Archive for June, 2008

July 2008As much as we all enjoyed the cactus, it’s time for a change — you’ll find July’s free desktop calendar ready for download in the “For Your Desktop” tab above. You can see a sneak peek on the right. Setting new wallpaper is easy — even technophobes can follow the directions and have this lovely Spanish scene on their computer. Enjoy!

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A weekend daytrip to the Baltic coast from Berlin for under 13 euros?  Here’s how it broke down.

Transportation Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
+ Schönes Wochenende Ticket, split 5 ways:  7 euros

Subtotal: 7 euros

Food and Drink Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
+ Ice cream: 1.50 euros
+ Coffee and pastry in a cafe: 2.25 euros
+ Bottle of cold beer at the train station:  1.67 euros

Subtotal: 5.42 euros

Other Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + toilet, Warnemünde train station: .50 euros

Subtotal: 0.50 euros

 TOTAL: 12.92 euros

That doesn’t include the freebies we took advantage of:
+ maps of Rostock and Warnemünde from the Rostock tourist information
+ leisturely walk through historic city center and along the port area of Rostock
+ hours of sunshine, at the Rostock port and on the Warnemünde beach (bring your sunscreen and avoid the wicked sunburn!)
+ shell collecting and beach walking at sunset

This trip followed my typical no-budget rules: ride public transport (€7 for ~5 hours in the train to/from Rostock plus the S-Bahn ride to Warnemünde), eat groceries (we packed enough food along — yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, sandwiches, veggies and dip, tea in a thermos — to tide us over between ice cream pit stops), do lots of cheap or free activities.  That said, the trip could be done even *more* cheaply if one remained strict about not purchasing any food or drink.  We found prices to be incredibly reasonable; however, if you’re going to “splurge,” they are lowest in Rostock, which has far fewer (docked cruise-ship) tourist hordes.

If you’re just looking for a day at the beach, it is possible to skip Rostock completely and head straight to Warnemünde — but we found the quiet and restfulness of the city of Rostock (on a Sunday) a welcome foil to the busy den between train station and beach in the resort of Warnemünde.

Wondering where else in Europe you can travel so cheaply? Check out my other budgets:
Baring My Budget:  Madrid and Barcelona
Baring My Budget: Malta
Baring My Budget: Stockholm
Baring My Budget: Hamburg
Baring My Budget: Venice
Baring My Budget: London
Baring My Budget: London, Take 2

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Yesterday’s post on Berlin main train station layovers described a lovely picnic location in a nearby park. If you can’t forgo sightseeing for two hours, however, there are two options within short distance of the station:

  • Chancellory / Reichstag / Brandenburg Gate / Holocaust Monument

Check your luggage at the train station and head out from the Washingtonplatz entrance. You should already see the Chancellory waiting across the Spree. Cross the bridge over the river and head towards it. You’ll pass between the Chancellory and the Paul Löbe Haus (Bundestag offices) — from here, looking both left and right, you can see the architect’s intentional symbolism of transparency in government.

Around the corner, the Reichstag comes into view. In winter, or between 6 and 10 p.m. year-round, you may have a good chance of ascending to the top in 30 minutes or less — expect to spend at least 30 minutes inside the dome as well. At other times and on weekends, waits alone may exceed 2 hours. If you must get to the top on a limited schedule, the only other way in is to make (and keep!) reservations at Käfer, the restaurant atop the building. You can find an online reservation request form here. It offers spectacular views and reasonable value for the price — try to hit lunch (soups ~ 9 euros, salads ~ 14 euros) or Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake ~ 7 euros) time instead of the pricier dinner hour.

With half a day, you could request a guided tour of the building, which all end at the viewing dome. It is best to send your requests in advance, but it is possible to pop over even at the last minute at the scheduled tour times to see if space is available (enjoy the sights, but don’t expect English explanations in such a case, however). Amazingly, all visits to and tours of the Reichstag are FREE!

From the rear of the building, follow the masses across the street and down the block to the Brandenburg Gate. If you have extra time, the Holocaust Memorial is just a bit further up the street. If instead you find yourself short on time, hop on the M85 bus (ask for the cheaper “Kurzstrecke” ticket) from either the Memorial or the Reichstag which will take you right back to the main train station.

