Tuesday, July 10, 2007

budget travel

I'm started to get excited for our 5 week trip to Europe. We haven't booked a flight yet (tho I'm hoping we can find something this week) and we haven't decided whether our roundtrip ticket should fly from Vancouver to London or Amsterdam. We'll let our cheap-ass budget decide! Accomodations are another matter. We're not booking anything other than our first night's stay in advance, and while that's never been a problem anywhere we've travelled in North America (where we never book anything in advance), Europe may be a bit crazier. But I'm sure things will be fine (I hope!) and we've registered with CouchSurfing.com so we can sleep on stranger's couches for free!

If anyone has any tips for good food, good shops, galleries, museums, and good (cheap) accomodations in London, Belgium (Brugge, Antwerp, Brussels), The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem), Berlin, and Lithuania (Vilnius) leave me a comment!

I wish however we were going to Austria because if we were, we'd definitely stay at the das park hotel (via poppytalk) where rooms are built out of old drainage pipes. The beds and sheets are provided, showers and toilets are served by the surrounding public space and you pay what you can. I love it!

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Anonymous Joanne said...

I'm so jealous! So-o-o jealous!
I've never been to any of those places for a vacation so I couldn't offer you my 2-cents.

I did tour the streets of Amsterdam for a couple of hours during a stopover flight from Athens to T-O - but that's it! (Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum was the only place I went to while in Amsterdam)

Anyway, I'm sure you'll be fine. Check out Craigslist for those countries you plan to visit, under "accomodations /vacation rentals". You never know what you may find...

Accomodations in a drain pipe!!!? I'm so curious and fascinated by that :D

4:02 PM  
Anonymous emeraldtiger said...

I've been to London and Amsterdam...but long ago (the mid-90's). I spent only a few days in London and two in Amsterdam, so my recommendations are pretty general. Nonetheless, for London: 1) don't eat in the Knightsbridge unless you're looking for pricey, high-end type dining 2) good fish & chips w/ ale are pretty easy to find in London, as is delicious Indian food. I'd say the UK has some of the best curries around, not to mention a long history of Indian food there. 3) make a trip to the famed Harrod's dept to say you've been, even if it's to window-shop or just look at the gourmet foods. I bought a souvenir mug and Harrod's brand tea there! 4) as for shopping: I recommend Shelly's on Oxford Street for trendy shoes, and Top Shop for clothes (www.topshop.com). Amsterdam is a great city to rent bicycles in and ride along the canals as you take in the interesting architecture (gabled narrow frame houses). Or take a glass-topped canal boat tour of the city like I did! There's also the Heineken brewery, and we also got to tour a diamond factory. If you can go see the kinderdike, you must, because this is where you see typical dutch postcard scenery, with windmills and tulips. ps: both cities are hopping with museums galore! It's general, but hope this helps.

8:14 PM  
Blogger kickpleat said...

emeraldtiger, you're totally making me want to go to london....i was preferring amsterdam, but i think we might just have to spend a few days in london too. fish and chips and curries! mmmm.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

You have to stop by 'Slow Travel'. (check my blog for a quick link)
You will find all kinds of ideas for good airfare and travel options.
EmeraldTiger is right about London... but everything is expensive these days with the sad$$. TopShop is wicked.
Happy travels!

7:19 PM  
Blogger arajane said...

i absolutely loved brugge--one of my favorite places in europe! it's not a great place for "things to do", but a great place to just be. rent bicycles and go out along the canals, and definitely go on the tour of the brewery (where you get free beer at the end). we didn't stay in a fabulous hotel, but i know there are lots of cute little b&bs along the canals that would be great to stay at. i also loved amsterdam. we stayed at a funky little place called hotel filosoof, that was maybe a little pricier than we wanted, but super fun and in a nice, quiet place (all the rooms are philosphy themed). and even if you're not a huge van gogh fan, you have to go to the van gogh museum. ooh, i'm sure you'll have a great time!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous engson said...

When you're in London, you can get great deals on seats to posh venues if you don't mind sitting high up or in odd little spots. Royal Opera House has "upper slips" tickets for as little as 6 pounds. The trick there is to get a seat that's furthest away from the stage; the ones closer in cut off half the view from the stage. But I've sat in the slips many times and it's such a bargain and you get to see the same ballet or opera that the folks in the 135 pound seats see, and it's such a beautiful theatre. Royal Albert Hall has cheap tickets for as little as 3 pounds. There used to be a section where you just sit on the floor, but you can also get seats in the choir loft for around 8 pounds. It's really reasonable at RAH and when the Proms concerts are on, it's a lot of fun. Just try to book ahead, or go to the box office the first day of your stay to buy tickets for another day. It's harder to get stuff for same day.

You can get groundling tickets for the Globe Theatre for around 5 pounds too. See Shakespeare the way most commoners did back in the day!

As for accommodations, I have used Priceline.com a lot, most recently for London and Paris. I got some great deals in London for hotels that cost about the same as some B&Bs and hostels.

Have fun!

8:55 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I know that there is an airline called Zoom that flies cheaply from Canada to London so you could check them out. In London I strongly recommend the British Museum (FREE), London Borough Market (by London Bridge) and Greenwich. Try to avoid all the tourist crap in the West End. Also, lastminute.com does theatre tickets for a tenner and there's always the TKTS booth in Leicester Square where you can get half price tickets for shows the day of. Have a blast! :) (try to get to Brighton on the train for a daytrip, it's truly wonderful and I'm not just saying that b/c I live here).

4:27 AM  

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