European Travel Tips Tips on traveling through Europe! <![CDATA[Travel Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2012 01:15:40 +0000 <![CDATA[Travel Quick Tip by DavidStanley]]> Tue, 5 Jul 2011 16:39:31 +0000 <![CDATA[Travel Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
]]> Sat, 21 May 2011 16:40:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Barcelona, Spain Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
]]> Mon, 9 May 2011 03:30:58 +0000
<![CDATA[French Cuisine Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Wed, 4 May 2011 04:10:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Interlaken, Switzerland Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sun, 1 May 2011 14:05:12 +0000 <![CDATA[Travel + Leisure Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2011 03:35:07 +0000 <![CDATA[ Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> helps plan a trip before stepping into unknown territory. Sometimes, I don't buy the book but visit this site for an overview as I don't really like carrying a thick book around. At other times, I browse to see where I'll be led next.]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2011 14:21:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Gate Lodge Guest House Quick Tip by GlassofWin]]> your home away from home in Dublin, Ireland!]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 20:04:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ Gate Lodge Guest House, Dublin: Your Home Away From Home]]> Believe it or not, Dublin was not a high priority on my places to visit in Ireland. It was the Place Everyone Visited and therefore I wanted to go in a different direction. However, the one stipulation of Steffie’s agreement in tromping around Ireland with me was that we go to Dublin for tours at the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery. So I had to figure out our route and the best place to stick a visit to Dublin was in the days after our arrival but before our trip up to Clones. Now, we could have just landed in Dublin, but since I wanted home base to be in Cork that is where we flew into and spent one night at the Bru Bar Hostel. So I had to figure out how to purchase train tickets from Cork to Dublin and find a place centrally located to crash for two nights during our Dublin stay. Since we were going to be in a hostel our first night, a tent during Clones, and an apartment during Cork I figured to have a truly well-rounded experience we may as well stay in a Bed & Breakfast/Guest House.
After scouring the internet for various B&B’s, I finally came across the simple but straightforward website for Gate Lodge. Not only was “the world famous Guinness brewery and the Irish whiskey corner are within strolling distance” but Gate Lodge was located just around the bend from Hueston Station, the train depot we would be arriving into from Cork.

We arrived Wednesday, June 2nd (2010) just after noon and made our way to Gate Lodge. It is a tall, late Georgian style brick house dating from 1838 now owned and operated by the Sheehan family.

Dublin Lodgings
Gate Lodge Guest House


I couldn’t tell you how many levels this house possesses, but I’m figuring five including the ground level. These sort of homes have a kind split-level thing going on with half a flight to the next level, then a full flight. There are seven rooms available to board, plus the rooms the family uses so you can imagine the level of awesomeness this house has.

Gate Lodge Guest House - entrance
Entrance Hall – Gate Lodge

We were given Room 1, which is the first room, directly on the right-hand side of the above photo. At first we were nervous that it would be too noisy or bright since this room faced the street. I took the bed closer to the window, which may have been larger but definitely would take more noise as the wall Steffie’s bed was pushed up against was only shared with our en suite bathroom. The room came with an overhead TV and an electric kettle with tea, coffee, sugar and cream. As nothing was caffeine free, I knew I’d be making a stop at a convenience store to grab me some decaf Lyons tea bags.

My Bed - Gate Lodge Guest House
My Bed – Gate Lodge Guest House

Steffie at Gate Lodge - Dublin
Steffie on her bed – Gate Lodge

I really did not have much to worry about, though, because as soon as I pulled the shutters and drapes across the windows our room descended into peace, quiet and darkness. We rarely heard a peep from the outside world. They surely do not make these kind of quality houses here in the States anymore! It should be noted that everything was clean and comfortable. I slept very soundly in that bed.

In the morning we were treated to a full Irish breakfast. Though I knew what to expect, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little more than frightened. Fried egg, beans, tomato, mushroom, sausage, white pudding and rasher to start the day off with. It was tasty, and served in a realistic portion. We had to go for it, of course, just at least once. OK, maybe twice since we were there for two mornings.

Traditional Irish Breakfast
Irish Breakfast

The dining room was down a flight or so of stairs, adjacent to the kitchen and a closet-turned office where I was able to access the internet and email my mom to alert her that I was not dead. I really adored the dining room. It was large, with country carved furniture, a Grandfather clock in one corner and a massive fireplace on one end.

