October 20, 2017

Unique Lodging Is It For You?

Lodging comes in all sizes and shapes.  When traveling, there are a lot of options available in the European lodging market.  We can camp, stay in a trailer, hotel or a bed and breakfast.  These categories can even be broken down further from ranging hostel to 5 star lodging.

But if a standard room or suite just won’t do, what are your options?  Rest assured,

The choices in the unique category include yurts, jumbo jets, lighthouses, castles, tepees, chateaux, tree houses or even a jail!

But that’s not all, here are 5 very special and unique types of lodging in Europe that may answer your dreams or inspire a trip.

La Balade des Gnomes, Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite at La Balade des Gnomes in Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite from La Balade des Gnomes

Set in a very quiet setting and offering 10 different and unique rooms, La Balade des Gnomes may fill all of your fanciful dreams.  You may opt to sleep in a moon buggy, Troll forest which includes a gold fish infested stream, a boat that is floating in a swimming pool or wine cellar.  Inspired by fairy tales, all of the rooms are decorated in a style that uses motifs and colors from around the world. But what caught my eye was a very unique offering known as the Trojan Horse suite.

Fort Clonque, United Kingdom

For Clonque United Kingdom Unique European Lodging

Fort Clonque by FlickrDelusions, on Flickr

Owned by the Landmark Trust, Fort Clonque is a unique lodging set on an island in the middle of the English Channel where the views are spectacular and storms are something to experience!  The rooms are in a 19th century fortification that has seen more than its share of history.  The fort is reached via a causeway and once you cross the drawbridge entrance you feel as if you have crossed into another time.  Spread throughout the fort, your room may be in an old war room or the German Casement, which was a Nazi gun turret!

Cappadocia Cave Resort, Turkey

One of the more stunning lodging options is the Cappadocia Cave Resort.  Set in one of the most beautiful settings, this hotel not only offers unique lodging but the opportunity to explore a region that is teeming with UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Built into the side of the mountain, the rooms combine actual cave walls with lovely warm wood and other natural stone creating a breathtaking view inside and out.

Utter Inn, Sweden

Utter Inn Sweden and Underwater hotel

Before being set on the lake

The Utter Inn is an underwater hotel located in Lake Mälaren near Stockholm, Sweden.  At first glance, the hotel seems to be another typical Swedish red house on a diving platform floating in the lake but looks are so deceiving!  Once in the house, open the hatch and descend the metal steps to enter your room. There awaits glorious windows offering underwater viewing on all sides!

Sala Silvermine Suite, Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite in Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

Sala Silvermine Suite Sweden

Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sala Silvermine offers an underground suite that is accessed by going down the mine shaft.  Upon arrival you will be escorted down the mine shaft and given a tour of the festivity hall and the other nooks and crannies existing on the same level, which by the way is 500 feet below ground! Once in the mine, you will find your room glowing from the chandelier and candles used to illuminate your bed chamber.

Would you stay in an alternative type hotel?

Get into the festive spirit with a visit to London’s winter ice rinks!

As we get ready for the Christmas holiday, I thought it would be great to share with you a guest post from Hostelbookers about the amazing ice skating rinks that have popped up in London!  My family and I have enjoyed some of the rinks that pop up in San Francisco during the holidays and am sure any one of these would be a great addition to any trip to London.

London is well and truly in the Christmas spirit now – traditional Christmas markets line the South Bank, mulled wine stalls are doing a thriving trade across the city, and temporary ‘pop up’ ice rinks are everywhere. There are so many ice rinks to choose from but this is our pick of the best – so that you can get your skates on, whether you live locally,  are staying in some cheap hotels in London, or just wish you were here!

Tower of London

Our first choice is a very iconic location for an open-air ice rink – the famous Tower of London. It’s a very popular attraction in itself, so if you’re visiting the capital, a trip to the rink here could kill two birds with one stone.  The rink is set in front of the imposing fortress on the tower’s moat, so skating here gives some great views of the castle.

