Hotels in Europe – What Are the Deciding Factors?

It is difficult to have fun and relax these days with a hectic work schedule. Most of the individuals are missing that innocence and fun from their life. Europe is one of the most liked holiday destinations. You can book your suite after exploring the lists of Europe hotels from online directories.

Though it is quite difficult to choose the right accommodation. We look for a place which is affordable yet comfortable and enjoyable to stay in. There’s a wide range of accommodation available in Europe that will meet your needs. So, whether it is a business trip, a romantic get away, or a family vacation, Europe is the place for you to be in.

There are thousands of hotels in Europe. However do take care while booking your hotels in Europe as many people there are constantly waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists who are not familiar with things like room tariffs and transportation costs in European cities.

Your Europe tour budget depends a lot on your budget as well. Due to the cost factor many people end up avoiding these places. Lack of proper search options many a times result in people not finding the right option for a good discount offer for a European hotel. Internet has become an important medium to search good European Hotels. You can choose a hotel of your choice through online European travel guides that are available to help the tourists find a good European Hotel.

The online sources help people to explore options available for stay in Europe and book one in advance. There are around 30,000 hotels in major cities,towns and villages of Europe. And the online bookings are secure and instantly confirmed.

Some of the famous and affordable hotels are situated in Nice, Cannes, Lyon, Toulouse and Strasbourg in Paris, Edinbourg, Blackpool, Manchester and Torquay in London, and other famous European cities.

There are various European travel guides too available that helps to select discount hotels in Europe. To name a few Albufeira in Portugal, Amsterdam in Netherlands, Antwerp in Belgium, Athens in Greece, Berlin in Germany and many more. And a discounted hotel deal doesn’t mean you will have limited comfort. This means you can enjoy the luxury of a star hotel at the price of a discounted hotel in Europe.

People also look for this feature while choosing hotel in Europe. Whether these hotels offer good amenities in reasonable prices or not. And, the answer is yes! Good hotels do offer luxury comforts within a limited budget, and they are generally located near the heart of the city, at a picturesque setting, close to international airports, and metro stations. Therefore get set to have an interesting trip to Europe and do remember to check into a nice European hotel.

Prague – The Gay Heart of Europe

Whether you arrive by train, car or plane, as you draw near to this city you will notice the skyline is capped by steeples, spires and turrets rather than being dominated by high-rise buildings. You might think you’ve arrived at the Magic Kingdom but in fact you’re in Prague-the jewel in the crown at the centre of Europe.

With over one thousand years of history and architecture encompassing Romanesque rotundas, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque and renaissance palaces, art nouveau, neo-classical, cubist and functionalist houses and contemporary structures this truly is a fantasy land that’s here in the real world. Spared from the devastation of bombs during Europe’s two world wars, Prague is a blend of culture and architecture from many periods in history which rarely can be found all in one city. Strolling along the cobbled streets, absorbing the sights and relaxing in the tranquility is a remarkable change of pace for any vacationer.

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague is comprised of five old towns nestled amongst undulating hills and sitting astride the river Vltava occupying approximately 500 square kilometres. Stunning panoramic views from the hilltops are complemented by the Vltava’s islands and river banks making the perfect setting for this city’s historic magnificence.

The city’s roots of the five old towns still define its neighbourhoods today. Atop a hill on the west bank, is Hradcany, the ‘Castle District’. Below, is Mala Strana the 13th century ‘Lesser Quarter’, and close by, Petrin Hill offers fine panoramic views overlooking the city. On the other bank of the river, connected by Prague’s many bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge, is Staré Mesto, or ‘Old Town’, where Old Town Square offers many attractions. Adjacent is the 14th century Nové Mesto, or ‘New Town’ which includes the infamous Wenceslas Square. The fifth sector is the Jewish Quarter known as ‘Josefov’. Each with distinct character and architecture these communities afford a fascinating journey back in time with attractions, museums, galleries and scenery to occupy days of sightseeing and intrigue.

