Central Europe, Scandinavia & Russia 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 Central Europe, Russia & Scandinavia. 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!
Before you go… Travel Documents
Other benefits include:
A couple of weeks prior to your holiday 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 holiday as enjoyable as possible. Please read them carefully before your departure.
• 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
Passports and Visas
It should take less than 10 minutes to register and you should have the following information ready:
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.
• 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 holiday. All of your details are kept secure.
1. Go to www.trafalgar.com/express
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:
2. Enter your Booking No. and Last Name 3. Answer all questions and click 'submit'
• Trip cancellation or curtailment • Loss or damage to property and baggage • Loss of cash, traveller’s cheques, 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.
presents Central Europe, Russia & Scandinavia
Airport Transfers in Europe Trafalgar bonus! All Trafalgar guests receive complimentary arrival and departure transfers by shuttle bus on the arrival and departure day of their itinerary at the times specified on the individual itinerary pages. Any guests whose flight times do not coincide with the shuttle bus transfer timings may choose to book and purchase a transfer. Additionally, guests arriving before or leaving after the scheduled itinerary day may also book and buy a transfer through Trafalgar providing that they also purchase the additional pre and post itinerary hotel night(s) from Trafalgar.
Luggage Luggage Allowance This is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x18x10” (76x45x25 cm) and a maximum weight of 50 lb (23 kg). Hotel porterage of this luggage is included in your holiday price.
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. 18”
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. 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, it is subject to capacity of the coach and may be declined or incur a fee. Please see the full booking terms and conditions on the inside back cover of the brochure your trip relates to. 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 airlineâ€™s checked baggage policies.
shoes as a number of cities in Europe are developing as havens for pedestrians.
What to Bring This will depend upon your personal preferences, where you are travelling to and the time of year you are travelling. 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 holiday: Clothing Swimsuit Undergarments Sandals Socks Hat Sleepwear Shorts/skirts Jeans/trousers Warm jacket Pullover/cardigan Waterproof jacket Shirts/blouses Good walking shoes
When travelling 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, youâ€™ll still be able to manage.
General Items Spare batteries/charger Medications & prescriptions Toiletries Insect repellent Travel sewing kit Plastic bags Water bottle (screw top lid) Sachets of washing powder
Ensure that your personal and holiday 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.
Essentials Passport (& Visas) Travel insurance policy Trafalgar documents Airline tickets Credit cards/pre-loaded currency cards
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.
NB Do not pack your passport or money in your suitcase.
Please note that airport porterage at the beginning and end of your guided holiday 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.
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. 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 jewellery, clothing, etc. should be left at home for your peace of mind.
Clothing & Footwear 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
Camera/memory cards Power plug adapters/converter Collapsible umbrella Sunscreen Pocket calculator Travel alarm clock Sunglasses Money belt or holster
Tip: Weed out your wallet prior to leaving. Only take the essential identifiers like your drivers license and just two credit cards - one to carry, another to be locked in your hotel room safe.
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 easy access when travelling, 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. If you have any existing medical conditions, 4 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.
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
Vaccinations Please contact your doctor or healthcare provider before travelling to determine which vaccinations are recommended.
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 travelling companions by visiting Trafalgar’s Online Community. Read posts from fellow travellers 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.
Please note that we don't recommend the use of travellers cheques as these are increasingly difficult to change and often incur fees.
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 travelling. 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 travelling.
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:
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).
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.
Call your credit card company to advise them you will be travelling, as some companies will block the credit card when they notice unusual charge activity.
Ensure you memorise 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.
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 Australian 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 holiday itinerary pages on the Trafalgar website.
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.
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
Weather The climate in Europe is moderately continental and humid in the summer. For weather conditions pertinent to your travel timetable, 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 neighbour to collect it. A full mailbox can be a treasure trove for hackers and identity thieves.
While you are travelling... Your Travel Director and Coach Driver
Throughout your Trafalgar guided holiday 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 travellers, 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 travelling 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.
During your trip, your Travel Director will post a daily notice with details of the program timetable. Please check this regularly for the most up-to-date information and be ready at the specified times.
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.
Your Holiday Trafalgar’s philosophy is that it’s your holiday 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 places, your Travel Director will give you a brief orientation drive or walk to familiarise you with the locality, usually on the way to your hotel.
Optional Excursions Most of your sightseeing activities are included in your holiday price. However, there is a wide range of other exciting excursions available, both while travelling 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 6 excursions are undertaken at your own risk.
Europe is different! 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.
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. 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 accommodation have private 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. 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. You are strongly advised to book all your pre and post trip hotel accommodation before you travel. In large cities rooms are constantly in demand for tourism and business purposes. NB Trafalgar contracted your trip accommodation many months ago. However, on occasions the hotel may need to relocate its guests into alternative accommodation. 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 minimise any inconvenience and you can rest assured that all sightseeing inclusions will be unchanged. 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 accommodation at each stop.
Your coach crew is always there to lend a hand and to liaise closely with hotels to ensure efficient handling of your luggage. Seat Rotation Where appropriate, our seat rotation scheme ensures you get to know your fellow travelling companions and enjoy the views from a different vantage point each day.
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 holiday and you feel that you are receiving a disproportionate number of smaller rooms or rooms without a view, please inform your Travel Director.
A Clean 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
Hotel Check-in & Check-out
For the comfort of all travellers, smoking is not permitted on board our coaches, but smokers need not worry – frequent comfort and relaxation stops are made along the way.
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!
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.
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.
Meals Breakfast Your holiday 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.
Laundry Facilities 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 holidays.
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.
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 Centre or Hotel Service Desk. Any lost property found will be returned to you at your own expense.
Dinner While Trafalgar encourages hotels to provide meals that feature local flavours, 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 specialities throughout your holiday, either during your free time or on our unique Be My Guest dining experiences and other Highlight dining occasions.
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 travellers, Trafalgar enforces a no-alcohol and no-smoking policy on board the coach. Our coaches are equipped with DVD and/or CD players. 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.
Freedom at Meal Times Trafalgar’s philosophy of a careful mix of free time and organised 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 7
What is eKIT?
and eat in typical local restaurants. Your Travel Director will be able to offer advice to help you choose.
eKIT is your global phone card and web communication service designed to keep you in touch with family and friends while you’re travelling.
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.
eKIT provides: • • • • •
Water 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.
For more information check out the Trafalgar eKIT phone card in your travel wallet or go to www.Trafalgar.eKIT.com
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.
How do I join?
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 holiday experience. If you have been 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 holiday.
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! 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?
Suggested tipping rates (per person travelling) 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 holiday, tips and service charges are included for your included meals, accommodation and porterage, but at other times we suggest the following as a guide to general tipping practices in Europe/UK:
Is it competitive?
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.)
The advantages of eKIT:
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.
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. 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. • • • •
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.
Photography 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.
