A Travel Guide to Reykjavik and Keflavik

Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital city and an estimated 117,000 people live there. Tourists will not find that Reykjavik is particularly catered to them, but it is a place in which they can take pleasure in seeing the residents go about their everyday lives.Reykjavik is a charming city full of brightly colored buildings and a particularly picturesque area known as the old town. If you find yourself in the old town take a stroll down Laugavegur Street. It is a good place to buy various gifts and souvenirs from local craft shops. If you plan to do some shopping be aware the Iceland is not part of the European Union. Therefore all tourists are entitled to claim back the sales tax on goods if they spend 4,000 Krona or more per day in one shop.To get your orientation of Reykjavik head up to the Perlan Tower. You can either have a meal there or just enjoy the beautiful views. For those visitors on a budget it is worth knowing that you can still enjoy the view by eating in the Perlan café which is less expensive than the restaurant.

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Car hire in Reykjavik is the preferred way of getting around, especially if you want to get out and see Iceland’s dramatic countryside. In the city itself you will not suffer from a lot of traffic congestion or a lack of parking spaces. This makes Reykjavik a relatively stress free place in which to drive. All this is despite the fact that Reykjavik has the largest amount of cars per capita in the world!If you are in Reykjavik at a time of year when the weather is inhospitable why not take shelter in buildings including the Reykjavik Museum of Photography and the National Museum of Iceland. If you are with small children then you may wish to go to Reykjavík Domestic Animal Zoo or Tjornin Lake where you can feed the ducks with bread.You can rent cars from either of Iceland’s airports. Reykjavik has an airport in the city centre but this is mainly used for domestic traffic. The most frequented airport is in fact Keflavík International Airport which is in Keflavík, a town half an hour’s drive outside of Reykjavik. Having a car will save you money in the long run as the taxi journey from the airport to Reykjavik tends to be costly.Whichever airport you come into there are vehicles available through major car hire firms like Auto Europe, Hertz, Discount, Avis, National rent a car and Advantage Car Rental.Although cars can be expensive to hire in Iceland they are the best way to see as much of this huge country as possible. Car Hire Keflavík Airport will help you to have a cheaper holiday as Iceland is also a pricey place in which to eat out or have a drink. You may want to consider staying in self-catering accommodation so that you can cut costs by cooking for yourself. Having said that, the recent economic troubles of Iceland have made the country up to 40% cheaper for tourists to travel to.Iceland Express is one of the national carriers which has flights to many European cities. There is also Icelandair airlines will get you to Iceland from a lot of worldwide destinations including cities in North America and Europe.

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Amsterdam, Berlin, Bergen, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Helsinki, London, Oslo, Madrid, Munich, Manchester, Milan, Paris and Stockholm are among the European cities with flights to Reykjavik.The airline Germanwings has flights from Reykjavik to Cologne as well. If you are coming from Scandinavia look out for flights on the airline Scandinavian Airlines Systems. For more information on flights from Keflavik international airport, which has the airport code KEF, contact + 354 425 0600.One aspect of Icelandic culture which should not be missed out on is the chance to swim in the Geo thermal ‘hot pots’. The Laugardalslaug with its baths, steam baths and water slides comes recommended and is the largest hot pot in Reykjavik.

A Brief Guide To Cologne – Germany

Cologne
The city of Cologne (German: Köln) is one of the oldest and one of the largest cities in Germany. It is a real reflection of Germany’s history and the Cologne Dom (cathedral) is one of the grandest in Europe. Its population is estimated to be 1,000,000 and it is a hub for business, tourism, media and politics. Eurail pass travelers will enjoy the diversity of the city as information is readily available in various languages such as French, English, Spanish and Japanese. Although German is the official language used, the city is inhabited by numerous immigrants from other countries.History Of Cologne
A German tribe known as Ubii founded Cologne as a settlement site. By 50 AD, the Romans recognized the city and named it as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. In the Middle Ages, Cologne’s strategic location paved the way for economic growth. It became a major passageway for trading. Aside from this, the city basked in being the center for transport and harbor site. It became a free city under the sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire. It was stripped off, however, of its stature as a free city due to its connection as a territory of the Holy Roman Empire during the French period. During World War II, the city suffered about 262 air raids which resulted to the death of 20,000 individuals. Post war, Cologne rebuilt the city through the growth of numerous media companies that support the economy of the city.

