Nice, France; Enjoy the Sites Without Blowing the Budget

Ooh La La! How much for that beer?

Now I know the French Riviera is expensive, especially if you are buying a house, but there are times when I think the bar owners are really taking the…well you get the idea!

Back up a little. Our party of travellers arrived in the wonderful city of Nice, nestled below the Alpes Maritimes, on the exotic Cote d’Azur surrounded by illustrious neighbours such as Cannes, St Tropez and Monte Carlo; an opportunity to haemorrhage money if ever there was one.

This was an attempt at a budget trip in the land of the flaming Lamborghini and to a great extent we were successful although a little slippage should be allowed.

wine store

We had come in on the night train from Barcelona that was an adventure in itself, a tree fall had blocked the line and after several hours stranded in a siding we were eventually bussed across the border to meet a specially arranged train to continue on our journey. Picture over two hundred tired, thirsty and hungry tourists vying for seats on a small train with half that number of places, as you can imagine it was not pretty!

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Travelling Lisbon – A Budget Gem in the Pricey Eurozone

Lounging in Lisbon

European cities don’t come cheap; however one city that breaks that mould and comes in at a great price point for the budget traveller is Lisbon.

A modern city with a great transportation system, cheap hostels, castles and cathedrals, a host of bars and a hopping nightlife Lisbon is rapidly being discovered as a budget gem in the pricey Eurozone.

Many low cost airlines fly into Lisbon from all over Europe, www.skyscanner.net is a great aggregator for finding cheap flights on the Internet. Trains also make it here direct from San Sebastian in northern Spain but from the south you will have to come through Seville to Faro and up from there.

torre de belem

Two choice areas to stay are either the Baixa, in the more modern quarter at the foot of the castle, or in the old section of the Bairro Alto. As long as you are not in high summer it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a place in either area. If you are after a hostel try hostelbookers.com or hostelworld.com but if you are looking for a pensão it may be better to call ahead and let them hold a booking as, for a couple, it could work out at a much better price.

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Travelling From Jordan to Historical Jerusalem, Israel

Guns, gals and the Jerusalem shuffle!

I had a few misgivings about my route into Israel from Jordan. I had heard that the Allenby Bridge route could be protracted and problematic but as I was already in Amman it seemed like the best idea.

The previous night, at the hotel, I had met a cool Kiwi guy who was also backpacking through the area, there were not that many of us in this troubled land, and we spent the evening cruising around Amman on a “best bar” search. We had tried several real dives before finding the mother load in a faux English pub with regulars that seemed cast from Cheers and not the hookers and heavy lidded bouncers we had so far encountered.

wailing wall

So I guess the early morning start for the shuttle bus to the Jordanian border post was not the best of ideas! We managed to grab a sandwich and a coke from a vendor who showed us the way to the bus, it was very confusing as many vans and buses leave from this part of town.

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Flamenco, Tapas and Cerveza in Seville, Spain

Some like it hot

When one thinks of Spain in the summer images of sun drenched beaches and sangria fuelled nights may come to mind or wild fiestas and castanet twirling flamenco dancers stomping to the rhythm of Spanish guitars. I think of tree lined boulevards, mighty cathedrals, ancient fortresses and, of course, tapas bars.

Welcome to Seville, my favourite city in Spain and labelled the frying pan of the Iberian Peninsula for very good reason. It is hot here, not your “oh my, it’s warm Doris” but “oh my god I am going to boil” type of heat. The worst heat is in the summer of course but even in the cooler winter months it can be well above the temperatures of the Costa del Sol.

Having said that, if you want to avoid the crowds of Feria and Semana Santa, the two busiest periods in Seville, May and June can be tolerable and September very pleasant. July and August is most definitely for the hardy types but can be rewarded by knock down hotel prices and reduced queuing for attractions.

ham hanging in a tapas bar

With such a popular city accommodation can be problematic and booking in advance in advisable any time apart from high summer. There are more and more hostels available for the budget traveller nowadays, mostly situated in the old quarter, with a complete range for those who want a little more comfort.

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