Skating by Tower of London England

Skating by Tower of London by Graham Racher, on Flickr

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is famous for its dinosaur, planet and human science exhibits. However, in winter it’s also home to a 900 sq meter open-air ice rink.  We love the architecture of the Natural History Museum and, as an added bonus, the outdoor café sells hot chocolate and mulled wine. It’s a good place to take a date with the bars and restaurants of Soho just a short walk away.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink London England

Natural History Museum Ice Rink by iJammin, on Flickr

Somerset House

Somerset House is a very glamorous skating location. The rink is sponsored by none other than the famous jewelers, Tiffany & Co. The house itself is a magnificently proud building and they’ve even erected a sparkling 40 ft Tiffany Tree to add to the decadence. If you’re a little bit of a drama queen, this is the perfect skating location 🙂

Ice skating @ Somerset House London England

Ice skating @ Somerset House by drew_anywhere, on Flickr

London Eye

The iconic ‘eye’, giving 360 degree views of the city, calls its rink the Eyeskate. A little touristy, the Eye is the closest thing we Brits have to the Effiel Tower and, love it or hate it, it does look pretty lit up at night.  The best thing about the Eyeskate is its location on the South Bank – just a short walk away from countless cultural attractions, like the BFI cinema and Royal Festival Hall.

Hyde Park

Not only is the Samsung Galaxy Ice Rink London’s biggest ice rink, it’s also a part of Hyde Park’s famous ‘Winter Wonderland’, which is where the city’s largest open space is transformed with markets, fairground rides and even a circus.  One of the highlights of Winter Wonderland is the ‘carousel bar’ where you can sit on a plastic horse as you sip mulled wine. Winter Wonderland is so popular that it’s worth going just to experience the crowds and the atmosphere.

Skating Hyde Park London England

Skating Hyde Park by Donna_Rutherford, on Flickr

 

So, what do you think about London’s ice-rinks?
Are they a good way to get into the festive spirit?

My Travel ABC’s

Before Thanksgiving I received an invitation from Katherina  of 1000 Miles Highway to participate in the A to Z survey about travel called The ABC of Travel!

Thanks Katherina for including me!

Now, European Travelista’s ABC’s of Travel.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: At 23 I made my first international trip to Europe which was also my first solo trip and is still my favorite!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: The best foreign beer I’ve had was at Stiegl Keller in Salzburg.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure why it is my favorite but I think it might have something to do with the amazing views of Salzburg or the fantastic meal I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, it was memorable!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

C: Cuisine (favorite): Mexican Food!  I love it spicy and could eat it for every meal.  While in Europe, my favorite cuisine would have to be German.  Can’t get enough of schnitzel, spatzle, sausage and sauerkraut or goulash soup 🙂

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Bavaria Germany holds a special place in my heart!  This was my first stop on my first trip and Bavaria just feels so comfy to me.  I can’t seem to get enough of the mountains and tiny Bavarian villages. My least favorite would have to be Budapest which just left me feeling Bleh!  Although I am going to give it another try.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: This summer I had the unexpected opportunity to witness Lederhosen clad goat herders bringing the goats back to the barn! An event I thought only lived on in books.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Ooh that’s hard.  I actually like all modes of transportation and have used them at different times.  Trains, buses, cars are all amazing and offer different perspectives.  I guess my favorite mode is via an airplane because when I get on an airplane it means I’m going somewhere!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The feeling of awe when seeing amazing scenery, experiencing the peace and serenity of mountains, flower bedecked houses or realizing how old the city or building really is.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Ixtapa, Mexico during July!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Once we were eating at a café in Paris and we had a great waiter.  He would joke with us (yes it was Paris France) and when we asked what type of Dijon mustard they had on the table he gave us a bottle!  It’s the little things that make a difference to me.

J: Journey that took the longest: Driving through Austria and Switzerland during my 2 week honeymoon!

Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

In Front of Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

K: Keepsake from your travels: I love buying Christmas ornaments from any where I travel because I get to relive my travels while decorating the tree with my family!

L: Let-down sight, why and where: The Terror Museum in Budapest. This museum left me wanting more. . . much more.  Upon entering you hear intimidating music, see an old Soviet tank and busts of some of the more notorious characters of the soviet period in Budapest.  I was expecting many more items of torture and not the narration in Hungarian I got.  The museum was really very stark without many exhibits of actual devices of terror.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: My first trip to Europe in 1981 filled me with a love of Europe that has lasted to this day!  I love traveling anywhere and am the one that does all the research and planning for trips no matter where we are going.

