Category Archives: Europe

Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour

If you were to tell me before we started this trip that I’d be going to visit a salt mine, I may have laughed. That would be because in Australia when I think about salt mines, I picture a stark salt pan. Therefore, when we were looking for another tour to do in Krakow we wanted something less emotionally draining than the Auschwitz and Birkenau tour we did the day before. The Krakville tour operator suggested for us to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. So, after a bit of umming and ahhing we decided why not?

Urban Adventure Tours

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 1978 and consists of 300kms of tunnels. The mine has been in operation since the 13th Century (that’s an old mine) and is open for visitors daily from 07:30 a.m to 07:30 p.m. The mine can be visited without a tour group, but you may have a long wait depending on the number of visitors and tour groups.

The tour starts mid-morning and our meeting point for the start of the tour is the Krakville office building in the Old Town Krakow. Once again, we are given identification stickers to ensure we aren’t separated from our group. This straight away tells us that the mine is busy. We all climb into mini vans and are driven approximately half an hour to the town of Wieliczka.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The small office of the Krakville Tour Company in the Old Town

It’s not long before we are at the mine and climb the steps to the mines entrance. On arrival it is raining, but that hasn’t stopped the crowds from showing up. There is a large number of tour group already here and a fair contingent of lone travellers negotiating the throng of people. The mine has some additional souvenir shops and a cafe outside if you must wait for a while.

The waiting crowds have some shops to buy food before entering the Wieliczka Salt Mine
An outdoor shop at the Wieliczka Salt Mine

After a short wait, we are guided past the crowds and into the mine. We are given radio receivers so that we can hear the guide as she explains the enormity of the mine. First, we descend down 350 steps to the entry-level of the mine. Like a column staircase you’d find in a hundred-floor building we descend down and down. It is quite a work out and if you make the mistake and go to fast down, you can get quite dizzy.

Staircase in Wieliczka Salt Mine
Some of the flights of stairs going down, but these aren’t the first 350 steps.

At the bottom of the stairs the guide checks to make sure we are all alive after the workout and explains the ground rules of the tour. Like don’t wander off, as there are so many tunnels, therefore getting lost is quite easy.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the many places of worship in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

As we walk through the tunnels we encounter open chambers within the mine providing a visual aid about the construction and operation of the mine. In total there are 20 chambers available to be visited. The guide explains that the workers would construct churches, halls, theatres and specific carvings as they were down in the mine for large amounts of time.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
The story of the Hungarian Princess and the lost ring.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The main hall is hired out for special occasions.

We walk through various places of worship and are shown some of the incredible wall fresco’s etched by the workers. Photos are allowed to be taken at a small additional cost and there are photo permit places along the route. The mine also has an underground souvenir store and a large restaurant and cafeteria area.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
A formal dining area in the Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Food is available at the cafeteria in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

Overall, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a worthwhile attraction with the website stating that tourists should allow three hours to visit the site. The temperature of the mine averages 14 degrees Celsius so warm jackets are handy. You will be amazed at the chambers and carvings done by the workers. Photos are a must so my advice is pay for the permit. So, book your tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Wieliczka Salt Mine
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Additional Information for Krakville Wieliczka Salt Mine

ul. Mikolajska 8, Krakow
Ph: +48 607 750 901
Website: www.krakville.com

Cost 109PLN (AUD$38)

Trading Hours
  • Daily from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.
  • Price includes:
  • transport by bus to and from Salt Mine
  • tour attendant
  • guide in Salt Mine
  • admission fees
  • duration 4 h

Available accommodation in Krakow

Other tours available through Urban Adventures

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Bran Castle the home of Dracula

What are the first things that come to your mind when someone mentions Transylvania? If you are like me you think of Dracula, vampires, dark nights and scary castles. Through the popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, Transylvania has always had an intrigue for travellers. With many fans doing the trek to visit Bran Castle, commonly known as “the home of Dracula”.

Urban Adventure Tours

During our travels, we always had Romania pencilled in as a possible country to visit and after some investigations we decided to base ourselves in Sighișoara and do a day trip to Bran Castle. Although Bran Castle is the home of Stoker’s Dracula, Sighișoara is the actual birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind the character.

Vlad Dracul
A portrait of Vlad the Impaler in Bran Castle.

Arguably, one of the prettiest villages in Romania, this picturesque village is home to one of the oldest medieval citadels in Romania. With its many Church’s, restaurant’s and residences located on top of a hill the colourful town oozes character.

Sighisoara, Romania
Beautiful Sighișoara, with one of the many church’s in the medieval citadel.

For our day tour to Bran Castle we opted to go with someone who knew Transylvania well. After a quick internet search about tours from Sighișoara, we came across, Emanuel Enache. Emanuel is the owner and primary tour guide for tour business, YourGuidein Transylvania. Emanuel offers his customers personalised tours throughout Transylvania, so we booked him to take us to Bran Castle. Booking was easy through his website, and he responded back quickly to organise morning pick up’s and inclusive tour information.

