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Archive for January, 2013

About the county

Czech Republic is located in Central Europe bordering Poland to the north, Germany to the northwest and west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital of Czech Republic is Prague which is also the biggest city of Czech Republic and a popular tourist destination. Czech Republic became a member of European Union in May, 2004. Czech Republic was earlier a part of Czechoslovakia which was dissolved in January, 1993 and was split into what is now called Czech and Slovak Republics. Brno, Ostrava, Plze?, Olomouc, , ?esk? Bud?jovice, Zl?n, Hradec Kr?lov?, ?st? nad Labem, Pardubice and Karlovy Vary are the other important cities of Czech Republic. Czech Republic is divided into two parts based on geographical and cultural classification. They are Bohemia and Moravia. Bohemian cities and towns are popular for their spas and wine vineyards. It is also home to many castles which are open for visitors. One of the other tourism attractions is the availability of hundreds of miles of marked trails for hiking, cycling and skiing.

Population & Languages

The population of Czech Republic is roughly 10.2 million and the official language being spoken is Czech.

Electricity

The voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The type of plug used is Round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin

Geographic Location

It is located in Central Europe bordering Poland to the north, Germany to the northwest and west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. It is basically a landlocked country strategically located on some of the most important land routes in Europe.

Climate

The climate of Czech Republic can be termed as Temperate with hot summers and cold overcast winters. It also gets snow. Most of the rain comes down in summer. Due to different altitudes the variation of temperatures is diverse. The temperatures are relatively low at high altitudes and more precipitation. The temperatures average only -0.4?C at high altitude areas whereas the temperatures can average as high as 10?C in low altitude areas.

Local Customs

Dressing should be conservative and casual except at formal dinners or good hotels or restaurants. Tipping is usually 5 to 10 percent in restaurant, hotels and taxis.

Attractions

The Castle District (Hrad?any) ? It has some of the best churches and museums. It also has some beautiful gardens, fortifications and state apartments also.

St Vitus Cathedral ? It is located in the Castle District, the prominent feature of this cathedral is the spires which soar high in the sky. It is also country?s largest church with great architecture.

Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) ? This is one of the most popular tourist spots of the city and should not be missed.

Old Town Square (Starom?stsk? N?mest?) ? It is the most vibrant square of Prague with many historical structures. It also hosts various markets every year like yearly Christmas market.

The Jewish Museum ? It is the largest Jewish Museum in Central Europe with a vast collection of Judaic art works.
Vy?ehrad ? Is a great hill fort built on a rock above the river.

Travel

By Air ? The national airline of Czech Republic is Czech Airlines. There are many other small and popular international airlines operating from Czech Republic. The major airport is Prague Ruzyne International Airport (PRG). The airport is located approximately 10 miles north west of Prague.

By Rail ? The country is part of the extensive network of trains connecting the European cities. If you are coming from Western Europe the most convenient connections are via Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich to Prague.

Duty Free Items
1. 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg tobacco for EU countries.
2. 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco for Non-EU countries.
3. 10 liter of spirits with alcohol content over 22%, or 20 liter of alcoholic beverages with alcohol volume less than 22%, or 90 liter of wine or 60 liter of sparkling wine, or 110 liter of beer for EU countries.
4. 1 liter spirits or 2 liter wine for Non-EU countries.
5. 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette
6. Food, fruits, medications and flowers for personal use
7. Gifts up to ?175

Prohibited Items

Un-canned goods, meat or dairy products, Narcotics, firearms, ammunition, weapons, eggs, plants, endangered species, fireworks and alcoholic beverages that contain more than sixty per cent alcohol.



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Travel Tips to European Countries

About the Country

Finland is a country of islands, lakes, and forests. The modern capital city of Finland is Helsinki and is filled with museums and galleries. In summers, sun never sets here and vice versa in the winters.

Culture

While in Finland, greet the locals by a handshake. The people here are quite reserved and don?t open up easily. Leave shoes outside the house when going over to someone?s house. It is customary to wait till the toast is being raised at the dinner table. Host raises the toast by saying ?kippis? or ?skol?. People dress casually most of the times.

Travel

Finnair is the national airline of Finland. Other airlines that fly to Finland are Air France, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, American Airline, British Airways, KLM, Swiss airline, Lufthansa, and United airlines. The major airport of Finland is Helsinki airport. It is 19km away from the city and it takes about 25 minutes to get to the city from the airport. Finnair provides buses for the passengers. Taxis and hotel coaches are also available. The facilities provided at the airport are duty free shops, car hire, bank, hotel reservation service, conference room, restaurant, and a multimedia center. Other than Helsinki airport, there are about 22 other airports and Blue 1 is the domestic airline which operates within Finland. Times to time cheap offers are being announced by the airlines. Prior checking of such offers will prove to be of great help.

If deciding to go by the sea, ferry services are provided and the major ports are Naantali, Vaasa and Turku. These ferries connect to Rostock, Kapellsk?r, Grisslehamn, and Travem?nde. Some of the cruises offer small cabins along with the provision of meals if staying aboard overnight.

Trains from St Petersburg and Moscow can also be boarded. All the trains are clean and very comfortable. Car-carrier trains also operate in Finland. Traveling by rail proves to be inexpensive and efficient and also great options for enjoying sight seeing. Avail the unlimited train travel offer of Inter-Rail pass or Eurailpass. There are offers for elderly people and children, check them out.

