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The Role of Technology in Creating Cutting-Edge Hearing Accessible Hotel Rooms

August 18, 2023

As the hospitality industry grows increasingly competitive, technology is playing a greater role in creating cutting-edge hotel rooms that are...

Navigating Airport Taxi Rules and Regulations: What You Need to Know

Are you planning a trip to Vienna and need a reliable and convenient transportation option from the airport to your destination? Look no further than Flughafentaxi Wien zum Fixpreis, which translates to Vienna Airport Taxi at a fixed price. Airport taxis are a popular choice for travelers worldwide, offering a hassle-free way to reach your final destination. However, it’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations governing airport taxi services to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey.

Experienced taxi driver in front of his taxi, waiting for a passenger

Understanding Airport Taxi Services

Airport taxi services are an integral part of any traveler’s journey, providing a convenient mode of transportation from the airport to various destinations within the city. Vienna, like many other cities, has specific regulations in place to protect passengers and maintain the integrity of airport taxi services.

Licensing and Accreditation

One of the most critical aspects of airport taxi regulations is licensing and accreditation. Airport taxi drivers must undergo background checks, possess valid driver’s licenses, and adhere to specific vehicle safety standards. In Vienna, “Flughafentaxi Wien zum Fixpreis” services are operated by licensed drivers and vehicles, ensuring passenger safety and reliability.

Fixed Pricing

Vienna Airport Taxi services typically offer fixed pricing, which means you’ll know the fare upfront before starting your journey. This transparency helps passengers avoid unexpected surprises or fare disputes. Always confirm the fixed price with the taxi driver before getting into the vehicle, and ensure it aligns with the standard rates set by the airport authority.

Dispatch Systems

Many airports, including Vienna International Airport, have dispatch systems in place to streamline airport taxi services. These systems ensure that passengers are assigned to licensed and accredited airport taxis, enhancing safety and efficiency.

Booking in Advance

If you want to secure your airport taxi in advance, you can do so through various methods, such as online bookings or using a designated airport taxi app. “Flughafentaxi Wien zum Fixpreis” services often provide these options, allowing you to plan your transportation in advance, especially during peak travel times.

Avoiding Unlicensed Taxis

While Vienna has stringent regulations governing airport taxi services, it’s essential to remain vigilant and avoid unlicensed or rogue taxi operators. These individuals may not adhere to safety standards, fixed pricing, or background checks, potentially putting your safety and comfort at risk. Always look for official airport taxi signage and verify the driver’s credentials.

Tips for a Smooth Airport Taxi Experience

Here are some additional tips to ensure a smooth airport taxi experience:

  • Know the Destination: Have the address of your destination ready to provide to the driver. This ensures everything is clear about where you need to go.
  • Check the Vehicle: Before getting in, verify that the taxi’s license and vehicle number match the information provided during booking.
  • Carry Cash: While many airport taxis accept credit cards, having some local currency on hand is a good idea for any unexpected expenses.
  • Tip Appropriately: Tipping is customary in many countries, including Austria. It’s polite to tip your taxi driver for good service.
  • Stay Informed: Familiarize yourself with local taxi rules and regulations before arriving at your destination to ensure you’re well-prepared.

Conclusion

Navigating airport taxi rules and regulations, especially when using services like “Flughafentaxi Wien zum Fixpreis” in Vienna, is essential for a safe and hassle-free travel experience. By understanding the licensing, fixed pricing, and dispatch systems, you can ensure that your journey from the airport to your destination is smooth and reliable. Remember to stay informed, be vigilant, and follow these tips to make the most of your airport taxi experience.

The Role of Technology in Creating Cutting-Edge Hearing Accessible Hotel Rooms

As the hospitality industry grows increasingly competitive, technology is playing a greater role in creating cutting-edge hotel rooms that are accessible to visitors with disabilities. From specialized TV systems to soundproofing and other unique amenities, hotels are taking steps to ensure that all guests can enjoy their stay. Read the article below to learn more about how technology is transforming the hospitality industry and making hotel rooms more accommodating for those who are hard of hearing.

Smart TVs: An Important Part of Hearing Accessible Hotel Rooms

Smart TVs have become integral to hotels, offering streaming content from multiple services such as Netflix or Hulu. For guests with hearing impairment, this feature is especially helpful as it allows them to watch movies and shows at their own volume levels. Smart TVs also offer closed captioning and subtitles so that they can understand what’s happening on screen without straining their ears.

