From the July/August 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler
Much of European train travel is about efficiency and comfort—punctually leaving and arriving and having a cozy seat or sleeper compartment in which to devour the latest issue of the Economist. But rail travel in the United Kingdom and on the Continent is also about experience: gaping out the window at Alpine glaciers, savoring gourmet cuisine in a restored last-century dining car. Accordingly, our ten favorite European trains don’t necessarily offer the fastest journeys—just the most memorable. All aboard!
This charming train running in summer and fall climbs from Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva to the medieval town of Gruyères, population 1,600, home to the cheese of the same name. Tour the cheese factory and the local castle, have lunch, then reboard the train and continue on to Broc. There you’ll bus to the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory, tucked between Lake Gruyères and mountain peaks, for free samples, before making the return trip.
This narrow-gauge, vertigo-inducing train takes on seven-percent inclines, a 360-degree spiral, 55 tunnels, and 196 bridges—reaching an apex of 7,391 feet and then descending 5,905 feet before coming to a stop. The word “express” refers to the availability of short-notice seat reservations, rather than the train’s velocity as it courses through the Alps south from Switzerland’s oldest town to a charming Italian town of just under 10,000 people. Part of the route is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Leave Paris in the evening, enjoy a three-course dinner and the increasingly rural scenery, slumber to the soothing rhythm of the rails, and wake the next day as you arrive in Madrid, rested and ready to tour the third-most-populous city in the European Union. Grand class includes a welcome drink, gourmet dinner, breakfast, and an in-room bathroom with shower.
Reliving the Age of Chivalry: The Castles of Britain
Discover the United Kingdom’s historic fortresses on this itinerary combining a two-week BritRail pass with the Great British Heritage pass. You’ll get entry to 580 attractions, as you hop off for local touring. Start in Inverness, Scotland, near Loch Ness, to tour Urquhart Castle. Continue south to Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace triumphed over the English in 1297, and on to Edinburgh Castle. English sights include Dover Castle, with its wartime tunnels. In Gwynedd, Wales, tour Caernarfon Castle, a World Heritage site where the investiture of Prince Charles was held.
This fabled route, an icon of Russian culture, crosses eight time zones to connect the Russian capital with a port on the Pacific Ocean. On board, poor mingle with rich, young with old, foreigners with locals. Social barriers disappear as passengers share a unique rail experience—and shots of $3-a-liter vodka. You can book a private car via a tour operator for added comfort; schedule any number of side excursions from trekking and scuba diving to city tours.
A social and travel phenomenon, people have been asking "what is couch surfing?" for nearly a decade. The idea behind couch surfing is to leverage the hospitality of friendly people around the world who open their homes to travelers -- an act of kindness that dates back millenia.
Couch surfing is a remarkable way to travel for cheap, and travelers of all budgets take advantage. Couchsurfing.com -- the social website that makes connecting travelers with places to crash easier -- now has more than three million members in 246 countries around the world!
What is Couch Surfing?
While the term "couch surfing" loosely refers simply to staying with hosts while you travel, most people associate the concept with couchsurfing.com -- a social site to helpbudget travelers meet hosts in different countries.
Hosts, who are often former travelers or expatriates that want to meet and interact with travelers, sign up on couchsurfing.com to share their homes. You can find free accommodation ranging from simple couches to spare bedrooms and guest cottages. Not only is your place to sleep free, you can befriend a local who knows your new destination well -- a huge asset while on the road!
Couch surfing can dramatically lower your expenses when traveling in expensive places such as Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore. Hosts are usually interested in learning about your culture, practicing English, or just enjoying your company as a break from their regular routine.
Couchsurfing.com first became a public website in 2004 as a way to match travelers with willing hosts. The site operates much in the way of other social websites such as Facebook; people add friends, build profiles, and can send messages.
Signing up for an account on couchsurfing.com is free, however, members can optionally pay a small fee to become verified for more credibility.