Breakfast Buffet


Bed & Breakfast: Breakfast
Folk Country Furniture


It was in the dining room where Steffie and I chatted with Edmond Sheehan the most. He’s a warm, welcoming fellow who made us feel like we were more like visiting relatives than patrons at a business. He told us about the Luas, the Dublin light rail. AMAZING transportation system. Most of his other guests at that time were Irish businessmen living there for conferences or their work week, although there was a group of teenagers he gently scolded for not telling him they would be late to breakfast.

Best of all, Gate Lodge Guest House has a mascot:

Ivan the B&B Cat
Ivan the Cat

In Summary:
Gate Lodge Guest House Pros:
- Located near major Dublin attractions, shopping centers, parks and museums.
- Short walking distance to the Luas light rail and the Hueston train station.
- Friendly, inviting atmosphere
- Clean, private and quiet facilities.
- Breakfast included with cold/hot and vegetarian options.
- Internet access available, but don’t go bananas because it is the home computer.
- Spacious rooms with comfortable bedding.
- Hot shower with toiletries if you forgot yours.
- Secure front door (you have to be buzzed in or have a key) and your own room key.
- Great neighborhood filled with delicious pubs and restaurants for any price range. Including Juno’s Cafe
- Mid-week special rates and discounts for kids up to age 16.

Gate Lodge Guest House Cons:
- If I were being really picky, I’d say that not having access to a mini refrigerator was bummer because Steffie and I like to buy food on the cheap from markets rather than eating out all of the time. Since we were only there for a couple of days, however, this was not really a problem. Plus, I bet if one asked nicely, The Sheehan’s wouldn’t mind storing one or two small items for ye.

Would I stay at Gate Lodge Guest House again? Absolutely! I wouldn’t even look anywhere else unless I needed a refrigerator. I really believe that it is the personal touches made by the Sheehan family that make places like Gate Lodge a home away from home.

Would I recommend Gate Lodge Guest House? I’d insist!

Gate Lodge Guest House
3 Conyngham Road,
Phoenix Park,
+353 (01) 6771685/ 6771735
+353 (01) 6771736

]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 19:43:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Prague, Czech Republic Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 08:06:07 +0000 <![CDATA[Berlin, Germany Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 08:01:42 +0000 <![CDATA[ Awesome Work of Art]]>


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 03:05:34 +0000
<![CDATA[The Vatican Museums Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 03:00:48 +0000 <![CDATA[Athens Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:58:05 +0000 <![CDATA[Istanbul, Turkey Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:56:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Vienna Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:55:39 +0000 <![CDATA[Le Métropolitain Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:55:00 +0000 <![CDATA[London Underground Quick Tip by Penelope11]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:54:03 +0000 <![CDATA[ Try the custard tarts!]]> In several tour books and travel blogs I'd read about these wonderful palm sized custard tarts, so I had to give them a try. What a treat! It's Lisbon's version of New Orleans beignets. In New Orleans you have to try them at Cafe du Monde. In Lisbon you need to go to Pasteis de Belém which is just a short walk from the coach (the riding carriages, not the handbags) museum.

There's usually a line but it moves fast. It's said they serve 10,000 a day so they are always fresh. They come out warm and gooey with a flaky crust We went there a couple of times during our short stay in Lisbon. 

Each week I do interviews with published authors who share their experiences of getting published and give tips from what they’ve learned. If you would like to learn more about writing, you can find them at...


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:51:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ The book of Kells - Trinity College]]>
It's also fun to just hang out at the college itself and have a bite to eat at the cafeteria and listen to the young minds that will shape Ireland. 


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:39:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Travel and get to know the locals]]>
The only problem I have with his books or the show, is that he makes it look so easy to get around in a car. It seems like it is just like driving at home. It is if you've lived there awhile and know which turns to make that aren't marked with road signs. Outside of the freeways you need a GPS system. Of course if you are constantly getting lost that is another way to get to know the locals -- ask directions!

Each week I do interviews with published authors who share their experiences of getting published and give tips from what they’ve learned. If you would like to learn more about writing, you can find them at...


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:20:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tower of London - Ceremony of the Keys]]> "The ceremony of the keys." It takes place at the Tower of London after the museum and grounds have closed down for the night to tourists. It has been a nightly event for the last 700 years.It was only missed once during WWII.

The event attendance is by invitation only but you can find out about getting the free tickets by clicking here. Every night the Tower is locked up by the Chief Yeoman Warder who is attired in the traditional scarlet coat and Tudor bonnet of his regiment. He carries a lantern and with foot guard escort, he leads the group through the gate to make his way to the start of the ceremony at exactly 21:53 (or 9:53 for those not accustomed to military time).

