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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from May, 2011

isango! Customer review: Vintage Car Tour

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We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and Don our driver kept us well informed all of the way. He queued up for our Alcatraz tickets.
The weather was not to good on the day but Don said that if we were here in the Summer the Golden Gate bridge would most probably be shrouded in mist.
He was a mind of information and kept you listening.
Would we recommend this excursion our answer would be a definite yes.

Edward, United Kingdom

Edward booked: Vintage Car Tour

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isango! Customer review: Vatican Walking Tour

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This tour is the best way to see the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s. Our wonderful tour guide, Francesca, was a wealth of knowledge and her passion bought Rome’s history to life. If you are lucky enough to get Francesca as your tour guide you are in for a fantastic experience.

Janine, Australia

Janine booked: Vatican Walking Tour

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May 6th: happy birthday Eiffel Tower, 122

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Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Eiffel Tower is 122 years old!

Ok, yes, there are more important events today in the world, but it’s nice to learn a few interesting facts about the Tower on the anniversary of its opening to the public, during the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889.

Leaving aside the controversy and the uphill battle that such an iconic building has had to go through during the 2 years of its construction, 122 years later we have to admit its success is unparalleled.

Less known facts and figures:

- it took 199 workers 2 years, 2 months and 2 days to put it together (hundreds more worked in the factories where the parts were produced);

- these workers managed to fix together some 2.5 million rivets…  remember Charlie Chaplins’s “Modern Times”?

- when opened in 1889 it was reaching a height of 312 meters, and it’s now at 324 thanks to TV and radio antennas;

- there are actually 116 TV and radio antennas installed on the top…

- the architect Mr Gustave Eiffel had planned to built its private apartments on the top of the tower, today the 3rd level platform, at 274 meters. But as the elevators did not get installed in time, walking the stairs up to “home” did not turn out to be a great idea.

- the tower is extremely resistant to winds, with its top oscillating of just 12 cm (5 inches) in strong winds.

- no one knows exactly the number of steps to get to the top… the number goes from 1665 to 1802. Anyone wants to go and count?

Here’s a list of all tours and tickets to see the Eiffel Tower, including a private behind the scenes Eiffel Tower tour of the areas not open to the public (very limited tickets available).

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Europe Budget Travel Tips

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At a time of year when people are hunting for cheap flights to Europe and cringing when they see the high cost of airfare, it’s tempting to cut way back on a travel itinerary simply because of the cost. If you’re not so put off by the price of a ticket to skip your trip altogether, however, does it really make sense to get all the way to Europe only to severely limit yourself?

Europe Budget Travel

European guidebook guru Rick Steves often says that it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands on a trip but then skimp on things like the guidebook you bring, but I think the same can be said of the activities you take part in while you’re traveling, too. No, it’s not cheap to fly to Europe during the high season, and that’s especially true this year – but so long as you’re making the commitment to go, the least you can do is spend enough money so that you enjoy your trip.

The good news is that it doesn’t take a trust fund-sized fortune to enjoy a trip to Europe. There are, to be sure, less-costly places in the world to visit, but if you’ve got to see Europe there’s just no replacement. Some European destinations are cheaper than others, however – your money will go further in (for instance) Portugal or Croatia than in France or England. Even within certain countries, there are regions that are cheaper, too. In Italy, for example, the southern half of the country is often significantly cheaper than the northern half – unless it’s August and you’re vying for space on the crowded beaches.

Another area for money-saving throughout Europe is transportation. If you’re traveling in a group, you may be better off sharing the costs of a rental car. If you’ve got more time than the typical two weeks, you could save a bundle with a pass for a European coach tour. If you’re sticking to one country, find out the most common method the locals use for getting around, because that’s often the best value for your money. Going back to the Italian example, the trains have long been one of the best ways to get around the country – and although it used to be much cheaper if you bought city-to-city ticket as you traveled, you can actually save money with an Italian rail pass if your trip includes primarily high-speed trains these days. It’s a big up-front cost, but it could save you quite a bit.

Europe budgeted travel

Once you’ve settled on a destination and mapped out how you’ll save on your trip, consider picking one “splurge” activity. Perhaps it’s a lavish meal, or a hiking tour, or a guided tour of a city – whatever appeals to you most. Choosing one splurge during an otherwise frugal trip is a great way to keep from feeling like you’re skimping too much.

About the Author: Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based travel writer for BootsnAll Travel, where she’s the resident Italy expert. She has a ridiculous fondness for Venice, and although her list of the top 10 things to do in Venice doesn’t include a gondola ride, she’d love to learn to do the traditional Venetian stand-up style of rowing instead (all the while hoping she didn’t end up in the lagoon).

photos, top to bottom, by zoetnet, Meis Beeder

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