Chapter 20 European potpourri.
It's probable that a tourist will consider adding at least one of these countries to his or her itinerary. So you need to know them especially well. Here goes.
One of the three Benelux nations, Belgium could be a robust addition to a European itinerary. Its capital, Brussels, is only an hour-and-a-half northeast of Paris by train or five by car. It's easy to get around this nation, not only because it's relatively small and flat, but also because a superb system of highways, trains, bus routes, canals, and small rural roads crisscrosses it. Those who prefer driving will find Belgium a good choice.
SN Brussels Airlines (SN) is Belgium's national air carrier, but many airlines fly into Brussels (BRU). (In fact, Brussels is a prime European gateway.) Eurostar trains run between Brussels and London via the Chunnel in less than three hours. The climate is mild, with cool days in winter (snow is infrequent) and mildly warm summers. The area has a tendency toward fog, drizzle, and rain. French and Flemish are spoken here, but English is also commonly understood in key tourist cities.
Brussels is a convenient base for visiting all of Belgium. The city bills itself as a "living museum" and it's certainly that: medieval structures are everywhere. But modern buildings have shoved their way into this fast-paced city. Brussels is, therefore, not the uniformly quaint city that people may imagine. To discover that quaintness, tourists must visit some of Belgium's outlying towns. The following attractions are the most important in Brussels:
On certain feast days, the entire Grand Place is covered with flowers.
* The Grand Place [PLASS], reputed to be Europe's most beautiful town square and the model for Munich's Marienplatz.
* The Mannekin-Pis, the fountain with a statue of a small boy "relieving himself." The statue is often dressed in different outfits (it has a wardrobe of more than 250).
* Several museums, especially the Museum of Old Masters and the Museum of Modern Art.
* Erasmus House, a classic sixteenth-century home and garden.
* City tours of Brussels, a particularly appropriate choice, since the city features dozens of small, fascinating attractions that tourists might miss on their own.
To really see Belgium, day trips out of Brussels are essential. Here are some highlights:
* Bruges [BROOJ], one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities, often called the "Venice of the North" because of its many canals.
A great way to see Bruges is by boat.
* Ghent, a picturesque city of flowers, gardens, and bridges.
* Antwerp, well known as an outlet for diamonds, but also graced by many museums, galleries, and churches.
* The Ardennes [ar-DEN] Forest, with its handsome vistas and Battle of the Bulge memorials.
There are more than 2,000 chocolate shops in Belgium.
Belgium is a logical extension of a vacation in France or the Netherlands. It's especially appropriate for people who like tours. The country is also a shopper's paradise: Belgian chocolates, linen, ceramics, and precious stones are well known. Since Brussels is a major destination for European government officials and business executives, its hotels tend to fill up--especially on weekdays. Book lodging, therefore, well in advance. Tours, both escorted and independent, are a great way to obtain hard-to-get hotel space.
Another Benelux country, the Netherlands (also called Holland) conjures a ready image of tulips, windmills, dikes, and canals. Holland is indeed a congenial destination, though its climate is often damp and its days gloomy.
The Dutch buy more books and bicycles per capita than any other people in the world.
Getting to Amsterdam (AMS), the center-point of Dutch culture, is easy. The national carriers KLM (KL) and Martinair (MP) have frequent and convenient service, as do many other airlines. In fact, Amsterdam is one of Europe's major gateways. Most Dutch attractions are within a day's trip from Amsterdam--accessed by convenient rail and bus service, as well as by a well-developed highway system. The locals speak Dutch, though knowledge of English is widespread.
Amsterdam is the must-see city of Holland. Its most important attractions:
* The Rijksmuseum, with its magnificent collection of Dutch Masters.
* Anne Frank House, where the famed young diarist hid from the Nazis for two years.
* Van Gogh Museum, with the world's finest collection of works by the noted Dutch artist.
* Rembrandt House, where the artist lived and worked for two decades.
The Dutch buy more books and bicycles per capita than any other people in the world. The number one weekend getaway for the Dutch is the beautiful city of Maastricht, a culinary and shopping magnet.
