Explore Europe
[016] Christmas Markets

[016] Christmas Markets

December 7, 2018

Explore Europe Christmas Markets Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the show notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

Is there anything better than living in Europe and especially Germany at this time of year. Nothing says Christmas quite like the traditional Weihnachtsmarkt that you will find in every big city, small town and even the tiny villages.

We’ve recommended our favourite Christmas markets throughout this episode, but I’ll bet once you have visited a few, you will have your own. Everyone is unique and each one is worth a visit.

Here are the links from our Explore Europe Christmas Markets episode:

Kaiserslautern Christmas Market

The Rhein Galerie Ludwigshafen

Mannheim Christmas Markets

Heidelberg Christmas Market

Trier Christmas Market

Saarbrücken Christmas Market

Traben-Trarbach Christmas Market

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Baden-Baden Christmas Market

Deidesheim Christmas Market 


Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Welcome to the Christmas Markets episode of Explore Europe

01:14 - John’s tells us about his local Christmas Market - Kaiserslautern

2:00 - Where is the Kaiserslautern market?

2:35 - Try the highly recommended drink of the markets - Feuerzangenbowle

3:43 - Michelle delves into not one, but THREE Christmas Markets in her local area of Mannheim

4:34 - John and Michelle are amused with the items that are on sale at the market. A little hint - it’s not quintessentially Christmas

7:39 - Getting to Mannheim - Especially, where should you park?

09:01 - All the information about the beautiful Heidelberg Christmas market

10:01 - What’s the best form of travel to get to Heidelberg?

11:22 - John divulges some great tips for smaller, local markets around other areas in Germany

12:35 - Trier Christmas Market - all the information you’ll need for a successful visit

13:51 - Saarbrücken Christmas Market - including some great tips from John

15:09 - You won’t believe the highlight of the Saarbrücken Market! Find out here…

15:57 - What currency should you take? Do they accept credit cards at the markets?

16:21 - Do they serve german or french food at Saarbrücken Christmas market?

17:02 - Michelle tells all about the best Christmas market she has visited - Strasbourg

18:38 - John has a fascinating fact about Strasbourg for your next pop quiz

19:01 - How do you get to Strasbourg Christmas market?

22:09 - If you’re an adventurous explorer, Michelle explains how to visit an array of markets in one day.

25:39 -  Traben-Trarbach Christmas Market - Weather and dog friendly

27:49 - Deidesheim Christmas Market - lots of nooks and crannies in this part!

30:55 - John and Michelle’s podcast challenge for you

31:18 - The practicalities of visiting the markets - Parking / Is it safe? / Cash vs card / Child-friendly?

33:39 - Michelle’s Christmas Market round-up

34:20 - Sustainable Travel Tip with Jen Gale


Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time, Explorers. 

[015] Dresden

[015] Dresden

November 25, 2018

Explore Europe Dresden Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the show notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

Dresden is the capital of the German state of Saxony. It's situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic and was part of the former East Germany until reunification in 1990.

The city has experienced dramatic changes since the early 1990s. It still bears many wounds from the controversial bombing raids of 1945, but it has undergone significant reconstruction and the buildings have been mostly restored to their former glory.

Dresden is once again a cultural, educational and political centre of Germany and Europe. 

Here are the links from our Explore Europe Dresden episode:

The Indian restaurant that John raves about: http://www.littleindia-dresden.de/

The Fish restaurant: https://kastenmeiers.de/

The Opera: https://www.semperoper.de

The famous Frauenkirche: https://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/

Segway tours in Dresden

Walking tours: http://www.dresden-cultour.de/de/fuehrungen/stadtfuehrungen.html

The Palace with the lovely gardens: https://www.grosser-garten-dresden.de/de/startseite/

Podcast Conversation Timeline:

00:01 - Introduction
1:00 - John gives us a brief overview of Dresden’s history
2:20 -What is the transport like in Dresden? How about getting to and from Dresden, and parking the car?
3:16 - Did John use booking.com for his hotel reservation? Find out here…
3:50 - John gives you more history about Dresden and it’s East Germany past.
So, What did John and Ramona do whilst in Dresden?
5:10 - Did John eat the best indian curry he’s ever had in Germany?
5:59 - John tells all about his very sophisticated outing to the Dresden Opera house….and his star spotting experience too!
8:15 - A must see highlight of Dresden - The Frauenkirche
11:01 - Where is John’s Explore Europe favorite hop on and hop off bus in today’s episode?
11:24 - The palaces of Dresden
12:43 - Find out how to get around the city centre?…..
Meanwhile, John makes a bold statement about Dresden!
15:23 - Do you have to pre-book tickets for the tourist attractions?
17:04 - John recommends an amazing fish restaurant to visit
17:59 - Michelle goes through the practicalities of travelling to Dresden: Visa to visit?/ Cash vs Card debt/ English speaking?/ Is it safe?
20:23 - Would John recommend Dresden with kids?
21:18 - The walking tour of Dresden
23:10 - The beautiful Christmas Markets - a must see during the holiday season
24:42 - Michelle’s overview of the awesome Dresden
25:23 - The sustainable travel tip with Jen Gale

Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time for another episode of Explore Europe!

