Archive for September, 2010

These Three Things – London

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, These Three Things | on September 17th, 2010

I had an idea for a recurring blog on 1-800 Fly Europe.  Today, These Three Things will be making its debut.  Each post will cover a particular city and three exciting/interesting/unusual things to see or do while visiting.

Today, let’s take a trip to London and see what kind of fun can be had.

Portobello Road – I have touched on this before, but can we just give it a little more attention?  Portobello Road is located in the Notting Hill district in western London.  The quirky shops located along this winding avenue are open 6 days a week; on Saturdays, it is home to the Portobello Road Market – one of the largest antiques markets in the world!  There are almost always produce stalls out so if you don’t want to stop at the store for your fruits and veggies before heading home, you have a variety of fresh goods to choose from.  And if you feel hunger pangs and/or are in need of wetting your whistle, a few pubs are sprinkled around the area.  Stop in for some fish and chips and a pint!

The London Eye -  Fancy a ride on a gigantic Ferris Wheel?  Then head on over to the South Bank of River Thames in central London and hop on the tallest Ferris Wheel in Europe!  This wheel has 32 egg shaped passenger cars (also known as capsules) which are sealed, air conditioned and can hold up to 25 people. It moves very slowly at 0.6 mph; each rotation is about 30 minutes. Once you reach the top at 443 feet, the beauty of London is at your feet in a breathtaking, panoramic view. Don’t forget your camera!

Ghosts and Sinister London Tour -  Sure to spook the living daylights out of you, this tour takes you all around the most infamous spots of London.  Your creepy guide will regale you with tales of horror as you walk through the city’s dark streets and alleys.  You will go to the house in Berkeley Square – known as the most haunted house in London, learn about the Sweeney Todd the (fictional) demented barber of Fleet Street and tread in the footsteps of London’s most gruesome killer, Jack the Ripper.  The tour lasts around three hours and ends near Trafalgar Square.

Of course, there are plenty of activities in and around London, too many to name. These are just my top three – for now!

Peculiar Places for the Adventurous Voyager

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on September 14th, 2010

When you’re on vacation, do you go see the usual sights and attractions of the city you are visiting?  Or do you prefer the strange and unusual?  If it is the latter, we have a few places we suggest you visit on your next trip to Europe.

Paris, France – Catacombs What used to be limestone quarries dating back to 2 B.C. until the late 1700s are what we know today as the Catacombs of Paris, one of the most famous burial chambers in the world.  The conversion was due to overcrowding of the city’s cemeteries.

Descend into the tunnels underneath Paris  and explore over a half mile of neatly organized skulls and bones.  You will learn the incredible history and hear ancient legends of this spooky place. If you’re not claustrophobic, and you enjoy the thrill that ghost stories and haunted houses can bring,  you must visit this place on your next trip to Paris.

Oslo, Norway Vigeland Sculpture Park The Vigeland Sculpture Park is home to over 200 sculptures made from bronze, granite and wrought iron.  It is named for Norwegian artist, Gustav Vigeland who began working on these sculptures from 1924 until his death in 1943.

Although there are some pieces which are quite abstract, most of the statues represent people involved in every day activities such as hugging, sitting and thinking, dancing, running, etc. Perhaps the most recognized (and slightly disturbing)¬† piece is the Monolith, a 46 feet high column carved out of one single stone. It consists of 121 human figures writhing in various positions.¬† Although there has been much speculation on what the Monolith means, Mr. Vigeland let it be known that he had no intention on sharing his interpretation.¬† Instead he said, “The stone groups tell about life, the column about the world of fantasy. The stone groups can therefore be understood by anyone, each can interpret the column in his own way”.

Finland – Lainio Snow Village If you are in Western Finland’s Lapland region during the cold winter months, a spectacular sight to behold is the Lainio Snow Village.  The village, made with specialty tools, is created entirely from snow and ice.  Construction typically starts around the beginning of November, and upon completion  (around the end of the month) the village covers an area of about 220,000 square feet.  Here, you will be amazed by the largest ice dome in Europe, a beautiful restaurant, hotel rooms, intricate sculptures and more.