Venturing into the countryside provides a good sense of the country. Key places include:
* Delft, the world-famous pottery and tile center.
* Haarlem, a well-preserved old city. Nearby are the vast Keukenhof tulip fields, which bloom in April and May.
* Zaanse Schans, with its concentration of working windmills.
* The Northern Hamlet Route, which features many small, delightful towns.
* The Hague, a splendid city (and home of the World Court) that boasts the Madurodam, a city fashioned in miniature.
Virtually every type of vacationer will find the Netherlands appealing, except perhaps those exclusively drawn to beach resorts. One possible objection: Holland has a well-founded reputation for permissiveness. Drugs, prostitution, and pornography are all tolerated and in many places legal. Yet the Dutch are a peaceful people. It's unlikely that visitors will find trouble unless they go looking for it. Two other points: the Netherlands has an unusually extensive system of camping facilities, and diamonds are a shopping specialty.
Central and small, Switzerland boasts no real tourist hub city (like, say, England's London). Gingerbread hamlets, crisp lakes, and dazzling vistas dot this entire mountainous Alpine country. You might be able to get a handle on Switzerland by dividing it up into its three linguistic areas: the German-speaking north, central, and east; the French-influenced west; and the Italian-inspired south.
In Switzerland, Swiss cheese is called Emmenthaler cheese.
The Swiss are known for their efficiency; transportation to, within, and from Switzerland operates with clock-like precision. Swiss (LX) and Balair (BB) are the national carriers; both Geneva (GVA) and Zurich (ZRH) are major air gateways. Not even Alpine peaks interfere with the country's superb rail and highway system; giant tunnels bore through wherever appropriate. Except for its high mountain areas, Switzerland has a pleasant climate. Summers can even be quite hot (especially in the south), but without the humidity that makes other destinations uncomfortable. The Foehn wind also sometimes brings unseasonably warm and dry weather to Switzerland's mountain valleys; it may occur in any season.
Though small in size, Switzerland has distinct regions. It's important to understand their differences:
* Northern and eastern Switzerland is anchored by Zurich, Switzerland's largest city and its financial center. Not far away is one of Europe's most visited natural attractions, tumultuous Rhine Falls. Also in northern Switzerland--on the Rhine, near both the French and German borders--is Basel, with its many first-rate museums, an excellent zoo, and spectacular winter carnival. St. Gallen is a picturesque Alpine city that is often a stopover between Zurich and Innsbruck, Austria.
In 1471, in Basel, Switzerland, a chicken was arrested, tried, found guilty, and burned at the stake. Its crime: it laid an egg so brightly colored, it was judged to be possessed by the devil.
* Central Switzerland, just southwest of Zurich, is often called the Interlaken District. The city of Interlaken, itself, would perfectly satisfy the expectations of what tourists think of a Swiss town: cute chalets, imposing clocks, and views of the Jungfrau Mountains. The country's charming capital, Bern, with its arcaded streets and mascot bears, is to the west. Nearby is Lucerne, a medieval city whose landmarks include the Lion Monument and Chapel Bridge.
In a little town 30 miles south of Zurich is a huge surprise: the ornate church monastery at Einsiedeln.
* Western Switzerland feels far more French. Most of the attractions border Lake Geneva, including: Lausanne [low-ZAN], Chillon [shee-ON] (a famous, dank castle), Montreux (the site of many music festivals), and Geneva itself (whose most recognizable feature is the Jet d'Eau fountain, a geyser in the lake).
* Zermatt highlights the part of Switzerland that borders Italy to the south. Located at the foot of the well-known Matterhorn mountain, this town is quaint and car-free. Farther to the east but still along the border is the Lake District, which more fully captures the Italian influence on Switzerland. Chief lake cities are Lugano and Locarno.
There's usually enough snow on the Matterhorn to ski in summer.
With its ski areas, palm-lined southern lakes, cute villages, and cities filled with culture, Switzerland is a genuinely easy country to sell. Sports enthusiasts especially relish the thought of a trip to Switzerland--which offers many opportunities for boating, hiking, and, of course, skiing. The prime Swiss ski resorts are:
* Zermatt, a massive winter-sport development.