Audio Descriptions: Enhancing the Visual Experience

Another way technology is used in hearing-accessible hotel rooms is through audio descriptions. This system adds audio narrations of what’s happening on screen, which helps guests with hearing impairments to experience visual media like everyone else. Audio descriptions are often included in videos from streaming services, but they can also be found on DVDs or Blu-Ray players if available in the guestroom.

Soundproofing: Reducing Outside Noise Interference

In addition to providing enhanced viewing experiences for guests with hearing impairments, technology can also be used in hotel rooms to reduce outside noise interference and make them more comfortable for these individuals. Soundproof windows and walls help block out street sounds, while special acoustic insulation further reduces noise levels within the room itself. With these features installed, visitors can rest easy knowing that no matter how loud things get outside their room, they won’t be disturbed during their stay.

Voice Activated Technology: Making Room Controls Easier Than Ever Before

Voice-activated technology has been gaining popularity over recent years, and it’s proving extremely useful for individuals with hearing impairments when staying at a hotel. This type of system utilizes microphones connected directly to the wall, which allow guests to control lights, thermostats and other amenities easily by speaking aloud rather than fiddling with knobs or buttons on various devices around the room. Voice activation gives individuals greater freedom when controlling different aspects of their environment during a hotel stay – something many people take for granted but makes all the difference when you’re hard of hearing!

Wi-Fi Solutions: Connecting Guests With Their Loved Ones Back Home

Finally, Wi-Fi solutions have emerged as an important tool in ensuring that people who are hard of hearing always feel connected during stays at hotels worldwide. Through specialized apps like Skype or Facetime, individuals can keep in touch with family members back home regardless of where they may be located geographically – allowing them to remain plugged into loved ones even when away from home!

Conclusion

Technology has an essential role to play in ensuring that all visitors have access to a quality hotel experience, regardless of any physical disabilities they may have – including those related to hearing loss! By implementing innovative solutions such as smart TVs equipped with audio description services, along with soundproof walls and voice-activated controls, hotels today are able to create new opportunities for those who have previously been unable to access certain accommodations due to disability-related issues. Ultimately, this means better accessibility options for everyone, allowing us all to enjoy our holidays without worry!

Things to Remember Traveling to Münster: The Only Checklist You Need

Münster is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in all of Germany. Vacationing abroad needs a lot of planning. This is mainly because the place and its language are unknown. 

Hence, having a plan well in advance is always recommended. Traveling is a way of life, it gives you an eternal form of rejoicement. One such refreshing travel destination is Munster. 

If you’re traveling to Münster any time soon, you must be aware of the teensy little tips and tricks to make your travel easier. Here’s a list of tips you need to remember before traveling to Munster!

Take notes fellow wanderlusts!

1. Plan Your Itinerary 

Like any other tourist destination, Münster has several beautiful tourist spots. Not all the spots are worth seeing, and some are not to be missed. You need to carefully plan an itinerary of places to visit. Ensure that you visit the Münster Basilica and the Lackkunstmuseum, a few of the most popular tourist spots in Münster. Plan your itinerary perfectly in such a way that you cover all the important tourist spots and at the same time do not rush through your trip. Besides that, you need to make your hotel bookings in advance as well. There are a plethora of hotels in Münster and with plenty of options comes confusion. If you’re browsing through hotels in Münster, you must be looking for the best ones. Confused about how to choose one? Follow these simple tips

  • Budget before booking: Fix and allocate a budget that you’d like to spend on a hotel.
  • Determine your choice of accommodation: There are different kinds of hotels in Münster. Common accommodations include villas, apartments, hotels, and resorts. Choose a convenient accommodation that fits your budget. 
  • Book refundable hotel rooms: Not all hotels in Münster grant a full refund on cancellation. Having a flexible travel plan is always important. To keep it flexible and still economic, we recommend you book refundable rooms. If you encounter a “just in case” situation wherein you’re having a sudden change of plans, you wouldn’t lose out on the hotel tariff.

2. Book Flights Well In Advance

Münsterbeing one of the most popular destinations in Germany and it sees a truckload of visitors on a regular basis. With such a high inflow of people, airline ticket prices are soaring high. This is why booking the ticket last minute could be heavy on your wallet. Hence, it’s always a wise option to book your flight tickets in advance. 

3. Keep Multiple Payment Methods Ready

While traveling overseas, your regular credit and debit cards might not work. Not all cards have international acceptance. Dealing in cash is impractical since you’d need to keep several currency notes. 

