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European tour

4 Great Reasons To Choose Europe As Your Next Holiday Destination

 

If you have grown tired of the same type of vacation year after year, it is time to consider something different. As a continent, Europe has a great deal to offer. With each country having its own distinct culture and personality, there is literally no shortage of exciting adventures to take part in. From the Baltic nations to the Mediterranean, and from Eastern to Western Europe, your next holiday can shape up to a most memorable one. European excursions are plentiful, and they are a great way to unwind from the daily stress of life and experience something new. As you begin the planning process, consider the following four great reasons to choose Europe as your next holiday destination.

 

Every Country is Unique

Visiting Europe allows you the opportunity to visit several countries all in the same vacation. With each nation having its own distinct culture and history, you will be amazed at the possibilities. Consider the United Kingdom as an example. You will have the opportunity to travel to several different countries in a seamless manner and partake in a variety of national activities in each. Few other regions of the world make this type of experience possible. Your holiday will be enriching, educational, and fun. The only limit is your imagination and your willingness to embrace new cultures, ways of thinking, and experiences. Just remember to leave plenty of space on you camera, as you will almost certainly need it.

 

Exceptional Value

Another appealing aspect of traveling to Europe is the exceptional value that you will receive. Because you can accomplish so much is such a limited timeframe, you can do much more than would ordinarily be possible on a normal holiday. This means that you can go fishing in one country, horseback riding in another, and partake in a pub crawl in a major capital city. The possibilities exist for every member of your traveling party to take part in exactly the type of activities that they enjoy the most, while still having plenty of time left over for a bit of rest and relaxation. You will find a range of accommodation types throughout Europe as well. If you are young and adventurous, you might opt for hostels as you hop from place to place. There are also family oriented bed and breakfast inns, quaint guesthouses, and five star resorts. Whatever your comfort level and budget might be, you find more than an option or two throughout Europe.

 

Extensive Transportation Network

If you think that your only option for transport in Europe is to fly from one place to the other, you will once again be pleased with this next bit of news. It is incredibly easy to get around virtually the entire continent. There is an extensive network of roads, trains, busses, and ferries to get travelers and residents alike where they need to go. Once again, fares are incredibly affordable. You can even take a river cruise throughout the region, stopping in major cities along the way. Going from one city to another is easy with the extensive train network. The list of benefits in this regard can go on and on.

 

No Shortage of Activities

Another notable advantage of traveling to Europe is the wide range of activities that you can take part in. While some people might enjoy a beach holiday, others might enjoy a relaxing week in a countryside village. You can actually do both in Europe within the same trip. The only real limitation will be the amount of time that you have spend on the continent, so take time and plan your activities accordingly.

While these are four great reasons to go to Europe, there are many more that could be mentioned. The fact is that this one continent has just about everything that one could expect to get out of a holiday. Take your time and work with a travel planner to ensure that everything comes off just right. Let them know what you want and then allow them to go out and find just the right excursion for you. Then, sit back and pack your bags as the adventure awaits.

 

 

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Don’t Make These Typical Mistakes When Travelling in Spain

Travelling through Spain is wonderful. Warm weather, friendly people, stunning beaches and a relaxed lifestyle. Spain truly is somewhere you can go when you need a break from the daily hustle and bustle. But, as with any other foreign country, you need to be prepared for what could happen on your trip. Many people make mistakes when planning a trip to Spain. Don’t let it happen to you.

 

Pixabay

 

Driving Through Spain

Looking at Spain on a map and actually being there are two very different things. Driving through Spain looks as simple as simple can be on a map, but you may find it stressful if you decide to take the challenge on. Firstly, Spain is a much larger place than most people realize, and secondly, Spanish drivers aren’t exactly known for their courtesy. If you’re planning to drive on your vacation, you could be putting yourself through unnecessary hassle. There are much easier ways of getting around.

 

A Secluded Hotel

The thought of being away from city life and taking time to relax is tempting, but being too far away from town and city centers could be a mistake. The point of travelling is to experience the culture of a new country and you won’t get that experience if you’re forced to stay in your hotel. You may find that you waste a lot of time going to local shops, restaurants etc. and travelling back to your hotel. Being within walking distance of main attractions will allow you to experience authentic Spain and be near local amenities for emergencies.

Pixabay

 

Sticking to Your Own Habits

When in Spain, do as the Spaniards do. While you’re travelling through Spain, you may notice that the locals have different eating habits. The timings of their meals are often different to other countries, but it’s important to go with the flow. Many people make the mistake of eating lunch at their normal times and then venturing out of their hotels to find that local shops or attractions are closed. Spaniards usually take long breaks to avoid the midday heat and eat lunch afterwards. So, it’s worth waiting to eat your meals the same time as them and join in with the locals and learn Spanish so you aren’t caught out.

 

Pack Heavy

Most people visit Spain during the Summer months, but if you’re planning a trip when the weather is colder, don’t be tempted to pack heavy. Spain is full of long walks and stairs and steep hills. Each time you leave your hotel, you may have to be prepared for a work-out. Similarly, you don’t want to be dragging a heavy suitcase through cobbled streets and alleys that are difficult to navigate.