Couchsurfing.com offers more than just a place to stay. People often meet new real-life friends, find travelmates, and gather information about destinations where they are traveling. The forums come in handy for everything from asking questions about a city to buying a bicycle or getting settled in a place for an extended stay.
The groups on couchsurfing.com are operated by local volunteers known as ambassadors. Local groups often have informal meetings and gather for events and outings periodically. Even when not traveling, you can use the groups and ambassadors to meet fellow travelers and interesting people at home!...
Traveling can be a fun and thrilling experience, that is until you become a victim of a popular scam. Scammers and thieves from around the world are always finding quick ways to make some big bucks, at your expense of course.
To help you travel safer, I’ve compiled a list of common travel scams from around the world so that you don’t become a victim!
1) Girl Bars in China
Usually there is a guy standing on a street corner late at night. He notices you walking with a couple friends or by yourself and starts chatting you up. He might offer to take you to a bar with a lot of girls. Don’t do it. Just avoid these people. What they do is chat you up like they are a nice guy just trying to help. They often speak pretty good English as well and look pretty normal.
This guy, if he convinces you to go, takes you to a “bar” usually off the main street. Once you walk in, it’s a bunch of girls and rooms. It’s obvious what it is. They try to sell sex and give you a drink. A bunch of girls will surround you and if you decide to pay for sex, they give you a bill for a couple thousand dollars. If you decide to not pay, they bring in thugs to rough you up a bit.
Moral of the story, use your best judgement and stay away from unpopulated areas that have “bars”
2) That person just helping you out
There you are walking home from a great night with your friends. You’re obviously a little drunk and perhaps lost. Then someone comes up to you trying to act like a friendly stranger. They tend to try to give you hugs or shake your hands and stuff. That is usually the point they get their hands in your backpack or pockets and take your stuff.
Moral of the story, if you get drunk, try to use the buddy system and avoid strangers trying to be friendly.
3) Airport Taxis
Some airport taxi services try to fake like being the “official” taxi service to and from the airport. Usually there is a guy that asks if you need a ride (If they are asking for business, probably best to avoid him). They usually offer a ride with a much inflated fare. Instead, just go to the normal taxi line and don’t get sidetracked by taxi services claiming to provide a better service even if they look official.
4) Fake Police
Sometimes there are people that dress up and pretend they are the police. They’ll usually ask to see your identification and find something wrong with it (even when there isn’t). Then they usually try to fine you, in cash right on the spot. Stand your ground and tell them you’re more than happy to go to the police station. Usually they will just excuse the mistake and offer a warning.
5) Friendship Bracelets
Often seen on the steps going up to the Sacre Coeur in Paris, people generally of african descent will try to offer you a friendship bracelet. They will place a string around your finger and start tying and creating a bracelet. They will try to chat you up often saying, “oh yea I’ve been to (where you’re from). I love it there!” While they try to keep your hands and attention busy, another guy will come up from behind and try to take something from your open purse, backpack or pocket.
This is a fairly well known scam so even tourists will watch and see if they get away with it. Moral of the story, friendship bracelets are anything but a friendship bracelet!
6) Bar/Tea Shop Scam
Young girls will often approach a male tourist and gain their trust after some small talk. You agree to accompany them to a local bar/tea shop. If you buy them a drink or tea, you’ll notice it’s usually the most expensive. Once the bill comes, you’ll notice that your girl probably already made a quick exit and you’re left with a bill that amounts to hundreds of dollars.
7) Gypsy Woman and Babies
Sometimes there will be gypsies that ask for money to help support her family. These women will try to get close to you and ask for change and distract you. They do this all while taking stuff from your purse, pockets, or backpacks. I’ve even heard a story of a woman using a fake baby, throwing it at the person (acting like she tripped). Your instinct is to catch the baby (which also occupies your hands and attention). Then the woman will usually either cut your purse or bag and try to grab your things.
