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Tips for Travelling Europe on Fifty Dollars a Day

semi-overcast

If you think you cannot afford to travel think again!!

If I can do it you probably can too.

Choose your travel companion wisely - sharing accommodation costs is a major saving.

We set an intention of an average of Fifty Dollars a day for lodging and food.
Transportation and attraction fees were extra.

You could, in fact, do it for less if you stayed in a dorm in a hostel or used CouchSurfing.

We traveled in Europe between 28 Sept, 2017 and 13 Dec, 2017: 75 days.

1. Travel in low or shoulder season. Hotels will likely be cheaper, the lineups to attractions won’t be as long and the cooler weather will be more energizing.
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2. Take advantage of discount airlines. In 2017 we used Norwegian Air (excellent), Wizz Air (really good deals) and Vueling. In 2012 we used Ryan Air (very strict one bag rule but very reasonable).
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3. Only take carry-on luggage and research the size allowances. Norwegian Air allows two pieces of carry-on (one has to fit under the seat) which is nice and Wizz Air did not strictly enforce its one bag rule but this is no guarantee that they won’t do so in the future!!
4. Use an accommodation booking site. I used Booking.ca a lot in our 2017 trip and we stayed in several apartments, some were fabulous and all of them were decent. I try to stick with a review score over 8 out of 10 and read the reviews carefully.
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5. Pack an immersion heater so you can boil water in hotel rooms without kettles. Not expensive and takes up very little room. Nice to have a hot drink or cup of soup sometimes.
6. The Balkans, Eastern Europe in general, Malta and most of the Iberian Penninsula are affordable.
Note that most of the Balkans are very much cash only, not credit card friendly. There are ATMs everywhere so not a problem and many accept the Euro - if they don’t then money changers are widely available. Of course if the town is quite small take cash in the local currency. We managed in a small village in Albania where there was no ATM as most vendors would take the Euro and do the conversion but we still had a need for Albanian currency, the Albanian Lek.
7. Buy bread, cheese, sliced meat, fruit, etc. at the grocers and make your own simple meal.
8. Lunches in restaurants are typically cheaper than dinners. Food for us was not going to be the highlight of our trip and fine dining was not a priority.
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9. If Norway is on your itinerary check out minipris train fare online - the Man in Seat 61 is a great resource for all train travel.
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10. If, like me, you are a senior remember to inquire about senior’s discounts for transportation and admissions. You could research this online also.
Travel is personal and our itinerary reflects our interests as well as our budget.
We started out in Norway - home of my ancestors. We had never been to Prague, a popular destination. Our stop in Germany was sentimental and practical as we caught a low-cost flight from Nuremberg to Belgrade. We have a friend in Serbia and have been there before but Belgrade and Novi Sad were new to us. Loved it!
We spent 35 days in the Balkans, six were on the Adriatic coastline.
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Kosovo and Sarajevo and, indeed, Skopje were very personal.
Albania is an interesting and beautiful country - blessed with a long coastline and the Albanian Alps.
We stayed one week in Malta which has an enviable climate, The Mediterranean Sea, and a resort vibe. It was ‘on the way’ to Spain.
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We were in Spain from 24 November to 11 December. Five of those days were no cost since we volunteered to teach English and received free room and board. Look into doing this if you go to Spain. Just google ‘volunteer to teach English in Spain’ - the only prerequisite is being a native English speaker - you don’t need a degree or a certificate.

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Shopping
With carry-on luggage the space for souvenirs and gifts is limited. Jewellery is lightweight and compact - Amber, ohrid pearls, and silver filigree tucked neatly nto my bag.
Scarves and pashminas from Bosnia and Malta changed up my look - adding a bit of colour to my black and grey wardrobe.
In Norway we received gifts from our relatives, pillow covers, a Bible, a wee wooden house. When we boarded in Gatwick every pocket of my jacket (4) was stuffed with the overflow and I was dressed in several layers - which worked out well once we landed in winter-y Calgary.
Christmas Markets - since we were in Spain and the UK in December we brought back Christmas ornaments, shortbread and plum pudding.
Best discount airline - Norwegian Air
Best food for low price - Serbia
Best prices for accommodation - Balkans and Malta
Best prices for souvenirs - Malta

Travel is fun and good for the mind. If you think you can’t afford to travel think again.
If I can do it almost anybody can!!

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 10:05 Archived in Spain Tagged spain budget serbia europe norway malta Comments (0)

Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia

sunny 17 °C

We flew from Nuremberg, Germany to Belgrade, Serbia on Wizz Air - a discount airline based in Hungary.