Exiting the main station on Europaplatz, head towards the right, walking along Lehrter Str.; the museum is located about a 7-minute walk from the station, on the opposite side of the street. Closed Mondays; open Tuesday-Friday 10-18; Saturday 11-20; Sunday 11-18. Admission price: 8 euros for adults, 4 euros for students with valid ID. Admission free Thursdays after 2 p.m.

If this all still seems confusing, why don’t you try following my Google map?

Wondering about the stuffed rabbit featured in the photo? Check out the post ITB Impressions: Send Your Teddy Bear on Vacation.
Find other posts from the Two Hours in . . . series here.

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Two Hours in . . . is a new series on layover time killers for major transportation hubs. First stop: Berlin’s main train station. This first post in a two-part report will describe a relaxed, non-sightseeing option. The next post will describe your short-term sightseeing options — so stay tuned for further ideas.

On the -1 level (B1), you’ll find a Kaiser’s supermarket in the far southwest corner (consult this map) which will handily provide you with everything you need for a picnic lunch or dinner. Take your supplies and head out the Europaplatz entrance; cross twice at the streetlight to the left. Continue to the middle of the block, where you will find the entrance to the Moabit Prison Historical Park (open daily from April to September, 8-21; October to March, 8-16). While the place is designed for the memorialization of political prisoners held and executed there for over a century, you will find — as in many such memorial spaces in Germany — dual-use areas, with a children’s play corner and picnic tables (where I recently saw a child’s birthday celebration) and loads green space for playing with dogs, frisbees or simply sunning oneself. Enjoy the grass and quiet till it’s time to head back to your connecting train.

If this description seems confusing, why don’t you try following my Google map?

Wondering about the stuffed rabbit featured in the photo? Check out the post ITB Impressions: Send Your Teddy Bear on Vacation.
Find other Two Hours in . . . posts here.

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Welcome to the fifth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photographic inspiration comes to us this week from Alan D. Newton. You can read all of the details about his visit to Hachioji City, Japan, at Global Eye: Takaosan Buddhas posted at Intelligent Travel.

Laura Morelli describes when and where to get your batik on authentically in The Genuine Article: Malaysian Batik at National Geographic Traveler.

Donald Morrison changes his mind about public transportation in the Chinese capital in The New Beijing Subway: Suddenly, a Pretty Good Ride posted at IHT Globespotters.

Steve Madsen presents free, historical highlights of Canberra in his series Australia’s Capital Treasures posted at Exit Row Seat.

Angelinaaahh has three currency exchange tips for those on their way to Phnom Penh in Riel-ing and Dealing in Cambodia posted at Wanderus. If you’re headed on to Thailand, you might also want to read her recommendations in Trekking Through Chiang Mai.

But first, don’t forget to check out Andrej‘s collection of things you might find useful to know Before you go to Thailand posted at ThailandTime: Bangkok & Thailand!

Never go hungry in Singapore or Malaysia after Austin Hill‘s rundown of local food courts in How To: Eat At A Hawker Center posted at Travellious, saying, “One of the best ways to eat cheaply in relatively expensive Singapore is to hit up stands at hawker centers. I give you the low down on how to do it right.”

Jeet has all the info you’ll need for a trip to Mysore, India, posted at Traveling Beats.

Tired of getting socked by currency conversion fees (or don’t know whether or not your credit card is profiting wildly on your overseas purchases)? Raymond to the rescue with his List Of Credit Card Foreign Currency Transaction Fees posted at Money Blue Book.

Finally, a great resource to start planning your trip the internet way is Niharika‘s post on the 50 Best Web 2.0 Travel Tools at Travelhacker.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Asia, Oz using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Antartica. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Wednesday.

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Safety is one of the primary concerns of every traveler. Here are a few freebies to help protect yourself on the road (like the treacherous one below I recently spotted in Linz, Germany):
+ from germs
+ from cooties
+ from insects
+ from password theft
+ from sunburn (scroll to “Product Features”)
+ and, if you’re crafty, from pickpockets (1, 2, 3)

Like free stuff? Browse previous Friday Freebies.

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Welcome to the fifth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for the Americas. Here you’ll find North American, Central American and Caribbean travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend. 

This week’s photographic inspiration comes from the Canada article at DirectoryM.  The entry is loaded with tons of information about the country, including a really interesting section on distinctly Canadian cuisine. Now let’s get down to business!