Tip: Be careful with hotel computers. Do not access financial data on hotel or public computers or on public wi-fi networks.
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
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 Centre in London can advise you of some companies who specialise in this service. 8
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.
Security It is important that you take precautions when travelling 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. 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 holiday, 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.
Doctors If at any time on your guided holiday 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 holiday 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.
Public Holidays and Changes During local or national holidays, 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 holidays, closing days and other circumstances may change the day of the week for timetabled dining out, gala dinners, sightseeing and other included activities.
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 holiday is given to management, and where necessary, appropriate action is taken to rectify any problems.
Austria Capital: Vienna
Population: 8.3 million
Location: Central Europe
Land area: 83,858km2 (32,378mi2)
Famous for: Apple Strudel, Mozart, Sound of Music
Apfelstudel (Apple Strudel) and Sachertorte (a 2-layer chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam in the middle, covered in dark chocolate icing). Local beers are excellent and reasonably priced. White wines are popular (Riesling, Veltliner), but there are some good red wines. Schnapps liquor is found in most German speaking countries and is made by distilling various fruits. Austrian water, which comes from the Syrian Alps, tastes mountain-fresh. However, if you come across a sign ‘Kein Trinkwasser’ the water is NOT fit for drinking.
The currency used is the Euro. Euro coins are issued in 2, 1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c and notes in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5. ATMs are widespread in Austria and are called Bankomat.
Geography It is a landlocked country with a major river known as the Danube. Austria is mainly an alpine country two thirds being mountainous.
Climate and Clothing
Cameras, glassware/crystal, chinaware – Viennese local handicrafts, dirndls (traditional Austrian dress), embroidered blouses and lederhosen, woodcarvings, dried flower pictures, Viennese petit point, winter sports equipment.
The climate in Austria is a moderate continental climate. Summer days are warm with cooler evenings and winters are cold. Even in summer you will need a cardigan or jumper for the sudden cooler evenings.
Manners and Customs
Shops are generally open Monday-Friday 9am to 6pm. Many shops close at 12 noon or 5pm on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays.
Austrians tend to be formal in both their social and business dealings. One should shake hands when greeting or saying goodbye. It is considered impolite to leave a restaurant or shop without saying ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ – Goodbye. Tipping is not high but widespread. On restaurant bills 10-15% is added, and it is usual to leave only small change.
Postal Information Stamps can be purchased at post offices and tobacconists. Post boxes are painted yellow.
Food and Drink
Austrian food is distinctive and is traditionally of the stodgy, hearty ‘meat and dumplings’ variety. Traditional dishes include Wiener schnitzel (veal in breadcrumbs) and Goulash. Many of the simpler meals are often made with rice, potatoes and dumplings (Knödel), with delicious sauces. It is renowned for its pastries, desserts and cakes; the most famous ones being
The country code is +43 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Telephones are recognised by a sign with a black receiver in a yellow circle on the door and the word ‘fernsprecher’. All booths have multilingual instructions. Directory assistance is 118200. Many post offices also have telephones where calls are made and paid for at the counter afterwards. eKIT The access number for Austria is 0800-291-018.
Public Toilets In general you will need to pay to use a public toilet. Toilets will either be staffed by a toilet assistant or will be ‘slot’ machine operated. Prices range between €0.20 and €1. Toilets may be labelled with symbols of a man and a woman, the initial WC with ‘Damen’ (ladies) and ‘Herren’ (gentlemen).
Belarus Capital: Minsk
Population: 9.7 million
Location: Eastern Europe
Land Area: 207,600km2 (80,154mi2)
Language: Belarusian and Russian Famous for: 1991 – USSR was dissolved
(a tasty potato dish with mushrooms) and draniki, (a potato pancake served with pickled berries). Stews, sausages, bread and vegetables such as cabbage are commonly found on menus. Alcoholic drinks include beer and vodka and nonalcoholic drinks include herb teas and coffee. Tap water should be filtered and boiled before drinking; we advise drinking only bottled water.
The currency used is the Belarusian ruble (BYR). Bank notes are issues in 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 10 and 5 denominations. There are no coins in circulation. There are numerous bureau de change in Belarusian cities to change foreign currency to Belarusian roubles. There should be no problem with exchanging US dollars, Euros and Russian roubles.
Bank opening hours Monday – Friday 9am to 5.30pm.
Wooden caskets, trinket boxes, straw items, decorative plates and other handicraft items are good buys. Typical Russian souvenirs like the wooden matryoshka dolls and original samovars are also available. Antiquities, valuables, works of art and manuscripts other than those offered for sale in souvenir shops require an export license. Scarina Avenue is the main street in Minsk with antique shops and two department stores. Only Belarusian rubles are accepted. However, nearly every shop has a currency exchange counter.
Geography Belarus is a landlocked country bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west and Latvia to the northwest. It has large areas of flat land and around 11,000 lakes.
Climate and Clothing
Shopping Hours Shops are generally open Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 7pm. In big cities shops are open daily and many open 24 hours a day.
The climate is moderately continental and humid with temperatures averaging -6°C (20°F) in January and +18°C (64°F) in July. Medium to heavyweight clothing is required in winter. Waterproofs are advisable throughout the year.
Manners and Customs
The country code is +375 (dialling in) and to make international calls (dialling out) it is necessary to dial 8, wait for a tone then dial 10. Calls from Belarus to some countries must be booked through the international operator. Public telephones take phone cards. Grey phone booths are for internal calls and blue ones for international calls.
Handshaking is the usual form of greeting. Hospitality is part of the tradition and people are welcoming and friendly.
Food and Drink Traditional cuisine includes borscht (a soup made with beetroot, which is served hot with sour cream), dracheny,
Medieval castle, Mir
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
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 speciality but other delicious dishes include ‘waterzooi’ (chicken or seafood cooked in cream sauce with vegetables), ‘Anguille au vert’ (eel flavoured 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.
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.
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
Croatia Capital: Zagreb
Population: 4.5 million
Location: South East Europe
Land Area: 56,542km2 (21,830mi2)
Famous for: Neckties/cravat and Marco Polo
cheese filling). Croatian beer (pivo) is of a high quality and of the light lager variety. The regional wines (vino) are good and cheap. Try Croatia’s favourite brandy sljivovica, made from plums or travarica, a herbal brandy. Italian espresso is also popular. Mains water is normally chlorinated, and while relatively safe, may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is advisable.
The currency used is the Kuna (kn). It is divided in 100 lipa (1 kuna = 100 lipa). Coins are issued in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lipa and 1, 2, and 5 kuna and notes in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 kuna. Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays 7.30am to 7pm.
