Guides from our travels

Day-to-day details & all costs of our trips

Postal Stamps Memorabilia
Make a memory of every place you visit by getting a postal stamp from local post office

Do's, don'ts, advice, how-to's

Tips for driving abroad

March 26, 2009

While on foreign roads, it’s important that you do not commit any driving offences, both for your own safety and the safety of others. The basic rules of the highway are the same wherever you are.

1. Start by acquiring an International Drivers Permit (for U.S. residents, see below), which is your driver’s license abroad. Also, keep extra copies of your current passport photographs ready.

2. Carry both your International Drivers Permit and your State Driver’s License with you at all times.

3. If you rent a car, always check the brakes, seatbelts, tires, emergency procedures and purchase the liability insurance too. Check for signs of previous damage and draw this to the attention of the rental company prior to driving off. Get enough contact information of the rental company n case of emergency.

4. Driving rules differ in countries, therefore it’s a good idea to get a copy of the local regulations before you motor down the countryside. Check the laws before you drive in any country. Make sure you have emergency numbers – hotel, friend, police, ambulance, etc.

5. Remember most countries especially European nations have extremely strict drink driving laws, so no drinking and driving. Same in the case of speeding and other traffic offences which are subject to on-the-spot fines.

6. Seat Belts. No matter where you are driving, it is imperative that you wear your seat belt. In almost all countries this is a strict law, but aside from that remember that seatbelts are there to save your life, it makes sense to use them.

7. Always know the route you will be traveling. It’s a good idea to carry a road map and chart your course before leaving. Microsoft’s AutoRoute is an excellent GPS based software while driving in (most of) Europe.

9. Keep a first aid kit in the car and bring along plenty of water and munchies. It may be cheaper to buy these at local stores prior to the trip rather than at highway stops. It might also save you some extra stops.

101. If you think you’re lost, take the first exit (if on a freeway), stop by the nearest petrol pump (gas station) and ask for directions. Be polite and make sure you pronounce your destination correct and ask if the person speaks English (if you don’t speak local language – having a language translate guide helps). Also make sure to remember the streets you took to reach the gas station – you wanna go back back on your route, don’t you?!

11. Avoid giving lifts to hitchhikers and strangers.

International Driving Permit (U.S. residents only)
Valid in over 150 countries, the International Driving Permit contains your name, photo and driver information translated into ten languages.


U.S. International Driving Permit

U.S. International Driving Permit

Before you travel the world, travel to any AAA office for your International Driving Permit. Bring your valid U.S. driver’s license, $15 (Funds must be in U.S. dollars. Acceptable forms of payment are U.S. bank check or money order payable to AAA and these major credit cards with expiration date- Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card), and two ORIGINAL passport-type photos – also available at AAA offices (Digital photographs are acceptable, however, they must be of a certain quality. Please read here for guidelines). You may also wish to fill out our International Driving Permit application in advance. NOTE: International Driving Permits may not be issued more than six (6) months in advance of desired effective date. Simply print out the application, fill in the information requested and bring it with you to the AAA office nearest you.


If you prefer to secure your International Driving Permit through the mail, enclose your completed application form, two ORIGINAL passport-type photos each signed on the back, a $15 permit fee and a photocopy of both sides of your driver’s license and mail them to the AAA office nearest you. Include additional U.S. funds for expedited return mail service, if desired. See or for rates.

NOTE: If you are currently overseas you can mail your completed application to the following office and address:
1000 AAA Dr.
Heathrow, FL
Attn: Mailstop #28

The IDP is valid for 1 year from the date of issue.

iStopOver – Search rooms and offices for rent

March 25, 2009

If you’re comfortable staying at a stranger’s home while traveling, iStopOver is a service that connects travelers with locals renting rooms—at rates well below local hotels. And is the place on the Internet for direct rental of excess capacity in homes and offices.

Guests (Travelers) use iStopOver to find accommodation in someone’s home as an alternative to paying high hotel rates. Usually priced well below average hotel rooms, renting a room on iStopOver offers real value. You won’t find impersonal check-in, loud noise from other guests, and extra charges at every step. In many cases, it gives you the opportunity to “live like a local”.


iStopOver Search results for New York

iStopOver Search results for New York

The service operates like a hotel search engine, you enter the city and the dates you’ll be visiting that city and iStopOver returns the available rooms for rent. You can check out pictures of the location, see it on a Google Maps mashup, the available price, and if the room has been rented consistently even see ratings from previous visitors. Everything is handled by iStopOver, including the transfer of money between parties. When you arrive at your selected location you give the owner a code which they use to tell iStopOver that you’ve arrived. If things aren’t like they promised you can leave without ever “checking in” and iStopOver will refund your money.