No.9 - Plovdiv’s history goes back to the 4,000 BC, which is proved by many Neolithic excavations. Over the centuries Plovdiv has been ruled by many empires, though originally it was a Thracian city. Later it was conquered by the Romans. In the Middle Ages Plovdiv was an alluring territory for the Bulgarian, Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empires. Only in 1885 the city became the part of Bulgaria. Nowadays it’s the second largest city in Bulgaria and it’s a significant economic, educational and cultural center.
I have been obsessed with the city for years. Last summer I was lucky to spend a couple of days in this magnificent city and I just fell in love with its narrow paved streets, neat beautiful houses and marvelous ancient architecture! The Old Town is definitely worth seeing. It is overwhelmed with restaurants, workshops and museums that were previously famous houses. Archeological sites, museums, churches and temples are also must-see places in Plovdiv.
The first shots have been fired in a low-cost air war across the Atlantic.
Europe’s third largest budget airline – Norwegian Air – has just started flights from London’s Gatwick Airport to the United States for the equivalent of less than 200 euros – one way, off peak.
On different days it is flying to Los Angeles, New York and Florida using Boeing 787 Dreamliners. It already runs services from Oslo to the US.
Both its larger rivals, Ryanair and easyJet have talked about offering flights to the United States. Ryanair has indeed said it will do that by 2019.
The service faces opposition from US politicians. They tried to block it saying Norwegian Air was circumventing European labour laws.
Lawmakers in Washington complained the planes would be registered in Ireland and that cheaper staff would be used at local bases in Europe, Asia and the US, thereby creating an unfair competition advantage.
For the moment the company is using its Norwegian Air Operators Certificate, rather than an Irish AOC, which means the planes can fly into the US.
USE-IT stands for no-nonsense tourist info for young people. USE-IT guides, maps, and websites are made by young locals, are not commercial, free, and up-to-date. Some USE-IT's also have a visitors desk, mostly run by volunteers. Every USE-IT publishes maps or guides that will guide you through the city in a no-nonsense way. Click on the city to get a free printable version.
Ever since 1912 the Sóller railway has been running a daily train service along the 27.3 km route between Palma de Mallorca and Sóller, without interruption. From 1913 it has also run the tram service along the 4.9 kilometres from Sóller and the Port of Sóller.
Brussels is an amazing city. Delicious food. Stunning architecture. Endless shopping opportunities. Incredible art. Relaxing parks. Not to mention it boasts a unique charm that makes it a sexy and romantic capital.
I love Brussels for all the above and more. And I am intrigued that only now it is becoming a trendy weekend destination. Granted, it is a relatively small city, but it has lots to offer. Here are 10 unique things that in my opinion, any first time visitor should try to experience while in Brussels
Indulge yourself in waffles, chocolate and cookies
Brussels has more chocolate factories than any other city on earth. And waffles have been the food of choice since the Middle Ages. Have no doubt, it’s a foodie heaven!
Any quick walk around the city center can turn into a tasting marathon. Sweet and sour waffles. Belgian pralines. And delicious butter cookies that come in incredibly cute boxes.
Belgian chocolatiers take their craft very seriously. As they do with the decor of their shops. And many of them have a long tradition. However, there’s one mandatory stop. Brussels chocolatier Jean Neuhaus invented the praline over a century ago and his wife invented the ‘ballotin’ – the luxurious, typical packaging for pralines. Their original shop can still be visited in the Galerie de la Reine.
Go on an Art Nouveau tour
Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau. Apart from hosting an Art Nouveau biennial with doors open events, the magnificent structures can be admired from street level any time. However, certain buildings, including Horta Museum, can be visited throughout the year.
The Musical Instruments Museum is a masterpiece inside-out. It opened at the end of the 19th century, and back then it hosted the luxurious Old England department stores. Nowadays the museum has an extraordinary collection of more than 7000 musical instruments from all over the world (around 1500 are on display)....
