Category Archives: Travel Tips

Travel tips to help you make the most of your European trips. Tips on the best things to see, places to stay and eat in European destinations.. The lowdown from locals and experienced European travellers to help you plan your travels.

Essay: Tips on Traveling in Europe Alone

Europe has always been one of the most popular and desirable places of interest. Tourists from all over the world come to the European countries to see their culture, history and people.

gladiator amphitheatre

This ‘old world’ is especially attractive to the people who live in America or Australia whereas Europe is a completely different place. It has its ancient atmosphere in combination with modern technologies and innovations. It is the place of synthesis of the medieval buildings and horse carriages and brand new skyscrapers and fast transport. When you decide to visit Europe alone, you ought to pay attention to the specific features that make it different from other cultures.

french train

The foremost decision is the choice of transportation. Many peoplemistakenly think that Europe is a small place. However, it consists of numerous different countries that can be crossed in several hours. This diversity of Europe is your major problem and attraction at the same time. Every European country has its system of transportation with its own schedule and prices. Most often, the cheapest means of transportation is bus. In fact, it is always difficult to find a bus to your destination at the very moment. Thus, you should travel by train whereas they go to the smallest towns and villages. Moreover, they are fast and frequent. If you miss your train, the next one will be in an hour. Train will let you cover long distances rapidly. In addition, you will be able to visit more places of interest. You can visit small towns and enjoy the countryside that is impossible if you travel by plane. It will be smart to install some apps that will helpyou find the right train to your destination.

ryanair

If you have decided to organize a solo euro trip, try to visit as many countries as you can. If you choose five or six countries that are located far from one another, you will need to travel by plane. It is possible to save much money if you travel by low-cost airlines. Ryanair, Wizz Air and Easyjet are the most affordable airlines that will help you reach your destination for cheap.

Hviezdoslav Square market

Very few people understand that the main attractions are not located in the European capitals. If you want to see the real German culture, authentic food and beverages, you do not need to go to Berlin. You will not find anything there. You ought to go small towns and villages that are hidden from the main touristic routes. Go to the markets and look at the real people who sell their genuine products. What is more, you will save much money whereas the prices in small towns are much lower. Such cities as Berlin, Paris, London, Rome or Prague are very similar. The majority of people are foreigners there. Therefore, you will hardly find the real Frenchman or German in a capital. The real culture of Europe is located in the suburbs and countryside.

Vienna - Karlskirche Sign

Be prepared to the problem of communication. Bear in mind that Europe consists of dozens of countries who speak different languages. Thus, your knowledge of German, Russian, French or Spanish will be very useful. In some small towns you will hardly find an English speaking person who will help you find yourself in this settlement. If you know that you will go to Italy, Spain, Greece, Slovakia or Lithuania, you should purchase a small phrasebook to be able to say at least the simplest phrases or words. Although English is an international language, you will realize that in many countries people do not pay attention to this fact and neglect foreign languages.

euro notes

What about cash? Although euro is the major currency in the EU, there are many countries that have their own national currencies. You can easily exchange your dollars in numerous money changers located at the railway stations and city centers. You can pay with a credit card; however, many vendors require only cash. Therefore, you need to possess the local money if you decide to buy souvenirs or have a snack in the ‘wild’.

goswell rd kitchen

Probably the biggest problem is the apartment. Of course, the choice of the apartment depends on your budget. If you have money, you can live at a hotel or hostel. However, there are many people who want to have an affordable trip. In this case, you can couchsurf and spend time with the locals or rent a flat. Most often, flats are cozier and much cheaper than hotels. Moreover, you can cook yourself and spend time in the apartment in any way you want.

lunch

In the end, if you are interested in tasty and cheap food, avoid tourist areas. There are many authentic restaurants that offertraditional dishes that cost little. They are located not far from thecity centers and not overloaded with crowd.

This short essay is sponsored by CheapWritingHelp.com professional writing company.

Take the World Languages Quiz

You can have some fun trying your hand at ‘The What Languages Do They Speak’ quiz below.


The What Languages Do they Speak Quiz was developed by Morningside Translations

I decided to have a go at the quiz.

With the recent Olympic Games having been held in Rio in Brazil, most people should be able to answer the first question ‘which language in spoken in Brazil?’ correctly.

