impressive.
It was hidden. There were graffitis on walls, the main door of the building looked outdated. And there's no one to receive us... because he was driving around looking for us! In all seriousness though, we didn't fully appreciate how lucky we were to have it for a few days! We also didn't know that most of Europe is like that, progressive and expressive.
Those writings on walls are not considered eyesores the way it is in other countries. Back home, if we see those, we smell danger. For us, it is automatically considered as works of gangs. In Europe, it's different. Theirs evolved from years of oppression, to freedom, to art form. It has become part of a place's character, something we now understand, having traveled a bit of this world.
Powerful creatures. Invincible. Always present. Always lurking about.
It waits for the perfect timing equal to your worst.
Brittle moments celebrated like gold.
Drowning in murky muddy weight with useless branches on sight.
Sneering, it raptures in delight,
To the fact that you are your own person.
The truth beyond all truths.
The useless branch.
Energy, vision, all impaired
How to reach for it?
Why even reach for it?
It's always bright and sunny out there
While the storm brews within
You work hard to keep them windows clean
Keep the shades up for the golden rays
You keep hope, tomorrow is another day
Blithe disregard for the dark is possible
Or that one day, Mr Sun will burn the house down
The shadows will then have no home
For now, you sit by the window
Smudging the pane with your face
Bearing the burnt skin
A better alternative to the vultures
Doubts casting aloft
We used to flip through the pages of glossy magazines or colourful webpages, drool and gawk at gorgeous places we only dreamed of seeing. We used to daydream over the idea of food we might never get to taste. Wondered how each destination feels.