[014] The Mont Blanc Trail

[014] The Mont Blanc Trail

November 14, 2018

Explore Europe Mont Blanc Trail Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the show notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a unique trek of approximately 200km around Mont Blanc that can be completed in between 7 and 10 days passing through Italy, Switzerland and France. It’s one of the most famous and exhilarating treks in Europe. Hikers, climbers and mountaineers will love the authenticity of the overnights offered by mountain refuges and gites along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Our special guest, Kaiserslautern school music teacher Gretchen Lynch, explains that you do not need to be a hardcore mountaineer to do the Mont Blanc Trail. She shares her short version of the trail with us along with all of her tips that will ensure even total beginners to hiking can accomplish this unforgetful bucket-list trek. 

Here are some detailed notes and links from our Explore Europe Mont Blanc Trail episode: 

Website about Tour:  http://www.autourdumontblanc.com/en/

What to bring - everything fits fine in a 30L backpack from Decathalon.

  • fold up hiking poles
  • lightweight gloves and hat
  • sleep sack, sleep clothes
  • poncho
  • 2 pairs of hiking shorts and shirts
  • long sleeved micofiber shirt
  • light fleece
  • Sunscreen & bugspray
  • toiletries, microfibre towel
  • gallon ziplock bags to keep clothes dry in case it rains
  • YakTrax or crampons if you hike early in the season for the snow crossings
  • ear plugs
  • good hiking shoes
  • flip flops if you don’t want to wear the ones provided (I brought them but they were not necessary!)
  • cell phone and charger, - get one that works in Switzerland
  • hydration bladder or water bottles
  • Pack light - you are carrying everything!

Entire tour takes about 2 weeks.  We did half of the tour, but took a bus through the mountain from Chamonix France to Courmayeur Italy to cut our tour to one week.  The bus is just 15 Euro per person.

We parked near the trail’s end in Chamonix.  It was free and so nice to come out right near our car when we finished a week later!

We put our kids in camp so we could do this as a couples trip (we went with another couple whose daughter stayed with family friends.) Germany’s sleepaway camps are very affordable compared to the United States.  We have been very happy with Camp Adventure which offers one and two week sessions and is a bilingual camp, so everything is in both English and German. https://www.campadventure.de/en/ 

Each day you hike about 6 hours and then stay in a refuge. Refuges are like hostels, but they are on the hiking route (many high in mountains and must be stocked by donkeys or helicopters!) and almost always provide breakfast and dinner. For about 10 Euros you can also buy a sack lunch for your hike. Price per night ranged from 41 (and that one was our favorite!) to 70 Euros per person.  

We hiked through three countries - starting in Italy, then Switzerland, and finished in France. The main language on the train was French, even in Italy. We didn’t hear German at all! The refuges all had English speaking staff and most of the hikers also spoke English.

Other than lodging, our only costs on the trip were gas (we filled in Germany near the border and didn’t have to refuel til we got back home), the 15 Euro bus ticket, lunches (either 10 sack lunches from the refuges or purchased from grocery stores along the route), coffees along the route, and wine/ beer at the refuges. Beer was pricey compared to Europe - about 7 Euros for a half litre, 4 for .33 litre. House wine was about 8-12 for a half litre carafe to share at dinner.

Make sure you take out both Francs (get at an ATM on the drive down) and Euros and have enough cash to pay for both your lodging - they almost always only take cash - and your lunches/ snacks/ drinks. You can pay in Euros in Switzerland but you will get a bad exchange rate - like Euro for Dollar.

BOOK YOUR TRIP IN ADVANCE. We made the mistake of waiting too long and some of the refuges were full, therefore instead of having nice even 6 hour hiking days, we had one day that was 2 hours and one day that was 10! Dinner is generally served starting at 6:30 or 7pm, so you need to be at your refuge prior to that. Breakfast is normally at 7am.

Check out the website and see if there is damage to the trails. If so you will have to amend your route.


You will never really be high enough up to get Altitude sickness. But you have views of higher mountains since you climb a loop around the Mont Blanc range.

Our favorite refuge was Gite Le Moulin in Argentiere. The owner cooked the most AMAZING French cuisine. All the food we had on the trip was good, and specific to the country we were in. Pasta in Italy, baked Swiss cheese in Switzerland etc. I believe all of the refuges could cater to Vegetarians/ Gluten Free etc. if contacted in advance.

It IS important to be in pretty good shape for the trip. You don’t have to be an amazing athlete, but definitely have good cardiovascular fitness. If you aren’t regularly exercising you might want to spend the three months before the trip doing some uphill treadmill walking or find some good trails in the area and use them.

For the most part the trail isn’t dangerous, but there were a few snow crossings, stream crossings, and a couple places with steep drop offs. All of the drop offs had wire ropes to hold on to. There was a trail at the end with a long section of ladders and cables. I’m afraid of heights and found this scary, but it is possible to avoid that section by taking an alternate route.

