uk to europe

Newsletter - August 2006

Hello Travellers,

It has been a while since we have been in touch for which we apologise
But what an incredible 6 months we have had.  The World Cup phenomenon just blew us away.  We were extraordinarily busy.  I think 99% of operators underestimated the demand for motorhomes....and the aftermath!  We did have some vehicles returned in the most damaged way with the most bizarre excuses!

We welcome your correspondence and comments.

Our contact email address is: info@ukandeuropetravel.com for all correspondence . To unsubscribe, please just send us an email with the word "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.


In this issue:

Earlybirds -  Just ask and ye shall receive!
Travelling around the UK
More free things in Europe
Motorhomes in USA - Earlybirds and changes
More free things to do in the USA
Travelling in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia? 
Alternative Accommodation in Europe
Technology and travel
Travel Trivia - Did you know
More travel tips
Eurail Pass discounts


EARLYBIRDS, EARLYBIRDS, EARLYBIRDS!
We will shortly be updating the individual webpages with earlybird offers...but at present, virtually every motorhome and canalboat company has an earlybird offer. So just send us your details and we will advise your options.  For car rental and car leasing...these are generally released about November.  So check back or subscribe to our newsletter.

Travelling around the UK?
There have been some changes in using the Tube - for one thing  prices have gone up, some travelcards are being withdrawn, new ticket plans called 'Oyster' are being introduced  etc.  If you plan to travel around London have a look at www.tfl.gov.uk for the latest information. We can help with travel cards with any other purchase.   Another change for those hiring a car and travelling with children.  From 18 September06, new rules come into effect.  It is pretty long-winded, too much to summarise.  So if you are travelling with children, check out the rules which apply to you on http://www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk/campaigns/childcarseats/childcarseats.htm#01
Also remember that if you are travelling through Central London by car you will have to pay a 'congestion charge' if you travel between 0700hrs and  1830hrs Monday to Friday excluding public holidays.  The cost is a whopping £8 if paid on the day of travel or £10 if you pay the next day.  For more details go to:  http://www.cclondon.com/index.shtml
For current fuel prices, go to  http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/fuel/index.html  .  This link will also give you the current price of fuel in Europe.  To plan your route etc we suggest www.mappy.com
In the UK, we have a number of motorhome companies.  Most tend to be outside London (rent costs are too high for London area) and as Great Britain is not that large, it often pays to just hop on a train for an hour or so and take advantage of the lower rates.  Car rental is very competitively priced in the UK and the prices tend to be 'all inclusive' which is great...We have 7 different companies in the UK so tell us what you want and we'll be happy to compare them and send you the option that offers best value.
We also offer Britrail Passes to cover all of Britain as well as the Britrail and Ireland Pass which covers a return trip on the Stena Line between Belfast and Stranraer;  Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead or Rosslare and Fishguard as well as Heathrow and Gatwick Express and the Stansted Sky Train.  Do note however that the pass does not cover the London Underground.
To save you time and hassle, we also offer tickets for the London Eye, the  Heritage Pass and the London Pass which give free entry into over 60 London attractions over a period of 1,2,3 or 6 consecutive days.  If you plan to cross into Europe, we can  help with great rates on the Eurostar.  We can combine this with a couple of nights accommodation and transport options in Paris.
Why not consider something different on your next trip and try a narrowboat holiday?  It's a great way to relax ...great English pub meals and banks lined with historical villages and contrasting modern cities.  Or make it a holiday of adventure and exploration.  If you don't have a full week to spare, consider a short break from Saturday to Tuesday or from Wednesday to Saturday.  Or  take advantage of money saving offers like: 2006 rates for 2007 if booked by 31 October 06, or take 20% or if you are flexible about your start base or if you can travel between 29April and 08July, you can have a second week at half price.  If this is of interest, ask us for a beautiful brochure or we'll be happy to lend you one of our DVD's. Or check out http://www.ukandeuropetravel.com/cbblackprince.shtml

If you've got time to spare in London - why not catch a show?    Get half price theatre tickets at TKTS booth in Leicester Square or you can get 'no-show' tickets if you wait at the specified theatre you wish to attend at the 'returns line' about an hour before the show starts.  They start selling these tickets 15 minutes before the curtain goes up....However, if there is a specific show you MUST see and want tickets before hand, let us know and we will book these for you.