AMEX cards aren’t accepted by numerous sellers in Münsterand Germany in general. 

Owning a Visa/MasterCard puts you on the safer side. However, we recommend you to not rely on just one card and have your backup ready.

4. Buy A Travel Insurance

Traveling brings joy but it comes with its own hazards. Not being pessimistic but having a backup is always recommended. We never know what could go wrong. 

Hence, we suggest you get travel insurance. Travel insurance would cover up any damages caused while traveling. 

5. Sufficient Gap Between Connecting Flights

If you’re having connecting flights, let there be an ample time gap between the 2 flights. International flight schedules see alterations on a regular basis. This is mainly because of varying air traffic, delays in take-offs, weather, etc. 

A good travel plan accommodates all such delays and leaves no loopholes. With ample time in between connecting flights, you’d cover up on such shortcomings and in case your flight is delayed, you wouldn’t miss the connecting flight. 

We recommend you to have a time gap of at least 2 hours between the two flights. 

6. Avoid Traveling During The Peak Season

Peak season in Germany ranges from May to September. During this season, the prices at tourist spots, hotel tariffs, and travel costs see a drastic rise. The rise in cost ranges between about 25 to 40 percent. 

During shoulder seasons, you can sightsee offbeat destinations, travel at a much cheaper cost, and also avoid crowds. 

Unless you have a business meeting to attend, we highly recommend you to visit Münster during the shoulder season. 

7.  Ensure That You Report Your Credit Card Before Travelling

Banks have strict rules when it comes to credit/debit cards. In order to use a card abroad, you must inform the financial service provider in advance. 

Failing to inform may restrict your transactions abroad. Hence, you need to ensure that you’re keeping your card provider informed about your future travel plans. 

8. Book Your Cab Rental Beforehand

Over the past few years, the cost of car rentals has increased drastically. It has become truly difficult to get a cab due to language barriers and the ever-increasing prices. 

If you’re booking a cab through an agency, beware of the price you’re being charged. Agencies tend to overcharge, especially if you’re a foreigner. Do not fall prey to such money-minting car rental agencies. 

9. Talk to the Locals

How much ever you worship the internet, local citizens are always more credible sources of information. We highly recommend you to connect with some locals to extract important information about places to visit, eateries, hotels, and markets.  Helpful local citizens might help you through your trip and ensure you have a great travel experience. 

Key Takeaway

Münster is indeed a beautiful place to travel to. Its intricate architecture and beautiful landscaping will ensure that you’ve a memorable trip. 

We hope the tips would help you in your upcoming adventure in Münster! Safe travels!

Budgeting For Travel – What to Consider and Why is it So Hard?

Budgeting for Travel

Budgeting for travel is an essential part of planning any trip. Not only do you need to consider the costs associated with flights, hotels, and activities, but there are also many other factors to take into account. But why is budgeting for travel so hard? This article will explore what you need to consider when budgeting for a trip and provide tips on getting the most out of your money-wise.

From transportation costs to souvenirs, there are plenty of expenses that can quickly add up when traveling. To stay within your budget, it’s important to make sure you understand all the costs associated with your destination before embarking on your journey. Additionally, if you find yourself needing more funds than anticipated during your trip – such as if an emergency arises – it may be worth considering getting a loan now fast and easy from a reliable lender. 

What to Consider:

Traveling can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it often comes at a price. To get the most out of your trip, budgeting for it is essential. But how do you know how much money to set aside? And why is it so hard to stick to a travel budget? Here are some tips on what to consider when budgeting for travel and why it can be difficult. 

When planning any trip, there are several factors that will affect the cost: transportation costs (airfare, fuel, etc.), accommodation costs (hotels or rental properties), food and entertainment costs (meals or activities). Knowing these in advance will help you develop a sensible budget that allows you to enjoy your experience without breaking the bank. 

Cost of Trip

Are you considering taking a trip but worried about how much it will cost? Budgeting for travel can often seem overwhelming and complicated, especially when there are so many factors to consider. But with some careful planning and the right financial tools, you can make sure your journey is both enjoyable and affordable. 

One way to help manage the cost of a trip is to get a loan now fast and easy with Money-Wise. With this low-interest loan product, travelers can secure the funds they need in order to cover their travel expenses without having to rely on credit cards or take out more expensive loans from traditional banks. Money-Wise’s flexible repayment options also allow travelers to adjust their payments based on their budget and cash flow needs, so that they don’t have to worry about high interest rates or large lump sum payments after the trip. 