Croata kravata (Croatian cravats – ties), Maraschino (cherry) liqueur of the Zadar region, Pag island lace is a handcrafted decorative work from the island of Pag, silk embroidery of Konavle and Morcic´ jewellery are the main souvenirs in Rijeka. Tourists can reclaim VAT on expenditure of more than K500. Ensure all receipts are retained after any purchase is made, as the authorities do have the power to fine visitors without relevant documents. This is to prevent VAT evasion by shopkeepers.
The vast majority of Adriatic Sea islands lie off the coast of Croatia; there are approximately 1200 islands.
Climate Croatia has a varied climate, with continental climate conditions (hot summers and cold winters) in the north and a pleasant Mediterranean climate on the Adriatic coast (hot dry summers and mild winters).
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 8pm and Saturdays, 8am to 2pm. Some shops in cities may now open on Sundays.
Manners and Customs People normally shake hands upon meeting and leaving. Smoking is generally acceptable but there are restrictions in public buildings and on public transport.
Postal Information Post offices (posta or HPT) are open Monday to Fridays, 7 or 8am to 7pm and Saturdays, 8am to 1pm. Stamps (marke) are also available at news stands.
Food and Drink There is a varied and distinctive range of cuisine on offer in Croatia. The Adriatic coast excels in seafood: Regional dishes include scampi, prstaci (shellfish), and Dalmatian brodet (mixed fish stewed with rice). Inland look for specialities such as manistra od bobica (beans and fresh maize soup) or struki (baked cheese dumpling). Traditional dishes from the area around Zagreb include purica z mlincima (turkey with pasta noodles), and strukli (ravioli-like pasta dough balls with a
Telephone The country code is +385 (dialling in) and international access is 00. Public telephones use magnetic cards (telekarta), when making long distance and international calls, it’s usually easier to go to the post office, where you’re assigned a cabin and given the bill afterwards.
Useful website www.croatia.hr
Czech Republic Capital: Prague
Population: 10.5 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 78,864km2 (30,332mi2)
Famous for: Beer and author Franz Kafka
side dishes, and are even stuffed with fruit as a dessert. The best-known Czech beer is Pilsner Urquell (Plzensky Prazdroj in Czech), which claims the title of the original pilsner beer. Every Czech town of any size will have a brewery; they’re almost all good. Moravia is a wine growing region, and while it may not rank among the world’s best, it is very drinkable and very affordable. Tap water is normally chlorinated, and while relatively safe, may cause mild stomach upsets. Bottled water is available and advised.
The currency used is the Czech Koruna (CZK). It is divided into 100 haler (1 Koruna = 100 haler). Coins are issued in 50h, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 korun (20 korun is more commonly found as coins, whereas 50 korun is more common as a banknote) and notes in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 korun. Bank opening hours Generally Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm. Some banks close early on Fridays.
Souvenirs include Bohemian glass, Czech crystal and porcelain, beaded jewellery, Czech marionettes and puppets made by Czech artisans, wooden folk carvings and handmade wooden toys. Other special purchases include pottery (particularly from Kolovec and Straznice) and geyser stone carvings from Karlovy Vary, delicate lace and needle embroidery from many Moravian towns and blood-red garnets and semi-precious stones from Bohemia.
It is a landlocked country, with two low-lying river basins surrounded by forest clad hills. With the fall of communism the local industry has had to adhere to stricter environmental standards. This has improved the state of the rivers and forests.
Climate and Clothing The Czech Republic has a moderate climate with great local diversity throughout the year. Generally winters are cold and summers mild. The hottest months have the highest level of rainfall. A raincoat is recommended.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm, Saturdays 8am to 12 noon. The number of shops also open on Sunday is constantly increasing.
Manners and Customs
Dress should be casual but conservative, except at formal dinners and at quality hotels or restaurants.
Stamps are available from the post office and news stands. Letters go in the orange post boxes around the city. There is a 24-hour service at the main post office in Prague at 14 Jindrisská Street, Prague 1.
Food and Drink Czech cuisine is considered heavy and very filling as meals are mainly meat and starch based. Long and cold winters do not allow for a variety of fresh vegetables. The meat dishes (beef goulash) are commonly served with knedlíky (dumplings), brambory (potatoes), or rýe (rice). Dumplings are popular
Telephone The country code is +420 (dialling in) and international code is 00 (dialling out). There are public telephone booths, including special kiosks for international calls. Most of the public telephone boxes take phone cards, which can be purchased at all Telecom points of sale and at newsagent and tobacconist shops. eKIT The access number for Czech Republic is: 800-142-069.
Charles Bridge, Prague
Denmark Capital: Copenhagen
Population: 5.5 million
Location: Northern Europe
Land Area: 43,094km2 (16,638mi2 )
Famous for: Hans Christian Andersen, Lego
speciality for lunch is ‘platte’, which is a selection of cold meats and salads or ‘smorrebrod’, a type of open sandwich with many fillings and pickled herring. A traditional food includes frikadeller (fried meatballs, often served with potatoes and various sorts of gravy) and marinated fish such as herring and plaice are also popular. Popular drinks include beer and aquavit, a local spirit distilled from potatoes or similar starch plants. Tap water in Denmark is safe to drink.
The currency used is the Danish Krone (DKK). It is divided into 100 øre (1 Krone = 100 øre). Coins are issued in 25, 50 øre, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 kroner and notes in 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 kroner. ATMs are in widespread use. Bank opening hours Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30am to 4.30pm, except Thursdays 9.30am to 5.30pm.
Porcelain, pottery and glassware.
A quarter of the population lives in greater Copenhagen. Over 20% of electricity is supplied by wind turbines across the country.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Thursdays, 9.30 or 10am to 5.30pm, Fridays from 9.30am to 7 or 8pm and Saturdays from 9.30am to 4pm.
Climate and Clothing
Denmark has a temperate climate. Cool summer days with an average temperature of around 17-23ºC (64- 74ºF) and summer nights are often chilly. A sweater or wrap is essential. A light overcoat or raincoat is also useful.
Post offices are open from Mondays to Fridays 10am to 5.30pm. When buying postcards from souvenir shops, you can get the appropriate stamps on the spot.
Manners and Customs
The currency code is +45 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). In many places there are full automatic phone boxes taking 2 x 25 ore, 1 krone or 5 krone coins. Use only the smallest coins available as the automatic machines do not return coins if the number dialled is engaged. Several calls can be made if some credit remains in the telephone.
The Danes are often frank and informal in their attitudes. A smile and a friendly interest should be taken as such and nothing more, and a straightforward remark should not be taken as rudeness. Tipping has almost been abolished and any tipping should only be as recognition of good service. Dress is informal. The smoking ban in Denmark restricts smoking in restaurants to separate smoking rooms.
eKIT The access number for Denmark is 8088-1909.
Food and Drink
Like its Nordic neighbours Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden, Danish cuisine consists mainly of meat and fish. A
Indicated by a symbol, alternatively they are marked WD, ‘Toiletter’, ‘Damen/Herrer’ (Ladies/Gentlemen) or just D/H. There is no charge unless marked otherwise.