With a resident population of just under one million Prague has a thriving GLBT community which would more likely be found in a city several times its size. Perhaps this is due to the central European location and close proximity to other major European cities–Prague is approximately 300 kms from Vienna, Berlin and Bratislava plus Warsaw, Budapest and Copenhagen are only a day’s drive away–and the vast tourist population which now visits Prague throughout the entire year and not just during the summer months.

More than fifty gay businesses which include a diverse range of bars, accommodations, pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, spas, shops, sex clubs, movie theatres and more, are spread out equally amongst the five districts making the gay community a very integral part of the entire city.

The Czech Republic has very liberal, gay-friendly laws and same-sex domestic partnerships have been legal since May of 2006. However, throughout Europe the sexual liberation of the gay community is apparent in the bars and clubs where sexual acts are more public and the sex trade is more prevalent than we are used to in North America. Be prepared for the handsome young man that smiles at you from across the bar, he might be attracted by your good looks and great body, but it’s more likely he spotted the bulge in your wallet. Whichever is the case, you are certain to enjoy the diversity and choices that Prague’s gay business community has to offer. From cosy piano bars to trendy dance clubs and everything in between, the gay traveler will find plenty to make for a perfect vacation in the gay heart of Europe.

Prague Castle is the premier tourist attraction, situated high on a hill with spectacular views of the whole city. It is easy to spend a whole day visiting the various ancient structures or wandering through the magnificent, world famous gardens. This is the largest medieval castle complex in Europe and the ancient seat of Czech kings throughout the ages. The first known building on this site was erected in the 9th century. In the 12th century this was replaced by a Romanesque palace, and in the 14th century, under the reign of Charles IV, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style. A further reconstruction of the Royal Palace then took place under the Jagellons at the end of the 15th century. The builder, Benedikt Rejt, also added the now famous Vladislav Hall. After World War I, the interior and gardens of Prague Castle were renovated by the architect J. Plecnik.. Today, Prague Castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and serves as the historical and political centre for both the city and state. The Castle and Gardens are open daily for tourists year round and the changing of the guards ceremony takes place hourly. This is a must visit for a real understanding of Prague’s historic significance in Europe.

Step into the Old Town Square in Prague and journey back in time, six or seven hundred years. As you stand in awe, the dramatic history of Prague surrounds you. This square (Staromestske Namesti) with it’s ancient buildings and magnificent churches, is one of the most beautiful historical sights in Europe. Dating back to the late 12th century, it started life as the central marketplace for Prague. Over the next few centuries, many buildings of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles were erected around the market, each bringing with them stories of wealthy merchants and their lives. Today the square is skirted with sidewalk cafes providing the opportunity to sit with a cocktail in hand and absorb the magnificence. Here you will find the famous Astronomical Clock mounted on the side of the Old Town Hall. Join the crowd in front of the clock to observe the procession of the Twelve Apostles–on the hour, every hour, a small trap door opens and Christ marches out ahead of his disciples, while the skeleton of death tolls the bell to a defiant statue of a Turk. This will prove to be one of the many Prague magical moments in time.

Additionally in the Old Town is The Municipal House Concert Hall & Exhibition Centre which is Prague’s most prominent Art Nouveau building. Situated on the site of the former Royal Court Palace, this impressive building is a popular attraction, with visitors drawn in by the art nouveau gold trimmings, stained glass windows and sculptures, as well as the café, French restaurant and regular exhibitions and classical concerts.

Although the attractions in Prague are too numerous to mention in one story, the Charles Bridge, the Museum of Communism, Old Town Square, Dancing House and the National Theatre are also worthy of every tourist’s agenda. Some unusual attractions can be found in The New Town including the Grand Hotel Europa whose Art Nouveau Café is known as the Titanic Café. When the Titanic’s architect was visiting this café it inspired him to create a replica on board the actual Titanic and now this has become an important part of maritime history. This Hotel was also used as one of the sets for Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible movie.

If you would like a gay tour guide to help you navigate this historical feast, then highly recommended is Paul Raders (contact phone 420 603 365 757). He can show you Prague with an insiders perspective and detailed local history in fluent English at reasonable rates for small groups or individuals.

Exploring the winding narrow cobblestoned streets and alleyways will be rewarded with surprises around every corner. This is a perfect city to explore on foot in order to enjoy the splendor which is Prague.