View from room at Palace Hotel Lucerne Switzerland

View from Palace Hotel

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: My personal budget doesn’t include luxury hotels very often but I do enjoy luxury when I get it.  The nicest hotel I have ever stayed in would have to be the Palace Hotel in Lucerne Switzerland!  I had a corner suite which had amazing views of the lake and mountains surrounding this lovely city.  My next choice would have to be the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California. I love old historic hotels and my room in the old portion of this beauty was perfect.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I’m not sure I have an obsession but would have to say amazing views usually from or of mountains!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Oh if only they consistently stamped my passport!  Many places in Europe including London, Paris, Biarritz, Toulouse, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Copenhagen.  Add in Mexico and Tahiti.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Alligator Farm in Buena Park, California.  I loved this spot as a child since those alligators were really scary but alligators right across the street from Knots Berry Farm?!!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Spend a day in Auvers sur Oise (outside Paris) reliving Van Gogh’s last days, then visit the Orsay museum to view his art work!  This will make an art lover out of anyone!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Local food, but not at trendy fashionable restaurants, including beer, wine or local cocktail!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: A tour including the Changing of the Guard in London.  Couldn’t see a thing but I went back early in April and was able to visit on my own and see the entire procession without any one in my way!

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Visiting Zermatt Switzerland for the first time!  This charming village took my breath away.  Explore the village and mountains during the day and then enjoy an exquisite meal of fondue that night.  It is so warm and comfy!

V: Visas, how many and for where? To date, I haven’t need any visas 🙁

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? So I don’t remember what type of wine we had  but my husband and I had some great Italian red wine in Stresa overlooking Lago Maggiore!

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ooh there are a lot of great vantage points.  How about the amazing views from Neuschwanstein castle or the top of Mt. Pilatus?  Or the view of Paris after climbing the stairs at Notre Dame!  Or locally, the view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Y: Years spent traveling?: I have traveled my entire life if you include some vacations.  Unfortunately, my life has not afforded me the opportunity to spend years abroad . . . yet.  That is on the bucket list!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I am not a zealous sport fan but my first ice hockey game was very memorable.  My friend got tickets about 4 rows from the glass which makes for an exceptional game.  I didn’t know I had so much testosterone in me!

 

Well that’s my ABC’s, I would love to read the ABC’s of these fine bloggers:

Inside Journeys
Devour the World
Adventures with Ben
A View to a Thrill
EuroTravelogue

5 things to do in London for less than £5

As I am getting back in the groove after a long week off for Thanksgiving, I thought we should enjoy an awesome guest post about visiting London on a budget.  Enjoy and hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Visiting London can really pull on the purse strings – lots of the famous tourist attractions are very expensive and, if you’re on a budget, it can seem impossible to stick to it! Thankfully we’ve come up with a list of great things for the thrifty traveler to do in London, all for less than five pounds…

Test your brain at a museum

Visiting one of London’s world-famous museums may already be on the top of your list – so you’ll be glad to know that it’s actually the cheapest suggestion here! Many galleries and museums in the UK are ‘not for profit organisations’, which means that they’re absolutely free to visit. Famous attractions include the real life Egyptian mummies at the British Museum and a 26 meter dinosaur at the Natural History Museum. Other smaller, less well known museums, are devoted to everything from design to dentistry – and with over 240 to visit in the capital, there’s sure to be something to suit everyone.

Kings Library British Museum London England

Kings Library by Mujtaba Chohan

Fill up at a farmers market

Borough Market has been trading since 1014, so visiting the famous food stalls near London Bridge isn’t just about filling up on tasty treats -it’s also about experiencing a bit of London’s culinary history. Eating out in London can be very expensive, but farmers markets are a great place to track down good quality traditional British cuisine. You should be able to find a chunky meat pie for under a fiver!

Borough Market London England

Borough Market by Magnus D, on Flickr

Take in some Shakespeare

The Globe was a fantastically ambitious project- to replicate the original Elizabethan theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, by creating an identical structure, built exactly as they would have built it back then. The resulting fully-functional theatre, not only allows people to step inside and experience a piece of London’s history, but also brings the work of one of the most famous playwrights back to life. Taking a tour of the Globe costs £12.50 but, in the summer, you can get standing room at a performance for just five pounds. So, if you can cope with standing up for two hours or more, you can watch some of the best Shakespearean actors for next to nothing – all whilst feeling as though you are actually part of the original Elizabethan audience!