Best time of year to hike is July, August, or September. We did the last week of June which was still early and much of the snow wasn’t melted. You can’t really do any earlier than that. Early October would likely be chilly but still okay.


Podcast Conversation Timeline: 

00:01 - Introduction to our wonderful episode on the Mont Blanc trail

1:22 - What brings Gretchen to Germany?

2:18 - How did Gretchen meet her Husband?

03:54 - Where are we exploring today and why should we do it?

05:23 - How dangerous is it to climb Mont Blanc?

06:20 - Can you take the family to Mont Blanc?

08:15 - Details of  Day 1 of Gretchen’s Mont Blanc adventure

10:42 -  Day 1: Accommodation and tips on booking accomodation at different times of year

12:32 - Food at the hostels and accomodation - what to expect

13:15 - Were there any language barriers? How did Gretchen cope with so many different European languages?

14:12 - Booking accommodation in Mont Blanc

14:41 - How fast do you need to walk the trail?

15:55 - Michelle is so happy with the idea of a packet lunch provided by your accommodation. Gretchen tells us more details

16:57 - What do you need to take with you?

18:50 - Information about the villages, trail incline and time taken to climb

20:01 - Michelle delves into more detail about Gretchen’s favourite spot along the tour

20:56 - Gretchen tells all about the ladder climbing

24:14 - Is Gretchen brave enough to take the ladder route if she had to do it again?

24:55 - What are the dangers of the hike?

26:35 - Anything else to consider when planning a trip to Mont Blanc, Gretchen?

31:03 - Are you able to keep in contact with your hiking buddies whilst on the trail via cell phones etc?

32:24 - What did the final day have in store for Gretchen and Co?

33:19 - Mont Blanc Cable Car from Chamonix

33:35 - What currency should you carry and should it all be in cash?

33:10 - Did you have to pre-order your meals when you arrived at the accommodation?

35:28 - How about dietary requirements?

36:36 - How much does a 5 night trip cost?

38:35 - Would Gretchen recommend this trip for everyone?

40:13 - Is the trail signposted or do you need to a great map-reader?

42:39 - Michelle’s ‘Mont Blanc Trail’ overview

43:17 - The sustainable travel tip with Jen Gayle


A Massive Thank You For Listening!

I am already planning to replicate Gretchen's Mont Blanc Trail trek next year - I love the way she makes it feel less intimidating! Would you try it? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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[013] Copenhagen in Denmark

[013] Copenhagen in Denmark

October 18, 2018

Explore Europe Copenhagen in Denmark Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

Home to the children’s story teller, Hans Christian Andersen, the city of Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and very much the beating heart of the country. It’s a very advanced city in terms of infrastructure, architecture, sustainability, tourism and culture. Which makes it such a joy to visit and get around.

Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities in Europe and as I grew up reading Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales when I went there I had to make a pilgrimage to the little mermaid of course! 


Here are the links from our Explore Europe Copenhagen episode: 

Harbour Cruise: https://www.stromma.dk/kobenhavn/sightseeing/sightseeing-med-bad/grand-tour/

Vor Frelsers Kirke/Church of Our Saviour: http://www.vorfrelserskirke.dk

Christiansborg (another tower): http://kongeligeslotte.dk/en/palaces-and-gardens/christiansborg-palace.html

Copenhagen Card: https://copenhagencard.com

Tivoli Gardens: www.tivoli.dk


Cafes & Restaurants

Grospiseri restaraunt on top of the old car auction building! (book in advance): https://www.grospiseri.dk

Manfreds restaurant: http://manfreds.dk/en/

Relæ  http://www.restaurant-relae.dk/en/

Noma the best restaurant in the world (very experience, book well in advance): http://noma.dk

Reffen (street food): https://reffen.dk

Torvehallerne food hall: https://torvehallernekbh.dk

Souls plant based restaurant: http://www.soulscph.dk

Mad og Kaffe coffee hause: https://madogkaffe.dk



Budget hostels

Generator: https://generatorhostels.com/destinations/copenhagen

Dan Hostel: https://www.danhostel.dk/en

Budget Hotels

Cabinn: https://www.cabinn.com/hoteller-koebenhavn-copenhagen

Wake Up: https://www.wakeupcopenhagen.dk/


Neighbourhood guides:

Nyhavn: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/nyhavn-gdk474735

Vesterbro: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/hipster-vesterbro

Frederiksberg: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/posh-frederiksberg-0

Nørrebro: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/multicultural-norrebro-0

Meatpacking District: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/meatpacking-district


Discover more of Jen Gale's easy to implement sustainable living tips here: www.asustainablelife.co.uk


Melanie’s Links:

Dejlige Days Blog: www.dejligedays.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKBGJkKT0SG-t-uKglBHMOQ

Dejlige Days Welcome: www.dejligedayswelcome.com


Podcast Conversation Timeline: 

00:01- Welcome to Explore Europe and a big welcome to the show, Melanie Haynes! Where are we exploring today?

