On Monday, I attended the Visit Europe Media Exchange (VEMEX) in New York, which essentially is an opportunity for travel media and bloggers to meet one-on-one with representatives from various European countries and cities to learn what’s new. It was certainly a valuable day of meetings. Take look at 10 cool things I learned about Europe throughout the day:
1. It’s not uncommon to take a helicopter from the airport to your hotel in Monaco (fly in to Nice, France). Just seven minutes from Monaco, helicopters depart every 15 minutes and some hotels offer free transfers from the heliport to your hotel (otherwise, the cost is about the same as a taxi).
2. You can explore many of the major attractions in Europe, like the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Big Ben, in one day. Yes, one day. Go to Mini-Europe in Brussels and spend a few hours strolling around some of the most notable sights in Europe, each one on a 1:25 scale.
3. Estonia is an up-and-coming destination in Europe, but if you go, fly into Helsinki, Finland. Just across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn it’s an easy two-hour ferry ride to Estonia’s capital city. Enjoy a cheaper fare to Helsinki (try Norwegian) and spend time in Finland before exploring all that Estonia has to offer.
4. There’s an Angry Birds Land at the Sarkanniemi theme park in Tampere, Finland (less than two hours from Helsinki). In addition to Red, Terence and Matilda, you’ll find an aquarium, a children’s zoo and an art museum at Sarkanniemi. Angry Birds fans, look for a new game called On Finn Ice in December.
5. The tap water in Vienna, Austria may be the best in the world. Tap water comes straight from the Alps to your faucet. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, it’s also considered rude to order tap water in a restaurant in Vienna. So, drink tap water in your flat or hotel, but order bottled water when you dine out.
6. The Netherlands is huge into cycling. There are more than 32,000 kilometers of bike paths, offering a wonderful way for families to explore the country. Given their love of cycling, you bet the Dutch are excited that the Tour de France will start in their city of Utrecht when the cycling event kicks off July 5.
7. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music and Salzburg, Austria is ready for travelers wanting to see the world through the eyes of the Von Trapps. Look to Villa Trapp, the original family home, for guided tours before going on The Sound of Music Tour, which stops at various film locations.
8. There are tons of free museums and attractions in Scotland. From the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, there’s a lot to do and see in Scotland that won’t require you to open up your wallet. Take a look at 50 free things to do in Scotland.
9. 2015 also marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. In the Netherlands, visit Keukenhof in the spring for a Van Gogh-inspired floral mosaic made of tulips or head to the Van Gogh Museum for family workshops and tours to learn more about the celebrated artist.
10. The famous Nuremberg Castle in Bavaria, Germany houses a youth hostel. Yes, you can sleep in a castle in one of 93 modern rooms at Nuremberg Castle. In fact, 38 castles and historic homes throughout Germany have been turned into youth hostels complete with en-suite showers and cafeterias.