If you are headed to the British Isles including Scotland and Ireland, there is one silly little thing that may never have come to your attention. You have a long flight, drive to your hotel and are completely jet lagged. You check in, drag your luggage upstairs, make the silly key card work, enter your room . . . and the lights won't work. Nothing plugged into an outlet works.
We first met this problem in Scotland in a rental house late at night with no one to ask. After digging my flashlight out of my luggage and searching around the house a little, I discovered each electrical outlet has a little switch on it. You switch the outlets on and off just like you switch the lights on and off. I pushed the button and voila! It's convenient if you don't want to unplug your appliance but if the outlets are behind furniture, it's a nuisance.
So when you are greeted with a floor or table lamp that won't work, follow the cord to the wall outlet and push that little button on it. Magically, the lights come on. If you are charging phone or batteries, make sure the switch is on or you'll have a surprise in the morning.
As we all know, Europe is composed of many different countries with many different languages. In the good old days when you went from country to country, you had to go through an official border check and Customs. Since the EU and the Schengen Agreement, most of those are cute little abandoned Customs shacks by the roadside accompanied by a large sign telling you the name of the country you are entering.
This means that for the most part, you do not have to stop; no one asks you any questions; there is no stamp on your passport and if you miss the border sign, you may not even know you have entered another country.
Everyone in the world doesn't fit neatly into this scheme, however. Some countries require visas of other countries; some countries are in the EU but not in the Schengen Agreement and some countries just have different rules. It is your responsibility to figure out which category fits you.
You can get a list of which countries fit each category here Interactive map of Schengen Countries
To find out if you need a visa, check this web site: Do you need a Schengen Visa?
Generally, if you are from the United States of America, you may stay within the Schengen area for 90 full days. Then you must leave for 90 full days. You can't just zip out and back in again. You must stay out for 90 days. Then you can repeat the cycle. If you plan to visit more than the 90 days, you must get a visa of some sort, student visa, work visa, some kind of visa. If you plan well, you can stay by spending 90 days inside Schengen and then another 90 days outside Schengen (England, for one, is not a Schengen country) and then repeating the cycle. It takes a bit of planning but may be worth it. Most of us go for shorter periods of time so it's not a problem.
There's a pretty good explanation at the web site below. If you have questions, it is always best to contact the embassy of the country you want to visit.
In Lithuania, even when I haven't been to Germany before, I have heard such sentence: as accurate about time as German or as punctual as German. Actually it seems the right thing, at least in my point of view. When arranging meetings, I never had to wait for anyone, also we had one funny situation with my host in Berlin, who is American. He arranged meeting at his place at 6 o'clock, so we were waiting and doorbell ringed just in time, looked like guest was looking for time, when to bell :)
Ukraine could be very different, not only about people, architecture, but also about thinking about authority of country. Almost very day I have seen some kind of revolutionary groups about one or other decision of authority or simply supporting Western Ukraine leaders. I hope someday country will be more democratic and more independent from their neighbors, as I think it has big potency to do it.
Londonderry or Derry? As you approach a city with seemingly 2 names – you will see the battles commence. Both from the Republic of Ireland side of the border and inside Northern Ireland (UK) itself! There are many signs on the motorways (highways) and roads trying to tell you the direction and/or how many miles to drive to arrive at the second largest city in Northern Ireland. It’s an amazing historic and vibrant city that is also the 4th largest city on the Irish Island. But what is the battle?
If you are Catholic – you will call the city ‘Derry’. If you are Protestant you will call it ‘Londonderry’. As I was driving along I saw most road signs with the LONDON part spray painted out. Even just when it said L’Derry – the ‘L’ was painted out. Fair play to vandals of a Protestant background. I saw a few signs where DERRY was painted out and I seemed to be driving toward London itself.
And then there were the ultimate signs- both names painted out.
The battle of Nowhere won!
At least, given the death and pain, today the battle are with a spray can of paint, not an assault rifle in a crowd of civilians.
If you would like some history – here it is!
The official name of the city is Londonderry. Originally it was a village called Doire meaning ‘oak wood’ or ‘oak grove’ in Gaelic. In 1613, King James I granted the now city a Royal Charter and added ‘London’ when all of Ireland was part of an English, later United Kingdom. Interestingly the County Londonderry in which it resides in existed with the full name first. The County was created (there was never a ‘County Derry’) in reference to the London Livery Companies of the Irish Society. This was a venture that pioneered the colonisation of Northern Ireland.
I suggest that you have a look at the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/learn/index.shtml#which which will give you guidance on useful languages and also lead you to sites for learning those languages. It's easy to learn to tourist level.
That said, many people speak or understand English in the tourist centres and outside, but soften your American accent, which many find harsh and grating. The French do not like to speak English, so you must know some French if you are gong to visit France.
Sweden is famous for the famous and very popular music group ABBA from Sweden who played modern music during 1970th. They put Sweden on the map among people in the music business. Now Stockholm city has begun to have walks in Stockholm named after them and discover the Stockholm these four musicians lived and where they went and so. i think this a very special guided tour through Stockholm, and if you like music and especially Abba, this tour can be very exciting and interesting to walk.
When you travel to Scandivaia in the northern Europe, you will discover the history of the vikings. I would say that our history about the vikings is very interesting and we really dont know if we discover America before Colombus, or Colon. I would recommend you to visit the northerns countries as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland to participate in our interesting history. Even many other places are discover thanks to them, the vikings, and even founded like Dublin. The rumour says that the vikings established Russia on one of their viking raids. We have done a lot in the history, by the way we discover greenland and fought with the eskimos but they were too tough for the vikings in their climate. We have even found Faroe islands and the Shetlands. So much!
If you need more information about the vikings, send me a message amigo!!!
Carnevale di Venezia / Carneval in Venice is a great annual event and the kind of carneval is a lot different there from other places in Europe: You will see a lot of great costumes of baroque and other historic times and almost all participants will wear masks like in my main picture here.
The week before Carneval will also be quite expensive when booking a hotel there and for the ordinary tourists it will be very hard to find your way through the narrow streets around St. Marks-Square, because there are parades with thousands of participants and spectators standing along the way as well.
Casa di Giulietta / the house of Juliet in Verona should be on the list of places-to-see for all lovers visiting Italy.
In the entrance of the building, where you can see the famous (BUT false) balcony , where Giulietta Capelletti met Romeo Montecchi, you may stick your Love-letters on a wall , where you will find already thousands of other love-letters.
To post your love-letters there is to be said to be some sort of a guarantee for a love lasting forever.During the day thousands , mainly male tourists are trying to touch the right breast of the statue of Giuletta, and get a photo as well while doing so.(you will see the statue in my 2nd photo right under the balcony)
Look at this statue, that is completely cleaned by all of these touches, while the face is almost black.
It is ment for good luck and ever-lasting love...
There is NO guarantee, but maybe it will work, so why not trying yourself.
During the day you may hardly ever find a quiet moment inside that lovely innercourt with the famous balcony and the statue of Juliet.
Can I tell you a secret first ? WATCHING others kissing the Blarney-stone is a lot more funny than doing it yourself !
Kissing the "Blarney-Stone" is an old tradition in Ireland and lots of tourists spread the word about it to all parts of the world, so this crazy custom is still going on !
According to an old ledgends there is a magic stone on top of the castle, and who-ever kisses it, will get the gift of eloquence.
"Blarney" is also an expression used for words that are used by someone in order to achieve something, without really meaning to do what he had promised.
Queen Elisabeth I tried to force Lord Blarney to acknowledge her officially but Lord Blarney used a thousands words in order to avoid that...
The Queen finally shouted : "That is all Blarney, what he says, he does not mean!!".
Kissing the Blarney-stone is in fact not really easy : At first you have to step up to the very top of the castle, lay back, while a strong man will hold your feet. You have to bend backwards and kiss the stone that is a part of the stone-fence outside of the castle-brim. There is an iron-fence in order to make sure, you will not fall down, but of course you belongings - glasses, hat ect. may do so - see my pictures !!
I have not done it myself, and psst, don't tell anyone : watching that scenery is a lot better than doing it yourself !!
When in Scotland - check out the dates for " Highland Games "Highlandgames are a tradition since several hundred of years and you will see plenty of unique competitions like :
Tossing the Caber - Tug of War - Pipemusic-competitions - traditional highland dances - different heavy-weight competitions.
At the tourist information in Edinburg you will get a small booklet with all dates of Highlandgames of the year. - and on my link below you can search for highland-games all over Scotland in alphabetical- or chronological order !
In my 1st & 2nd pic: Tossing the Caber
This large and heavy piece of wood need NOT TO BE THROWN A BIG DISTANCE, but it has to be thrown in a way, that the side you hold has to go up the air, the other part has to touch the ground and the whole wood has to fall over in a straight way, that is as close as possible to 12.00 o'clock on the watch...
Landshut is a small town north of Munich - and every 4th year they have a medieval festivity called "Landshuter Hochzeit von 1475" - 6000 participants in traditional costumes will perform a marriage that took place in Landshut in reality in the year 1475.
Landshuter Hochzeit is the biggest historical event in Europe and it takes place every 4th year.
The next such event will be in the year 2014.
600.000 guests are attending these festivities with plenty of different events during 3 weeks, always from wednesday till sunday.
Landshuter Hochzeit is NOT just like most of the other medieval-costumes-parades, it is the revival of an historic event that took place in Landshut in the year 1475 and all the people you may see in "Landshuter Hochzeit" play their part in these wedding ceremonies...
Maybe you are looking for a very special, romantic place for your wedding or other festivity ? The castle Kapellen-Stolzenberg can be rented for private festivities like Marriages etc. They have a nice chapel - you may see it on my picture on the right side of the castle, facing the river Rhine. Afterwards you may have champagne in the great reception-hall of the castle. For such occasions I am sure, you and your guests will be allowed to drive up to the castle by car. The carparking there is big enough anyway.
In order to make a reservation for private festivities, you can apply here:
Verein der Freunde und Förderer auf Schloss Stolzenfels
56075 Koblenz - Rhenser Straße 33
or use the Telephone & Fax-numbers below !
Heiraten auf Schloss Stolzenfels
There are some annual events especially for veterans of WW II in Germany: At the bridge at Remagen Several Veterans-meetings are held each year - you may check for more details on my link below !
There is a Friedensmuseum / Museum for peace inside the famous "Bridge of Remagen" nowadays. That bridge was built in 1916-1918 and was called "Ludendorffbrücke" after an important German General in WW I. It became one of the most important bridges over the river Rhine with 2 high & fortified towers at each side, with windows into all directions and it was obviously from the beginning planned to have guards inside the bridge watching out for foreign troups already so shortly after the 1st World War.
It might be the best to check ALL languages, because some of the events are not mentioned in the english translation of the webpage !!
The Four Seasons George V is truly one of the world's great hotels. I really, really love to stay...more
The concierge was fabulous, the hotel very grand, and despite the rooms being small they were...more
The Pantheon is my favorite building in Rome and might be my favorite building in the world. The...more
More Countries in Europe
see all Europe member meetings