Transportation Fees

Transportation Fees can often be a major cost when budgeting for travel. It’s important to consider all the different types of transportation that are available to you, as well as how much each mode of transport will cost. When deciding which type of transportation is right for your budget and needs, there are several aspects to take into account such as convenience, economy, reliability and safety. 

Airline tickets are generally more expensive than other forms of transportation such as buses or trains. However, depending on the location and distance you need to travel, flying may be the quickest and most convenient option available. If time is not an issue and if you’re travelling with a group, it may be more economical to drive or take a coach bus service. Alternatively, public transit systems like subways or trams offer reliable services at relatively low prices in some cities. 

Accommodations

Accommodations are a major factor to consider when budgeting for travel. The cost of where you stay can make or break your vacation, so it is important to plan accordingly. When on a budget, it is best to compare prices of hotels and even look into activities like couchsurfing, which are free or low-cost alternatives that offer potential travelers the chance to interact with locals in their city. Those looking for an authentic experience may also want to explore Airbnb and hostels, both of which tend to be more affordable than traditional hotel rooms. 

Knowing what kind of amenities you need during your stay will also help narrow down the selection process. If luxury isn’t necessary, there are many budget-friendly options like extended stay motels and guesthouses that offer basic necessities without breaking the bank. 

Why is it So Hard?

Planning a vacation is an exciting experience, but budgeting for it can be overwhelming – and hard. For those wanting to take that dream trip but don’t know where to start when it comes to setting a budget, here’s what you need to consider. 

The cost of travel will depend on the type of holiday you choose and where you go; some trips are more expensive than others. You also have to factor in flights, accommodation, food costs, and any activities or experiences you want to do while away. And if travelling with family or friends, splitting costs between multiple people can make the process even more complicated. 

Budgeting for travel takes time (and often math) so allow yourself plenty of preparation before departure day. Consider researching prices for different destinations and review ways in which you can cut down costs without compromising on quality or experiences.

Experiencing the Nature of Cuc Phuong National Park

120km from Hanoi, the national park is located adjacent to Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, and is an environmentally friendly destination with exciting discovering activities.

Cuc Phuong is suitable for a picnic at weekends. Cuc Phuong is also where you not only can relax in an open space of the jungle, but also have the opportunities to learn more about the nature around. Cuc Phuong National Park covers an area of 25,000 hectares and is the first national park in Vietnam. Featuring a tropical evergreen rain forest, Cuc Phuong has an abundant fauna and flora population including many species of rare plants and animals. Annually, the park welcome numerous nature lovers to explore and experience the days sleeping in the forest. With a rich ecosystem, Cuc Phuong is suitable for vacation, sightseeing and discovery. There are many ways to entertain in the open and cool space with thousands of trees.

One of these interesting activities is camping and walking in the narrow trails, visit the valuable and rare trees in the dense jungle. Besides, other activities like cycling through the forest, taking a bird watching trip, looking for the ancient caves or going trekking through the jungle… also attract many visitors. From Hanoi, you can choose to travel by motorcycle or passenger car, but the best way is to travel by private cars, which is flexible in time, can go deep into the forest and ensure the safety if children come along. The road is quite beautiful and smooth, through the jungle and fragrant rice fields. From Hanoi, tourists go along Highway 1 toward Ninh Binh, until you reach Gian Khau pork (10 km from the city of Ninh Binh), turn to Highway 12A, pass Nho Quan town about 2 km, then turn left to Cuc Phuong. From the city of Hoa Binh, you drive along Highway 12B toward Nho Quan town about 2 km, then turn right to Cuc Phuong.

  • Cuc Phuong Botanical Garden:

This area is built to collect and plant rare species of Cuc Phuong, Vietnam and the world.

  •  Cuc Phuong’s Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC):

This center is responsible for rescuing the individual of rare primate species.

  • Prehistoric People Cave:

The cave is the relic of residence and burial of prehistoric man.

  • Con Moong Cave:

Where the prehistoric people choose for their long-term habitation.-

  • Trang Khuyet (Crescent Moon) Cave:

Located deep in the forest, has crescent moon shape when being looked from cave’s mouth

  • The ancient trees:

Cuc Phuong has an amazing diversity of plants including the giant ancient trees up to 70m high You should prepare for a trip to Cuc Phuong like a picnic trip so that you could give a party in the forest.