The trick to flying cheaply is to have only carry-on luggage.
We paid a bit extra for large carry ons - 55 cm maximum height.
On 29 October they are increasing the luggage size so the extra charge will not be applied.
Random seat assignment still put us together with me in the middle seat and Jeff by the window. We were in row 19 near the wings. For a short flight this is tolerable, there isn't much leg room and the seats seemed a bit narrower than on Norwegian Air, we were fine.

For ten Euros our cosmopolitan landlord from Baroque Apartments picked us up at the airport and delivered us to our beautiful two bedroom suite:
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Belgrade has a storied and turbulent history. In recent memory it has the distinction of having been bombed by the Nazis, the Allies and NATO.

The bombed out building, below, was part of the Ministry of Defence, very central, about two blocks from the main train station, about five blocks from the National Theatre.
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It is warmer here, about twenty degrees C on 13 October. We took a little walk around the neighbourhood and ate dinner on a patio. Indian summer.

We got lost looking for the main square. Jeff was looking at his map and I was taking pictures. A policeman stepped out of his little guardhouse and approached Jeff. We both kind of froze.
We had attracted his attention, now what?
He wanted to help us. He pointed out the correct route. He was a handsome young man with those startling blue-grey eyes we have been admiring in Serbia, spoke good English, calm and helpful. Friendly. That is our picture of a Serb.

Our walking tour started from the statue in front of the National Museum which is currently closed for renovations.
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There is a free (you leave a tip) 2.5 hour tour of downtown that leaves from Republic Square every day at 11 am or, if you prefer, 3 pm.

We walked first through the bohemian section, Skadarlija, former haunt of artists and poets.
Today the streets are lined with cafes and bars, a really happening place later in the day. Serbia has a cafe culture and in the evenings the streets and cafes are lively with people.
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Our tour guide spoke excellent English and besides his engaging manner endeared himself to our international group of about 20 people, by serving the local plum and honey spirit, rakija. Powerful stuff, savour it.
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October 14 was another beautiful blue sky day.
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I ❤️ Serbia!! The people are friendly and many speak English. Perhaps their spoken English is better than the Czech Republic due to English language shows on tv - the subtitles are Serbian but any American or British shows are in English. Our apartment has a large flatscreen tv and has a good selection of English language programming.

Our tour takes us through downtown and up to the Fortress where we can view the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers - Belgrade has an auspicious location which contributed to its value to the Romans, Huns, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in fact to the Slavic people themselves.
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The walls of the fortress are limestone and from the distance gleam white - thus the name Beograd - white city.

We are only staying in our baroque apartment for two nights as on 17 October we are taking the bus to Novi Sad to meet up with our friend Melinda. Worse luck they do not have a vacancy for our return visit. I felt like a princess in the opulent surroundings, Chrystal chandeliers and wall sconces. and authentic ornately carved furniture from the seventeen hundreds - cherubs and leaves abound. The colours are gilt and dark Ivory, very elegant.
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We were going to take the bus from the main square to the Nicola Tesla Museum but the buses were crammed so we decided to just walk back to our apartment and chill.
Our landlord brought us fresh organic grapes from his vineyard when we checked out.
The Belgrade main train station is right next to the bus depot and looks a bit like the Norwegian Royal Palace in Oslo.
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We feel a little nervous buying the bus tickets but luckily the ticket agent speaks English and the bus is leaving in ten minutes.
We were issued tickets with assigned seats. There are about 40 bus stalls and there is only one exit to the boarding area where a guard is positioned to collect the tokens - so you get a ticket and a token - we thought the token was change and that the guard was asking for a tip!! (or a bribe, but not so my friends, be forewarned that the coin-like objects are tokens and keep them handy)
One other tricky thing about the Serbian bus - the overhead bins are very shallow and will only accommodate a day pack. There is a small fee to stow your bags in the outside compartment.
On this bus there is no WC or wifi - fairly comfortable but noisy from some kind of roof fan, but the trip in only about 75 minutes so all is good.
It takes 25 minutes to drive through Belgrade, population is close to two million.

Along our route to Novi Sad we cross the blue, blue Danube. It is a very wide and impressive river that meanders through a good part of Europe from Germany to Bulgaria and into the Black Sea in the Ukraine. We saw it in Budapest in 2012.

