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Top 5 Things to Do In Barcelona

[pinit] By JEFF THOMAS Published: September 3, 2012 There are so many things to do in Barcelona that it’s hard to decide which things to do. Well, from my experience in Barcelona as well as many other Hoppers, I have narrowed your choices down to the 5 best things to do in Barcelona. Here they are! 1: Stroll down La Rambla La Rambla is a tree lined pedestrian walk full of excitement with so many things going on from street performers and human statues to vendors selling flowers, local fare, and more.  The best part is that you walk on a large pedestrian only walkway with street performers and activity to amuse yourself with. Make sure to get your picture with one of the human statues too.     Number 2: Explore the crazy architecture of Antoni Gaudi at the Park Guell Park Guell is probably one of the strangest parks I’ve ever been to, due to the Gaudi architecture, but also one of the most fun parks to explore. Throughout the entire park there is always some sort of element in the landscape that grabs your attention and makes you want to explore it. Be prepared to walk a fare amount as there are some terrain changes throughout the park. If you can manage, make sure to make it to the top to see an incredible view of Barcelona as the park is elevated above the city.   Number 3: Visit Sagrada Familia Sagrada Familia is probably the most recognizable icon you think of when you hear Barcelona. The Gaudi designed towers of this church rise into the... read more

Spotlight on Skansen, the open-air museum in Stockholm, Sweden!

[pinit] If you’re visiting Sweden during the summer, Skansen is a great place to step back in time and to learn a little more about Sweden while doing so! Skansen is basically a replica of how life in Sweden was during the 19th century, so everything looks as it did back in the 1800’s and even the Swedish speak in a dialect that mimics the 19th century. Everyone plays his/her part in making Skansen a magical step back in time, but they’ll speak English if you need help, so don’t worry. Be sure to visit the bakery, where everything is baked from scratch using the same methods to bake that they used during the 19th century. I, being a writer, loved the Printer’s where you can see how books were printed during the 19th century, and even buy a print made on a classic printer, for a great souvenir!   Then be sure to stroll around the “country side” to see actual historical Swedish houses, with green thatched roofs! Many of the structures in Skansen are original so keep your eye out for the plaques that give a little background on each one! Skansen even features a zoo of native animals to Sweden, including reindeer, a lynx, wolves, and more! Jeff and I happened to visit Sweden in late November, when the day is short and the nights are dark, but we braved the cold and found Skansen to be one of the best parts of our trip, despite the cold and rain! If you want to visit in the winter, it’s just as magical, but be sure to... read more

What Garden NOT To Miss at Versailles

[pinit] By JEFF THOMAS Published: September 3, 2012 If you are visiting Paris for a few days, chances are you might be going to visit Versailles for a day whether you’re interested in the Palace or the Gardens or both, they can both be very overwhelming. This article’s focus is on one garden that if at the very least, you only have time for one garden, this should be the one to visit. If you’re not a big garden fan, or crunched for time, and just want to see one or two gardens, or just so overwhelmed by the grand size of the gardens this is the garden NOT to miss. The Colonnade was one of my favorites at Versailles and it is just off of the Royal Pathway or Green Pathway so it’s easy to get to also. WARNING: The fountains at Versailles only run on Saturdays and Sundays from 31 March to 28 October for 2012 and they run from 11 am to 12 noon and from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. So to see this garden in its full effect, I’d recommend going on these days, and yes it will be busier, but trust me, it’s worth it. The sound of water crashing in a peristyle with 32 marble columns surrounded by forest is so pleasant that it’s hard to leave this hidden garden. If the gardens are busy this garden is also great because it drowns out the sounds of all of the tourists as you hear the fountains surrounding you.  So whether you’re heading out of the palace or walking straight to the garden out... read more

The Number One Visited Themed Attraction in Europe Is…

  Euro Disney! It’s a small world after all…I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself! But yes, it is the number one visited themed attraction in Europe, and the third most visited attraction in ALL of Europe with over 10 million visitors annually (! Yes that is more visitors than the Louvre has each year! Did you know that it is designed and is almost the same in comparison with the Disneyland we have in the United States? If you’re feeling a little homesick (and you’re from the United States!) Euro Disney is a great way to visit something, foreign, but familiar. Love it or hate it, they have It’s a Small World, and yes, it’s in English so you can still sing along, (and will be singing it throughout the rest of your vacation). They also have Space Mountain, but note: this is one of those rides that is different. Yes, it is within the dark, but it goes upside down, and is much wilder than the original Space Mountain that I know and remember! There are my favorites, Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, but also the teacups (If you’re not easily dizzy!), as well as the Peter Pan Ride! Pirates of the Caribbean is especially charming because it is all in French. Speaking of French, Mickey and all the characters speak French as well, which is charming and gives that sense of difference, (even if you are strolling down the ever-familiar Main Street). I happen to love Alice and Wonderland so if you are a fellow mad hatter, make sure to visit the labyrinth, it’s a... read more

What to Bring and Not to Bring to Oktoberfest

  What to Bring and Not to Bring to Oktoberfest Prost! Are you planning on going to Oktoberfest this year? From the drinking, the rides, and more drinking you might be wondering about what to bring or not to bring to Oktoberfest to have the best time that you can. Many people make the mistake of bringing too many things or things that aren’t even allowed into the beer tents. So here’s a quick summary of the best things to bring and not to bring to Oktoberfest. First things first, you’re going to need to bring cash. Depending on how much you plan on drinking, or think you plan on drinking, I’d bring enough Euros to cover that and double it. I just looked on Oktoberfest’s official website for the 2012 event, and the cost of a beer this year is between 8.70€ and 9.20€. It may seem high, but it is a liter of beer or a “mast” so you should be good after a couple… Oh and be sure to round up the price of a beer a euro or two to keep your server coming back when you’re ready for your next round. Whether you’re planning on staying the whole day and night or just part of the day, you don’t need to worry about bringing food or drinks. There are PLENTY of drinks, yes water and soda too, in addition to beer at Oktoberfest. There is also PLENTY of food and every corner you turn there will be somebody selling something from pretzels, Bavarian Delights, brats, and more to fill your stomach. So bring some... read more

How to Use the Paris Metro

The transportation in Paris can be very overwhelming at first, but with a few tips and general knowledge of the Metro system, you should be off to the Louvre or the Tour Eiffel (EiffelTower) in no time! First things first, the Metro is the mostly underground transportation system that you’ll probably use the most. With Metro stops almost every 100 feet throughoutParis, your never too far from lost if you know the Metro system.  It consists of 14 lines labeled 1-14 all with its own unique color. There are also RER lines A, B, C, D, E, and F that are Regional Lines that you can also ride on with your tickets unless it goes out of the zones noted on your ticket. There is always a map in the Metro stations of all of the Metro routes and zones so if you don’t have a map or an iPhone or smart phone, you can always locate which line you’re at and where it goes. Trust me, I spent many hours staring at maps in the Metro stations guiding my finger along the Metro line route. It’s okay to do that, having a map is probably easier though and if you really want to not be known as a tourist, look at the map well before you enter the Metro. To purchase tickets at the Metro stations there are a few options that are good to know for different situations. If you plan on only taking the metro one or two times, then you can get away with just buying a single ticket which costs around €1,70 or about... read more

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