00:47 - How did Melanie end up living in Copenhagen?

2:37 -  How difficult is it to adjust to the dark winters of Denmark?

3:16 - Melanie explains what Hygge is and why is it an important part of Danish life

6:27 - What shall we do when we visit Copenhagen, Melanie?

9:24 - Although we’re missing John in this week’s episode, Melanie steps in to give us the nooks and crannies of the area - thanks, Mel!

9:50 - And…..even the hop on, hop off bus gets a mention!

10:18 - Information about the Copenhagen card and taking the boat tours

12:14 - A must see: Tivoli Gardens

- What to do there

- What fare is on offer

- What ticket should you buy

18:31 - Michelle digs deeper into what else Melanie would suggest to see in Copenhagen?

18: 39 - Canal cruise and Nyhavn

18:56 - Melanie tells us all about the Smørrebrød (the traditional open sandwich). Plus, Melanie teaches Michelle how to pronounce it.

20:10 - The longest walking street in Europe

20:31 - The neighbourhoods of Copenhagen

22:07 - Melanie and Michelle talks about ‘Danish Style’

22:37 - The cafe culture

24:20 - It’s food time. Melanie gives us her favourite spots to eat and tips for eating out on a budget

28:05 - The street food of Copenhagen

29:41 - Isn’t it all pork based dishes in Denmark? Melanie dispels the myths and offers some tips for all the vegetarians listening

31:15 - Where is the best (and worst) places to stay in the city?

34:34 - How do we get to Copenhagen? Where is the airport and what transport is best to get around?

36:23 - What airlines fly in and out of Copenhagen?

38:15 - What is the currency and can I use my credit card?

39:55 - Do the locals speak English in Denmark?

41:10 - Getting in touch with Melanie and how she can help you.

43:31 - Michelle’s overview of Copenhagen

44:09 - Sustainable Travel Tip by Jen Gayle


A Massive Thank You For Listening!

Hearing these insider tips from Melanie makes me want to go back again so if you do visit, please write in and tell us all about your trip. We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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[012] Paris in France

[012] Paris in France

September 30, 2018

Explore Europe Paris Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

Paris, the capital of France, is a global hub for art, architecture, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. As well as landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques.

Paris is just a 2.5 hour train journey from Kaiserslautern or London. So the only question is really, why wouldn’t you visit?

Here are the links from our Explore Europe Paris episode: 

Deutsche Bahn: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

The apartment where John stayed in the heart of Paris: here 

The Hop-on and Hop-off boss: https://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com/paris-hop-on-hop-off-bus-tours

The Louvre Museum: https://www.louvre.fr/en

Musée d’Orsay: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html

The Eiffel Tower: https://www.toureiffel.paris/en

The boats in Paris: https://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

Notre Dame Cathedral: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/

Moulin Rouge: http://www.moulinrouge.fr/?lang=en

Sacré-Cœur Basilica: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/

Discover more of Jen Gale's easy to implement sustainable living tips here: www.asustainablelife.co.uk

Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Michelle and John tell us where we will be exploring

00:54 - Why did John go to Paris and who did he take with him?

1:18 - Find out what mode of transport John, Chloe and Joe took from different parts of the world to get to Paris?

4:45 - Would you drive to Paris?

5:45 - John’s unexpected accommodation booking

7:32 - It would be Explore Europe without hearing all about John’s adventures on the hop-on and hop-off sightseeing bus

9:53 - John gives us a great tip for buying your bus tickets

10:39 -  John divulges all the info of what you will see on the sightseeing tour bus

13:32 - The Eiffel Tower

14:31 - Notre Dame - including Michelle’s most expensive round of drinks and John’s expensive ice-cream purchase

15:34 - Louvre Museum - the architecture and artwork. Plus, tips on getting tickets so you don’t get stuck in the queues.

20:27 - Michelle talks about her must-see stop in Paris - Musee D’Orsay

21:27 - Boat tours, walking tours, guided tours of Paris

22:01 - Hold your horses… John’s talking about nooks and crannies… a favourite of ours

23:06 - The Moulin Rouge experience

25:21 - A little tip about food and drink

25:47 - John tells all about the most expensive street in Paris

26:43 - Anything else that John would recommend for a weekend in Paris?

27:29 - The Palace of Versailles

29:37 - Bateaux Mouche

30:10 - Do you need a Visa to visit Paris?

30:35 - What currency do they use?

31:11 - Is Paris child-friendly?

32:16 - What about safety? Is Paris safe?

33:25 - Food and drink - Michelle gets to grips with the idea that John didn’t really go to any restaurant and instead gives us her favourite french dish

34:51 - The overview of Paris and Michelle’s round up of this weeks episode

37:10 - This week’s Sustainable Travel Tip with Jen Gale - think twice about flying!


A Massive Thank You For Listening!