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Things To Do In Cologne
There are a lot of things to do in Cologne. One of its largest festivities is the Cologne Gay Pride. In its most recent event, almost 1 million people attended. The event is a party of music, fun and pride. Another most attended festivity is the Karneval/Fastelovend or the Winter Carnival, with a street parade popularized by the triad of a prince, a virgin and farmer. Must-see sites include Cologne Dom, a cathedral with amazing architecture and which offers a magnificent view of the Rhine River; Romisch-Germanische Museum and Kolnisches Stadtmuseum if you want to learn about Cologne’s history;  Museum Ludwig houses Picasso’s work; Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum is heaven for chocolate lovers.

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Getting To And Around Cologne
Tourists and other Eurail pass holders will not have a hard time getting in and out of Cologne. There are four major ways to visit the city: by bus, by plane, by train and by car. Getting around can be easier through its subway and tram system. One unique way to enjoy the city is to rent a bike. Cologne has a CALL-A-BIKE system made available for everyone.

Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife – A Guide For Bikers

NURBURGRING – A BRIEF HISTORYThe original 27-mile long Nurburgring racetrack was completed in 1927 and immediately became famous (some might say infamous) around the world. Over time various changes were made to the circuit but it always remained challenging and very long. However, as the decades past, safety became more and more of an issue for riders and drivers. The lack of run-off areas and bumpy, uneven corners were just two concerns that were raised. Jackie Stewart is famed for calling the circuit “The Green Hell”, a reference to its scenic location and dangerous and demanding nature. Growing concerns finally reached their peak after Niki Lauda’s horrific crash in 1976 when he was severely burned during a Formula 1 race. This resulted in the end of Formula 1 races at the old circuit, but the German motorcycle Grand Prix continued to be held there until 1980, when that too was finally withdrawn for safety reasons. Changes needed to be made.A completely new 3.2-mile long racetrack was constructed, and eventually opened in 1984. This new circuit marked the return of Grand Prix racing to the Nurburgring.The 13-mile long Nurburgring-Nordschleife (North Loop) was formed when the old track was split up. The Nordschleife still occasionally hosts competitive motor sport, such as touring car racing, but top-level events are now reserved for the new circuit. Vehicle manufacturers, including BMW and Porsche, hire the Nordschleife for testing. Motorcycle and car clubs can also hire the circuit. It is probably most famous for public access sessions, known as ‘Touristenfahrten’ (Tourist Driving).THE BASICSIf you want to experience the thrill of riding the Nordschleife yourself, there’s some essential information that will make the whole adventure more enjoyable. First of all, check the Nordschleife opening times before planning your trip. The last thing you want to do is turn up to find you’ve wasted your time and money. Opening times can be found on the Nurburgring’s own website (www.nuerburgring.de). Times can vary and on some days the circuit is completely closed, so beware.The Nurburgring is approximately 55 miles south of Cologne (Koln) and 100 miles west of Frankfurt. The nearest large city is Koblenz (about 40 miles away). The A61, A1 and A48 autobahns all pass within 15 miles or so of the track. Alternatively you may want to take the scenic route. The Nurburgring lies in the heart of the Eifel region, well known for great scenery and fantastic biking roads.Google Maps, or something similar, is ideal for helping with your route plan. While you’re doing that you can zoom in on the Nurburgring complex and see the layout. Although the Nurburgring is well sign posted and isn’t that difficult to find, the whole complex covers a large area. The whereabouts of the Nordschleife entrance isn’t always obvious. The location of the entrance is on the L93 road, at the following GPS co-ordinates: 50.34667 N 6.96583 E. You can type these co-ordinates into Google Maps to see exactly where it is, or load them on your own satellite navigation system, if you have one. There are several free viewing areas at the trackside. One of the more popular is at the Brunnchen bend on the B412 road, GPS location: 50.37028 N 7.00833 E. At Brunnchen there’s a large un-surfaced parking area, but few other comforts. Another interesting viewing area is at the Breidscheid bend on the B257 road, GPS location: 50.37694 N 6.95028 E. At Breidscheid there’s a bridge that takes the circuit over the B257, the viewing area is next to this bridge (you walk up a flight of stairs to reach the track). Parking is available at a cafe about 100 yards away.