Hop on the back of a Routemaster

Is there anything more ‘London’ than a red, double Decker bus? Seen in countless films, they are true icons of London, along with big tourist attractions like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Very few of the original 1960’s buses survive, however the ‘heritage routes’, otherwise known as London Bus Routes 9 and 15, still use an original red Routemaster. You can hop on the open back of the bus, just like in the movies, and enjoy a very rickety ride past icons like St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and The Royal Albert Hall. At just £2.20 per journey, it’s a much cheaper alternative to a £25 guided coach tour.

The Routemaster 9 to Aldwych London England

The Routemaster 9 by zawtowers, on Flickr

Boat along the Thames

The Thames River is the second longest river in the UK and, aside from its cultural and historical significance, it’s also a pretty cool way to get around. If you’ve bought a travel card for your duration in the city, you can travel via the Thames Clipper for just £3.70 – and pass by the London Eye, Tower of London, and under Tower Bridge. If you want to incorporate the river into some of your cultural sight-seeing, then traveling from the Tate art gallery to the Tate Modern art gallery by boat costs a mere £5.

 

Share your favorite ‘budget’ thing to do while in London?

 

Amy Heritage writes about short break destinations for idealshortbreaks.co.uk which is dedicated to news and ideas for short break holidays!

A Chocolate Festival in London

Calling all Chocoholics!

So maybe you don’t need to be a chocoholic but you do need to be in London early December and looking for a different Festival that also offers tasty treats!

That’s right, if you’re in London December 9 – 11 you’ll want to make a beeline to the Southbank Centre Square for The Chocolate Festival!  You read that right, there will be a chocolate festival in London and it’s waiting for you:)

Southbank Chocolate Festival by Magnus D, on Flickr

Southbank Chocolate Festival by Magnus D, on Flickr

This gastronomic fete of chocolate offers something for everyone from those of us that like chocolate to those of you who live by chocolate!   Enjoy samples from some of the world’s best chocolatiers, a tasty array of chocolate dishes and cocktails plus if you’re still looking for that rationale to calm your guilt, you can participate in a session learning all about the health benefits of raw chocolate.

Chocolate sign #1 by dicktay2000, on Flickr

Chocolate sign #1 by dicktay2000, on Flickr

Can you imagine the aroma wafting through the halls of this Festival?

 

Some of the treats savored at past Chocolate Festivals include hot chocolate, churros with chocolate sauce, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate soup, truffles, chocolate mousse, cookies and chocolate Bellini’s or Martini’s.   If you want to do more than eat chocolate, as with most festivals you will have the opportunity to purchase some of your favorites! Don’t be selfish, remember your friends 🙂

LADIES LOVE IT.. by SNOTY PIMPIN  on Flickr

LADIES LOVE IT.. by SNOTY PIMPIN on Flickr

After wandering through the aisles of chocolate vendors you may opt for one of the chocolate demonstrations where you can learn about the history of hot chocolate which could include tastings, learn all about cocoa cultivation or even how to be a chocolate “connoisseur”.

This festival even offers Master of Chocolate Demonstrations where, in years past, you could learn to create caramel and rum chocolates, learn why using water is better than cream when making ganache, how to make the perfect chocolate curl or making the best Cocoa Bellini or Martini!

by André Karwath

So if you’re up for a weekend of nothing but chocolate head on over and indulge your taste buds in this most delectable treat!

Oh and did I mention, other than the Master of Chocolate Demonstrations, this event is FREE!

Can you think of a better way to spend a day?

An Evening in Edinburgh

Recently I’ve been spending all my time writing about my recent trip to Germany and Austria, so I thought we’d shake it up a bit today by enjoying a guest post on Edinburgh by Jesse Langley.  Enjoy!

