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Europe Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Europe vacation


Erica Johansson
How to Avoid Unwanted Attention from Men when Traveling Solo 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you are travelling alone as a woman and want to avoid attention from (the wrong kind of) men, I have a couple of tips.

From my different travels across Europe I have learnt that looking busy is good. Always give the appearance that you know where you are going, even if you don’t. Never appear lost or confused, head into a store if you need to look at your map – especially in the evening or at night. You can also wear a wedding ring and keep a picture of a fake husband. I haven't tried that myself, but apparently it works really well. Also look at what the locals wear and dress appropriately.


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Erica Johansson
Night Train Paris - Zürich 4 stars
After four days in Paris I was ready to head back to Zürich. Luckily I found a direct train and didn’t need to pass through Basel. Since I travelled in the normal wagon on the way there, I figured it would be a nice change to try the sleeping-compartments on my way home. Such a difference. I would gladly pay a higher price another time just to be able to sleep in a bed. I shared a four-bed compartment with three other travelers. I slept peacefully the whole night without waking up until the ticket-collector knocked on our door in the morning.

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AndreaLJC
Backpacking isn't slacking! 5 stars
When I left the UK to go backpacking for the first time, I thought of it as a two year holiday but with a bit more adventure.  I never realised how much it would teach me.  I learnt a lot about myself and I realised loads about my old "life" in London, not really a life at all!  Backpacking has taught me so much, not just about myself, but about other people, other cultures, geography, religion, language and it has also awakened my creative side and I have found so many talents within myself that I never knew existed, so much so that my whole way of life has now been altered!  The way I think, my goals in life, my beliefs, my direction in life.  I've become much more confident and I actually have a pretty good view of the world (I really didn't think it was a very nice place before).
 
I have gone from being imprisoned in my material, working hard life to being as free as I like, travelling and having no direction except enjoying life and learning.  I never realised how easy and free life can be and how much choice I actually have.  The backpacking experience will obviously be different to everyone and it will also depend on how much you will force yourself out of your comfort zone, but I for one am certainly not going back to the so called life I had in the UK, I have never been more free and happy, I the travel bug and there is no cure!


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AndreaLJC
Preparing to go backpacking 4 stars
If you are thinking of going back packing first you will need to research the country/countries that you are planning on going to so you know what to expect and it will also help you know what to bring with you.  When I went back packing I bought the biggest backpack I could find, I was going for a year so I thought I would need it, and so I packed it full to the brim with clothes, first aid kits, hundreds of books - all the heavy stuff!  Buying everything in the UK where I am from cost a fortune too.  I should have just brought myself and bought everything in Thailand, where I was planning on going, as its much cheaper and I didn't need half of the stuff I thought that I would.  Travel light, you honestly don't need much (unless your planning on camping, climbing lots of mountains etc) so pack as little as possible as lugging a huge backpack around all the time is pretty annoying and very stressful!
 
You may need injections, you don't need to be overly cautions and get every injection 'just in case', plan where you are going and get the appropriate vaccinations.  Malaria tablets can often make you photosensitive, so can be silly if you are going to a hot country or planning on sunbathing, they usually have pretty bad side effects so make sure that you really need them.
 
Travel insurance?  I got travel insurance for a year and when my phone and iPod got stolen I tried to claim it but you have to report it to the police, however, no one spoke English and they had no idea what a crime reference number was so I couldn't make a claim!  It might be useful if you are in a country that you can easily communicate in, or for medical emergencies but I'm not going to bother next time I travel.
 
You will need a guide book, its handy even if you don't follow it as it contains maps, advice, places to stay, prices to expect, addresses of consulates etc also lists places of interest and some local phrases so you can try and communicate in foreign speaking countries.  Also, take some passport photos in case you need them for visas and a copy of your passport in case you lose it!  If possible take spare bank cards as if you lose you bank card or it breaks your bank wont send another one abroad!
 