* St. Moritz, a pricey resort in Switzerland's southeast, and beautiful Arosa, which is nearby.
* Gstaad, a resort beautifully set in a valley in southwestern Switzerland.
Switzerland doesn't charge VAT (value-added taxes) on car rentals, so to start and end a European motoring vacation in Switzerland can save hundreds of dollars. For those who prefer trains, the Glacier Express--which slices through some of Europe's most spectacular countryside between Zermatt and St. Moritz--is a must. And for lovers of service and luxury, Switzerland's hotels are a strong selling point. Two legendary properties: Zurich's Dolder Grand and Baur au Lac.
There are major United Nations facilities in Geneva, yet Switzerland is not a member of the U.N.
Though small (it's about the size of the state of Maine), Austria ranks as a first-rate tourist destination. About 70 percent of its surface is mountainous, making it a prime ski destination. Its strategic position--bordering Germany, Switzerland, and Italy--makes it easily combinable with these major destinations. Its cultural legacy is rich, especially in music. Try to think of Austria without imagining the strains of Mozart, Strauss, and Haydn. You probably can't.
Austrian Airlines (OS), Lauda Air (NG), and other carriers connect into Austria's two principal cities, Vienna (VIE) and Salzburg (SZG). Rail transportation into and within the country is good. The climate is better than most people expect. Late spring, summer, and early fall are temperate, with occasional hot and dry Foehn winds in south-facing valleys. Winters are very cold and snowy in the high Alpine regions, but other areas are surprisingly mild. Austria is a German-speaking country, though many locals know some English.
Austria boasts many intriguing destinations, but three top the list: Vienna, Salzburg, and the Alpine ski resorts.
Vienna, Austria's capital, is a jewel-box of a city. Located in Austria's northeast corner on the legendary Danube River, it's filled with elegant palaces, graceful fountains, quaint cafes, huge museums, and world-class hotels. (The magnificent Hotel Sacher is famous for its tortes.) Yet imposing as it is, Vienna is a comfortable, civil city. Among its must-sees are:
Vienna's many coffeehouses are the legacy of a seventeenth-century occupation by the Turks.
* The Hofburg Palace, whose Vienna Boys' Choir is world famous.
* St. Stephen's Cathedral, whose soaring Gothic spire is a Vienna landmark.
* The Spanish Riding School, with its renowned white Lipizzaner stallions. (They perform there only in the spring and fall.)
* The Schonbrunn, a palace often called the "Versailles of Austria."
* The National Library, whose main hall is a baroque architectural wonder.
Salzburg, near the German border (and not all that far from Munich), is a remarkable destination. Though Mozart moved from Salzburg at the age of 25, his spirit still breathes through this picture-perfect city. Its attractions include:
* Mozart's Birthplace, the apartment where he composed his earliest works.
* Hellbrunn Palace, a wonderfully eccentric place with "surprise" fountains that spritz visitors when they least expect it.
* Mirabell Palace, with its vast marble decorations and gardens.
* Day excursions, most especially to Werfen, with 25 miles of dramatic ice-lined caves; to Hallstatt, where visitors dress as miners and ride a tunnel train; and into the countryside on an ever-popular Sound of Music tour.
The Austrian Alps, with their superb skiing, are also celebrated summer destinations. Key resorts are at Innsbruck, Kitzbuhel, Lech, St. Anton Am Arlberg, and Zurs. This mountainous region is often called the Tyrol.
Austria is ideally combined with trips to its neighboring countries; its powerful appeal makes it an ideal way to expand an FIT. Vienna is a key stop on many tours and Danube cruises. Skiers often extend their trips with visits to Vienna and Salzburg; both cities offer lively cultural attractions, even in the dead of winter.
Austria appeals strongly to those who seek safety, comfort, and well-organized facilities. Lovers of music, art, food, and winter sports will be especially drawn to Austria. Some, however, remember its close relationship to Nazi Germany in World War II and for this reason find Austria an unappealing destination.
Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are similar. But Finnish is from a different language family, and Icelandic is so much like Old Norse, people there can easily read stories that were written almost a thousand years ago.
Held together by a common cultural heritage, the five countries of Scandinavia spread broadly across northern Europe. Norway, Sweden, and Finland compose the Scandinavian Peninsula, a fan of land that stretches from the North Sea on the west to Russia on the east. Denmark (a peninsula and series of islands that stretch northward from Germany) and Iceland (way out in the North Atlantic) round out this nation-grouping. Most tourists who visit Scandinavia are from Germany; Scandinavia, however, is becoming a more popular destination for Americans.
Scandinavia is cold most of the year. In summer the weather is generally pleasant: real heat is a rarity and daylight lasts from very early to very late. Precipitation isn't excessive, except on Norway's west coast, which is rainy and snowy. Iceland, despite its name, isn't impossibly cold. (On the other hand, Greenland, with its optimistic name, is downright glacial.)
Several national carriers service Scandinavia, including Icelandair (FI), SAS (SK), and Finnair (AY); many other carriers go there, too. Internal transportation is excellent, with a wonderful system of trains, ferries, steamships, cruise ships, buses, and subways. The one weak link: except for certain areas, Scandinavia's roads tend to be rural and marked with hard-to-decipher signs.
Here are Scandinavia's nations and what each has to offer:
Denmark. Denmark, Scandinavia's most popular tourist destination, is a friendly little country; it's impossible to visualize it without thinking of Hans Christian Andersen's Danish, Norwegian, and fairy tales. It was also once an immensely prosperous nation; all that wealth brought fine castles, rich artistic achievements, enlightened government, and the ability to create the ultimate open-faced sandwich.
Copenhagen, the capital, is the focal point of travel; city tours and day-trip excursions are popular enhancements. Most tourists visit the Little Mermaid statue and Tivoli Gardens, which served as a major early influence on Walt Disney's amusement park plans.
The original Legoland, a theme park made mostly of Lego toy bricks, is in Billund, about five hours by train from Copenhagen.
Norway. Norway is an outdoorsy nation with few real urban centers. Oslo, its cozy capital, features a Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum, and Vigeland, a park of unusual sculptures. You must offer to cross-sell Norway's prime attraction: a cruise through the fjord area. Fjords are steeply cliffed inlets from the sea; they're majestic and humbling. Most local fjord cruises depart from the city of Bergen, which can be accessed via a scenic train ride from Oslo. It's rainy along Norway's western fjord coast. Winter-sports enthusiasts also enjoy Norway. The Olympic center at Lillehammer is especially popular.
Sweden. Sweden is a friendly, modern country; and Stockholm, its capital, is cosmopolitan and charming. Three highlights: the Royal Palace, the Old Town district, and the Wasa Ship (a seventeenth-century galleon that was hauled up from the bottom of Stockholm harbor). A day trip to Uppsala, a historic university town only about an hour north of Stockholm, is an interesting option.
Finland. Finland and its capital, Helsinki, are often thought of as merely a stopover to Russia and the Baltics. That's unfortunate. For Finland, though a little stuffy, has a lot to offer. The Lakeland area to Helsinki's north is truly picturesque. More adventurous travelers are drawn to Lapland, Finland's northern wilderness. (Lapland also extends across Sweden.) Helsinki itself has many interesting attractions; again, a city tour is an excellent option.
In Helsinki is the Temppeliaukion, a large church carved entirely into a huge rock.
Iceland. Volcanoes, geysers, earthquakes, boiling cauldrons--that's not what most visitors will expect, but that's exactly what they'll find in Iceland. Indeed, all this geothermal drama constitutes Iceland's prime tourist attraction. Reykjavik, the capital, has many appealing though modest architectural points of interest.
The most northerly capital in the world is Iceland's Reykjavik.
