Information on the most visited continent in the world. Learn about Eurailing in the summer, travel through post-communist countries and what to do in Paris with a 12-hour layover.

Europe Warnings

Court

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  • Added on: May 10th, 2005
This is a new thread of Europe warnings. It is to be used for Europe specific warnings only. Warnings include instances of robbery in a certain part of a city, bad hostel experiences, etc. As a content-rich thread, we do not want any back-and-forth or questions. Please direct all questions via Private Messages (Click on "Go" in the left hand corner, select "My Space" and then "Private Messages") to the poster. You can also issue a PM by clicker on the poster's name and selecting "Private Message". Any post that does not contribute relevant information will be deleted. Examples include: responses to previous posts in the thread and questions. The information can be on any city, region or country in Europe. When reading these experiences, please remember that there are two sides to every story and warnings should be issued sparingly.
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delara

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  • Added on: May 11th, 2005
Bad Youth Hostels:

Wake Up! London - like its infamous sister in Sydney, this is the ultimate anti-backpacker hostel. After taking a little tour I found it to be dirty (no hot water, kitchen looked as if it had never been cleaned), unsafe (people being given keys to rooms they were not staying in) and the place to come to if you don't actually want to travel: i.e. expensive pub in the basement where you can hit on your fellow travellers until 3am, that is if you can see through the smoke. I found the staff to be rude and accusative and the management equally so. This is a definite no go!

Alex Brady

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  • Added on: May 16th, 2005
Camping Fusina Hostel (Venice, Italy)

This hostel is on the mainland, with small trailers as dorms. This may be an okay option during the summer months, but during the winter, the heaters can not keep up. But the biggest warning about this hostel is the bus route. It is the last stop, but it ends at 11 or 12 PM. Not knowing this, my friends and I boarded a bus that ended up leaving us in the middle of nowhere. RyanAir is cheap, but getting to a destination late can be very dangerous. That night we walked 15 miles with two Italians following us, one of which was high on coke and meth. So spend the extra bucks and arrive in the afternoon. At least if you are staying somewhere like Camping Fusina. Oh, and bring toilet paper if you stay here, too.

Nicky Gardner

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  • Added on: May 24th, 2005
BEWARE OF PAYING OVER THE ODDS FOR YOUR EUROPEAN TRAVEL

Okay... so I’d like to chip in with a warning for all those non-Europeans who seem dead set on getting some kind of rail pass, bus pass or city pass to smooth their way round this happy continent. Eurailpass and the like may seem like a great deal, but it really is worth taking some time to check out how much the tickets for your proposed trips might cost if purchased locally. And that doesn’t mean just checking the point-to-point fares on one of the big US rail ticket distributors. You need to check what price you might pay for a ticket purchased here in Europe (or via a European website).

Europe bristles with cheap deals, with some especially cheap rail tickets for small groups travelling together, for pre-booked Internet tickets and so on. This is especially true in those western European countries with higher rail tariffs, where discounting of the regular fares on long distance services is very common (€29 from Munich to Rome or Berlin to Vienna for example). On France’s excellent TGV services, there is a great range of discount tickets, and, with a little flexibility, the chances are that you could zoom across France for €40.

Once you move into central and eastern Europe, standard tariffs plummet, and discounting is less common, but in these countries regular fares are often so cheap as just not to justify buying a railpass.

The rail ticket retailers in Oz, Canada and the USA rely, it has always seemed to me, upon visitors’ fears of high European rail fares to market their range of railpasses. They clearly aren’t going to shout about the many cheap deals available if you are prepared to spend the time combing European websites. But take the time to do that research, and you may well find that you can pick up a range of locally purchased tickets that make a rail pass redundant. It is certainly worth checking.

I do hope this comment helps.
Nicky Gardner
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Leif, God of Thunder

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2005
Avoid RyanAir all together. There are a dozen hidden charges and surprise fees (this is how they recoup for selling seats for 99P). The staff are poorly trained and sour from being yelled at every day by irate travelers who got stung by the hidden fees. Their network is weak. In some cities they fly out of airports that are so out of the way and cost one so much to reach that one could have paid for a First Class regular plane ticket in the end for the same price, particularly after the hidden fees get factored in.