The Doubletree by Hilton Sighisoara
The Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara, our base for our stay in Transylvania

The tour commences at 10:00 a.m with Emanuel picking us up from our hotel during our stay the Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara. After introductions Emanuel places emphasis on us becoming friends from the start. His point of us meeting possibly only once in a lifetime is a good excuse for us to be friends from the outset. It’s not hard to like him, with his bubbly character and charm.

Transylvania and Bran Castle
The Transylvanian countryside.

The drive from Sighișoara to Bran Castle takes two hours, which fly by as Emanuel provides us with the history of the Transylvanian region, economy and life. This insight gives us an appreciation of the Romanian people and its culture. Emanuel has no set schedule to his tours, he allows his guests to dictate when they would like to stop for lunch or rest breaks along the way.

Once in Bran, Emanuel allows us to walk around the souvenir tents and food stalls whilst he organises skip the line entry into the castle. The various stalls show off their Dracula inspired souvenirs, from magnets, coffee cups and T-shirts. There is something for everyone!

Some of the souvenirs available at Bran Castle
If you are looking for a Dracula souvenir, then the Bran Castle stall’s will have something for you!

Bran Castle is one of the seven castles of Wallachia, and although Vlad the Impaler ruled the region during his reign from 1448. It is unknown if he used Bran Castle. This doesn’t take away from the breathtaking visual of this castle on the hill. Today it is mainly a museum to Queen Marie of Romania, who lived in the castle during her lifetime.

A bedroom in Bran Castle
One of the bedrooms inside Bran Castle, the furniture was all donated back to the Castle.

The three level castle is impressive, like many castles throughout Europe, so if you like castles then have a visit, the picture of Bran castle on the hill is a good photo to show your friends. Emanuel is excellent explaining the rooms, and the history of Queen Marie and the royal family, there is some rooms dedicated to the vampire myth, but they aren’t that interesting.

Inside Bran Castle
The interior of the three-levelled Bran Castle

Overall, Bran Castle by itself is something I wouldn’t do by myself. It is a nice drive but the castle is just another castle, if you don’t have the story about it. What made this tour especially worthwhile was Emanuel’s information and conversation about Transylvania, the castle, Dracula and the vampire myth. Emanuel’s engaging personality makes is tour worthwhile. Emanuel offers plenty other tours throughout Transylvania and will pick you up from your accommodation.

Inside Bran Castle
The view from the third floor of Bran Castle

Transylvania itself is a beautiful part of Romania and a definite place to go with its history and pretty towns like Sighisoara and Sibiu. So, contact Emanuel and YourGuideinTransylvania and book your Transylvanian tour today. And tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Do a day trip from Sighisoara with Emanuel, YourguideinTransylvania to visit Bran Castle the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula
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Additional Information for YourGuideinTransylvania’s Bran Castle Day Tour

Strada Ilarie Chendi 35, Sighișoara 545400, Romania
Ph: +40 745 501 861
Website: www.yourguideintransylvania.com

Tour Information
  • Duration/Distance:

    7 – 8 hours / 282 km

    Price: 79 euro/person*

    * minimum 2 pax

    Included:

    – Pick up / drop off at your hotel

    – Transportation

    – English licensed guide

    – Permanent assistance

Available accommodation in Transylvania, Romania

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Never Forgetting Auschwitz and Birkenau, Oswiecim Poland

Poland is a wonderful country, full of history and tragedy. From the outset of this 55 week journey, Poland was probably one of the first countries listed as a must go place. The main reason behind this was so we could remember the tragedies that befell the country during World War II. This beautiful countryside just out of Krakow in the town of Oswiecim was a major area for Nazi Germany’s horrible agenda of genocide and ethnic cleansing. What we know throughout history as the Holocaust!

Urban Adventure Tours

Since our current worlds in turmoil, we toured Auschwitz and Birkenau with local tour company Krakville to remember the innocent lives affected by this inhuman treatment. Hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself once again.

Krakville tour company located in the Old Town offers a range of small and large group tours to various attractions around Krakow. We arrive at the Krakville office early the next morning to meet our tour group and are given Krakville identification stickers. After checking in we are escorted to the tour bus and driven to Auschwitz first, then Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The small office of the Krakville Tour Company in the Old Town

The drive through the countryside to Oswiecim takes about an hour and the first thing that catches your eye is how green and beautiful the landscape is.

On arrival to Auschwitz you instantly realise why they use identification stickers, because it is packed with tour buses and other tour groups. We are escorted to a staging area and enter through a security checkpoint to our awaiting English-speaking guide. Each participant is given an audio receiver so you can hear the guides presentation clearly whilst the information is given.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The restored buildings of Auschwitz

Auschwitz’s brick buildings still stand as they did back then in WWII. The internal structures have been restored to give the visitor of the conditions prisoners were kept in. The barbed wire fences, guard towers all remain to provide an eerie feeling. Yet the lush green grass hides the tormented past.