This site is a popular place to get married, as there is also a chapel on site.  If you are looking for a unique wedding destination, consider a trip to Finland!  This is one of the most unusual and beautiful spots in the world to tie the knot!

Avanos, Turkey – Hair Museum The collection at the Hair Museum started in 1979 by renowned Turkish potter Galip Korukcu and is now comprised of over 16,000 samples of tresses.  Although the connection is somewhat unclear, he reportedly started the museum in an effort to promote interest in his ceramics classes. The Hair Museum is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection of hair in the world.  You can even donate to the collection if you wish.  Truly, a “hair raising” experience. (Come on, you knew that was coming.)

On your next trip to Europe, check out one of these bizarre places for an unforgettable experience.  What is the strangest attraction you’ve visited?

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on September 8th, 2010

A nice trip to take during the cooling, autumn weather is to Turin, located in Italy’s Piedmont Region.  This part of the country is located in the extreme northeast, sharing alpine peaks with Switzerland and France.

Piedmont is famous for many things in the name of gastronomy: truffles, wine, cheeses, herbs and meats.  A culinary tour of this fantastic Italian region is a great way to spend your vacation, especially if you travel to Italy during the wine harvest’s prime time (October through December).  And, while you’re in the area, a must-stop is the town of Alba. If you visit Alba between September and January, you can hunt white truffles (said to be the best in the world).  Yum!

Today, in a tribute to the Piedmont Region and its famous white truffles, I will share a recipe for a wonderful sauce you can serve over pasta or vegetables or on the side with grilled steak or chicken.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c sliced porcini mushrooms
  • 1 ¬º oz fresh white truffles, finely chopped
  • 1 c finely chopped shallot
  • 1 ¬Ω c fresh grated parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large pan until melted, add mushrooms and shallots, sauté until golden.

Add wine and cook until reduced halfway, then pour in cream. Carefully cook, stirring often, until thickened.  Stir in cheese and truffles. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Say YES to the GPS!

By 1800FlyEurope in Travel Tips | on September 7th, 2010

Driving in Europe can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life, or one of the most frightening experiences, all depending on how you embrace the situation. Driving in Europe is no easy task and you can expect the road conditions to be different than that you are used to in the U.S. Europe is best experienced by renting a car and going at your own pace.
The most important thing about driving in Europe is to never get behind the wheel and drive timid. Doing this will cause problems for you and your vehicle as well as drivers around you. The pace of driving in Europe is faster than here in the States, so you will need to adjust to this.
Depending on where you are driving, the speed limit may or may not be observed and respected by other motorists. If driving on the Autobahn in Germany you are sure to see some motorists hit speeds in excess of 125mph, so be sure to pay attention of what’s going on in front of your vehicle as well as traffic approaching from the rear.
Also take note that in certain countries, motorists will seem to drive by their own rules and disregard posted laws and signs. This happens often so make sure that you pay extra attention to what other drivers around you are doing. Motorists can often make sudden and unpredictable moves, so pay attention and drive cautiously.
One of the best tools at your disposal when driving in Europe is portable Global Positioning System or GPS. These devices work in tandem with satellites and use triangulation techniques to pinpoint exactly where the device is and where it is programmed to go. The biggest benefit to these devices in Europe is how they are able to read off directions verbally, allowing you to focus on the road. The last thing you want to be doing is shuffling through some maps while trying to fight traffic on the ring road in Paris.
The other reason why a GPS rental is imperative in Europe is the lack of well marked signs and routes that you will encounter throughout Europe. Roads are marked with signs informing of how to get from point A to B, but at times those signs and can be downright confusing. Road names can change unexpectedly and with no warning, and often several times in a short distance. Also don’t expect to see compass directions at intersections, with just the direction of the town or the road name. A GPS system will take this worry right out of you and lead you to your destination effortlessly. GPS rentals will also come in handy whenever encountering construction or road detours, with the ability to change course on the fly, often times without you having to even push a button.
So take that plunge and rent a car to experience one of the most unique parts of our world. Stop at that local winery off the side of the road, walk about the mysterious looking cemetery or swim with the locals in the hidden watering hole you spotted from the road; all opportunities that you would have missed out on had you taken the train. Rent a car and follow your dreams in Europe!

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Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11