Spain, Portugal, Morocco & France Know Before You Go (US Eng)
Thank you for choosing Trafalgar to show you the insider’s view of Spain, Portugal, Morocco and France. A wealth of experience has taught us that your journey begins well before you leave home. So we have compiled this guide to provide you with as much information as possible to help you prepare for your travels. We look forward to welcoming you on the trip of a lifetime!
Spain, Portugal, Morocco & France Know Before You Go A step by step guide to your Trafalgar trip. Your insider’s journey begins… Thank you for choosing Trafalgar to show you the insider’s view of Spain, Portugal, Morocco and France. A wealth of experience has taught us that your journey begins well before you leave home. So we have compiled this guide to provide you with as much information as possible to help you prepare for your travels. We look forward to welcoming you on the trip of a lifetime! Notre Dame, Paris 2 Before you go… Travel Documents Airport Transfers in London A couple of weeks prior to your vacation you will receive your Trafalgar wallet with your travel documents and literature. These documents are valuable and contain a wealth of advice and essential information to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. Please read them carefully before your departure. Transfers can be expensive, particularly between the airport and your London hotel. But when you book your Trafalgar vacation and take advantage of our land and air packages, we have included a FREE transfer to and from London’s airports* and your Trafalgar London hotel. Guests who have made their own flight arrangements may purchase transfers at our specially negotiated group transfer rates from London’s Heathrow* to the door of your Trafalgar London hotel: $39 per person per single trip to/from Heathrow airport. Passports and Visas You will require a passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of your trip, with appropriate visas. Some itineraries may require multiple-entry visas for certain countries. You must contact your travel agent or applicable government authorities to get the necessary documentation. It is the sole responsibility of each guest to have a valid passport and necessary visas, as well as to comply with entry, health or other requirements of the countries visited. Trafalgar’s transfer terms and conditions: 1. For included transfers: Your flights must be booked directly by Trafalgar no fewer than 21 days prior to departure. For chargeable transfers: Your Travel Agent provides detailed flight information to Trafalgar no fewer than 21 days prior to departure. Once transfers are booked they cannot be changed. 2. For London arrivals, you must stay at a London hotel booked by Trafalgar on the night of arrival and the night prior to your departure date. 3. Trafalgar only includes one inbound and one outbound transfer. 4. In the event of flight delays outside of Trafalgar’s control, the transfers will be deemed to be cancelled. 5. All transfers are based on group transfers. No refund is therefore available for missed transfers, or guests not using this service. 6. In the event of unforeseen events (such as road or rail works, strikes or demonstrations), Trafalgar will not be responsible for delayed or cancelled transfers. Travel Insurance Travel insurance is a must have! It is imperative that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you the entire time you are away from home. Your policy should cover the following: • Trip cancellation or curtailment • Loss or damage to property and baggage • Loss of cash, traveler’s checks, etc. • Medical costs and personal accident Don’t forget to pack a copy of your policy, contact phone numbers and instructions on how to claim in the unlikely event that it is necessary. *Heathrow Airport: Guests will be picked up and dropped off in time to meet all flights booked to/from London’s Heathrow Airport. *Gatwick Airport: Guests who have booked Trafalgar’s Land and Air packages arriving at London’s Gatwick Airport are provided with a Gatwick Express train voucher. The Gatwick Express train journey from Gatwick Airport to London’s Victoria Station takes 30 minutes. Guests then need to make their way from Victoria Station to their Trafalgar hotel. Airport Transfers in Europe On many itineraries, we offer complimentary group arrival transfers from the airport to your Trafalgar hotel at set times. (Please check your relevant itinerary page in the brochure for full details). If your flight times do not coincide with the shuttle bus transfer timings you may choose and book a private transfer. It is very important that your travel agent provides us with all your arrival and departure flight details and we must be advised if your flight is changed for any reason. If we are not informed, no refund will be given for the cost of your taxi to the hotel. 3 Luggage Trafalgar’s Express Check-In Please register as soon as possible after making your booking. By registering with Trafalgar’s Express Check-In, you are ensuring we receive all the essential information we need to better anticipate your needs while on your trip. Luggage Allowance This is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10” (76x45x25 cm) and a maximum weight of 50 lb (23 kg). Hotel porterage of this luggage is included in your vacation price. 30” Other benefits include: • You won’t be required to show your passport at each hotel • Your Travel Director will have all your important details immediately • You’ll receive useful information and tips before you go and compelling offers from our partners 19” Hand Luggage Hand luggage should be one piece per person and small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. This is your responsibility and should be carried on/off the coach with you. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach and cannot be accepted as carry-on luggage. It should take less than 10 minutes to register and you should have the following information ready: • Your booking number and last name • The passport details of everyone on your booking • The emergency contact details of your nominated person (should an unlikely event arise) Please note, if you check in within 15 days of departure, we cannot guarantee your Travel Director will receive your details. In this instance, please print your completed registration form and present it to your Travel Director at the start of your vacation. All of your details are kept secure. Your understanding and cooperation is appreciated, particularly as it is necessary for your safety and comfort. If a second suitcase is carried, or if it exceeds the permitted weight and/or dimensions, a charge of €6/£5 per traveling day will be collected by your Travel Director. Airlines may have additional restrictions and may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. 1. Go to www.trafalgar.com/express 2. Enter your Booking No. and Last Name 3. Answer all questions and click 'submit' Please note that airport porterage at the beginning and end of your guided vacation is not included. Loss or damage to luggage or any of your belongings is at your own risk, so please protect yourself with appropriate insurance. presents Spain, Portugal, Morocco & France Packing When traveling as a couple, pack each suitcase with day and evening clothing for each person, so that in the unlikely event one of your suitcases is mislaid on your flight, you’ll still be able to manage. Ensure that your personal and vacation details are written on a label inside each suitcase (including name, address, telephone number, departure and return flight details). Write only your name and destination address on outside labels. Make sure that your luggage is in good secure condition, and use a TSA approved lock for US security checkpoints. When carrying fragile items, use a rigid style suitcase for protection. Check-in only your own suitcases. Do not carry items packed by other people. Never accept packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry on board the aircraft. 