Lack of knowledge about Scandinavia is the major factor that prevents many from considering it for a European vacation. Another objection may be the costliness of visiting Scandinavia; the budget-minded can visit these countries, but their choices will be limited. However, even moderate lodging is usually clean and comfortable. And hotel rates are surprisingly reasonable in summer, when business travel in Scandinavia drops and many residents head south for their holidays. Would-be visitors may also worry about the language barrier, especially if they've seen or heard any of the Scandinavian languages, which are often quite incomprehensible to Americans. But most Scandinavians know at least some English and love to practice it. Emphasize the clean, safe, friendly, and orderly nature of these countries. Suggest a fjord sailing, or the more extensive cruises that call on Scandinavia (usually out of Copenhagen, Stockholm, or ports in England and Germany). And remember that many Scandinavian airlines route their flights to the rest of Europe and to the Middle East through their capital cities; a brief stopover can be easily arranged.
To lump together the many Eastern European nations under one heading is probably unfair; each does have a distinct character. These former communist countries were long closed to outsiders. But most of the nations involved are now doing an excellent job of serving tourists.
Several national airlines service Eastern Europe, as do some U.S. and Western European carriers. Eastern European countries, though, are quite a long distance from the United States and often involve connecting flights.
Once visitors get there, they'll find it a bit difficult to get around on their own, since few locals speak English and major highways are rare. Escorted tours are, therefore, usually the best way to sightsee. A Danube cruise that starts in Vienna and continues through much of Eastern Europe is an inspired way to visit the area's great cities.
We can divide Eastern Europe into two groups. The northern group includes Poland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic (also called Slovakia), Hungary, and Romania. These nations are hilly, with cool-to-cold winters and mild summers (though areas of Romania can get hot). The southern tier of countries has a climate and topography more akin to Greece. They are the Balkan countries (which were covered in Chapter 19) and Bulgaria.
Poland. A rapidly changing country, Poland has taken on greater tourist importance of late. The following cities are the most visited ones in Poland:
* Warsaw, the capital, with more than 30 museums, many coffee houses, casinos, and a restored old-town section.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Cracow, is filled with religious and historical carvings.
* Cracow, a beautiful medieval town, 200 miles south of Warsaw. Near Cracow is Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp that is now a museum.
* Poznan, with its sixteenth-century town hall and old market square.
Czechoslovakia broke apart and became the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
The Czech Republic. This western portion of the former nation of Czechoslovakia is a magnet for tourists visiting Eastern Europe. Its scenery, spas, villages, ski areas, and hundreds of castles provide it with a wide appeal. Key cities and towns include:
* Prague [PRAHG], the capital, a city of elegant architecture, parks, and shopping.
* Cesky Krumlov and Tabor, both ancient, atmospheric medieval towns.
* Brno [BUR-nah], with its mixture of ancient and modern attractions. To the Czech Republic's east is the Slovak Republic. Though less prosperous, the Slovak Republic has potential, with its appealing villages, castles, mountains, and a splendid capital, Bratislava.
Hungary. A country rich in historical and cultural attractions, Hungary has become Eastern Europe's most popular tourist destination. It's a romantic country with legendary food, lovely musical performances, many hot-spring spas, and hundreds of historical structures. A hydrofoil links Budapest to Vienna. Among its chief destinations are:
Many buildings in Budapest still have bullet holes from the 1956 uprising against communism.
* Budapest, a graceful city and the seat of Hungary's government. Its Parliament building is one of Europe's most elegant. Almost all the rest of Hungary can be a day trip from Budapest.
* The Danube Bend, a short trip north of Budapest, with its pleasant scenery. The Danube bisects Budapest, creating two sections: Buda, all hilly and historical; and Pest, a center of business and commerce.
* Lake Balaton, a resort-lined lake offering all manner of water sports.
* Pecs [PAYCH], a southern city blessed with an unusual blend of Turkish and European architecture.
Romania. Romania, a mountainous nation that borders the Black Sea, has made a good effort to attract tourists. Most visitors are interested in the following:
Romanian is the only Latin-based language spoken in Eastern Europe.
* Bucharest, the capital, a city of huge palaces.
* Brasov, a medieval town at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania. A day trip away is Bran Castle--associated with a Count Dracula who, though not a vampire, contributed to the legend through his merciless rule and violent cruelty.