The London Pass:  Good value?  It's up to you.  We can offer you a 1, 2, 3 or 6 consecutive day pass for London .  This gives you free entry into over 60 London attractions.  As to whether this is good value or not depends on how much you can cram into the one day.  If you want to take advantage of things like the Aquarium or Zoo, leave those until last so that you can get full value for your day!  We have selected a couple of the best value items out of each section and put the normal price next to it.  You will get a 128 page colour guidebook with each booking which is a nice souvenir.
Britain at War Musuem - £7.50 / Queens Gallery £7.50 / London's Transport Museum £5.95, Florence nightingale museum - £5.80
Chelsea Football Museum £8 /Hampton Court Palace £11.80 & fast track / Kensington Palace & the Orangery £10.80 / London Aquarium £8.75 & Fast track / London Zoo £13.00 / Tower of London £13.50 & fast track / Windsor Castle  £12 /  Catamaran Roundtrip cruise on the Thames £7.50 / Wimbledon Tour experience up to £13.25 / Hamleys Toy shop - free teddy bear £13 worth when you spend over £25 / Royal airforce Museum - free simulator ride.
Note that popular attractions like:  The London Eye, or Madame Tussauds do not participate on the card.

Prices in Australian Dollars
 
Adult
Child
1 Day
$68
$46
2 Day
$106
$73
3 Day
$133
$87
6 Day
$187
$119

Free things to see & do in London -
On Sundays at 5.45pm, you can listen to a pastoral organ concert at Westminster Abbey
Speakers Corner at Hyde Park - Here's your chance to have your say or just listen.  It can be quite an experience
Childhood Museum - Open on Sunday from 1000hrs.  It is part of the Victoria and Albert. 
Petticoat Lane Market - Popular street market and one of the largest in London.  Hope you find some great bargains.
Royal  Air Force Museum, National Maritime Museum, British Museum, Southwark Cathedral


More free things in Europe - Adding to previous lists
Dublin - The Irish Museum of Modern Art / Dublin Castle / The National Gallery general collection
Stockholm - The National Maritime museum, The Army Museum, Historical Museum  as well as the Stockholm Cathedral
Rome:  The Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, St Peters Basilica
Nice - the Promenade des Anglais have buskers and entertainers each evening...An enjoyable stroll
Barcelona - All city museums are free on the first Saturday of each month, The Museum of Chocolate, the Museum of National Art at Catalunya
Florence - Duomo Cathedral including free tour with a guide, Gregorian chanting by the monks at the Piazzale Michelangelo
Venice - the Basilica at San Marco is free as is the church of Santa Maria della Salute
London -  Imperial War Museum, RIBA Architecture Gallery, the Science Museum, London Cartoon Gallery, the Tate galleries, the Victoria & Albert Museum
Amsterdam - the Floating Flower Market is a fragrant freebie or the Albert Cuypstraat markt is good as is Vondelpark to take 5 catch your breath and picnic on the lawns.

Motorhomes in USA - Earlybirds and changes
There are 4 major motorhome companies in the USA.  Cruise America, El Monte, Road Bear and Moturis.  Because they compete with each other, every year when the rates are set they make 'little' changes which you have to be alert to pick up on.  One example is that with El Monte.  For rentals prior to 01April 07, the pick up date determines the price for the entire rental - so if you start the day before high season, you scored...you paid mid season all the way through.  However if you started say 3 days before the end of high season, you paid high season rates all the way through which could cost you more.  From 01April 2007 - things have changed.  Just like with Road Bear and Moturis - you now pay according to the season in which you travel which we agree is the fairer way.  The exception now is Cruise America - so if you find that you have to start on the cusp of the season, it may save you a lot to look at Cruise America.
Mileage too is another thing to compare:  El Monte has unlimited mileage at USD$625 for up to 25 days (up until 31March07 it costs USD$585 for 30 days),
Cruise America charges USD$600 for 25 days, Road Bear charges USD$70 per day which for 25 days equates to USD$1750...
However, whilst Road Bear may charge a lot for mileage, all their rates include tax, whilst the other companies still need tax added.  To add to the myriad of options - Moturis includes 60 miles per day and   tax in their rates.  So you can see there are quite a few things to take into consideration when comparing options.  As we deal with this all day, every day, we are well placed to compare these options for you.    Then when it comes to the earlybird offerings - you again have to have a large sheet of paper and a calculator to work out which deal is best for you.  Which do you choose, free vehicle and personal kits;  half price unlimited mileage or a free one way or 15% off the daily rate?  We take all the above into account - and more - so you can be assured that we can expertly advise you on the best deal as well as other options that may cost a fraction more but will eminently suit your trip so much better.  So when you ask for a quote, do tell us your estimated mileage, or if you don't know, give us your routing and we will work it out for you, tell us too how many people are travelling  and we'll do the hard yards and send you one or two quotes for comparison.

