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How Europe fuels my Coke habit

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 2, 2008 in Travel Tips

Why, I think I will attractive 50s woman.

Why, I think I will attractive 50s woman.

I used to be bad.  Really bad.

As a teenager I would often drink four to five cans of Coca-Cola or Pepsi a day.  Of course, one visit to the dentist changed that habit.  However here in Europe, I find myself drinking more soda than ever.

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Pee on a wall in Europe, for your health and bank account

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 1, 2008 in Travel Tips

Sean follows graffiti message in Brussels, Belgium.

Sean follows graffiti message in Brussels, Belgium.

Sorry Europe, I will not pay to pee.

I shared a commentary piece recently, in which I complained about just that. I knew it, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

In a Brussels disco, at that city’s train station, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, there are little old ladies wearing smiles and aprons, carting paper towels and asking for a half euro or more to grant you the privilege of relieving yourself.

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Find Enlightenment from a cartoon

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 28, 2008 in Travel Tips

Found this animation on Youtube, and if it doesn’t speak to the merits of deferring student loans, life and responsibility in general, then I don’t think anything can. Enjoy.

YouTube Preview Image

Does that make you want to move?

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Standing seats for Faust in the Vienna Opera House

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 27, 2008 in Travel Tips

The famed State Opera House in Vienna, Austria.

The famed State Opera House in Vienna, Austria.

Some things are worth 4 euros - a little more than five bucks. Like watching a production of Charles Gounod’s Faust in the Vienna State Opera House - the preeminent opera house in the world.

For a 7 P.M. show last week, I was in line for standing tickets two hours prior - behind 70 people or more. In all, 200 hundred of us squeezed into a few rows behind banisters in the back of the 140-year-old legend.

A little more on the location from About.com, considering the production was less than meaningful to me:

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Free Europe Tours: is a free tour in Prague worth the cost?

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 25, 2008 in Travel Tips

Angela leads a tour for FreePragueTours.eu. The company operates elsewhere.

Angela leads a tour for FreePragueTours.eu. The company operates elsewhere.

Today, Sean and I took a nearly three hour tour of Prague. It was a free tour. But can you afford to take one yourself?

To begin the tour, our kindly guide - a beautiful young woman of German extract named Angela who has lived in Prague for 10 years - told us that it is custom tip, somewhere between 150 and 200 korunas. The money goes to her pay, promotion and distribution of the Free Prague Tours, she said.

Sean and I each tipped Angela 150 koruna, nearly $8.

These tours - free, aside from tip - are in Munich and Berlin, Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands - perhaps elsewhere too. It gives you the chance to walk around these cities with a (relative) local and (supposed) expert, for somewhat minimal cost. But I don’t know if this is always the best way to do things.

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High school French lives on

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 20, 2008 in Travel Tips

Enjoying chocolate chaud et un sandwich at a cafe near Notre Dame on Oct. 13, 2008.

Enjoying chocolate chaud et un sandwich at a cafe near Notre Dame on Oct. 13, 2008.

We’re in Zurich, roughly the end of a solid week of French-speaking cities - from Brussels, Belgium to Paris and Lyon France.

Roughly a fifth of Switzerland speaks French, but here in Zurich German - the country’s largest national language - is king. A local told me we’d be better off with English than French in this city. Just fine, because, my French is limited.

See… Je parler un peu en francaise.

While in France, Paris to be more precise, We Don’t Speak the Language may be a bit of a misnomer. A little.

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How to get a passport in less than a day

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 20, 2008 in Travel Tips

The book can cost you as much as $8 a page.

This book can cost you as much as $8 a page.

Your big day has finally come.  With your trusty backpack and a map you prepare to leave on your journey and then you realize you may have done something stupid.  You forgot your passport.

There is nothing more important to your travels than your passport - or as the United States Government says : “With Your U.S. Passport the World is Yours!”  Unfortunately, a passport often takes weeks, sometimes months, to get.  If you have an emirgency trip to make, or you put off applying for one, it may appear at first glance that your options are limited.

Fear not my fellow Vegabond, it is possible to get you passport in a manner of hours.  Just be prepared to pay for it.

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What to do when you arrive in a new city

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 19, 2008 in Travel Tips

A well balenced meal is key to a good day's travel

A well balanced meal is key to a good day's travel

We are fortunate enough to have just arrived at city number six.  That’s one bus, one plane, and four train rides if my count is correct. While each city has it’s own quarks and character our routine of getting oriented and finding where we are staying remains the same.  Here is what we do to make sure that our travel days are smooth ones:

Two nights before:

  • Research the train ride we will take using the Eurail timetable.  Determine if the train needs a reservation and find the name of the train station we will be arriving at.
  • Look up how long the ride is expected to take to we can maximize our time in every city.

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WDSTL’s top 5 favorite travel blogs

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 16, 2008 in Travel Tips

Chris and I researching looked kind of like this

Chris and I researching looked kind of like this

Here at WDSTL, we didn’t just set off on our trip without doing a bit of research. To me, that meant building up a hefty bookmark list of travel blogs and podcasts. Below are five of our favorites and I hope you check them out.

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In Paris: Use Paris Viste

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 15, 2008 in Travel Tips

Paris is big.

2.2 million people, more than a fourth larger than Philadelphia. But what’s more, many of the sights you want to see, from the Eiffel Tower, to Notre Dame to the Arc de Triomph, are spread quite widely.

So get smart. Use its fine mass transit at a good cost.

The city’s Paris Visite pass is economical - 7 euros ($9 USD) per day for three days while we were in town. Three or four rides and you have paid for it - without counting cutting time on buying tickets and walking.

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