Useful website www.visitdenmark.com
Estonia Capital: Tallinn
Population: 1.4 million
Location: Eastern Europe
Land Area: 45,226km2 (17,461mi2)
Famous for: Folk dancing
and often the best part of the meal. Local specialities include sült (jellied veal), täidetud vasikarind (roast stuffed shoulder of veal) and rosolje (vinaigrette with herring and beets). Braised goose stuffed with apples and plums is also a Baltic speciality. The Estonian restaurant scene is now amazingly diverse, especially in Tallinn. Produced in Estonia is the sweet liqueur Vana. It is very strong and is best served in coffee, over ice with milk or, if you feel up to it, in a champagne cocktail called Hammer and Sickle. Some cafes and bars serve tasty, warming hõõgvein (mulled wine). Estonian vodka (Viru Valge brand) is very fiery! Saku Originaal is the best brand of national beer.
The currency used is the Kroon (EEK). It is divided into senti (1 Estonian Kroon – 100 senti). Coins are issued in Kr5 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 senti and notes in Kr500, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATMs in most towns.
Geography Estonia is on the north-eastern edge of the European Union, bordering Russia and Latvia. The mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded and offshore lie more than 1,500 islands.
Best Buys Typical Estonian handicrafts include pottery, woollen items and leather goods (purses, wallets and belts). Amber and local folk art are good buys, along with the high-quality hand-knitted sweaters, which you see everywhere. As in other eastern European countries, Soviet and pre-Soviet memorabilia, such as coins and medals, are readily available, as are caviar and vodka.
Climate and Clothing Estonia’s climate is temperate, with four seasons of near-equal length. The warmest month is July and the coldest months are January and February. Estonia’s climate is relatively mild because of its proximity to water. Even in summer, you should take along at least a sweater for the cool evenings.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 6pm, some on Saturdays 10am to 5pm, and department stores from 10am to 8pm.
Manners and Customs Handshaking is customary. Normal courtesies should be observed. Estonians are proud of their culture and their national heritage, and visitors should take care to respect this sense of national identity.
Postal Information Post office hours are Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 7pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
Food and Drink
Fish features on many Estonian menus, with a speciality being smoked fish, especially trout (suitsukala). Other typical foods include blood sausages (verivorst) and sauerkraut, which is served in most traditional Estonian restaurants. Black rye bread accompanies most meals. Hors d’oeuvres are very good
The country code is +372 (dialling in) and for international access (dialling out) dial 8, wait for the long tone and then dial 00. An English directory enquiries service is available on 8 1182. Public telephones, which are plentiful, are operated by phone cards available from kiosks.
Finland Capital: Helsinki
Population: 5.2 million
Location: Northern Europe
Land Area: 337,000km2 (30,115mi2)
Language: Finnish and Swedish
Famous for: Saunas, Lapland, Santa Claus and reindeers
liqueurs and ciders are also popular, along with Kahvi (coffee). Tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and restaurants serve inexpensive mineral water (kivennaisvesi).
The currency of Finland has been the Euro since 2001. ATMs are widely distributed and credit cards are widely accepted.
Mailboxes are painted yellow with the traditional post-horn in black. Stamps can be bought at stationery shops, hotels, railway stations and yellow stamp machines. Post office hours are from Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm.
The population is concentrated on the small south western coastal plain.
Climate and Clothing
Finland has a temperate climate. Summers days are generally long and sunny, but rarely uncomfortably hot, average temperature is 21ºC (70ºF). Light clothing is recommended, though sweaters prove useful for chilly evenings. Winters are cold and snowy; warm woollen clothing is essential.
Leather goods, fabrics, footwear, furniture, clothing (particularly sportswear) are recognised for their consistently high quality. A wide variety of glass and ceramics – best known factories are Arabia (ceramics and china), Nuutajärvi, Littala and Riihimäki (glass).
Manners and Customs
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5/6pm, shops open on Saturdays and close at 1 or 2pm.
A general guideline is that you tip for good service, but it is not expected as hotel and restaurant bills tend to include service charges.
Food and Drink
The international country code is +358 (dialling in) and international access is 00.
Fish and shellfish are excellent, together with juusto (cheese) and sweets such as Mustikkapiirakka (blueberry pie) and Raparperikiisseli (rhubarb pudding). Finnish specialities include Hernekeitto (pea soup with pieces of pork), Kalakukko (a thick loaf of rye bread baked with a filling of fish and pork) and Karjalanpiirakka (a thin shell of rye dough filled with rice or potato). Restaurants also serve reindeer and bread is a firm favourite. Finland is traditionally a beer drinking country. Berry
eKIT The access number for Finland is 0800-112-010.
Old Town pier, Helsinki
Germany Capital: Berlin
Population: 83 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 357,021km (138,846mi ) 2
Famous for: The Berlin Wall, OktoberFest, Rhine wines
go past the world famous Black Forest Gateau. The national drink is beer - Germany has over 1,200 breweries. In Frankfurt, try the local cider (Apfelwein). Tap water is safe to drink.
The currency used is the Euro. Foreign currency can be changed at ordinary banks or savings banks (Sparkasse), and also at travel agencies and hotels although at less favourable rates.
Best Buys Clocks, music boxes, beer steins, cameras, porcelain and local costume items such as lederhosen, dirndls and Tyrolean hats.
Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 4pm (on Thursdays until 5.30pm).
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 6.30pm and Saturdays, 9am to 2pm.
Geography Germany has several geographical regions including lowlands in the north, uplands in central parts and the Black Forest and Bavarian Alps in the south.
Postal Information Open Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm and Saturdays, 8am to 12 noon. They also handle telegrams and telephone calls. Mail boxes are painted yellow with a black post-horn. Post offices in train stations are often open later.
Climate Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate with hot summer and cold winters. Rain is not uncommon in the summer so don’t forget an umbrella.
Telephone The country code is +49 (dialling in) and international access code is 00. Telephone booths are glass boxes with yellow frames displaying a sign with a black receiver in a yellow square. Calls abroad can be made from booths with a green disk marked ‘Ausland’.
Manners and Customs While the people are generally friendly a formal culture is present. Good manners and being polite when addressing people is important. Both married and older women are addressed as ‘Frau’. Customs for formal dress are comparable to Britain.
eKIT The access numbers are Germany 0800-100-6492, Frankfurt economy 069-6677-75528.
Food and Drink
You will find pork as a standard item on most menus. It is prepared in many different ways, and just about every part of the animal is eaten. Specialities include Rippchen mit Sauerkraut (pickled ribs of pork) and Bratwurst (grilled sausages) are the most popular snack. For dessert you cannot
There is usually a charge to use public toilets. Some are staffed; others have a slot machine on the door or at the entrance. Have coins ready (10c, 20c or 50c pieces). Toilet signs may be a man or woman symbol, the initials ‘WC’, or ‘Herren’ (gentlemen) or ‘Damen’ (ladies).
