Tag Archives: Europe

Things to see and do while ashore on a Baltic cruise

Despite the never-ending cold gripping North America and Europe, summer is coming sooner than you think. If you like to travel in luxury and comfort, cruising is an excellent way to discover the world. During the summer months, Europe is a popular place to explore via this mode of exploration.

While you might be tempted to follow everybody to the Mediterranean, know that you can see spectacular scenery on a Baltic cruise as well. With plenty of ports of call at which to dock, you’ll get to see tons of amazing European architecture, eat incredible food, and meet fascinating people.

To save you the detail work of trying to figure out where to go every time you disembark from the boat, here’s what you should see in commonly visited port cities in the Baltic region.

Copenhagen, Denmark

A common first stop on many Baltic cruise itineraries, Copenhagen has no shortage of Scandinavian charm to offer visitors. Once you step off the ship, make a beeline for Nyhavn, a waterfront entertainment district with colourful buildings and plenty of restaurants and bars.

After a hearty lunch, check out either the Rosenborg Castle (dates from the 17th century), The David Collection (an impressive private collection of fine art), or the Christiansborg Palace (home to many royal and government functions).

Riga, Latvia

Of all the cities in the Baltic states, Riga gets some of the best reviews from cruise passengers. Its Old City is well preserved with plenty of charming cafes and restaurants, its central market is the largest in Europe, and its museums will sober those who view them.

When you aren’t busy admiring the numerous examples of Art Nouveau architecture through Latvia’s capital, make time to see the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. An uncompromising view of the years when this tiny country was occupied by the Nazis and then the Soviets, it will make you appreciate the freedom we enjoy in western countries.

Helsinki, Finland

After Riga, many cruise boats will head across the Baltic Sea to the Finnish capital of Helsinki. After disembarking, hop on a ferry to the Fortress of Suomenlinna. A defensive stalwart which has guarded this city’s harbour for centuries, it is both a military museum and a meeting places for Finns on brilliantly sunny days during the summer months.

Also, make time to check out the Rock Church. Built within a rock outcrop in the 1960s, the solid stone walls give this Christian hall of worship a look that few other churches on Earth have. Combined with great acoustics, try to attend a service if you have the opportunity to do so.

St. Petersburg, Russia

Think you can’t visit Russia without a visa? If you follow along with approved shore excursions, you are allowed to explore St. Petersburg without having to go through the onerous paperwork needed to formally enter this country.

If you go this route, book an excursion which takes you to Catherine Palace, which was the former playground of numerous Russian Tsars. Also try to take in the Hermitage Museum, which is the second-largest museum dedicated to the arts and culture in Europe and the world.

5 ways to save money for an extended trip to Europe

Rome is a common stop on an extended trip to Europe ... Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Dream of going to Europe someday? Some of the world’s best history, culture, beaches and party destinations can be found here, so we totally get you. Unfortunately, travel here can bankrupt you in no time flat if you don’t have a rock-solid financial plan in place.

Below, we’ll share five ways you can save the cash needed to enjoy an extended trip to Europe.

1) Pick up extra shifts

If you hold down a job in a workplace where you are paid by the hour, you have an advantage over those on salary. Stay longer for overtime pay, or pick up shifts from co-workers looking for time off. The end result: you’ll end up with a bigger paycheque for every pay period going forward.

Take the extra money you make and move it into a travel savings account. This will give you the capital you’ll need to have fun on holiday without spending the cash into your emergency fund.

2) Play online games

By this, we don’t mean Words With Friends or Farmville. There are games on the web which give you the opportunity to make money for your travels. All Jackpots casino online is an example of a website where you can earn a windfall by being dealt a royal flush in poker, nailing a big spin in your favourite slots game, or hitting your number in roulette.

You might not win every time you play, but you never know when you’ll hit pay dirt. Not only that, but you’ll get in plenty of practice prior to dropping in on places like the Monte Carlo Casino – unlike the other tourists, you’ll know exactly what you are doing.

3) Rein in your spending

For all the complaining people do about not earning enough money, they often have cash leaks they fail to notice. A cable package with 100+ channels they barely use, daily lunches, and leaky faucets are just a few examples how the average person wastes their discretionary income.

By tracking your spending habits, you’ll quickly learn where you are wasting your capital. Don’t watch cable as much as you used to? Cancel and replace it with Netflix. Eat out too much? Do meal prep on Sundays, and you’ll have a lunch ready to go every day. Got an inflated water bill? Have a plumber fix the leaks in your home.

4) Prioritize attractions and destinations

The problem with Europe is that there are so many places to go, it can be hard to know which ones to include in your itinerary. What’s more, many attractions in these cities charge sizable admission fees.

Know what interests you the most, then use this knowledge to make travel planning decisions. Love mountains and beaches? Move destinations like Paris down the list and choose spots like Barcelona instead. Prefer food over churches? Don’t waste 20 Euros to get into a cathedral you know won’t captivate you.

5) Earn money while you travel

There’s no getting around it: Europe is one of the priciest places in the world for travellers to visit. Don’t want to deprive yourself of experiences in a bid to preserve your declining bank balance? Pick up an internet side hustle before leaving home.

Spend several hours per week working on freelance projects for clients, and you’ll create a consistent income stream that will allow you go out for that fancy 5-course French meal while your hostel mates eat spaghetti.

Put these Forest of Dean attractions in your travel itinerary

When city dwellers of the United Kingdom seek a temporary reprieve from their daily grind, they have a number of go-to favorites.

The Lake District. Snowdonia. The Scottish Highlands.

But when you can’t venture far from Central London, a quick weekend escape to the Forest of Dean might just suffice.

Want to immerse yourself in the verdant environment found in this corner of England? Stay in a holiday cottage there, as they are nestled amidst the trees and the rolling hills which make this part of the country a desirable place to escape the stress of everyday life.

Once you have decompressed enough, though, you will probably want to fill your days with some activities.

If you are looking to do more than just unplug, find room in your travel itinerary for one of the following Forest of Dean attractions.

1) The International Centre for Birds of Prey

Love birds? If so, spending a few hours at the International Centre for Birds of Prey will be straight up your alley.

Home to over 60 species of hawks, eagles, and other carnivorous avian species, this zoo focuses on conservation and educational activities which aim to promote the well-being of the birds in their care and to teach the public about them.

Watching a falconry demonstration is a highlight of any visit here, so be sure to ask about the day’s schedule soon after arriving.

2) Royal Forest of Dean

As the name suggests, there is a sizeable wooded area within the Forest of Dean region. Preserved as a hunting ground for British royalty during the days of the Tudors, it is a well-loved recreation area in the present day.

While you are in the Forest of Dean, make time to enjoy a lovely stroll along its many walking trails. If you can time your visit, try to come during the spring when flowers are in full bloom, or during autumn when the leaves of the trees are ablaze in colour.

3) Hopewell Colliery

In recent times, mining was the primary economic activity that supported families in the Forest of Dean. That way of life is mostly gone now, but reminders of the past can still be found.

The Hopewell Colliery provides visitors with a window into the workings of a functioning coal mine, as it is run by a free miner or a former worker who once labored in one of the main mines in the region.

Doing that for one year gave them the right to claim a stake of their own within the Forest of Dean region.

Hopewell Colliery is one of the few freeminer operations that still exist, and while coal demand is rapidly falling, revenue generated through tours will keep this fascinating attraction open for years to come.