Note: This is the sixth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides and the fourth in the series focusing on transportation options around the world. Please go here, here, and here for the previous posts.
Scandinavia and the Baltic States compose far Northern Europe (we’ll cover Germany, The Netherlands, and some other northern European countries in a subsequent post), and feature some of the best scenery, most sparsely populated spaces, and lively yet historic cities in Europe.
Ships and trains offer the most convenient and comprehensive forms of transportation here, but driving among some of the countries is certainly doable.
And Denmark, especially, is well-suited to biking, with plenty of bike paths and flat terrain.
Getting Around The Baltics
The Baltic region is excellent for cruising because the main ports — Oslo,… Continue reading
How you get to where you’re going can be just as crucial to the success of your trip as the destination itself.
And in some cases, the mode of transport is, in effect, the destination.
Ocean cruises are an obvious example of the latter.
When you choose to see the world by cruise ship, you’re committing yourself to spending most of your time at sea and limiting your sightseeing on land to ports or places that are within a few hours’ drive by tour bus, taxi, or rental car from the ports.
But ocean- and sea-going vessels come in many shapes and forms — from small sailing ships to floating behemoths — that can make for entirely different journeys themselves.
Or say you want to take the Trans-Siberian Express (train) from China to… Continue reading
Most of us, when we travel to another country, probably have in mind at least one “must-see” attraction., usually an iconic structure, museum, historic site, or natural wonder.
Examples might be Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, the Roman Colosseum in Italy, and the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary.
Recently, TripAdvisor — which has propelled itself into the world’s leading travel site and travel data bank — released a map of Europe displaying the “one thing you must do in each country, according to tourists.” (I found it in the Huffington Post.)
For most countries, the results were pretty true to form: The Roman Colosseum in Italy; The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tallinn Old Town in Estonia; the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece; the… Continue reading
Ah, the early ’70s — the halcyon days when I and countless other baby boomers explored Europe (or at least Western Europe) with our trusty Eurail passes, which offered virtually unlimited travel on Western European railways for periods up to three months.
And as I recall, I paid the grand sum of $300 for a three-month pass — and that was for first-class seating.
True, I was usually one of the scruffiest riders in first class at that time — I often used to sleep on the trains to save money, since my budget was the proverbial $5 a day — but in exchange for sharing a compartment mostly with staid businessmen and properly dressed ladies, I had comfortable seating and hardly ever had to stand out or even sleep… Continue reading
Way back in 1971, shortly after graduating from college, I developed an obsession for the paintings of the 15th-century Flemish master Hieronymus Bosch, whose phantasmagorical — sometimes grotesque — artworks appealed to my psychedelic sensibilities of that era.
I spent days in libraries hand-copying notes from dusty tomes about the artist, sought out all of his works in American museums, and eventually embarked on a three-month pilgrimage to Europe determined to set eyes on every Bosch painting on the Continent.
On my target list were 31 museums and churches containing 58 works of art, scattered across a dozen countries and 26 cities and towns from Copenhagen to Vienna to Lisbon.
My resources were limited: a Eurailpass, a copy of Europe on $5 a Day when it was still called that, and a budget to match.
Like many baby boomers, when I was in my 20s I spent a lot of time — sometimes months at a time — riding European trains.
On shorter trips, when I would purchase separate tickets from one point to the next, I would always travel second class, and had some memorable experiences meeting the locals — and, from time to time, having to sleep in the corridors because the trains were so packed.
Once, riding the Spanish trains between Malaga and Barcelona, I spent 24 hours without a seat, standing up, lying down when possible, but having a blast sharing food and drink with my fellow seatless passengers, trying as best we could to understand each other in our respective broken Spanish and English. (Remember, I was in my 20s.)
But on my longer trips around Europe, I would buy… Continue reading