Hosts (Homeowners/Office managers) use iStopOver to post listings to rent out excess capacity in their home or office, on a short-term basis, directly to Guests. iStopOver is the facilitator to connect Guests to Hosts. The interaction and rental process takes place directly between the Host and the Guest – in Internet terms, a peer-to-peer process. There are no agencies, no pressure – you deal directly with each other.

In the home market, iStopOver facilitates short-term home-away-from-home B&B style accommodation with good, old- fashioned value. We believe that someone, halfway around the world, is as much your neighbor as the guy next door, it’s just a longer walk to borrow a cup of sugar.


Yotel – pod cabins at airports

March 19, 2009
Premium Cabin

Premium Cabin

Any weary traveler who has attempted to slumber on a microscopic airport chair or hard-as-rock bench, or even tried to find a place to plug in a laptop, will wonder why no one has ever thought of this before: a cozy, luxurious, private sleeping pod where you can peacefully rest away the hours between arduous flights. 

With the help from Dubai- and Kuwait- based IFA Hotels & Resorts, the concept of small privacy pods inside the airport terminal was born – Yotel. The pods are quietly taking over – two Yotels are now located in London’s Gatwick (opened in July 2007) and Heathrow (opened in November 2007) airports, and one in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in early 2008. 

But will this particular invasion of the pods be warmly welcomed? The awful truth is that most airports want their “guests” to remain upright and shopping, since retail is one of their major revenue streams. All major airport hotels charge by the night, not the hour. Yotel’s prices are approximately $50 for four hours in a 23 sq. foot standard cabin (with twin size bed and 20-inch TV) and $80 for four hours in a 33 sq. foot premium cabin (with double bed and 23-inch TV), and hourly rates go up incrementally after that. The pods, which are substantially smaller than a hotel room, include a private shower, a desk and chair and free Wi-Fi. Apart from work, sleep and other bedside activities there’s not a lot of room for mush else.

The bed is firm, hand-layered organic cotton, latex-covered mattress specially commissioned from a company specializing in baby cots. Twenty-four room service offer snacks and small meals.

Standard Cabin

Standard Cabin

You can choose between Premium (double), Twin (2 large singles – bunk style) Standard (large single) cabins with en suite bathrooms, flat screen TV’s, free Wi-Fi and 24 hour in cabin service.

Yotel Website
Premium Cabin floor plan
Standard Cabin floor plan
Twin Cabin floor plan

Video 1 [YouTube]
Video 2 [YouTube]

Ice Hotels

March 18, 2009

Hôtel De GlaceAll the information you need to know for Ice Hotels in the world. This covers Hôtel De Glace (Canada), Ice Lodge (Norway), Ice Hotel (Sweden), Hotel Kakslauttanen’s Igloo Village (Finland)

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All about Yellow Fever

March 18, 2009

Yellow fever (also called yellow jack, or sometimes black vomit or American Plague) is an acute viral disease. It is an important cause of hemorrhagic illness in many African and South American countries despite existence of an effective vaccine. The yellow refers to the jaundice symptoms that affect some patients.

Yellow fever begins suddenly after an incubation period of three to five days in the human body. In mild cases only fever and headache may be present. Within 24 hours about 15% develop a more severe form, in which they enter the “toxic phase” characterized by fever, chills, bleeding into the skin, paradoxically slow heartbeat, headache, back pains, and extreme prostration. Nausea, vomiting, and constipation are common. Jaundice usually appears on the second or third day. After the third day the symptoms recede, only to return with increased severity in the final stage, during which there is a marked tendency to hemorrhage internally; the characteristic “coffee ground” vomitus contains blood. The patient then lapses into delirium and coma, followed by death in about 50% of those who enter the toxic phase.

Range in Africa

Range in Africa

Range in South America

Range in South America


There is no true cure for yellow fever, therefore vaccination is important. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive only. Fluid replacement, fighting hypotension and transfusion of blood derivates is generally needed only in severe cases. In cases that result in acute renal failure, dialysis may be necessary.


