Updates from January, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 5:15 pm on January 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Tallinn: Picture Postcard Perfect 

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    TALLINN, formerly known as Reval, is the principal city of Estonia in every way.  It was a Hanseatic city back in the day, and something like a time capsule today.  If nothing else, communism can be depended on to stop the clock.  It is also party central for mobile hip Westerners who like to descend on a budget-friendly member of their European hinterlands which has just been selected for further in-depth maneuvers of the social kind… all of which is to say that the women are friendly.  The city is cute as a bug, too, and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Landmarks include the 13th C. Toom Church, the Gothic Oleviste and Niguliste churches, the Great Guildhall of 1410, the 14th C. Rathus, and much of the old castle.  It is well-connected by ferry to Finland, Russia, and Germany, by bus to the south, and budget airlines to all over.  Hostels are good, but please, “don’t sleep drunk in the kitchen.”  And don’t sleep on the router, either.

    The hostels here are good, and the new book, “Backpackers & Flashpackers: 500 Hostels in 100 Cities in 25 Countries,” has eleven of them listed, all with complete specs and contact info.  It is due to be published very soon, countdown 10… 9…

    • aBitofCulture 9:27 pm on February 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I know it’s probably not for your target audience, but the 5* hotels in Tallinn are dirt cheap too. I paid €70 for a double at The Telegraaf in October 2011 – this is cheaper than the cheapest, scummiest hostel in Amsterdam!

    • hardie karges 10:12 pm on February 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      For two people $90-100 is not bad at all. My problem is that I usually travel alone. That means not only that costs add up faster, but that a little socializing is welcome, very possible in a hostel. I do try to avoid the scuzzy ones, though, hence my embrace of the ‘flashpacker’ concept. BTW my target audience are people who love cultural diversity as well as cheap travel. That’s my main travel inspiration. Thanks for the comment!

  • hardie karges 9:44 pm on January 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Istanbul, Former Capital of the Ottomans: Take Your Shoes Off 


    ISTANBUL sits at the head of modern Turkey, and is one of the world’s great cities.  It might not be like the old days in command of an empire, but it ain’t bad.  Istanbul’s glory days started as Constantine’s “New Rome” in 330 AD for over a hundred years, and then continued as the Byzantine capital of Constantinople for a millennium, before becoming the Ottoman capital for almost five hundred years.

    (More …)

  • hardie karges 9:26 pm on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Nice   

    Cannes with no Festival, Nice with no Hassle 

    NICE is the heart of the014 French Riviera.  The beach is the big deal here, but Monaco is nearby, and Italy not much farther.  In fact much of Nice’s history lies with Italy, not France.  Founded by Greeks before the Common Era it was in league with Genoa and/or Pisa after the Fall of Rome and in constant struggle against the Arabs and later Barbary pirates.  It was finally ceded to France in 1860, though Italy reoccupied it in WWII.  (More …)

  • hardie karges 6:20 pm on January 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Stockholm, Sweden   

    Stockholm: Clean and Green 


    STOCKHOLM is the capital of Sweden and the largest city in all of Scandinavia.  It was fully a part of European history by the mid-13th century as a regular port for the trade of the Hanseatic League, complete with many German-speakers, and was capital of the Swedish Empire.  Today it is one of Europe’s most desirable cities, clean and green and polished to a high sheen.  Its location surrounded by open water keeps its temperatures moderate, despite its sixty-degree northern latitude.  (More …)

  • hardie karges 5:24 pm on January 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Ireland, Londonderry   

    Welcome to Derry, no London Required 

    DERRY, aka Lo014ndonderry, is Northern Ireland’s second city, and best known as the site of resistance to the Unionist government.  It dates back to at least the sixth century as a monastic settlement.  The old city was walled, the remains of which are one of Europe’s finest—and final—examples of such, and Derry’s most famous tourist attraction, complete with four gates.   That’s because it was planned as one of the “Plantations of Ulster” by which British Protestants were “planted” in Ireland to develop it along British lines.  It used to be so well-known for shirtmaking that Karl Marx mentioned it in Das Kapital. Then there was partition, which put Derry right on the new borderline.  The Catholics were unhappy and oppressed.  They organized to air their grievances.  On January 30, 1972, thirteen unarmed protesters were gunned down by British paratroopers in an event known as Bloody Sunday, which was the start of years of “troubles.”  It’s better now, and Ireland will soon be reunited.  You can bank on it, at Lloyd’s of London.  There are a couple of good hostels here, bunks starting at $18.  The book has full specs and contact details.

  • hardie karges 5:07 pm on January 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Malta, at the Crossroads of History 

    Going to the island of Malta is like time travel, for this tiny country strategically located in the Mediterranean Sea has seen the waves of history wash across022 its shores for thousands of years, whether Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Knights Hospitallers, or English.  Today Malta is in the Euro-zone, speaks an Arabic dialect, is thoroughly Christian, and claims a cuisine with influences that span the Mediterranean.  Sound interesting?  The Megalithic Temples here are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.  The language is Maltese, the currency is the Euro, and the phone country code is +356.

    VALLETTA is the capital of Malta and a UNESCO world heritage site, with architecture dating from the 16th century.  They have a lively Carnival, and the food is good.  Sights include the National Museum of Archeology, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the War Museum, the Manoel Theatre, and the National Library of Malta.  And don’t worry; there are a hostel or two here, probably more by the time you get here.  Prices start at about thirty bucks a crib.

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