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If you need to top up with fuel there are several petrol stations in the local area that also sell a range of Nurburgring souvenirs.WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE NORDSCHLEIFEParking is to the left-hand side of the Nordschleife main gate entrance. Refreshments are available at the Nordschleife cafe next to the parking area. Souvenirs are also available from a shop opposite the cafe. The ticket office is to the right-hand side of the main gate. You can purchase laps at anytime during opening hours (prices are shown outside the ticket office). Most staff speak very good English. At the time of writing 1 lap costs 23 Euros. There are reductions if you chose to ride more than 4 laps.The whole area is about the size of a football pitch. This means that everything can be found easily. When you’re ready to start your lap, line up in front of the barriers next to the ticket office. There are 4 lanes, the 2 middle lanes are for motorcycles and have motorcycle symbols painted on the road surface.Your ticket will be a plastic card (the same size as a credit card). Once you arrive at the barrier machine you place this card against a flat sensor (the sensor has an outline the same shape as your card) the barrier will then rise, and away you go. There are normally staff at the barriers in case anyone has a problem. The card is retained by you and can be loaded with extra laps at anytime.There is a speed limit of 30 kph (19 mph) for the first 300 metres after the barriers. There is a similar speed limit on return to the start area after completion of your lap.Once your lap is completed you will be filtered off the track and back into the start area (even if you have a multi-lap ticket). You must go through the barriers again for each lap you do, but you don’t have to start another lap immediately. If you wish, you can park your bike, relax and take on some refreshments, then start again.Your plastic, credit card style ticket, can also be loaded with money to pay for food and drinks at the Nordschleife cafe, or any of the other attractions around the Nurburgring complex. You even get to keep the card as a souvenir!RIDING THE CIRCUIT & SAFETY INFORMATIONThe Nurburgring-Nordschleife is a demanding 13-mile long circuit. Officially the track has 73 bends. Some of these bends are ‘blind’ and some have an uneven or bumpy road surface. Enjoy the Nurburgring experience, but please ensure you and your motorcycle come away in one piece.My advice for first-timers is to think of the circuit as a fast road ride and not a racetrack!The Nordschleife is classed as a one-way public toll road without speed limits (except on approach to the entrance and exit). Officially vehicles must be 100% road legal and normal German road traffic law applies. Take your vehicle’s documents, Driving Licence and Passport. You probably won’t be asked to produce these documents, but it’s a legal requirement to carry them when riding in Germany, even on normal public roads.You must wear full protective clothing (not necessarily leather). Suitable boots, gloves and jackets designed for motorcycle use will be fine (no jeans, t-shirts or trainers). Wear a crash helmet that has a visor or a crash helmet with goggles.Your motorcycle must be road worthy and have rear view mirrors on both sides. Also make sure your tyres are in good condition and have plenty of tread left (if you’re a hard rider, and do several 13-mile long laps, you could end up with no rubber for your return journey). Slick tyres are forbidden.Officially there’s a noise limit of 95 decibels for all vehicles. This can be measured at trackside or by officials making spot checks. Despite this rule, many people ride or drive the circuit with very loud exhaust systems. In my experience it’s highly unlikely you’ll be refused entry for this reason.The taking of photos or videos while riding the Nurburgring-Nordschleife is now prohibited. Photos and videos can be taken from various viewing areas outside of the track boundaries.Store the Nurburgring-Nordschleife emergency telephone number on your mobile phone before you start your lap: 0049 8000 302 112If you see a plain yellow flag being waved by trackside officials this means ‘danger ahead, no overtaking’. Approach and pass the danger zone cautiously and at a speed appropriate to the situation (max. 50 kph / 31 mph). If you see a yellow flag with vertical red stripes being waved by trackside officials this means ‘oil or other fluids on the track, no overtaking’. Slow down and proceed with caution (max. 50 kph / 31 mph).