When traveling by road there are chances of running into an elk or reindeer. In such cases, police should be reported immediately. Blowing horn for small reasons should be avoided. Keep your car to the right. Gas stations accept credit cards. Laws about seat belt and drinking while driving should be strictly followed. Extra precautions must been taken if taking caravan along. National driving license or International Driving Permit and car insurance must be there with you at all times. Coach Service is also available and connects to even the remote places. Taxis can be hired at the airport and railway stations and tipping is considered offensive here. Check out agents in Helsinki who run a rent-a-car business for hiring cars.

Duty Free Items

1. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco or 100 cigarillos
2. 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette
3. 2litre of alcoholic beverages of less than 22 per cent by volume or 1litre of alcoholic beverages of more than 22 per cent by volume, 2litre of sparkling wine and 16litre of beer
4. 100g of tea or 40g of tea extract and essence and 500g of coffee or 200g of coffee extract or essence

Tobacco and alcohol can be carried by people over 18 years of age. Agricultural and food items should be avoided. Certain medicines require a doctor?s prescription for verification. Firearms and sharp objects are strictly prohibited.



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Travel Tips to European Countries: Albania

Albania is a mountainous country and the one of the smallest countries of Europe. The residents supposedly descended from ancient Illyrians.

Culture

The culture of Albania is majorly influenced by that of the mainland Greeks especially in the urban locality; nodding one?s head means ?no? where as shaking the head means ?yes?. To greet someone, handshaking is preferred, though Shoku (Comrade) was used before, which has been long forgotten now. People dress informally here. Swim suits are meant for the beaches, otherwise women are expected not to dress in a revealing outfit. When addressing someone prefix Zoti(Mr) or Zonja(Mrs) before the name and always remember to carry some gifts when visiting someone, although flowers aren?t much acceptable. The guests are served with coffee, raki or sweets. Smokers don?t have to worry much, but they should avoid it where they see a sign of Ndalohet Duhani or Ndalohet pirja e duhanit.

Travelling within the country

Buses with relatively cheap fares operate in the main cities of the country or taxis are another choice which provided service for some main hotels.
Visit Dajti Mountain and experience Dajti Ekspres Cable car for an unforgettable 15 minute ride passing through Dajt Oark to reach Tirana. The route is about 4.2 km long and the ride costs ?6.5.Alpha Yachting provides crewed yacht which is a luxury in itself. Tirana Bank is the best place for withdrawing money as it allows access to Visa cards.

Eating Out

Restaurants are not always sufficiently heated, so always wear warm clothes if out in the night during winters. Foreigners are charged more than the locals. Both the entry fees as well as any merchandise will be on a higher scale, so it?s better not to reveal the fact that you are a foreigner when out on the streets.

Site Seeing

If you enjoy canoeing, this is the right place to be. There are places right outside Tirana which is an amazing site for not just canoeing, but also rock climbing, hiking, and camping.

Accommodation

If you want a 5-Star ambience, try The Sheraton Tirana Hotel and Towers, which is situated in the middle of a shopping and entertainment center. There are about 151 rooms and 56 suites. So, along with the comfort, one can shop at once convenience here. Another hotel which provides all modern facilities is Hotel Mondial. It is located 1000 m away from the city and is also a good example of traditional architecture.

Getting There

One of the best and the easiest means is to go by air. Albanian Airlines is the national airline which works in collaboration with Tyrolean Airways, and provides service to almost all the big European cities. The airport, Mother Teresa, is 16 miles or 26 km away from the capital. A tourist bus is available every 3 hrs to get to the city center and takes about 30 minutes to get there. Taxis are available round the clock. While waiting for any transport service, tourists can check out the duty free shops, bank, eateries and car hire at the airport. A departure tax of $10 USD is imposed on all foreign nationals. Check out www.flyalbanian .com for flight times and offers.

If trying to get there by sea, try the ferry services which are provided by Adriatic Line and Agoudimos. The main ports are Durres (has ferry connection to Italy, Bari, Brindisi, Trieste, and Ancona), Vlora (has ferry connection to Bari, and Brindisi), Saranda (has connection to Corfu), Shen Gjini (has ferry connection to Bari). Check out www.adriatica.it and www.aqoudimos-lines.com for more information.

Bus is another option. Buses start from Istanbul, Athens and Sofia. Internal passengers have lots of options with bus services provided. If traveling by road in a private car, there is road network to the Kosovo region, but they are too dangerous to use because of the political tensions within the region. Crossings at Hani I Hotit, Bllata, Oafa e Thaes, Tushemisht, Gorica, Kapshtica, and kakavija can be taken. If tired one can take halts at hotels or other designated areas. There is a network of 18,000 km, out of which only 7450 km are main roads, for local travelers. About 2138km stretch of these roads is in poor condition and has pot holes, and utmost safety precautions should be taken when driving on such roads. Speed limit should be strictly followed on highways as well as within towns. Driving at night should be better avoided because of the absence of street lights on the road except for urban areas. Traffic should drive on the right-hand. There is a shortage of gas stations in the countryside, so filling the gas tank completely when passing through urban area is recommended and since there is lack of national recovery system; travelers should be prepared for an emergency or breakdown before hand. One should carry necessary documents like International Driving Permit and national driving license.

Duty Free Items

Following are the items that can be carried without customs duty being levied on them:
1. 1liter of spirits or 2liter of wine
2. 250ml of eau de toilette
3. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
4. 50ml of perfume.

Prohibited Items

Things that are prohibited to carry are firearms, narcotics and ammunitions. Special export permission should be taken for precious metals, books, antiques, work of art, or material of national or historic value.



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