Much of the gay life in the Czech Republic is centered around Prague but the surrounding countryside is well worth visiting. This country is renowned for beautiful scenery, meandering rivers, small towns and centuries old castles and you won’t be disappointed if you venture outside of the city.

There are several organised day trips into the country or you can simply rent a car and explore for yourself what the Czech Republic has to offer. Nearby fourteenth century Karlstejn Castle, thirteenth century Krivoklat Castle and Loket Castle are just a few of the ancient monuments which are available for exploration.

Emperor Josef II founded the town of Terezin in the late 18th century. It is an outstanding example of a military fort in the style of Classicist architecture. The Terezin Memorial is a tribute to the victims of Nazism and the Holocaust with the Ghetto Museum, cemeteries and other mementoes of modern European history.

The Karlovy Vary region of healing springs and health spas is renowned all over Europe for the effectiveness of their spa treatments. You might want to indulge and experience for yourself the rejuvenating mineral springs.
Whatever you choose for an excursion and change of pace you will feel like you are creating your very own fairy tale as you experience the local Czech charm.

Staying gay in Prague offers several different options in the heart of the city and surrounding neighbourhoods. There is an excellent inexpensive subway and tram system which allows you to stay anywhere and always be close to wherever you are going. Several choices are gay or gay friendly and in the central areas Guesthouse Arco, Toucan Apartments, Ron’s Rainbow Guest House and Old Town Apartments are all gay owned. A short subway ride will take you to the highly recommended new, exclusively gay Guesthouse Nouvum Garden Bed and Breakfast with cosy modern rooms, cocktail bar and spa facility. Or you can also take the subway to the gay Villa Mansland where the Villa’s boys will be happy to entertain you during your stay in the cocktail lounge or in the beautiful gardens.

Whatever style of accommodation or price range you may be seeking, gay Prague has a variety of choices to offer at reasonable rates compared to some of Europe’s other major cities.

Since all of Europe’s low-cost airlines are now flying into Prague the gay tourist has been quick to follow and this city truly has become the heart of Europe’s gay community for both quick get-aways and extended vacations. If you are planning a visit to this fairy tale magical kingdom then be sure to plan early and make your reservations well in advance of your holidays.

Following in a tradition that dates back centuries, you are sure to be treated like royalty-or at least a queen — in Prague. For more stories by Roy Heale visit www.royheale.blogspot.com.

Hockey Tours – 7 Tips For a Successful Hockey Tour in Europe

Everybody in Canada is attracted to the old countries. The wide range of amazing places to visit and discover in Europe are almost too numerous to count. And since our national sport is played by almost one half of the active population, it’s pretty obvious that most people will someday be attracted to play on a foreign ice while visiting all the historical places around.

But sometimes, people get overexcited about their upcoming trip and too often they plan the tour without thinking about all the issues that can arise before, during and after the tour. There is different kind of trips that goes with different kind of teams (oldtimers, girls, minor, etc…). A sports tour is more complicated than a regular trip and there is no simple way to take care of every details. That is why the next 7 tips should be considered as the basic advices to follow when planning this kind of tour and it doesn’t matter if you are a player, a coach or a manager; everybody should follow a guideline because group travel is not the same as going on a vacation alone.

1- The decision, the team and the commitment:

Of course, once the decision is made to go on a hockey tour, the first thing to do before moving forward is to have a team ready to work and follow you to make it happen. If your group is not involved in every aspects of the preparations, you won’t be able to make them participate in all the upcoming activities.

It’s important for every single member of the group (player, parents and coaches) to realize that they all have some part to do and that it’s not possible to complete the project without their help. Once you are sure of their commitment, make sure that YOU are ready for the biggest task which is to make the moves since someone has to do it in the end.

2- The agency

A lot of people think they are smart enough to plan the tour by themselves and of course it’s possible to do it. With the power of the internet and all the resources online, someone with a lot of free time and determination will be able to “patch” a decent schedule. But the fact is there is so many unknown aspects and so many things to think about, that most of the time, the trip will end up a disappointing experience.