* The Black Sea Coast, with its nearly 200 miles of coastline and flourishing resorts. Its key city is Constanta, a well-known cruise port.
Bulgaria. One of the smaller Eastern European countries, pleasant Bulgaria has the most ancient history of any Eastern European nation. Its best known attractions include:
* Sofia, the capital, with its Moorish and Byzantine influences. Near Sofia are many spas and monasteries, most especially the Rila Monastery, with more than 1,000 frescoes painted on its exterior walls.
* The Black Sea Coast, with some 200 miles of sandy beaches and so many resort hotels that it's often called the "Second Riviera."
Adventurous travelers find Eastern Europe an appealing destination, but others are a bit reluctant about going behind what was once the Iron Curtain. These countries are hardly the foreboding presences they once were and, for the most part, they've become extremely gracious to tourists. Eastern Europe appeals to those who have already seen the major attractions of the rest of Europe, who are seeking bargain travel, or who may be drawn to this area for ancestral reasons. An escorted tour or a Danube River cruise are efficient and fear-dampening options. Skiers and spa enthusiasts who seek more offbeat destinations may find Eastern Europe appealing. People who normally resist tours will gladly book one to any of these countries. Hotel rooms must be booked well in advance; Eastern Europe has a serious lodging shortage.
Winston Churchill made the phrase "Iron Curtain" popular.
The CIS and the Baltics
Like Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union politically "came apart" in the post-Cold War era. Unlike in Yugoslavia, the process--in all but a few places and instances--has been a relatively peaceful one, marred primarily by economic awkwardness as these 15 new countries transform their controlled, communist systems into more free-wheeling ones. Still, keep up on the news; the situation could change abruptly.
A number of airlines serve these nations, most notably Russia's Aeroflot (SU) and Transaero (UN). Cruise ships call on Russia's St. Petersburg and the ports of the Baltic nations.
Russia is the biggest and most important country, touristically. The Baltic nations, huddled in the northwest, consist of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. To their south are Belarus, the Ukraine, and Moldova. Another group-wedged on an isthmus between the Black and Caspian Seas--is composed of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. A final group of new countries with tongue-twisting names flows eastward from the Caspian Sea: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. These latter five, all Moslem-influenced, belong more properly to Asia than to Europe. A final note: these countries--except for the Baltics--are part of a loose confederation called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Let's take a look at the most likely destinations:
Russia. This huge nation--the world's largest-stretches across 7,000 miles and 11 time zones. The disintegration of the Soviet Union put a damper on Russian tourism, but the many attractions that grace this area will surely reinvigorate travel. Its two most popular cities to visit:
The world's biggest bell is at the Kremlin, it weighs 223 tons. Moscow's subways are surprisingly ornate, with marble and chandeliers.
* Moscow, the capital, with Tretyakov Museum, Red Square, and its most important attraction, the Kremlin, which contains government buildings and ornate churches. Two very different places--the Bolshoi Ballet and the Moscow Circus--are prime attractions. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was destroyed in 1931, has been rebuilt.
St. Petersburg used to be called Leningrad.
* St. Petersburg, an elegant, Western European-like city and cruise port that boasts one of the world's great museums (the Hermitage) and Russia's own version of the Tower of London (the Peter and Paul Fortress). Several huge "summer palaces" outside St. Petersburg are well worth the visit.
Other CIS Nations. Which CIS countries are most likely to be of interest to tourists?
Here are a few:
* The Ukraine, a country of great agricultural wealth, featuring two interesting cities: Kiev boasts many fine monasteries and churches, most notably St. Sophia's. And Yalta, on the Black Sea, is a resort town of surprising sophistication.
St. Sophia's was patterned on the church of the same name in Istanbul.
* Georgia, which has suffered much political infighting. Its cities of Batumi, Sukhumi, and Tbilisi used to be part of a popular itinerary through the southern part of the old Soviet Union. They could become viable destinations again.
* Azerbaijan's capital of Baku, a Caspian seaside city that was also a popular tour destination before strife began in the region.