If you have time, you should go on the weekends, otherwise, you can travel in a day and a half to spend a night in the woods and return in the following afternoon. The food in the forest is not very much and various; therefore, you should prepare enough food for two days, especially with trips with children. Temperatures in the woods at night and early morning is often low, so you should wear a thin sweater and jacket to avoid the cold and fog. The ideal weather to Cuc Phuong is the sunny days when the rainy season passed because there would be less insects and mosquitoes. There are always many insects in the forest; therefore, if there are young children accompanying, you should prepare lotions. Cost: approximately 6,500,000 VND contract for two days of relaxing.

Free Entrance to Barcelona Museums? Yes please! – Barcelona Hotels & Travel Guide

Barcelona in Spain has some fantastic Museums; often it’s difficult to cram in seeing a few with so many other cultural and historical sights on offer. So what if told you it was free?!

With such a wealth of Historical and Cultural sights on offer, it’s hard to know what to see and in what order when you visit the Catalan Capital of Barcelona. The city boasts 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and as an old Roman Citadel (known as “Barcino”), time can easily be spent wandering the streets of the enchanting Gothic Quarter, stopping off at the occasional Tapas bar to sample some of the fantastic Iberian cuisine on offer. However, some of the overlooked attractions are the many museums Barcelona has to offer, and I’m about to make planning your trip a little easier, with a list of free entrances to some of the city’s top museums.

On the first Saturday of every month, two excellent Museums open their doors to the public free of charge. First is the Maritime Museum, located at the bottom of Las Ramblas, on Avinguda Drassanes. This museum is actually part of the old city walls, and was originally the Dockyards (Catalan for Dockyards is Drassanes) and is a huge space, housing some interesting models and mock ups of what life was like during the functioning years of the dockyards, and also serving as an exhibition space with a usually off-topic show, such as the Bodies exhibition or even a Tin Tin show!

The second museum open for free if you want to sacrifice your Saturday shopping on the 1st Saturday of the month is the History Museum of Barcelona, located in the Gothic Quarter at the King’s Square (Pla del Rei). This fascinating museum consists of underground chambers and corridors, all of which were the real roman roads and alleyways of hundreds of years ago. It’s an amazing place to visit especially on a Saturday, with the hustle and bustle of a busy weekend above you whilst you explore the eerily quiet ruins below.

Sunday is not exception for a free pass into some Museums, and if you happen to be exploring the Botanical gardens of Montjüic mountain, then take a stroll down towards Plaça Espanya and along the way you’ll find the Ethnological museum on Paseo Santa Madrona. This is a surprisingly good museum with a mass array of ethnic pieces from cultures all over the world in airy glass spaces.

Moving across town into the El Borne neighbourhood, and specifically Carrer montcada, we find free entrance to the city’s homage to the Malagan artist, Pablo Picasso. The Picasso museum stores some of the artists early work while he lived and studied in Barcelona, as well as sculptures, paintings and other rarities. In the same street is the Museum of Textile and Industry. Located in the Palace of the Marquis of Lilo, this museum reflects the importance of textile as an industry in the historical Barcelona and also houses a great collection of Baroque to 20th century fashion, which is a real treat and a good laugh. The museum also has a nice courtyard café to relax and write your postcards in.

A quick step across the road, and the garden of Barcelona welcomes you – the Cuitadella Park. This is a lovely place to visit on a Sunday and is always full of young families and couples escaping from the city high rises. Another great reason to visit is the Geological Museum, which also offers free entrance on the first Sunday of the month. This was the first building designed specifically to be used as an exhibition space, in 1888. there are many fossils and the like as you would expect from a Geology museum, but also many minerals on display with replicas of the biggest diamonds in the world and a fascinating darkened section where ultra-violet lights are shone through certain minerals to great colourful effect.

Last but by no means least, and saving it for the 1st Monday of the month is the Chocolate museum! This is located on Carrer Comerç with neighbours of Michelin star restaurants and is also a pastry school. There are some audio visual presentations about the origins of chocolate but by far the highlight of the museum is the Workshop, where chocolatiers perform their art. Easter in Catalunya is not about eggs, but “monas” which are best described as chocolate creations, and can range from castles and houses to life-size representations of favourite characters such a Pinocchio, etc. Oh, and there’s obviously a shop to try and buy some of the wares, too!

Charming Y Ty in Lao Cai Province

Y Ty is upland in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province. It not only has the beauty of the land of fog and unique primeval forests but also is a charming tourist destination bearing identities of ethnic groups in West Northern Vietnam.Leaving the Lao Cai train station, visitors take a bus to Bat Xat town and from there go along the mountain road about 70km until you meet Y Ty. It is a valley situated at an altitude of over 2,000 meter leaning back Nhu Cu San Mountain range with its peak of 2.660m and almost year-round cloud. Go by car, you can see mountain trails that run in zigzags and disappear slowly among forest leaves and houses looming in the clouds. It can be said that Y Ty is beautiful by clouds and mountains and bright with terraced rice fields.