People have to understand that there is just too many things to settle for a single person with no experience or contact on-site. The most difficult part being to plan the games or tournament with all the aspects surrounding it: transport, lodging, insurance, local guide, language barrier, quality, distances, visits, support, etc…

There is a lot of companies that organize sports tours and some of them are good of course. The problem is most of them are only travel agency putting a mask on and claiming to be specialists when somebody tells them about including sports. The truth is you need an agency that ONLY DO HOCKEY TOURS. Why? Simply because every member of the company is specialized and passionate about the same thing as you and also because they most probably have a lot of experience in both of the designed field of competence (Hockey and Europe).

To really know what can happen during a stay in a particular country, you need someone who has been there and know about all the aspects of the place. This same person probably lived the same kind of experience like the one you want to accomplish so he knows exactly what you need to do to make sure the trip is a good as it can be.

There is some good companies around but they are pretty expensive since they have so many staff members to include on their payroll.

3. The budget, the destination and the length

Probably the toughest part of the procedure. Following your agency expertise, your team needs to agree on a destination, a length and of course a realistic budget. The most frequent major mistake from travellers is planning to see too much! “Yeah and why not?” you say. “Europe is small so we can get everywhere in no time.” While that is true, the cold hard fact is that you will have a painful trip if you decide to move around too much.

Travelling by bus (even superior coaches) more than 2 hours per day can get very annoying for everybody and the mood can drop quickly. The other thing to think about is the kind of road ahead. Even on highway, the buses are often limited to 90km/h and since you most probably have some mountain roads to pass along the way, you will then be moving at an average of 40-50km/h. So a 100km itinerary that seems to be pretty short on a map can end up taking 2 hours in reality.

That is why you need to choose 2 or 3 “headquarters” to split you trip in a convenient way. You’ll be sure to avoid missing some great stuff while enjoying short ride and keep the spirit up. For example, a 10-days trip can be split in 2-3 major centers that are separated by 200-300 km. This way you won’t be sleeping in 6 different hotels which would involved a lot of packing and unpacking, and you will also have only 2 or 3 “transport” days that won’t waste an entire 24h on moving around.

The length is also crucial for this kind of trips. Do not forget that you must count 2 full days for the round-trip by air. With the time changes and the duration of the flights, a 10-days trip is in a fact a 8-days on-site tour. That is why a single-week journey is not advised since you will be running around without seeing much and come back more tired than before the departure. Depending on your budget, keep the tour between 10 and 15 days.

The other conflict that can arise is the allowed budget. Keep in mind that with all the fees involved, it is NOT realistic to think of going on a hockey tour for 900$ or even 1900$ (except for small trips). The airfares alone range betwenn 1000$ and 2000$ depending on your destination. That is a big chunk of money. The budget will also depends on the country and the choice of accommodations which can greatly affect the experience.

Just remember that not all countries play hockey year-long and also that you won’t be staying too much at the hotels, so do not target 5-stars or even 4-stars resorts. Anyway, most 3-stars hotels in Europe are excellent and affordable. Of course, it’s cheaper to stay a bit out of a city’s “hot spot” and it doesn’t matter much since the bus and subway systems are much more develloped and affordable than here.

4- Fundraising

Most of the time, your team will have to think about fundraising for at least half of the total price. While not a favorite part of the preparation, it’s still a necessary one since nobody wants to cut on the quality of a once-in-a-lifetime tour. That is why you have to find original and fun ways to make everybody participate.

The most easy way is sponsorship but you have to knock at a lot of doors to find substansial money. It’s more realistic to find traditional ways which I will not start to enumerate her. Give yourself time since you need a lot of ideas to find the best activities.

5- Final preparations

An important part of the final preparations is to schedule regular meetings with everybody to make sure they do not forget anything. Unexpected things can and WILL happen during a tour and it’s better to be fully prepared for every surprises that may pop on-site. The biggest issue is probably insurances.

Actually, while it’s very important to have this detail settle in priority, it’s also fairly easy to find some good insurance around. There is a lot of options which are in most cases very affordable and complete. Since some persons are already covered by their job or own insurances, it’s better to make people have their own protections and of course bring documents on-board.