Auschwitz concentration camp
A guard-house and barbed wire fences surrounded by lush green lawns

As you enter the main camp the words “Arbeit macht frei, Work sets you free” are positioned above the main gate. Unfortunately, unknown to the prisoners, the only way they would be free from Auschwitz was to work themselves to death or be killed.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The words “Arbeit macht frei” on the main gate to Auschwitz

The knowledgeable guide expertly explains the use of the buildings, the conditions the prisoners were exposed to and the devilish treatment and things the Nazi’s did to break the spirits of the people.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
As the population of Auschwitz got bigger the room for prisoners became tight. No beds in this building.

One building has framed pictures of the prisoners who died on the walls, including name, occupation, religion, date of arrival to Auschwitz and date of death. The photos stretch along a corridor leading to glass rooms full of personal items, from suitcases, shoes, and hauntingly a room full of hair.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
Prisoner photos of the victims of Auschwitz line the corridor of one of the buildings.

Visitors then proceed to the underground solitary confinement cells, the firing squad wall and the original experimental gas chamber and crematorium.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The last remaining furnaces after the Nazi’s tried to destroy the evidence of their war crimes.

Our guide delivers all of the information with as little emotion as possible which creates a sense of loss and awkwardness. We then head back to the bus and head to Auschwitz II, Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
Our guide painted a graphic picture of the events in Auschwitz

Auschwitz II known as Birkenau is approximately a ten minute drive from the Auschwitz main camp. Compared to the first camp, Birkenau concentration camp is enormous. Although many of the wooden buildings have perished due to reclaiming of timber after the war and destruction of the camp on the last days before liberation. It is amazing to see the old chimneys dotting a large field where prison housing existed.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
Some of the remaining buildings in Birkenau and the chimneys where others used to stand.

The infamous rail gate, where the train enters Birkenau still stands and the selection area and officers building remains. Our guide explains the selection process and the long march to the gas chambers and crematorium.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The main rail gate into Birkenau concentration camp
Auschwitz and Birkenau
A rail wagon, which the prisoners arrived to Birkenau in.

Not much stands of the gas chambers and crematorium as the Nazi’s tried to destroy the evidence of their crimes just before liberation.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The remnants of the gas chamber and crematorium after the Nazi’s tried to destroy them before liberation

Overall, Krakville’s tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau was an eye opener. Personally, I believe it’s a must do so you can pay your respects to the victims of Auschwitz. So, book your tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Seeing human tragedy is uncomfortable, but we should never forget what happened at Auschwitz and Birkenau
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Additional Information for Krakville Tours Auschwitz and Birkenau Tour

ul. Mikolajska 8, Krakow
Ph: +48 607 750 901
Website: www.krakville.com

Cost 99PLN (AUD$35)

Trading Hours
  • Daily from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.
  • Price includes:• transport by bus to and from Auschwitz and Birkenau
    • tour attendant
    • guide in Auschwitz – Birkenau
    • admission fees
    • duration: 6 h

Available accommodation in Krakow

Other tours available through Urban Adventures

 

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Sightseeing Krakow, Take a Segway Tour

Urban Adventure Tours

It was touch and go if we would make it to Krakow after leaving our accommodation in Berlin. Our original plan was to take a train from Berlin to Krakow, but due to some unexpected line repairs we had to quickly purchase some flights instead. Once at the check in counter at the airport we were told the flight had been overbooked and we were now on the standby list. Oh No! Read about what happened to us on Josie Wanders.

When we finally made it to Krakow, we checked into our AirBNB apartment, and got organised for our stay. The next bright and early morning we made our way into the old town to explore the sights. Over the years, we’ve always said to the girls that we should do a Segway tour and as we walked into the old town there were Segway’s everywhere! So, we decided, today was the day. At the local Segway Tour office, we had a look at the available tour options and ended up selecting the Krakow Old Tour Segway Tour.

Segway Tours Poland
The impressive Slowacki Theatre

The Old Town tour costs 160 PLN (approximately AUD$55) per person. The only issue was that the Segway tour office only accepts cash, so we had to detour to the nearest ATM. Luckily, there is an ATM machine across the road from the office, if you don’t happen to be carrying that much cash around with you.

Once the payment was made our English-speaking guide Alex, taught us how to ride the Segways. Now, let me be honest here! The first time you hop onto a Segway, it feels a little weird. Unnatural. It’s all about balance and your centre of gravity. By adjusting your centre of gravity forward and you move forward. Lean back on your segway and you will either slow down if moving forward our start to go backwards if stopped. To turn, you move the handlebar to the left or right, unlike a bicycle which you turn the handlebars. Once you get used to it and lose that awkwardness, it is probably one of the most fun things you can do.

Krakow Segway Tour
The girls listening to Alex talking about Krakow’s Old Town

After everyone was feeling comfortable and we were off on our 90 -minute tour of the old town. Our guide Alex, is a friendly likeable guide who ensured that we were looked after and fully in control of our Segways through Planty Park and the various traffic crossings.