Y Ty commune has 15 villages with 4 ethnic groups consisting of Ha Nhi, Dao, Hmong and Kinh people in the town center in which Ha Nhi is the largest one.Coming to visit Y Ty, you will feel very interesting when going to a market on. This place is home to many ethnic minorities such as Ha Nhi, Dao, Han, Giay, and Mong with colorful dresses. Mong people wear tutu, Ha Nhi people appear with three-bladed hairpins and wool wigs braided around their heads. Dao people wind peacock scarves on their heads with innocent smiles. They buy and sell local products and crafts of their family.In Y Ty, there are special houses. They still remain original untouched traditional architectural styles of Ha Nhi people. The house is usually a rectangular structure with a main door and arch to allow the wind go through. There is no window but the house is very warm in winter but cool in summer.

The walls made from the soil are thick from 30 – 40cm. Its roofs are wood. Here, visitors will encounter Ha Nhi households living these houses in the mountain near streams and trails full of leaves falling year-round.According to local people, in spring Y Ty people often hold a festival of the forest to show their promise with the God of the forest. The offerings include a 60 kg pig, 6 chickens, 6 trays of stick rice and 6 liters of wine. Every family has to have a person at least who wears traditional consume to worship. In particular, everyone must remove shoes and go barefoot. According to the concept of Ha Nhi people, this action shows respect for the god.Ha Nhi people in Y Ty account for 60% of the population.

They reside near water sources to ensure water for living and irrigation. Ha Nhi women are very hard.It is no doubt that Y Ty is the place to preserve outstanding features of ethnic groups and owns its climate and scenery bearing mountainous characteristics. Besides, it hides much potential to develop economy. In jungles, there are cardamon trees bringing a special value for the land. Because it has the temperature of less 20 degree Celsius, there are streams with fresh water year-round. Therefore, Y Ty is a “promised land” in the development of cold-water fish species originating from Europe such as salmon and sturgeon.Currently, the road to Y Ty is much better than before. Cars can run straight into the place, so it is so convenient for tourists when coming to villages. If you are adventurous, certainly Y Ty will be an attractive tourist spot that you cannot ignore when visiting West Northern.Tags : Sapa Vietnam

Take a Holiday on the Coast of Tuscany in San Vincenzo

The town of San Vincenzo on the coast of Tuscany is perfect for peaceful holidays in Italy. Here you will be able to stay in one of the many hotels by the sea, or in comfortable Tuscany apartments, and enjoy the ten-kilometer long beach. White extra-fine sand covers the stretch of coast between the Thyrrenian Sea and the large strip of Mediterranean vegetation at its back. This is the special trademark of this precious Tuscan town, which is one of the main tourist destinations on the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany.

San Vincenzo is perched on the hills immediately over the Thyrrenian Sea, in the southern territory of Livorno. This maritime village offers all services and welcoming accommodations. If you have never tried it, a holiday on the Etruscan Coast is certainly something to be experienced. This is a quiet location to spend your vacations while discovering the carefully preserved natural environment all around it. Long walks on the Tuscan hills in the surrounding area and peaceful days at the beach make for the perfect formula to regain a sometimes forgotten inner peace.

The town has ancient origins. It used was inhabited during prehistoric times, then it became an important Etruscan center due to its proximity to Populonia (a major Etruscan town) and for the many forests and ferrous minerals in its soil. These boosted the creation of foundries, so that in a relatively short time the town became the major industrial area of the territory. The Romans consecrated it as an important city by building one of their main roads in its vicinities, the Aurelia road, nowadays a four-lane freeway.

After the destruction of its main castle by Pisa in 1304, a watchtower against the Saracens was built here, along with a landing dock and customs. From these three elements, the San Vincenzo that you can visit today was developed. At first a small fisherman village, it grew to acquire its own municipal status in 1949.

Nowadays the town is elegantly touristic, adorned with plenty of public garden spaces. The ancient coastal tower built by Pisa, which was restored in recent times, still watches over San Vincenzo, although the Saracens were driven away from the Mediterranean some hundred years ago.

