This entry is a continuation of Travels and Whatnots (I). I shall continue to elaborate on the most important part – WHERE TO GO?
Purpose of travel – What do you want to achieve this winter holidays? Are you the kind of people who wants to absorb local culture? Or shopping? Relaxing? Meeting up with old friends? Meeting new people? Adventure with the nature? Conference? If you do not have a purpose of travel – traveling just for the sake of traveling – it does not mean you shouldn’t travel at all. Having a purpose just makes it easier for you to choose your desired destination.
Budget – Things you should count for are return tickets, food, accommodations and intra- and intercity transportations. This counts for about 80% of your travel expenses. Low to moderate budget destinations include Italy, Spain, certain parts of France, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Poland), Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey). High-budget destinations are UK and Ireland, Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland), Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Luxembourg.
Friends – You want to go to Germany, but 7 of your friends are going to Spain and invite you to come with. This can be a dilemma, but those who know themselves won’t have to think so hard about it. If you are the kind of person who likes to travel in large group, wants more security and wants to hang out with friends constantly throughout the trip, then best you follow your friends. Some people want more control of their activities and time, want more special adventures or want to meet new people – they travel alone or in small groups.
United Kingdom – the melting pot of various races and cultures of the world, UK is the most exciting country to visit, especially London. All the systems in UK are efficient, people are friendly and helpful, they are culturally rich, has lots of things to offer its visitors. Football fans will have to come here. A lot of our friends are studying in UK, a good chance to strengthen your friendships. British Pound has depreciated against Ringgit, so the best time to visit is NOW! RyanAir offers cheap travels within UK and Ireland, extending to mainland Europe.
Germany – is a must go country! Besides adoring German cities’ Old Towns, you can go to the countryside and go castle hunting. German people are friendly and interesting, you should make some friends with the Germans and learn to speak their language. The train system in Germany is extensive, so you can go anywhere you want, though I must warn you, it’s not that cheap. Flights from Russia to German cities are cheaper than to other cities in Europe. The rise of cheap European flight market makes Germany the best transit country for traveling within Europe.
Switzerland – this place offers much more than addictive locally-made chocolate. You must climb the Alps and see the view for yourself (Jungfrau). Winter being winter, heavy snow and avalanche may disappoint you. You can buy Swiss Youth Pass to travel around Switzerland with its extensive public transport (intercity trains, city buses and trams, lake Geneva boat). You’d be surprised to see how big cities like Zurich and Geneva are very quiet and peaceful! If you’re a low-budget traveler, Switzerland is not for you.
France – the country’s classic, but last time I checked Paris was dirty. If you’re looking for fun, go to Disneyland, not Eiffel Tower. There are several places worth visiting in Paris during daylight. Paris has the craziest nightlife – it’s a good chance for you to meet new people. If you like to relax more than sightseeing, go South to Marseilles, which is a dirty city too. It’s not a bad place for relaxation, but it’s certainly not the best place either.
Italy – the rise and fall of Christianity and renaissance and all took place in Italy. The people there is not as warm as you’d like them to be, the cities are dirty, but for history and architecture freaks, this is the place to be. Learn more about Christianity by visiting The Vatican City. The stuffs here are relatively cheaper than other places in Wetsern Europe, so shopping can be quite fun. People all over the world congregate in Italy, best chance for you to meet new people.
Spain – Madrid offers nothing much, so best if you travel the Southern coastline of Spain, from Barcelona to Malaga. Winter is relatively warmer and daylight is longer. Things are quite cheap. You can find excitement in crazy Barcelona and relax your way by cruising thru Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco.
Austria, Czech and Hungary – it’s recommended to visit this trio together. Intercountry train travels are not expensive. Buses are even cheaper. Austria is the most expensive country of the trio, and culturally-rich . All three countries offers great castles for anyone to visit. The Old Towns are classic Bohemian style in Czech Republic. Shopping is not bad, especially in Hungary.
Turkey – struggling to be European, this country still preserves its middle eastern cultures. The Turkish people are warm (except in Istanbul). Turkey offers a lot of exciting activities, be it in Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, Ankara and Istanbul. Turkey is not a place for you to do a lot of relaxation (else you’d be missing out on a lot of things). This is certainly a place for low-budget travelers. Shop your hearts out at Turkish bazaars, don’t forget the candies and apple teas 🙂
Egypt – Not a part of Europe, but flights from Russia to Egypt are cheap, making it a favorite destination for low-budget travelers. The winter is still cold in Egypt, but they have longer daylight. You can explore Egypt by yourselves or with your friends who are currently in Egypt. Lots of places to go, lots of activities to do, lots of delicious stuffs to eat.
Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) – It’s typical Western Europe, if you have been to any part of Western and Central Europe, Benelux won’t offer you anything new. Best explored in Summer. Don’t go for the weed.
Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland) – Eastern European countries are gaining popularity due to more accessibility and inexpensiveness. They are not as expensive as the Western European countries, suitable for low to moderate budget travelers. Architecturally and historically, the Eastern bloc is more interesting and more beautiful. Lots of places to visit. Some of the local words are of Slavic origins, so Russian-language speakers wouldn’t have difficulties understanding the board signs.
The Balkans (Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia) – these countries are steeped in rich, though often turbulent history. They are rarely explored, even in Summer. Winter can be cold, but relatively warmer along the coastline. Relatively cheap, have good places to explore and relax. This is a place like no other European countries.
The Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) – exotic and beautiful countries. Best explored in Summer.
Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway) – ultra-expensive but beautiful countries. Best explored in Summer.