Tag Archives: explore

The Most Inexpensive Ways to Get Where You’re Going

Hitchhiking – the most inexpensive of all, considering it’s free. Read further here.

Carpooling – Though still hitchhiking in the sense that you’re sharing a car with strangers, carpooling websites provideefficiency as well as safety. Each driver posts her voyage along with the price she charges per seat. The prices often fall below 20€, and some websites are expressly for free trips. Basic information, a photograph, comments and ratings can be viewed for each driver. Though payment is submitted electronically when reserving the seats, the driver will not receive compensation until you provide them with your reservation code. This ensures that you will not be charged unless your voyage is completed.

Cheap buses – Don’t think because the tickets usually cost less than 40€ that you’ll be riding in a school bus; these buses offer free Wifi, electrical sockets, bathrooms and comfortable, reclining seats. Most have wide availability, though the trips do fill up quickly. Best to schedule a few weeks to a month in advance.

Cheap airlines – The hours may not always be the most convenient, and sometimes the layovers may be a bit long, butwho can resist a 10€ plane ticket? For those with more flexible schedules, you can browse the prices over the course of a month to ensure getting a price that low. Otherwise, the majority fall around 40€, and few exceed 100€.

Student discounts – no matter what travel method you choose there’s a good possibility that some kind of student discount (or other specialty discount, such as military) is available. The best way to save money in any situation is to do thorough research to ensure you’ve explored all options.

Have your own methods of traveling cheaply? Post them in the comments below!

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Hitchhiking through the Netherlands

Having never hitchhiked before, my friend Fabienne and I admittedly assumed the process would be a bit quicker and easier than it turned out to be: the hundred-mile journey from Amsterdam to Brussels took us eight hours and seven cars. We met a lot of interesting and kind individuals, including a Polish couple who allowed me to practice the few polish phrases I know, a Turkish man who tried to convince us at least a dozen times to stop hitchhiking and let him take us to the train station (“A train ticket only costs 50€!”), and an extremely chill and hilarious Spanish guy who bought us a drink before dropping us off at our final destination. While I’m not sure if I have the energy to go hitchhiking again any time soon, it was a great experience and I recommend others to try it at least once. Below are some of the tips I wish I had known or considered before departing on our adventure.

Plan ahead: The extreme unpredictability of hitchhiking makes it difficult to have a concrete backup plan (what will happen if a ride is unavailable? Is it possible to walk to the nearest city? If necessary, can you afford to stay in a hotel?), so before starting we decided that we wouldn’t stop traveling until we reached Brussels. Since hitchhiking at night can be dangerous, we always got dropped off and found new rides at 24-hour gas stations, giving us a warm, dry place to stay, with access to food and the safety of company.

Strategize: Starting at highway entrances guarantee cars are going in the direction you need. Get situated some place that you can be seen easily and early on, and where the driver can safely pull over. If you’ve waited for a long time without any success, perhaps go with the next available car, even if it is in the wrong direction, in order to change location. Similarly, if a car can only bring you a small distance or partially in the right direction, decide if your current location is worth leaving before accepting the ride. We found the most success with approaching people at gas stations. We had waited half an hour or so on the road without any luck, but everyone we asked who headed in the same direction allowed us to travel with them.

Staying safe:

  1. Trust your instincts, and never feel bad about turning down a ride. I turned down three rides: one because the man was visibly drunk, another because the guy wanted monetary compensation, and a third because he originally said he was going in the wrong direction, drove away, and within five minutes showed back up at the gas station to tell us he could take us (weird, right?)
  2. If you’ve already accepted a ride and later begin to feel uncomfortable, tell the driver you’d like to be dropped off, even if it’s at a location sooner than the one you requested.
  3. In the extreme case of needing to evacuate the vehicle, keeping items (your passport, money) in your pockets in case you need to leave your backpack behind. Sit in the passenger seat, since the doors in the back may have child locks enabled.
  4. Gas stations are safer than highway service and rest stations in that they are well lit, always have staff on duty and have plenty camera surveillance.

For more information: http://www.hitchhikers.org/

Have your own hitchhiking tips/experiences? Post them in the comments below!

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The Electric Fairy

The Musée d’art modern de la ville de Paris is a small museum about a mile or so from the Eiffel Tower, most notably known for the “La Fée Électricité” (the Electric Fairy) by Raoul Dufy. Over the course of a year Dufy marked 250 panels with oil paint and pen scratches, slowing inscribing in color humanity’s electrical victories. The finished work stretches 200 feet long and 33 feet high, and as I stand barely 5 feet tall at its base, my thoughts revise and start to gain perspective.

The painting reads like a poem, blooming from the center with the gods of Olympus and spreading outward, intertwining mythology andhistory. Cool currents intersect warm waves, landscapes shift and slant, the entire canvas in motion as it shuffles through a hundred and ten individuals, from Aristotle to Edison, who aided in the development of electricity. Dufy’s style is whimsical yet evocative, carrying the imagination of infancy into the scientific world, a reminder of science’s dependency on dreamers.

I sit in the middle of the room and dissect the painting panel by panel, wanting to note every detail, every change of brushstroke. I want to scream how beautifully he has transitioned images in this spot, how I have never seen a yellow like that one before, how it must have been tiring and exhilarating to work on this painting for a year straight and how some days he must have wanted to kick his foot through the panels, but I’m so thankful he didn’t. All of the energy he poured into the painting still radiates there, whispering of a celebration and I want to fill empty air with music and bright light. I wish I could memorize every angle so I could recite them later on. I want to do something other than nod my head silently in the dimly lit room and walk away guiltily, knowing that I can never fully give it the time and attention it deserves.

Art and time have an unusual relationship; art borrows from time in an attempt to cheat it. Those lucky enough, blessed by talent and circumstances, succeed in immortality. Raoul Dufy, a man who lived and died in France 37 years before my birth, generated a thought and projected it into the world where it lingered, hovering like a hummingbird, allowing me to find it. His ideas have impressed themselves into me, discovering and explaining parts of my psyche I never realized existed. What, other than art, demonstrates the universality of existence?

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