Hungary Capital: Budapest
Population :10.3 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 93,030km2 (35,919mi2)
Famous for: Inventions like the Rubik’s cube, ballpoint pen
The currency used is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). Coins are issued in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 HUF and notes in notes 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 HUF.
Traditional purchases include embroideries, Herend and Zsolnay porcelain, wooden toys and national dolls. Food products such as caviar and foie gras, and Hungarian wines and spirits are also a good buy.
Money can be changed at any Ibusz desk (at airport, hotels, main railway stations and at local offices) and banks. It is strongly recommended that you change your money before leaving Hungary. All exchange receipts must be kept and only 50% of changed money (up to a maximum of £50) can be reexchanged. ATMs are found in Budapest.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays 10am to 6 or 7pm, Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Shopping centres have longer hours and some shops are open on Sundays.
Bank opening hours Mondays to Thursdays, 8am to 3pm and Fridays, 8am to 1pm.
Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm and Saturdays, 8am to 2pm. Post offices handle mail, telephone, telegraph and telex services. Stamps can also be bought at tobacconists or where postcards are sold. Post boxes are painted red and usually decorated with the postal horn.
Geography A landlocked country. The north-south flowing Duna (Danube) and Tisza Rivers divide the country into three large regions.
Climate and Clothing
The country code is +36 (dialling in) and international access is 00 (dialling out). Pay phones are usually green and yellow or white aluminium glass-front kiosks. Self-explanatory instructions are displayed in all phone boxes. International calls are best made through the hotel switchboard or at a post office. The number for directory enquiries in foreign languages is 172-200.
Hungary has a continental climate with cold winters and warm to hot summers. Temperatures can fluctuate – average July temperatures are around 27ºC (81ºF) but the weather can suddenly change into a very brisk chill, so pack for all eventualities and bring a raincoat. Be prepared for snow and bracing cold in the winter.
Manners and Customs
eKIT The access number for Hungary are 06800-17053 or 06800-15970.
The Hungarians are a hospitable people, well-known for their informal social life. English is not widely spoken outside cities, although some knowledge of German is useful.
Food and Drink
In Budapest, there are public toilets in metro stations, parks, squares and museums. The toilet sign may say ‘mosdo’ or ‘WC’ (pronounced vay-tsay). If not illustrated by symbols, ‘ferfi’ means gentlemen and ‘noi’ means ladies.
Hungarian dishes are often rich with sour cream, onions, eggs, butter and wine. Dishes are usually flavoured with paprika. Specialities include paprikas ponty (carp in paprika sauce), pisztrang tejszin martasban (trout baked in cream), gulysleves (goulash soup) and of course the famous Hungarian goulash. Sweets are a speciality and who can resist the microscopically thin pastry of retes (strudel) or delicious tortes. Vegetarian options are limited. Hungary has 20 wine producing regions making a wide range of wines. Famous wines include the sweet white Tokaji Aszú and strong red Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikavér). Tap water is drinkable but it is advisable to drink bottled mineral water.
Latvia Capital: Riga
Population: 2.3 million
Location: Eastern Europe
Land Area: 64,589km2 (24,937mi2)
Language: Latvian & Russian
Famous for: Amber
which is raspberry or cranberry filled pastry strips. Popular local beers include the dark bauskas Tumsais and the pale Gaisais. Or for something stronger try Rigaâ€™s Black Balsam a thick black alcoholic liquid, which has been produced since 1700. It is drunk either with coffee or mixed with vodka. Kvass and sparkling wine are popular and are refreshing summer drinks. Do not drink the tap water.
The currency used is the Latvian Lat (Ls). It is divided into Santimi (1 Latvian Lat = 100 santimi). Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 santims and Lats in coins of 2 and 1. Notes are in denominations of Ls500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Bank opening hours In Riga banks should be open between 10am and 5pm. Outside the capital many banks close at 1pm and all banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 9 or 10am to 6 or 7pm and Saturdays, 9 or 10am to 4 or 5pm. Some shops may close over lunch, while others are open 24 hours.
Latvia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Lithuania. Most of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying plains, with some hills in the east.
Look for local handicrafts, folk art, brightly coloured woollen goods, mittens, scarves and sweaters and art objects. Other typical gifts from the region are belts, purses, book covers, wicker work, earthenware and even jackets made from patches of leather sewn together. Riga is considered a fashion centre of eastern Europe, so have a look at the boutiques while you are there. Amber is of high quality and a good buy.
Climate and Clothing Latvia has a temperate climate. Summer is warm with relatively mild weather in spring and autumn. Winter runs from November to March and it is cold - expect snow. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year with the heaviest rainfall in August. In summer light to medium weight clothing is worn and in winter medium to heavyweights. A raincoat is necessary throughout the year.
Postal Information The main post office is at Brivibas bulvaris 19 (open 24 hours). Post boxes are yellow. General post office opening hours are Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 6pm and Saturdays, 9am to 1pm.
Manners and Customs
Handshaking is customary. Normal courtesies should be observed. The Latvians are somewhat reserved and formal, but nevertheless very hospitable. They are proud of their culture and visitors should take care to respect this sense of national identity. Generally, taxi fares and restaurant bills include a tip although it is still customary to give extra for good service.
The country code is +371 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). International calls can be made from telephone booths. Pay phones are operated by phone cards, which are sold at kiosks, in post offices and in some shops.
Food and Drink Latvian hors dâ€™oeuvres are delicious and are said to be the best part of the meal. The soups are especially satisfying in winter; try the skabu kapostu zupa (cabbage soup), sweetbread soup with dried fruit or sorrel soup with boiled pork, onions, potatoes and barley. Speciality dishes include kotletes (meat patties), smoked fish and piragi (pastry filled with bacon and onions). For dessert try an Alexander Torte,
Liechtenstein Capital: Vaduz
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 160km2 (61mi2)
Famous for: Stamps, world’s largest producer of dentures
The currency is the Swiss Franc (Fr). It is divided into Rappen (1 Swiss Franc – 100 Rappen).
Watches, cameras, jewellery and stamps, but always compare prices before buying. Due to low taxes Swiss chocolates are also a good buy.
Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays 8am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4.30pm.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 12 noon and 1.30pm to 6.30pm.
Along with Uzbekistan, it is one of only two doubly landlocked (surrounded only by other landlocked countries) countries in the world. It is noted for its fine vineyards.
The Principality’s mail and telecommunications are generally integrated with those of Switzerland although Liechtenstein does produce its own stamps. Post office hours are Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 12 noon and 1.30pm to 6.30pm and Saturdays, 8am to 11am.
Climate and Clothing Liechtenstein has a temperate, alpine climate, with warm, wet summers and mild winters. Light to medium weight clothing is needed in summer and warmer heavyweights in winter. Waterproofs are needed throughout the year.
