Ride Sharing Apps

Ride Sharing Apps

In the interest of saving money during commutes across mainland Europe, ride sharing apps have become ever more popular and successful in recent years. They are providing competitive prices against the main train companies and even some of the long haul coach services and come with a number of benefits that these companies cannot replicate.

The idea is simple and works from two different perspectives. For those looking to gain passageway from one location to another, they can search and locate drivers who are going to making the journey they also intend to make and they will then pay a small amount of money to fill up one of the empty seats in the driver's car. From the driver's perspective, they are already going to be completing a trip between two locations and in order to offset the price of the fuel, they can fill up any empty seats in the car with passengers who will pay them an amount towards the journey.

There are a few reasons why these apps are really fantastic. First and foremost is the social factor; although not everybody is talkative, most drivers and passengers will enjoy the process of getting to know each other, of trading stories and essentially networking which is beneficial to everybody. If the driver is a local, as they often are, they can trade local knowledge of restaurants and activities for those passengers who are tourists which will enrich their experience of their travel.

Secondly, there's the green factor; by filling up the empty seats in a car you are offsetting your carbon emission and helping the environment. As the driver would have already been travelling the journey that the passengers booked themselves onto, apart from the extra emissions committed by the extra weight carried by the car, the passenger essentially travels in a completely green way.

Thirdly, there is the point to point travelling to factor in; again, not every driver will do this, but most drivers will be willing to make a small excursion at the end of the journey to ensure their passenger gets as close to their intended destination as possible, be it a hotel or hostel or just a point of interest. This is not something that can be done with the train and coach companies, and the price of a taxi is often very expensive, and so therefore is a very handy benefit for those using the apps.

Most of the applications work on a rating system. What this means is that after the journey the driver can rate the passenger on factors such as punctuality, politeness and overall personality, and the passenger can rate the driver based on their punctuality, their driving skills and personality also. All the ratings are averaged and displayed on the user's profiles so that future drivers and passengers can establish how the potential ride sharer will be. Sometimes you can even rate the ride sharer based on their choice of music so that future ride sharers can guarantee that they can join in a carpool karaoke during their trip.

Most apps also ensure that no physical money is handed over as all transactions are completed using the application instead. This helps to ensure that nobody is ripped off and that everything is completed in a very official and easily monitored fashion.

The prices tend to be cheaper than using the local train systems, and it doesn't take that much longer on most long haul journeys as there are no train changes or the need to catch a taxi at the end of the journey. While sometimes the coach companies are a little cheaper, they take considerably longer and can often leave you with a long journey at the end of the coach trip to reach your final destination on the other side of the city. All of this has helped to contribute to the ride sharing application companies successes.

Popular ride sharing apps in Europe include Uber, Free Now, Lyft, Blablacar and Karzoo. Both of these can be operated from a desktop or tablet as well as through an application on your mobile phone and are relatively safe and secure ways to travel across Europe, and have easy and simple to use interfaces that require minimum explanation. Ride sharing is easy, cheap and better environmentally than using your local transit companies. Give it a go next time you have to hop across the country.

Rock Climbing in Austria

Rock Climbing in Austria

Right in the heart of the European Alps is Austria, and with over 600 peaks soaring above 3000m above sea level, there are numerous opportunities for those who like to strap themselves in and to test their vertical limits. Austria is popular with both beginners and experts as it offers so many climbing routes and locations to choose from, although the most popular areas are around Salzburg and Innsbruck.

Innsbruck is located in Western Austria in a state called Tyrol and contains a lot of granite and limestone surfaces on which you can climb. This is arguably the best place to go climbing if you favour the single pitch sport routes, and you will find walls of all difficulties. Towards the north of the area, there are more multi-pitch alpine opportunities to test the more advanced climbers who want a more mountainous experience. Famous examples of this are the Silvretta which covers all levels of difficulty, Rofan which is more medium to hard, and Wilder Kaiser.

In the south and the east of the country, there are also more of the multi-pitch and alpine style routes, including the tallest peak of Austria, the Grosslocker Mountain at 3797m. Near Villach there is a particularly good area called Maltatal which is a granite valley offering rock climbing, alpine climbing and bouldering in a stunning location. This location covers mostly the medium levels of climbing and bouldering with over 200 routes to choose from.

Bouldering is also popular in Austria, and you don't have to look too hard to find it. Even in the low lying ground just outside of Vienna there are spots to practice your horizontal movements. Of course, there are also bouldering walls in the mountains and alpine areas, and the higher you go, the better the quality of granite surfaces you are likely to come across.

