DON'T whatever you do... decide to walk from the coach station or the train station up into Toledo. From the train station there is an easily found bus stop; from the bus station there isn't. When you get off the bus or the train find the taxi rank asap. Ask the driver for Plaza Zocodover. At the station the rank is directly outside; at the bus station it is up the moving stairs, left though glass door, immediately right and keep straight on to the edge of the building. There are not all that many taxis... I say this because the walk up the hill to the city, especially in summer, is awful and when you get to the top is the time to start exploring. You can always walk back down! Cost of taxi 6€ - well worth it! (2013)
Penicuik is not your normal tourist destination ... but if you're looking to see a bit of the real Scotland away from the pretty and popular tourist spots this is where to come.
Penicuik is an old mining community. It's gritty. It's seen better days. But it's got a lot of history and a lot of charm beneath it's hard exteria.
In days gone by you can really image the old town centre as the hub of Penicuik. The old town clock hangs above the square, and the old water pump still exists. Today there's the Peni Deli on the High Street and a little French bistro that are well worth popping into for a cuppa and a quick bite if you're here.
Where a lot of people in the past would have been employed in the local coal mine at Bilston (the Miners Club is still alive and kicking on the high street!) today it's mostly a commuter town for people that work in the city of Edinburgh.
In the past couple of years an excellent new sports centre and swimming pool have opened in Penicuik, and there's a skatepark and sports pitches nearby.
If you enjoy going for long walks/cycles it's possible to walk/cycle from Penicuik to Musselburgh along the old railway line. It's a full days trek so take some lunch with you!
10 miles south of Edinburgh, just outside of the city bypass.
To get there by public transport take a Lothian Bus from the centre of Edinburgh, numbers 15, 37 & 47. They are very frequent - approximately every 15 minutes.
Google map: tinyurl.com/36ht44l
The "OV Chipkaart" ticket system (similar to London's Oyster) is now mandatory in Amsterdam for trams, the metro and city buses. Unfortunately the handy "strippenkaart" strip tickets are no longer valid in Amsterdam.
Useful explanation (in English) of the OV chipkaart at:
We travelled from Newark airport to midtown Manhatten by taxi and it cost us $72 + tip, bringing the total cost to $82. However on the way back we got the coach for $15 each one way.
Coach USA runs between Manhatten and Newark, stopping outside Grand Central Station (between Park and Lexington Avenues on 41st street), Bryant Park (5th avenue) and Port Authority Bus Terminal. Fare is $15 one way or $25 return. Buses run every 15 /30 mins.
One of better buses going from Phnom Pehn to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is Mekong Express. Bus takes about seven hours and costs $12.
Bus Office is on corner of street #102 and Sisowath Quay on riverfront. No central bus station in the city - Mekong Express buses to Ho Chi Minh city leave from Orussey Market.
The best and cheapest way from Athens airport to Piraeus, where all the ferries go from, is the E96 bus. It departs every 15 minutes from airport arrivals, direct to the ferry quay. €3.50 (The Metro is interesting but you have to change at Monastiraki)
When you land at Geneva airport, just before you leave the baggage reclaim area, there is a machine by the door that gives you free travel in Geneva for 90 minutes anywhere in the city.
You have to get it BEFORE you leave baggage reclaim though. Once out the door, turn left in arrivals lounge and go all the way to the end into the Station. Walk in a little way and turn 180 degrees and go up the stairs behind you and come out right at the bus stop and get the number 10 which takes you to Gare Cornavin (the main station in Geneva).
Geneva Airport, in the Baggage Reclaim area just before the doors to leave.
Taking the coach between the coastal cities is a pleasant and comfortable way to see a lot of countryside (north KZN coast, skirt the Drakkensberg, cross Swaziland, descent into Maputo).
Tickets are easily purchased ahead of time at the Durban terminus. Everybody recommends to use the Mozambique owned service rather than the SA owned one (easy to tell - it has a Portuguese name - something Azul as I recall). That worked for me, comfortable seats, refreshments, air conditioning, helpful staff.