 

Open Jaw Ticket

When travelling through Spain, many people make the mistake of flying to and from the same city. Having an open jaw ticket will ensure you can fly into Barcelona but leave from Madrid, saving you time and hassle.

 

Travelling through Spain is certainly an experience, but don’t make the common mistakes of others.

 

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What To See Around The Pest Side of Budapest

 

It’s been several months since I visited Budapest in Hungary but the beauty of that place still lingers in my mind like it was just yesterday.  I have expected most of Europe to be similar in terms of architecture and design but somehow, I have been taken by Budapest’s beauty.

I have seen various old towns and cities of other European countries. Their beauty varies from one another. Budapest in Hungary is like a gem tucked in the Central part of Europe. Budapest has been cited as one of the beautiful cities in the world and a top travel destination by a famous travel magazine.

Budapest is the combination of 2 cities, the Buda and Pest side. These 2 are separated by several bridges and one of that is the famous Chain Bridge.

If you are visiting Budapest anytime soon, take note of these places when you are in the Pest side.

 

Andrassy Avenue

The Andrassy Avenue is touted as the Champs Elysees of Budapest. Museums, theaters and opera house line up along this grand Avenue. You can also visit the House of Terror which shows the horrors of what Hungary had experienced during the 20th century.

 

Danube Promenade / Danube Bank

The Danube river bank serves as the promenade of many locals and tourists alike. Here, you can find the Memorial of the Shoes. These shoes are bronze replicas of the Jews who were executed by the Arrow Crosses. They were made to remove their shoes by the bank before they were shot, and their bodies fell and drifted along the River Danube. It is a very poignant memorial to honor those who have perished during the ugly face of World War II.

 

Vaci Utca

This is a famous shopping area in Budapest. It is lined with shops and eateries with beautiful, ornate facade. You can stroll here and enjoy the atmosphere or just sit back in one of the coffee shops and people watch.

 

Hungarian National Parliament

©Ria C/riatravelbug.com

Nestled in front of the Danube River, the Hungarian National Parliament is a prominent Neo-Gothic architectural structure in the Pest side of Budapest. It is easy to see this place from various trams plying through the area. Tourists can easily walk to the building from the Chain Bridge and traverse the lovely cobble stone street of Pest.

 

St. Stephen’s Basilica

©Ria C/riatravelbug.com

I was very lucky to have stayed near the Istvan Basilica (St. Stephen’s Basilica) during my vacation in Budapest, Hungary last year. The view from my room was the dome of this beautiful Basilica. Regular mass is still being held in the Basilica. You can also tour the inside of the Basilica for free but take note of the timing as it is not open throughout the day. You can also climb up in the bell tower for a fee for a breath-taking view of Budapest.

The basilica is the largest in the city and can hold around 8,000 plus people. It also houses the relic of St. Stephen’s right hand which is also open for the public to view.

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

 

Széchenyi Baths

This is a huge bath complex in the whole of Europe.  It is relatively cheap to enjoy a good bath in this huge complex that is open until night time.

 

Great Market Hall

This place is located at the end of Szabadsag Bridge. It is also known as the Central Market Hall. It has 3 levels. The market sells a wide variety of goods from the famous paprika spice of Hungary, to the many tasty sausages and salamis, local produce, and other dry goods such as Hungarian embroidery and fabrics, and other arts and crafts. You can also grab some ready to eat food here or sample their local cuisine in the food stalls inside the market.

 

The Chain Bridge

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

The famous beautiful bridge that spans between the Buda and Pest sides of Budapest across the Danube River is called The Chain Bridge. I managed to cross the bridge on foot to reach the Buda side and the view is spectacular! I highly recommend this to visitors in Budapest. There is a pathway on each side of the bridge for pedestrians and bicycle access as well. And once you reach the middle part, take a good look of the beautiful scene in front of you. You get to see Buda and Pest!

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

 

The Great Synagogue

This Synagogue is the largest built in the entire of Europe around 1854-1859 in a Moorish style architecture. Next to it is the Jewish Museum which features their tradition, culture, costumes, and history.

 

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle is located inside the city park near the Széchenyi Baths. It was built during 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition in Hungary, and it also houses the Museum of Agriculture.

 

Let me share this brief video I have taken from the Buda Hill and it shows the marvelous vista of Pest.

Panoramic view of Pest from the Buda Hill

 

There are more to see in the Pest side of Budapest that I haven’t included here. If you have been to Budapest, you can share more places of interest by leaving a comment in this post.

I hope you will consider these places of interest when you plan your vacation to Budapest.

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Milan, Venice and Barcelona in a Week

Posted in Barcelona, European tour, Italy, Milan, Spain, travelogue, vacation, Venice
on October 16, 2015

Bonding with my daughter this summer for our mini-Euro trip was the best decision I have made to spend my bonus money. To some, it may not even be a good decision because there are bills to pay. I couldn’t care less about the bills. Money will come and go but the time I spend with my daughter is more precious than money can ever buy. So, I decided to spend the bonus for this mini-Euro trip and my daughter and I can actually vouch for this – WE HAD FUN!