There really is something for everybody, from those who like to have the all inclusive guided experience with the ropes all set up and so all they have to do is strap on and climb, to those who want to be scaling impossible ridges with their own bolts, pegs and harnesses. Just be sure that you are confident in your abilities before you attempt anything beyond your level, and, if in any doubt, hire a guide or speak to an expert.

There are also package holidays which usually last around four to five days. Complete with a guide, you can select a mountaineering or a rock climbing experience in multiple locations all over the country at any climbing level. This is a good place to start for those who don't know the country or don't know the sport so well, and is probably the most time efficient way if you are restricted to only a few days. Also, having the expertise of a guide will ensure that you not only have additional safety measures, but also will only be scaling the best walls around, and will not have to provide all your own equipment.

So why Austria? In some places, such as Tirol, rock climbing dates back more than 100 years. The country prides itself on not only having a multitude of rock surfaces that cover all difficulties, but more importantly, having some of the toughest routes in Europe. There are some world famous routes such as the Schleierwasserfall in the Kaiser Mountains which are really set to push the limits of those more experienced climbers. While it is certainly not the cheapest country in the world to take a climbing holiday in, the infrastructure to support the sport is very extensive and there are a large number of climbing shops, indoor centres, and no shortage of experts and guides to assist you for when you are not prepared to take on the climb alone. Access to the mountains and climbing locations is easy, and access to Austria itself is not a problem from most places in Europe. It is also cheaper than Switzerland, which also offers excellent climbing and bouldering opportunities but would tear a bigger hole in your wallet. It is a haven for climbers and lovers of alpine sports.

Vinho do Porto

Vinho do Porto

Vinho do Porto, more commonly known as port wine, is a fortified alcoholic drink originating from the northern provinces of Portugal. Most people will have a bottle of Tawny sitting on their liquor shelf which will be ignored for long periods of time and maybe brought out on special occasions to be sipped at room temperature. Not only is this completely the wrong way to drink port, but it also changes the flavour completely and could well be the reason that many people have such negative associations with the product.

To fully understand port wine, you have to take a trip to Porto in Portugal. The name Porto translates as Port and sure enough, one of the first things you realise upon entering the town is that the Douro river which it is located upon functioned as a port. This is where the Port wine was exported from to be consumed around the world, mostly in Great Britain. This is the town where the wine takes it name from; Vihno do Porto - wine from Porto.

On the south side of the Douro, technically a town called Gaia, is where you will find all of the historic port cellars. The wine is produced in a small region about two hours upstream in the Douro Valley, however the wine was historically stored, matured and exported from the cellars which are still functioning today. The river is very shallow, and so all of the product used to be transported using smaller flat bottomed boats from the vineyards down to the cellars before being loaded onto larger ships to be taken around the world.

Port was produced out of a necessity for a long lasting wine. Portugal and England have the longest lasting and still functioning treaty, and while England was trading materials to create fabrics with, they wanted wine from Portugal in return. The long time it took to take the wine back to England often resulted in corked or oxygenated product which was of no use, so the Portuguese invested a method of fortifying the wine to ensure that it was still good for drinking by the time it reached England. The fermenting bacteria is killed off using a product called aguardente (roughly translated as fire water) which is a spirit, high in alcoholic content that fortifies the product. This is done after only a few days of fermentation which means that the wine is still very sweet, and the added product increases the alcoholic content which is why port wine tends to be considerably stronger than traditional wine.

Now on to the important part; the drinking. Port wine should be chilled. A tawny should be served around 12-14 degrees centigrade, and white, ruby and pink port wine should be served around 4-5 degrees centigrade. This is very important to the overall enjoyment of the wine, and is a detail that is often overlooked, even by very expensive and classy restaurants. There are, as mentioned, four different categories of port wine. Tawny is oaked, much like a chardonnay, and it picks up the woody colour from the barrels that it is stored in. Ruby port is stored in stainless steel instead and retains more of the original characteristics of the grape. White port is created using white grapes instead of red grapes, and pink is a new creation invented to try to put a new trendy slant on an otherwise considered very traditional product, made by using white grapes by keeping the skins on during pressing. All port wine should have five different grapes in.