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4isabella
Tallin at night 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
At night, it’s a wonderful experience to walk up through the old town in Tallin, up the hill to Toompea and look down on the lights of the new city. This part was known to be impenetrable because of the defensive wall surrounding the hill but this now offers spectacular views of the city and the Gulf of Finland. At night, Alexander Nevsky Basilica was floodlit, breathtaking with the autumn leaves lying around in the last week of October. Inside, they ask for silence and no cameras are allowed. During the day. you can get the red double decker bus, hop on/off that will take you to most of the main places but we liked wandering past the flower market and through the Town Gate up to the square. The exhibition in the Town Hall wasn’t worth the money and doesn’t give access to the tower


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4isabella
Tallin, Estonia, food and fun 4 stars
24hours in Tallin, Estonia, is not enough. We arrived around 4pm, checked
into the hotel and walked to the Old Town past the flower market. Checked out the main square and gazed at the medieval layout of the buildings and cobbled streets. Had dinner in the Olde Hansa restaurant. We thought it would be a bit too touristy but it seemed so authentic inside, lit only with candles, rough wooden tables and personable staff dressed in old gear. There were musicians playing in the minstrels gallery on the second floor. I ate wild board stew and sweet onion pickle, wild berries and sauerkraut with earthenware jugs of beer. K had grilled wild salmon with mushroom sauce..well worth the visit and the bit of extra expense. Remember to go to the toilets too, for another authentic experience, both inside and when you wash afterwards.


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4isabella
Accomodation in Tallin, Estonia 3 stars
In Tallin, we stayed at the Reval Central, an anonymous large clean hotel, one of a chain in the Baltics, for E70 including breakfast. They have an OK café, if you are desperate and can’t go to the old town for food. At the bar you can have your first taste of Valla Tallin, the Estonian liqueur. Estonia has a massive alcohol problem but we saw few signs of it walking around the well policed tourist area with CCTV cameras everywhere. Staff at the hotel were very helpful, letting us stay several hours longer in our room because we were taking the 11pm bus to Russia. From the bus station, follow the tram lines into town and you pass the hotel.

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4isabella
Missile sites in Lithuania 5 stars
One of the most fascinating outings we had in Lithuania was to the former Soviet missile base in the Patellae National Park in the north east of the country. The base, built in 1960 by 10,000 Estonian soldiers using shovels has 4 silos where 8 plutonium loaded missiles with 15 times the destructive power of Hiroshima were stored with their launching pads. The tour takes you through the underground base which remains almost as it was before decommissioning in 1978 and then to look down one of the silos (without a missile thank goodness). From a nearby site, missiles were shipped secretly to Cuba in 1962. This is the Soviet Union at its most menacing and secretive, even locals did not know of the existence of the site, and also underlines how near both sides were to destruction during the Cuban and Czech crises. Situated near the village of Ploksciai, the silos were cooled by water diverted from nearby beautiful Plateliai lake. The site has been scanned as safe, for bookings contact info@zemaitijosnp.lt or phone 37044849231.


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4isabella
Accommodation in Vilnius 4 stars
For the few times we’ve been in Vilnius, we’ve stayed at the Barbacan Palace hotel at Boksto 19 in the old town. It’s a short walk to Pilies Gatve and the main churches, shops and restaurants. It is quiet, more like an apartment complex, with rooms that are large, very clean and comfy and staff friendly with good English. Breakfast is downstairs in the restaurant, with plenty of hot and cold food. Ask for a front room that looks over the town for a stunning view of the city. There’s also a sauna and bowling alley. Last time we booked through last minute.com and got a good rate, 75 Euro a night. Just down Boksto there’s a small kavine with a Guinness sign outside that has good food

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4isabella
Vegetarian in Riga, Latvia 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
After eating so much pork and mashed potatoes throughout the Baltic, we enjoyed Rama, the very cheap vegetarian restaurant run by the Hari Krisha’s in Riga. You get a pile of food, soup, rice and curry, for 3LVL (10% of other eating places) and the profits go to feed Riga’s poorer and homeless citizens. To ease my travelling muscles, I also went upstairs to the 2nd floor for had an aveduric massage, from a man recently arrived from south India. (20LVL)…recommended. Then we sat and drank tea at the window, watching the street darkening and the trolley buses taking Riga’s workers home on a Friday night.

