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Oktoberfest – officially kicking off in Munich today for a week — is expensive. From the €10 euro beers to three-foot pretzels to $100+ costumes, if you’re going to do it right, the celebration isn’t anywhere near cheap. So why would any thrifty traveler include this Germany pitstop on their itinerary?
In short, it’s an unbeatably festive, uniquely preserved Bavarian tradition. When else do you get to join thousands dressed in traditional garb clanking steins and singing to the accordion tunes of a live Lederhosen-clad band? And it’s much more than just guzzling beer. These tents are surrounded by an incredible array of amusement park rides, food vendors, and grassy knolls for breaks (or naps).
The better question, we think, is: How to experience this be on a budget?
Lots of hotels have impressive art collections, but these ones go a step further and function as stand-alone museums as well as accommodations.
Benesse House, Japan
The Tadao Ando-designed Benesse House is located on the tiny Japanese island of Naoshima, a fishing community turned “art island” that hosts the Setouchi Art Triennal and is home to several permanent art installations and excellent museums. Guests of the Benesse House are granted access to the museum even after typical hours and have exclusive access to a six-seat monorail that runs up to the hotel’s Oval annex. Guest rooms in the museum are available in four styles and are decorated with drawings, paintings, and prints from the artists on exhibit. Rates start at $330.
Have a hankering for airline food? Apparently some people do.
German online grocer AllYouNeed.com and Lufthansa are in the testing phase of a new service called Air Food One that makes deliveries of airline-style food once a week in the cities of Dusseldorf and Cologne.
The meals are inspired by the airline’s business class menus and include steak filets, chicken in pepper sauce, and cod. Entrees go for about $13 a pop, according to CNN. They don’t come precooked like traditional airborne meals, so customers have to heat them up themselves.
Deliveries do not come with folding tray table or flight attendant, so suffice to say, you won’t get the full airplane experience.
Would you order airline food at home?
If you’re traveling internationally or even just across the country, chances are you’ll have a layover somewhere during your journey. Rather than waiting for hours inside the airport, why not take advantage of your location and head into the city? You’ve already paid to get there, after all. Whether you’ve landed in Honolulu or London, Beijing or Reykjavík, these cities are easy to visit from the airport, even if you just have a few hours.
Swiss Air Lines is offering some good fares to a number of European cities for the fall and winter, but you will have to make your mind up quickly as the sale ends at midnight tonight. If you’re wondering whether you’re ready to make a spontaneous booking, take a look at our handy checklist. Otherwise, you can book through our Travel Search tool, or visit the airline’s web site directly.
Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and many others countries speak the English language. But sometimes talking with the locals there can feel as foreign to U.S. travelers as communicating with those in, say, Thailand. To help clear these up, here are a few words that our stateside readers are all familiar with — but that mean something completely different in other English-speaking places around the world.
Travel is filled with emotions. Anytime you go somewhere, you’re giving yourself the chance to be delighted, to fall in love, to feel out of place, to find comfort. That’s a big part of why we like to get out there — and yet sometimes nothing in the English language adequately explains these experiences. Or at least not as succinctly as these foreign travel-related words we’ve gathered below. We’re keeping these in our back pocket for the next time we’re grasping for a word to capture a specific, evocative moment from our journeys, and we invite you to do the same.
Flight: booked. Hotel: reserved. Language podcasts: Completed. What else do you need to prepare before jetting off on vacation?
Most of us would probably never think that feeding pigeons in parts of Venice could get us fined as much as our plane tickets there cost. Likewise, while we always leave a substantial tip after dining at a restaurant in North America, the practice is a foreign concept to many international visitors. Needless to say, very diverse cultural customs abound around the world. Here are a few quirky ones that we love and think are useful to know for preventing cultural mishaps abroad.
After a year-long absence from Eurail’s Select Pass program, France officially returned to the network last month, becoming the 27th participating European country. (Other changes: Eurail has chosen to do away with passes that allow travel between three and five pre-selected countries, in lieu of a four-country pass only.) To celebrate, we’ve put together three wanderlust-worthy itineraries for taking advantage of the newly revamped program.
Barcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more
Compared to most of Western Europe, Berlin is a bargain. Hotel rooms cost about half the price of rooms in Paris or London, and it’s easy to fill your belly for fewer than five bucks. The city’s affordable activities and creative spirit make it a budget traveler’s dream. And there are plenty of free things to do — from museums and monuments, to public parks and open-air karaoke. Here are some of the best free things to do in Berlin. Read more
Stuck forever in the era of boat-sized convertibles, Elvis memorabilia, and red-checkered tablecloths, these American-themed diners offer a nostalgic ride into ‘50s Americana while satisfying rumbling tummies. Although commonplace throughout the fifty states, you don’t tend to come across these neon-lit, chrome-plated structures anywhere else in the world. So if you happen to be abroad and craving a burger and a milkshake, here are twelve diners around the world that’ll transport you back home.
Visit the full slideshow here.
Whatever happened to the good ol’ days, when hotel bars served as an oasis for road-weary travelers? A place to mingle with your fellow vagrants and meaninglessly converse about the weather? These days, hotel bars are often just impersonal TV viewing rooms serving overpriced Budweisers and poorly-poured Guinnesses.
Well, except for the five hotels listed below. Priding themselves on perfect pints, these ale-loving properties charm guests with decades-old brewing traditions, and a staff of knowledgeable bartenders eager to share the secrets of their craft: Read more
British Airways has just launched its discounted “daytripper fares” for travelers flying from London to a handful of European cities. The catch? (Or, perhaps the benefit?) You have to return to London in the same day. Round-trip tickets, including all taxes and fees, will cost £79 (about $130) to Dublin and Geneva, £89 (about $149) for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 (about $165) for Vienna and Munich. You can only travel with carry-on luggage from London’s Heathrow airport, and only on Saturdays or Sundays.
These fares are tailor-made for travelers who want to cram in a second destination with their London trip — a fairly common strategy, especially considering how easy it is to get to Paris, Scotland, or other parts of England by rail. Flying expands your options even more.
Of course, taking into account check-in, transfers, and flight time, this doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy that second destination. But if you really have the urge to pop across the Channel (or Irish Sea) for a few hours, here are some suggestions for quick, interesting itineraries you can accomplish in a day.
Lots of American travelers make their way to Germany, and, in fact, it’s recently edged out France as our third most visited European destination, after the U.K. and Italy. The most popular German destinations include Berlin and Munich, but two delightful smaller cities to see Regensburg and Bamberg, both located in the Franconia region, not far from Munich. Both offer a rich taste of rural Bavaria. While many Danube river cruises stop at these towns, they’re also easily accessible from Munich by car or train.
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