Some of the other questions are a bit trickier.

word languages quiz aruba

I wasn’t even sure of the geographical location of Aruba. It’s in the Caribbean Sea. But even knowing that doesn’t help much to know which language is spoken there.

world languages quiz kosovo

I did know that Kosovo was in the Balkans, probably part of the former Yugoslavia. Looking at a map confirmed that Kosovo is bordered by Serbia and Montenegro to the north, and Macedonia and Albania to the south. After the break up of Yugoslavia, Kosovo became part of Serbia. In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence.

world languages quiz cape verde

I’ve heard of Cape Verde as a Winter sun holiday destination. The ten island archipelago lies in the Atlantic Ocean, 350 miles off the west coast of Africa. The current capital Praia is on the largest island of Santiago,

I scored 86% in the world languages quiz, so was graded as having expert knowledge.

world languages quiz results

That’s a joke. I’m a typical Brit. My best effort with languages is to string together a few words in French when I am on holiday in France. My feeble efforts are appreciated by the locals, who often think that I am a German trying to speak French (it must be the Scottish accent).

I was in Sweden last week, and was again impressed by the Swedes’ excellent English.

Having English as your mother tongue allows you to be lazy, as English is so widely spoken.

edinburgjh festival

Romantic Getaway Ideas: The Edinburgh Festival

Has your other half been hinting about spending more quality time together? A surprise getaway is just what you need, and finding an unusual destination will certainly win you some brownie points.

Edinburgh is a historic city with a romance that’s captured the imagination of loved up couples for centuries. But come August the population more than doubles as festivals of theatre, comedy, music, and literature kick off month-long runs.

festival theatre edinburgh

As fun as this is, it might not seem like the ideal time for seekers of a peaceful couple’s break to visit Scotland’s capital.

But with a little inside knowledge, the hustle and bustle is easy to manage. Do the festival right and you’ll be able to cram plenty of relaxation and unique dates into one short weekend.

Here are a few top tips to make your weekend at the Edinburgh Festival as romantic as possible.

Tip #1: Start your journey right

Travelling can be a recipe for disaster. Delays, wrong turns and forgotten passports – there are just too many precarious elements with the potential to trigger a blowout argument.

Proper planning will limit fallouts. If you’re flying, then using a service like meet and greet and parking at Stansted airport will add a little luxury, and prevent any arguments over dodgy reversing and rip-off charges.

Tip #2: See your favourite comedian

Alcohol, a good laugh and hopefully a few conversation starters – going to see a comedy show is a pretty perfect date idea. For comedians the Edinburgh festival is a rite of passage. Tickets for big names normally sell out months in advance, but the Fringe also stages free shows from up and coming entertainers.

Tip #3: Take a romantic stroll

edinburgh castle

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Edinburgh is a beautiful city. The castle should be top of your must-see list, but having a wander and getting a little lost is a much more romantic way to take in the sights.

The Royal Mile is another must-visit, but be warned that it will be packed with fellow tourists and canvassers trying to sell tickets. Away from the centre, Stockbridge is home to the city’s hippest cafes and shops and is well worth a visit.

Tip #4: Eat, drink and be merry

restaurant by water of leith in stockbridge edinburgh

If there’s one thing Scotland’s renowned for it’s knowing how to have a good time. Late licenses allow alcohol to be served until 5am, so if you’re a fan of clubs and pubs you’ll have plenty of time to explore Edinburgh’s many offerings.

The city centre is crammed full of pop-up bars and restaurants during the festival, so there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge in some romantic alfresco dining.

Do you have any tips or cheats for making the most out of the Edinburgh Festival season?

hepworth gallery in wakefield

5 Places to Visit in Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Here are my tips for five places to visit in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Wakefield Council Chamber

As I walking from Wakefield Museum to the Cathedral, the beautiful County Hall caught my eye. I decided to go in to ask if I could look around. I was in luck, as there were no meetings that day, I was able to get into the Council Chamber.

The ante-room of the Council Chamber was adorned with friezes depicting historic scenes.

Frieze in ante-room at Wakefield Council Chamber2

Frieze in ante-room at Wakefield Council Chamber1

Frieze in ante-room at Wakefield Council Chamber

There was a colourful talian marble pietro dure (inlay) table.

Italian pietro dure table in Wakefield Council Chamber

The Council Chamber was impressive.

wakefield couneil chamber

I assume that chair with the intricate carvings is where the leader of the council sits.

Wakefield Council Chamber in West Yorkshire chair

I loved the chandeliers.

Wakefield Council Chamber in West Yorkshire chandelier

Wakefield Cathedral

It’s believed that there has been a church on this site since the 11th century. The spire is the highest in Yorkshire.

wakefield cathedral exterior

Inside, there are splendid stained glass windows.

wakefield cathedral stained glass windows

Wakefield Cathedral was undergoing renovation during my visit, so part of the nave was closed off.

wakefield cathedral interior

Chantry Chapel, was originally constructed in the 14th century, when the wood bridge was rebuilt with stone, is now looked after by Wakefield Cathedral.

chantry bridge wakefield

Wakefield Museum

Wakefield Museum is next to the Library.

