Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A view point of 3 cities from a younger traveler

Meet Roseann from Ireland

although Roseann may not be in my demographic, you may find this a great review of some cities to visit in Europe..............perhaps you visited the first time on your 'see Europe in 3 weeks" and now you are ready to return and slow travel.....

3 Most Memorable Cities in Europe

After visiting almost every capital city in Europe you kind of find that they all start to blend together in a big mix of churches, buildings and concrete in general so to be memorable the city must have something really different to stand out, usually this isn’t there most famous landmark like the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum because you are expecting these things already and really it is the only thing making the city different to any other in the first place, so I have came up with my 3 most memorable cities that have something I think stands out compared to other cities. These cities all have that something extra that I think just makes them that little better.
149874_543324989016720_1941594353_n3. Kraków, Poland
Kraków is the second largest city in Poland and has a population of 755000 but I love it here is because it feels like a small village. Growing up in the countryside I like Krakow because it feels so much like home. Everything is so close together and the people are very friendly. With the medieval city centre this city feels like a step back in time, instead of the usual blocks of concrete you see work of art that have been hand crafted with detail so delicate they must have taken years to perfect. Local marketers taking stalls in the main square and horse and cart rides around just add to the atmosphere in Kraków. This is one of the first cities where I felt the history of the place was alive instead of just seeing it in museums and books I was able to see the streets and through the people.
199802_572684706080748_543761543_n2. Madrid, Spain
Number 2 in my list is Madrid, I have always loved Madrid and have been several times in the past there is just so much to love about this city. For starters the entertainment on offer is some of the best I have seen in any city. There are so many street dancers and performers that even a trip to the local shop will keep you amused. For me these street performers breathe life into the city, they give the city music and colour that alot of big cities just don’t have. This helps you to understand the local people and culture on a different level. The other thing I love about Madrid is the secret gardens that have just been dotted all over the city, you could walk down the wrong street and be greeted by some of the most beautiful gardens in places you just wouldn’t expect. Finally, as a girl, of course I love the shopping in Madrid. It some of the best shopping in Europe with everything you could ever want on offer.
407315_572694689413083_1799224695_n1. Amsterdam, Holland
So my most memorable city in all of Europe is Amsterdam, like Madrid I just love Amsterdam and have been a few times in the last couple of years, each time I go back I find something new to love about the place. Amsterdam is probably the most alternative city in Europe because it doesn’t feel at all like a city. The gardens and canals make you feel like you are walking around giant park as opposed to the tall buildings you expect in a city. This park image is reinforced by the lack of cars with everyone opting for trams or bikes instead (did you know there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam!). This has also made the city is virtually pollution free.
The people of Amsterdam are also different, they are not your usual city folk rushing around in a hurry for work but instead take a much more relaxed attitude to life, they always have time to stop and have a chat. There liberal laws attract all different types of people from all over the world to live here so they have developed a very accepting and welcoming culture, something which is greatly appreciated as a tourist.
I hope you find this guide useful if you are having trouble deciding where to visit in Europe and of course if you have any suggestions as to other cities and there memorable features just leave me a comment below.

Connnct with Roseann on her blog:

Better than Hotels: At Home In London, stay in a private home


      Hotel rooms in London can be as expensive as NYC.    As in other cities I travel to, I search for alternatives to the high prices of hotels.   
       Since I am not willing to stay in a hostel or on the couch at the home of a stranger, my  choices can be limited.    I have tried the University housing and if you don't mind being the oldest person in the building, it was great.  Next I will stay the weekend in a country home with HF Holidays.      No, it is not Downton Abbey but I shall imagine myself on a country weekend.

     Yes I could be missing some wonderful experiences but I need to travel within a comfort zone that makes me happy.   One of the perks of solo travel, you do what makes you happy!

      For some time I have followed the online posts of At Home In London.       I have stayed in B n B’s in the UK and have found them a great alternative to hotels.  
DSCN3047  At Home in London will book guests in private homes within neighborhoods throughout  London.  The owner Maggie Dobson states on her web site: 

"We have carefully selected affordable homes in accessible and often historic areas, including Knightsbridge, Kensington, Belgravia, Chelsea and Notting Hill.       Our friendly hosts enjoy sharing their insiders’ knowledge of London.    Why settle for a hotel when you can experience the hospitality of a real London home?"

At home in London was started by Maggie  almost 27 years ago and now has 60 hosts that welcome travelers.     All the properties have been inspected by Maggie, photos on her web site make selecting your London accommodations easy.

On my recent trip I had two separate stays in London and contacted  At Home In London, to find a room ‘in a London home’.   Maggie and her staff helped me select a location and home that would suit my needs.    Both properties were charming.   Here is a short description of my stay:

First Stay:
My first say was #134 in the Vauxhall area.   Only 2 tube stops past Victoria station it was an easy walk with luggage to the newer mews house on a quiet street.     I was warmly welcomed and offered a pair of slippers and a cup of tea!   A lovely touch for someone who had  just flown into London and would be crashing from jet lag soon.  Janine, who is a warm and friendly woman,  is an opera singer but also rescues Persian cats that have lost their elderly owners.

Her fur friends will be featured in a separate post.....perhaps The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for retired  best friends or many paws make a happy home.....   the title is yet to be decided.

The newer buildings are across from traditional ‘mews’ style homes.

Your private room at #      is sunny, comfortable and next to a very elegant private bath.

      If you are lucky, one of the retirees may decide to visit your room during your stay others may never notice you are in the house.

       At the end of my travels I stayed in Hammersmith.   I had no idea where this was or what to expect as I took the tube to #305.   In this part of London the train is above ground so you can view red tile roofs and gardens at the back of home.
      Hammersmith is one of the ‘villages’ in London.  An easy walk from the tube station, I walked down the main street (King)  passing  coffee shops and an assortment of restaurants.  This was a small village with many shops catering to daily life.  My hostess who had been in the area more than 20 years, told me the village had changed very little.

    I was warmly greeted by my hostess and shown through this 1830's home to my room on the top floor with a view of the manicured garden.   The private modern bath was next door.  A heated towel rack was a nice touch. 
my kind hostess

    As a solo traveler I always have many questions and Liz was very kind to give up her personal time to share many great inside 'secrets' on the area and London.  I love anything Royal and she explained what the queen was doing at Westminster the day I arrived.       I want to thank Liz again for suggesting her contact at mini cabs.  Because I was outside the 'zone' I was able to take a cab to Heathrow for the same price as the train!   I would never had known this without her help

Thank you so much.

The view of the English garden from my window

Both my hosts exhibited a willingness to accommodate any of my needs.    I was allowed to make tea and relax after a 12 hour day of interviews and searches for my blog posts.

Another feature of the At Home In London web page is the monthly posting of the Grapevine.         Maggie give tips on a variety of topics:   what is free in London, what’s on in London that month,  London’s historic buildings, markets and many other topics that would rival any well know travel book.

On this trip I researched staying at a University,  at a facility run by Canterbury Cathedral and a ship.
But I believe the warm and welcoming time at the two homes offered by At Home In London were my most enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Travel Pulse posted more news for solo travelers on river cruises

Just saw this posted on Travel Pulse 
by Patrick Clarke

Tauck Announces Solo Traveler Savings for 2015

Tour Operator | Tauck | Patrick Clarke | January 20, 2015
Tauck Announces Solo Traveler Savings for 2015
PHOTO: Tauck has dedicated multiple cabins onboard ms Inspire (pictured) and ms Savor to solo travelers in 2015. (Courtesy of Tauck)

see the article at: