Category Archives: travel planning

There is spring in the air :)

Sun is shining, birds are singing but there is still a lot of snow on the streets… This time some images from Riga, Latvia. I would say – waiting for the summer!

Park in the front of Latvian University, Riga, Latvia

Park in the front of Latvian University, Riga, Latvia

Freedom Monument in the central part of Riga

Freedom Monument in the central part of Riga

Old Town of Riga, called Vecriga

Old Town of Riga, called Vecriga

Streets of Old Town

Streets of Vecriga - Old Town of Riga

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Best vacation time has a ‘do nothing’ time as well.

Even though it seems that vacation is a time when people get rest  and can breakaway from everyday routines, for many people it’s very stressful time. I would say there are two options – many people consider vacation as an opportunity to do the things they havent done while working or really use as an opportunity to relax & do things in easy pace.enjoying the sunny day

Often we make a something like ‘wish list’ for the vacation time, what’s needed to do. Consider things you would like to do and you need to do. Someone has a lot of travel activities, someone is planning to visit relatives or go to countryside for a while.

What is on your vacation list?

  • Go to the movies;
  • spend more time outside the house;
  • go to an amusement park;
  • do some homework;
  • trip to Europe;
  • go to the beach;
  • clean your room;
  • design you dream house;
  • cook 3 meals a day;
  • read work related books;
  • chat with friends on facebook;
  • take summer courses at the community college;
  • spend more time with children;
  • visit relatives…

Well, did you pick things that relates to you? But where is a ‘do nothing’ time, when you will:

  • forget about alarm clock and have a ‘lazy’ morning;
  • surf the Internet without checking an e-mail;
  • do things with no-rush attitude during the day;
  • have a cup of tea and watch life going on outside the window;
  • eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste a food;
  • read a book while at taking long warm bath;
  • spend time with family or friends without rushing;
  • head out to seaside & watch sunset;
  • do one thing at the time.

    enjoy the sunshine or watch people passing by

    enjoy the sunshine or simply watch people passing by

What comes to traveling, do you have a list of sightseeing ‘must see today’ places? Planning is good. But do you know that all the plans are made to be changed? If this is your holiday, do you really need to get up at 7am to have a quick breakfast and be first in line to famous tourist attraction?

I like traveling. I like sightseeing. But somehow staying in a queue for an hour or two to get  up on viewing platform of Notre Dame Cathedral, getting in to Coliseum/ Louvre  or  visit a Vatican doesn’t sound tempting at all. Therefore I would suggest use tourist sightseeing passes that include transportation and line skipping as much as possible 🙂

There are things that I don’t understand either – like traveling 5 European cities in 7 days or running trough British Museum in two hours. I see just a lot of stress from getting from place to place and tired people of ‘too much information’ in short time. I wish people would enjoy more:

  • breakfast without rush;
  • catching the morning sun at the hotel’s swimming pool;
  • enjoying the view of the city or some attraction;
  • simply sit down at the park and watch people passing by;
  • enjoy sunset (sunrise is nice as well, but too early 🙂 )sunrise

I do understand that not everyone can have 1 or 2 month off the job but even a week is good for it. With good planning even a short breakaway can be helpful to ‘recharge batteries’ of your body & soul. Do the things you have been wishing for a long time or go to the places that are off your regular route… 

With all the activities going on don’t forget to include time, when you ‘do nothing’. Modern meaning of ‘holidays‘ is a special days to have a rest or relaxation ( as an opposite to normal days of work).

Relax, take it easy!

…and enjoy you vacation days!

Sightseeing of the Royal London.

Have you been wondering about visiting London this or next year? I think todays Royal Wedding Ceremony broadcasted all over the world will be a little buster for many travelers who havent mada a mind about it. Besides next year, in 2012 London will host Olympic Games. Both these events will make people pay more attention to London as a travel destination.

If you are one of them, then here is something for you 🙂 For a limited time, here is a free download of Royal London Audio Walking Tour provided by Lonely Planet Publications. Explore the sights of London with some additional information. Round Tower of Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey are the places many travelers are looking forward to visit. This walking tour shares a bit on information about London’s best attractions. 

If considering trip to Europe, London is one of the destinations people pick for various reasons. Art, culture, heritage, famous attractions, special events, shopping, leisure, entertainment and so on. Any of these are good reasons for visiting London. All you need is to book a hotel & find the best way to get there 🙂

Getting ready for long weekend getaway in Stockholm.

Spring is almost here & so is Easter. I’ll use this long weekend – 4 days are almost like a sort vacation 🙂 – for visiting a Stockholm, Sweden. Have been there long ago but then someone was showing the best visitor’s attractions to me. Now I’m looking forward doing sightseeing on my own and exploring one of the beautiful Scandinavian cities during the spring time.

 Swedish capital has great architecture and many points of interest to visit.  Stockholm is very nice for sightseeing because there is an easy access to many tourist attractions. Right now I don’t have a particular plan for my visit but I know that one of the first things I’ll do is visit Stockholm’s Tourist Center (right across the street from the Central Train Station) to get  some city maps & latest updates for events during the Easter. Then I’ll just walk around the central part of Stockholm to get an ideas what I’d like  & need to see. 

What comes to this trip is that this is the first time I’ll be using Ryanair – popular low-cost airline. This is kind of new experience for me. I have heard o lot of stories about traveling with Ryanair. Many of my friends & relatives are using this airline a lot. The good part is the cheap price for the tickets for traveling within European destinations but down side is the little service and location of airports served.

Ryanair uses Skavsta Airport for Stockholm destination  – around 100 km southwest from city therefore one of the issue is how to get to/from Airport to Stockholm. The  easiest & cheapest option is to use Flygbussarna direct buses. Return ticket for adult costs 238 SEK with online advance purchase. Tickets can be purchased at the Airport & on the bus as well. But important note, that from Jan 1, 2011 busses are cash free – which means payments are accepted just by credit cards (and no Maestro or Visa Electron).

One thing that I already learned is that you can register & get boarding pass for the flight 15 days in advance.  And many people are doing it as soon as online registration is open to get better seating. When I was checking in 4 (and 7) days in advance I got seating somewhere at the end of  the plane.  Good that you can register for both – inbound and outbound flights – in same time. But why do they need to have my ID for trip within the Europe? Havent seen that anywhere else.

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Practice what you preach: Travel Planning

All the latest posts have been about my resent trip to Russia. I know this travel destinations sounds a bit exotic to many people, therefore I wanted to share my travel experience in Moscow. But at the same time I havent forgotten other travel related activities & planning some other trips as well. But before that here are 3 reminder things about planning a trip:

1. Of course, when we think about trip & related expenses, first advice from everybody is plan in advance. What comes to this trip I did it – got flight tickets already in December ( 4 month before the trip). Since then I’ve been comparing the prices that been offered as a ‘special deal’ and can say that the price I bought the tickets was one of the best. Few times for the short period there were some offers with prices close to one I had but basically it showed that as it gets closer to departure date a ‘special deals’ or ‘sales‘ prices don’t go lower that the basic level price, if booking good time in advance.

Moscow. Sheremetyevo Airport.

Moscow. Sheremetyevo Airport.

2. Other thing I wanted to mention is a hotel reservation. Earlier on to book a hotel room in Russia with international booking engines was almost impossible. There were just few international brands with 4-5 star hotels. What I was usually doing for my Russian trips, is doing search on local russian sites & then looking for the website of particular hotels I was interested. That way I could get at least reasonable price range for 2 – 3 star or private hotels.

When planning my trip to Moscow this year, out of curiosity I did a search on Booking.com – the hotel booking site I use for European destinations. Big was my surprise to find that they have added many hotels and even hostels with reasonable prices for Moscow and Russia in general.

What I like about Booking.com is that you can find hotel reviews there. For booking a hotel in Moscow that is very important because many ‘hotels‘ arent really a hotels, but just one floor or even one very big apartment as a ‘small private hotels’. Last time I visited in Moscow I actually stayed in one like that. The best things were central location and the price  around 2000 rub. Not so good things – that is a big apartment were you rent just one room ( with shared kitchen, shower &WC); furniture in rooms are not the best quality; no internet access.

3.  Last thing I’d like to mention here is – get off the beaten tracks. And here I mean your habits of planning the trip.

For several years I had clear picture what is the best way to plan my a trip to Moscow. As mentioned before, I was nicely surprised to about opportunity to book a hotel in Moscow on my favorite booking engine and was about to do it. In the last moment I decided to check out the special offer from event organizers.

I know the hotels they were offering – the good ones. And I knew the price range of hotel rooms there. From my experience before I knew that mostly every time hotels offered by organizers are good but they cost much more I’d like to pay. Definitely not a budget friendly ones. So I just do my own research & find the one  nearby area.