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4isabella
Riga market 5 stars
Riga’s covered market is one of the best we’ve seen because, instead of the usual ‘made in China’ stuff, it has local made produce - wonderful honey, cheeses, meats, sausages and hams, bee pollen, fresh pastries, Russian made clothes, fur hats, knitted slippers and socks and piles of woollen berets. Best of all, search for the doughnut lady who sprinkles a snowy layer of icing sugar over instantly fresh donuts, at 5c each..we had a plateful and forgot about out cholesterol. In the outside market, there’s fruit and vegetables from north and south Europe, apples and citrus fruits, cherries and plums and the largest pomegranates from Uzbekistan with deep red fruits, cut to display their juice to the customer. Also a huge variety of nuts and seeds. We wandered for a morning despite the cold and then went to the movies in the large new complex next door to digest our purchases.

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4isabella
accomodation in Riga, Latvia 4 stars
In Riga, we stayed at the Monte Cristo Hotel, booked online and had a warm but absolutely tiny room for LVL98. It was mainly the bed and a clean and well furnished onsuite but don’t expect to be able to sit around, or spread out your belongings. The plus of it was that it is right over from the bus station and the Riga market which is in the zeppelin hangers that have been transferred into the centre of town. It’s a short walk to the centre of the Old Town, or to the newer town with its beautiful art noveaux buildings that stunned us with their ornate designs and colours. There’s no elevator in this hotel and you need to walk up stairs. The breakfast was plentiful and good and staff friendly, we’d go there again. Riga is expensive compared to Lithuania, and even Estonia, its milking the tourists, particularly those on budget airline weekends. Prices are way over and above what locals can pay, the downside of tourism.

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melissa
Cheaper airfare 5 stars
If you are planning to travel to continental Europe from the United States, it might be worth checking out the cheap-and-cheerful UK-based airlines such as EasyJet and RyanAir. Both these airlines fly from London to European destinations at ridiculously low prices, so it might be cheaper to just fly to London and get a cheap shuttle from there. Last time I went to Holland, for example, most of the American companies were charging really high fares to Amsterdam. But flights from JFK to London are pretty cheap, and once I was there I managed to get an EasyJet flight to Amsterdam for less than $20 (no, I'm not exaggerating). Scheduling might be tricky, but if you're on a strict budget, I'd say it's worth looking into. I saved several hundred dollars doing it this way.

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Elizaoprisor
Eastern Europe 5 stars
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Eastern Europe defines a unique culture. I can definitely say that, in spite of the not-so-pleasant aspect of this european region, I love the way its culture has educated me. From a touristical point of view, Eastern Europe has a lot to offer. From ancient roman ruins to beautiful modern buildings, from the Danube Delta to very high mountain peaks, you will find everthing there. My topic "Eastern Europe-The good and the bad" deals with the loveliest and worthiest places to visit in eastern european counrties, giving a valuable feedback on proper ways of communicating woth the locals and tips regarding transportation, money exchange and common tourist traps. By this means, I want to thank all of my subscribers and I promis that I will keep on providing plenty of information on the topic. Thank you !

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4isabella
St Petersburg: canal trip 4 stars
Even in late October, it was worth going on a canal trip. Its a pity there is only Russian commentary and we needed to take our book and be our own guides. We went on Moyka Canal, on the Hermitage side of Nevsky Prospect. We were given large fleece blankets to wrap up in though we could have sat inside. The views were wonderful, specially when we swept into the wide Bolshaya Neva and past The Hermitage. Afterwards we walked up Nevsky Prospekt, away from the river, to the cafe on the second floor of the bookshop in the old Singer Building, opposite the Kazan Cathedral. The service was slow and sullen and you get the feeling that they really don't want you there, but apparently its seen as a sign of reduced intelligence if you smile a lot, so we got used to the dourness after a while. Get a seat by the window if you can, and don't be in a hurry. Cocoa and chocolate blyni (pancakes) with almonds and raisins were wonderful, toilets are in the children's book section: NB triangle standing on its points are mens, and standing on its base are womans.

