Poland

lucas-albuquerque-i-p1zqFros8-unsplash (3)Travel tips to European Countries: Poland

About the county

Poland is one of the ancient nations that was formed around 10th century. It is Central Europe, east of Europe and most of the area being a flat plane and mountains along the south border. Warsaw is the capital of Poland which was completely destroyed in World War II and was rebuilt from scratch again. Royal Castle of Warsaw which was reconstructed after the world war is a must see attraction. The Lazienky Palace should also be not missed which has an open air theatre and Chopin’s monument. Krakow is the second biggest city of Poland stands as a witness to its medieval era. Poland has a strong liking to music and theatre and thus home to many theatres and opera houses. Popular Polish Cuisines include Zrazy Zawijane (mushroom-stuffed beefsteak rolls in sour cream) served with boiled kasza (buckwheat) and pigs’ knuckles.

Population & Languages

The population of Poland is roughly 38.5 million and the official language being spoken is Polish.

Electricity

The voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The types of plug used are round pin with attachment and Round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin.

Geographic Location

It is located in Central Europe, east of Germany bordering the Baltic Sea, the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Climate

The climate of Poland can be termed as Temperate. Winters are severe inland with average temperatures in Warsaw being 23°F (-5°C). Summers are hot inland with average temperatures in July around 66°F (19°C). The precipitation occurs round the year.

Local Customs

Handshaking is the common custom. It is customary to bring flowers if you are going to someone’s house. Dressing is fairly conservative and casual and formal for entertainment in the evening or in a good restaurant. Smoking is prohibited in some public buildings. Tipping is 10 to 15 percent in restaurant, hotels and taxis.

Attractions

Warsaw: The city was completely destroyed in World War II and was completely rebuilt after the war. The popular sights include Historic Museum of Warsaw, the Lazienki Palace with its open air theatre and Chopin’s monuments, and Palace of Culture and Sciences.

Cracow: St. Mary’s Church, Royal Castle, and Royal Cathedral on top of Wawel Hill

Travel

By Air – The national airline of Romania is LOT Polish Airlines (LO). Many popular airlines that fly to Poland include Aeroflot, Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Easyjet, El Al, Lufthansa, Ryanair, SAS and Swiss Air. The biggest airport is Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport which is located like 6 miles southwest of the city.

By Sea – Pol Ferries operates connect Poland to Sweden, Denmark and Finland

By Rail – Polish State Railways (PKP) (website: http://www.pkp.pl) operates Eurocity trains from Poland various major European cities. But, all services from Western Europe to Poland pass through the Czech Republic, Germany or the Slovak Republic. The main routes link Warsaw with Berlin and Cologne, Budapest, Prague and Vienna. There is also a car-sleeper service from the border of Holland to Poznan/ Warsaw.

Travel Tips: Finland

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Finland is a country of islands, lakes, and forests. The modern capital city of Finland is Helsinki and is filled with museums and galleries. In summers, sun never sets here and vice versa in the winters.

Culture

While in Finland, greet the locals by a handshake. The people here are quite reserved and don’t open up easily. Leave shoes outside the house when going over to someone’s house. It is customary to wait till the toast is being raised at the dinner table. Host raises the toast by saying ‘kippis’ or ‘skol’. People dress casually most of the times.

Travel

Finnair is the national airline of Finland. Other airlines that fly to Finland are Air France, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, American Airline, British Airways, KLM, Swiss airline, Lufthansa, and United airlines. The major airport of Finland is Helsinki airport. It is 19km away from the city and it takes about 25 minutes to get to the city from the airport. Finnair provides buses for the passengers. Taxis and hotel coaches are also available. The facilities provided at the airport are duty free shops, car hire, bank, hotel reservation service, conference room, restaurant, and a multimedia center. Other than Helsinki airport, there are about 22 other airports and Blue 1 is the domestic airline which operates within Finland. Times to time cheap offers are being announced by the airlines. Prior checking of such offers will prove to be of great help.

If deciding to go by the sea, ferry services are provided and the major ports are Naantali, Vaasa and Turku. These ferries connect to Rostock, Kapellskär, Grisslehamn, and Travemünde. Some of the cruises offer small cabins along with the provision of meals if staying aboard overnight.