Telephone The country code is +423 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Simple operating instructions in four languages, including English are featured on public phones.
Manners and Customs Has a hereditary constitutional monarchy, dating back to 1719. Handshaking is performed on meeting and parting.
Food and Drink Strongly influenced by its Swiss neighbour. Look out for Bündnerfleisch (wafer-thin sliced air-dried beef), Leberspiesschen (skewered liver), Käseknöpfle (small dumplings with cheese) and Rösti (hash brown potatoes). Local and Swiss beers are popular and Vaduzer (red wine) is worth trying and often much better value than imported wines. Tap water is safe to drink.
Lithuania Capital: Vilnius
Population: 3.5 million
Location: Eastern Europe
Land Area: 65,200km2 (25,173 mi2)
Famous for: Baroque churches
Food and Drink
The currency used is the Litas (LTL). It is divided into centas (1 Litas = 100 centas). Coins are in denominations of LTL5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 centas. Notes are in denominations of LTL500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
Fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits.
Local specialities include skilandis (smoked meat), salti barsciai (cold soup), cepelinai (made from grated potatoes with a minced meat filling), vedarai (potato sausage) and bulviniai blynai (potato pancakes). Smoked eel is a famous Baltic delicacy. Rye bread is eaten every day with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Local brands of beer and imported drinks are popular. A famous Lithuanian spirit is Mead (midus) a mild alcoholic beverage made from honey. Water supplies are generally reliable in cities, though it has a high mineral content and can be cloudy. Bottled or filtered water is preferable for these reasons. If travelling in rural areas, drink only bottled water.
Summers are warm and the weather in spring and autumn relatively mild. Winter can be very cold and heavy snowfall is common. Rain is common throughout the year but heaviest in August.
Amber and Amber jewellery (fossilised tree sap), woodcarvings, linen goods and local crafts are good buys.
Manners and Customs
Handshaking is customary. Normal courtesies should be observed. The Lithuanians are proud of their culture and their national heritage and visitors should take care to respect this sense of national identity. Lithuanians are also known for their hospitality and are outgoing by nature. They like to entertain and be entertained; singing plays a large role in family gatherings.
The country code is +370 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). There are two kinds of pay phones: rectangular telephones which take magnetic strip cards and rounded telephones which take chip cards. Phone cards are sold at kiosks and post offices. Plans are underway to introduce one type of phone card, compatible with both phones.
Bank opening hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and some banks are open Saturday, 9am to 1pm.
Shopping Hours Grocery shops open Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 8pm.
Vilnius old town
Luxembourg Capital: Luxembourg
Location: Western Europe
Land Area: 2585km2 (998mi2)
Language: Luxembourgish, French, German Famous for: Michelin-star restaurants, governed by a grand duchy
Money Matters Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays, 8.30pm to 12 noon to 4.30pm. Although some banks have limited opening hours on Saturdays, most are closed on weekends.
rou tou tou, an unusual vegetable dish made from potatoes and onions. Local cheese or perhaps a pastry such as the Tarte Aux Quetsches, which is made with small plums, is often offered as dessert. Locally produced Mosel wines come recommended as do local beers (Diekirch, Mousel, or Bofferding), which are brewed without the use of chemical additives. Tap water is safe to drink.
Luxembourg is landlocked and bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. A third of the country is made up of the hills and forests of the Ardennes, while the rest is wooded farmland.
Cast-iron miniature firebacks, called tak, which depict castles and coats of arms make interesting souvenirs. There is also delicately decorated porcelain, crystal and earthenware pottery. Villeroy & Boch’s crystal factories in Septfontaines are open to visitors.
The currency used is the Euro.
Climate and Clothing
Shopping Hours Mondays 2pm to 6pm; Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9am to 6pm.
Luxembourg’s climate is temperate and mild. Summers are generally cool, with a mean temperature of about 63°F (17°C), warmest months from May to September. Winters are cold but seldom severe, average temperature being about 32°F (0ºC), snow is also possible.
Telephone The country code is +352 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out) followed by the number for the country you require, the area code and then the subscriber’s number.
Manners and Customs Luxembourg may be small in size, but it is a country of considerable economic power - it should not be thought of as part of Belgium, France or Germany. It is a very friendly country and while the locals like to use their foreign language skills they are also delighted when visitors use the local dialect for phrases of greeting and thanks. Over a third of the locals are immigrants, mostly Italians and Portuguese. Restaurant bills generally include a tip, however it is still polite to round up.
eKIT The access number for Luxembourg is 800-22026.
Useful website www.lcto.lu
Food and Drink Many describe the country’s cuisine as a blend of French finesse and German heartiness. Excellent crayfish, pike and trout comes courtesy of the Grand Duchy River and is available in modestly priced restaurants. Local dishes include Judd matt Gaardebounen (smoked collar of pork with broad beans), and Friture de la Moselle (small deep fried river fish). Other specialities include Treiben (black pudding) and sausages served with mash potatoes and horseradish, and delicious Ardennes ham. Frites (the local version of French fried potatoes) can be found everywhere and look out for
Netherlands Capital: Amsterdam
Population: 16.6 million
Location: Western Europe
Land Area: 41,526km2 (6,033mi2)
Famous for: Anne Frank, Vincent Van Gogh, tulips, windmills
Bars are open all day and also serve tea and coffee. Only 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.
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.
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
Norway Capital: Oslo
Population: 4.9 million
Location: Northern Europe
Land Area: 324,220km2 (125,181m2)
Famous for: V ikings, cross country skiing
Food and Drink
The currency used is the Norwegian Krone (Nkr). It is divided into øre (1 Norwegian Krone = 100 øre). Coins are in denominations of NOK 20, 10, 5 and 1 and 50 øre. Notes are in denominations of NOK 1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50.
High quality fish, meat and dairy products are easily available in Norway. Norwegian meals are often large with an emphasis on fish and seafood specialities. A typical speciality is a ‘smørgasbord’ meal, a vast selection of meat, fish, salad, hot dishes, puddings and cheese. Speciality dishes and ingredients include Lutefisk (a hot, highly flavoured cod fish), smoked salmon, cod, herring, sardine products and mackerel. Popular meats include reindeer, lamb and fowl. Liquor laws are very strict and in some parts of the country alcohol is not available at all. Where it is available it is very expensive. The water in Norway is safe to drink.
Bank opening hours Mondays to Thursdays 9am to 4pm, Fridays 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 12 noon.
Geography About two-thirds is made up of mountains, there are approximately 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline. It has one of the longest coastlines in the world.
Best Buys Pottery, sports equipment, enamelled ware, sportswear, pewter, silver and knitwear. If you like the unusual, a hand painted troll is something to add to your collection. Tax-free is available for tourist from shops displaying a ‘Tax free for tourists’ sticker. Tourists save 11-18% of the price paid by residents. Refunds are paid in cash at airports, ferries, cruise ships and border crossings.