The scenery varies from the Balkan plains to forests:
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We met Melinda, a Hungarian from Subotica Serbia in 2012. She was our CouchSurfing hostess for one night. I am old enough to have been her teen aged mother.
Funny how you can meet someone, a complete stranger, and forge a friendship. That happened to us. Now five years later we meet again.
Old friends with a high degree of comfort with each other. She and her personable husband - first time meeting him - met our bus in Novi Sad - he greeted us warmly - 'I am happy to see you too!' Old friends.
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Below is an example of the mixed bag of architecture - a brutalist style building from the communist years - designed for function not for beauty - plunked in among soaring church spires on one side (not shown) and much more elaborate buildings across the street.
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We spent the day together, ate lunch, a wonderful venison stew, enjoyed typical Serbian cakes with lemonade - much of the baking has a Turkish flavour from the hundreds of years of Ottoman rule. Baklava and custard cake.
As evening neared we walked through the Danube Park, and spotted a familiar statue: we had seen him in Belgrade also, the poet and painter Dura Jakšić.
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The park was cool and tranquil.
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Our second day in Novi Sad was spent walking to the fortress and just generally looking around.

The bridges are all new. All of the bridges in Novi Sad were bombed by NATO during the nineties war.
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We could have had dinner at our accommodation but instead went into the neighbourhood.
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We ate at the same restaurant as yesterday - the food was good and plentiful and the prices more than reasonable - about twelve dollars covered a filling meal for two. This restaurant was 'authentic' no English menus, offerings change daily and are written on a brown paper bag. Wish I had taken a picture.

As the sun set in Novi Sad we walked to the main square.
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Sidewalk cafes bustled with people.
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We returned to our cozy apartment about 9 pm, we had enjoyed a pleasant evening.
After booking a one bedroom suite in Belgrade for the next two nights - 74 dollars total and an easy walk from both the bus station and the Nikola Tesla Museum, we went downstairs to the restaurant - I ordered a rakija, served in a special long necked glass. 'Where can I buy a glass like this?' I asked the affable bartender. He gave me the glass. I ❤️ these people!

Fortified by the strong spirit I went ahead and booked cheap seats to the opera - we will see Carmen at the National Theatre in Belgrade on our last night in Serbia. Six rows from the stage, there were only four seats left, we are lucky! Two tickets for 25 dollars Canadian. I am stoked!!
Our suite here in Novi Sad is above a restaurant - a large, very clean and well kept studio apartment with a fireplace and hardwood floors.
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It is well located, just a few blocks from the main square, and really quiet after 11. The church bells ring every hour but other than that, no noise. For forty dollars per night breakfast is included - eggs, bread, cheese, red peppers, mouth watering tomatoes, home made peach and plum jams, good strong Turkish ☕️ - way too much food, fresh and tasty.

In 1993 Serbians were the world's poorest billionaires.

Serbia held the record for hyper inflation at that time. Prices doubled every few days and a one billion dollar dinar note might purchase a loaf of bread. In two weeks time, a slice of bread.
In January 1994 inflation was out of control in Serbia. Prices doubled every 34 hours.
In world history Serbia from 1993 to 1995 is in the top five contenders for hyper inflation. Zimbabwe blew their record out of the water in 2009.

We took the bus back to Belgrade on a beautiful blue sky October day.

After walking to our apartment we went to the Nikola Tesla museum. I am a fan of Tesla, a very bright guy.
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We moved Apartments the next day and walked to the Bohemian section for a leisurely lunch. Jeff had the most amazing roast beef - melt in your mouth, extremely flavourful, wonderful.
Our server was fabulous.
This was the best and most pleasant meal you could imagine. A gorgeous day, a beautiful patio, flowers blooming all around and impeccable service - with tip the whole shebang for two people was under twenty dollars and my glass of wine cost more than an entree!! (my mistake as I could have happily had sparkling water or a beer, but extremely pleasant).
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It was a highlight to attend the opera, Carmen, at the National Theatre.
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We had good seats, main level, close to the stage, we were lucky to get seats!

Bright, lively, colourful, Carmen is a super choice for ordinary people. The story is set in Seville and we have seen the tobacco factory where Carmen fictitiously worked.

Below is the statue of Prince Michael who liberated Serbia from the Ottoman Turks in 1867:
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We spent 4.5 days (in total) in Belgrade and we loved it!!

We love Serbia and the Serbian people we met were terrific.

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 09:59 Archived in Serbia Tagged opera serbia balkans carmen belgrade cevapi tesla rakija skadarlija Comments (0)

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