More free things to do in the USA - Adding to previous lists
Los Angeles, CA: California Science Centre, The Getty, Travel Town Museum, Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, Hollywood Walk of Fame
San Diego, CA:  First San Diego Courthouse, San Diego Historical Society, Sheriff's Museum,Wells Fargo History Museum
San Francisco, CA: The Exploratorium, The Jewish Museum , Cable Car Museum, San Francisco Museum of Fine Art
Las Vegas, NV:  Circus Circus carnival, Bellagio Botanical Conservatory, Tropicana Tiger Habitat, Flamingo Hilton Wildlife Habitat, Caesars palace Water show, The Pirate Ship Battle/Treasure Island
Orlando, FL:  Maitland Art Centre , Rock Concert every Saturday night at Old town, Kelly Park Springs (ride the springs 'river' in an inner tube), Fort Christmas Historical Museum and park.
Miami, FL;  Matheson Hammock Park,  American Police Hall of Fame, Ichimura Japanese Garden
Newark, NJ:  US Golf House and Museum, Bergen County Zoological Park, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Equestrian Team HQ
New York, NY:  Sony Wonder Technology Lab, Whitney Museum of American Art, Federal Hall National Memorial, NY Stock Exchange
Washington DC:  National Air & Space Museum,  National Museum of natural History,  Lincoln , Roosevelt &  Jefferson Memorials,   US Supreme Court,  Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture garden, National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall,  Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington Navy Yard,  National Zoological Park
Dallas, TX:  American Museum of Miniature Arts, Dallas Horticultural Centre, Dallas Musuem of Art
Denver, CO:  Coors Brewery Tour, Denver Mint, Colorado Mines Geology Museum
Atlanta, GA:  High Museum Folk art and Photography Galleries, Centennial Olympic Park, Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, Fernbank Science Centre
Chicago, IL:  Lincoln Park Zoo & Conservatory, Adler Planetarium, Arts Club & Arts Institute of Chicago

Travelling in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia?
I am sorry to have to say this but car hire in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia is not cheap.  Here are some examples of prices based on a 1.6L car for 21 days, in Australian Dollars:
Poland - $126 per day,  Hungary - $160 per day,  Slovenia $115 per day , Czech republic - $130 per day,  Finland -  $166 per day, Norway $160 per day ....I think you get my drift.
There is a way to cut costs - lease a car.  Tax free car leasing which is a programme endorsed by the French government to encourage tourism is the answer.  Whilst cars are available without delivery fees in France, vehicles are available in other countries for a delivery fee.  So consider picking up a car in say Amsterdam if you wish to travel in Scandinavia  and Frankfurt, Munich, Milan or Rome if you wish to travel in Eastern Europe.  Lease cars can travel to countries as diverse as Albania, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Romaia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, Slovenia, Iceland, Ukarain, Bosnia, Yugoslavia etc.  You do have to be careful because each of the three leasing companies , Renault, Peugeot and Citroen have different insurance coverage.  So check when booking.  The other good thing about leasing is that there is nothing extra to pay....even the insurance has NO excess.  Costwise - as an example,  a Renault Clio 1.5L turbo diesel will cost you just Australian $1250 for 17 days and $26 per extra day.
See  http://www.ukandeuropetravel.com/carlease.shtml for more details.  Earlybird deals  for travel in 2007 are generally released in November.  You  normally get 7 free days and free or half priced delivery/collection fees from other countries.  If you are considering car leasing in 2007, send us an email now info@ukandeuropetravel.com and we will send you a $50 money off coupon and let you know when the earlybird deals are released.