Krakow Segway Tour
Sculpture of Krakow painter Jan Matejko in Planty Park

The tour took us through the Main Square, St Mary’s Church, Wawel Castle and much more. Taking his time to explain the history and importance of each site. Once all the touring was over he then took us to a large square, and let us have some individual fun on the Segways, weaving in and out of the concrete fixtures and making those Segways dance.

Krakow Segway Tour
The square where we had a free ride around on the segways.

Overall the Segway Tour, would have to be one of the best ways to explore Krakow. They are incredibly fun!  I would recommend on milder days that you take some gloves, as your hands do get cold. Our tour lasted a little over 90 minutes and the information and guidance provided by Alex was excellent. Krakow Segway Tour’s have five tours available or if you just want to take one for a ride they have 15 – 90 minute rental plans. So, when in Krakow take a Segway tour and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Looking for a fun tour to around Krakow? Then make sure you do a 90 minute Segway Tour
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Additional Information for Krakow Segway Tour

Cost:

  • Segway Tours start from 80PLN – 300PLN
  • Segway Rental start from 50PLN – 150PLN

Book your stay in Krakow now with Booking.com

Book your Urban Adventures tour in Krakow here

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Animals and Aquariums – The Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

If you have had the pleasure of travelling with children, you would know that sometimes it’s hard to keep them happy. In their minds, Museums and Art Galleries can be boring. That’s because most young children don’t appreciate looking at the ancient pottery from Pompeii or the subject and detail of Rembrandt’s The Nights Watch. Basically, unless there are dinosaurs or places with amazing interactive fun, children become disinterested quickly. They want to go to places like Disneyland,  Sea World or the other major amusement parks. But, at times we all become those little kids and desire that entertainment. Feeling in a fun and happy mood we head off for a day at the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

Urban Adventure Tours

After a lovely breakfast at Cafe Clave, we decide to walk the 1.1 km from our Scandic hotel to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The entrance to the Berlin Zoo

Now, if this is your first trip to Berlin, you may want to think about purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card. This transport tourist card lasts up to 6 days and covers all your public transport options. It also comes with a booklet containing discounts to many of the major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium. Additionally, it comes with that all important city map, so you can see the various tourist sites and construct your touring itinerary accordingly.

The Berlin Welcome Card covers transport and discounts to many major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.
The Berlin Welcome Card Booklet

If you are short on time, you can do the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium separately. We opted to combine the two at a discounted price (See below).  Since the zoo is the larger of the two complexes we do the zoo first.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Some gardens inside the Berlin Zoo

As mentioned the zoo is large, exhibiting a wide range of animals from around the world. Our recommendation is to examine the zoo’s map provided and work out a plan of attack. That way you won’t be backtracking and possibly missing some of the animals. Of course, the information is in German so have your translating app available if you can’t read German.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
One of the zoo keepers feeding the wolves

The zoo has set times for feeding and information on the animals (again in German), but it was still interesting seeing them being fed. From wolves, elephants, gorillas, rhinos, lions, zebras and giraffes it was amazing to see the children’s young faces light up in awe of these magnificent creatures.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The majestic elephant walking around his enclosure
Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A Rhinoceros in his muddy enclosure

Finding food is not an issue at the zoo as they have a large cafe, a restaurant and many food carts scattered around the park.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A cafe in the zoo, they also have a restaurant and food carts.

Exciting times are ahead for the Berlin Zoo as they are finishing their new Panda enclosure as they are expecting them to arrive in June 2017.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The street entrance to Aquarium Berlin. There’s another entrance from inside the zoo.

Once you’ve finished in the Berlin Zoo make your way to the Aquarium. Here you will find an arrangement of diverse types of fish, amphibians, reptiles and creepy crawly insects.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
An iguana at Aquarium Berlin

This three-story building holds a vast quantity of fish species of assorted sizes and incredible colours.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
No need to search any further, I found Dory!

There is a warm, humid, central forest area that has some crocodiles, which was inviting on a cooler Berlin day. Like the zoo the aquarium has a cafe, in case you want a snack or coffee.

Overall, both the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium are wonderful places to visit in Berlin. By using the Berlin Welcome Card, we had a 25% discount on the combined price, so great value for money. There is enough fun and intrigue for children to enjoy the day. The zoo also has a large playground area, so your children can burn off some extra energy if required. Visit the zoo and aquarium today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Want a place to take the family in Berlin! Head to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium for a day of fun.
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Additional Information for the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Berlin Zoo

Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.zoo-berlin.de

Opening Times
ZOO CASH POINT
1. January – 26. February 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
27. February – 26. March 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
27. March – 24. September 9:00 am – 6:30 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
25. September – 29. October 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
30. October – 31. December 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

*Note:

The Zoo closes at 2 p.m. on 24 December.

Please note that the ticket offices close approx. one hour before the zoo closes. The animal houses close 30 minutes before the zoo itself closes.