Durban bus station is organised but you won't want to spend much time there as it has the same edgy feel as any major bus terminus in a European or North American city (even on a Sunday morning departure). Border crossings (two because of Swaziland - make sure your visa situation is sorted before travel) are relatively painless. Even the rest stops are interesting.
Maputo bus station is pleasantly chaotic and not too hassled, like that lovely languid seaside city itself (better than the somewhat bureaucratic 1970's southern-Europe style airport). I only got to spend two days in Maputo but it is charming and atmospheric though becoming a playground for South Africans so progressively losing much of it's Luso/Afro distinctiveness. Lots of great food, especially seafood of course. Loads of restaurants, bars and clubs (though Sunday night is quiet) and it will feel quite familiar if you have been to Lisbon, or indeed Macao. It is not compact but laid out with wide boulevards so not very walkable, but taxis are cheap and easy. And you have to love a city that has streets named after Trotsky, Stalin and Kim Il Sung!
If you've ever looked at films like The Doors and Woodstock, wondering why you can't just hop on one of those ancient Bluebird school buses and just go on a wild trip coast to coast...
...you still can. Green Tortoise buses have been going coast to coast from Boston to San Francisco and back since god knows when, but these days they've got full-on, air-conned sleeper coaches that a rock star wouldn't sneeze at rather than converted bench buses. Around $700+food/parks allowance gets you coast to coast in 14 days - maybe slightly more, or slightly less, depending on which way the driver wants to go - and a whole bunch of new experiences. If you're lucky, new friends too (still emailing mine 10 years later).
Pieces of advice, though:
- bring far more shower gel, soap, and deodorant than you'd ever actually need, and don't be too fussy about where you use it. Or who borrows it.
- use electronic devices sparingly, as there's plenty of places to see - and few places to charge up.
- Much as you'd love to trust the free peace and love vibe, keep absolutely everything somewhere you know it should be and lock the important stuff (passport, med insurance, etc) at the bottom of your bag.
- learn to love veggie food if you can. Really. You can get great steaks in San Fran if you need them (and by the end, boy did I need them).
- be open-minded about everything you see and everyone you travel with, and open to new experiences...
- ...just not any mind-altering ones (bear in mind that in some states, if someone is caught possessing drugs on a road vehicle, and can't prove exactly whose it is, they will bust EVERY SINGLE OCCUPANT. Bad karma, dude.)
Green Tortoise Adventure Travel:
Cheap and so easy to negotiate, even with a surfboard! Helpful drivers who often wait for you to be seated before driving off, a real shock for any visitors from London.
check the excellent website
to get you from place to place
Highly recommend a multi-day transport pass instead of the official bus tour (although you can do that as well!). You get unlimited access to the whole Zone 1 network, (trains; to and from the airport, metro, trams, buses, funicular railways) for a cheaper cash outlay with a greater reach. For the real explorers out there, this is a great option.
From the tourist office at Barcelona Airport or at any metro station.
On a recent trip to Marrakech I became tired at being fleeced by all and sundry. This was especially true of taxi drivers who will use your geographical ignorance to charge more than you would pay for a similar length of trip in a London Black cab if you're not careful. And they tend to get quite aggressive if you have the neck to negotiate – even though you're doing so nicely. Thus I resolved to make a planned trip to Cascades d'Ouzoud (well worth it by the way) by public bus rather than taxi. In most ways this was a good way to travel – all Moroccans, no tourists, rooster in cage on roof, altogether much more interesting than a more tourist-oriented option.