The beach is walking-distance from town. Walking along the beach you will encounter the Secular Pine forest, one of the

area’s crown-jewels. The beach is poised in between the forest and the blue sea, creating a relaxing paradise of rare beauty. The beach is all free access, and offers eight resorts where to rest for the day.

Basing yourself in San Vincenzo is ideal for taking walks inside the pine forest and on nearby hills, and for organizing bike tours or horseback rides through sights of great natural beauty. You should not miss the Natural Park of Ripigliano, south of San Vincenzo, and the hiking trail Il Corbezzolo, which leads along paths through pleasant woods filled with wildlife.

Archeology fans can enjoy the sites of Populonia, whereas medieval sights such as Campiglia Marittima, Bolgheri and Suvereto are excellent daytrip destinations.

Finally, remember to include in your stay a restaurant to take part in the local culinary tradition with its special recipes and great wines.

Solo Travel: Journey to Monaco

The night before I went to Monaco, I began talking myself out of it because I was scared of going alone. Despite my fears, I woke up the next morning determined to get there. I had wanted to leave by nine, so I was astounded when I woke up at 9:30. I really wanted to see the changing of the guard at the palace, which happens every day at 11:55 a.m. I was in a rush because I wanted to figure out how to take the bus to the gare, I still had to buy a ticket, and I wasn’t sure when a train would leave.

After staring, confused, at a French bus schedule on the street outside my hotel in Nice, I managed to translate it and got to the station for only 1.30 Euro, a nice alternative to the 16E cab ride. The bus was crowded, but I didn’t mind—I successfully got onto a foreign bus all by myself. Truly, an accomplishment.

I arrived at the station and bought my ticket to Monaco, less than 5 Euro roundtrip. I was surprised to discover that it was an open ticket–there was no leave or return time, I could go and come back whenever I wanted, which was a relief because I never know how long I’ll want to stay somewhere. I boarded the ter train—it was really quite filthy—and soon arrived at the scrupulously clean Monaco-Monte Carlo train station.

When I left the train, I followed a sign to the tourist office inside the station. I happened to be walking behind a woman in a green skirt, and as she ended up heading to the same place I was, I’m sure she thought I was stalking her. We both went to the tourism office for maps, and I heard her ask directions to the changing of the guard–I listened because that was where I wanted to go. . .and then I followed Green Skirt Woman in that direction, so I guess I was stalking her after all, but when she stopped to check her map (or to shake me), I kept going.

Monaco’s palace is at the top of what must be the tallest rock ever. . .I had to walk up an insane amount of winding steps to get to the palace, but it was so worth it when I arrived, ten minutes before the changing of the guard. There were crowds of people so it was hard to see, but it was still really cool to see the guards moving in their crisp, white uniforms in a centuries-old ritual.

I was incredibly happy because I had made it in time to see it, and after that I saw where the line was to tour the palace but it was overflowing with people as every tourist in Monaco was at the palace for the guard change. I decided to walk around for a while, and then come back. The most hilarious part of the Monaco adventure was discovering that the guards arrived on a bus to the palace, piled out, performed for the crowd, then piled back in to go wherever it is that they go. It’s all a show now.

After the guard change, I wandered around and found the cathedral where I believe Princess Grace was married and where I know she is buried because I saw her tomb. In a semi-circle surrounding the dais, where the priests and other church officiates are during services, are the graves of Monaco royalty, which I thought was so very odd and yet so. . .right. Simple tombs for the royalty partially hidden in a church instead of gaudily displayed. Her grave is marked “Gratia Patria.”

After the cathedral, I headed back to the palace and went inside for a tour. I had a headset that guided me along the beautiful rooms with lots of information I don’t remember, but appreciated at the time. My favorite rooms were the Galerie de Hercule and the throne room. I loved the latter because of a gorgeous portrait of the royal family in the corner of the room–Rainier, Albert, Stephanie, Grace and Caroline. They looked so regal, so royal. I wish I could have found a print of it, but it was nowhere.

I ate lunch outside of the palace, all alone.

I went into gift shops, walked the tiny streets of old Monaco–the city was just so clean. As police were everywhere, I felt perfectly safe at all times.

A beautiful garden stood next to the Oceanography Museum, whose gift shop I visited. Around that time I was really worn out and thinking of leaving, but then I saw a little tourist train and decided to go for a ride. The train took me all around the city, and I got a glimpse of that oh-so-famous Casino.

After the train, I walked back toward the palace, down the long steps and to the train station.