If you are considering a motorhome rental, you will find the same situation - so if you can, consider picking up in Hamburg or Denmark for travel into Scandinavia or picking up in Germany and travelling to Eastern Europe.  You will save at least 30 to 40%.   See Mcrent Motorhomes Germany which is our German motorhome company which offers the best deals in Europe in terms of price and number of depots.

If you want to travel by train -  you can get rail passes for individual eastern european countries eg, Czech, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Romania etc or you can purchase a Eurail Selectpass if you are travelling in 3,4 or 5 countries bordering each other.  You also get combination passes eg:   Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia on one pass - Romania and Hungary on another or a Scanrail pass which covers travel in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.    The Scanrail pass also covers the ferry boat lines of Inland Ferry Services Rodby(Denmark) to Puttgarden (German) as well as on bus lines Lulea/boden to Haparanda  (Finland).  If you are considering travelling by rail, it can be a bit confusing - so if you like, tell us what you would like to do and we'll advise which pass is best.
One link which may be of interest to those travelling to Eastern Europe - http://eastern-europe.archill.net/indexe.php  - written by people who have published a travelogue of their travels in Poland, Slovakia and Czech etc..

Alternative Accommodation in Europe
Travelling in the Netherlands?  Have a look at www.boerenbed.nl using a translator site like babelfish  if you can't find someone to translate for you.  (Boer = farmer and bed = bed so 'farmers offering a bed'.   Basically these are farmers who offer accommodation for families at very reasonable rates from spring until start of winter.  This gives you a chance to experience a farmstay.  Great to use as a base for day trips  if you have a car.
Also look at Bungalow Park Chains.  One of the biggest is  Center Parcs who operate in a few European Countries.  Bonus!!  Info is in english. www.centerparcs.co.uk or check out  http://www.hogenboomvakantieparken.nl/index&lng=en also in English.
If in Italy have you thought about staying in a convent?  Not necessary to convert to Catholicism!  For accommodation in Rome, Assisi, Florence, San Gimingnano, San Giovanni Rotondo and Venice - have a look at  http://www.santasusanna.org/comingToRome/convents.html
Or, have you considered exchanging your home with someone else?  Have a google for 'home exchange programmes'.  There are quite a few .
Another alternative is http://www.globalfreeloaders.com which is a online community bringing people together to offer free accommodation all over the world.
Travelling in a motorhome - whilst many people are happy to just free-camp - have a look at www.france-passion.com.
This is free camping on farmer's land.  You do have to join but then you get a booklet of locations of participating farmers.

Technology and travel
This will probably be a bit controversial.  I must admit that I am not the most technically literate and until recently, got my children to send my text messages.
I do so admire people who understand all these modern new fangled inventions...they make it look so easy as they demonstrate to me how they do this and that on their palms, pda's and gps devices.  Heck, I haven't even figured out how to get the photo's off my digital camera yet.  So do you take your gadgets and gizmo's with on your next trip?
Pro's and Con's:  There is this extra luggage to carry...extra batteries or chargers and adapters and if you're travelling in a motorhome you need to go to a campsite to charge these items or take a connection to the car cigarette lighter to charge up the gizmo..  GPS:  I thought getting lost was part of the trip?  The things you get real memories from eg:  " Hey Baz, remember the time in Lusikisiki when we got lost and drove down the dry river bed in the rental car and cut the fuel pipe and how we freewheeled downwards to conserve our dripping fuel and how we just coasted into the petrol station miraculously across the road from our hotel and where it was so antiquated that the old man had move a long armed lever back and forth to pump the petrol and even more miraculously,  how he fixed the problem".
Remember too that these items can be stolen. Will you be stressed or worried that you will leave it somewhere?   Taking a laptop because you have a compulsive need to check emails?  How did you get on before?  I thought you were on holiday?  Compromise and just use an internet cafe. 
Translators?  Most often you will find someone speaks your lingo especially at tourist offices...and a smile and 'charades' go a long way!
Ok, a laptop can be real helpful.  Need to do some online banking because you've run out of money on your credit card?  You've missed your non refundable cheap air flight?   I guess a laptop can be helpful so you can look online for another or find a hotel for an extra night but what about finding a wi-fi spot?  If you can't how will you log on?.  Also good to download your photos to free up memory. 
Mobiles phone:   If you need to keep in touch back home because someone is ill a mobile phone will be useful and I guess we've all read stories on how mobile phones have been used in emergencies. 