Aquarium Berlin

Budapester Straße 32, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.aquarium-berlin.de

Opening Times
AQUARIUM
1 January–31 December 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

TICKETS – Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

Aquarium & Zoo – Separate ZOO & AQUARIUM Combination
Adults 14,50 € 20,00 €
Children
4 up to 15 years
7,50 € 10,00 €
Small Families
(1 adult and his or her children up to 15 years)
25,00 € 33,00 €
Large Families
(2 adults and his or their children up to 15 years)
39,00 € 50,00 €
Concession*
students, apprentices, ALG I+II recipients, the severely disabled and their accompaniment, accompaniment if explicitly required on the disabled visitor’s ID
10,00 € 15,00 €

 

Welcome to Berlin Card

For more information on the Welcome to Berlin Card , click here

Book accommodation in Berlin via Booking.com 

Book UrbanAdventures guided tours in Berlin 

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Do you want to go to Disneyland Paris?

As a family, we have had some wonderful adventures. We have been lucky enough to take our girls to many overseas destinations. So, why not let them choose some of the things we do! In 2015, we did a trip to Hong Kong and the girls selected to go to Disneyland. We spent two full days there and they were hooked. Therefore, when they first heard we’d be visiting France on this journey they were definite that they wanted to visit Disneyland Paris and do it all again.

Disneyland Paris
The front entrance into Disneyland Paris

After looking at our schedule we decided that this time we would only spend a day at Disneyland. With the theme park only opening at 10 am we could take our time getting there. From our accommodation at the B&B Hotel Paris Porte de la Villette we jump onto the Metro to Chaussee d’Antin La Fayette. From there we take the 5-minute walk to the Auber RER station and purchase our train tickets for Disneyland Paris. Disneyland is about 45 minutes out of the city in Gare de Marne la Vallee Chessy. The cost of the train ticket from Auber to Disneyland is €15.20 one way per person.

Once arriving at Disneyland Paris, if you haven’t purchased your tickets, then head over to the ticket office. Just so you are prepared the Parks offer various entry options.  Now, you would have just heard me mention “parks”, because Disneyland Paris contains two parks; Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. You have the option of visiting one or both parks. We of course decided to visit both.

Disneyland Paris
A bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse after entering Walt Disney Studios

Excitedly we entered Walt Disney Studios and had a look around. Our first stop in the park was to visit the animation theatre. Here we discovered how the Walt Disney studio created their animation and creature effects.  Only lasting about 10 minutes is gives us some valuable information about animated production and set design.

Disneyland Paris
Watch how Disney Studio’s creates their animations in the Art of Disney Animation theatre.

Much of the Walt Disney Studio’s areas are based on a certain theme. Be it Ratatouille, Toy Story, Lilo and Stitch or Armageddon, the sections have rides and theatre shows based around these popular Disney Studio titles.

Disneyland Paris
People moving into the Toy Story themed area. Look there’s Buzz Lightyear.

We found that it was quite easy to fly through Walt Disney Studios and quickly moved to the Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Paris
The girls out the front of the impressive Disneyland Park entrance.

Like the Studio, the Park is separated into defined areas. There’s Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. These lands are separated by a central plaza and main street containing the various Disney retail and food outlets. Also scattered throughout the park are food stalls and restaurants.

Disneyland Paris
One of the many Disneyland souvenir shops.

A family could easily spend a day or two exploring these two sites. We spent most of our stay in Disneyland Park and whilst there probably tried out every ride and feature available. Unfortunately, some of the park is still under construction, with a Pirates of the Caribbean area still being developed. Saying this though doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the park.

Disneyland Paris
The Pirates of the Caribbean ship. It wasn’t accessible the day we were there.

Now for the important detail, which will determine if you elect to stay or go to Disneyland Paris. The cost… It can be expensive, we were there for a twelve-hour day and spent close to €600 for a family of four. So, I would consider that an expensive day out.

Disneyland Paris also has accommodation available in their hotel, with room packages including access to the Disneyland Parks. So, it may be a better option to book your accommodation at the hotel and access the parks that way. This way you don’t have to worry about transport to the parks and accommodation in Paris. Likewise, you could find some cheap accommodation in Marne-la-Vallée and just worry about tickets into the park.

Although expensive, we had an awesome time at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland holds some fascination and wonder to people of all ages. It is an extremely fun day, although sometimes you may need to line up to access the more popular rides. They offer a “Fast Track” ride option which costs a little extra, where you are given a time to go on a particular ride. This way you can have fun elsewhere in the park and when your time gets closer you just go to the fast track lane and hop onto the ride.

Disneyland Paris
As the night sets in, it’s finally time to call it a day.