Yellow fever is preventable by a relatively safe, effective vaccine. For all eligible persons, a single injection of 0.5 mL of reconstituted vaccine should be administered subcutaneously.

Yellow fever vaccination must be given at a certified center in possession of an official “Uniform Stamp” which can be used to validate the ICVP. State health departments are responsible for designating nonfederal yellow fever vaccination centers and issuing Uniform Stamps to health-care providers. The ICVP must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine. Most city, county, and state health department’s immunization or travel clinics, as well as private travel clinics or individual health-care providers are designated sites. Information about the location and hours of yellow fever vaccination centers may be obtained by contacting local or state health departments or visiting CDC’s Travelers’ Health website. Health-care providers should emphasize to travelers that an ICVP must be validated to be acceptable to quarantine authorities. Failure to secure validations can cause a traveler to be revaccinated, quarantined, or denied entry.

The following section of the ICVP should be completed at the time of vaccination:

WHO: Yellow Fever Fact Sheet
CDC: Yellow Fever
CDC: Prevention
U.S. CDC approved list of Vaccination centers in U.S.
CDC: Yellow Fever PDF [PDF]

Santa Ynez trail in Los Angeles

March 15, 2009

One of the short and easy-to-hike trails in the Santa Monica mountains is the Santa Ynez trails. Located in the town of Pacific Palisades, reaching this trail is easy!

Difficulty level: Easy

Trail distance: 2.5 miles

Vereda De La Montura

Vereda De La Montura

Driving Directions: The interstate 10-West merges in the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, US-1) at Santa Monica. Keep driving on PCH-1 and take a right on Sunset Blvd. Drive east 0.5 miles and take a left turn at Palisades Drive. In about 2.4 miles take a left turn at Vereda De La Montura and in a few yards you will see the gated entry of Topanga State Park. Once you are on Palisades Drive, lookout for the Santa Ynez Trail sign pointing to the left on Vereda De La Montura.

Topanga State Park entry

Topanga State Park entry

Start from the gated entrance off Vereda De La Montura and proceed down the concrete path to the controlled flood channel. In a few yards you’ll pass over a concrete wash laden with concrete stepping stones. Make sure to take that as the floor can be slippery with algae growing in the water.

Continue on the easy trail path upstream as the stream disappears and re-appears along the canyon floor.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

After about 0.5 miles you will reach a junction where the left path will take you to the Topanga Trail path out of the canyon and ascend to the Trippet Ranch and evetually to Eagle Rock (about 3.5 miles), and the right path will lead to the waterfall, one mile further.

A few yards after the “right turn”, you will come across an intersection – one which goes straight and other which take you up the mountains (on the left). Take the path going up the mountain to reach the waterfall. If you take the straight road from the intersection, you will be heading back to the starting point.

As you near your destination, you will come across a large, 12-foot boulder blocking the canyon. Climb the first rope attached to the tree, up the boulder. After descending the boulder and a few boulder-hopping brings you to the 18-foot waterfall where your trail ends.

1. Take lots of water. It’s good to take some sandwiches to eat at your destination.

2. You will see a lot of people on the trail and almost everyone was clueless about the waterfall, so if you’re not sure about your path, keep asking and someone might be willing to show you the way.

3. The water in the stream is cold – maybe freezing in winter & spring. Watch out for water-insects if you see yourself taking a leg-dip in the water (see picture below).

4. It’s free!

Water Insect

Water Insect

Stream along Santa Ynez Trail

Stream along Santa Ynez Trail


Santa Ynez 1

Santa Ynez 1

Santa Ynez 2

Santa Ynez 2

Santa Ynez 3

Santa Ynez 3

Santa Ynez 5

Santa Ynez 5

Santa Ynez 6

Santa Ynez 6

Santa Ynez 7

Santa Ynez 7

Santa Ynez 8

Santa Ynez 8

Øresund Bridge – linking Sweden & Denmark

March 12, 2009

Oresun Bridge

Oresun Bridge

The Øresund Bridge (locally called Øresundsbron) is the bridge that connects Øresund in Denmark with Skane, Sweden, in a total length of just over 10 miles (16,4 km). This is the road connection between the metropolitan areas of Copenhagen and Malmö. The international European route E20 runs across the bridge and through the tunnel via the two lane motorway (a 4-lane road carrying 6 million vehicles per year), as does the Öresund Railway Line (two train tracks carrying about 8 million people each year). Due to the Schengen Agreement, there are no passport or customs controls.