4 There are strict airport security regulations on items that may be carried on board aircraft such as liquids/gels and metal objects. Please consult your airline or travel agent regarding these and other restricted items and how they must be displayed at airport security checkpoints. We suggest you pack only essential items for daytime use in your handbaggage, both for your flight and while on the coach. For example, your camera, medicines, anything that you use frequently or is particularly valuable. Expensive jewelry, clothing, etc. should be left at home for your peace of mind. cards - one to carry, another to be locked in your hotel room safe. Do not carry your social security number on you. Clothing & Footwear For easy access when traveling, please keep all your medication in your hand luggage, not in your suitcases. Carry prescription drugs in their original package to avoid customs questions. We respectfully suggest older passengers and those suffering from any existing medical conditions should have a thorough check-up with their doctor prior to departure. If you wear eyeglasses, you may wish to bring an extra pair or set of contact lenses in your carry-on luggage. Health See individual country information for any specific health requirements or recommendations. If you are on a regular course of medication or there are medicines that particularly suit you, we recommend that you bring an adequate supply for your entire trip. Identical brands may not be available elsewhere, but also bring a copy of your prescription. For information on suitable clothing and footwear, please refer to the listings under each country. However, a general tip would be to make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes as a number of cities in Europe are developing as havens for pedestrians. What to Bring If you have any existing medical conditions, dietary requirements or disability that should be brought to our attention, it is essential that you inform us via your travel agent. Medical attention can be very expensive outside your own country, so be sure to take out adequate insurance. This will depend upon your personal preferences, where you are traveling to and the time of year you are traveling. We generally recommend casual, lightweight, drip-dry clothing that requires little or no ironing. Laundry facilities are available at most of the places we stay, however, take sufficient clothing to last for about a week. Below is a list of items to consider packing for your Trafalgar vacation: Clothing Swimsuit Sandals Hat Shorts/skirts Warm jacket Waterproof jacket Good walking shoes General Items Spare batteries/charger Medications & prescriptions Toiletries Insect repellent Travel sewing kit Plastic bags Water bottle (screw top lid) Sachets of washing powder Vaccinations Please contact your doctor or healthcare provider before traveling to determine which vaccinations are recommended. Undergarments Socks Sleepwear Jeans/trousers Pullover/cardigan Shirts/blouses Make Friends Before You Go When you travel with Trafalgar you will have the opportunity to meet new and interesting people from around the world. You can meet up with your fellow traveling companions by visiting Trafalgar’s Online Community. Read posts from fellow travelers in our Online Forum and register for My Community, your private travel group portal. Visit www.trafalgar.com/community and click on the links at the bottom of the page. Camera/memory cards Power plug adapters/converter Budgeting Trafalgar itineraries include many features that will save you money on your trip – if you study your itinerary pages in the Trafalgar brochure you will see how many highlight visits and other sightseeing is included, as well as meals and entertainment. For personal items such as souvenirs, gifts, taxi fares, laundry and gratuities, we suggest you allow €9-€11 per day in Europe and £8£10 per day in the UK. In addition, we recommend you budget for the following extra expenses per person: Collapsible umbrella Sunscreen Pocket calculator Travel alarm clock Sunglasses Money belt or holster Meals Essentials Passport (& Visas) Travel insurance policy Trafalgar documents Airline tickets Credit cards/pre-loaded currency cards Lunches are usually not included and individual requirements vary, but we suggest you allow €10/£9 per day. Where evening meals are not included, the cost will depend on the type and locations of restaurants used. As a guide, allow €25-€30/£22£30 per day. You should budget for drinks with meals and refreshment stops during the day. Non-alcoholic drinks cost approximately €2-€3/£1.50-£2.50 each. NB Do not pack your passport or money in your suitcase. Tip: Weed out your wallet prior to leaving. Only take the essential identifiers like your drivers license and just two credit 5 Optional Excursions Experience has shown us that most guests participate in these excursions and you should therefore budget for them in advance. Optional excursions are operated by third party suppliers, but have been approved and endorsed by Trafalgar. These may be purchased direct from your Travel Director who will accept payment in cash in most major currencies, such as US Dollars or Canadian Dollars as well as major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express). Full details and prices are shown in your itinerary leaflet or on the guided vacation itinerary pages on the Trafalgar website. Money Since 2002, the Euro has been the currency throughout much of Europe. Please see the individual listings under each country for the applicable currency. We strongly recommend that you buy a small amount of each currency, particularly Euros, before arriving on the continent, since there may be no opportunity to exchange money as you enter a country. This enables you to make your initial purchases until you manage to get to a bank. It is also possible at some banks and ATMs to draw cash on presentation of your credit card, though this may incur fees/ interest payments – check with your bank before departure. It is a good idea to deposit sufficient funds into your accounts prior to departure and then use your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access them. Check with your bankcard company regarding possible ATM availability. Even if you are planning to use your credit card, you may also like to arrange a Prepaid Currency card before you leave home. These are available in Euros, Pounds Sterling and other major currencies and allow you to pre-load any amount you wish. They can be used at ATMs as well as in shops and restaurants across Europe. Further information can be found at www.cashpassport.com • Check the expiry date of your credit card and the amount of credit available to you (do not forget any credit card purchases made just before you leave). • Call your credit card company to advise them you will be traveling, as some companies will block the credit card when they notice unusual charge activity. • Ensure you memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN); do not write it down. • Ensure that your credit card is kept in view at all times when paying for goods and services. • Ensure that the total amount of your purchase is entered on the sales voucher in the correct currency before you sign it. • Retain all copies of sales vouchers until you have verified them against your statements. • Insist that all ‘spoiled’ sales vouchers be destroyed in your presence. • Make sure your credit card is carried on your person. • Never leave your credit card unattended in your hotel room, a vehicle or any other place. • Treat your credit card as you would cash. • Report immediately the loss or theft of your credit card. Weather The climate in Europe is moderately continental and humid in the summer. For weather conditions pertinent to your travel schedule, visit these websites: • • • www.weather.com www.cnn.com/weather/ www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world Mail Prior to departing you should stop your mail or arrange for a neighbor to collect it. A full mailbox can be a treasure trove for hackers and identity thieves. Please note that we don't recommend the use of travelers checks as these are increasingly difficult to change and often incur fees. In Britain, you must have £ Sterling currency. Euros are accepted in Banks and Bureau de Change, but not in shops, restaurants, bars, etc. Trafalgar’s London Reception Center and Hotel Service Desk also accept Euro currency. Credit Cards If you have a credit card, we strongly recommend that you bring it with you, since this gives you extra financial flexibility while traveling. The major international credit cards, especially Visa or MasterCard, are accepted by many restaurants, shops and hotels. The bill you sign will be made out in much the same way as at home, except that the total will be in the local currency. This will be converted into your home currency by the credit card company and invoiced in the usual way. Here are some further tips on using credit cards while traveling. 