It's just a short tour but the history lesson is wonderful as you stand and listen in the dark.You can feel the significance of this tradition being repeated once again.

Each week I do interviews with published authors who share their experiences of getting published and give tips from what they’ve learned. If you would like to learn more about writing, you can find them at...


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:11:18 +0000
<![CDATA[The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral Quick Tip by katknit]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:47:03 +0000 <![CDATA[ Cathedral]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:43:17 +0000 <![CDATA[Aer Lingus Quick Tip by GlassofWin]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 23:08:47 +0000 <![CDATA[Bru Bar Hostel Quick Tip by GlassofWin]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 23:06:04 +0000 <![CDATA[ Bru Bar Hostel – Cork, Ireland]]> When my friend Steffie and I were  plotting our travels to Ireland last year, I knew that I wanted our home base to be in Cork, even though we would be leaving for the east and a bit north the day after our arrival. For that first night in Cork we stayed at the Bru Bar Hostel.

Ironically, my boyfriend had stayed there years ago, and just happened to walk in on their first anniversary party (Pimps and Hos theme, apparently). He said it was a nice place, and my handy dandy Cork guide book by Linda Fallon also mentioned it, too.
Bru won out over the other well-known Cork hostel, Sheila’s, for two reasons:
1) Unlike Sheila’s, Bru Bar is not situated on a steep hill
2) Sky Link airport shuttle dropped us off about fifty feet away from the Bru Bar door.

With my heart condition and how tired we were going to be after all of that traveling there was no way in hell I’m going to be lugging my crap up some steep ass hill.

There are two ground floor entrances – one for checked-in guests with a pass card and the door leading through the bar that Bru Bar runs. A nice woman was waiting behind a Dutch door and checked us in right away. She gave us a voucher for a free Bud Lite at the bar. Neither of us drink Bud, but it was a nice gesture. Make it a Bulmer’s or Heineken and then we’ll talk.

There is no lift/elevator at Bru Bar. I repeat: there is no lift/elevator. So, if you’ve booked one of the smaller, all-female private dorms, prepare to hike your ass up about five flights of stairs.
I would have been OK if I had not been carrying about 40lbs of extra weight, but I was, so it did. Hurt, I mean. I’m not blaming this on Bru Bar, by the way. The building itself is just darling and I admire anyone who keeps structural integrity. However, I reserve my right to bitch and moan.


Room with a view
At least the view is lovely.

So we get up to our floor and there are only two rooms – with two bathrooms directly across from each room, divided by a narrow hardwood floor hall. I’ll address my one of few complaints regarding the bathroom in a minute, but first, the dorm. It’s a narrow room, unsurprising given we were up in the topmost floor. Two bunk beds with rolling storage cages underneath were pressed up against one wall and that was about all that could fit. Two people definitely cannot walk around that room at the same time. My bed linen wasn’t the most spotless, but it was clean as the smell of fabric softener still lingered and the hardwood floor had little to no trace of dust bunnies.


Now, when I booked the 4 person all-female dorm room, I knew it was supposed to be en suite. All rooms are described having “private bathrooms, most en suite”. I assumed that the bathroom would be accessible via the dorm itself and we wouldn’t have to bother with a hall. It wasn’t much of a bother until we used our bathroom and realized the people in our neighboring dorm were already in full use of both theirs and our bathroom. Their towels, soaps and hair care products were in both. Uh, OK? I don’t think we would have minded too much except that we quickly realized (as we were trying to nap) that our neighbors were mostly boys.

Well, we just shrugged – telling ourselves again this place was just for one night. We’ll play along, too, and use their bathroom if need be.



Warm yellow walls & modern bunk beds

After our nap, we went downstairs to explore and use the advertised free “high-speed” internet. We found the common room, a cozy room with a bar ledge seating and in-lay conjoined couch, coffee tables, a TV in the ceiling corner (like a hospital TV) and two computers on the bar ledge. A young girl was situated at one computer, the other free. I went to fiddle at the free computer but was informed by the young girl next to it that it was down and had been so for a couple days. After a few more exchanges with her a couple of facts came to light:
1) The girl was from Canada (awesome; I love me some Canadians) 
2) She was a FANGIRL! (hmm...okay, she has interests, it's good to like things...)
3) She had just flown halfway around the world to park her butt in front of a dial-up connection to indulge in her fangirldom. (noooooooooooooooo)

The Canadian FANGIRL! had been on the computer for quite some time reading scantalations – manga (Japanese comics) scanned in, their Kanji digitally erased and replaced with translated English text. Between that and some piece of fanfiction on Livejournal, (“Just let me finish up this chapter! I have to finish it!”) this chick had been hogging the computer for hours. Unfathomable; why travel half way around the world to glue yourself in front of a computer screen?