You should insist on having all kind of required and useful papers in a binder kept by the agency consultant or a trustful people if you are travelling without a guide (not recommended). These should include allergy notices, medical notices, insurance coverages, passport photocopies, detailed contact numbers for every passengers, all the contact information for the various destinations, plane tickets copies, etc…

A detailed itinerary should also be provided for every group member and all useful resources be given on it just to make sure they can get around if lost or in trouble. Of course, all those kind of details are supposed to be taken care of by the agency if you have chosen to use one. The team should have some “rules” or guideline to follow since they need to remember that they won’t be home and that they need to stay all together most of the times. Depending on the number of travellers and parents going along the team, it should be decided before the trip who is responsible for each traveller who will be of minor age at the time of the trip. Minors who are NOT travelling with their parents need to follow some rules to avoid any problems at the customs or on-site. A visit on the website of the foreign affaire ( [http://www.voyage.gc.ca/consular_home-en.asp] ) is very informative for all the details.

Also make sure that everybody has some local money on them at the time of departure but not too much since nobody wants to be stolen a large amount of cash if that should happen. Everybody should be aware of the current ratio of the canadian dollar vs the Euro (or else if going to an independent currency country). Check out oanda.com to have a real-time converter.

6- On-site

Again, if you have a guide travelling along with the team, it should be pretty easy to go around without encountering too many problems. If some issues arise, the guide is there to take care of everything and arrange every aspects of the trip to accommodate the groups. But keep also in mind that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please everybody at the same time so the group need to be aware that their will be some compromises to be made along the way. Most of the time, those will be minor details but their is also some rare times when the team will have to make a though decision. Fortunately, the chances are that the guide will find the best solution using his own experience.

A typical day on a tour usually follows the same path: Visits or guided tour in the morning, free-time and suggested visits in the afternoon, game in the evening and free-time in the evening. On travel day between two locations, the guide will probably have scheduled stops along the way to include interesting visits while splitting the road time. Again, you should not spend too much time on the road.

Visits that we’re included on the itinerary should always be covered by the agency as well as all the meals that we’re supposed to be included. The breakfast being the most important meal of the day, the hotel choice should be largely based on the quality of food provided. A breakfast buffet is always a winner since you can find things for all tastes. For the others meal, your guide will probably have scheduled some typical food for one of them and leave the other one to you. This way you can experienced the diversity of culinary culture and also eat what you prefer to be fully refreshed each day.

Security should be a very important part of the planning and like I told earlier, nobody should have too many cash on them. Also make sure that the money is well hidden and not easily spottable on you. This apply especially to handbags since they are pretty easy to steal and some thiefs in Europe are specialised in those kind of business, just like anywhere actually. In fact, you should not bring conventional wallet or handbags and use some safe devices like hidden pockets and belts.

Another important detail for security is to be aware of the basic local laws and traditions. Some countries will not accept things that seems pretty okay here. Always make sure there is some adults with kids and do not trust your child to act like an adult by himself, he is NOT. That is why the parents should acts as respectfully of the locals as they want them to be with their kids. This will in no mean ruins the trip since there is plenty of way to enjoy the tour without messing around.

It would be advised to design one traveller to take as much pictures and videos as possible since it will be appreciated and useful if somebody loses his equipment. Most people will also want to make a souvenir cd or dvd when returning home.

Finally, ALWAYS listen to your guide and/or local guides that will join you during the tour. They will not say something if that is not useful so pay close attention to what they say and do not hesitate to ask questions.

7- The aftermath

You will probably have a lot of memories to bring back home and will become nostalgic of the time when you we’re in the old countries. So it would be a great idea to throw in a celebration some weeks after with all the group where you can exchange thoughts and pictures about the trip. A report meeting should also be done to conclude with the finance and things to correct if you plan on having another trip.

To conclude, every hockey player from 7 to 77 years has thought of doing a memorable experience by playing hockey in Europe. Even if it can seem fairly easy to organize, the truth is that it’s much more complicated than planned if you do not deal with some true specialists. Take your time to choose the destinations and all the options your group needs before moving forward. Every details should be prepared and everybody should be ready to deal with all the unexpected issues.

There is no perfect trip, but you can make the most out of it by following this guide to organize a hockey tour to remember!