Overall, Disneyland Paris is an amazing place. My recommendation is that if you are planning on going, make sure you have saved your pennies. But sometimes, spending quality time and enjoying a fun-filled day is more valuable than the cost. Because I know, these memories will last forever. Therefore, when you are in France, pencil in Disneyland Paris for a day or two, enjoy an incredible experience and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Disneyland Paris
Tiggr and Eeyore having a photo with the girls
Additional Information for Disneyland Paris

77777 Marne-la-Vallée, France
Ph. +33 1 60 30 60 53
Website: www.disneylandparis.com

Price
  • Prices range from € 42.00 – € 223.00 for Passport ticket entry
  • Full ticketing information available here
Opening hours
Disneyland® Park

10:00 to 23:00

Extra Magic Hours

8:00 to 10:00

Walt Disney Studios® Park

10:00 to 18:00

Book accommodation near Disneyland Park, Marne-la-Vallée.

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French Royalty and the Palace of Versailles

No matter what your first thoughts of France are, it is undoubtedly full of history. The opulence of France is on full show and there is probably no better place to see this wealth than the Palace of Versailles.

Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles taken from the golden gates

Like many tourists to France we decided to make our way to the Palace to spend a day visiting the royal residences and relaxing in the gardens.

After leaving the B&B Hotel Paris Porte de la Villette a little later than we had hoped for, we hop on the 9 am train to Versailles. Train tickets can be purchased from the train stations. Just tell the ticket office we’re you are going and they will give you the right ticket. Likewise, you can use the automated ticket machines to select your required tickets. Please note; conductors do check your tickets so if you select the wrong one you may find yourself being fined or paying for another ticket. This depends on how the conductors are feeling on the day.

When arriving at Versailles station it is a short walk around to the Palace. Just follow the signs and masses of other tourists. Online purchasing is a good idea as you won’t need to line up for tickets at the ticket office. Unfortunately, you will see need to wait in the entry line unless you’ve purchased a “skip the line” ticket, through a third-party operator, for an extra cost.

Palace of Versailles
The ticket office for the Palace of Versailles

We were lucky on the day we were there as everyone wanted to buy tickets from the ticket office. Therefore, no one was using the hidden ticket machines in a different room. We quickly purchased our tickets for the palaces and gardens and headed to the huge line up.

Palace of Versailles
The crazy long line up at the Palace of Versailles. It took 2.5-hours to get through.

Now, we were prepared for the wait, we had some water, some snacks and our entertainment devices to keep us occupied. If fact Josie and I used to time to write a few posts whilst we waited. The girls listened to some music and sang, harmonising the day away.

It was a 2.5 hour wait but the lines constantly moved, so there was a sense that you were going somewhere. Group tours through travel agencies are always available. These tours get you into the grounds quicker, but you have a limited time for your visit to the Palace and gardens. And the Palace of Versailles is a take your time attraction.

When you make it to the front of the line, you will need to pass through a security checkpoint. So, make sure you are sensible and leave any sharp implements in your room. We have seen people try to enter with their favourite Swiss Army knife, only for it to be confiscated.

Once you’re past the security check the Palace of Versailles shows you its wealth around every corner. This Palace has seen Kings and Queens grace these beautiful halls and their need for luxury is incredible.

Palace of Versailles
The stunning architecture of the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors

Once through the Palace buildings you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the enormity of the Palace grounds. Water fountains, sculptures, manicured lawns and flower exhibits are everywhere. Make sure you grab a map so you don’t get lost.

Palace of Versailles
A small garden courtyard inside the Palace of Versailles

As mentioned earlier, you should make a day of it. The gardens contain a cafe and restaurant if you are feeling hungry. We ate a nice lunch in the La Girandole Versailles garden cafe at a slightly elevated price. However, it was great to relax for a little while before exploring the gardens more.

Palace of Versailles
Unfortunately, we were unable to get a good photo of the cafe.

Our Passport Ticket also gave us access to the Petit and Grand Trianons, which once housed the Queen’s, Princess’ and Princes of France.

Palace of Versailles
The entrance courtyard of the Petit Trianon

These Trianons are located outside of the main palace grounds with separate security checks being performed at each site.

Palace of Versailles
The Grand Trianon and its gardens

A fantastic day, the Palace of Versailles is an ideal day getaway from Paris. So, spend a day or book some accommodation in Versailles and tell them Simon of Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for the Palace of Versailles

Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Ph. + 33 1 30 83 78 00
Website: www.chauteauversailles.fr

Price
  • Prices range from € 20.00 – € 30.00 for Passport ticket entry
  • Full ticketing information available here
Opening hours

Palace
from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Estate of Trianon
from 12:00 pm to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Gardens
from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm

Coach Gallery
from 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Book accommodation in Versailles here.

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German History, a Storyline of Berlin

Urban Adventure Tours

Before this big adventure started, we knew we’d have to plan some activities before we arrived in Europe. After doing some research we booked some tours with Urban Adventures. One of those tours was a Storyline of Berlin.