Trains from St Petersburg and Moscow can also be boarded. All the trains are clean and very comfortable. Car-carrier trains also operate in Finland. Traveling by rail proves to be inexpensive and efficient and also great options for enjoying sight seeing. Avail the unlimited train travel offer of Inter-Rail pass or Eurailpass. There are offers for elderly people and children, check them out.

When traveling by road there are chances of running into an elk or reindeer. In such cases, police should be reported immediately. Blowing horn for small reasons should be avoided. Keep your car to the right. Gas stations accept credit cards. Laws about seat belt and drinking while driving should be strictly followed. Extra precautions must been taken if taking caravan along. National driving license or International Driving Permit and car insurance must be there with you at all times. Coach Service is also available and connects to even the remote places. Taxis can be hired at the airport and railway stations and tipping is considered offensive here. Check out agents in Helsinki who run a rent-a-car business for hiring cars.

Travel Tips To European Countries: Greece

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Being one of the earliest civilizations known to human kind Greece is a country with rich history, heritage and culture. It is the place where Byzantine Empire once ruled and also great Ottoman Empire. It is also considered to be as the birth place of Democracy. Athens is the capital city of Greece. The Olympic games originated in Greece. Not only that, it was the world center for western philosophy, political science, astronomy, mathematics, major scientific studies and what not. It is also known as a Mediterranean country as it has Mediterranean Sea in the south. It is a popular destination for world tourists in that region known for its beautiful beaches, reach history and charming villages. The Greek islands are one of the most wonderful places to be explored by Cruise or Yacht. The trip of Greece will definitely be one of the most memorable to remember in one’s life.

Population & Languages

The population of Greece is around 11 million and the official language being spoken is Greek. The other popular languages are English and French.

Electricity

The voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The types of plug used are round pin with attachment, round pin with ground, Round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin and “Schuko” plug and receptacle with side grounding contacts.

Geographic Location

It is located in Southern Europe bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea between Albania and Turkey. It is situated in the southern side of Balkan Peninsula. It is also bordered by Bulgaria and Macedonia in the southeast.

Climate

It has three distinct climates namely Alpine, Mediterranean and temperate climate with mild and wet winters and also hot and dry summers due to Mediterranean affect. Alpine system is seen in mountainous regions. The temperate climate is seen near border along Macedonia. Athens has both temperate and Mediterranean weather.

Local Customs

The Greece is a place with strong historic and cultural background. There are different traditions and customs in different parts of the Greece. The throwing back of a hand is considered to be a negative gesture here in Greece. Casual dress can be worn most of the times. Smoking is prohibited in public transport services and public buildings. Tipping 12 to 1 percent is customary in restaurants, hotels and taxis.

Attractions
* The Olympic Games in Athens (the spot of the historic 2004 Olympic Games)
* Mardi Grass Celebrations in February
* The Parthenon in Athens
* Skiing in Arahova Mountains between October and March
* Easter Celebrations
* Thessaloniki’s White Tower and country’s rich Byzantine culture
* The south of Corinth
* The beaches in Lesvos
* The wine vineyards in the countryside
* The islands near the Aegean Sea
* The wildlife preserve in Alonissos (Sporades Marine Park)
* The famous, Moni Panagia Chozoviotissa, a Byzantine monastery in Amorgos

Travel

By Air – The national airline of Greece is Olympic Airlines. Many popular airlines like British Airways and Delta Airlines operate daily flight from Athens. The biggest airport is newly constructed Athens International Airport which is located like 17 miles northeast of the city. The other international airports of Greece are Heraklion (Crete), Thessaloniki (Macedonia) and Corfu (Kerkira).

By Sea – The popular Greek ports include Corfu, Heraklion, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes, Thessaloniki and Volos. Shipping vessels and ferryboat lines link these ports with Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Russia and Turkey. Some of the popular cruises operating in Greece are Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Festival Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Silversea and Swan Hellenic.

By Rail – If one is coming from UK, the best way is to take Eurostar train to Brussels or Paris and from there take connecting train to Greece.

