From Modena to Trondheim - on a student's budget
June 22, 2006 5:34 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to go to Modena, Italy in early December to meet some friends. I'd also like to attend a student festival in Trondheim, Norway, in mid-February. What else can I do between December and February?

I'm right now planning a mostly-hypothetical European trip in my head.

I'd like to go to Modena, Italy around Dec 8 - Dec 11 2006 to visit some friends.
I'd also like to attend ISFiT 2007 in Trondheim, Norway from Feb 16 - Feb 25 2007.

I have all this time in between and I'm not sure what to do with it. I'd like to participate in youth/student-oriented activities (though a music festival every week would be rather overkill). Anything creative, out-of-the-box, and international is great.

I would be departing from either Brisbane or Sydney, Australia, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, depending on my visa situation. I have a Bangladesh passport (with Malaysian permanent residency), and I need a visa for nearly everywhere. I'm not sure if the European embassies in Australia (I'll be studying in Brisbane come July) will let me apply for a visa there, or if I have to go back to KL and get it done there instead. A Schengen visa would allow me to go to a lot of places at once, so that would be the most convenient.

(I'll be flying straight back to Brisbane, probably through Sydney.)

There is a slight possibility that I might pop over to the US for a bit in January for a meeting/some volunteer stuff (I have a US visa so that's not a problem) but it's not a priority, just a "maybe".


1. Aus/KL -> Modena -> ????? -> Trondheim -> Brisbane. What goes in the "?????" slot? I've been to The Netherlands, Belgium (loved both places), Germany, France, and elsewhere in Italy. I've also been to Switzerland and the UK, though I'd rather not factor that into my tour because I need separate visas for those.

2. Do I get the Schengen visa from the Italian embassy (first stop) or the Norwegian embassy (longest stay, but last stop, possible sponsorship)?

3. How do I get to Modena from Rome and Trondheim from Oslo?

4. I haven't a lot of money. Really. Malaysian ringgit does not travel far, and I don't know how much Australian dollars I'll be able to earn. How do I keep within a really low budget? Are there places that would pay me to travel, or sponsor me? (I might get something for ISFiT, but I need to be accepted first).

Any ideas, thoughts, etc would be good. It would be my first fully independent trip (well, save my 2 week trip to Denver this April, which I still owe my parents money for - they bought tix) and anything helps!
posted by divabat to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I don't have advice specific to your own situation, but I did recently post some advice about cheap world travel on my personal finance site. The reader comments are quite helpful, too, with plenty of general resources. [quite obviously a self-link]
posted by jdroth at 6:18 PM on June 22, 2006

I've sent you an email.

Apart from what's in there, you could visit Denmark and especially Sweden (a favourite of mine), though they (and again, especially Sweden) might be a bit expensive. Or you could take a detour and spend some time in Barcelona or Madrid or any other lovely Spanish city... and/or Portugal of course. They don't have the expensive reputation the scandinavian countries do.

As for travel between the cities you name, google does some good stuff if you enter the two cities and "train" in the search box:

Modena - Roma
Trondheim - Oslo

Don't know about visa, though. Best of luck.
posted by Skyanth at 3:47 AM on June 23, 2006

Get the Schengen visa from the Italians - Italy is your first point of entry, and since you don't have a "main destination," the official Schengen visa site here says to apply with Italy.

As for what to do, I can heartily recommend spending a few days or a week around Christmastime in Krakow, Poland, which is just about the most beautiful and historic place I've ever been - the whole of the center of town is medieval, there's a fantastic Christmas market in the main square, and while it's bitterly cold and snowy (minus-four-centigrade, people!), there's lots to do: basement taverns, rock shows in little clubs, walks around the floodlit Wawel castle. It looks like Bangladeshi citizens require a visa, but they've got an embassy in Kuala Lumpur and a consulate in Sydney. It's cheap as all get-out too - lots of hearty, filling meals at all sorts of funky, worker-filled local milk bars and restaurants for less than US$5.

Overall, I bet that eastern Europe would keep you busy (if cold) and let your ringgit go further. Getting visas shouldn't really be a hassle since you can prove that you're legally resident in Australia and have a US visa already and intend to return to Oz to complete your studies (right?). Maybe it'll take a hassle-filled day or two to get it all done, but there's a reason tourist visas exist: to be issued to people like you.


[begin EU nerdiness stemming from college class on EU regional integration]

A quick guide to which areas of the EU (not the same as Schengenland!) aren't as well off and may well be much cheaper than what you're expecting (officially, areas where per capita GDP is 75% or less of the EU average) is this page which lists areas receiving money from Brussels "to promote...development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind" - "Objective 1" of the EU's regional policy. They invest in infrastructure, human resources, and other things designed to kickstart local economies.

Quick and dirty version: all of the new eastern European member states, the former East Germany, southern Italy including Sicily and Sardinia, the entire country of Greece, northern Sweden and Finland, pretty much all of Ireland, Portugal and Spain outside major urban areas (Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona), and Corsica - this map ties it all together. You'd almost certainly be off the beaten path, stay in the funkiest of places (Rooms from locals in exchange for impromptu Bahasa Melayu lessons? Couchsurfing?!), and have a memorable experience exploring quieter (especially in winter!) corners of the EU.

[/EU nerdiness stemming from college class on EU regional integration]

I will also suggest Morocco and Turkey, both of which are Europe-adjacent, less snowy, quite large, comparatively inexpensive, and presumably fascinating places to kill a few weeks. According to Turkey's e-consulate, a Bangladeshi living in Australia would pay "37" (I'm assuming that's either Australian dollars or Turkish lira) for a single-entry tourist visa valid for a year from the date of issue.

See also: Ryanair (Air Asia sits at home at night wishing they were Ryanair) and this page, from Germany's railways, which lists every train timetable in Europe.

Ack, longest comment evaaar! Best of luck - sounds like a great trip!
posted by mdonley at 6:26 AM on June 23, 2006

I missed that you have Malaysian permanent residency: this may qualify you for a less-hassle-filled experience if you want a visa for Turkey, which waives visas for Malaysian passport holders. Certainly worth checking out, as other EU states may treat you as a Malaysian for the purposes of visa-granting.

Furthermore, another bit of EU trivia is that much of the rest of the not-so-hot areas which don't qualify for Objective 1 funding do qualify for Objective 2 funding, which is for smaller, more localized areas with high unemployment, declining agricultural sectors, dependency of fisheries, or higher levels of urban poverty. Map; note inclusion of much of Austria, heaps of France, and the Balearic Islands.

Trondheim is accessible on these airlines from these cities. Alternatively, fly to much-more-accesible Oslo and take a train (6h, 598 NOK = US$96.34) or a bus (8h15m, maximum price 350 NOK, not including a 50% discount for students).

is the clearinghouse for Europe-wide bus travel.
posted by mdonley at 7:01 AM on June 23, 2006

Might want to ask these questions over at the Thorn Tree bulletinboard on, those people live and breathe this stuff.
posted by Brian James at 10:54 AM on June 23, 2006

mdonley: I hold a Bangladesh passport, so more visas for me! But that was amazingly informative, thank you.
posted by divabat at 5:41 PM on June 23, 2006

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