EasyJet is infinitely better. More destinations, less hassle, less sneaky charges, more chipper staff.
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Clay

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  • Added on: May 30th, 2005
Don’t stay at the Modern Hotel in Catania. There is nothing modern about it. I wanted to splurge a little, and figured 60 Euros might get me something nicer than a run down dump. Toilet ran all night, shower leaked, bed was hard, and I was scared for my life trying to find the place.

The hotel I stayed in while I was in Siracusa, was cheap. But spending the night sleeping on what felt like a plywood plank, in a room which felt like a South American prison cell, was not worth it. Add in the fact that every noise made in any other room echoed throughout the hallways- which included the person next door to me coughing and hacking as if he had tuberculosis all night- and there was no way I was staying another night to see the catacombs. I think it was called ‘Central hotel’ or something along those lines. It’s on a dirty street near the train station. I expected to wake up with fleas. Don’t stay there.

cherie

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  • Added on: June 15th, 2005
do not stay at any of the st christophers hostels they are very dirty and loud they re in the uk
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dannyb

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Joined: March 11th, 2005

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  • Added on: June 17th, 2005
Dont stay at 'generation europe' in brussels, bad location, bad staff, no atmosphere.

Pietro Luigi

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  • Added on: June 22nd, 2005
When in Rome, stay away from the statzione termini at night, it's kinda sketchy. Especially avoid walking the "piss tunnel" (I gave it that name after walking and smelling it myself at night) next to it.

Moen

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Joined: February 1st, 2005
Location: The Netherlands

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  • Added on: June 26th, 2005
Never, ever, go to the Youth hostel in Thessaloniki (although i think it was the only hostel i could find in this town). The hostel itself is on the third floor, while the showers are in the basment. basment means, dark and dirty. The beds aren't clean either. Only the location is good.

Cryinmercy

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  • Added on: July 5th, 2005
I agree. I got burned on an Eastern Europe Pass. Although it let me not worry about embarrassing myself at the ticket window with poor Polish, the conductor in Czech Rep. wouldn't accept the pass and I ended up paying the fare between Prague and Krakow anyway. Do not, I repeat DO NOT buy an east pass. The tickets between anywhere in Hungary, Czech, Poland, etc are dirt cheap anyway and it's almost all second class. Besides, I don't think the conductors are used to seeing an East pass and whipping it out shouts "STUPID TOURIST BOUGHT A RIPOFF PASS!" That would have been me... Eastern Europe is a gorgeous, affordable and relatively safe place. Can't wait to get back sans my east pass.... Cheers!
quote:
Originally posted by Nicky Gardner (for hiddeneurope):
BEWARE OF PAYING OVER THE ODDS FOR YOUR EUROPEAN TRAVEL

Okay... so I’d like to chip in with a warning for all those non-Europeans who seem dead set on getting some kind of rail pass, bus pass or city pass to smooth their way round this happy continent. Eurailpass and the like may seem like a great deal, but it really is worth taking some time to check out how much the tickets for your proposed trips might cost if purchased locally. And that doesn’t mean just checking the point-to-point fares on one of the big US rail ticket distributors. You need to check what price you might pay for a ticket purchased here in Europe (or via a European website).

Europe bristles with cheap deals, with some especially cheap rail tickets for small groups travelling together, for pre-booked Internet tickets and so on. This is especially true in those western European countries with higher rail tariffs, where discounting of the regular fares on long distance services is very common (€29 from Munich to Rome or Berlin to Vienna for example). On France’s excellent TGV services, there is a great range of discount tickets, and, with a little flexibility, the chances are that you could zoom across France for €40.

Once you move into central and eastern Europe, standard tariffs plummet, and discounting is less common, but in these countries regular fares are often so cheap as just not to justify buying a railpass.

The rail ticket retailers in Oz, Canada and the USA rely, it has always seemed to me, upon visitors’ fears of high European rail fares to market their range of railpasses. They clearly aren’t going to shout about the many cheap deals available if you are prepared to spend the time combing European websites. But take the time to do that research, and you may well find that you can pick up a range of locally purchased tickets that make a rail pass redundant. It is certainly worth checking.