* Uzbekistan's cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent. All three were important economic and religious centers located on the legendary "Silk Road" that connected Europe with China. As a result, fine architecture and good museums are everywhere. The Baltics. The first three nations to break from the Soviet Union--Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania--have energetically begun to court tourism. Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia) have become major cruise ports. To accommodate land-bound travelers, these three nations have developed a "Via Baltica" road system that begins in Warsaw, Poland, and works its way northward near Vilnius (Lithuania), then on to Riga and Tallinn.
The world's busiest McDonald's is on Moscow's Pushkin Square.
The Baltics and Russia continue to be attractive destinations for those who want something a little different in their European vacations. Tours and cruises appeal to many visitors. Be alert for political instability in all these countries. Many American "necessities" are in short supply and crime is a problem in the former Soviet Union (one more reason for an escorted tour).
Ever wonder how a weeklong European tour could visit nine countries? The answer is simple: Europe is peppered with little countries, some of which are principalities under the protection of a larger country. Little countries make excellent day trips or places to pass through on a voyage from one major destination to another. Most emphasize their dutyfree shopping opportunities. Here's a thumbnail sketch of each:
* Andorra--ruggedly perched in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain--offers wonderful scenery, good-sized ski resorts, quaint villages, and great dutyfree shopping. It's most often visited as a day trip from Barcelona, Spain.
* Cyprus, in the far eastern portion of the Mediterranean, has lost some tourism because of internal strife between its two ethnic groups, the Greeks and the Turks. (The island is divided between the two.) Cyprus is an air connection point between Europe and the Middle East, and a stop for several cruise lines. Among its attractions: the walled capital of Nicosia, the mosaic-decorated ruins at Paphos, the Tomb of the Kings, many beaches, the demilitarized zones that separate Cyprus's two sections, and the availability of water sports.
* Gibraltar has a high recognition factor among travelers, though they may never have thought of visiting it. This British-influenced promontory is three miles long and less than a mile wide. Its caves, beaches, ruins, and monkeys (yes, monkeys) are its principal attractions. Gibraltar can be reached by ferry from southern Spain or Tangier, Morocco. It's included in many escorted tours of Spain and Portugal.
* Liechtenstein [LICK-ten-shtine], a 61-square-mile patch of land on the Swiss-Austrian border, has much of the same appeal of its two neighboring countries: a prince's castle, hamlets, vistas, mountain paths, and chalets. It's only a half-hour train ride from Zurich, Switzerland. Innsbruck, Austria, is also relatively close.
Because of an incomplete peace treaty, Liechtenstein is still at war with Prussia, a nation that no longer exists.
* Luxembourg sits squarely at the intersection of France, Germany, and Belgium. Dense forests, flowering meadows, and quaint towns cover its 999-square-mile terrain. It's easy to reach Luxembourg from Brussels, Belgium; Reims, France; or Frankfurt, Germany. It's also an important air gateway to all of Europe.
* Malta is a cluster of islands about 60 miles south of Sicily. Its climate is ideal, its beach resorts many, and its historical attractions plentiful. Most visitors reach Malta from Italy by air or boat.
The world's oldest stone structure ruins are on Malta.
* Monaco, on the extreme eastern edge of the French Riviera and near Italy, has long attracted the upscale and is a popular stop for tourists traveling along the Italian and French coasts. It's well known as the gambling center of Europe. Monte Carlo is its capital. The closest major city is Nice, France.
* San Marino is a rocky mountaintop country completely surrounded by Italy. (It's near the northeast Italian coast.) This, the world's oldest republic (founded in 301 A.D.), is a frequent stop for travelers on their way from Venice to Florence. It's very close to the seacoast town of Rimini. Prepare visitors for the crowds they'll probably encounter there: San Marino is a major duty-free shopping area.