Travel tips to European Countries: UK

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The United Kingdom also called as England or Great Britain is the country which once ruled nearly the entire world a century ago. The glory might have been lost but people are still proud of their country and heritage. It has come a long way from a colonial empire to a member of the EU. The country comprises mainly of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The country is full of scenic locales and energetic cities. Also the county is home to nearly two million heritage points. The capital city of UK is London. A city beyond comparison, representing itself as an icon of diversity with people from different races, creeds and all walks of life blended into its culture. It is also home to many architectural marvels and one of them is the London Bridge. While York and Durham manifests the bygone era of country, Liverpool and Newcastle are modern industrial marvels. Not to forget the scenic Lake District and Edinburg still attract people from all over the world.

Population & Languages

The population is around 61 million and the official language is English. Other regional languages spoke are Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish etc.

Electricity

The voltage is 230-240 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The type of plug used is rectangular blade.

Geographic Location

It is located in Western Europe and consists of islands including the northern one-sixth of the Ireland. It is 22 miles from the France border and linked by a under sea tunnel. The terrain is mostly rolling lowlands and low mountains.

Climate

It has a moderate climate but lots of rain with around half of the years being overcast. The lowest temperatures never go below −15 °C (5 °F) and in summer the average maximum is 34 °C (93.2 °F). It also gets snow in winter and early spring.

Local Customs

The handshake is customary when you are meeting somebody for the first time. When visiting someone’s house a small gift like flowers or chocolates is customary. Waiting till everyone is served before eating is also one of the etiquettes. Tipping is usually 10-15% in hotels, restaurants and taxis. Smoking and non-smoking areas are clearly designated and thus should be taken care of.

Places to see

London – Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Whitehall Palace and the Tower of London
Scotland – The Bannockburn Heritage Centre and Ben Lawers Mountains
Wales – Aberdulais Falls, King Arthur’s Labyrinth, Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Great Orme Mines, Portmeirion Village, Rhossili Visitor Centre, Taff Valley Activity Centre and TechinQuest

Travel

By Air – The domestic airlines is British Airways which also connects almost all major world destinations. Almost all airlines connect UK through London which is hub for all international flights between east to west and west to east. Heathrow and Gatwick are international airports of London.

By Sea – Since UK is surrounded by water from almost all sides it has many ports. There are many ferry services operating between Europe and UK.

By Rail – Trains connect Ferries at Dover, Folkestone, Newhaven, Portsmouth and Weymouth, sailing for Belgium, France, Germany and Spain (you need to board at Victoria Station in London); and at Harwich, sailing for Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavia (you need to board at Liverpool Street). Eurostar train connects London with Brussels and Paris through channel tunnel.

By Road – The vehicles can enter UK through channel tunnel. Cars and motorcycles, coaches, minibuses, caravans, campervans and other vehicles over 1.85m (6.07ft) can also use channel tunnel. Bicycles are also provided for. Thanks for reading!

Travel Tips To European Countries: Spain

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Spain is famous world wide for its flamenco dancers and bullfights. The architecture reflects the Moroccan style. Cave paintings, renaissance cathedrals, Moorish palaces prove the diversity of the country. Spring, fall and early summer are very pleasant here, though summers are hot.

Culture

Spanish is the regional language of Spain. English is also widely spoken here. Over the period of time, Spanish people have become modern in order to gel with the changing times and are no longer conservative. But that hasn’t changed the values, traditions, manners and customs of the locals. People here have two surnames; the first surname can be used to refer to the person. To greet someone, a handshake will do the job. Take a small gift along when visiting someone’s house. Save the flowers for special occasions. Dinner is generally taken very late in the night. People wear casuals most of the time. Men are expected to wear jackets at some restaurants. Swimsuits should be confined to the pools and beaches. Recently a ban has been applied on smoking in public places.

Shopping

Shops open quite early in the morning and stay open late in the evening. In the afternoon, they are closed for lunch or siesta. Porcelain and leather goods are famous and they will be good gifts for friends and family members back home. Bills are to be paid along with the service charges, so tipping is a matter of gratitude.

Electricity

Voltage is 220 volts and frequency is 50 Hz

Getting There

IBERIA is the national airline of Spain. Many other low-cost airlines offer services in the country. There are nearly thirty international airports in Spain, out of which Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Malaga are famous.
Madrid located at 13km away from the city has a good bus service every fifteen minutes. Underground service also works to transport passengers to their destinations. Other facilities offered at this airport are duty free shops, bank, restaurant, tourism information, and hotel reservations.