Are you planning to visit Paris? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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[011] Oktoberfest in Munich & Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart

[011] Oktoberfest in Munich & Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart

September 14, 2018

Explore Europe Oktoberfest & Volksfest Podcast Episode Show Notes

Welcome back to the first episde of our second series of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys. Today we're visting the most beer famous festival in the world, Oktoberfest in Munich! 

But we're also sharing our insiders tip, which is to go to the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart for the exact same experience without the cost and hassle of getting to Munich with millions of other tourists. 

Whichever festival you visit, make sure you dress up in traditional Lederhosen or Dirndl and we think you'll have one of the best experiences of your time in Europe. Prost!

Here are the links from our Explore Europe Oktoberfest episode: 

The official Oktoberfest website for Munich: https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/

Book a table in the tents here: https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/ressort/The+big+tents/

The official Cannstatter website for Stuttgart: https://www.cannstatter-volksfest.de/en/landing-page/

Book a table in the tents here: https://www.cannstatter-volksfest.de/en/tents/

Some useful keywords when booking:

Reservierung = reservation

Hauptschiff = main section

Stehplatz = standing only

Tisch = table

Mittags = midday/daytime

Abends = evenings

Essensmarken = food vouchers

Getränkemarken = drinks vouchers

Einlassband = entry wristband

The website for the Tannenbaum Ski Club which organises trips to both Oktoberfest and Canntastter Volksfest: https://www.tannenbaumskiclub.org

Looking for a Dirndl or Lederhosen? Check out C&A: https://www.c-and-a.com/de/de/shop/damen-sale-dirndl-trachten

Discover more of Jen Gale's easy to implement sustainable living tips here: www.asustainablelife.co.uk

Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Welcome to the 2nd Series of Explore Europe

1:49 - Today’s episode is dedicated to the German beer festivals - Oktoberfest and Cannstatter Volksfest.

2:17 - But, why is is called Oktoberfest?

2:57 - When is Oktoberfest?

3:21 - What we all want to know is…has John been to an Oktoberfest festival and if so, would he recommend it?

4:00 - The best way to travel to Oktoberfest? (…and John mentions his favourite - booking.com!

7:24 - All the details on booking a table and making the most of your time at the festival.

8:57 - Munich or Stuttgart? Who has the best Beer festival?

12:08 - Food - Part 1: What type of fare can I expect?

13:01 - More information on how to book your tickets and table

21:17 - Money Part 1: So, how can you pay for items at the Oktoberfest?

22:43 - Should you wear German traditional clothes to attend? …Michelle gives you some money saving tips.

26:55 - Oktoberfest = alcohol……so, what about families? Is it child-friendly?

28:56 - Food Part 2: More on the subject of the glorious food on offer at the Oktoberfest.

29:46 - With over 10,000 in attendance, John and Michelle discuss safety at the festivals. Is it safe to visit?

31:08 - Money Part 2: Should you bring a credit card with you?

31:31 - John gives some insider tips for getting to the Stuttgart Oktoberfest from the KMC area.

33:33 - Michelle and John tease an upcoming episode destination and maybe even be attending an Oktoberfest this September too.

35:07 - Michelle’s Episode Round-up

35:33 - Jen Gayle’s Sustainable Travel Tip - stay away from cheap souvenirs made in China!


A Massive Thank You For Listening!

Are you planning to visit Oktoberfest or Cannstatter Volksfest? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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[010] London for Little or No Money

[010] London for Little or No Money

August 12, 2018

Explore Europe London in England Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are our show notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

You have to experience London two or three times whilst you are on tour in Germany, because it’s such an amazing city and you need to go several times to truly appreciate it. I hope this episode gives you some great ideas to get the best from the first visit as a reccie. I hope we have shown you that you don’t need to spend a fortune paying to get into famous landmarks or exhibits. There is a huge amount of London that you can see, do and experience for little or no money.

Our main advice is to slow down, walk whenever you can or take the boat. Choose one area to explore in a day and then experience it like a local. Look up at all times - you will find the most amazing sights, sounds and smells of London all around you. Just absorb the atmosphere and the experience. Then drop us a line at hello@exploreeurope.net or tweet us at @explore_europe and tell us all about it!


Here are the links from our Explore Europe London episode:


Hotel - Michelle’s recommend is the Premier Inn chain.

Our tip is to stay around the Southbank, Borough, Bankside area so put zip code SE1 into the search field. 