Urban Adventure’s Storyline of Berlin is a 4-5 hour walking tour, around the streets of Berlin. Germany has had an infamous history and Berlin has been at the heart of those historic tragedies. This tour gives, visitors an honest historical insight into the heartbreaking treatment of the people of Europe by Hitler’s Germany. It then details the subsequent division of a city after World War II ended. The tour does need a little fitness to complete the 5 hour walk. But your tour guide will control the pace of the walk depending on speed and health of their guests.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
The Reichstag is the meeting point for the start of the tour.

Our meeting point for the tour is at the large flag pole in front of the Reichstag building. Here we are greeted by our guide for the day, Sara. Sara is an Italian archaeologist with an extensive knowledge and love for Berlin. Her passion for this city is evident in how she delivers her knowledge to her guests.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
The impressive looking Brandenburg Gate

From the Reichstag, you walk the streets and visit some of Berlin’s main attractions. The Holocaust Memorial is a large eerie art display, that makes you feel trapped the deeper you walk in, with imposing walls on either side. The stunning Brandenburg gate with its horse and chariot to the Topography of Terror, which has a timeline of the horrific treatment of the innocent.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
A hauntingly eerie Holocaust Memorial
Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
A timeline of Germany’s infamous history at the Topography of Terror

Not only does the tour take in all this history, Sara also ensures that you have a couple of rest stops. A stop at a local café for some refreshments and a toilet break. Then another pause later when you visit Rausch’s, an incredible chocolate store with samples and magnificent chocolate displays.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
Here is the Brandenburg Gate made from chocolate at Rausch’s Chocolate House.

A Storyline of Berlin tour completes at Lustgarten, next to the Berlin Cathedral. Here Sara will give you advice on where to eat and what else to do with your time in Berlin.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
Looking at the Berlin Cathedral Church through the Lustgarten.

Our small group of four found the tour very interesting and well worth the cost. Sara was an excellent guide, easy to understand with a well measured delivery of her knowledge. We have no issue in recommending this excellent tour through Urban Adventures. So, book your next tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Berlin is a place of History, let Urban Adventures take you through the Storyline of Berlin!
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Additional Information for Urban Adventure’s Storyline of Berlin

To see available tours in Berlin, click here
To book a Storyline of Berlin here: www.urbanadventures.com

Price
  • Adults: € 61.00
  • Child: € 31.00

Departure time: 10:00 am

 

Book accommodation in Berlin via Booking.com

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Rembrandt, the Renaissance and the Rijksmuseum

King’s Day in Amsterdam is a huge celebration. Residents set up little stores in front of their houses selling whatever they can. The city of Amsterdam closes its streets and road to cars, and people flock to the canals to party. Music blares from every corner and every pub. The canal boats are full of people drinking and dancing with plenty of patriotic Dutch chanting. It is truly an amazing experience to be around the celebrations because you can’t help but get caught up in it.

Rijksmusuem
King’s Day celebrations in Amsterdam. Orange people everywhere.

After the celebrations, we needed a day to relax and be a tourist at a leisurely pace. Therefore, the next day we decided to head to the Rijksmuseum. Catching the number 5 tram from Kronenburg we are at the Rijksmuseum in approximately 30 minutes. Once you alight from the tram it’s a nice walk towards the museum and the I Amsterdam sign. This sign is very popular for tourist’s taking photos and we are no different. Stopping and posing for that perfect shot.

Rijksmusuem
The I Amsterdam sign near the Rijksmuseum. It’s very popular with tourists

On this day entry into the museum was quite quick. We did have a short line up outside the turnstile door and then another short wait to purchase tickets. Bags that are backpack size and larger must be checked in, into the cloak room. Then it’s another small line up as security view our tickets as we pass by.

The Rijksmuseum houses some of history’s greatest masterpieces, from artists such as Rembrandt, van Gogh and Vermeer. As you walk through each room and examine the artworks from the different centuries displayed, you will be amazed by the intricate and sometimes massive canvasses. Each depicting scenes from historical events or portraits of important and everyday people.

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Jan van Scorel’s Maria Magdalena

I must admit it was a thrill to walk into a large room and turn to see Rembrandt’s The Night’s Watch covering an entire wall. This wonderful painting is truly beautiful and intricate in detail. From the subjects having their own personalities and expressions, to the frills and embroidery on their uniforms.  Rembrandt has depicted this scene with the class and elegance of a master. And the crowding of spectators around this painting proves it still has its appeal.

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Rembrandt’s The Night’s Watch is such an amazing painting, the crowds surely appreciated it.

Continue through the room and you will come across some of the works by Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer’s most famous work “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” is situated in The Hague, but you can still see works like The Love Letter showing his unique subject style.

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Johannes Vermeer’s The Love Letter

Even if you don’t know much about art, there are a few artists throughout history that you may have heard of such as Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Pollock or even Warhol. Van Gogh is one of those artists that had an intriguing story. Unsuccessfully as an artist during his life, he lived a tortured life stuck in his own mind. That torment lead to him cutting off his ear and eventually shooting himself. His ‘self-portrait in a felt hat’ is a reminder to us that genius is sometimes hidden behind different faces. A small piece of art in size, a lot like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, it still holds its fascination. The distant stare in that drawn face radiates his self-anguish.