 

Six Ways to Experience Reykjavik Like a Local

The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik is home to two-thirds of the country’s population (about 200,000 people). Most visitors spend at least a night or two here before or after they explore the rest of the country and if you’re only spending a few days in Iceland, it’s easy to base yourself out of Reykjavik and still see quite a bit in the surrounding area. If you’re headed to Iceland, here are a few tips for having a more local experience.

Swimming is big in Iceland. Icelanders are required by law to learn how to swim, and every small town in Iceland has a community swimming pool, which is a place to relax and socialize. In Reykjavik, there are several pools to choose from, and no, the Blue Lagoon is not one of them. Though the Blue Lagoon is a very unique and worthwhile experience, you’ll find mostly tourists there. If you want to swim with the locals, head to the local pool instead. Hot spring pools in Iceland are open all year round, (some are outdoors, some are indoors) and are kept between 84 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit so you will stay warm even in the winter. Services at each differ; some have waterslides and hydo-massage services, while others are more basic.

Open from early morning until late evening, the pools generally charge just a dollar or two for admission, with rental of bathing suit and towel available for an extra fee. Some tourists get nervous about the fact that swimming in a public pool in Iceland requires showering naked in front of strangers beforehand. But really it’s nothing to worry about. There’s no novelty in locker-room nudity for Icelanders, so rest assured they aren’t trying to check you out. Just wash up quickly and soon you’ll be relaxing like a local.

It’s said that Icelanders drink so much in the winter to make the cold, dark days pass faster, and that they drink so much in the summer to celebrate the sunny, warm days. Either way, they like to drink, despite the high cost of alcohol in the country (tip: stock up at the airport duty free upon arrival). In Reykjavik, don’t miss your chance to join in the weekend runtur, or pub crawl. Start your night with dinner and a few drinks (preferably at your hostel to save a bit of money) and then around midnight join the crowds of people packing the streets. The party goes until 4am or later at the city’s many lounges, music clubs, and cafes that turn into bars at night. Many places don’t charge a cover so this can be an inexpensive way to experience the nightlife of Reykjavik…so long as you don’t buy too many beers, which can cost $7 or more in a bar.

Icelanders love their hot dogs, which seems like an odd choice in a country where fish is abundant and lamb roam the countryside. But the Icelandic hot dogs are better than their fast food counterparts in the US. Made of lamb and topped with mustard, ketchup, fried onion, raw onion and remolaði, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish, they are unlike any other hot dogs in the world. And, they’re cheap, at just over $2 each. In a country where everything is expensive, it’s a welcome change to find something so tasty and affordable. At Bæjarins beztu pylsur the 60-year old stand that once served Bill Clinton and Metallica (on separate occasions of course!), there’s a short line nearly all day, every day. But for a true Reykjavik experience, come after a night at the bars, around 3am, to feast with your fellow partiers.

Chance are that if you’ve come to Iceland as a tourists, you’re going to partake in some of the country’s amazing outdoor activities like hiking, cave-exploring, and horseback riding. And to do those activities, you’re going to wear some travel performance gear, like a fleece vest or waterproof windbreaker with insulated pants and hiking boots. But when it comes to what to wear in Reykjavik after those activities are done, you’ll need to make some changes to avoid looking like a clueless tourist. Outdoor gear is fine for casual restaurants and wandering around town, but you’ll need to sartorially step it up come nightfall. At Reykjavik’s best restaurants and any nightclubs, opt for nicer, trendier duds. Reykjavik residents have a great sense of style, so if you want to blend in with the locals, you’ll need the same.

If there’s one food that you’ll see in every convenience store and grocery store in Iceland, it’s skyr. High in protein and low in fat and sugar, skyr is a very healthy yogurt-like product that comes in plain, vanilla, and fruit flavors. Skyr is great for breakfast or for a quick and easy lunch or snack on the go. It’s delicious topped with fruit and is used in many desserts at Icelandic restaurants and you’ll even see it used in some sauces and dips. So if you want to snack like a local, pick up a few containers of skyr.

Live music is a huge part of the Icelandic nightlife scene, so don’t miss a chance to go see a band while you are in Reykjavik. And don’t expect it to be all Bjork and Sigur Ros either. Music in Iceland is very diverse, and includes pop, punk, folk, rock, blues, and more. On weekends, you’ll have your pick of several shows, but it’s easy to find live music any day of the week with a little research. Check out the Reykjavik Grapevine for the most comprehensive event listings. If you plan your trip in October, you can attend Iceland Airwaves, a four-day long music festival that is considered one of the best in the world.