Pre-register your contactless card: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/contactless/what-are-contactless-payment-cards?intcmp=8610

The train from Stansted airport to London Liverpool Street: https://www.stanstedexpress.com

The bus from Stansted airport to London - if you stay at any of the hotels that Michelle recommends along the Southbank/Borough/Bankside area of London then take the A7 to either Southbank or Waterloo (depending on your hotel location): https://www.nationalexpress.com/en/airports/stansted

Thames Clippers is ‘the boat’ that Michelle refers to throughout the podcast (don’t bother with the tourist version, its a waste of money!): https://www.thamesclippers.com

The infamous hop-on hop-off bus: https://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com/london-bus-tours

The London Underground (the tube to Londoners): https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/track/tube

The Explore Europe - Guide to London - this is the itinerary that Michelle refers to throughout the podcast: 



All you can eat Portuguese tapas and drinking cava on Sundays: http://pix-bar.com

Good value chain: https://www.zizzi.co.uk

European/healthy: https://wildwoodrestaurants.co.uk

The Ivy: https://ivycollection.com

Duck & Waffle: https://duckandwaffle.com


Food Markets

South Bank Real Food Market: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/visit/shopping/markets/scfood-market

Borough Market: http://boroughmarket.org.uk


Other Markets

Spitalfields Market: https://oldspitalfieldsmarket.com

Columbia Road Flower Market: http://www.columbiaroad.info

Brick Lane: http://www.visitbricklane.org


Other Stuff To Do

Check out Time Out magazine, here’s their website: https://www.timeout.com/london

Museums in London (they’re free!): https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/london-attraction/museum/free-museums-in-london

Kensington Palace Garden: https://www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/explore/the-palace-gardens/

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park/things-to-see-and-do/sports-and-leisure/the-diana-princess-of-wales-memorial-walk

Covent Garden: https://www.coventgarden.london

Sky Garden - visit this instead of paying for the Shard: https://skygarden.london/sky-garden

Discounted theatre booth in Leicester Square: https://officiallondontheatre.com/tkts/

Full price theatre tickets: https://officiallondontheatre.com/theatre-tickets/


Michelle's Sustainable Travel Tip

Download this app to access over 2000 places to refill your reusable water bottles all over London: https://www.refill.org.uk/refill-scheme/london/


Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Introduction to the London podcast

3:51 - How can you get to London from Germany? From flights to coaches and trains. We’ve got you covered.

7:51 - John’s fun facts about London

8:40 - Michelle fills you in on all the best ways to transfer from the Airport into London.

9:10 - All things Oyster Cards, Contactless Credit Cards, and why it’s so simple to use the transport system.

11:34 - Michelle’s super insider travel tip - Thames Clipper Boats

13:51 - So, what about the infamous Underground system (or ‘the tube’ as it’s know to the locals). How do you use it? Is it complicated?  

14:46 - Michelle’s No.1 tip when it comes to getting around London? It’s not what you might think.

16:25 - Michelle talks about how you can get hold of your very own Explore Europe Guide To London

16:56 - Exploring the London Bridge Itinerary

18:35 - Where should you stay whilst visiting London?

22:39 - Michelle’s handy hotel hack

23:02 - What hotel options are available to visitors?

24:54 - What is there to do in London?

25:46 - John can’t quite believe it when Michelle tells him that Museums in London are free admission.

26:25 - But, which Museum should you go to? Michelle’s got the inside scoop

27:24 - Exploring the Kensington Itinerary

28:40 -Food Part 1 |  Street Food/Markets

33:04 - Food Part 2 | Brick Lane - Curry: The National Dish of Great Britain

35:20  - The Markets of London - From flowers to antiques and bric-a-brac

35:59 - Michelle’s restaurant tips

36:43 - Food Part 3 - Medium priced Fare Recommendations

38:13 - Food part 4 - John’s favorite restaurant recommendation

39:20 - Food Part 5 - Michelle LOVES Duck & Waffle

40:17 - Who needs The Shard when you can have Sky Gardens?

43:15 - Yeah, Johns infamous hop on hop off buses makes an appearance!

45:12 - London’s West End Theatre Experience

48:08 - John and Michelle’s Tips for booking theatre tickets in London

50:15 - What activities are there to do in the city?  

53:50 - The Great British Weather!

54:03 - Is London family-friendly?

55:29 - Spending money…. Is it easy to use your card in London or is it best to bring cash?

56:59 - Can’t have an episode on London without talking about British Pubs. Michelle and John give you all the insider knowledge on what to expect.

58:02 - What visa/passport do you need when travelling to London?

58:58 - How about travelling with orders?

59:30 - Is London a safe place to visit?

1:01:22 - Overview of this mammouth episode

1:04:13 - Michelle’s Personal Story of London

1:06:28 - Michelle’s Sustainable Travel Tip


A Massive Thank You For Listening!


Are you planning to visit the London? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope

That’s the last episode in our first series of Explore Europe but we are already planning the second series. So I hope you join us again soon so we can help you get the best out of your tour.

Thank you for listening and we’ll see you in the next series Explorers.


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[009] Deutsche Weinstrasse with Bret Helenius

[009] Deutsche Weinstrasse with Bret Helenius

July 26, 2018

Explore Europe Deutsche Weinstrasse Podcast Episode Show Notes

In this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys, I welcome a special guest, Bret Helenius, CEO of AdvantiPro - publishers of the Find-It Guide and the Kaiserslautern American - to talk about the Deutsche Weinstraße - The German Wine Road. 