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Holi – Festival of colors

March 12, 2009
Holi (Source: Wikipedia)

Holi (Source: Wikipedia)

Holi, also called the Festival of Colours, is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India, Nepal, and countries with large Hindu diaspora. Also known as Dolyatra in West Bengal of India and Bangladesh, and Boshonto Utsav.

Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad had when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in Andhra Pradesh. The main day, Holi, also known as Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other.

Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalugna or Falguna (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi (Dhulandi) is on 11th March and Holika Dahan is on 10th March.

Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours.

For more information click here to see detailed description on Wikipedia.
Click here to see some pictures.

List of prohibited Items from TSA website

March 8, 2009

Ever wondered what items are you allowed to carry in your checked luggage and carry-on luggage? Here’s a comprehensive list from TSA’s (Transport Security Administration) website (Dated 09-March-2009):

Source: TSA: prohibited Items

Sharp Objects

Item Carry-on Checked
Box Cutters No Yes
Ice Axes/Ice Picks No Yes
Knives – except for plastic or round bladed butter knives No Yes
Meat Cleavers No Yes
Razor-Type Blades – such as box cutters, utility knives, razor blades not in a cartridge, but excluding safety razors. No Yes
Sabers No Yes
Scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches Yes Yes
Swords No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.

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Sporting Goods

Item Carry-on Checked
Baseball Bats No Yes
Bows and Arrows No Yes
Cricket Bats No Yes
Golf Clubs No Yes
Hockey Sticks No Yes
Lacrosse Sticks No Yes
Pool Cues No Yes
Ski Poles No Yes
Spear Guns No Yes
For more information, please read our Traveling with Special Items section.

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Guns & Firearms

Item Carry-on Checked
Ammunition – Check with your airline or travel agent to see if ammunition is permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. If ammunition is permitted, it must be declared to the airline at check-in. Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply. Read Firearms & Ammunition section. No Yes
BB guns No Yes
Compressed Air Guns (to include paintball markers) – Carried in checked luggage without compressed air cylinder attached. No Yes
Firearms – firearms carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. Read our Firearms & Ammunition section. No Yes
Flare Guns – May be carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. Read our section on Camping. No Yes
Flares No No
Gun Lighters No Yes
Gun Powder including black powder and percussion caps No No
Parts of Guns and Firearms No Yes
Pellet Guns No Yes
Realistic Replicas of Firearms No Yes
Starter Pistols No Yes
NOTE: Check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply.

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Item Carry-on Checked
Axes and Hatchets No Yes
Cattle Prods No Yes
Crowbars No Yes
Hammers No Yes
Drills and drill bits (including cordless portable power drills) No Yes
Saws (including cordless portable power saws) No Yes
Tools (greater than seven inches in length) No Yes
Tools (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Wrenches and Pliers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

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Martial Arts & Self Defense Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Billy Clubs No Yes
Black Jacks No Yes
Brass Knuckles No Yes
Kubatons No Yes
Mace/Pepper Spray – One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. For more information visit, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly. No Yes
Martial Arts Weapons No Yes
Night Sticks No Yes
Nunchakus No Yes
Stun Guns/Shocking Devices No Yes
Throwing Stars No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

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Explosive & Flammable Materials, Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items

Explosive Materials Carry-on Checked
Blasting Caps No No
Dynamite No No
Fireworks No No
Flares (in any form) No No
Hand Grenades No No
Plastic Explosives No No
Realistic Replicas of Explosives No No
Flammable Items Carry-on Checked
Aerosol (any except for personal care or toiletries in limited quantities) No No
Fuels (including cooking fuels and any flammable liquid fuel) No No
Gasoline No No
Gas Torches No No
Lighter Fluid No No
Common Lighters – Lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage. Lighters with fuel are prohibited in checked baggage, unless they adhere to the Department of Transportation (DOT) exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case. If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please leave it at home. Yes No
Torch Lighters – Torch lighters create a thin, needle-like flame that is hotter (reaching 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit) and more intense than those from common lighters. Torch lighters are often used for pipes and cigars, and maintain a consistent stream of air-propelled fire regardless of the angle at which it is held. Torch lighters continue to be banned. No No
Strike-anywhere Matches – One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are permitted as carry-on items, but all matches are prohibited in checked baggage. No No
Flammable Paints (See Other Items below for non-flammable paints) No No
Turpentine and Paint Thinner No No
Realistic Replicas of Incendiaries No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly.
Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items Carry-on Checked
Chlorine for Pools and Spas No No
Small compressed gas cartridges