The rain fell in grey sheets against the grey granite walls of the hostel and I looked out the window into a bleak grey sky.  Edinburgh is the only city I know that can produce so many varying shades of grey. I decided to wait out the rain and get some reading done.  My university fellowship in Edinburgh revolved around an in depth examination of the Scottish author Tobias Smollett and one novel in particular; “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker.”  I began reading Clinker for maybe the fourth time, determined to stick at it until the rain stopped.  As if sensing my determination, the rain slackened until it became individual droplets again.  The wind coming off the Firth of Forth and over Arthur’s Seat pushed the low-hanging grey clouds down Princess Street toward Holyrood Castle.  Before long, the grey sky gave way to a pale wash of early autumn sunlight and the rain was gone for good.

Arthurs Seat Edinburgh Scotland

Arthurs Seat by Jesse Langley

I rooted around in my oversized olive drab duffel until I found a thick grey wool sweater less wrinkled than its relatives and slid it on over a white cotton t-shirt to minimize the itchy wool on skin effect.  I stepped into a freshly laundered pair of Levis and laced up my boots snuggly.  Before leaving college and undergraduate life for good the year before, my favorite English professor told me that if I made it to Edinburgh I needed to climb Arthur’s Seat and look down over Edinburgh and take in the view stretching from the Firth of Fourth all the way over to Holyrood Castle. I told him that if I ever got to Edinburgh I’d make the climb.  Less than a year later I was ready to honor my promise.  I tossed my well-worn journal and an ink pen into a messenger bag with some granola bars and my well worn copy of Clinker and headed down the five stories of stairwells and into the streets of Edinburgh.

The wind had calmed to a brisk breeze and I plugged my headphones in.  I matched my stride to The Proclaimers singing “Sunshine on Leith” in their distinctive Scottish brogue.  I walked along the blacktop path leading toward the base of Arthur’s Seat.  As I got closer, I could see hawks circling on invisible currents of wind over the summit.  I was eager to share their view and as the blacktop ended I began the initial easy part of the climb.  Fifteen minutes later I was sweating profusely with the effort of the climb and stopped for a quick break.  I removed my wool sweater and tied it around my waist and started climbing again.  This part was the steepest and I hoped the view was worth it.  I met some climbers who were on the way back down and the wide grins on their faces after gaining the summit gave me a second wind. I finally arrived at the top and found the Firth of Forth stretched out beneath me to my right.

The Firth of Forth Edinburgh Scotland

The Firth of Forth by Jesse Langley

I found a big granite rock and sat down and took in the view.  I had Arthur’s Seat all to myself except for the hawks wheeling over my head.  I jotted some notes in my journal and ate a granola bar.  I began to read Clinker where I had left off in the hostel.  Down and to my left Holyrood Castle nestled into a patch of green landscape and all of Edinburgh lay like an unwrapped present at my feet.

Holyrood Castle from Arthurs Seat Edinburgh Scotland

Holyrood Castle from Arthurs Seat by Jesse Langley

 

Have you experienced this view in Edinburgh?

 

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He is an advocate for online education and has a keen interest in blogging and social media.

Off the Beaten Path – The French Basque Region

I have been fortunate to travel in some wonderful areas of Europe.  Some  are the tried and true tourist areas and others are lesser known and less traveled areas, at least to Americans.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit one of these “off the beaten path” destinations in France. The French Basque Region is an area not regularly frequented by Americans.  I find it interesting that Americans tend to spend their time in more well-known destinations – Paris, Rome, Florence, London or Munich – but don’t venture to some of the lesser known areas. I really have no clue why this is but wonder if US travelers view their European trip is a once in a lifetime event and must cram as much in as possible and, therefore, only hit the highlight.  Or is it because they are trendy spots and ones they must visit or they are just not “with it”?

No matter the reason, I truly enjoy getting “off the beaten path” and enjoy areas not on the usual tourist track.   It is one of these that I want tell you about.

I had the pleasure to spend a week in the French Basque region specifically the area between Bayonne and St. Jean de Luz a few years ago with the French Government Tourist Bureau. This trip was busy and I didn’t get do some extensive exploring but I definitely came away wanting to spend more time in this beautiful less traveled area.

Basque vista Southwest France

Basque Hills

The Southwest corner of France, from Bayonne to St. Jean de Luz, offers something for everyone. Whether you want beautiful beaches or rolling green hills, sleepy villages or towns of international renown; you can find it all in this striking region. The coastal villages offer dramatic sandy beaches, fishing ports, beautiful architecture and storied histories.