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4isabella
Riga, Latvia 5 stars
On a day when big snow flakes were falling, we went to the Photographic Museum in Riga. Its got evocative photos of past times...soldiers on their way to various wars, young brides, family photos of people long gone. But the speciality was the display case dedicated to Walter Zapp, the inventor of the Minox Spy camera in the 1930's. You can see the camera complete with leather case and reels of negatives ...very John le Carre. Then we went on to the Province Brasserie just 2 minutes walk from the Museum of Occupation. We've eaten there several times now and always enjoyed it, cosy and good service. Their cream of spinach soup drizzled with olive oil and toasted sesame seeds, together with dark rye bread was warming with a mug of hot red wine. Then we had pork fillet with melted cheese on a bed of mashed potatoes and jasmine tea sweetened with apricot jam to finish. Not the cheapest but a real treat. The tables at the window look onto the Square. Great way to spend a snowy Saturday in Riga.

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Elizaoprisor
Train Frankfurt-Budapest 4 stars
We were lucky to find a special offer from the Deutsche Bahn, the german railway company. We paid around 160 EUR from Frankfurt to Budapest and back, on a direct train. The journey took about 10 hours and was really pleasant. We traveled with an EC-Train which is great, because it has sockets and you can take your laptop and use it in the train. The train was not very full and we got to make some friends during the ride. When we got to Austria the train staff changed and they were even nicer than the germans. The train got really full in Hungary and we were the only non-Hugarian speaking persons in the whole wagon. It was a nice experience.

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AndreaLJC
Cheap Airlines – Europe 5 stars
Cheap airlines have sprung up all over the place and its now pretty hard to keep track of what ones there actually are, a lot of the companies seem to go out of business quickly but the main two long standing companies have been Easy Jet and Ryan Air. The prices are great especially if you get sale prices or one of their special deals. With Ryan Air you can often fly for ₤1, this is a one way flight with out tax though so bear that in mind! The flights are fine, a bit cramped and you don't get food, you can buy food though but its pretty expensive and pretty poor quality but at the end of the day its cheap travel so really you cant beat it!

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Elizaoprisor
CouchSurfing 4 stars
I have discovered CouchSurfing about half a year ago. I was really excited and I must say, it's a great concept. The only thing is that when my boyfriend and I were planning our trip to London, we wrote at least 20 E-mails and all the answers were negative. I found that a bit strange. Now we are planning a trip to Hungary and Romania, and the same thing happens. It is true that they verify you, but you have to pay 25$ for that. We have hosted a couple last week and it was a pleasant experience. I will keep on trying, because I believe in the concept and support it 100%.

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WorldTourist
Travel Cheap Around Europe 4 stars
Flying around Europe is probably the cheapest in the world. In Europe there are several companies that offer cheap flights. Germanwings.com, Ryanair.com, and Easyjet.com. These flights can cost as little as 8 euros between two cities. It is recommended to book as early as possible in advance.

Eurolines offers bus travel within europe for cheap prices. They have a pass that allows for 15 days travel for only 200 euros. They downside I see to this is the fact that buses take long time to get between destinations. Usually I have had to sit next to many strange people and its almost impossible to sleep leaving you very tired when you get to your destination.

Another option is to get a Eurorail pass. These passes allow for travel within Europe for great deals when you compare to the price it woud cost to buy individual tickets.

Traveling with car pool has been one of the ways that I have been able to get the cheapest transportation throughout Europe. Finding a car pool is easy with the following service: mitfahrgelegenheit.de. Basically you find someone who is going to the city that you want to go to and then you pay part of the transportation costs.


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