Milan was the first stop. We stayed with relatives in Milan for 3 days. My hubby’s cousins took us to the usual spot like Duomo, the Galleria and nearby places of interests we’ve seen the first time we toured Milan in 2008. However, this time, my daughter and I climbed the Duomo to see the Golden Virgin Mary on top of the church roof. Well, the experience was very enchanting but climbing up the stairs when you’re not physically fit (I’m not an active person) had me gasping for air sometimes. I need to really, really work out because when you travel, there are lots of walking involved. I have just realised how “not physically” fit I was while climbing the stairs. It wasn’t very steep but I lost count how many steps we have climbed to see the majestic Virgin Mary on the roof top. I’m glad my daughter was there to cheer me on and gave me encouragement to keep going because I was already throwing a hissy fit. I just had to tell myself it was a sacrifice I wanted to offer for the Lord so I needed the extra strength to climb the last few steps.

Seeing the top of Duomo is a must when you visit Milan. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the town centre from the top. Aside from the great view, you’ll see the Golden Virgin Mary, the details of the Duomo spires, and other sculpture that was there that time we visited.

Going down was a breeze. You now have an option to use the lift (and guess what, we did!) or the stairs. I wish they had installed that while going up especially for the elders who would need help climbing.

We had snacks at the nearby Galleria and went in the middle part of the Galleria where the peak of the glass dome is. Rumour has it that when you stand in the middle of the glass dome and make a wish, it will come true. My daughter and I wished and let’s see. Hmmmm…

We walked around Galleria and the nearby places of interests then took the train back home. We slept early for our Venice day trip by car.

June 13 was Venezia day. It was a long drive from Milan. I think it was almost 3 hours and we had several stops in between to rest and grab snacks in Autogrill. I like the Autogrill because it has plenty of merchandise and the deli is fab! There are plenty of Autogrill along the way and I lost count how many I’ve seen.

Finally, Venezia (Venice) was on the horizon. Seeing the cruise ships around the port and the smaller yachts signalled the entrance to the famous Venice. We parked near the cruise ships port and walked towards the main entrance to Venice. We took the ferry to take us to San Marco rather than make pit stops elsewhere. San Marco is one of the famous sites to visit in Venice and we wanted to see it right away. From there, we just walked and visited different alleys and checked out shops. We had some snacks in a small deli near San Marco. We even got lost at some point because we didn’t carry any map and relied to our GPS in the phone which was not much of a help if you are not familiar with N, S, E, W directions. We finally found our way back to San Marco Piazza and decided to just walk along the main canal route so we wouldn’t get lost again. It was very hot that day and much as I appreciate the beauty around me, I could only take so much “heat” and we all decided to head back to the main train station of Venice which is also the main entrance.

It was another long drive back home and we left around 5:30 p.m. The sun was still up so we just took one pit stop to another Autogrill to refresh and unwind. We reached home almost around past 9:00 and amazingly, the sun was still up so we felt like it was not yet late.

June 14 was just a rest day as we headed to Malpensa Airport Terminal 2 in the afternoon. Our flight to Barcelona was not until 6:30 a.m. the next day. I have decided to book a night’s stay at Moxy Malpensa Milan Airport because it was just in front of Terminal 2. We didn’t want to cause any inconvenience to our cousins as they have to work the next day. The hotel was superb! I would book there again.

We checked out at 4:30 a.m. to give us ample time to have breakfast in the airport. The hotel was just a mere 3-5 minutes walk from the Terminal 2 of Malpensa Airport where we would board for our EasyJet flight to Barcelona. There were plenty of people already at that time so walking wasn’t scary. Amazingly, there were some luggage trolleys outside the hotel’s entrance door so we grabbed one and the walk was convenient for us. It was a bit rainy and dark but the place was already buzzing with people catching their flights and the nearby offices made the area ok. There were ample lighting as well on the posts so walking from the hotel to the airport terminal was ok.

My daughter and I decided to have our mini-breakfast inside the airport as soon as we passed the immigration and before we headed to the boarding gate. The flight left on time and was just more than an hour before we landed at El Prat Airport in Barcelona. Ola Espana!

June 15 to 18 was our intended stay in Barcelona. As soon as we arrived, we followed the signs leading to the baggage carousel and headed to the nearest exit. I was a bit surprised that we didn’t go through immigration anymore. It’s been a while since I travelled to Europe so the borderless travel concept seemed so foreign to me.

We looked for the Aerobus ticket booth so I could exchange the ticket voucher I bought online for our return trip bus passes. We boarded the Aerobus, and we arrived at Plaça Catalunya in less than 45 minutes without any traffic jam. From there, we just walked to our hotel.

The rest of the day was spent walking around Barcelona’s famous plaza. More details of out trip in separate posts.

We had a marvelous time and wished the vacation was longer. We are definitely going back to Spain and next time we will visit other places like Madrid, Sevilla, and probably even go on a side trip to Lisbon.

There’s another Euro trip in the offing but maybe next year when I figure out when due to my daughter’s school roster.

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