Bayonne France

Bayonne

Bayonne is the capital of the region and is known for its narrow streets, cathedral and chocolate. Bayonne was the first city in France to make chocolate  dating way back to the early 1600’s. Wandering the streets will offer ample opportunities to sample the wonderful chocolate of Bayonne.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Once a whaling village, Biarritz is now a resort to the rich and famous. Biarritz was the summer home of Eugenie and Napoleon and you can still see the impact of this in the stunning Hotel du Palais. Biarritz offers shopping, scenic views, museums and more. You will enjoy wandering the charming old town. After enjoying the sights which include a lighthouse and a Chocolate museum, you may want to spend some time in the casino before turning in for the night.

St Jean du Luz French Basque region

St Jean du Luz by marsupilami92, on Flickr

St. Jean de Luz is an enchanting town offering a sandy beach, picturesque harbor, outdoor cafes, architectural gems and a quaint town square. St. Jean de Luz is another great strolling town with beautiful narrow streets.

Basque Farm in Southwest France

Basque Farm

The French Basque have a well preserved culture and once you start moving inland you sense a more Basque feel to the environs. Moving inland you will find rolling green hills, peace and quiet, tradition and villages called “most beautiful villages in France.”

Scenic Basque Country France

Scenic Basque Country

Driving inland you will meet charming villages like Ascain, Sare and Ortillopitz. The storybook quality of this area make drives through the region an amazing journey. The discoveries you will find include churches, distinctive Basque architecture, lush countryside, vineyards, farms, pilgrimage routes and spectacular vistas. If you are a walker, you will be able to find many walking routes.

This section of France left a definite impression on me and I intend on returning.

 

What “off the beaten path” destinations have impacted you?

5 Cities To Take a Walk In

While I am in Europe I am hoping to take a few new walking tours and will share them with you when I get back.  For now, lets dig a little deeper into the archives and discover walking tours in 5 European cities!

A fairly recent new love of mine is walking tours. My love for walking tours began when my daughter went off to college and I needed to get out of my empty nest! Since I live in the San Francisco bay area, my husband and I headed off and enjoyed a fantastic walking tour of Nob Hill. Since then I have enjoyed many walking tours and look forward to new walking adventures in any city I visit.

To me, a walking tour allows you to really get to know a neighborhood at a much slower pace. I feel the amount of area covered is more limited allowing for a more in depth look into the subject of the walk. I have found the guides to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject. You can find walking tours in larger cities covering a vast range of topics – some are even free!

So to inspire you to walk a bit, I picked 5 European cities to begin a list of walking tour companies. Guides from all companies listed are from all walks of life (no pun intended) including historians, literary experts, art historians, performers and authors. Most of the tours listed do not require reservations, however, some do have minimums so look for this when deciding on the tour you will enjoy.

House of Parliament London

House of Parliament London by cookipediachef, on Flickr

London:

London Walks is a company offering many walking tours covering the neighborhoods of London. Their tours include: The Secrets of Westminster Abbey (From Opus Dei & Death’s Palace to The Da Vinci Code), The Beatles ‘In My Life’ Walk, The Hidden Pubs of Old London Town, Ghosts Gaslight & Guinness, and The Blitz – London at War. There is no need to book ahead and most walking tours are priced at 8£ (about $15). The biggest problem with this company is which tour to choose??

Eiffel Tower Paris France

Eiffel Tower

Paris :

Paris Walks offers many walking tours covering many of the wonderful neighborhoods Paris is so famous for. You could enjoy The Medieval Latin Quarter, The French Revolution, a Fashion Walk, the Village of Montmartre, Hemingway’s Paris or even a Chocolate walking tour! Again, the cost for these walking tours is quite reasonable at 12 € (about $16). Sign me up for the Chocolate tour! Is there a better way to enjoy chocolate and work off the calories at the same time?

Prague Czech Republic

Prague by photojenni, on Flickr

Prague:

Learn about all that makes Prague famous by taking one of these walking tours from Prague Walks: Prague Castle Walk, Jewish Prague, Ghost Walk, Pubs of the Old Town and the Best of Prague, which also includes lunch and a river cruise. Prices range from 300 czk to 890 czk (from $17 to $50 for the Best of Prague). A few of these tours have minimums so be sure to check their website for more details. For you early risers, they offer a Good Morning Walk where you will be able to enjoy Prague before the crowds are even up!

