It is finally starting to warm up, and we are finally starting to see some sunshine. Yay! In honor of the start of spring, here are some springtime images from around the world.
Where are you going next?
Japan: cherry blossoms
Alaska: whales return
India: Festival of Colors
Belize: walking palm tree
New Orleans: Jackson Square azaleas
Vienna is such a fascinating city: European with a bit of old-world imperial opulence and Baroque flair. There is something here for everyone, including museums, palaces, green spaces, and some of the best coffee and music in Europe. Austria’s capital, Vienna is situated on the Danube River, which means that it is not only an easy destination as part of a trip to Europe, but it is also a frequent stop for river cruises. So you could spend a day here on a river cruise or maybe a weekend here as part of a longer trip to the region.
One of my favorite places in Vienna is Schonbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburg family. The incredible size of and the beautiful furnishings inside this palace are simply stunning, as are the gardens.
Another of my favorite places is the Spanish Riding School. I have to admit that I’ve been to Vienna twice, and I haven’t seen the Lippizanner horses perform either time. These horses are trained in classic dressage skills, putting on a show where they practically dance with the music. While I haven’t seen them perform in person, I have seen the horses in their stalls. And I’ve seen the facilities there. This is not a traditional horse barn or riding ring: there are some seriously grand chandeliers!
To really enjoy Viennese culture, a visit to a coffee house is a must. Coffee houses have a long history in Vienna, and spending time in one, chatting with friends and enjoying coffee and cakes and strudels, is a delightful way to feel very Viennese. Grab a paper, savor the aroma, and settle into the elegance and the ritual that is unchanged over the past hundred or so years.
That’s just a start of things to enjoy in Vienna. There’s also the Prater amusement park with its giant ferris wheel, dinner in a wine tavern on the outskirts of town, a ride around the historic city in a classic horse-drawn carriage, a snow globe museum (Vienna is where snow globes were invented), and of course music. Vienna is the music capital of Europe. They’ll be celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020.
Details and Recommendations
Getting There: You can fly direct to Vienna from Dulles. Or, a nicer way might be to take a river cruise. Crystal and other cruise lines offer river cruises that start and end in Vienna. Spend a couple of extra days pre- or post-cruise to see more of Vienna’s sights.
How Long: If your river cruise only stops for a day in Vienna, well, enjoy it. But if you can spend about 3 days here, you won’t be sorry.
Don’t Miss: Having a slice of Sachertorte in a coffee house. Sachertorte is a uniquely Viennese pastry that is a chocolate layer cake with apricot jam between the layers and dark chocolate icing. If you can enjoy your Sachertorte in a coffee house with some music by a Baroque ensemble, that will make it even better.
Contact: Globe Travel at 434-296-0171 to help you incorporate a visit to Vienna into your next European vacation.
European Union Travel
There has been a little bit of confusion this week about Americans traveling to the European Union. Some news outlets have been reporting that US travelers will need a visa beginning in 2021. That’s not correct. Let’s clear up some of those misconceptions. Here’s what we know…
Americans will not need a visa to enter European countries that are in the Schengen Zone (most, but not all, EU countries). However, Americans WILL need to take an extra step before they travel to the EU: getting authorization to travel via the new European Travel and Information Authorization System (ETIAS). This extra step is a security check, preventing people who may be a security threat from entering the EU.
Getting ETIAS authorization will be done by completing an online form before traveling. The ETIAS system will check the data against Interpol and other security databases. Most people will immediately receive authorization to travel. If an initial scan through the ETIAS system finds a hit with one of the security databases, your application will be processed manually.
When the system is implemented (expected to be 2021), citizens from more than 60 countries will be required to use it. These are all countries whose citizens are able to travel visa-free to the EU. The ETIAS authorization is good for three years or until the expiration of your passport. There will be a small fee (expected to be less than $10).
The ETIAS system is very similar to the United States’ ESTA system, which does a security check and provides travel authorization for citizens of other countries who are not required to have a visa for entry to the US.
I’ll admit it: I’ve watched enough old movies that the idea of travelling by train conjures up romantic ideas of beautiful country scenery, a relaxing journey, and the thrill of anticipation about what lies ahead at the next stop. For others, the idea of travelling by train might bring to mind highly efficient bullet trains that provide easy access to the heart of a big city. Still others might envision something with an old-world aura of glamour with luxurious cabins, complete with beds and bathrooms, and fine dining with sparkling crystal and linen napkins.
The truth is that rail travel is all of these things. There is a rail journey out there for anyone. Whether you want to explore an iconic route or a modern one, whether you want to take in the scenery or just get from Point A to Point B, or whether you want to sleep aboard or in a hotel, there is a rail vacation for you. Journeys can be weeks long or just 24 hours. They can be part of your vacation, or your entire vacation.
One of the things I love about traveling by rail is the ability and space to get up and move around. I don’t have to worry about directions or figuring out how to get to my destination. I just need to sit back and relax, or get up and explore. I also love how train stations are in the middle of cities. When you get off the train, you’re in the middle of it all. No need for an expensive or long shuttle from an airport on the outskirts into the heart of the city. Finally, I appreciate the ease of rail travel. If you’ve ever taken Amtrak from Charlottesville, you know that you can show up just a few minutes before your train departs and hop aboard.
Here’s just a sample of some great train journeys that make for unique vacations:
* Scenic journeys: Canadian Rockies, Switzerland’s mountains and lakes
* United States: national parks or coast-to-coast
* China’s big cities and small towns: see Shanghai, Beijing, the Terra Cotta Warriors, and the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center
* Rovos Rail: luxury train travel in Southern Africa
* Central Asia’s Silk Road
* Trans-Siberian Railroad in Russia
If you’re interested in a unique journey that is sure to spark conversation both during and after the trip, consider a rail vacation. Call us for ideas that will suit your travel style and destination. We’d love to help you hit the rails and have a fantastic journey.
I’ve always been envious of people who look so calm and collected while they are in line to board the plane. You know the ones: they have one small bag over their shoulder and are texting on their phone while they casually wait in line. I, on the other hand, feel like a disorganized mess. I’m shifting my carry-on bag from one hand to the other while I try to dig through my purse for my boarding pass so I’ll know which seat to sit in. I just had that boarding pass in my hand; where could it have gone in the last 30 seconds?
When I had this ah-ha moment a few years ago where I looked at myself compared to other travelers, I decided to get my act together. And now I have a carry-on strategy that works for me. I don’t feel like a disorganized mess. My bags are manageable, and I have a consistent place where I always put my passport and boarding pass so I’m never fishing for them and wondering where I put them.
It started when I found the perfect backpack purse. This purse goes with me every time I get on a plane. It’s the perfect way to free up my hands for other things. And it has great pockets: one is designated for important travel things: passport, boarding pass, and phone. Those items ALWAYS go in the same pocket, so I never have to wonder where they are. I am a fanatic about putting those things away and always in the same place.
I buck the wheeled carry-on trend by carrying a small carry-on bag. I’ve learned to pare down so that I take only the items that I need for my flight. My carry-on bag is big enough to hold everything I need, and small enough that it fits under the seat in front of me and isn’t heavy. I am not the person who is at the end of the boarding line and then struggles to find an overhead bin for her larger wheeled carry-on. I never have to worry about space as long as my carry-on fits under the seat.
I never pack my carry-on bag full. There is always room in it for whatever snacks and extras I might buy in the airport, as well as a water bottle that I fill at the airport. With my hands-free backpack purse and small carry-on, I don’t feel like a pack mule or a disorganized mess anymore.
What carry-on strategies do you use? Share your best tips in the comments below.
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