Barcelona is very close to the city, situated at a distance of 3 km only. Buses are available every 15 minutes and trains are available every 20 minutes. Taxis are available throughout the day. Duty free shops, restaurants, bank, car hire and tourism information are available here.

There is a good network of roads connecting Spain north to south. Toll booths are installed in some parts of the country. Carrying few Euros will help smooth sailing at the toll booths. If driving one’s private car, it would be better if the travel insurance covers medical costs too. Carrying a medical kit can prove to be of some help.

Thanks for reading!

Travel Tips to European Countries:Germany

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About the country

The Federal republic of Germany is the most influential country of Europe. It has witnessed the most controversial facts of history like Nazism, Holy Roman Empire and the building and demolition of the Berlin wall. With many magnificent castles it has wealth of art and culture. German is the widely spoken language in Germany, but outsiders can find many English speaking locals especially in the common tourist destinations.

Weather

The weather here is very unpredictable as there is a possibility of rain almost all months, so carry clothes accordingly. April and May are the months of spring which brings in full bloom of fruits and flowers. Months from May to September have very fine weather with sunny skies and offers the best time for traveling and site-seeing. People who have a passion for sports like swimming, hiking, and cycling can have the best time here during these months. Winter sports can be enjoyed at the resorts in the months from November to early March. The temperatures are below freezing and the days are too short (comprise of only six to eight months) in winter.

Local Customs

Locals greet each other by handshaking and saying Guten Tag. To say goodbye, people use Auf Wiedersehen. Guests are expected to bring uncovered and odd number of flowers, especially roses, when visiting someone’s home. The guests are welcomed with either food or refreshments. At the table, hosts say ‘Guten Appetit’ to which the guests should reply with ‘Ebenfalls’. Smoking should be better avoided in public areas. Locals dress informally but certain occasions like opera, theatre, certain restaurants and social functions call for formal wear.

Electricity

220 V, 50 Hz

Moving Around

The best way to get around is to buy the Welcome cards or the city passes which allows the customer to access unlimited bus facility in many cities of Germany. It also gives special offer on certain tourist attractions. For flexibility one can rent-a-car or go for chauffer driven cars. Along with the rent, VAT of 16% is payable. Car insurance should be available before hand in case of any accident. The speed limit within the cities is mostly 50kph and 100kph on the highways.
Nine stars

The nine stars of Southwest Germany comprise of Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Heilbronn, Mannheim, Pforzheim Stuttgart, and Ulm. They are considered to be some of the beautiful cities of Europe. Each of the cities play a vital role in the culture of Germany. Baden-Baden has few of the finest resorts and also has Europe’s second largest opera and concert hall. Freiburg is known as the historic city center and is famous for cobblestone mosiacs, open streams and ancient alleys. Heidelberg has world famous castles and Germany’s oldest university. Karlsruhe has the famous museum Center for Art and Media. Look out for various amusements along the Nectar river of Heilbronn. Pforzheim is the capital for watches and jewelry. Stuttgart is famous for theatres and opera. Ulm is the birth place of Albert Einstein and is also house to the world’s tallest church spire.

Travel

The national airline that serves Germany is Lufthansa. Bwelin-Tegel airport is situated at 8 km away from the city and it takes about 20 minutes to reach there. There is a provision of duty free shops, banks, post office, eateries, conference hall, and car hire and tourism information for the passengers.anastasia-dulgier-uNi0epfnc4c-unsplash

Another busy airport is the Frankfurt airport which is located at 13km away from the city. Buses take about 20 minutes to get there. Taxis are available at any time. The Intercity railway network at the airport also provides international services to Hungary, Switzerland and Austria. The facilities provided here are duty free shops, left luggage, restaurants, banks, conference halls, post office, car hire and tourism information. No departure tax is levied on the passengers.

Those wishing to travel by sea can avail the ferry connections to Finland, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Latvia, and Norway.

Eurostar provides railway service to and from Belgium, France and the UK. Booking can be made by telephone. The Inter-Rail offers unlimited second class train travel within 29 European countries. The Eurailpass offers unlimited first class train travel within 17 European countries.
EuroCity and InterCity trains have a restaurant on board, providing food and drinks. InterCity Express target the business class and provides services such as fully equipped office, conference compartments, etc.

Thanks for reading!