I was having none of it as the computer was shut off at midnight and it was already 10:30-11:00pm by the time we came downstairs.
I decided to speak her language and talk to her about anime conventions, cosplay and other anime nerd topics. She was very happy that I spoke Otaku and after five minutes of fangirl talk, she scampered off the computer to find her travel buddies - like an unidentifiable anime critter to find mischief and food. I was able to email my mother and let her know I was alive and safely arrived at my hostel. 

The kitchen is adjacent to the common room; it’s large with nice facilities. Cooker, fridge, cupboards, large sink, shelves, drying rack, cutlery and cookware all there. Even a kitchen radio to keep your feet moving.

The beds are comfortable and for the five hours I did sleep, I slept soundly. It was neither too warm nor too cold, and the blankets just right.

The staff was kind enough to put out all of the breakfast goodies in the kitchen a wee bit early and after a hearty breakfast of toast, tea, cereal & porridge we checked out and headed off to Kent station to go to Dublin.




Bru Bar Hostel Pros:
Secure – having your card key on you at all times is a must! Even from the bathroom to your bedroom.
Well-equipped Kitchen – perfect for saving a buck and fixing your own meal with groceries.
Decently clean – Not as clean as they profess on the website, but you’re not about to step or sleep on anything squishy and questionable.
Location – MacCurtain Street is insanely central; it was only an eight minute walk (with our luggage, so 5 minutes regular) to Kent train station and five-seven to the bus terminal.
Friendly staff – Happy to help you out, from food recommendations to directions.

Bru Bar Hostel Cons:
Noise – The bedroom and hallway doors are heavy and LOUD. Just be courteous to your neighbors and hold onto the door handles to gently close the doors.
Wonky Computers – Seriously, there is nothing “high-speed” about their internet. They need to get rid of all of the crap other people have stuck on there, clean the hard drive and upgrade.
Bathrooms – This is my one serious complaint. Firstly, for an all-female dorm to be placed next to a dorm with males is kind of counter-intuitive, especially when bathrooms are not pass key locked. I think the top floor at least needs to be re-worked, because the reason why I booked an all-female dorm en suite with “private bathroom” was to avoid bumping into some dude in his boxers at 5:30am, praying to the high heavens he didn’t miss the bowl of our alleged private bathroom.

Would I stay at Bru Bar Hostel again? For one or two nights maximum.

Would I recommend Bru Bar Hostel? Yes, but I’d give a heads up about the bathrooms.

Bru Bar Hostel
57 MacCurtain Street
021 455-9667

Bru Bar Hostel website

]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 19:48:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Aer Lingus Airlines]]>  

Slán go fóill, Cork


Last June my friend Steffie and I packed our bags and headed off to Ireland! 

There was no way around it; I wanted Steffie and I to fly into Cork. Our home base was situated in Cork with a rented apartment for the last week of our adventure and there was no reason to fly anywhere else. For a brief, less-than-24 hour period I gave in to what I initially thought was a manageable deal and booked tickets to Dublin International.

Luckily, I came to my senses, found a better deal and canceled that potential nightmare.
Not that there is anything wrong with flying into a huge international airport, but with the bulk of our time is going to be spent in Cork I’d just rather shill out the dough to experience a hostel and the Irish Rail for an initial night in Cork, go about our country tour and come back to Cork for rest and relaxation, knowing we have the convenience of being a mere twenty minute shuttle ride from the Cork Airport.

This is the reason we chose a connector flight; the reason we chose Aer Lingus.

Our initial flight was with Virgin Atlantic (review coming soon) which flew nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) to Heathrow. I won’t get into the nightmare that was Heathrow and hauling ass from one end of the airport to the very bitter end.
OK, I will get into it.
I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that Steffie and I had to hike a half of a mile at the very least to get to the Aer Lingus terminal. I do not hold this against the airline, but the airport. That is one scary-ass airport, by the way.

To give you a precise idea of how long it took to get from one end to the other:
We landed with an hour and forty minutes to spare.
We made it to the Aer Lingus terminal ten minutes before boarding.
Only one checkpoint had a line that kept us more than five minutes.

We finally hit the Ireland destination terminal after going through several checkpoints all asking the same thing:
Seriously, who wants two American broads screwing up their country anyway? We might have flags. Or squirrels.