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Never overtake a safety car when its roof mounted yellow lights are flashing. Follow at a safe distance until the lights are switched off or the safety car leaves the track.Overtaking on the right is forbidden. Overtake on the left (indicate first to let others know your intensions). Always be aware that you may encounter much slower moving vehicles (anything from camper vans to tourist coaches use the track).Check your mirrors for fast moving vehicles approaching from behind, if it’s faster than you, move to the right and let it past (bear in mind that some people are regular ‘ringers’, there’s always likely to be someone faster than you).Don’t go crazy on your first few laps. It can take many laps for a good rider to learn the circuit; don’t think you’re a bad rider because other people pass you. Ride at your own pace.Avoid the temptation to explore the limits of your machine. If riding with a pillion passenger allow an extra safety margin. Don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to impress your friends or by timing your lap.In case of a breakdown stop your motorcycle at a safe place on the grass verge next to the track. Stand behind the safety barrier and call the emergency number for assistance. There’s a charge for removing your vehicle from the track.In the event of an accident anyone involved, and any witnesses, must stop to offer assistance. Call the Nurburgring-Nordschleife emergency telephone number. If you’re found to be at fault in an accident, prosecutions and fines may follow. You may also be liable for any costs incurred for track repairs and track closures.Anyone found not complying with the Nurburgring-Nordschleife rules can be banned from riding on the track.WARNINGIt is unlikely your Motorcycle Insurance, European Breakdown Insurance and Personnel Travel Insurance will cover you to ride the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Hire companies are also unlikely to permit the use of their vehicles on the Nordschleife.REMEMBER: IF YOU CHOOSE TO RIDE THE NURBURGRING-NORDSCHLEIFE, YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.Dave Roffe

A Guide to the Best Christmas Markets in Europe

If you are yearning for all things festive then take a look at our guide. Whether you are hankering after the ultimate Christmas tree topper or have just developed a strong liking for mulled wine and Christmas cake you are sure to find something here to your taste. Many markets offer many goods at discounted prices in December so shop around for the best price.Best for atmosphereCologne’s market is actually six markets in one town, the four largest and the most impressive are located right outside the town’s beautiful Gothic cathedral. The markets are a huge event and every year they regularly attract 2 million visitors. The half-timber stalls, the temporary ice-rink, the floating market and the Medieval market outside the Chocolate museum are particularly attractive to visitors and are just a few of the reasons why this market has charmed so many to keep returning in huge numbers year after year. In fact nobody does a Christmas market quite like Germany and Nuremberg, Dresden and Munich are also considered some of the most beautiful and atmospheric.* Cologne market – 27th November – 23rd December 2009
* Nuremberg market – 27th November – 24th December 2009
* Dresden market – 26th November-24th December 2009
* Munich market – 27th November – 24th December 2009

