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Travel Alerts & Tips

Flying with Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are not generally allowed as carry-on when you fly. However "personal mobility devices" are allowed. Be sure to buy and use a rubber tip on your mobility device when at the airport per Bob & Julia of Portland, Oregon.

Hotel Reservations (6/09)
A booking website we started using is
www.booking.com. When we are in cities where there are choices to be made, as opposed to mountain villages, this website has been invaluable. There are no booking fees but there are customer reviews, which I find to be a huge help in making a selection. I could care about the quality of the breakfast or the friendliness of the staff—I want to know about the beds, the mold in the bathroom, and the noise. We usually don’t book through the site as we need to confirm that the hotel will stash our bikes in a safe place. Instead we make our selection and then do a search for the hotel’s phone number which isn’t included on the booking.com site.  Once the matter of the bikes is settled we either reserve while on the phone or go back to the site if it is offering a better price.

Bike Routes (6/09)
Bill discovered www.mapmyride.com while in Genoa and searching for a challenging day ride for us. It’s an international site with 12 rides out of Genoa and 566 from Vancouver, WA. All of the Genoa rides were longer than Bill wanted but they were invaluable for learning how cyclists slip-out of the city. He copied the most frequently used route beginning as the start of his own route. The site is set-up to easily let you load the route maps onto GPS. I noticed they also have hiking routes. It’s a site we’ll consult in the future when in need of local cycling/hiking knowledge when no one is available to ask—which is often the case.

Wind Forecasts:  (5/09) www.windfinder.com is a site that will tell you more about the wind forecasts around the world than you ever wanted to know.

European Car Rental:  (5/09) www.renaultusa.com or www.renault-eurodrive.com came to us  from a Brit who has lived in Australia for 35 years and is using this Renault program for a second time to purchase a new car from Renault and sell it back to the company after driving it for 6 weeks. He says it costs him about 25Euros a day for his car “rental” and thinks it is a superior program if you aren’t an EU resident and need a car for more than 21 days.

Ryan Air Customers (3/09) On our Frankfurt (Hahn) to  Venice (Treviso) flight on 3/13/09 Ryan Air was for the first time in our experience, strictly enforcing the 10kg weight limit on carry-on luggage. Never before in our experience with them had they weighed the carry-on of every passenger, including when we flew the opposite direction in 12/08. They were giving at most a ½ kg grace and also checking the bag dimensions. For some of the checkers, anything in your hand was carry-on. A purse and coat over your arm were included in the 10kg; a fanny pack strapped around your waist and a coat on your back were not. Lunch, laptops, and other items often excluded from the limit were being counted. We had to eat our lunch early and stuff our pockets with some of our heavier electronics adaptors and energy bars to avoid having to discard excess weight we expected to be waved through. Currently it is a 15 kg (33 lbs) limit on 1-3 checked bags and 10 kg (22 lbs) on carry-on. Watch the weight of your bags as even our flimsy suitcases weigh 5-9 lbs when empty.

Carry-on was not being checked for size or weight at either Pisa, Italy or in Malta in May '09.

Croatia Retail Hours (1/09) Beginning in January 2009 a government decree has closed almost all retail on Sundays throughout Croatia. Supermarkets that were open until 1pm on Sundays are dark. If coming to Croatia, don’t plan on buying anything on Sundays outside of a restaurant or bar. The shops in the tourist regions of the country will be allowed to open on Sundays in the summer but I saw no specifics about exactly where or when.

Italian Trains (9/07) it is no longer possible to hop on a train in Italy and buy your ticket from the conductor. Riding without a ticket or without validating your ticket before boarding makes you vulnerable to a 50€ fine. Be sure to validate at the usually yellow "Obliteratrice" box before boarding.


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