6 While you are traveling... Your Travel Director and Coach Driver places, your Travel Director will give you a brief orientation drive or walk to familiarize you with the locality, usually on the way to your hotel. Throughout your Trafalgar guided vacation you will be accompanied by a professional Travel Director and experienced Coach Driver. A Trafalgar Travel Director is more than just a guide. They are seasoned and experienced travelers, specially selected for their in-depth knowledge of the regions you will visit. They will enrich your experience with informative commentary on the history, culture and natural landscape of the region and reveal the hidden places that only an insider would know. They will also introduce you to your traveling companions and make you feel welcome. Trafalgar’s Coach Drivers are fully licensed, qualified and experienced professionals who are selected for their impeccable driving skills and record. Optional Excursions Most of your sightseeing activities are included in your vacation price. However, there is a wide range of other exciting excursions available, both while traveling and in the gateway cities before and after your trip. To assist you with planning your budget, your travel documents will include a comprehensive day-by-day itinerary with full details and costs of the optional excursions available. Some optional excursions cannot be paid by credit card. Your Travel Director will advise you. Please note that optional excursions are operated by third parties and Trafalgar accepts no liability. All optional excursions are undertaken at your own risk. Lost/Damaged Baggage If upon arrival at the airport after your flight, your baggage fails to arrive or arrives damaged, go immediately to the airline representative (often situated in the Arrivals Hall before you go through customs) and report your loss/ damage. They will ask you for the numbered baggage receipts given to you when you checked your baggage in for the flight. They will then commence a search for your baggage, and may award you some compensation to buy essential clothing until your baggage is found. You should also contact your travel insurance assistance company, as they may help with the recovery of the bag and offer some monetary compensation depending on the length of time the baggage remains missing. Trafalgar Noticeboards In London, most of our hotels display a Trafalgar Noticeboard. If you do not find one, please ask the Trafalgar Local Host or at the concierge desk. Please read the notices as they contain details about the times your Local Host will be in the hotel and about meeting your Travel Director, if you are joining your vacation in London. During your trip, your Travel Director will post a daily notice with details of the program schedule. Please check this regularly for the most up-to-date information and be ready at the specified times. Europe is different! Currency Packs Visiting Europe is a totally new and different experience from life back home. You will find different people, food and customs and a completely different attitude and way of life. While many of its customs may seem strange to a visitor, they are, after all, what makes Europe ‘Europe’. So our advice is to keep an open mind and enjoy the unfamiliar. Trafalgar’s Currency Packs are one of the easiest ways for you to buy foreign currency for Europe. You will not have the inconvenience of standing in line on cross-channel ferries waiting to change money. We recommend at least one pack per person to give you just the right amount of currency to get you started. Currency Packs can be purchased at the start of your trip from your Travel Director at Trafalgar’s London Reception Center. You can pay in US dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling. They are only available on European itineraries starting in London and not on UK and Ireland itineraries. Hotels At Trafalgar we pride ourselves on our superior hotel selection. Our hotels are centrally located and close to major attractions. As we travel from major cities to remote regions, the standards can vary, but you can rest assured that the hotels we have selected are the best available. Your Vacation Trafalgar’s philosophy is that it’s your vacation and you should have the freedom to enjoy yourself as you wish. However, a great deal of planning goes into your itinerary to ensure you see all the main sights in the places visited. Trafalgar ensures you enjoy a full sightseeing experience in all major towns and cities visited on your itinerary. Local sightseeing is conducted by qualified Local Guides who are eager to share their vast knowledge and love of the local history and culture. In other Europe has a tourism industry which has developed over several centuries and across many different countries, each with its own culture and traditions. The hotels often reflect that, so don’t expect European hotels to be the same as those back home. Not all hotels are air-conditioned, for example, since in parts of Europe the climate does not usually warrant it. All Trafalgar hotel accommodationss have private facilities, 7 Laundry Facilities but again, this will vary. Most bathrooms have a bathtub with integrated shower, but occasionally only a walk-in shower. Room sizes in Europe, the UK and Ireland are generally smaller than in other parts of the world, and can vary within the same hotel, particularly where the hotel is a historic building. When there is a two-night stopover, arrangements can be made for your laundry with hotel housekeeping (at your cost). Please note laundry services are not available on weekends or local vacations. Twin rooms usually consist of two single beds while double rooms contain one matrimonial bed. Triple rooms may consist of one double-bed and the third bed may be a rollaway bed. Single rooms in European hotels are generally smaller than twin-bedded rooms, and may contain one single bed. Lost Property Once something is lost it is often difficult to find. Trafalgar cannot accept responsibility for property lost anywhere, although we will do our utmost to try and recover lost items. If you notice the loss while on your trip, you should immediately report it to your Travel Director who will complete a lost property form and give you a copy for insurance purposes. If you wish Trafalgar to trace any lost property for you – once your trip has ended – you should contact Trafalgar’s London Reception Center or Hotel Service Desk. Any lost property found will be returned to you at your own expense. You are strongly advised to book all your pre and post trip hotel accommodationss before you travel. In large cities rooms are constantly in demand for tourism and business purposes. NB Trafalgar contracted your trip accommodationss many months ago. However, on occasions the hotel may need to relocate its guests into alternative accommodations. This can happen particularly when special events such as major conferences or exhibitions are taking place. It is beyond Trafalgar’s control, but we will always do our utmost to minimize any inconvenience and you can rest assured that all sightseeing inclusions will be unchanged. Your Coach Modern, air-conditioned coaches have been carefully selected by Trafalgar with your comfort, safety and scenic viewing in mind. Your Trafalgar team will explain all the safety features of your coach at the beginning of your trip. For the comfort of all travelers, Trafalgar enforces a no-alcohol and no-smoking policy on board the coach. Our coaches are equipped with DVD and/or CD players. Facilities All hotel rooms are clean and well serviced. Tea and coffee making facilities are provided within most hotels rooms in the UK, however this is uncommon in European hotels. Rooms usually contain STD/ISD phone and a television, and may have a mini bar, room service and in-house movies. Wherever possible we select establishments that offer additional facilities too, such as swimming pool, sauna, restaurants and bars. Please refer to the itinerary in your travel wallet for information regarding accommodationss at each stop. Please note that antiseptic, bandages and other over-thecounter medications such as aspirin are not carried on the coach. Your Travel Director will be able to direct you as to where these items may be purchased locally should you need them. Porterage Your coach crew is always there to lend a hand and to liaise closely with hotels to ensure efficient handling of your luggage. Allocation of rooms Trafalgar does not allocate the rooms in any hotel – this is done by the hotel staff – nor can we guarantee the position of your room within any hotel. If you are on your guided vacation and you feel that you are receiving a disproportionate number of smaller rooms or rooms without a view, please inform your Travel Director. Seat Rotation Where appropriate, our seat rotation scheme ensures you get to know your fellow traveling companions and enjoy the views from a different vantage point each day. Hotel Check-in & Check-out A Clean Coach Arrangements are made to ensure that check-in and checkout at hotels run smoothly, and your Travel Director will advise you in advance of the procedure before arriving at each hotel. On departing the hotel, always remember to return your room key to reception before boarding the coach! Your driver is responsible for the coach inside and out. Please assist by eating and drinking on board as little as possible. No Smoking For the comfort of all travelers, smoking is not permitted on board our coaches, but smokers need not worry – frequent comfort and relaxation stops are made along the way. Personal Hotel Expenses Any additional costs incurred during your stay at the hotels (for example, laundry, telephone calls and bar bills) are your responsibility. Please ensure that your account is settled on the evening before you leave to ensure a smooth and speedy departure the following morning. Onboard Restroom Coaches on all itineraries in Europe are equipped with restrooms. While you are free to use this facility whenever required, your Travel Director will suggest that you make use of the facilities available at our frequent comfort stops. 