Travel Trivia
A flight  from Amsterdam to Australia carries an average of 1000kg of food and approx 1350 litres of drinks
I hope they get bulk discounts because Carnival Cruise lines put more than 10 million chocolates on guests pillows every year
The tallest building in the world is the Petronas Towers in Malaysia
Indonesia has 167 of the 850 active volcanoes in the world
The QE2 cruise ship burns approximately  433 tons of fuel per day
The West Edmonton Mall in Canada, the worlds largest mall, has an indoor lake with dolphin shows and submarines
Japans comprises more than 3000 islands but Finland is the country which has the greatest number of islands in the world  -179 585

More Travel Tips
When you have to fill in forms on the aeroplane, never put your passport etc in the pocket of the seat in front of you
If you need a free printable calendar so you can plot and plan your itinerary, go to http://www.printfree.com/Calendars.htm
When travelling with your partner, put some of your clothes in his case and vice versa, just a precaution in case the airline loses your bag
Drink double amount of water to alcohol and do some stretching exercises every hour whilst you are awake
When travelling overseas, only take the necessary credit cards with you - leaves library cards, store credit cards at home (less to replace if  your purse/wallet are lost/stolen)
Get Metric- need to check the weather before getting dressed?   Take the degrees in Celsius, double it and add 30 ...to get an approximate in fahrenheit
Too much to take with for a long trip to Europe ?  Australians look at www.jetta.com.au
Purchased too many souvenirs?  To return things to Australia – look at www.excessbaggage.com.au
When  travelling on planes with a few stopovers/changes write your passport number on a bit of paper/sticky note and put under your watchband (saves digging out the passport all the time)
When taking books/novels for reading, take those that can be left behind or swapped for another at bookshops or youth hostels overseas (there is often a shelf of free books to take)

Eurail Passes

If you are a Eurail Pass holder you are entitled to a variety of bonuses.  These bonuses can only be obtained in Europe from the local ticket office of the company giving the bonus and your rail pass must be valid for use in that country or the country of arrival.  If you get a 100% free bonus, then it does constitute the use of a travel day.  If you only receive a discount, then the use of a travel day is not required.
Always confirm that the company you are dealing with actually honors the bonus discount to avoid any problems.  Here are some examples of the offers:  (These will be detailed in the book and Eurail map/timetable sent with every pass purchased.  Remember too that if you are under 26 you qualify for discounts of up to 40% on a wide range of passes.

Boats on Lake Constance (Bodensee) Bregenz, Konstanz, Friedrichshafen, Lindau, Radolfzell, Romanshorn, Rohrschach, Uberlingen, Isles of Reichenau and Mainau  - 50% off
Brussels or Paris to London or vice versa  on the Eurostar - a special passholder fare
Helsingor to Helsinborg (Sweden)  by ship -  when your railpass is valid in Denmark and Sweden - Free
Helsinki/Turku- Stockholm (Sweden)  by ship - when your pass is valid in Finland and Sweden - Free
Cherbourg or Roscoff in France to Rosslare in Ireland on Irish ferries - 50% off
Calais to Dover on Sea France - 50% off
Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris Nord (Line A) - Free
Koblenz to Cochem on the Mosel River or to Mainz by ship - Free
Sassnitz to Trelleborg in Sweden, when your pass is valid in Germany and Sweden, on the night ferry - Free
Mannheim - Heidelberg - Heilbronn - Rotheenburg ob der Tauber - Ansbach - Nuremberg  by bus - 60% off
Patras/Igounemitsa/Brindisi (Italy)  - HML and Blue Star Ferries (only available if Rail Pass is Valid in Greece and Italy)  - 50% off
Patras-Bari/Ancona (Italy) & Igounemitsa to Bari (Italy) - Superfast Ferries (only available is Rail Pass is Valid in Greece and Italy)  - Free
Barcelona & Valencia to Menorca, Barcelona to Ibiza, Barcelona & Valencia to Palma de Mallorca  and Algercias to Tanger (Morocco) - 20% off
Jungfrau Region Railways in Switzerland - 25% off

So if you have any questions or comments...just drop us an email...

Until the next time, Stay safe and Happy Travelling....

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