It was all gold from there! Boarding was smooth and efficient, with Steffie at the window and myself the center. For whatever reason, we were unable to secure our seat assignments online. Aer Lingus offers this service on their site directly but, the website I used to book the flights, did not. Bunk. For health reasons, I usually insist on the aisle seat, but this flight was just over an hour so I did not mind. The seats were comfy leather and I had ample leg room. It should be noted that I stand five foot eight inches. Leg room is kind of important.

We were permitted one carry-on each at no cost to us, and our checked luggage (one checked for the each of us) was already on from Virgin Atlantic – free of cost as they were under 50 lbs each. Our bags arrived crazy fast from the aircraft to the baggage claim.
However, take note:

Please be aware that Aer Lingus will no longer check bags all the way through if a passenger has a separate ticket with another airline even if they provide the separate tickets at check-in. The only time this will be done is if they are connecting Aer Lingus to Aer Lingus. – Aer Lingus website

Their in flight magazine, Cara, was actually very informative and helpful for our trip. We took our copies with us to keep as there were articles highlighting various neighborhoods of Cork and some of the best establishments we ended up patronizing, including Tom Barry’s and The Hi-B.

Our return flight was just as lovely, and the good people at Aer Lingus did not bat an eye at the extra carriage I hauled after visiting the quickie shops at the Cork Airport.

Aer Lingus is Ireland’s best low-cost airline that offers 80 routes to the UK and Continental Europe as well as six destinations in the USA Sadly, none of those six destinations are Los Angeles directly, but I hope this changes very soon!

Book your flight with Aer Lingus!


Window Seat
Cork Yonder!


Related Posts with Thumbnails
]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 19:02:09 +0000
<![CDATA[Travel + Leisure Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Budget Travel Magazine would better served) or for those who doesn't live in hotels. The magazine does publish a Top 500 World's Best Hotels annually for those interested in the best of the hospitality industry. Otherwise, it is one of the magazines which I love traveling with, especially when I'm about to go on a flight! It is light and reasonably priced.

Official Site:

Looks like it is now available on the iPad, but is it available on the Galaxy Tab?! 

]]> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 04:21:22 +0000
<![CDATA[ Best Customer Service for Traveling in Europe!]]>
I decided to buy a Eurail Pass, which to be honest is a great buy! I bought a 15 day consecutive Global pass which allows me to travel to any country in Europe during a 15 day period without having to buy a train ticket. It cost me just over $450 which sounds like a lot but I just spoke to a friend over there now who bought a one way ticket from Amsterdam to Munich for $380. So, I'd have to say it was a great buy.

But the pass itself isn't why I'm writing this review. Their customer service is phenomenal! I use twitter on a daily basis and whenever I had a question they were quick to answer me. I don't think I waited loner than a few minutes for an answer on twitter. Also I called them to ask about insurance and they were as friendly as can be. I feel like their staff are all travelers who love Europe as well which helps them get excited about my trip.

I;m looking forward to using their customer service while I'm in Europe vis Twitter which will be great! If anything goes wrong or I have a question I can just shoot out a tweet and within minutes i'll have a answer. I wont have to wait on hold on the phone for a long time, or sit through a 10 minute button pressing wild goose chase. 

I highly recommend going with Eurail if you're planning a trip to Europe!]]> Tue, 21 Dec 2010 18:56:43 +0000
<![CDATA[The euro Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 11:11:54 +0000 <![CDATA[Wengen Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 6 Nov 2010 07:58:04 +0000 <![CDATA[Schilthorn, Switzerland Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 6 Nov 2010 07:52:34 +0000 <![CDATA[ Comfort and Convenience in the Heart of Munich]]> I had the opportunity to stay at the Holiday Inn in the Schwabing borough of Munich, Germany this past spring. As a non-German speaking American, I found it an extremely convenient place to stay with helpful staff and comfortable accommodations.

The hotel staff was incredibly friendly and did their best to help us out throughout our stay, whether it was merely pointing us in the right direction or recommending a good place to grab an afternoon beer or two (or more).

Beyond the hotel itself, one of the other great features of the Holiday Inn Schwabing was the location. As long as you don't mind a leisurely stroll, there are many great Munich attractions to be seen by just taking a short walk from the hotel. Nearby attractions include: The English Garden (a great place for an afternoon walk and people watching), Marienplatz (the city center), and the numerous shops and cafes located upon Leopold Street. The hotel is also a short walk from the subway, which you can take all over Munich and beyond.