8 Meals pleased with their services, you may wish to express this satisfaction with a gratuity, as is customary throughout the world. Since this is a matter of a private and individual nature, you should seal your gratuity in an envelope to present to each of them separately at the end of your vacation. Breakfast Your vacation includes daily breakfasts following local traditions. Please note that in London, breakfast is only included if you have stayed in the hotel on the preceding night and booked it through Trafalgar. Check with Trafalgar in London as to how your breakfast will be served at your London hotel on the morning of your trip departure. In Britain and Ireland, and on the majority of our Europe itineraries, you will enjoy a cold or hot buffet style breakfast. Please refer to your itinerary pages in the relevant Trafalgar brochure for full details. • Suggested tipping rates (per person traveling) for your Trafalgar team in Europe/UK are €4/£3 per day for your Travel Director, €2.50/£2 per day for your Coach Driver, and €2/£1 per half-day for a Local Guide. • While on your guided vacation, tips and service charges are included for your included meals, accommodationss and porterage, but at other times we suggest the following as a guide to general tipping practices in Europe/UK: • Room service waiter: €1/£1 (We recommend that you carry some small change with you, as it is not usual to ask for change when tipping.) • Taxis: 10-15% of the fare on the meter. • Restaurants & bars: 10-15% of the total bill. If a service charge has already been added, there is no need to tip as much or at all. Dinner While Trafalgar encourages hotels to provide meals that feature local flavors, most offer fairly plain international fare that caters for the broadest range of tastes. If you have a more adventurous palate, you will still have a number of opportunities to sample local specialties throughout your vacation, either during your free time or on our unique Be My Guest dining experiences and other Highlight dining occasions. Freedom at Meal Times Photography Trafalgar’s philosophy of a careful mix of free time and organized activities extends to your meal arrangements, and only a limited number of lunches are included on our itineraries. We believe you should be free to spend your time at lunch stops in your own way, maybe trying a local dish or taking a light snack and using the extra time for additional sightseeing or shopping. Occasionally, our daily itinerary may require us to make a lunch stop at a recommended roadside eatery. In certain cities, dinners are not included, giving you an opportunity to dine out on your own, sample regional dishes and eat in typical local restaurants. Your Travel Director will be able to offer advice to help you choose. Bring extra batteries and memory cards. Depending on the destination, use re-sealable plastic bags to protect camera equipment from dampness. Never leave a camera in a hotel room or elsewhere unattended. Staying In Touch Phoning home from hotels can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (pay phones). Your Travel Director will advise you how to use the telephone if you are unsure. Alternatively, you could use an eKIT phonecard. Drinks When not specified on an included meal, drinks are always at your own expense. In some European cafés/bars you pay one price to drink at the bar, and a higher price to sit at a table. Alcoholic drinks can be much more expensive if purchased in hotel bars. What is eKIT? eKIT is your global phone card and web communication service designed to keep you in touch with family and friends while you’re traveling. Water eKIT provides: While tap water is perfectly safe to drink in many European countries, we suggest you drink bottled water where available. You may also wish to carry a small bottle of water with you throughout the day to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated. • • • • • Tipping • We are confident that by the end of your trip you will have come to appreciate the important role your Travel Director and Coach Driver have played in giving you the best possible vacation experience. If you have been • Low cost international calls Send and receive voice mails Free email service Send SMS text messages from the web An online travel vault for secure storage of important documents (e.g. passport number) 24-hour customer service. For more information check out the Trafalgar eKIT phone card in your travel wallet or go to www.Trafalgar.eKIT.com 9 How do I join? Security Use your credit card to set up an account at www.Trafalgar.eKIT.com or call 24-hour customer service. Join before you go and receive a Trafalgar eKIT joining bonus! It is important that you take precautions when traveling anywhere. If hotel security boxes are available then we recommend you use them for all your valuables. Do not leave these items in your hotel room. Prior to leaving home, purchase a shoulder or neck holster or a money belt to carry items such as your passport or extra money – make sure it is not visible under your clothing. Be wary of pickpockets! Wallets and purses should be kept out of sight in front/inside pockets; carry your handbags and backpacks around your front. How do I use it? Your account number and PIN gives you access to all the phone and web based services. To make a call, simply use the toll-free access numbers for the country you are in, which you will find listed on your eKIT card, or at www.Trafalgar.eKIT.com How long does it last? We also recommend that you photocopy your passport and credit card details and leave them in your suitcase in case of loss. If you are unsure about security while on vacation, your Travel Director will provide you with the best advice. If you need to make cash withdrawals, ATMs in bank lobbies are less vulnerable to devices that capture your credit card information as they generally have camera surveillance. eKIT is a rechargeable service – simply recharge your account using your credit card at www.Trafalgar.eKIT.com or call their 24hour customer service. Ask about the monthly recharge bonus. Is it competitive? Yes – you may find cheaper phone cards in major cities – but you can only use them in the country of purchase and may not be in a language you understand. Doctors The advantages of eKIT: • • • • If at any time on your guided vacation you require a doctor, please inform your Travel Director who will arrange this for you. If you are staying at a Trafalgar hotel prior to your guided vacation commencing, please ask the hotel concierge to call the doctor. Ensure that you keep receipts for the doctor’s visits, medicines and any other expenses incurred, as you will need them to claim on your insurance. It can be used from 70+ countries. You can call over 200 countries. You can recharge the card as you travel. You can use any balance remaining once you get home. Emailing Home Many hotels have wi-fi in the public areas as well as in the rooms and there is usually a charge for this. Some hotels also have one or two computers in the reception area for the use of guests. Internet cafes are also available in many cities. Public Vacations and Changes During local or national vacations, certain facilities such as museums, sightseeing tours and shopping may be limited, so we sometimes have to make slight itinerary adjustments. We advise you to check with your Travel Agent before selecting a departure date so that your enjoyment won’t be diminished. Also, local vacations, closing days and other circumstances may change the day of the week for scheduled dining out, gala dinners, sightseeing and other included activities. Tip: Be careful with hotel computers. Do not access financial data on hotel or public computers or on public wi-fi networks. Shipping If you plan to purchase heavy items, we would recommend that you have them shipped to your home address, as airline charges are high for excess baggage. This can either be arranged by the shop where you make your purchases, or you can make up a parcel and ship it home. Our Reception Center in London can advise you of some companies who specialize in this service. Guest Feedback Your feedback is always welcomed. Towards the end of your trip, your Travel Director will hand out a feedback questionnaire. We ask that you answer the questions, make any relevant comments and hand it back to your Travel Director. The questionnaires are sealed and returned to our Head Office. Every sheet is read and a summary of each vacation is given to management, and where necessary, appropriate action is taken to rectify any problems. Note: • • • Goods may take several months to reach your home. You will be liable for import duty on all goods shipped to your home – personal duty-free allowances only apply to goods carried home personally. You are strongly advised to insure goods being shipped in case of breakage or non-arrival. 