There is so much of it to explore and wine to sample that it can be hard to know where to start. Bret’s tips and insider knowledge are just the perfect place to start discovering this beautiful region of Germany, that is right on the doorstep of the KMC.

If wine drinking isn’t your thing, there is also so much more to do. Discovering old Roman Ruins, beautiful medieval castles and long walks through the perfectly planted vineyards are all fantastic alternatives to wine tasting. Or you can do both - just like the locals!

Here are the links from our Explore Europe Deutsche Weinstrasse episode: 

Deutscher Weinstraße - The German Wine Road: http://www.germany.travel/en/leisure-and-recreation/scenic-routes/german-wine-route.htmlwurstmarkt

Another site with some more info: http://www.germanwineroute.com

Bret’s favorite local Wein Gut - Rudi Rüttiger in Neuleinigen: http://www.ruettger.de/indexen.html

Bret’s best tip for an undiscovered gem Wein Gut Gaul in Anselheim: https://www.gaul-weine.de

Tours of Wine Cellars Vin Winning in Deidesheim: http://www.von-winning.de/de/weingut/weingut.html

Bret’s top tip for a gourmet restaurant in sneakers - L.A. Jordan at Hotel Ketschauer How in Deidesheim: https://www.ketschauer-hof.com/en/restaurant/la-jordan/ambience/

Bret’s recommendation for local Pfalzisch food- Weinhaus Henniger in Kallstadt: https://www.weinhaus-henninger.de/restaurant.html

Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt - the biggest wine festival in the world - http://www.bad-duerkheim.com/duerkheimer-wurstmarkt.html

A website to find all wine festivals and wine walks in the Pfalz: https://www.pfalz.de/wein-und-genuss/weinfeste-und-events#

Auto-Free Sunday on the last Sunday in August: https://www.pfalz.de/erlebnistag-deutsche-weinstrasse/erlebnistag-deutsche-weinstrasse-2017


Bret' Links

Bret’s media company AdvantiPro: https://www.advantipro.de

Websites of all their publications…

The Find-It Guide: https://www.finditguide.com

The Kaiserslautern American: https://www.kaiserslauternamerican.com

Herald Union: https://www.herald-union.com

The Stuttgart Citizen: https://www.stuttgartcitizen.com

The Ansbach Home Town Herald: https://ansbachhometownherald.com

Military in Germany: https://militaryingermany.com


Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Michelle gives Bret Helenius a massive welcome to the Explore Europe Podcast

00:53 - But, what exactly is Bret doing in Germany and what does he do with his time?

2:12 - Learn all about the amazing ‘Find-It Guide’ and how it can help you settle into life overseas

3:14 - Bret explains how he balances being an American and living like a local in Germany

4:01- Michelle and Bret talk about the pros and cons of living in a non-American part of Germany

6:09 - So, what attracted Bret to the Weinstrasse? (spoiler….yes…it has to do with wine!)

8:11 - Bret gives his best recommendations for vineyards in the area

11:21 - Bret’s insider tip for a a vineyard that has won the best Pinot Noir Award!

12:08 - Find out all the best wine tours of The Weinstrasse with Bret’s hotspots

12:50 - Can you just turn up and take a tour of the vineyards? Or is it best to book in advance?

14:17 - Here we go, Explore Europe’s favorite section. It’s food time! What type of fare is on offer in the Weinstrasse?

15:49 - Bret’s insider tips for dining at the Weinstrasse

20:00 - You’ve heard of the beer festivals in Germany but what about wine festivals? Bret gives us all the lowdown on local wine festivals, including the biggest of them all!

20:28 - What NOT to wear to a wine festival in Germany

21:48 - What about local wine festivals?

22:53 - Are the festival's family-friendly?

23:46 - What about pets? Are pets welcome?

24:12 - Can you use your debit/credit card at the wine festivals or is cash REALLY king?

25:42 - The beauty of using public transport to get to the Weinstrasse and the festivals

26:51 -  What is Auto-Frei Sonntag and has Bret ever experienced it?

28:47 - What does the future hold for Bret in Germany?

29:17 - Where else can you find out more about Bret?

31:02 - Michelle’s sustainable travel tip


Are you planning to visit the Deutsche Weinstrasse? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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A Massive Thank You For Listening!


[008] Luxembourg

[008] Luxembourg

July 20, 2018

Explore Europe Luxembourg Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are our show notes for this episode of Explore Europe brought to you by Used Car Guys.

Surrounded by France, Belgium and Germany, Luxembourg is it’s one of the worlds smallest countries yet its packed with medieval charm. The capital, Luxembourg City, has a fairy-tale quality thanks to its beautiful old town perched on top of sheer cliffs with incredible views across deep gorges where the rivers pass through the Ardenne forest. 

Luxembourg is so close to the KMC that you really have to get out there and explore this extraordinary city for yourself.