Climate and Clothing Given the extreme northerly position, the mainland climate in Norway is surprisingly mild. This is mainly because of the trade winds and warm currents. Lightweight clothing generally suffices in summer, however evenings can get chilly, so it is always a good idea to take along a sweater or wrap. If you are here in winter, you will definitely need an overcoat, scarf, gloves and warm shoes/boots.
Shopping Hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturdays, 9am to 1pm or 3pm. Shops are often open late on Thursdays.
Manners and Customs
Norwegians are not class conscious and are very polite. Handshaking is popular, dress is informal. Tipping is expected however waiters don’t expect more than 5-10% of the bill. Cross country and downhill skiing are popular sports and a Nordic speciality is ski jumping. In the last 50 years Norway has won more Olympic gold medals in Nordic skiing than any other country.
Generally open Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 4pm and Saturdays, 8am to 1pm. Stamps can also be bought at tobacco shops, kiosks and hotels. Postboxes are painted red.
Telephone The country code is +47 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). The telephone service is operated by the state Telecommunications Service, Televerket. Telephone booths are painted red or grey. For the English speaking operator dial 093. eKIT The access number for Norway is 800-15794.
Public Toilets Located at stations, department stores and in some of the squares and parks, may be marked Toaletter, WC, Damer (female) / Herrer (male) or D/H.
Poland Capital: Warsaw
Population: 38 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 312,658km2 (120,728 mi2)
Famous for: Chopin, Andrzej Wajda, Pope John Paul ll
for fish such as carp, which is served in sweet and sour jellied sauce. Bread and sausages are also very popular. Faworki pastries (pastry twisters) and chocolates are definitely worth a try. Beer is becoming increasingly popular and of course there is vodka, which is served chilled before, during and after meals. If you like vodka then try ubr贸wka (bison vodka). It is advisable to drink bottled mineral water which is widely available.
The official currency is Zloty (PLN), divided into 100 groszy. Currency may be exchanged at exchange desks in hotels, banks and kantors (money exchanges). Travellers cheques can generally only be exchanged at banks. Most credit cards are accepted in tourist areas, however note it is mainly a cash society. It is a good idea to travel with US$ in small denominations.
Glass and enamel ware, handwoven rugs, silverware and handmade jewellery, dolls in regional costumes, wood carvings (from Polish mountains), sculptures and traditional ceramics from Boleslawiec. Try the bazary (market places) for other interesting items.
It is mostly made up of a flat plain with mountains along the southern border.
Climate and Clothing In general Poland has a temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. In summer light clothing will suffice with a cardigan or jumper for the evening. Winters are usually cold with snow in the mountains. Temperatures are often below freezing and you should pack woollen garments accordingly.
Shopping Hours In general shops are open from Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm, and for limited hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Manners and Customs
Post office hours are from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and some are open until 2pm on Saturday.
The Polish are very friendly. Social life is reasonably informal and casual wear is recommended. Be careful when crossing roads as jay walking is an offence and is punishable with a fine. Smoking is quite common. Tipping is only really expected in restaurants and is approximately 10-15% of a restaurant bill.
Telephone The country code is +48 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Public telephones take coins and telephone cards but are not plentiful.
Food and Drink
eKIT The access number for Poland is 00800-111-3535.
Typical Polish meals are hearty and generally meat based. Local dishes include Bigos (sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, onions and meat), kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet) and klopsiki (meatloaf with tomato sauce). Poland is also a good country
Public Toilets There are many public toilets in Poland; ladies toilets are marked by a circle and gents by a triangle. It is most likely that you will have to pay one zloty to use the facilities.
Useful website www.polandtour.org
Wawel Castle, Krakow
Russia Capital: Moscow
Population: 140 million
Location: Northern Asia
Land Area: 17,075,200km2 (6,592,768mi2)
Famous for: Ballet, vodka, caviar
The official currency is the Rouble (R). It is divided into Kopeks (1 Rouble = 100 Kopeks). Coins are in issued in RUB 10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 10, 5 and 1 kopeks. Notes are issued in RUB 5,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50 and 10. Money may be exchanged at the currency exchange desk in the hotel. Hours vary from place to place but they are open longer and are considerably easier to deal with than banks. You must always have your passport and currency control certificate with you when exchanging money. Only small amounts of money should be changed as most purchases are made in hard currency. It is a good idea to travel with small denominations of Euro.
Traditional matryoshkas (painted wooden dolls within dolls) and dymkovskaya igrushka (pottery figurines based on folklore characters) make excellent souvenirs. Engraved amber, cameras, vodka, watches and Faberge eggs (although you may have to settle for a reproduction!) are also a good buy. Shopping Hours Tend to vary but usually are Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 6pm. Most shops close for lunch for an hour. Tourist centres have foreign currency shops (berioska) where you can buy a wide range of goods for Sterling, dollars or other hard currency at favourable prices.
Bank opening hours Generally from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
Postal Information Post offices are generally open Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 7pm. Most major hotels have their own post office branch, which sell stamps and accept telegrams.
Geography It is the largest country in the world in terms of land area, but much of the country lacks the right soils and climate for agriculture.
Climate and Clothing
The country code is +7 (dialling in) and international access 810 (dialling out). When dialling the Russian Federation from abroad, the 0 of the area code must not be omitted. For outgoing calls dial 810 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 81061 for Australia). Long distance calls may be made from your hotel and it is best that these are booked in advance. It is not possible to reverse the charges for calls from Russia.
Weather conditions are varied due to the size of the country. Summers are generally short and for the most part, comfortably warm. In all other seasons you are advised to pack some extra jumpers or cardigans as it is cold.
Manners and Customs Russians have a strong cultural history of literature (Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky), ballet and music. It is customary to shake hands when greeting someone. To avoid pick pocketing it is best to keep jewellery, watches and cameras out of sight. A 10% tipping policy should be adhered to.
eKIT The access number for Russia is 8-10- 800-2174-1012.
Public Toilets Doors are usually marked M for men and X for ladies, or may also be advertised by the letters WC. Public toilets may be in short supply, so try places like McDonalds which are free of charge. It is advisable to carry packs of tissues in case no toilet paper is available.
Food and Drink Specialities include traditional borscht soup (beetroot soup served with sour cream), beef stroganov (creamy beef stew), pelmeni (meat dumplings) and kasha for breakfast (porridge). Russians have a very sweet tooth so try their desserts, especially ponchiki (hot sugared doughnuts). Vodka is popular and is often served straight or can be flavoured with herbs and spices such as zubrovka (a variety of grass) and pertsovka (hot pepper). There is also nalivka which is a sweet liqueur made from fruits. We recommend that you only drink bottled mineral water, which is always the carbonated variety.