If you’re in the mood for a city vacation, you’ll want to check out the following posts:

+ Montreal.  In Montreal is for [Vietnamese Food] Lovers posted at The Ironic Mullet TM :: Culture and food from a traveler’s perspective :: The Tiny Guide, Lee Ann Westover deliberates the cheapest way to get there from NYC and runs down your best options for authentic pho.

+ BostonMarilyn Terrell’s post Beantown is Greentown at Intelligent Travel describes bike rental options and other green travel ideas.

+ Abingdon.  On I-81 between Knoxville and Roanoake, not far from the TN-NC-VA border, lies a unique historical theater.  Read about this cultural excursion in Joanne Scarborough‘s post GB Shaw wanted spinach: the Barter Theatre at Perceptive Travel Blog.

+ Using public transport.  Penny Nickel presents 15 tips for a frugal, relaxing, earth-friendly vacation that’s car-free! posted at Money and Values.

+ Booking hotels for less.  Ybother lays out the basics of using Hotwire, from figuring out which hotel you’re booking to making sure the room you book meets your expectations, in Using Hotwire? 10 Hot Tips on Booking Hotels via Hotwire posted at A Top Ten List Everyday to Jumpstart Your Knowledge.

If want to get back to nature, try on the following posts for size:

+ Matthew Paulson presents Camping Frugally: Spending Less in the Wilderness posted at The Travel Advocate.

+ Julie Bloss Kelsey presents Website of the Week: National Park Service posted at Mama Joules, saying, “Tips for navigating the National Park Service website before you head out on your next trip.”

Perhaps you’re headed for an island vacation instead?

+ Global Traveler presents Budget Traveling In The Caribbean posted at Traveling Around The World, saying, “The Caribbean is a great place to travel at any time of the year for a tropical island vacation.”

+ The Traveling Mamas were on location in Hawaii and have a bunch of great posts on cheap experiences.  Try Molokai Sunset on Papohaku Beach, Mama on the Move – Hawaii Hiking to Petroglyphs, or, if you’re hungry, Where to Eat a Great Fast Food Lunch in Hawaii.

+ Ron presents Museums on the Big Island of Hawaii posted at Your Aloha Connection.

If you’re looking to save money on plane tickets, have a gander at:

+ Raymond presents The Best Frequent Flyer Airline Miles Credit Cards For Cheap Flights posted at Money Blue Book.

+ Linda W. presents Getting To The Caribbean posted at The Eclectic Female, saying, “If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean, you probably automatically started looking up flights to the area.”

Can’t afford to fly?  Then take the bus instead!  Jack Norell presents Bus travel around the world posted at Eyeflare – Travel Articles and Tips, saying, “Bus travel is often as budget as you can get. Cheaper than trains, but faster than walking, here are some of the best cheap bus operators in the world.”

General tips for budget travel come to us this week from:

+ Heather Hills with 10 Best Ways to Travel on a Budget posted at Chick Vacations, Women Travel.

+ Heather Johnson with 10 Frugal Travel Tips for Your Summer Vacation posted at FIRE Finance.

+ Amanda S reminds us they’re not expensive if you share in Timeshare On A Budget posted at RCI member informer.

+ Matthew Paulson tells us how to do it all on the company dime while saving a nickel in How to Go on Business Trips & Come Home With Extra Money posted at The Travel Advocate.

Andy Fletcher shows us how to have a good time with just 51 cents in The Souvenir Smashed Penny Collector posted at Andy Fletcher’s Custom Trains Blog.

When staying in someone else’s home, it is expected you act considerately towards your host. Tip Diva presents Tip Diva | Top Ten Tips – Being A Considerate House Guest, saying, “When you’re traveling, a friend or family member may offer you a room for a night, a week or even longer. Even though you may be close to the person, you’re still a guest, and there are some things that every gracious person should know.”

Wrapping up this week, minnemom reflects on the reason behind the vacation weekend in Memorial Day Observance posted at Travels with Children, saying, “While not describing a particular destination per se — an observance like this can be found around the country — I think it is important to stop and pay tribute, and not to think of “holidays” as just “vacations.” Maybe we can all take some time out of our travels for observances such as this.”

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Americas using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Wednesday.

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