// Deploying Rails Book

2015 Europe Trip - Planning

My approach to travel thus far has been quite simple. Arrive, find things thing to do. Repeat. Flawless and well designed as this process may seem, it can - on occassion - lead to missing things or nearly having to sleep on a beach in the rain. This summers trip to Europe will have a little bit more of a plan. As the more astute among you may have realised, this post is that plan.

Destinations have been loosely chosen based on European cities which have some sort of a startup scene. I'll be working while I travel so it's essential that every one has well established co-working space. I'll be relying heavily on the amazing Copass for finding these.

The dates and schedule below will almost certainly fall apart within the first week. But the aim is to have a rough framework rather than a day by day plan.

For anyone hoping for another dose of sarcasm like when it all went wrong in Thailand, you might find this one a little dry - it's more of something for me to refer to than a blog post. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

The overall trip looks something like this:


With - I imagine - a sprinkling of random destinations in between.

Dates (subject to constant change) are something like:

Amsterdam, Netherlands 25th - 27th May
Prague, Czech Republic 28th May - 4th June (TBC)
Budapest, Hungary ~ 4th - 10th June
Sofia, Bulgaria TBC
Bucharest, Romania TBC
Warsaw, Poland TBC
Riga, Latvia TBC
Tallinn, Estonia TBC

Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Arriving

The trusty Eurolines overnight bus from London comes it at around £30, takes just 11 hours and can't be beaten. There's nothing quite like listening to a stag party singing football chants to lull you to sleep.

Visiting

Anne Frank House - Museum devoted to the 13 year old Jewish girl who was forced into hiding during the second world war to escape the Nazis. Planning to read The Diary of Anne Frank before arriving. From April 1 through October 31 open Daily from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm.

The Stedelijk Museum - modern and contemporary art, next to Vondelpark (named after the poet Joost van den Vondel) which is the largest city park in Amsterdam. Sometimes there are free concerts in the open air theatre. Schedule will be announced in mid April.

Working & Startups

The most central co-working space seems to be The Thinking Hut (copass) on the South East edge of the Canal District.

There's also Knowmads Greenhouse (copass) which is within the Knowmads business school.

Sillicon drinkabout Amsterdam may be happening on the Friday.

Eating

Raw Herring - I'm told there are food carts selling it everywhere but somehow I've never seen it before. Potentially my mind has carefully prevented me from seeing them. Not this time.

Sleeping

St Christophers Inn - The Winston is centrally located and the clear winner on Hostel Bookers. Prices range from EUR37 - EUR50 for dorm rooms which is high but Amsterdam was always going to be expensive. Includes Wifi and Breakfast.

Stayokay Vondelpark is a close second and located right next to Vondelpark and the museum district. Comes in at around EUR35 and includes breakfast, Wifi and a walking tour.

The Flying Pig; suggested by the awesome Old White Wizard also comes highly recommended by Nomadic Matt as does The Bulldog Hotel.

Prague (Czech Republic)

A city I've been to once on a week long holiday but my primary momentos of it are bar crawl tshirts. I'm told there's some culture there as well.

Arriving

Amsterdam to Prague is a bit of a jump, around 17 hours on a bus. That's excessive even by my standards so this might be the one flight of the trip since it's only around an hour and a half.

Visiting

Charles Bridge clue is in the name, a very impressive bridge.

The Museum of Communism 9AM - 9PM. Known for presenting a fairly unique insight into what life was like under the Soviet Union.

Karlovy Lazne is known for being the largest club in Central Europe. In many ways that sounds like my worst nightmare, but part of me wants to see it.

Little Venice is a small canal district in prague which is a bit like well, Venice.

The island in the Vltava is an Island in the... yeah you get the idea. Known as being a great spot to lie around on the grass not doing all that much.

I'm a huge Nomadic Matt fan and his post on how to spend four days in prague will be my fallback if I run short of things to do.

Working

In Spiro (copass) looks promising. I can't read a word of the website but one of the photos includes a pineapple, can't go far wrong with a pineapple.

Sleeping

The Hostel Downtown has a common room with a Piano. So I feel there's no need to look any further. Around EUR25/ Night.

Piano aside, the Old Prague Hostel apparently provides unlimited sandwiches and is only EUR17/ night. A tough choice to be made nearer the time.

Budapest (Hungary)

Arriving

Leaving 07:00 arriving Budapest at 14:30. Or 15:00 -> 22:30. About GBP10.

Visiting

The Royal Palace & Castle Hill apparently a walking tour is the way to go.

Széchenyi Bath is a huge spa complex underpinned by the thermal springs below Budapest.

Heroes Square because big squares are cool OK.

A boat trip along the Dabube at night, apparently one of the best ways to see and photograph some of the amazing panoramas the city has to offer.

Climb Gellert Hill. Because walking and great views are fun.

Working

Loffice Coworking (copass) looks promising.

Kaptar (copass) also looks interesting. Their focus seems to be heavily on real life communities and people.

Sleeping

Home Plus Hostel offers free dinners three times a week. Which is hard to beat.

Astoria City Hostel has impressive reviews and most importantly a kitchen. By this point there's a good chance I'll be missing cooking for myself.

Aboriginal is meant to have an amazing atmosphere.

Sofia (Bulgaria)

Arriving

Eurolines from Budapest to Sofia, 12 hours leaving at 6pm, arriving 6am on the 14th. About GBP30.