Same was about to happen this time as well. But for god knows what reason I downloaded a hotel registration form. And what I see there? Both 3 and 4 star hotels are offered with very reasonable price. Of course I want it. Why I didn’t take the offer before? Because I knew the price for that hotel & I could not imagine that special discount for event participants will be so big…

What I wanted to say here is that even you’ve been doing something for years & you think your solution is one of the best one, check out the some other options that are a bit outside your regular beaten trap. Because it might happen that NOW there is a better, cheaper or more convenient way…

What comes to me – I’m about to try one more thing I havent done – use Priceline.com for bidding on hotel room for one of my next trips.

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Summer time is here!

Just a quick note – tonight many European countries turn their clocks one hour ahead for Daylight Savings time. Many might like many not really. This weekend it will affect just people working or traveling. Other ones will have just one hours less to sleep…

Since I’m traveling to Russia in a few days, here is one thing that got my attention – this is the last time Russians are turning clocks for the Daylight Savings / Standard time. The time shift will be made last time in accordance with the decision of  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

According the President’s decision, there will be no switch back to ‘winter time’. This decision is based on some studies were it has been stated that “the need to adapt (to the time switching) is connected with stress and illnesses”. Some experts has confirmed that the time change twice a year violates the human life biorhythm.

How it will affect rest of the world? As long as we switch to the summer / winter time, Russia will have prolonged day light & the time difference will vary GMT +3 or +2 hours for the Moscow & St Petersburg.

P.S Other news is that now there are just 9 time zones in Russia.

All set & ready for the trip to Moscow

Yesterday I got my travel visa to Russia. So I can say that I’m all set & ready to go to Moscow. Well, I’ll go in a week but right now I already know what my plans will be there. It’s not that I’ve been planning this visit a lot. I’ve been in Moscow before &  I know what I’d like to do.

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

View of the St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square

This time my trip to Russian capital is more like business trip, therefore there will be 3 evenings & 1 day for visiting the places I’d like to see. Because of tight schedule there are things I know for sure that I’ll do & when.

1. For fastest & most convenient way from Sheremetyevo Airport to the central part of Moscow is by AeroExpress. This direct train service is very good & comfortable way to the Belorussky Train Station. From there I can take a Metro to the place I need. I expect total travel time around one hour. For the city in size of Moscow, this is fast. And price for this convenient trip is reasonable – 320 RUB for the train & 28 RUB for the Metro.

2. What comes to the Metro, this is one of the best ways to get around in city. Inside the Circle line is the central part of Moscow with many sightseeing places & attractions. If you stay in Moscow for at least few days, I suggest everyone to get a card of 10 rides for 250 RUB. That will make entrance to the metro smooth & more convenient.

I like using Metro in  Moscow. It provides fast & easy access to many sightseeing  places. Many Metro stations are deep underground therefore for many people it might be as a small adventure as well. It kind of gives the feeling of the place. Besides – all the Metro stations inside the Circle line are like a piece of art. Get a map of Metro & explore underground Moscow.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Take a walk in area around Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

3.On Thursday evening I’ll visit Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – one of the places I like to visit every time I’m in Moscow. Cathedral itself and area around is very nice & impressive ( after the visit to the Cathedral I would suggest to take a short Moscow River sightseeing cruise nearby to see Kremlin). In the nearby area there are few Museums to visit as well. Why Thursdays are good for museums? Because in many museums there is a late night entrance – you can see exhibitons till 8 or even 9pm. Works good if I’m busy during the day.

Last time I was in Moscow I found out about this by chance. I went to Pushkin Fine Art Museum and besides great exhibition of Japanese Art there was a musical performance at that evening as well.  So now I’m suggesting to everyone – use the opportunity of thurdays. What comes to Russian museums – they are great & worth to visit. State Tretyakov Gallery is national treasury for  Russian fine art but Pushkin Fine Art Museum has one of the most representative collection of foreign art.

4. Last day of my visit I’ll have free for myself. That means… actually I havent decided yet 🙂 There are many places to see or many things to do. I’ll be staying near VDNH – large exhibition center and park. Might be there will be something interesting or check out Kva-Kva Aquapark – one of the largest water parks in Russia. Great fun for children but adults can check out list of special night events. Ok, maybe no the Aquapark  this time because my hotel will have a large swimming pool with some slides & SPA center…

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