Easy Day Trips if You are Heading to Europe This Summer
Are you heading to Europe this summer? Is one or more of the major metropolitan centers your destination? It doesn't matter if it is a vacation or a business trip, as long as you have a day or weekend to spare! We have some suggestions for you that might just make your valuable time more enjoyable, and give you the opportunity to get away from the usual hustle and bustle of the major cities. And, you might also get a feel for the local culture that you often miss if you don't get out of the tourist centers.
We have selected some of the major summer destinations and suggest one or two possible side trips that will allow you to get more immersed in the area's local culture. Don't get us wrong. You can always find a lot to see and do in the urban centers, and we may cover some of them in a later post.
Remember throughout most of Europe, you don't need a passport if you are crossing borders. The same is not true for Internet access. Each country has their unique service providers! Having easy and convenient access to the Internet is one of the many advantages Keepgo International Data SIM cards and mobile WiFi hotspots supply. They have done all the work for you. They have negotiated agreements with the local suppliers so you can go from France to Germany or England to Holland or almost everywhere in Europe without worry!
Amsterdam's central location is often a chosen kick-off point for many vacationers. It is also a dynamic business center. Only a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam is the ancient town of Haarlem. Chartered as a city in 1245, and nestled on the shores of the North Sea, this is a favorite summer bathing spot for many Dutch and Germans. The city center, however, is where is found most of the local and historical interest. The Grote Markt (Central Market Square) has the City Hall, and the Vleeshal or meat market, which houses two museums. Also, the Hoofdwacht or Civic Guards Headquarters and the Grote Kerk, formerly a Catholic Cathedral and now a Protestant Church are located there as well. For one of The Netherland's best museums, get to the Frans Hals Museum.
Under an hour from Amsterdam, either by car or train, is the small city of Delft. We would just mention the unique blue pottery that has made this city famous (hint: it is not all blue!). You can tour some factories still producing Delftware with a high recommendation going to the Royal Delft. If you happen to be driving, take along (or purchase on route) a fresh loaf of bread, one or more Dutch cheeses (Gouda, Edam, and/or Leyden) and possibly a nice bottle of wine (for everyone except the driver). Then find a nice quiet spot along one of the many canals, lay out a blanket and have a relaxing picnic!
Just over an hour and a half from London's Paddington Station lies the ancient Roman city of Bath. The main attractions, of course, are the 2000-year-old Roman Baths. The thermal waters reach a temperature of 46°C (115°F) and still steam today. But of real interest and mystery are the ruins themselves. The Roman Baths are open until 10:00 pm in July and August. The city of Bath has more museums than any other city its size in the UK, and they are all within walking distance of each other. If your interests are architectural, Victorian art, fashion, Jane Austin or even postal artifacts, you can find a museum for them in Bath. Try keeping track of where you are and where you are going next via the Internet and your Keepgo SIM card enabled device.
Twenty minutes from the capital of Greece is the port of Piraeus. From there it is a two-hour hydrofoil ride to the island of Hydra. Once you arrive, the only mode of transportation is by foot (the only motorized vehicles are garbage trucks!) You arrive to a crescent-shaped harbor with restaurants and shops dotting the shore. Radiating from the harbor are many cobbled streets where you find small hotels and more restaurants and shops. As for activities, there are a number of Aegean beaches for swimming – try St. Nicholas Beach right in town. There are also opportunities for horseback riding (OK, so you don’ have to walk everywhere…). A rather long hike, but well worth it, try climbing to the top of Mount Eros Hydra. Or explore the Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion (National Historical Museum). Head off to the Cool Mule for what is touted to be the best ice cream in Hydra.
Thirty kilometers (19 miles) northeast of Italy’s capital is a town from which the Danish amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, derived its name: Tivoli. Here you can find two World Heritage Sites. First is Villa Adriana, constructed originally as a retreat for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the early second century, it now serves as a Roman archeological complex, managed by the Polo Museale del Lazio. The second is Villa d’Este; famous for its multitude of fountains and terraced Renaissance gardens. Also of interest is the second century Sanctuary of Hercules the Winner that, unfortunately, is now in ruins but was one of central Italy’s largest structures when first constructed. Near both the Vila d’Este and the Sanctuary is the early fourth-century Temple of the Tosse noted for its large dome.
A must-not-miss, if you are in Rome, is two hours south by train. There is a slightly eerie feeling as you walk the streets of Pompeii. See what life was like 2000 years ago as restaurants, homes, shops, baths, and even brothels (the graphics above the doors to the various rooms are, uh, interesting, and very graphical)! Ash has preserved all of this. It resulted from an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. There are some actual people preserved in plaster ash casts.
Less than an hour train ride from the center of Berlin you will find the residence of former Prussian kings and German Kaiser: Potsdam. Situated on the river Havel, and capital of the German State of Brandenburg, this city has a number of both opulent and modest palaces (Schloss) worth exploring. Starting with the Sanssouci Palace, built for King Frederick the Great in 1747, this is said to be Germany’s rival to France’s Versailles. The last great Prussian Baroque Schloss, the New Palace, was built to celebrate the end of the Seven Years War and Frederick the Great’s success and borders Sanssouci Park. There are also the Orangery Palace and the Charlottenhof Palace. Three of the original city gates are worth seeing along with the Roman Baths. Of course, if you have your Keepgo SIM card enabled phone or mobile hotspot, you can get local information about these and other attractions right on the spot.
Just over an hour by train or automobile from the capital of the European Union is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Bruges. Start off by orienting yourself with a boat tour of the various canals. The ride will give you a sense of its history and medieval design. Start your explorations in the Grote Markt, the central square. If you are hardy, you can then climb the 366 steps of the Belfort for spectacular views of the city and its surrounds. Churches are numerous with the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk containing the only Michelangelo sculpture to have left Italy during the artist’s lifetime, “Madonna and Child”. Walk about the quiet convent gardens of the Beguinage or rent a bike at the train station and follow the Bruges Art Route for canals and windmills.
These are just a few of the many day trips from major urban centers that Europe offers. Enhance your enjoyment with Internet access as you travel, via our Keepgo SIM card or mobile hotspot.