I'd definitely recommend the Holiday Inn Schwabing to any Americans looking to experience Munich while also enjoying the comforts of home.]]> Tue, 19 Oct 2010 20:09:45 +0000
<![CDATA[ I'm Forever Blowing (Brown) Bubbles]]>  

On our arrival in Kosovo we were thrown into a bit of a pickle. We had come from Nis in Serbia, a country that strictly speaking does not even acknowledge Kosovo's existence and our bus should have deposited us, not as one might expect in the country's capital Prishtina, but in Gracanica, a Serb enclave a few kilometres away; this is what the lady in the bus station told us, anyway. For whatever reason, we were rather unceremoniously deposited in Prishtina but we didn't have much of an idea where exactly. Fortunately I spotted a sign for the university halls of residence and guessed we were somewhere near the university, and on that assumption, we headed for what we thought should be Prishtina's "Old Town", where, our guidebook said, there were two reasonably priced hotels, situated next to each other.

Potential visitors to Prishtina should not get excited by the mention of the "Old Town"; Prishtina actually has very little in the way of an old town and what it does have is hard to appreciate because of the sheer volume of traffic and the number of people in the streets. However, there are a couple of attractive mosques (one of which is currently being restored) and one or two well preserved Ottoman houses in the area. This is also the market area, and Prishtina's is as interesting and exciting as any you'll find in this part of Europe. That said, in other respects, this is very much the "Old Town"; this part of town reminded me a lot of small Turkish towns where a lot of business is conducted in the street. The manager of Hotel Begolli spent more time out in the street talking to shop keepers and passersby than I saw him spend in the hotel.

We actually went into Hotel Sara first, where we were told that a double room, including breakfast, would cost €50 a night. This seemed a bit steep to us so we tried next door at Hotel Begolli. We were not so tempted by this hotel, in spite of its cheery orange facade, because the entire front of the hotel was covered in scaffolding; however, we figured that the work would not continue into the evening so it would be unlikely to disturb us. The manager, having seen us go into and leave the hotel next door, jumped off a chair on the pavement, and ushered us into his hotel. The price was the same as next door and, in spite of our best attempts to get a discount (including asking if we could get a discount for multiple nights) the manager held firm, telling us that the room was a very good one and even had a jacuzzi; frankly I would rather have paid less and not had a jacuzzi, but even though this was the only room with a jacuzzi, we couldn't have an alternative room for a cheaper price. A jacuzzi, it seems, is a free gift at hotel Begolli.

 Having finally persuaded us to part with €50 for our room (and jacuzzi) he asked us how long we wanted to stay. I was about to say "Two nights please" when a swift kick in the shin stopped me. "Just the one, please" Himself told the manager. Later he explained that since the rooms were the same price, we should stay in both on successive nights (two reviews!) and this is what we did.

The manager led us past a rather odd seating area that contained the most awful furniture I've ever seen, but what passes for high class quality in this part of Europe; my mother would use the Geordie word "clarty" to describe it. Essentially it's pretentious, over the top and its excessive attempts to look grand just makeit look cheap and terrible. Surrounded by frivolously upholstered chairs, a glass topped coffee table was mounted on the most intricate arrangement of twisted gold-look legs.

Our room was on the second floor and the hotel had no lift; fortunately the stairs were wide so easy to negotiate while carrying luggage, not too steep and were tiled rather than carpeted, so safe underfoot too. The room itself was a generous size but, curiously, the corner bath was situated in the main part of the room, behind a half height glass brick partition. This was our jacuzzi, or more correctly a whirlpool bath.

Although you couldn't really call it tasteful (let's be honest it had never been even acquainted with tasteful) the room did, on first glance look quite modern and well equipped. However, as we investigated further, the flaws started to become apparent. The en suite (toilet and wash basin) smelled really bad, but unavoidable in a country like Kosovo and down to the drains rather than to poor cleaning. Actually the room and bathroom were very clean so full marks in that department.

The room was very blue. The curtains, bedding and even the sparkly tiles on the floor were all blue. The large cheese plant near the door to the patio was not blue but green; it was a lovely big plant but it was in the way of the door. The balcony was small and there weren't any seats to put on it; even if there were it wouldn't have been that nice with the scaffolding up so maybe it'll be possible to sit out there when the work has been done.

One wall of the room was dominated by a vast piece of furniture of the type we feel incomplete for not having in our flat in Slovenia; the wall unit with its grid of shelves and cupboards. This one combined a wardrobe space with shelving and a table section for a big television set which we were unable to operate without assistance. There was a desk/table next to this.