What I discovered, though, is a vast difference in condition of buses. Some look quite together and well, if creatively, maintained. The one we got on was falling apart – and that's by Moroccan standards. It's typical to see some quite creative repairs on Moroccan cabs and buses but this thing had repairs on top of repairs to the point where it was hard to tell what was holding what together. It seems the same buses tend to do the same journey times day in day out. We were on the same bus on the way back two days later (it was later in the day but this made sense as it was the return leg of the journey). This time the dilapidation started to show up big time. The windscreen shattered, showering everyone at the front in glass and, ten minutes later one of the side windows fell out. Even the locals were a bit perturbed by the state of the bus in question! If this kind of thing worries you it may be best to go to the bus station a day before you plan to travel. Find the bus that's going where you are headed and talk to the driver or ticket man to ask if the same bus will be running at the same time the next day. If the bus looks sufficiently knackered that you don't think you can stomach a trip in it you can then change your plans accordingly.
In the end we all got back in one piece but it wasn't a trip of the feint of heart.
Buy the welcome card - you can purchase it in advance (and pay a hefty shipping fee) or buy it at the airport at Gate 13. It provides 50% off of attractions and free subway transportation for the time period that you select.
Don't hesitate to try the bus system or subway. Both are inexpensive, intuitive, quick, and user-friendly.
Full report at www.travelmusings.net
The 11 route takes commuters through the tourist heartland every 10 minutes or so. The route takes in Ludgate Hill, St Pauls, Bank of England, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Victoria Street, the Strand and much more. The cost is 90 pence (with an Oystercard) so is far better value than the tour companies.
The 11 route runs between Liverpool street Street and Victoria Station. You can get hop on from the Strand, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Parliament Square and Ludgate Hill.
The Roissey bus takes you in to the centre of Paris behind the Opera. It is not only a cheap form of transport (from a company perspective) but the bus ride helps you get your bearings and leads you into central Paris where you can shop and eat before going to your hotel.
Outside all terminals at CDG airport and at L'Opera
Long-distance buses in Argentina can be very comfortable and are more reliable than flights. It is a cheap way to get to know the country and, unlike for air travel, the prices are the same for foreigners and residents.
A four-day bus pass costs £21 - you can hop on and off buses over a wide area, walk from one valley and come down in another and generally avoid driving and finding parking spaces! The open top bus along Borrowdale is great fun!
This is a blue multi-strip ticket which can be used on trams, metros and buses in Amsterdam and all over Holland. Works out about half the price of buying a ticket on board.
See www.gvb.nl (Amsterdam Transport organisation, mainly in Dutch)
Good English explanation of the Strippenkaart at
Coming from Prague, the fastest way to get to Liberec is by bus from Cerny Most (at the end of the yellow underground line).
Leave the station by the exit at the front of the train, go down the steps immediately to the right, and the Liberec buses leave from stand 6. The journey takes just over an hour; the bus station is a five minute walk from the town centre.
Tofino is on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. The area is formed of temperate rainforest and white sandy beaches which stretch for miles. Beyond its unbelievable natural beauty, it offers a rare thing in North America: harmony. The indigenous First Nations people, aided by eco-warriors, made a stand against the loggers in the 1980s and since then it has been given UN status as a natural wilderness.
The high-priced resorts dotted along the beaches are best avoided, especially in summer. To see the real Tofino go there in May (shoulder season) and stay in the town. The Tofino Motel offers great views at around $85 (£40) a night per room. If you like seafood Shelter and Schooner restaurants are a must, but for something more funky try Raincoast.
There are three impressive beaches nearby. Tonquin is but a short walk from the town and is good for a post-prandial stroll. Chesterman beach is a short drive away and is full of spirits and driftwood and as the site of First Nations resistance has great historical resonance. Long Beach is, well, just long. The caveats to all this are that because this is the raincoast it rains a lot. However, much natural beauty comes from this rain.
The First Nations people run several businesses in town offering whale watching, bear watching (you park near a beach and watch the bears forage for food) as well as trips to hot springs. The botanical garden are like nothing else, blending sculpture and nature. Getting to Tofino is easy. You can fly from downtown Vancouver from around $250 (£120) return by sea-plane, but the best way to travel is to take the Harbour Lynx from downtown Vancouver and then the Tofino bus across the island. Even though this journey takes around six hours, don't fall asleep. Remember you're going to paradise.
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