Category Archives: Europe

Unique Paris Attractions for the Seasoned Traveller

Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world and there are no shortage of Paris attractions. Millions of people flock there each year to experience some of the most famous attractions in the globe.

Paris Cemetary

However, there’s so much more to the city than the popular attractions. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you get lost on your travels as there are so many hidden gems to be discovered.

Statue of Liberty

Before you book your hotels Paris France, it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the lesser common parts of the city. If you take a walk by the Grenelle Bridge, you’ll see there’s a statue of liberty. It may not be quite as big as the New York version, but it’s still an impressive sight.

Tour Paris 13

One of the main things you’ll want to look out for is the artwork around the city. Most recently, street artists in the capital used an apartment building as a canvas. The building is due to be demolished in 2014 and 105 artists were given a room each to decorate before it gets pulled down.

Some of the art painted on this building is fantastic. Of course it won’t be there for too much longer, but there’s plenty of less famous art to be discovered around the city.

Passage l’Homme

If you’re looking for somewhere to buy unique souvenirs, Passage l’Homme is perfect. Potentially one of the most picturesque hidden gems available in Paris, it’s situated by Place de la Bastille and is where you’ll find plenty of locally-made crafts and clothing.

Ballon Air de Paris

See the city from a unique and magnificent angle via Ballon Air de Paris. A hot air balloon will take you high up into the air without actually flying away. It’s permanently secured to the ground so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the air. You’ll fall in love with the amazing view from the top.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Finally you can go and visit the beehives at the Jardin du Luxembourg. This is an attraction many locals don’t even know about. The working beehives are responsible for the production of Parisian honey and visitors can even try their hand at beekeeping with lessons available at the school, which was set up in 1856.

Paris has so much to offer, but it is well worth checking out the lesser known attractions and the quieter parts of the capital. Even if you’ve been to Paris a number of times, there’s still plenty left to be discovered if you’ve never ventured away from the main attractions.

To Tip or Not to Tip – That is the Question!

To tip, or not to tip?

to tip or not to tipMoney is a sensitive subject, taboo even in some places, because let’s face it, it’s quite uncomfortable, isn’t it? However, when it comes to saving money, we have to do it if it’s at all possible, especially in this day and age. Another subject regarding money which is a little uncomfortable, is tipping.

Do you tip? If you feel the level of service is substandard, do you feel pressurised into tipping regardless? It’s a difficult subject.

Not many of us have money to spare these days, so saving money is key. A good way to do this is to pre-book money saving airport extras before you leave, which will mean you don’t have to watch the pennies quite so much whilst you’re away. I recently booked airport parking with BCP, and I saved quite a bit compared with how much the train was going to cost me. I’d really recommend looking into this option, because not only was it a much less stressful journey, but the saved money really did help. Once you’ve paid for your meal or drinks, it’s difficult to know how much to tip, and if you don’t have money to burn, you might be tempted not to, but you do have to remember that these people are trying to make a living! Any savings you can make pre-holiday will make it easier for you to be able to follow etiquette without feeling rude.

How much to tip and how to do it really depends on where you’re going, and the variations are wide and too much to discuss here. Basically, you need to research what is the ‘done thing’ before you go, specific to your destination. If you’re heading to the USA, remember it’s customary to tip around 15-20% of the bill in a restaurant, and although it’s not the law that you have to tip, it’s almost seen as an “ethical law”. Basically you don’t have to, but you might feel a little uncomfortable and cringey if you don’t.

When I go away to European holiday resorts, maybe after a few beachfront bar drinks, I always leave a few Euros, lira, whatever the currency is, on top of the bill, because let’s face it, if you go back to that particular restaurant, you want good service again. People don’t forget!

As we’ve discussed, money is one of those strange subjects we don’t like to talk about, but people in resorts are trying to make a living, and often the tips are shared out amongst staff, so bear that in mind. I’m not suggesting you leave a huge tip, unless you feel they deserve it of course, but just a little is enough.

If you make your own savings prior to going on holiday, this will be easier for you, so remember to grab those bargains, such as free child places, last minute bookings, and parking spaces, and you’ll be happier about the whole tipping debate. If you are driving yourself to the airport, be sure to check out the offers at ParkBCP, as I’ve always found a great deal with them.
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To tip, or not to tip? My advice – tip, but in moderation!

Lapland – Home of Reindeer, Sami People, and Santa

No matter where you live, you don’t hear someone say “I’m taking a trip to Lapland” very often. Lapland is a region that stretches through Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It’s not a country, though it is a definite cultural region that spans national boundaries. Only in Finland and Sweden is the area referred to as Lapland – elsewhere it carries different names. If you are thinking of a holiday in Lapland, there are plenty of options.

Photo of Lapland Reindeer courtesy of RukaKuusamo.com

Lapland is a wild, mountainous country with raging rivers, rolling mountains, and vast stretches of plain that extend well past the Arctic Circle. The climate is cold and while there are forests, other vegetation tends to be sparse. This could be the reason that not many people plan a trip to Lapland – but they should. This is the land of the midnight sun and the polar night and the displays of the Northern Lights here are unparallelled.  Huge herds of reindeer are followed by wolves and bears and birds, fish, and insects are plentiful.

Also in Lapland, are the ethnic Sami people. Cities are sparsely populated, but there are places to go and things to see.  You may want to check out our article 7 Myths About Lapland.

Photo of Lapland courtesy of Visit Finland

Kilpisjarvi is a village that is unique in the world. This is the nearest town to the place where the borders of Finland, Sweden, and Russia meet – the famed ‘Three Borders Point”. There are ample opportunities for hiking and outdoor sports in Kilpisjarvi.

Inari is where to go if you want to explore the Sami culture.This is where you find the Inari Sami Museum and Inari Lake which has more than 3300 islands in it! It’s a paradise for those who want to fish and find solitude under the midnight sun.

Of course, I haven’t mentioned the most popular reasons people take a holiday to Lapland – it’s the home of Santa Claus! Christmas is a special time in Lapland with elves, reindeer, and Santa a plenty. You can meet with Santa, take a sleigh ride, and even ride a dog sled. And if you head to Levi Fell, you will find yourself in a winter sports wonderland.

Photo of Lapland Bear Courtesy of RukaKuusamo.com

So there you have it, perhaps in the future it will be you who says you are taking a trip to Lapland.

More on Lapland from Wikitravel.