 

Brandenburg Gate Berlin Germany

Brandenburg Gate Berlin by Bernt Rostad, on Flickr

Berlin:

Original Berlin Walks offers tours that help you discover Berlin and its storied history. You may decide to choose one of these tours: Discover Berlin Tour, Infamous Third Reich Sites, Jewish Life in Berlin and Nest of Spies Tours. These tours are 12 € ($16). While looking at their website, I noticed their guides list their favorite restaurants which I think is a real bonus. . . local recommendations can’t be beat!

Marienplatz Munich Germany

Marienplatz Munich by JoeDuck, on Flickr

Munich:

Munich Walk Tours offers a unique way to learn about Munich and its history and culture. Walking tours include: Bavarian Food Tasting & Viktualienmarkt, Haunted Munich Ghost Tour, Beer and Brewery Tour (you are in Munich!), Hitler’s Munich (aka Third Reich Tour) and The City Walk & English Garden tour. These tours range in price from 12 €22 € ($16-$30). Munich Walk Tours also offer a couple bike riding tours, which is my next “adventure” to tackle.

There you have it, 5 cities 5 different walking tour companies. Try one, you won’t be disappointed. This list is not complete and inclusion here does not mean an endorsement is being made.

I do, however, suggest you venture out and walk a bit. . .


Have you taken a walking tour?

Which walking tour would you most like to enjoy??

Crazy Strange Sports?

While I was doing research on the Strange Games and Unique Festivals in Europe post I found many more “events” that would qualify but didn’t include.  There was one unique thing that a lot of these “events” had in common.  They were all being held somewhere in England!

Let’s celebrate some of the crazy strange sports taking place in England.

Cheese Rolling Festival
This annual event is held on Cooper Hill near Gloucester England.  Competitors stand at the top of the hill and roll a round of Gloucester cheese down the hill, racing after it.  The first to cross the finish line is declared the winner.  Theoretically contestants are supposed to catch the round of cheese at the bottom but the rounds of cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, so that might not be such a good idea!

Cheese Rolling Race Glousester England

Cheese Rolling Racel by by Dave Farrance

World Toe Wrestling Championship
Yes this is a real event that is, in fact, gaining popularity in the UK!  There are even rules for this event that started in the 1970’s.  Both shoes and socks must be removed and it is common courtesy for each wrestler to remove their opponent’s shoes and socks!  After linking toes the match begins and the first to pin their opponent wins.  This year’s event was held in Derbyshire and the final contestants were Paul “Predatoe” Beech and Alan “Nasty” Nash.  Since they have nicknames, they must take this seriously, right?

World Black Pudding Throwing Championship
Otherwise known as Blood Pudding, the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship is held in Ramsbottom and revisits the centuries old rivalry between the Yorkshire and Lancashires!  For this competition, the Yorkshire pudding is set 20 feet high and competitors hurl their black pudding in an attempt to tumble over the stacks of Yorkshire pudding.  The festival like atmosphere makes this sound very intriguing!

Black Pudding Throwing in Ramsbottom England

Black Pudding Throwing by Paul Anderson

Strip Poker World Championship
This event is held in London and probably doesn’t need too much explanation!  Texas Hold ‘em is the game played.  Each competitor starts off with 5 pieces of clothing, which is given to them, and a towel to sit on and cover up with once they have lost all their clothing.  For obvious reasons, no pictures are included 🙂

Strip Poker Championship London England

by RenoTahoe, on Flickr

World’s Biggest Liar Competition
Wasdall England is the location for this annual event looking for the person who can spin the biggest believable yarn!  Each contestant is given 5 minutes to tell the biggest bestest lie without using any props or scripts.  Politicians and Lawyers are not allowed to compete – gee let me guess why?  This contest is held in honor of Will Ritson who was a local pub owner known for his ability at telling larger than life tales.

World Water Bombing Championship
This team competition draws people from all around helping out one of their favorite charities.  All team members must be dressed up.  Some come as babies with diapers, or men dressed in women’s finest and others come as scary ghouls! There are award for the best bombs, costumes and most fund raising but all teams are treated to a wonderful “pie and pea” supper after all the fun is over.