When I first heard about Ghent’s status as the “Vegetarian Capital of Europe,” I was a bit surprised as Ghent is a relatively small city in northwest Belgium known for its medieval history, canal-side architecture, and historic museums and churches. Some describe Ghent as Belgium’s best kept secret. While foreign tourists often flock to Bruges, many Belgians choose Ghent if they’re looking for a weekend getaway. It’s a vibrant city with a relaxed vibe. It has much of the historic charm that Bruges offers, but the nice thing is you won’t find large crowds of tourists, which is one thing you will certainly find in Bruges, especially during the peak summer months.
As for Ghent’s vegetarian status, back in 2009, Ghent became the first city worldwide to adopt a weekly vegetarian day. The local government recognized the health and environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet and mandated that all Ghent restaurants offer at least one vegetarian menu item. This initiative was well-received by not only the restaurants but also by the local community, prompting many restaurants to eventually offer set vegetarian menus. Additionally, on Thursdays, the designated “vegetarian day,” schools serve entirely vegetarian meal in their cafeterias.
In additional to local restaurants offering vegan-friendly menus, there are also a number of entirely vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Ghent. Here are our top picks healthy vegan and vegetarian food in Ghent:
Upon our arrival at Ghent’s central train station, we literally walked across the street to Lekker GEC, an entirely vegan and organic café that is quite the hot spot among the locals. It is so popular that as soon as the doors opened for business at 12pm, a line of hungry diners quickly formed.
19 photos : Vous êtes à Kyoto et vous avez 9h devant vous avant un Meeting ou un Vol retour ? L’hôtel Capsule 9 Hours est fait pour vous !
L’idée des hôtels Capsules n’est pas nouvelle ; le premier datant de 1979 et ayant été imaginé par l’architecte Kisho Kurokawa. Il s’agit de rentabiliser au maximum l’espace d’occupation en offrant au client le strict minimum pour dormir avec une simple cabine-lit. Ici le concept : 9 heures pour dormir et se doucher, le tout dans un parcours fléché précis.
Ce qu’on apprécie chez Piwee, c’est cette idée de pouvoir accueillir des voyageurs qui dorment généralement sur des bancs quand il s’agit de passer la nuit à l’aéroport. Le petit plus qui a attiré notre attention est la signalétique in-hôtel qui guide le client tout au long de son parcours décomposé en 3 étapes simples. Vous n’avez pas intérêt à trainer sous la douche, allez hop au lit !
A capsule hotel "Nine Hours" in Kyoto, Japan which give you 9 hours to stay : 1 hr to take shower + 7 hrs to sleep + 1 hr for something else... from 19 photos you can decide if you'd stay there or not.
All over the world, travellers are abandoning over-priced and unappealing hotels in favour of smaller and more homely accommodation
I shall gloss over my first experience of Airbnb for a moment and move swiftly to the second. It is a work trip to San Francisco. There are almost no hotel rooms anywhere, but eventually the Guardian/Observer's travel agency turns up the Ramada Inn and books me in. It's expensive: $252 a night. The website shows the rooms are dingy and tasteless: turquoise carpets, small windows, chintz bedspreads. And the reviews on Tripadvisor are – how to put this politely? – discouraging.
The most recent is a one-starred review headlined "Wow… really?" It goes on: "This hotel was disastrous from beginning to end. From… the filthy state of the room to the sheets that hadn't even been washed from the previous guests, this was by far the worst hotel experience in my entire life … bar none." The second is headlined: "Horrible" and calls it "a dump".
Hmm, I say, perhaps I'll have a look at Airbnb [which is a diminution of airbed B&B]. And this is how I end up not in the Ramada Inn, ranked by Tripadvisor as the 215th worst hotel out of 235 in San Francisco, but in an elegant Edwardian apartment in the most fashionable area of the city: the Mission.
My landlord is Sacha Tueni who, this being San Francisco in the age of the second dotcom boom, has a startup, and within minutes of my arrival he's made me download a ride-sharing app to my phone (ride-sharing is the latest big thing in San Francisco), given me a guide to the neighbourhood, and offered to introduce me to anyone I need to meet. "It's a small town," he says. He shows me my room. It is immaculate. There is no chintz. It costs less than two-thirds of the Ramada.