Beside our bed there was a lamp of the like I have never before seen, nor would I hope ever to see again. It comprised an intricate wrought iron stand with a glass table top perched on it. Then, two curved pieces of metal came up from the back and supported what looked like a wooden pepper mill, on top of which leaned (at a jaunty angle) a tassled lamp shade. When I switched on the lamp no light came on; an investigation showed that it was not missing electricity as I had at first assumed, but a bulb. However, after some twiddling, I discovered that there was another bulb, in a fitting under the glass table top. Unfortunately with part of the lamp, the telephone and three remote controls on the table, there wasn't much room for the light to escape. Another light-related issue was that of the two four-bulb ceiling lights, one had four "arms" but only two working bulbs, while the other had three "arms" and one working bulb.

All these things were unimportant really; the room was clean and comfortable and the hotel didn't seem very busy so would probably be quiet at night. Most important of all, the room had functioning air conditioning which was vital as the weather was scorching, even in mid September.

After an afternoon sightseeing and an evening enjoying Prishtina's excellent café culture, we returned to the hotel hoping to catch a little football on television. We had to enlist the help of the night manager who scratched his head, made a phone call, disappeared for a minute, and returned to fix the television. Success! And football!

I decided at this point to try the jacuzzi - sorry the corner bath with bubble making thing - and set it off to fill. The water was a rather murky rusty brown colour but I let it continue to run and added a modest squirt of something from a large shampoo bottle on the side of the bath which I presumed had been left there for this alternative use. The bath full, I climbed in and pressed the button to start the jets. I have to say that at this point I was pretty unimpressed. Himself came over and said he thought it needed more bubbles so he poured in more of the green pine-smelling stuff from the bottle and we swapped places. It turned out that I hadn't had it switched on "Full"; once it was operating at full pelt it did seem to be much more effective as the rapidly multiplying froth spilling over the side of the bath proved. As there was no bath mat, one of the hotel towels had to be sacrificed to mop up the bubbles as the floor would have been treacherous if wet. Unfortunately, the following morning, once all the froth had disappeared, a horrible residue of brown scum covered the whole of the bottom of the bath tub and I had to spend ten minutes rinsing it before we could have showers.

Breakfast was served in the hotel's adjoining restaurant. The manager was in the street and ushered us into the restaurant which is accessed by leaving the front door of the hotel and going into the restaurant from the street. It was only small but it was cosy and nicely decorated. We had been hoping that we might get a Turkish style breakfast in Kosovo but instead we were offered various egg dishes, and combinations of ham and eggs, or a continental breakfast. We were also offered a choice of milky coffee, coffee, tea or juice. Himself asked for juice and coffee and the manager took this to mean just coffee; himself repeated his request, this time asking for "coffee and juice" and this time the manager repeated it back as just juice. Two drinks were not allowed!

Himself asked for an omelette which was nicely cooked and quite tasty. It was pretty small, though. My continental breakfast comprised a plate of various packaged spreads and preserves laid out in a very twee way. There was a little foil dish of chicken pate (which looked pretty awful), honey, mixed fruit jam and a foil wrapped wedge of soft cheese. There was also a sliver of feta style cheese and a sliver of butter. Unfortunately there wasn't really sufficient bread for two people to breakfast on and once he had served us the manager disappeared.

After breakfast we packed up and went downstairs, leaving the key on the reception desk as the manager was still not around. Seizing our chance we dived into Hotel Sara unseen. A minute later Himself had to go back to collect the passports which were still in the safe at Hotel Begolli. So much for a secret getaway.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad hotel; For one thing it's clean and it's definitely comfortable. There was plenty of hot water and this part of the city does not have planned power cuts (scheduled outages are still the norm in a few areas of Kosovo). We had a good night's sleep and we were happy that the hotel was secure.

However, it is a little pricy for what you get; this is a capital city but it is an expensive one because there are so many workers from NGOs in Prishtina and there are relatively few hotels still. The hotel wasn't very busy so we were surprised not to be able to get a discount, especially when there is another hotel next door. The other issues were fairly small but were ones you would expect attention to be given to; a hotel charging €50 a night should have no problems getting a supply of light bulbs. Likewise, allowing guests to have a juice AND a hot drink at breakfast is hardly going to send the accounts plummeting into the red.

We didn't hate it, we didn't love it. For €50 I'd personally expect a little more but it seems that in Prishtina, more comes at a much higher price.