For me, the most interesting exhibit was Edmund Waterton’s ring collection amassed during the 19th century.  Edmund was the son of Victorian explorer, conservationist and naturalist James Waterton.

wakefield museum ring collection

There’s a recreation of a Victorian kitchen

victorian kitchen wakefield museum

I thought that the lace sleeves of the 1932 satin wedding dress were pretty.

Satin wedding dress (1932) at Wakefield Museum

The dress pictured below was worn at a Victory Ball in 1919, at the end of the First World War.

Victory Ball dress at Wakefield Museum

The Art House

The Art House, which lets out studios to artists, has exhibitions and Open Days, but you should check for the dates on their website.

the art house wakefield

Hepworth Gallery

Visiting the Hepworth Gallery was the main reason for my trip to Wakefield.

hepworth gallery in wakefield1

I learned a lot about how Barbara Hepworth created her large sculptures.

hepworth gallery wakefield hepworth's studio

There was a wonderful diversity of exhibits including a Snoppy Canvas, photos of the local Rhubarb Triangle and the  metal on wood ‘Maquette, Theme and Variations’ sculpture by Barbar Hepworth (pictured below).

hepworth gallery in wakefield2

All in all, I had a great day out in Wakefield.

harbour in bristol

Summer Events In Bristol And Transportation Facilities

Bristol, a beautiful city located in the midst of hills besides River Avon in South West England, has never disappointed its visitors. Year-round festivals, beautiful cityscapes and a blend of modern and medieval architecture are some of the major tourist attractions of Bristol. So, if you are a fun loving person and make the most of out your summer holidays, Bristol is the right choice for you.

As Bristol is famous for its year round festivals, there is a lot waiting for you during the summer as well. Here are some of the festivals you should look forward to during the summer of 2016:

clifton suspension bridge bristol

1. Bristol Old Vic 250– The oldest working theatre of UK will celebrate its 250th anniversary with different programs and activities, including five famous productions from five centuries of theatre, a tribute to Shakespeare, a tribute to people who built the theatre and many other activities, from 28th to 30th May 2016.

2. Bristol Summer Series– Shout out to all Music fans, book your tickets for Bristol Summer Series as soon as possible because tickets are only available for 24th June’s show of ‘The last Shadow Puppets supported by Gaz Coombes’. So grab your tickets before you miss the last available chance of attending this amazing fun packed night.

3. Festival of Nature– If you are a nature loving person and want to have some adventurous time close to wildlife then this ‘Festival of Nature’, along the River Avon, will be the perfect choice for you. Organized by the Bristol Natural History Consortium from 11-25 June, it gives you a chance to explore the nature and wildlife with your friends, family or with your school/university fellows.

waterfall

4. Bristol Harbour Festival- Organized by Richmond Event Management on behalf of the Bristol City Council, Bristol Harbour Festival will take place form 15th July to 17th July 2016. It will not only give you a chance to enjoy music, art, dance, circus, along with some great food but will also give you an opportunity to exhibit or promote your own work. So, you can also put up your own stall and make some money.

bristol harbour

Don’t want to miss these amazing events? But concerned about the transport because you do not feel like driving yourself and taking the trouble of finding parking space at these events where a large crowd is expected. No worries! There are lots of taxi, minicab and car services in Bristol and you can definitely take their services for wonderful transportation facilities in your budget.

Some of the cab service providers in Bristol, with their web links, are mentioned here for your ease:

Bristol Taxis

The service provides Taxis, Minibuses, Executive Cars, and Airport Transfers.

V-Cars

A fast growing private hire company with over 25 years of experience. They also provide the priority pick-up service to make you reach your destination in time just in case you forgot to make advance booking and want to be picked up very quickly.

Call Cars Bristol

If you are travelling to Bristol from any other city or country and want to have a professional car service to pick you up from the airport or you are looking for minicabs in Bristol, Call Cars Bristol would be the ideal choice for you.

Minicabit

And if you are looking for the cheapest taxi, cabs and minicabs services in Bristol following taxi fares comparison websites as www.minicabit.com will help you in finding the right taxi for you.

In addition to cabs, you can also get around Bristol in buses (available from all major locations), trains (available from Bristol Temple Railway Station and Bristol Parkway Railway Station) and even use any of Bristol’s ferry services.