Airbnb was once a startup too. Founded by two designers, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, and a technologist, Nathan Blecharczyk, in 2008, it is now the granddaddy of what has come to be known as the "sharing economy". It's an over-inflated term for an accommodation website, but then Airbnb is nothing if not over-inflated. Its rate of growth is phenomenal. At the start of 2012, one million people had used the site. By the end of 2012, it was 4 million. And the effect – on the hotel industry, on people's travelling habits, on householders' incomes – is only just starting to be felt. There's an economic revolution that Airbnb is spearheading. And it's happening in people's bedrooms....
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Australia is one of the craziest places on earth–but what else would you expect from a country founded by prisoners on a continent isolated from the rest of the world for some 40 million years!
Don’t believe us? Then check out this headline: Top End man attacked by croc, escaped by wrestling and poking it in the eyes, then drank beer as first aid. Yes, it’s real.
Still need more proof? Here are 17 pictures that prove Australia is the craziest:
Rail travel is the most sophisticated route to international adventure. Imagine sipping a cappuccino as you traverse the Tuscan countryside or enjoying a spot of afternoon tea while you await your arrival in Paris. It’s truly a relaxing, easy, and fast way to travel.
In fact, I believe rail travel is perhaps the best way to explore Europe. It quickly transports visitors between top destinations, without the hassle of road traffic or airport security. Plus, when taking a train from place to place, you depart from one city center and arrive in the next, completely eliminating the hassle and expense of those long transfers to the airport.
More than 713 million passengers traveled across the EU by rail between April and September of 2014, showing resurgence in popularity among locals and internationals alike. But can you guess what the top destinations to visit by rail were for the summer of 2014?
France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
For that reason, Friendly Planet Travel has developed a new line of tours that connect these top rail hotspots. Our Italy by Rail tour transports visitors to the greatest cities in Italy — Venice, Florence, and Rome — while our London and Paris by Rail package connects travelers with the pomp and pageantry of London and the sophistication of Paris. Book a trip today to see some of Europe’s most romantic and modern cities in true European style.
Check out Tom's Guide's latest story on vacation apps!
With the summer months upon us, many of you are likely organizing some breed of trip or vacation, whether it's to a far off, exotic place or a little exploration closer to home. The Tom's Guide team has put together a list of applications that will help you plan your trip and get the most out of your destination when you finally do arrive. Be sure to check out '15 Holiday and Travel Apps' for the full round up!
With warm months approaching, many people will surely be planning summer vacations with friends and family. Luckily, the advent of mobile internet,smartphones, and tablets provides users with many apps to help out when vacationeering. From trip planners and itinerary generators, to online marketplaces for accommodations and establishments, crowd-sourced reviews, and more, there's no shortage of applications to ensure your trip goes smoothly. Here are a selection of apps we feel could be of great use to those planning on traveling in the coming months.
Relax while pedalling (one or two hours) on the railway along the picturesque valley of the Molignée.
From Warnant to Falaën and back (8 km) or from Falaën to Maredsous and back (6 km) or from Warnant to Maredsous and back (14 km).
It is 20 years since we started riding on the Molignée line, and to mark the occasion we are offering the full route at the special price of 20 € to anyone born in 1994 (also in their 20th year !) -from 01/04 to 31/10/2014, on presentation of their Identity card (this offer cannot be combined with other promotions).
Rue de la Molignée 116 5537 Anhée Phone: 082/69.90.79
Each bed has curtains and a locker with a combination lock
There is a kitchen and a lounge
Washing machines are available
Showers and Bathroom are separated ladies and gents
Lan connections in each room and Wifi access
There is no smoking inside the building. Smoking areas are outside
I personally recommend this guest-house. The owner is very sincere and honest, gives you a lot of information in and around Yokohama. By the way, the situation is ideal.... a walking distance from the Central Station of Yokohama city.
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