]]> Sun, 17 Oct 2010 17:31:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ Unforgettable!]]> Thu, 7 Oct 2010 22:50:05 +0000 <![CDATA[ An must-buy souvenir or advance guide book to a tour!]]>
A magnificent piece of adult brain and eye candy, this colourful booklet not only serves as a wonderful souvenir of an exciting tourist attraction but would also act as a stand alone collection of short introductory stories and photographic essays on a wide variety of scientific topics relating to measurement of time and space on our planet - the historical basis for the establishment of Greenwich as the location for the prime meridian and the use of GMT as the basis for the International Time Zone System; the crucial search for longitude; the historical foundation of the observatory by King Charles II and the appointment of John Flamsteed as the first Astronomer Royal; the story of John Harrison's painstaking construction of his prize-winning chronometer; the creation of standard time and the life and work at the observatory as it exists today.

For those privileged to attend at either the Royal Observatory or the related displays in the adjacent National Maritime Museum, this book is an inexpensive memento that should not be missed. As a stand-alone read, even for those not so lucky to see the real McCoy on a trip through London, England, it represents an enjoyable half hour's reading and gawking at some thoroughly delicious photographs. If you know you're going to have a chance to see the Observatory in the future, try to get a copy of this book in advance. It will make your visit infinitely more informative and enjoyable.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss]]> Sun, 12 Sep 2010 11:58:49 +0000
<![CDATA[Rick Steves' Europe Quick Tip by RyanWeiss]]> Wed, 18 Aug 2010 20:38:10 +0000 <![CDATA[Andel's Hotel Lodz Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Tue, 17 Aug 2010 06:14:34 +0000 <![CDATA[Paris, France Quick Tip by Beasimer]]>]]> Tue, 17 Aug 2010 05:19:57 +0000 <![CDATA[Paris, France Quick Tip by Beasimer]]> Tue, 17 Aug 2010 04:58:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Paris, France Quick Tip by Beasimer]]> Tue, 17 Aug 2010 04:53:13 +0000 <![CDATA[ Informative, thorough and entertaining in the bargain]]> I'm not a seasoned or jaded traveler ... yet! So a comprehensive travel guide is critical to my preparation for a trip and a great way of post-filling information and details into some of the holes or places that I might have missed or had to rush through when I was actually on the trip. Along with photographs and trip journals, they're also a wonderful way to resurrect detailed memories of a trip long after you've returned home.

Eyewitness Travel Guides seem to have the market beat by a long margin! That's not to say that Lonely Planet, Frommer, Michelin or the Blue and Green Guides miss the mark entirely but the Eyewitness series, in general, seems to be more informative. The photographs and illustrations instill a higher degree of keen anticipation and provide a better means of choosing in advance between a world of competing destinations and alternative tourist attractions.

Their guide to Switzerland, in particular, was astonishingly accurate and complete - history, food, travel, hotels, geography, destinations, estimated costs, highlights, outdoor activities - every last one of them spot on and accurately described from the perspective of an actual trip through St Moritz, Lucerne, the Bernina Pass to Tirano, Italy and Interlaken. Even now the photographs of Swiss cuisine and cheese can set my mouth to watering!

One noteworthy omission that my traveling companion and I discovered by accident - Switzerland offers a museum pass for 30 Swiss francs that will give admission for one month to virtually every museum in the country. That's a remarkable offer given that the countryside is positively littered with a host of attractive museums, castles and attractions most of which charge a 5 to 10 franc admission. We learned that little tidbit from the concierge of the Palace Lucerne Hotel - kudos to the hotel for over the top service and a great piece of advice!

With that one small suggestion for addition to future editions, the Eyewitness Travel Guide to Switzerland easily earns a five-star review. And Switzerland, by the bye, is certainly a delicious five-star travel destination!

Paul Weiss

]]> Sun, 1 Aug 2010 11:57:10 +0000
<![CDATA[Sagrada Familia Quick Tip by cpw1952]]> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:06:30 +0000 <![CDATA[Venice, Italy Quick Tip by theKENnection]]> Sat, 3 Jul 2010 22:14:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Istanbul, Turkey Quick Tip by TheBeerSnob]]> Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:56:57 +0000 <![CDATA[Louvre Museum Quick Tip by berryhappyl]]> Wed, 9 Jun 2010 18:14:08 +0000 <![CDATA[Amsterdam, The Netherlands Quick Tip by berryhappyl]]> Wed, 9 Jun 2010 18:13:12 +0000 <![CDATA[Belgium Quick Tip by berryhappyl]]> Wed, 9 Jun 2010 18:12:18 +0000