(Up to 2 in life vests and 2 spares)

Yes Yes
Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders No No
Liquid Bleach No No
Spillable Batteries – except those in wheelchairs No No
Spray Paint No No
Tear Gas No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at

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Other Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Gel-type candles No Yes
Gel shoe inserts – Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, but shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed and must be removed and screened. Read more on shoe screening policy. No Yes
Non-flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint No No
Snow globes and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation. No Yes

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Listen to ‘tourcasts’ on any MP3 device

March 4, 2009

Tourcaster offers audio-tours which can be purchased from their website and download on to your iPod or any MP3 device.

Offering audio-tours of places from over 35 countries, the tourcasts, as they call it, can cost anything from $4.85 to $24.95. Of course, you can listen to a 1 minute preview of the tourcasts before you decide to purchase. Registration is simple and quick, and you can gift a tourcast to a friend for the same price.

What: tourcasts (MP3) for download
Cost: $4.95 to $24.95
Free: I saw only one tourcast free!

If you have used their service or tourcasts, let us know what you think. Send an email:

South America – Visa & Reciprocity fees

March 4, 2009
Photo by

Photo by

BootsnAll have come up with a detailed breakdown of visa and reciprocity fees for Americans traveling to South America. The article also lists all the legal workarounds and reduce the number of fees you may wind up paying, which can be very helpful.

Visa and Reciprocity Fees in South America, and How to Legally Get Around Many of Them [BootsnAll]

Star Alliance Round the world fare

March 3, 2009


The Star Alliance Round the World Fare offers you 28 airlines flying to over 1,500 airport destinations in 181 countries. Which means there’s no limit to the experiences you can enjoy, not to mention the memories you can take home. Remember that surcharges apply on a lot of airlines on different routes for different classes of travel.

Star Alliance Round the World fare applies for round the world travel from and to countries which are served by the following Star Alliance member carriers:

  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Blue 1
  • BMI
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines (until 31 Oct 2011)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Spanair
  • TAM Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United
  • US Airways

In general, Round the World fares are offered on all Star Alliance operating and code-shared flight numbers including flights operated by regional partner airlines.

Find out more

Koninginnedag (Queen’s day) in Netherlands

March 2, 2009

Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands and it’s territories on 30 April (or on 29 April if the 30th is a Sunday). Queen’s Day celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands and is supposed to be a day of national unity and “togetherness” (Dutch: saamhorigheid). The tradition started on 31 August 1885 on the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, later Queen Wilhelmina. Since 1949, after the ascension of Queen Juliana, Queen’s Day is Queen Juliana’s birthday on 30 April. Although Queen Beatrix’s birthday is on 31 January, she officially celebrates her birthday on 30 April.

Queen’s Day is known for its “freemarket” (Dutch: vrijmarkt) all over the country, where everybody is allowed to sell things in the streets. Other activities during Queen’s Day are children’s games, individual musical performances, and music concerts. The night before Queen’s Day is celebrated too in some cities, and this is called Queen’s Night (Dutch: Koninginnenacht). The largest celebration of Queen’s Day is in Amsterdam and of Queen’s Night in The Hague. During the celebrations as reference to the colours of the House of Orange-Nassau, people dress in the colour orange, which is sometimes called “orange craze” (Dutch: oranjegekte).

Some of the highlights of the “celebrations” are:
This is a typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight, referring to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. There are orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange. It is not uncommon for people to impersonate the queen, not always in a flattering manner (rudely).

The so-called ‘vrijmarkt‘ (‘freemarket’) is similar to a US car boot sale or Flea market. Owing to a holiday dispensation from the Dutch government, people do not need to pay taxes on their sales. The items sold are traditionally old rubbish, but for commercial traders this is also an extremely profitable day. The freemarket in Amsterdam attracts the most visitors. Prices tend to be very negotiable and drop as the day progresses. By the end of the festivities, much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked through until it’s hauled off by local municipalities shortly after. There are, however, some areas where the original style is preserved. One of these is the Jordaan (pronounced: Yordaan), a gentrified former working class neighborhood, where prices are very low because the sale is just an excuse to have a nice day and a friendly chat with complete strangers. Sections of the Jordaan can become so full of pedestrians that they become completely gridlocked, despite the absence of cars. Another is the Vondelpark (pronounced: Fondelpark), which is officially reserved for children. Especially there, but also elsewhere, there are many other activities besides selling second hand goods, such as performing music or providing other entertainment for money.