Not Just A Canadian Game: European Hockey And Where To See It

Generally speaking, when people think of ice hockey they think of Canada. As a country that takes pride in the game and has tremendous international success that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. But, what many don’t know is that Europe is filled with regional leagues that produce some of the National Hockey League’s best players.

european ice hockey

photo by _becaro_

While diehards are familiar with these leagues, the average hockey fan generally assumes that European teams play in tiny arenas to barely any fans when precisely the opposite is true. To find out about some of Europe’s biggest teams I spoke with JustFly. An online travel agency, JustFly is keenly aware of what brings people to certain cities. They gave me a rundown of some of Europe’s most famous hockey towns that prove hockey isn’t just for Canadians.

Liiga in Finland

The Liiga is Finland’s professional hockey league and was formed in 1975. Featuring 15 teams, Liiga has gone over several changes in the last few decades but remains one of the top professional leagues in Europe. It also was a proving ground for such players as Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri, and Saku Koivu. This year, the leagues top team was Tappara. Based out of Tampere, Finland, Tappara won the Kanada-Malja trophy as the leagues top team. The league also features teams from Espoo, Helsinki, and many more cities.

Swedish Hockey League

european ice hockey1

Perhaps the most prestigious of the European Leagues according to JustFly’s review, The Swedish Hockey League, formerly known as the Swedish Elite League, is probably the second best hockey league in the world behind the NHL. Also founded in 1975, the league had a successful run as the most attended league in Europe thanks to its quality of competition and parity of competition. The SHL has sent many players onward to the NHL including Hall Of Fame members Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom. The league’s current champion is Frolunda HC. The league features teams in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo among others.

Kontinental Hockey League

The newest of the European leagues, the Kontinental Hockey League, or KHL, was founded in 2008 and is largely based in Russia. With that said, the KHL’s newest team is actually a former member of Liiga and is based out of Helsinki. Thought of as an ambitious league, it is anticipated that the KHL will feature the first major Chinese club, with HC Red Star Kunlun applying to join in time for the 2016-2017 season according to JustFly. The KHL, and its former parent league, are responsible for some of the leagues most exciting players including Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and NHL Hall of Famers like Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov. This year the KHL’s top team was Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The league features teams across a massive area including Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Sochi.

SAMSUNG

The Best Ways to Enjoy a Luxury UK Break

You don’t need to jet off around the globe to enjoy a luxury break, with so many stunning locations across the UK, enjoying a luxury break in the UK is now easier than ever.

From the rolling hills of Yorkshire  to the beautiful beaches of the South Coast, there’s are so many amazing areas of the UK to visit, that you’re sure find the perfect luxury break for you.

knaresborough north yorkshire england

Here are some tips to help you have the best UK luxury break,

Escape to the Countryside

There is an abundance of beautiful British countryside to be explored, so why not visit an area you’ve never been to before.

The North Yorkshire countryside has great walks and pubs to explore.

brimham rocks yorkshire

Head to the Lake District for a cultural experience and visit the picturesque lakes which inspired the famous works of the great British poet William Wordsworth.

Great Little Breaks have an amazing range of luxury hotels located in different areas of the British countryside so you can find the perfect part of the UK for you.

Enjoy the Fresh Air at the Seaside

Heading to the British seaside is a great family tradition and a perfect way to enjoy a UK break. There are many luxury hotels by the sea, so you won’t find yourself staying in a dated hotel listening to an old crooner’s tunes into the night.

The south-west Coast has some stunning beaches such as Towan Beach in Newquay.

In St Ives and Padstow be able to visit some of the UK’s most famous fish restaurants and gorgeous beaches. If you head down to Cornwall in the summer, hopefully you’ll be lucky to find some fabulous English sunshine to complete your trip.

Shop till You Drop on a City Break

A city break in the UK can be just as good as one overseas with so many thriving cosmopolitan UK cities. Visit Newcastle to enjoy great shopping, a lively nightlife and some of the UKs best artwork and exhibitions at the Baltic and the Laing Art Gallery.

laing art gallery newcastle

If you’d rather head down South a luxury break in London has so much to offer with a huge variety of amazing hotels to choose from and your pick of the capitals best restaurants and bars just a tube ride away.

big ben london

There are so many different ways you can enjoy a luxury break in the UK without having to spend a lot of money by going overseas. Whether you want a whirlwind city break, a relaxing countryside escape or to enjoy an ice cream on the sands.

Top Tips for Travelling Around Europe on a Budget

The European continent is blessed with a vast number of fantastic holiday destinations. Whether you’re travelling with a loved one, with a group of friends or even by yourself, you won’t be short on things to do and choose from.

sardinerobeach

However, while it’s all well and good to just say you’re going travelling, this isn’t always something many of us can afford, nor is it easy to just drop everything and go. You’ll need to have some savings in place and give yourself enough prep time, which is where your planning comes into the picture.