I do hope this comment helps.
Nicky Gardner
_______________________________________
hidden europe magazine - good writing that celebrates Europe's diversity
www.hiddeneurope.info

lcmg

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Joined: June 24th, 2005

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2005
Here's a tip for Vilnius, Lithuania.
Ignore the funky website of the Baltica Hostel, professing it to be "the newest hostel in town, for sure". It's not. It's a musty collection of long corridors with hundreds of stuffy rooms on the 5th floor of a crumbling concrete block, set in a dodgy area of this otherwise wonderful city.
The reception has no information and can't even show you on a map where you are (it's off most maps).
Unless you want the ex soviet experience, stay away.

The HI affiliated Hostel I moved to now, Filaretai, is easy to get to from the Bus Station, walking distance from town, has nice rooms, free internet, good common room and all the tourist info. They can even book you into your next stay. I am paying significantly less too. (31LT as opposed to 45 at the Baltica)

wayfarers_all

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Joined: October 9th, 2004

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2005
Robbery in Russia

Don't avoid small towns in Russia because of this post, but do avoid making the same mistakes I did. I was robbed in the small town of Rostov, about three hours north of Moscow, mainly because I ignored common sense and standard advice.

I was out with another American, and we noticed a group of Russian teenagers celebrating their high school graduation. We decided to join them and had a great time doing so. Unfortunately, this put us in an otherwise deserted park at about 2 a.m. It was around the solstice so it wasn't completely dark, but nobody else was about. It was obvious that we were Americans (no real way to hide that without much more fluency in Russian) and we weren't on our guard and let slip the names of the places we were staying. The majority of the people there were kids who were just out to drink and have a good time, but there were a few hoodlums in the mix as well. I was wearing a backpack and felt people trying to get into it and unzip it in the confusion. When they started to pick us up as if in a mosh pit at a rock concert, I knew it was probably a good idea to get out of there. The other American was staying at a closer hotel. Once he left it was about 10 minutes to where I was staying. I noticed three of the kids from the park following me. They got closer, and stupidly I stopped to let them pass. One of them came up, grabbed my jacket, and knocked my glasses off. In the confusion the others grabbed my glasses, jacket, and the backpack I was wearing.

Although I lost a few things, on the whole I was quite lucky. There was no violence, for starters, and my passport and all of my money were elsewhere on me. I think they thought my wallet was in my jacket. I had the good luck to be carrying my camera in my pocket instead of the backpack as well. My main losses were my glasses, my journal in my backpack, and a digital memory card with some photos. I told my tale to the desk clerk at the hotel, who explained that there's enough poverty in rural Russia (if I may generalize a bit) that you should really watch out.

This happened because I was out late, walking alone, and had previously announced where I was going and implicitly what valuables I was carrying to a large group of people. The fact that the majority of the Russians I met in the park were really cool to hang out with helped to mitigate the loss somewhat. The important lessons are to be discreet about where you're staying, carry extra glasses or contacts if you wear them, don't take lots of stuff with you if you go out drinking, don't carry anything important in your jacket, and report losses to the police. I neglected to do the latter and later found that my glasses could have been replaced for much less with a report of the theft. Above all, use common sense and don't let this scare you away from having interesting conversations with locals.

dannyb

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Posts: 30
Joined: March 11th, 2005

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  • Added on: August 25th, 2005
Take care of your passport, i have been keeping my passport in a belt worn under my t-shirt which i admit has kept it fairly safe but it has also made it hot and sweaty. Only once on the hugarian border with ukraine, on the hungarian side, did the guard think that the bit of wear and tear on the passport was evidence of forgery which is a problem. I had to talk my way in to staying on the train, there was no problem on the ukranian side but every border now i get a little anxious. Ive bought a leather case to put it in before i put it in my money belt. Its bulkier now, that is stands out under a t-shirt, but it is a must to keep your passport in good nick.

eastcult

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Joined: August 19th, 2005

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  • Added on: September 6th, 2005
" That night we walked 15 miles with two Italians following us, one of which was high on coke and meth. "

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