Slovenia Capital: Ljubljana
Population: 2 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 20,273km2 (7,827mi2)
Famous for: Mountain sports, Lake Bled
Food and Drink
The currency used is the Euro. Major credit cards are accepted at upmarket establishments, however cash is mainly preferred. Travellers cheques are accepted however they should be in currencies such as Euros, US dollars or Pounds Sterling.
Slovenian food definitely has a German influence with sauerkraut, sausage and apple strudel generally appearing on menus. Breads are another popular accompaniment; try the strukli (stuffed with meat or vegetables) or a dessert called potica and there is the ever popular goulash. White wines such as Laski and Renski Rizling or red karstteran are popular. Slovenian beer is also excellent. Tap water is considered safe and drinkable, however we advise you stick to bottled water.
Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm. Some are open Saturdays, 8.30am to 11am.
It has a short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountains and valleys with numerous rivers to the east. Forest covers 57% of its land area.
Local gifts include crystal glass, bobbin lace and speciality wines. Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 7pm. Some shops are open on Saturday mornings.
Climate and Clothing
Slovenia generally has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters and a Mediterranean climate on the coast. We suggest medium weight clothing and heavy overcoats in winter and light weight clothing and raincoats for the summer.
Post offices are generally open from Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm, and Saturdays, 8am to 12 noon. Stamps can also be bought at bookstalls.
Manners and Customs
The country code is +386 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Calls can be made with magnetic phone cards.
Slovenes are generally very friendly and shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Usual European social conventions apply and informal dress is widely acceptable. It is customary to give a 10% tip in hotels, restaurants and for taxis.
Ljubljana Castle, Ljubljana
Sweden Capital: Stockholm
Population: 9 million
Location: Northern Europe
Land Area: 449,964 km2 (173,732 mi2)
Famous for: Ikea, ABBA, Volvo and Saab
pea soup or ärtsoppa (yellow peas and pork) served with thin pancakes (pannkakor), pickled wild strawberries and cloudberries unique to Scandinavia. Coffee and milk are very popular, along with lager. Aquavit is the local spirit, usually drunk chilled. Wines and spirits are very expensive. The water is safe to drink.
The currency is the Swedish Krona (SKR). It is divided into Ore (1 Krona – 100 Ore). Travellers cheques are generally only accepted at exchange bureaux. ATMs are in widespread use. Bank opening hours Mondays to Fridays, 9.30am to 6pm.
Sweden is renowned for its quality modern designs. Glassware and crystal, jewellery, silver and pottery. Women’s and children’s clothes are also good buys. Nordic sweaters are a speciality.
Sweden is mostly flat and has gently rolling lowlands with mountains in the west.
Shopping Hours Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 9am to 1pm.
Climate and Clothing In general Sweden’s climate is of a temperate nature. Summer weather is warm with low humidity and winters especially in the north are very cold. Summer evenings can be a bit cool, so we suggest packing a sweater.
Postal Information Post boxes are yellow in Sweden. Stamps and aerograms are also on sale at most bookstalls and at stationers.
Manners and Customs
Swedes are very environmentally aware and recycling is very popular. Midsummer is always celebrated – maypoles, garlands, flowerdecked houses, dancing and special midsummer dishes typify this popular festival.
The country code is +46 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Phones are conveniently located in glass-enclosed sidewalk stalls and in ‘Tele’ offices. Dialling instructions are in Swedish and English.
Food and Drink
Swedish food was made famous by the Smörgåsbord, the Scandinavian cold buffet. A seemingly endless array of delicacies from a number of herring dishes (sweet-pickled herring, pickled herring with onions), Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), smoked salmon, pies, salads, eggs, bread, boiled and fried potatoes and so on. Other dishes to look out for are gravlax (salmon that has been specially prepared), traditional
The access numbers are Sweden 0200-888-074, Stockholm economy 08-5069-2159.
Public Toilets Located in underground (subway) stations, department stores and some of the bigger streets, squares and parks. They are often labelled with symbols for men and women, or marked WC, Damer (ladies) or Herrer (gentlemen) or simply D/H. Some have slots for coins or an attendant to give towels and soap (for a small charge), but most are free and tips are not usually expected.
Useful website www.visitsweden.com
Royal Palace, Stockholm
Switzerland Capital: Bern
Population: 7.5 million
Location: Central Europe
Land Area: 41,290km2 (15,942mi2)
Language: Swiss German, French and Italian Famous for: Clocks, watches, Swiss army knives, chocolates, banking
and Rösti (fried potato), Bündnerfleisch (air-dried beef) and Fondue Bourguigon (cubes of steak with various sauces). Swiss pastries and desserts are excellent. A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. There are also spirits made from fruit; the most popular are Kirsch, Pflümli and Williamine. The water in Switzerland is safe to drink.
The currency used is the Swiss Franc (CHF). It is divided into rappen (1 Swiss Franc = 100 rappen). Many prices may also be displayed in Euro. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are widespread. Exchange offices are situated at airports and large railway stations.
Bank opening hours Generally open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 12.30 noon and 1.30pm to 4.30pm.
Watches, clocks and cuckoo clocks, chocolate, music boxes and Swiss army knives.
Shopping Hours Usually Tuesdays to Fridays, 9am to 6pm (closed two hours for lunch); shops are closed on Monday mornings and opening hours vary on Saturdays.
It is a landlocked country, has the highest elevations in the Alps and 70% of the country is made up of mountains.
Climate and Clothing
The climate varies with elevation. The temperature is moderate with no real extremes of hot and cold. Summer is warm lasting from about June to September. It is best to be prepared for every eventuality and pack a warm sweater and raincoat.
Post offices are easily recognised by their distinctive sign showing a white cross on a red background and the letters PTT. All offices handle telephone calls and stamps are also dispensed from vending machines outside. Swiss post boxes are yellow. Post office hours are Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 12 noon and 2pm to 6.30pm, and Saturdays 7.30am to 11am.
Manners and Customs Etiquette and social customs are very formal. Swiss Germans tend to be extremely polite and hard working. Tips are generally included in the bills but you can add a small tip if the service was very good. Make sure you greet a shopkeeper when entering a store.
Telephones The country code is +41 (dialling in) and international access 00 (dialling out). Complete and simple operating instructions in four languages, including English, are posted on all public telephones.
Food and Drink
eKIT The access numbers are Switzerland 0800-562-733, Zurich economy 44-580-4354, nationwide economy 0842-000-004.
French, German and Italian influences prevail in the regions where those languages are spoken. Speciality dishes include Fondue and Raclette (cheese dipping dishes), sausages
Public Toilets There are clean, conveniently located public toilets across Switzerland. Look out for the sign ‘Toiletten’ or ‘WC’. You will also find ‘Damen’ or ‘Frauen’ for ladies’ toilets, and ‘Herren’ and ‘Männer’ for men’s toilets.
Useful website www.myswitzerland.com
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