10 Trafalgar’s London Reception Center Your home away from home! Summer Opening Hours (8 April – 25 October 2013) A friendly welcome awaits you at Trafalgar’s new London Reception Center – the departure point for all itineraries commencing in London. Our aim is to make your stay in London as enjoyable as possible, so drop in and take advantage of our fantastic range of services and facilities. Sunday to Thursday 5am – 7pm In an excellent location very close to Waterloo train station and opposite the famous London Eye, the Center features state-of-the-art design and technology. Here you can relax in comfort before your Trafalgar itinerary departs. Catch up with international news on TV, read the paper or check your emails using our free Wi-Fi facility or internet café. Hospitality Service Friday & Saturday 5am – 8pm Winter Opening Hours Daily 7am – 7pm If you are staying in a Trafalgar hotel, your Trafalgar Local Host will visit daily to provide you with important departure information and assist you in any other way they can. Please check the hotel noticeboard for visiting hours and information, or ask the concierge. At the Hospitality Desk, our highly trained Local Hosts can arrange additional accommodationss and confirm any current bookings on your behalf, as well as book London sightseeing excursions, an exciting range of out-of-town trips, plus priority entry tickets to famous London attractions such as Madame Tussaud’s, the Planetarium and London Eye. If you are not staying at a Trafalgar hotel the night prior to the trip departure date, please ensure you contact us on +44 207 620 8900 to reconfirm. You must quote your Trafalgar booking reference number when you call. The reference number is located at the bottom of your Trafalgar vouchers. Mail For further information, visit us online at www.trafalgar.com/lrc Many of our guests are away from home for some time, so if you are in London and wish to receive mail while away, you can have it sent to Trafalgar’s London Reception Center to await your collection. It should be clearly addressed showing your surname in capital letters, your guided vacation number and date of arrival in London, and the name of your Trafalgar London hotel. Address & Contact Details Trafalgar London Reception Center 79 York Road, London SE1 7NJ Tel: +44 (0) 207 620 8900 Email: London.firstname.lastname@example.org London Reception Center 11 Belgium Capital: Brussels Population: 10.8 million Location: Western Europe Land Area: 30,500km2 (1,783mi2 ) Language: Flemish, French and German Famous for: Chocolates and mussels Money Matters Food and Drink The currency used is the Euro. Exchange offices are open Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 12 noon and 1pm to 5pm. These offices, together with the banks, give a far better exchange rate than hotels, shops and restaurants. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Mussels and ‘frites’ (French Fries) are the specialty but other delicious dishes include ‘waterzooi’ (chicken or seafood cooked in cream sauce with vegetables), ‘Anguille au vert’ (eel flavored with sorrel, sage and parsley), and ‘carbonade’ (beef casserole cooked with onions and beer). The best known dessert of Belgian origin must be waffles, but ‘crêpes aux pommes’ (apple pancakes) are definitely worth trying. Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm/5pm; some banks are open 9am to 12 noon on Saturdays. Geography With almost everything the most common drink is Belgian beer of which there are over 500 varieties. The water in Belgium is safe to drink. The majority of West European capitals are within 1,000km (610 miles) of Brussels. Best Buys Climate and clothing Lace, glass and crystal ware, pewter, leather goods, antiques and Belgian chocolates - said to be the best in the world. From the coast inland to Brussels, the Belgian climate is temperate maritime, similar to south-east England. The Ardennes have more continental weather, with warmer summers and colder winters. The average temperature is lowest in January at 3°C (37°F) and highest in July at 18°C (64 °F). Rain can be expected at any time of year and so a light raincoat would be very useful. Shopping Hours Shops are generally open Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 6pm. Some shops close between 12 noon and 2pm. Postal Information Look for the words Postes/Posterijen in shiny white letters on a red background. Opening hours are 8am to 5pm or 9am to 6pm. You may also purchase stamps at many news stands, bookshops, street kiosks and vending machines. Mail boxes are red and are generally wall-mounted. Manners and Customs Belgians are generally friendly. Muster your school French or dabble in Dutch and you’ll find locals will appreciate your efforts and respond. On the other hand, it won’t take you long to meet a resident English-speaker in Brussels’ cosmopolitan world. Telephone The country code is +32 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Away from the hotels the TT TéléphoneTélégraphe/Telefoon-Telegraaf) office is the place to make international and reverse charge (collect) telephone calls. eKIT The access numbers are Belgium 0800-49943, Brussels economy 02-400-6848 and Nationwide economy 078-160-170. Public Toilets Public conveniences can be found in the larger metro and railway stations, museums and department stores. If there’s an attendant on duty, a few cents’ tip is customary. The rare and less than salubrious street facilities are best avoided. If toilet doors are not marked with the usual silhouettes, you’ll see the inscriptions WC, Toilettes/Toiletten, Dames (ladies) and Messieurs/Heren (gentlemen). Manneken Pis, Brussels 12 England Capital: London Population: 51 million Location: Western Europe Land Area: 130,395km2 (50,150mi2) Language: English Famous for: The Royal Family, Harrods, tea, fish and chips Money Matters hearty flavor, order succulent English pork chops, or ham, baked or roasted. Gammon, a cut of ham is boiled or fried. Main courses are normally garnished with a selection of vegetables – green beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower or peas and potatoes. Most pubs serve good hearty meals including fish and chips and you may wish to sample traditional English beer (bitter). If you feel like a change, a variety of other types of cuisine from around the globe are readily available, in particular in London. The water throughout the United Kingdom is safe to drink. The currency used is the Pound Sterling (British Pound). It is divided into pence (1 Pound Sterling = 100 pence). Coins are issued in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 and notes in £5, £10, £20 and £50. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are everywhere. Geography England is the most populous country in the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. The country also includes over 100 smaller islands including the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight. It is only 35km (21 miles) from France and is linked by the underwater Channel Tunnel. No location is more than 125km (77 miles) from tidal waters. Best Buys Shopping in London will more than satisfy the appetite of any shopper. London’s department stores are legendary, the most famous being Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and for old world architecture and high end fashion, Liberty. Good buys include antiques, clothing (designer and high street), china and glass (Royal Doulton, Spode, and Minton). Climate and Clothing England has a temperate climate, with plenty of rainfall all year round, though the seasons are quite variable in temperature. Temperatures rarely fall below 5°C (23°F) or rise above 30°C (86°F). Be sure to take an umbrella. Shopping hours Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 5.30pm. Many shops are open on Sundays. In central London, the shops open later in the morning but generally stay open until around 7pm in the evening. Late night shopping is until 8/9pm in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Kensington High Street and all shops are open on Sundays in these areas. Manners and Customs Tipping is expected by most people providing a service - taxi drivers, hotel doormen and airport and railway porters. A tip of 10-15% of the cost of the service is acceptable. In hotels and restaurants, check whether a service charge has been added to the bill. Smoking is now illegal in all public places. Postal Information Post Office opening times vary but are generally open from Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm. Food and Drink The most traditional meal is roast beef (served with Yorkshire puddings), pork or lamb, served with roast potatoes. For Buckingham Palace, London English pub 13 England continued... Public Transportation in London Telephone The London Underground or tube, is the fastest and easiest way to get around town. In central London you are never more than a few minutes’ walk from a station. Each line has a name but you’ll probably find the colors easier to remember. What you pay generally depends on how many zones (1 - 6 zones) you travel through. You must buy a ticket before you travel and put it in the automatic entry/exit gates. The best way to see the sights is from the upper decks of a famous red double decker bus. They pass almost all the capital’s landmarks and famous shops. You’ll find it much easier and cheaper to buy a Travelcard or a Visitor Oyster Card which are both valid for use on London’s red buses and on the Underground. Travelcards are paper tickets available for 1 or 7 days of travel in London. Oyster is a smartcard which can store credit to pay for journeys. It is valid across all travel zones and automatically calculates the cheapest fare for all the journeys you make in a single day. Further information can be found at: http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/home.html The country code is +44 (dialling in) and international access 00, then the country code, area code (omitting any initial ‘0’) and finally the telephone number. For phoning home, you may find it more convenient to use a phone card telephone rather than an ordinary payphone. Some payphones also accept credit cards. eKIT The access numbers for England is 0800-032-6297, London economy 020-7943-2772 and Nationwide economy 0845-085-0855. Useful Addresses and Phone Numbers London Tourist Information Center, Victoria Station Forecourt London, SW1V 1JU T +44 0 90 68 66 3344 Visit London, 6th Floor, 2 More London Riverside London SE1 2RR T 020 7234 5800 Taxis in London If traveling around London a black cab/minicab is your safest option. You can stop a black cab anywhere provided the yellow ‘for hire’ sign is illuminated. Minicabs are a cheaper option for longer journeys and have to be ordered by telephone. Make sure you ask the price prior to booking. Consult the ‘Yellow Pages’ telephone directory under the heading ‘minicabs’. Useful websites www.visitbritain.com www.visitlondon.com Tower of London. London 14 France Capital: Paris Population: 65 million Location: Western Europe Land Area: 547,030km2 (211,209mi2) Language: French Famous for: Eiffel Tower, croissants and fashion Money Matters Manners and Customs The currency used is the Euro. Some banks are closed on Mondays and open on Saturdays. In the provinces most banks close for lunch. Credit cards are widely accepted. The French are very proud to be French and a few words of French will receive a more friendly reply than a request as to whether English is spoken. Handshaking is performed on meeting and parting or a kiss on both cheeks for those people you are more familiar with. Geography France, officially called the Republic of France, is located in Western Europe. The country also has several overseas territories and islands around the world but the mainland of France is called Metropolitan France. It stretches north to south from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea and the English Channel and from the Rhine River to the Atlantic Ocean. Food and Drink The French have an ongoing love affair with food and wine. Meals are lovingly prepared and consumed leisurely through a bevy of appetizers and main courses, usually accompanied by a number of wines. Boeuf bourgignon (beef stew with wine, herbs and vegetables), coq au vin (chicken cooked with bacon in a white wine and herb sauce) and bouillabaisse (fish stew) are featured on many menus. Cheese lovers will not be disappointed with hundreds of varieties to choose from. Corsica is one of the 27 regions of France, but it is designated as a territorial collectivity by law. Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is closer to Italy than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France. It is located north of the Italian island of Sardinia and mountains comprize two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain. Corsica's culture contains elements of both the French and Italian, and the native Corsican language is recognized as a regional language by the French government. No visit would be complete without a visit to a pâtisserie, with its delicate pastries you will definitely be tempted. Wine is the most popular alcoholic drink in France and of course for special occasions there is champagne. Typically French apéritifs (pre-dinner drinks) are Pastis, Ricard or Pernod. Coffee will generally be served black, unless a café au lait or café crème (with milk) is requested. Tap water is safe, except when marked ‘eau non potable’ (unsafe for drinking). There are many varieties of bottled water to choose from. Climate and Clothing Generally cool winters and mild summers. However, along the coast it is a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. In summer a good rule is lightweight clothing with a sweater and in winter warm woollens plus a raincoat. Best Buys Perfume, clothing, lace, crystal/glass, china, silk scarves and ties, gloves, cheeses, coffee, wines, spirits and liqueurs. Shopping Hours Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 6.30pm. Many shops close for lunch between noon and 2pm. In provincial France shops are often closed on Monday mornings. Postal Information Post office opening hours are Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 7pm and Saturday 9am to 12 noon. Stamps can also be bought at ‘Tabacs’. In the provinces most post offices close for lunch. Telephone The international country code is +33 (dialling in) and for international access (dialling out) dial 00. Most phone booths only accept phone cards. Eiffel Tower, Paris 15 France continued... eKIT The access numbers are France 0805-113-721, Paris economy 01-73-04-56-78 and Nationwide economy 0820-60-0052. The Louvre is one of the world’s greatest art museums. This former palace for the French King is now a storehouse for treasures such as the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa and the French crown jewels – just a few of the 200,000 pieces in six different collections on display. Public Toilets Those near important Metro stops in Paris are generally modern and quite clean. A saucer with small change on it means a tip is expected. If the toilet has no light switch, the light will go on when you lock the door. The women’s toilets are marked ‘Dames’, the men’s either ‘Messieurs’ or ‘Hommes’. Musée D’Orsay on the Left Bank houses France’s collection of paintings and sculptures produced between the 1840s and 1914. Housing pieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas is definitely worth a visit. The Sacré Coeur Basilica situated on the top of Montmartre Hill deserves a visit. Its miraculously white facade derives from the special quality of the Chateau Landon stone that whitens and hardens with age. For many its most attractive feature is the view from the dome – you can easily see over 30 miles on a clear day! Don’t miss the chance of an excursion to Versailles, a beautiful palace located 19km (12 miles) outside Paris. Here Louis XIV created the most sumptuous royal court Europe had ever seen - partly for his own glory and partly to keep his nobles away from the trouble-making city of Paris. A museum since 1832, this impressive chateau with extensive gardens, a magnificent art collection and a wealth of historic connections proves a fascinating place to visit. Paris The Seine River divides Paris into two halves, the right and left bank. The Right Bank conjures up an image of bourgeois respectability. Historically the stronghold of merchants and royalty, it remains today the home of commerce and government. Faubourg Saint Honoré offers the luxury of ‘haute couture’ and jewelry shops, also the authority of the President’s palace, while the Champs Élysées claims the shops, film, advertising and airline companies. The Left Bank, in