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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Recommendations


I'm looking for information from anyone who has traveled from England to Continental Europe by train. Here are some questions:

What would be a reasonable time frame for someone who wants to visit a few countries in Europe? A week? A month?

What sort of costs would the traveler have to consider?

If you've stayed in a hostel, what has your experience been like?

Are there places to see or things to do that you'd want to recommend to a first-time visitor?

9 Comments:

  • At 6/19/2005 02:36:00 PM, Anonymous A Traveler said…

    Salaams,

    Let me know what places you're going then specifically according to the country I can suggest some places.

    England: Has a number of historical places to see, if you're into history & art, then check out the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum they have a fine collection of Islamic art (not to mention other rare items from all over the world)
    Museums in UK are usually free with 'suggested donations' at the entrance (last time I went there)

    Hyde Park is fun too; basically its a park where all sorts of characters with all sorts of beliefs can speak their mind (end of the world, anti-everything, pro-everything, etc) so enjoy the fresh air and listen in.

    Sherlock Holmes' home at 22 Baker street is interesting too (There's a house on 22 Baker street which was made a tourist attraction by converting it to look like the fictious detective's home)

    So there is a variety of stuff to look for, if you mention some specific interests then I can specify.

    Did you get an ISIC card?
    http://www.isiccard.com/isiccard/template.asp?pageId=1

    Its an international student card that gives you student discounts/rates in 106 countries (student rates for bus,train and air travel, student rates or free access to museums & other places to visit that are normally not free, discounts at shops and also access to hostels etc)
    The card is free from GSU for Grad students. You can contact 'travel cuts' on college to get it.

    Hostels:
    They are a very economical way of living in Europe. However unless you know someone who lived in a certain hostel & gave you details about, I would not recommend it.

    Muslims tend to live 'differently'
    & may not like the way of life;
    i.e. its usually not 1 person per room, you have share it with a number of people. Some places don't have a guys only/women only rooms. Bathrooms are shared with a number of people.
    Some places simply provide you with a sleeping bag/matteress and you just find your location to crash in the hostel (all this depends on the cost and quality of the place) Usually travelers don't care coz you'll be sight-seeing all day & won't be in the hostel except just to sleep at night.

    A good thing to do would be to go online since people usually do advertise rooms for rent. Contact Islamic centres/MSAs of the area that may know of good and affordable accomodations or simply start calling up former classmates & friends that shifted there :)

     
  • At 6/19/2005 05:57:00 PM, Anonymous Yusuf Smith said…

    As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    The Traveler gave some pretty good suggestions regarding the V&A and British Museums - the V&A is right near two other interesting museums, the Natural History and Science Museums - both right near South Kensington tube station. If my memory serves me right, they have both reverted to being free to enter (they became pay-to-enter at one point).

    I disagree about Hyde Park and specifically Speakers' Corner. It is mostly nowadays given over to arguing between fanatical evangelical Christians and a certain sectarian group of Muslims, with a bit of Arab politicking going on, and a handful of the usual lonely guys with their placards. It's a good place to get yourself into an argument with someone who doesn't want to listen and ends up shouting you down. The park itself is, well, a park - it's large, green and it has trees in it, and it's also got a large lake, the Serpentine. I recommend the Princess Diana Memorial as a splendid example of a stupid and utterly uninspired monument - assuming it's open; they shut it down for a long while because kids kept slipping while paddling in it. You'll laugh and cry.

    Hyde Park is also very convenient for Oxford Street and Edgware Road. Edgware Road is the place to go to hang out in the kebab shops and shisha bars. There are three places I recommend - the "Halal Restaurant" near to the Marylebone flyover, the "Mawar" Malay restaurant on the corner of Sussex Gardens, and the Meshwar kebab place. There is no mosque along Edgware Road, and no Islamic English-language bookshop either. For a Muslim experience, I recommend going to east London which has a very strong Asian (and also Somali) presence. See it before they destroy it for the Olympics.

    As for accommodation, this is something (like immigration) I can't really help you with, as for obvious reasons I've never had to stay in any London hotel. There is Yusuf Islam's well-known hotel, the Brondesbury Park Hotel, although given that it is probably one of the best-known hotels in the Muslim community in London, it may well be booked out. You could get yourself a copy of the Muslim Directory, which has a yellow-paged classified section.