Football in the River
Ok, I’ll admit I included this one not because it is so strange but because it looks like so much fun!  Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire is home to this annual game of medieval football.  Goal posts are set up in the Windrush River and two teams duke it out.  There is a referee whose job it is to keep things civil or at least try.  As you can imagine, spectators who line the banks of the river.  If you’re in England, this year the event will take place on August 29.  Make sure you dress appropriately as you will definitely get wet!

 

 

Would you like to see any of these events?

Why do you think so many of these events are held in England?

Bridging Europe

When traveling we come across many bridges that are part of the local customs, history and folklore.

Some bridges are very famous or very high

Đurđevića Tara Bridge over the river Tara in Montenegro

Đurđevića Tara Bridge in Montenegro by Cornelius Bechtler

Tower Bridge London England

Tower Bridge London England by Diliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some are very beautiful and some you couldn’t pay me to cross!

Kapellbrucke Lucerne Switzerland

Kapellbrucke Lucerne Switzerland

Rickety Bridge in Europe

Rickety Bridge Latvia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But they all are works of art, functional and just plain amazing. I’m not an engineer, so it always amazes me how these structures can stretch so far, reach so high and withstand all the abuse they take from vehicles and the elements.

 

I thought it would be fun to look at few bridges Europe has to offer!

Oresund Bridge

Öresund Bridge Sweden Denmark

Öresund Bridge by Hardo, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Øresund or Öresund Bridge is one of the more unique bridges I have ever seen. This bridge connects Denmark and Sweden and is both a bridge and tunnel! The bridge portion spans 25,739 feet from Sweden to a manmade island, Peberholm, from here you enter the tunnel to cross under the Drogden strait. The tunnel includes 2 rail tracks and 4 lanes for cars. During construction there were 2 delays one being do to finding 16 unexploded bombs from WWII laying on the seafloor.

Goltzsch Viaduct

Goltzsch Viaduct Saxony Germany

Goltzsch Viaduct Saxony Germany© Chriusha (Хрюша)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goltzsch Viaduct is the largest brick built bridge in the world. This railway bridge was built between 1846 – 1851, spans the Goltzsch valley and connects Bavaria and Saxony in Germany. There are 98 vaults over 4 levels with the top level made up of 29 arches.

Rio-Antirrio Bridge

Rio-Antirrio Bridge Greece

Rio-Antirrio Bridge Greece © Guillaume Piolle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful Rio-Antirrio Bridge is official known as the Charilaos Trikoupis bridge and is the longest multi span cable-stayed bridge in the world. Crossing the Gulf of Corinth and connecting the towns of Rion and Antrion (on the Greek mainland), this 9,449’ long bridge is a feast for the eyes! The bridge has 2 lanes for traffic in each direction and a path for walkers or bikers. An interesting fact is the piers can slide on the gravel to accommodate any tectonic movement.

Bosphorus Bridge

Bosphorus Bridge Istanbul Turkey

Bosphorus Bridge Istanbul Turkey By Kara Sabahat

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bosphorus Bridge is one of the few bridges on this earth that spans 2 continents. This beautiful bridge spans the Borphorus strait connecting Europe and Asia. The suspension bridge has 3 lanes in each direction for cars and when it is fully loaded sags 35” at mid span! There is an annual marathon that includes running over the bridge.

Vasco de Gama Bridge

Vasco de Gama Bridge Lisbon Portugal

Vasco de Gama Bridge Lisbon Portugal by Till Niermann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The longest bridge in Europe is the Vasco de Gama which spans the Tagus river near Lisbon, Portugal. The bridge is almost 11 miles long and was opened in 1998 just in time for Expo 98 which celebrated the 500th anniversary of de Gama’s discovery of the route from Europe to India.

Magdeburg Water Bridge

Madgeburg Water Bridge Germany

Madgeburg Water Bridge Germany by Botaurus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magdeburg Water Bridge caught my eye because it isn’t a bridge made for cars or trains. This bridge is a navigable aqueduct for boats connecting the Elbe-Havel canal to the Mittelandkanal by spanning the Elbe river in Eastern Germany! There is a walkway and bike path along the span including signs telling the history and construction of the bridge.

So there you have it! Some beautiful, unique and interesting bridges you could find while in Europe.


Have you seen any of these? Do you like Bridges?