complete contrast, has always had a bohemian and intellectual image dating back to the founding of the university and the monasteries. Today, the Sorbonne, the Académie Francaise, the publishing houses and a myriad of book shops continue to exude an intellectual magnetism. Left Bank theaters typically prefer avant-garde drama. Shopping The French shopper is one of the most demanding, so you can expect to find quality and choice. Paris reigns supreme as the fashion capital of the world, famous for its haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. For more modestly priced clothing visit department stores Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette near the Opéra, the Bazar Hôtel de Ville (BHV) and the Samaritaine on the Right Bank, and the Bon Marché on the Left Bank. Or wander down the Champs Élysées for stores such as Sephora (perfume and make-up), Petit-Bateau (children’s wear), Louis Vuitton (designer leather goods), Lacoste (clothing) and international clothing stores such as Gap and Zara. Antique lovers should take a trip to the Louvre des Antiquaries on the Left Bank where shops specialize in everything from ancient Egyptian pieces to Art Nouveau. Places to Go The River Seine is by far the best place to begin an exploration of Paris. The Seine provides a spectacular vantage point for city landmarks: the Palais de Chaillot and Trocadéro Gardens, the Grand and Petit Palais, the Palais Bourbon, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame all take on a dream-like quality when seen from a river boat. The cathedral of Notre Dame has had religious significance for at least 2,000 years. Building of the main part of Notre Dame began in 1163 and took 167 years to complete. The transition it represented from Romanesque to Gothic has been called a perfect expression of medieval architecture. Given the cathedral’s gigantic size, the balance of its proportions and the harmony of its facade – it’s nothing short of a miracle. Paris by Night The Paris night scene has lost none of the glitter that Toulouse Lautrec made famous. Don’t miss the opportunity to see an exciting ‘Can-Can’ floor show at the ‘Moulin Rouge’ or ‘La Nouvelle Eve’ where the productions are as spectacular as ever. For many, Paris’s most important attraction is not cabaret but the cinema, Paris is a film-crazy city where directors and even screenplay writers often achieve a celebrity status equal to that of the stars. Theater and art thrive here too. All in all, this city has a supreme talent for living that makes it a favorite of the French and foreigners alike. The Eiffel Tower was constructed for the World Fair of 1889 commemorating 100 years since the Revolution. It remains an outstanding example of engineering - 15,000 pieces of metal joined together by 2,500,000 rivets, soaring 324m (1063ft) into the air. At the time, it was the tallest structure in the world. The critics hated it. Today however, it has become a symbol of Paris. The Champs Elysées still deserves to be called the world’s most celebrated avenue despite the commercialisation in recent years. It stretches in a perfectly straight line, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, and is lined with horse chestnut trees. 16 Monaco Capital: Monaco Population: 32,020 Location: Western Europe Land Area: 2km2 (0.77mi2) Language: French Famous for: The Grand Casino, Grimaldi Royal Family Money Matters Food and Drink The currency used is the Euro. Classic French cuisine dominates along with certain regional specialties such as pissaladière (onion tart with anchovies and black olives), barbajuans (a savory pastry) and Langoustines à la Provençale (seafood). A variety of French wine is available as are imported liquors. Tap water is safe to drink. Bank opening hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm. Some banks are also open on Saturday mornings to change money. Geography Best Buys It is the second smallest state in the world (after the Vatican City) and is surrounded by France on three sides with the Mediterranean Sea on the fourth. The current ruling Grimaldi family secured control in the late 13th century, and a principality was established in 1338. Luxury goods are widely available in Monaco’s large jewellers, art galleries and boutiques. The main shopping precinct is near the Place du Casino or for more reasonably priced items try Boulevard des Moulins. Shopping Hours Monday to Saturday, 9am to 12 noon and 2 to 7pm. Some souvenir shops open on Sunday mornings. Climate and Clothing Monaco enjoys an almost perfect climate with mild winters and warm summers. There are more than 300 days of sunshine per year. There is generally little continuous rainfall; cloudbursts lasting only a couple of hours are the rule. Light clothing can be worn from spring to autumn. Monaco has a dress code and appropriate clothing must be worn in public areas and jackets and ties should be worn by men in the casino. Postal Information The main post office, la Scala Palace Beaumarchais Square (across from Hôtel Hermitage) has a full range of services: telephones, telegrams, fax and calling cards. Opening hours are Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 7pm. Manners and Customs Telephone Handshaking is performed on meeting and parting. Generally service at hotels and restaurants is included in the bill but you may wish to tip extra for special service. The country code is +377 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). eKIT The access number for Monaco is 0800-913-588. Useful website www.visitmonaco.com Grimaldi Palace Monte Carlo 17 Morocco Capital: Rabat Population: 34 million Location: Northern Africa Land Area: 446,550km2 (172,413mi2) Language: Arabic and French Famous for: C asablanca, couscous Money Matters Food and Drink The currency used is the Moroccan Dirham (Dh). It is divided into centimes (1 Moroccan Dirham –100 centimes). Coins are in denominations of MAD10, 5 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes. Notes are in denominations of MAD200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Local delicacies include Couscous (steamed savory semolina grain served with meat and vegetables), Mechoui (lamb roasted on a spit), delicious kebabs, Kefta (minced meat rissoles with spices) and Tagine (meat stew cooked using an earthenware dish). Don’t miss a refreshing drink of mint tea. Water from the tap is not safe to drink in Morocco but bottled water is widely available. Make sure you carry a bottle of water to prevent dehydration on hot summer days. Bank opening hours Usually Mondays to Thursdays, 9.30am to 12 noon and 2.30pm to 4.30pm; Fridays 8.15pm to 11.15pm and 2.30 to 5.30pm. These hours may vary during Ramadan. Best Buys Geography Exquisite Moroccan craftsmanship is evident on hand-woven rugs, ceramics, and jewelry. In the souks you will find an abundance of leather goods (cushion covers, shoes, wallets), tin pressed lanterns, textile products and light weight scarves and wraps. Morocco has a Northern coast, with mountainous interiors of bordering plateaus, valleys, and rich coastal plains. Climate and Clothing Shopping Hours Shops are usually open from 9am to 12 noon and 2.30pm to 6.30pm but close Sundays. Markets and tourist shops stay open longer. Morocco has a mix of climates, however generally it is Mediterranean, warm on the coast, continental in the interior and arid in the South. It is sunny most of the year, although temperatures may drop quite considerably at night. In high summer we suggest you wear cool clothing, hat and sunglasses, while a sweater or jacket are recommended for those cool night breezes. We also suggest ladies cover their shoulders. Postal Information Opening times: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.30pm (closed 12 noon to 3pm in small towns) and 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. Stamps can be bought at post offices and tobacconists. Customs Morocco is rich in tradition and remains largely a conservative Muslim society, and people are friendly. Remember though that when visiting the markets (souks) if you ask the price, you are starting negotiations and shopkeepers may get annoyed if you walk away. Also always ask before taking someone’s photo. Telephone The country code is +212 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Public telephones can be found in cafés and public places. However, unless you are reversing the charges let your hotel or post office make the call and arrange payment. Bazaar, Fez 18 Netherlands Capital: Amsterdam Population: 16.6 million Location: Western Europe Land Area: 41,526km2 (6,033mi2) Language: Dutch Famous for: Anne Frank, Vincent Van Gogh, tulips, windmills Money Matters change and small notes should be left as a tip. The water is safe to drink. The currency used is the Euro and ATMs are