So read on to find out what you need to do in order to make your European travel dreams an affordable reality.

List Your Destinations

To start with the basics, make a list of the places you wish to visit and do a little research to find out what things there are to do in each destination. You can use this as the basic itinerary to help plan your trip and make decisions about how long you intend to stay in each respective location.

SAMSUNG

Book In Advance

Next, you need to start getting those hotel and day trip bookings sorted as the longer you give yourself the lower the cost will be. In some cases there will be package deals that include your days out, as well as accommodation. A trick here is to use comparison sites such as HotelsCombined to find the best-value deals but then get in touch directly with the providers to enquire about what else they can do for you – this is often cheaper as it cuts out the commission the comparison sites will take.

holiday apartment

Compare Transport Options

Rather than forking out thousands for international flights, why not consider other methods of transport? Hiring a car for instance might take longer but you can experience more while en-route, and you can also travel at a time that suits you. There’s also rail to think about, as trains can also be quick and indeed cheap, as this post from Card Cutters shows.

french train

Check Online for Honest Reviews

Finally, you need to head for the forums and look at what reviews there are for your chosen hotels, locations and trips you might be looking to book. These can help with your final decision making as the frank and open reviews people leave are bound to be more reliable than the posts by the holiday companies.

With this all in place, hopefully all there’s left for you to do now is start counting down the days. So wherever you go, bon voyage and enjoy what could be the holiday of a lifetime!

road trip europe

Four European Road Trip Mistakes to Avoid

A road trip is the ideal way to discover Europe so if you want to squeeze in as much as possible during your trip, here are four factors to keep in mind.

road trip europe1

Ignoring the Rules of the Road

Prior to setting off on your road trip you should make sure your vehicle is road worthy. This means having insurance and breakdown cover as well as safety accessories such as a reflective jacket, a warning triangle and a GB sticker. Different countries have different rules regarding what you will need to take with you but this guide covers the essential information. Part of the fun of a road trip is the ability to explore as you wish. As a result, your vacation experience will not be as organised as a traditional holiday. If you plan to drive from city to city make sure you know the rules of the road. It is illegal to sleep in your car in some countries so make sure you know the rules before you decide to turn your vehicle into an impromptu bed for the night.

Failing to Identify Toll Roads

Failing to identify toll roads along your route can play havoc with your travel budget. If you have a relatively new satellite navigation system, it should alert you to where the toll roads are located or allow you to plan a route that avoids them altogether. However, don’t leave this to chance. Look up the toll roads before you travel so you don’t have to rely on your Sat Nav.

Forgetting a Map

road trip europe2

For many young travellers, maps are a thing of the past. However, it is always wise to carry one in your glove box just in case your Sat Nav battery dies or your phone loses signal. Why not draw your route on the map itself and frame it as a memento once you have completed your road trip?

Choosing a Boring B&B

Finding places to sleep is one of the most important aspects of planning a road trip. While being spontaneous is all part and parcel of any holiday, it is wise to book accommodation for the first leg of your trip. This way you can set off safe in the knowledge that you have somewhere safe to sleep when you arrive at the first destination. Further down the line it may be tempting to stop at bog standard B&B’s along the way, but if you want to stay flexible while keeping costs low you can always rent a spare room in an unusual property using sites like Airbnb and Owner’s Direct. The best part about renting rooms from homeowners is you can add as much character to your vacation as you want to. A castle in Costa Brava or a single room in a city centre apartment in Norway, the possibilities are endless.

London Versus Amsterdam

It’s hard to compare London to Amsterdam, but the infographic illustrates some of the highlights of, and differences between, the two cities.

london-amsterdam

Amsterdam is a much smaller city than London, therefore easier to get around. Hiring a bicycle is one of the best ways to see Amsterdam, as there are dedicated separate cycle lanes.

amsterdam

Even if your accommodation is in central London, the city is so vast that you’ll probably need to use public transport to get around. If you use a Transport for London Day Travelcard or a contactless card, it should cost around £8 a day for unlimited travel within Zones 1-3. There are bicycles for hire, but the cycle lanes are often only strips at the side of the road, on which bus stop and cars park.

Although there are several famous bridges over the River Thames in London, such as Tower Bridge (pictured below), London only has 48 bridges, compared to Amsterdam’s 1753 bridges, which criss-cross the city’s canals.

tower bridge

If you are a museum buff, then London gives you more choice, with 240 museums compared to Amsterdam’s 75. It’s free to enter the permanent collections in the UK’s museums, whereas there are entry fees to most museums in Amsterdam.