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Archive for european union

Europe’s Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

The European Commission’s picks for this year’s capitals of culture are Riga and Umeå.  Riga, the Latvian capital, is the largest city in the Baltic region.  Its covered market is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  Umeå, in northern Sweden, is the northernmost city selected by the EU for this annual honor.  During the weekend of 31 January to 2 February, Umeå will inaugurate the year with a spectacular Burning Snow music and dance recital on and around Umeälven River.  Riga promises 365 days of enjoyment of Latvian music, fine arts, cinema and pop culture.  The cities are also planning several joint projects to celebrate their capital of culture year.

European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Marseille-Provence in France and Košice in Slovakia ring in 2013 as the year’s European capitals of culture.  The cultural heart of Marseille Provence includes an area stretching from Martigues to La Ciotat.  As usual, the opening ceremony in each city promises to be a spectacular kick-off event.  In Marseille, the opening is a two-day event on 12 and 13 January.  The twelfth features such events as a flyover of Patrouille de France, an art trail in Aix, and the Grande Clameur (a wall of sound incorporating ships’ sirens, bells and fog horns).  The thirteenth offers treasure hunts across the region and a fireworks display at dusk over the Rhone at Arles.  Košice will likewise inspire with a two-day opening beginning on 19 January.  One of the most architecturally significant symbols in old Košice is the indoor pool, a structure experiencing an exciting makeover as an art and media showcase thanks to aid from the European Commission and the European  Capital of Culture project.

A Shard of Glass in London

By Linda Tancs

If you thought the views from the London Eye were amazing, wait until the viewing galleries for The Shard at London Bridge Quarter open next February.  Hailed as a vertical city, the glass pyramid undergoing final construction in London will offer 40 mile views across the city.  The Shard is the EU’s tallest building at 1017 feet.   You can pre-register now for updated visitor information.

Slovenian Capital of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, is a 2012 European Capital of Culture.  The festivities began this past weekend with music, theatre and dance performances. The year’s events will encompass events as varied as carnival and contemporary dance.   Youth art is a particular highlight, quite fitting as Maribor will follow on this year’s cultural award as the European Youth Capital in 2013.

Portuguese Capital of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Inland from Porto, Portugal, Guimarães is a 2012 European Capital of Culture.  The city is known as the “cradle of Portugal” as it’s the birthplace of the nation’s first king, Afonso Henriques.  The area is well known for its linens and embroidery, too.  In the vicinity is Mateus Palace, whose picture graces the wine label of the same name.  The kick-off for festivities is 21 January with a theatre and multimedia open-air show.  The year’s events focus on four themes:  City, Community, Thought and Arts.

UK Dining Discounts

By Linda Tancs

There’s a dining revolution taking place in the UK.  A Tastecard membership gives you 50% off the total food bill or 2 meals for the price of one at all 5,000+ participating restaurants. You can always order from the full a la carte menu, so your choice will not be restricted in any way.  Buy the card online or at the Visitor Centre at Regent Street. 

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EU Passenger Bill of Rights

By Linda Tancs

Fliers have rights, but so do rail travelers, ship passengers and bus riders.  The European Union’s common set of principles related to passenger rights provide certainty and consistency for all EU travelers.  Sounds like a good model for the rest of us.

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Airline Complaints in the EU

By Linda Tancs

As US travelers know from reading this blog, air travel complaints and statistics for US travel are readily available from the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement bureau.  Ever wonder about the EU equivalent?  The European Union Transport Commission publishes a list of aviation authorities in one convenient document.

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Culture Capital Marks 25th Year

By Linda Tancs

Happy New Year, readers!  2010 marks the 25th anniversary of Europe’s Capital of Culture program.  Sharing the spotlight this year will be Germany’s Essen, Hungary’s Pécs and Turkey’s Istanbul. Emphasizing a spirit of cooperation among this year’s honorees, an opening ceremony in Pécs at Széchenyi Square will take place on 10 January. In Turkey, university theatre groups from Europe and Turkey will convene during the year to showcase Istanbul’s standing in the arts community. And in Essen the cultural kudos kick off with the grand opening of RUHR.2010 and Ruhr Museum on World Heritage Site Zeche Zollverein. Amidst the celebrations the European Commission will likewise commemorate its silver anniversary of cultural diversity recognition with a celebratory event and strategic conference on 23 and 24 March in Brussels to mark the event, to look back at the achievements of the past 25 years, and to reflect strategically on its legacy and impact.

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DISCLOSURE OF NO MATERIAL CONNECTION

 The author has not received any compensation for writing this content and has no material connection to the brands, topics, products and/or services that are mentioned herein.

Rail Group Investigates Value for Money

By Linda Tancs

Anyone who has traveled by train in Britain (whether short- or long-haul) has experienced those heart-stopping fares. I’ve often wondered why rail travel is so darned expensive–or is it just my imagination, coupled perhaps with a bad exchange rate? Apparently, my thoughts are well justified. The watchdog group Passenger Focus has released a report this month analyzing such variables as local travel, long-distance travel, comparative rates in other countries and value for money perceptions. Among the many findings: Londoners have a low perception of value for money, soft factors such as cleanliness of trains and well-lit stations inform overall perceptions as well as pricing, and continental comparisons illustrate a general comity among frequency of service although journey speed is more highly rated in continental Europe. Generally speaking, Britain fares (no pun intended) better with pricing for advance bookings than with restricted or unrestricted day returns. Want to learn more? You can download the 38-page report.

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