Rijksmuseum
Van Gogh’s Self Portrait in a felt hat.

The Rijksmuseum has been a special place to see some of the classics. The museum of course has a café, a restaurant and a souvenir store in case you want to take a memento home. The museum has a lot of things to see so it will take a good day to complete. For a more comprehensive experience take the Rijksmusuem’s audio tour for a few extra Euro (€). An excellent museum, add it to your list of things to do in Amsterdam and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for the Rijksmuseum

Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ph. +31 (0) 6747 20 000
Website: www.rijksmuseum.nl

Price
  • Adults: € 17.50
  • Youth t / m 18 years Museumkaart, Friends of the National Museum , ICOM, Rembrandt Association, KOG, VVAK, BankGiro Lottery VIP CARD: free
  • CJP, Stadspas, EYCA: 50% of the regular ticket price
Opening hours

Every day of the year from 9 am to 5 pm. The museum is also open during the Christmas and New Year’s.

Rijksmuseum Garden, Empire Shop and Café without entrance ticket to visit from 9 am to 6 pm

Book accommodation in Amsterdam via Booking.com

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Knowing how the Vikings lived – The Viking Ship and Norwegian Folk Museums, Oslo

Norway offers the budding traveller a chance to experience some wonderful culture and history. From the days of Vikings, the battles and worshipping of the Norse gods, Norway has a bit for everyone. We found our time in the capital of Oslo a wee bit cold but a completely awesome experience. This was due to the people we shared our time with during the International Bookcrossing convention and the must see Viking Ship and Norwegian Folk Museums.

The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingshiphuset) which exhibits some old funeral Viking ships found throughout history. These full-sized vessels are buried once the leader of a clan dies or is killed in battle.

Museums of Norway
The preserved Gokstad on display in the Viking Ship Museum

This unique museum displays three of these funeral vessels found in Norway. The Gokstad, Oseberg and the Tune are preserved vessels carefully excavated and reconstructed within the museum. At different stages of decay, each vessel has different artefacts on show.

Museums of Norway
Sleigh artefact found in on the the Viking Ships

From pottery, textiles, weaponry and farming equipment, the Norwegian’s believed that the same things you needed to live everyday life back then was the same things you’d need in your afterlife.

Museums of Norway
Cooking pot found on one of the Viking Ships

The museum, although small offers us a good insight into ancient Norwegian life. The Viking Ship Museum has educational and fun activities for children as well as a video projection played over the vessel, the Tune which is quite good. The whole museum experience takes about an hour to complete.

Museums of Norway
Video projection over the Tune

Once you’ve finished at the Viking Ship Museum head to the larger Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum). This impressive museum highlights Norwegian life across the eras. Incredibly they have a full-sized town building from different periods. These buildings have been painstakingly moved from their original locations to the museum grounds. Some of the buildings are open to the public, so go inside and discover what it would have been like to live during those times.

Museums of Norway
Old township inside the Norwegian Folk Museum

After you’ve investigated these abodes continue around to the working barn and visit the various animals. After that head inside for a coffee or walk through the other exhibits on offer.

Museums of Norway
Goose inside the working barn

The Norwegian Folk Museum is very large so, many people do the Viking Ship museum early then spend the rest of the day in the Norwegian Folk Museum.

Museums of Norway
The Norwegian Folk Museum

We really enjoyed roaming around the village buildings and embracing The Norwegian way. So why don’t you do the same and visit the Viking Ship and Norwegian Folk Museums and them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for the Viking Ship Museum

Huk Aveny 35, 0287 Oslo, Norway
Ph. (+47) 22 13 52 80
Website: www.khm.uio.no

The Viking Ship Museum

Open daily
1 May – 30 September: 09:00-18:00
1 October – 30 April: 10:00-16:00

Prices

Adults

NOK 100

Children under 18

Free

Students/seniors

NOK 80

Season ticket, adults

NOK 400

Staff and students at the University of Oslo, refugees and asylum seekers

Free

Groups,10+ pax

Groups do not need to make a reservation in advance. Please download our contract form as pdf

NOK 50 per person

 

Additional Information for the Norwegian Folk Museum

Museumsveien 10, Bygdøy, 0287 Oslo, Norway
Ph. (+47) 22 12 37 00
Website: www.norskfolkemuseum.no

Open daily
May 15 – September 14:  Every day 10:00 – 18:00
September 15 – May 14:  Weekdays 11:00 – 15:00,  Sat and Sun 11:00 – 16:00

Fees 2017

Adults  NOK 130
Children  NOK 40
Children under 6  FREE
Family  NOK 260 (Parents/grandparents with children)
Reduced  NOK 100 (Groups over 15, retired, students)
OsloPass FREE (Run on selected Sundays, check VisitOslo website for more details)

Accommodation is available in Oslo through Booking.com

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