widely distributed. Best Buys Geography Delft Blue pottery, national costume dolls, silverware from Schoonhoven, crystal from Leerdam and diamonds from Amsterdam. Edam and Gouda cheeses and traditional wooden clogs are also popular souvenirs. One fifth of the country is below sea level as a result of being reclaimed by the sea. It is generally flat and level and is crisscrossed by rivers and canals. Climate and Clothing Shopping Hours Mondays 11am to 6pm, Tuesdays to Fridays 9am to 6pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm. Shopping malls are open on Sunday. The Netherlands has a maritime climate. Summers are generally warm but not extreme. In summer a light sweater or wrap may be needed in the evenings. Winters are fairly cold and rainfall occurs throughout the year. Pack a raincoat for those spontaneous showers. Post Information Post offices are generally open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm. When buying postcards from stands and souvenir shops, you can usually get stamps on the spot. Post boxes are either red or red and grey, and are mounted on walls at eye level. In Amsterdam they have two slots, one marked ‘Amsterdam’ and the other ‘overige bestemmingen’ (other destinations). Manners and Customs The Dutch people are polite and courteous and prefer formal greetings on first meetings. The Dutch are a nation of cyclists and in Amsterdam 540,000 people have bicycles – not surprising when you consider how flat the land is. The use of soft drugs is allowed, and even sold at ‘coffee shops’ – in the form of cookies. Telephone The country code is +31 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Food and Drink eKIT The access numbers are Netherlands 0800-023-3971, Amsterdam economy 0207-133-472. You will find a variety of international food, from ethnic to Italian and of course traditional Dutch food. Potatoes feature prominently in dishes. Local dishes include Poffertjes (small pancakes traditionally served warm with powdered sugar sprinkled on top), Patat (French fries with mayonnaise), Haring (raw herring fish with raw onions) and Vlaai (pastry with a fruit filling). Dutch beers can be very good and are quite strong. Bars are open all day and also serve tea and coffee. Only Public Toilets There’s a lack of public toilets in Amsterdam. Most department stores have smart and clean public toilets, usually with an attendant on duty. A tip is expected. Tulip field, Amsterdam Delft canal, Delft 19 Portugal Capital: Lisbon Population: 10.6 million Location: South West Europe Land Area: 92,391km2 (35,672mi2) Language: Portuguese Famous for: Port wine, salted cod Money Matters also famous for its port wines; the best are produced around Oporto. Although Lisbon’s water tastes heavily of chemicals, it is safe for drinking. However, we recommend that you buy bottled drinking water. Portugal has an excellent range of local mineral waters. The official currency is the Euro. ATMs are widely distributed and major credit cards are readily accepted. Bank opening hours Generally Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 3pm; some may close for lunch. Best Buys Jewelry and handcrafted items from goldsmiths in silver and gold, leather goods, ceramics, wickerwork, tiles, cork goods, embroidery and tapestry. Geography It is mountainous north of the Tagus River with rolling plains in the south. Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 7pm (some may close for lunch), and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Climate and Clothing Portugal has a Mediterranean climate. It is one of the warmest European countries. Summer months are usually sunny, with the hottest months being July and August, where you can expect temperature highs of 35°C (95°F). Average temperatures in winter are 9°C -15°C (48.2°F-59°F). A sweater will come in handy for cool summer evenings and low heeled shoes are recommended if you plan to do much walking on Lisbon’s cobble stoned streets. Postal Information Post offices open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 7pm. You can also buy stamps from tobacconists. Mail boxes are painted bright red. Telephone The country code is +351 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). For international operator connected calls from Lisbon (to USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) dial the English-speaking operator on 329011. Manners and Customs The Portuguese shake hands at every opportunity. Don’t be startled if someone taps you firmly on the arm to attract your attention – it’s the Portuguese way. If people, especially villagers, seem to be staring at you, it’s only unaffected curiosity. One problem can be how to catch the eye of a waiter. The Portuguese have no equivalent for ‘Waiter’ but use the term ‘Faz favor’ (please!). Tipping in restaurants is around 10-15% of the bill. eKIT The access number for Portugal is 800-812-993. Public Toilets Located in most Metro stations and other heavily-travelled places in Lisbon. If there is an attendant on duty a 20 cent coin would be an appropriate tip. Ladies’ toilets are ‘Senhoras’ and men’s are ‘Homens’. Food and Drink Due to its long coastline seafood features prominently on restaurant menus. Typical Portuguese dishes include sopa de mariscos (shellfish soup made with vegetables and shellfish), caldo verde (green soup made with green cabbage leaves), caldeirada (fish stew cooked with vegetables) and porco altentejano (fried pork covered with a sauce of mussels stewed with tomato and onions). Another staple is bacalhau (dried codfish), which you will find everywhere. Portuguese grilled chicken is world famous and it is generally marinated in chili, garlic and olive oil. Puddings include arroz doce (Portuguese version of rice pudding) and nuvens (egg custard). Wine is the drink of choice in Portugal. There are good reds and whites and Mateus Rosé is a famous lightweight Rose. Portugal is Useful website www.visitportugal.com 20 Spain Capital: Madrid Population: 46 million Location: South West Europe Land Area: 504,782km2 (194,897mi2) Language: Spanish Famous for: B ull fighting, flamenco dancing, tapas Money Matters pig) and Cordero Asado (roast lamb). Many specialty dishes are made with seafood – eels, bream and squid. The area of Andalusia is noted for Gazpacho, a delicious cold vegetable soup and in the eastern regions there is Paella, a rice dish made with meat or seafood – well worth a try! Rioja red wine (pronounced ‘Ree-o-hah’), sherry (liqueur) and Cava (sparkling wine, which is much cheaper than champagne) are also popular. We suggest, like most Spaniards, you drink bottled mineral water which is widely available. The currency used is the Euro. Money can be exchanged at banks, travel agencies and major hotels. Credit cards and travelers cheques are widely accepted. Bank opening hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm, and normally also on Saturdays, 9am to 1pm. Geography Best Buys Spain is large and generally flat in the center with the rugged hills of the Pyrenees in the north and the mountain slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the south. Sherry (liqueur), lace, ceramics, leather goods, jewelry, Lladro figurines (porcelain), Spanish fans (abanico), Flamenco CDs, Damascene jewelry and Majorcan pearls. Climate and Clothing Shopping Hours Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 1pm and 5-8pm. Spain’s climate does vary but is by and large Mediterranean. Expect hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Take light to medium weight clothing in summer. Postal Information The main post offices in major cities are generally open 9am to 8pm. Stamps are not only sold at the post offices but also at establishments called Estancos (tobacconists) which are authorised to sell tobacco and stamps. Manners and Customs The custom of siesta (early afternoon nap) is gradually disappearing and department stores now stay open through the traditional three-hour siesta. Some shops close from 2 to 5pm and reopen for late-night trading. Telephone The country code is +34 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Food and Drink Spaniards eat out a lot and one of the best ways to try a variety of dishes is tapas (snacks). Served in small bowls, the idea is to share a mixed variety of dishes such of olives, squid, cheese, meat and bread. Other specialty dishes include Sopa Castellana (baked garlic soup), Besugo al Horno (seabream poached in a wine sauce), Cochinillo Asado (roasted suckling eKIT The access number for Spain is 800-099-665, Madrid economy is 91-414-61-98. Public Toilets There are many expressions for toilet in Spanish – Aseos, Servicios, WC and Retretes. The first two terms are the more common. In public conveniences, attendants expect a tip. 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