Here are the links from our Explore Europe Luxembourg episode: 

The hotel where John stayed (booked via booking.com): https://booki.ng/2NaEEhp

The Luxembourg Tourist site: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en

The Grand Ducal Palace: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/castle/palace-of-the-grand-dukes

Kids activities: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/what-to-do/family-kids

The restaurant where John had dinner: brasserieguillaume.lu/

The American Cemetery in Luxembourg: https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/luxembourg-american-cemetery#.W03tHi-B3BI


Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Welcome

1:01 - Where are we exploring today?

2:48 - How long is best when visiting Luxembourg?

3:36 - How did John travel from Germany to Luxembourg?

4:01 - What about finding accommodation?

4:24 - John imparts great knowledge about Luxembourg

5:27 - Is it an expensive city?

6:28 - So, how do you get around Luxembourg?

6:59 - What about John’s hop-on and hop-off bus?

7:15 - What can you do whilst visiting the city?

10:54 - It’s food time…..where and what did John eat whilst he was there?

13:26 - Do they speak English?

13:52 - …..more information about the fare in Luxembourg

14:28 - Are there family-friendly activities in the city?

14:59 - What currency/payments accepted in Luxembourg?

15:18 - Do you require a passport/visa to travel?

15:55 - John lets you in on some absolute must-see places to visit.

16:43 - The reasons you should visit Luxembourg this year.

18:14 - Michelle’s sustainable Travel Tip - The curse of the Plastic Bag

Thank you for listening Explorers!

Are you planning a trip to Luxembourg? We would love to hear all about your trip and any tips you have for fellow explorers. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @explore_europe and use the hashtag #ExploreEurope


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A Massive Thank You For Listening!


[007] Strasbourg in France

[007] Strasbourg in France

July 10, 2018

Explore Europe Strasbourg, France Podcast Episode Show Notes

Here are the show notes from our Explore Europe Strasbourg episode brought to you by Used Car Guys

Strasbourg is such a picturesque place which manages to somehow balance the medieval architecture of winding cobble stone alleys and crooked half-timbered houses with the modern progressive EU Quarter and France’s second-largest student population.

It is perhaps this unique style that seems to show case the very best of France and Germany.


Here are the links from our Explore Europe Strasbourg, France episode: 

The hotel where John stayed:  https://www.regent-contades.com/en/

John’s favourite booking engine for hotels: https://www.booking.com

Great article on what to do in Strasbourg for a weekend: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/48-hours-in/strasbourg-city-guide-france-what-to-do-alsace-european-parliament-best-hotels-restaurants-a7943161.html

Strasbourg Tourist Website: http://www.otstrasbourg.fr/en/

Strasbourg Cathedral: https://www.strasbourg.info/cathedral/

Le Petit Train - the tourist train around Strasbourg: https://petit-train-strasbourg.fr/?lang=en

All about Le Petit France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petite_France,_Strasbourg

All about the Grand Island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grande_Île_(Strasbourg)

Visiting the European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/strasbourg/hemicycle-parlamentarium-visits

The lovely restaurant where John had green eggs (ha ha): http://cheznousstrasbourg.com/

All about Flammkueche or Tarte Flambe as it’s known in France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarte_flambée

All about Le Tour de France: https://www.letour.fr/en/

Strasbourg Christmas Markets: https://noel.strasbourg.eu/en/les-marches-de-noel

The initiative that Michelle mentions during her sustainable travel tip. Take 3 for the Sea: https://www.take3.org


Podcast Conversation Timeline

00:01 - Welcome to Explore Europe

01:09 - Where are we exploring today?

01:29 - But, Strasbourg is in Germany, isn’t it?

02:14 - How do you travel to Strasbourg? Can you park easily?

02:58 - John tells us how he found his accommodation and when you should NOT go to Strasbourg (is that even possible? …well, John gives you the lowdown).

04:10 - The Strasbourg Cathedral - From the history, to visiting the sight and how to getting there

05:32 - The Astronomical Clock - great to visit with kids

06:48 - John tells us the best way to visit the city - Le Petit Train  

08:15 - Learn all about the ‘Instagrammable’ Le Petit France

09:18 - The Grand Island - Unesco World Heritage Site

9:58 - Do you have to speak French to visit?

10:27 - John adds more details about the Le Petit Train and what you’ll see on your adventure

10:55 - Here you’ll learn about the 17th Century bridge with the best views of the City

11:20 - And then a 13th Century Bridge where you can see how the town is split.

11:42 - Here we go, it’s food time (can I get an amen?!) The question is……..Can Michelle get her favourite dish in Strasbourg?

14:38 - Should you pre-book your restaurant choices or can you walk-in? Also, the eating habits of European Culture

15:38 - What currency do I need to take?

16:07 - When is the best time to visit?

16:20 - John is excited to divulge all matters relating to the French cycle race - Le Tour De France

17:36 - The Christmas Markets of Strasbourg

18:22 - Strasbourg - Is it really a great all-rounder city?

19:28 - Michelle’s Travel Tip - Take Three for The Sea

Thanks so much for listening explorers!

If you do visit Strasbourg, please do let us know by leaving a comment or tweet using the hashtag #ExploreEurope. We’d love to know what you think!  


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