NAME -- DATE --
MAP ACTIVITY [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A traveler wants to visit the places listed below. Which number represents each on the map? Place/Attraction In Which Country? Number on Map A. The Spanish Riding School A. -- A. -- B. The town of Bruges B. -- B. -- C. Cracow C. -- C. -- D. The Anne Frank House D. -- D. -- E. Zermatt E. -- E. -- F. Budapest F. -- F. -- G. A famous boys' choir G. -- G. -- H. The port of Tallinn H. -- H. -- I. The Kremlin I. -- I. -- J. Tivoli Gardens J. -- J. --
NAME -- DATE --
CASE STUDY Mr. and Mrs. Navratilova--a wealthy retired couple in their seventies--have seen much of the world. They've just returned from an Alaska cruise, which they much enjoyed. They want to return to Europe, though Mr. Navratilova complains he hates seeing things twice. They have already visited France, Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Alpine countries, Italy, and Greece. Circle the answer that best suits their needs: (1) What area would you probably recommend to them? Austria in depth Eastern Europe The Greek islands The little countries Why? (2) What primary means of transportation would you recommend? A Danube cruise A rail journey A rental car Flying from city to city Why? (3) What destination would probably not be appropriate to combine with your recommendation? Poland Italy Austria in depth Russia Why? (4) Which places would Mr. Navratilova probably not want to visit? The Rila Monastery and the Parliament in Budapest Chillon Castle and the Spanish Riding School Lake Balaton and the Hermitage Red Square and Prague Why?
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CREATIVE ACTIVITY You've been a tour conductor for years, taking groups of Americans across Europe. You're very proud of your knowledge of European history and culture; many tour passengers on your motorcoach have commented on how you make the past come alive. It's your day off. You live in Brussels and decide to sort through the cluttered attic of your recently deceased aunt, Marie-Louise Wells. Marie-Louise was the granddaughter of the famous British author and thinker H.G. Wells. But what's this in a dark dusty corner? A weird contraption with a brass plate that says ... this is a time machine! Could it be that what Wells wrote about is real?! Attached is a note from your aunt. It tells you that, indeed, this time machine works. You can visit any person or place in the past. Though the machine's time range is unlimited, its distance is not. The farthest away, geographically, you can go from Brussels is 2,000 miles. You must also return to Brussels after each single "time trip." You decide on your first excursion to visit six famous people and places from the past. Your first trip will be to visit Mozart in Salzburg. What will the other five be? (You may need to use an atlas to calculate distances.) Person Place Reason (1) Mozart Salzburg To see a young musical genius at work (2) (3) (4) (5) TRAVEL TRIVIA Signs Encountered by Travelers * Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin. (Sweden) * When passenger of foot heave in sight, toot the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor. (Japan) * Our wine leaves you nothing to hope for. (Switzerland) * We take your bags and send them in all directions. (Denmark) * Swimming is forbidden in absence of the Saviour. (France) * Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty. (Hungary) * Ladies may have a fit upstairs. (Hong Kong) * Please leave your values at the front desk. (France)
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PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER: THE MATCHING GAME Directions: Below is a list of cities, attractions, and so forth, some of which we have covered, some of which we haven't. There are all manner of connections among them. With a group of fellow students, you have exactly 10 minutes to come up with as many connections as possible. (Items may be used more than once.) Write your answers below. Note: There are at least 20 possible connections. For example, Andorra and Gibraltar--both are small nations. Hofburg Palace Rothenburg British Museum Red Square Turkey Prado Lillehammer Yalta Venice Delft Salzburg Wasa Malta Madurodam Ardennes Istanbul Santorini Carcassonne Courmayeur Kitzbuhel Bruges Chillon Grand Place Hermitage Andorra Legoland Albufeira St. Peter's Sherwood Russia Kiev Parthenon St. Moritz Schonbrunn Blarney Waterford Liechtenstein Marienplatz Gibraltar
Marc Mancini, PhD
Department of Travel
West Los Angeles College
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|Title Annotation:||PART IV EUROPE Continental Flair|
|Publication:||Selling Destinations, Geography for the Travel Professional, 4th ed.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2004|
|Previous Article:||Chapter 19 Greece and Turkey an Odyssey of culture.|
|Next Article:||Part V Africa and the Middle East Savannahs and sand.|