Open air concerts
In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 visitors. Many Dutch people living abroad try to make the pilgrimage home to experience this holiday each year. Booking accommodations in Amsterdam and elsewhere for Queen’s Day is notoriously difficult, requiring booking 6 months or more ahead.

Queen’s Night
During the preceding ‘koninginnenacht‘ (Queen’s Night) many bars and clubs throughout the Netherlands (particularly in Amsterdam and The Hague) hold special events catering to revelers that last all night long. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Source: Wikipedia

Some tips:
1. Reach early (if you are staying out of the city) to avoid the rush in trains and on the streets. Most of the concerts start early (or been going on all night-previous).

2. You can buy a glass of beer for €5 at any of the hundreds of beer-selling counters. Remember to save that glass because you can refill for €2 at any of the counters. You don’t necessarily have to be at the same counter where you purchased your first one.

3. Wear something Orange. Wait – wear everything orange, because you’d feel totally out of place if you don’t!

4. Be safe – Take care of your belongings and beware of pickpockets. There may be at least a million people in the city and while you’re clicking away those moments, you may not realize that someone might be robbing you.

5. Frequency of the trains is very less and they are packed with people going to the city. Trams and cars are not allowed to run and Amsterdam being a relatively small city, walking around is the best way to experience the energy and celebrations.

6. Officials install “pole-toilets” across the city (which can be used by men) and public toilets are not clean and usually used by women.


Koninginnedag - Ex-Porn Star Concert

Koninginnedag - Ex-Porn Star Concert



Koninginnedag - Free market

Koninginnedag - Free market



Koninginnedag Koninginnedag
Koninginnedag Koninginnedag - Open-air Concert

Open-air toilets for men

Open-air toilets for men

Travel shows and things we miss on them

March 1, 2009

While I watch the travels shows on TV, the one thing I keep wondering is why would they not show titles on the screen – titles on costs or just the names of cities or places the hosts are visiting? They say those names of the cities or places they are visiting, but some of the foreign names are spelt & prnounced differently, and if you – as a prominent visitior – want to visit those places you’d ask yourself – “what was that name (s)he just said?” I was watching a show where the host was in Cĕsky Krumlov (pronounced Chesky Krumlof) in Czech Republic, which, for a new traveler, who’d love to visit, would go to Google and search for “Chesky Krumlof” and just maybe find the actual place. It would have somewhat, or maybe really, helped to know it’s spelt as Cĕsky Krumlov!

Samatha Brown’s “Passport to Europe” (Travel Channel) has some titles on the screen, but Lonely Planet series and Rick Steves’ Europe series don’t show any titles. Some of the things we would love to see on the screen are:
1. Name of places that are being visited – this is the least we can ask for!

2. Hotels
2a. Name of the hotel
2a. Reservation phone number
2b. Website URL of the Hotel, maybe!
2c. Cost of the rooms – single occupancy, double… blah blah
2d. How about a rating – a la
2e. Not that we’re asking for too much, but how about any other cheaper options!

3. High-level (zoomed out) map of where the city exactly is in this big wide world.

4. Ok, so you meet these amazing local people who look extremly happy to show you around; so can we meet them too, please? If they are people who have enrolled in websites like, and would love to show you around, then can you please (ask them and if they are ok then) give us their email address?

5. We like your commuting options recommendations, but can you please show some information on those options – like bus number or metro routes.

6. Oh and how about mentioning costs of the tickets for the commute options – and it would be wonderful if you can tell us where we can purchase them from?

Fine, we will buy your travel guides and look up all this information, but it’d be really nice of you if you can give basic information about [some of] the items we mentioned above.

We, at Travel on a dollar, would be bringing you these information and making sure you have options on your travel destinations. Keep visiting for more.


Scandinavia Trip – Maps of the trip

February 26, 2009

For a 23-day trip from Los Angeles, US to the four Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – and Estonia, here are the maps. Click on each of them to see a larger version:

Map 1 – Northern Europe map with cities marked

Map 2 – Scandinavia map with cities marked

Map 3 – Scandinavia map with route shown
See the itinerary to see what the numbers mean.

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