Visiting

The Free Sofia Walking Tour a free walking tour run by a well regarded none profit.

The Museum of Socialist Art contains primarily art from 1944 to 1989 but I'm most interested in the black and white propoganda shorts.

Working

Betahouse (copass) looks promising. One of a larger network with spaces in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.

Sleeping

Hostel Mostel has exceptionally good reviews and looks to be very reasonably priced, around EUR6 - EUR11 per night. It's also recommended as one of Nomadic Matts favourite hostels, apparently booking well in advance is recommended.

Bucharest (Romania)

This website has been useful for deciding what to do.

Arriving

Probably via train as there doesn't seem to be a Eurolines service between Sofia and Bucharest. Train appears to take a bit under 10 hours and cost around GBP10.

Visiting

The Palace of Parliament is the largest government building in the world and the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. As anyone who ever watched the masterpiece that was "big, bigger, biggest" knows, big stuff is cool.

The Romanian Atheneum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest, tickets are available here

The Village Museum is an open air museum containing several hundred wooden houses, windmills, churches and the like. Apparently many of the buildings are genuine and were taken to the museum in pieces and re-assembled.

Cișmigiu Gardens - a park in the center of Bucharest. All parks must be visited.

Sleeping

Antique Hostel looks promising and comes in at a bargain EUR10/ night including breakfast. Looks like the right choice if aiming for relaxation.

X Hostel More of a party hostel. May win because it has "Escape Room" games for free. Several friends have tried this in London, you have an hour to escape from a room through a combination of gadgets, riddles and puzzles. Unclear exactly what happens if you fail to escape within the allotted hour. I'm envisaging a Star Wars esque trash compactor scenario.

Warsaw (Poland)

This site is useful for choosing things to do.

Arriving

Absolutely no idea, there's no practical way to go directly from Bucharest to Warsaw. Could go via Cluj-Napoca (Romania) up to Kosice (Slovakia) then to Warsaw from there. Spending around a day at each. Eurolines from Bucharest all seem to leave at 5:00AM which means losing a day somewhere so it's more likely to be trains or, heaven forbid, flights.

Alternatively could return to Budapest which is more of a hub and work it out from there. Because planning.

Visiting

The Łazienki Królewskie Museum and Łazienki Królewskie Park-Palace Complex is a complex of parks and palaces. One of those "great if it's sunny" type attractions.

The Palace of Culture and Science has the highest viewing platform in Warsaw which should be good for some Panoramas.

The Copernicus Science Centre is a science museum focussed on letting visitors conduct experiments for themselves. Putting the best part of a day aside for this one.

If it's sunny then the Multimedia Fountain Park looks spectacular, especially at night.

Working

Clockwork Cowork (copass). Going by the photos looks like there's a bit of a hardware slant which is always interesting.

Reaktor also looks interesting and with a garden + ping pong, it's hard to go wrong. There's talk of weekly startup lunches so might be worth plannig to be around for one of those. Around GBP5/ Day

Sleeping

The Okidoki Hostel has great reviews and comes in at around EUR14/ night.

Tatamka Hostel looks a bit quieter and has kitchen, outdoor area and barbeque. Also comes in at around EUR14/ night.

Riga (Latvia)

Arriving

At this point my carefully polished Eurolines bus plan has collapsed completely. Options include "get some trains" and "walk". It'll be fine. Given that several sites recommend "going via Russia" and flying is only around £60, flying is a definite possibility.

Seeing

St.Peter’s church’s tower in the Old Town is meant to be a great place to get panoramas of the city.

Riga Black Balsam Bar in the Old Town serves a traditional drink called, oddly, Riga Black Balsam which is an alcoholic drink one should apparently not leave without trying.

The Freedom Monument which somehow avoided demolition during the Soviet years.

The Riga Motor Museum for exhibits like Stalin's 7 tonne armored limousine.

Regros a Soviet Fallout shelter where you can fire guns. What's not to love?

Working

My home in London (Techhub) has an office in Riga, so there's no competition here.

Sleeping

The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers. They had me at the name but as if more was needed, to quote their about page: "Daily activities include AK Shooting, Bobsled, Free Walking Tours, Pub Crawls, Latvian Food Nights, Karaoke, Husky Dog Sledding, Daily Happy Hours, Latvian Beer Tastings". Expensive at EUR17/ night.

Seagulls Garret Hostel also looks promising and is a much easier 9EUR/ night.

Tallinn (Estonia)

Arriving

And we're back in the game (of getting buses everywhere that is). Lux Express takes 4 and a half hours to get from Riga to Tallinn, it only costs EUR16 and there are several per day. Luxury.

Seeing

My Tallinn expert is the awesome @GPat_Uk who suggests:

For dinner - the Nordic hotel has the most ridiculous food. Like Michelin-star esque and not very expensive.

Elephant - good Indian

Pepparsack - GREAT meat and sometimes swordfighting

Make sure to drink a millimailakas

Working

Garage48 comes in at a bargain EUR6/ day.

http://www.coworking.ee/ is just EUR5/ Day and the pictures include a typewriter. Touch choice.

Sleeping

Tallin Backpackers (hostel bookers) is recommended by Nomadic Matt.

Euphoria also looks promising for a more relaxed stay.