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Best for ChildrenThere is a strong emphasis on fairy tales and folk-lore at the The Prague market and the organisers really go that extra mile in creating a true “Winter Wonderland” setting. There is even a nativity style petting zoo, a very large (and extremely well lit!) Christmas tree, dance and singing concerts and horse carriage rides as well as traditional seasonal foods and decoration/gifts.* Prague Market – 28th November 2009 – 01st January 2010Best for BudgetIt might not be the most famous market but this traditional but less commercial market in Bratislava, Slovakia might be the perfect choice for a more budget-conscious traveller. Popular with tourists and locals alike this market offers everything from locally crafted gifts, winter clothing and ceramics as well as everything in between. Watch live entertainment as you scoff bread with dripping and onion and potato pancakes filled with goose liver (or just fruit-filled pancakes and apple pies..)* Bratislava Market-1st November 2009 – 1st January 2010Most Unique Shopping ExperienceIf you’re after something a little bit different then perhaps the Christmas market in Valkenburg, Holland would appeal, the whole market takes place in a cave underneath the city. Trawl the candle-lit labyrinth of passageways and caverns for gifts and decorations and marvel at the impressive mural carvings and sculptures also located there.* Valkenburg – 28th November – 14th December 2009Best for Chocolate LoversIf you or your family had a particular addiction to all things chocolate then the popular Christmas fair in Brussels, Belgium should be right up your street. The “Winter Wonderland” takes place on the Place Sainte Catherine and as well as culinary delights such as steamed snails, oysters, gingerbread and forest mushrooms on toast, as expected there is also a vast range of Belgian chocolate treats.* Brussels Market – 27th November 2009 – 3rd January 2010Coolest Christmas MarketBarcelona is often considered one of the coolest European cities and Christmas in Barcelona is no exception. The weather is still warm enough to walk comfortably around the city at night and the lively street artists in Las Ramblas make for a very good atmosphere. The Santa Lucia market is located near the cathedral in the Gothic quarter in Barcelona, here you can buy local crafts, unusual gifts (including the Catalan “pooing” statues!) and the traditional Spanish Christmas sweet turron. If you plan your stay around the 28th December, you’ll be treated to the Spanish version of April Fool’s Day when the streets will be filled with even more lively entertainment, artists and music.

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* Santa Lucia Market runs from 1st – 24th December or 28th December 2009 for “Holy Innocents’ Day” (the Spanish version of April Fools Day).Best all rounderThe “Christkindlmärkte”” in Vienna, Austria is another very popular (and seven hundred year old!) market. It’s a very traditional affair with an emphasis on nostalgia, fun and romance. As well as the usual concerts and nativity displays there is also a well-loved live advent calendar display and a Children’s Christmas Workshop in the City Hall. The atmospheric streets, town square and the surrounding park are all filled with the aromas of candied fruits, cotton candy, Christmas punch and roasted chestnuts, surely the perfect way to get you in the Christmas mood?* Vienna Market runs from the 14th of November- 24th of December 2009

Convenient And Affordable Car Parks

There is nothing more helpful that reasonable auto parks at region airplane terminals. Indeed, these settings assume a crucial part in most traveler landings and flights. With regards to finding the correct scene to address your issues, you need to choose whether you need to stop your vehicle inside the terminal or outside. Regardless of which choice you pick, you are ensured convenient and proficient administrations no matter how you look at it.

Terminal auto parts tend to cost more than those outside and neighboring the air terminal. In any case, these administrations offer an indistinguishable security and insurance from external parcels. This incorporates camera observation day and night, alongside security monitors and even infrared alerts. Inward parcels additionally offer vehicle support for upon demand. This, obviously, is for travelers that will go on broad occasions or business trips.

External parts are without a doubt a ton less expensive than terminal parks. Indeed, these settings are viewed as monetary stopping, which may exclude every one of the courtesies as premium parts. Notwithstanding, carry administrations are accessible all day and all night. This guarantees all travelers make their flights on time and with no bother or disturbance. External parts are known as stop and fly in the business, and are to a great degree advantageous for all household and universal travelers.

A few parcels offer premium upkeep administrations for developed stay autos. This incorporates checking the battery, alongside tire weight. Travelers, obviously, should leave their keys with nearby orderlies. This does not imply that these experts will mishandle or drive your auto around voluntarily. This is illegal, and all vehicles are observed by focal dispatchers and order.

Air terminal auto parks keep on soaring in worldwide notoriety. From Intercontinental Airport in Houston to London Heathrow, these scenes are intended to encourage incalculable vehicles. There are dependably cripple open spots accessible, alongside a lot of space for substantial vans, transports, trucks, SUVs, and even cruisers. In the event that asked for, secured stopping is accessible also. These are awesome for travelers that don’t need their autos being recolored by heavy deluges and tempests