Port wine is sweet, generally speaking, and so it isn't to everybody's liking, however if you visit a port cellar and speak to the experts about the history, the flavours and the product, you will start to appreciate it a lot more and may even start to enjoy what you didn't enjoy before. There are many to chose from, such as Porto Cruz with it's sleek refurbished and classy interior and rooftop bar overlooking the riverfront, or the more traditional Croft which is further up the hill and a little away from the tourists. If you visit Porto, make sure you make the time to sit down and experience a proper tasting and insight into the culture of the picturesque Portuguese town.

13 things you can do freely in Barcelona

13 things you can do freely in Barcelona

Barcelona has the capability to handle the self-indulgent voracious vultures of culture and happy gourmands for weeks, but all the entrant fees and the tapa bills can become enormous. Fortunately, help is near in many ways to make your budget for the holiday stretch a little further. In addition to the video features views below, you can save by investing in the T10 transport card, which can allow you to travel ten times in the city, on any public transportation.

1. Observe the right El Raval Without the influence and historical neighboring Berri Gòtic, but the network of lively streets surrounding El Raval is home to character cast including artists, punks, backpackers, students and more. There are many bars and cool vintage clothes, not to mention large MACBA (Museu d'Art Comtemporani of Barcelona, as impressive within and without.

2. plan your visit to the festival If you are here in late September, never miss the five days' testicles of Mercy (Festes de la Merce), which brings life to the city. And concert video, dance, fireworks, acrobatic and correfocs. Or try to show in the summer semester MaJor de Gracia, best known for its decorated street competition, but the process is full of free open-air concerts.

3. Counter to La Rambla It is undoubtedly an essential experience ambling along this 1-kilometer walkway in Barcelona, but it's blatantly touristy. Decorated with the history of royal buildings, La Rambla is a great place to walk, especially if the time is right - in the cold early morning.

4. Check the Mercat de la Boqueria The indoor market is famous for his colorful explosion of fruits, seafood, vegetables, rows and rows of Ramon and other fabulous butchers' displays. "There are tapas bars, stalls, and pizza, and you can try all products before buying.

5. The museums are free on Sundays Other museums in the city management (including the Picasso Museum, MUHBA) are free on Sunday afternoon, 15: 00-20: 00. Others were freely given a particular day of the month, usually on the first Wednesday or Sunday - searching each website for details.

6. admire modernism buildings Although many of the architectural treasures of Barcelona require admission fees to see inside, more impressive facades can be viewed for free. Gaudi's Magnum Opus, La Sagrada Familia-as, for example, or three examples of modernism sitting side by side on Passeig de Gracia - Casa Lleó Morera, Ametller House, and Casa Batllo Gaudi.

7. Take a look at Joan Miró's community arts The collections of the only favorite Barcelona local artist, Joan Miró based in Fundació is worth paying for, but there are fantastic carved works by Miró that one can see around the town for free. Parc de Joan Miró house 22 meters long his woman and bird sculpture covered with colored tiles rising graciously from the pool. Also, there is Miró mosaic in the middle of the Rambla and shown on the outer side wall of Terminal 2 at the airport runway.

8. Visit independentism cradle One of the newest Barcelona attractions is Born Cultural Center, a dazzling market building that has at its centerpiece the remains of many buildings burned by the Philip V forces after the 1714 siege. For most Catalans and the event marks the beginning of the desire for separation. It's a location filled with emotions.

9. Be impressed by La Cathedral At the heart of the Gothic Quarter, great Gothic Cathedral is as interesting outside and inside. With free access both in the morning and afternoon makes it more interesting to look inside and see their high domed ceilings cloisters and courtyard palms, an orange and white gaggle of geese resident.

10. enjoying the sea Barcelona has beaches that are excellent and perfect for relaxing foot bones after a day of sightseeing. The most famous of the beaches is Barceloneta, and it's beautiful sweep of sand with golden color and restaurant backed with promenade. Something a little crowded, go north in the Fòrum zone.

11. miss your way at Berri Gòtic Lost in a maze of cobblestone streets full of bars and quirky shops and leave quietly plates during the medieval Berri Gothic air. With time, it is almost certain you will come out at La Rambla or Via La Lai et Ana, flanking on one side of the room.

12. sniff out free music, dance, and art There are always some free cultural events happening around town, be it jazz in the park, reading a poem or workshops for children.

13. walk around the Plaça Reial In the arcades of Plaça, you will remember the modest version of the square of St Mark's in Venice, look out for first work of Gaudí commissioned for the city - a few lampposts indicating the serpent with dragon headed, leading to a helmet with wings.