     
  • At 6/19/2005 06:35:00 PM, Blogger cncz said…

    make sure you get an isic card for the trains in germany,benelux and switzerland if you go there- in france, proof of age suffices, even on the Eurostar.

    call me one of those hippie sufi granola convert muslims but i always crash with muslims. i go to a local mosque and check stuff out, and someone usually takes me in. i have done hostels pre-Islam and I don't reccomend them for females of any persuasion unless you have a male with you. crashing with muslims isn't always cheaper because i often buy groceries wherever i stay, but at least i know it is clean.
    i think it is entirely possible, with a good plan, to do the benelux and France and a little walkabout in England in a two week span.
    again, with good planning, i did a ten days in paris and three weeks in manchester on 250 USD. granted i had places to stay.
    there's a lot of mistakes i find that north americans always make when travelling. some cities are cheaper than others. for example, paris is way cheaper than london, Amsterdam is downright budget, and brussels has expensive lodging but everything else is cheap. most of switzerland is ridiculous expensive. if paris figures into your itinerary, send me an email, i can so hook you up.

     
  • At 6/19/2005 08:10:00 PM, Anonymous Yusuf Smith said…

    As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    Can France be recommended as a tourist destination for Muslims, particularly women, given their policy of molesting women in hijab?

     
  • At 6/20/2005 12:39:00 AM, Blogger Tara said…

    Assalamu laikum,
    Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog. I look forward to reading yours.
    Thank you again.

     
  • At 6/20/2005 11:47:00 AM, Blogger cncz said…

    wa alaikoum salam-- define "molesting". Between 4-6 million Muslims call France home. Yeah, I've always been the first person to say their hijab policy stinks, but a tourist shouldn't have a problem unless she is admitted into the hospital or gets arrested and taken to the police station, two places where removing hijab is compulsory, but not always enforced. In fact, I think they would be less likely to enforce the no hijab in public buildings on a tourist, and i was able to wear one when i was doing my different administrative tasks.

     
  • At 6/20/2005 08:17:00 PM, Anonymous arafat said…

    Visit Prague, it's awesome! Okay well I haven't been there but I hear it's the best of Europe. And, I'm leaving for Prague in 2 weeks!

     
  • At 6/21/2005 12:14:00 AM, Blogger Aliya said…

    Salaam!

    If you have some time, definately try to go to Spain and Portugal. I went there last summer and I loved both! In Spain, I went to Madrid and Andalusia. I also stayed in a hostel with two of my friends for a few nights, and to be honest, it was awesome. The three of us had a small but comfy room, with our own washroom, and we each payed less than 10€ per night. We had free internet, our hostel had security -you had to buzz to get entry, and we were in downtown Madrid. I was initially hesistant to stay in a hostel, and I probably wouldnt alone, but if you have company, then it is not a bad possibility. The worst thing was a lot of cigarette smoke in the halls, but I think that is standard in Europe.

    Portugal was really nice too. But as a visible Muslim, I felt more comfortable in Spain (other than the fact that everyone had a staring problem.)

    In both Portugal and Spain, there is SO much to do. If you want more details, let me know. I have TONS of stories and advice.

     
  • At 6/23/2005 01:53:00 AM, Blogger emajames said…

    Hi. I traveled around europe for 3 months staying in a mix of hostels (when i wasn't planning in advance) and in local people's houses - the best ever!! www.couchsurfing.com or hospitalityclub.org are 2 places you can look into this. i recommend the first one. I traveled to: UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy and Hungary. 3 months was a good amount of time and i spent about 20 euros on food each day (i went out everyday) not much on accomodations (i stayed 3 mights in hostels in 3 months costing me 70 euros total) and had the time of my life! let me know if you want more info on this, some people think it's dangerous or weird...i am a girl and i was travelling alone and mostly staying with single men - i never had a problem. as for the weirdness, they are just likeminded people, if you meet them and dont like them - dont stay with them - very simple. but i never met anyone i didnt like and i did make some lifelong friends. you get experiences staying with locals that no other traveling can provide.

     

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