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Europe

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Revision as of 22:52, 9 October 2006 by 82.224.59.166 (Talk)

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Europe encompasses an area of 10,400,000 km² (4,000,000 square miles), stretching from Asia to the Atlantic, Africa to the Arctic. There is much here for the traveller to enjoy, with a bewildering array of diversity and culture, cosmopolitan cities and spectacular scenery.

Europe defies easy categorization, with its compact size and complex history. The following are five (loosely defined) regions in Europe.

European Regions: Western Europe, Central Europe, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Mediterranean Europe

See also: European Union, 25 European states in various stages of economic and political union.

Geographical Europe

Get in

By plane

The largest air travel hubs in Europe are, in order, London (LON: LCY, LHR, LGW, STN, LTN), Frankfurt (FRA, HHN), Paris (CDG), and Amsterdam (AMS) which in turn have connections to practically everywhere in Europe. However, nearly every European city has direct long-distance flights at least to some destinations elsewhere, and other smaller airports can make sense for specific connections: for example, Vienna (VIE) has a very good network of flights to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, while Helsinki (HEL) is the geographically closest place to transfer if coming in from East Asia.

By train

The Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing and Vladivostok to Moscow is a classic rail journey.

By ship

Get around

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the Schengen Agreement. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen Agreement signatory country is valid in all other countries that signed and implemented the treaty.

These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (voted in, but not yet formalised, nor implemented). Note that not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty and not all Schengen treaty countries are members of the European Union.

At some airports, airlines will still insist on seeing your id-card or passport. Travel to and from a Schengen Agreement country to any other country will result in the normal border checks.

By train

The Inter Rail (for Europeans) and Eurail (for everybody else) passes offer good value if you plan on traveling extensively around Europe (or even a single region) and want more flexibility than cheap plane tickets can offer.

As of 2006, Eurail covers the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The most notable omissions compared to Inter Rail are Republic of Macedonia, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The most extensive and most reliable train travel planner for all of Europe is the one belonging to the German railways (DB) and can be found here in English.

Train travel in this continent is explained in full detail on the Rail travel in Europe article.

By plane

Dozens of budget airlines allow very cheap travel around Europe, often much cheaper than the train or even bus fares for the same journey. Currently the cheapest flights are offered by low cost airlines such as airBerlin, Centralwings, easyJet, HLX, Ryanair, SkyEurope Airlines and WizzAir, with the lowest fares usually found on routes which go to or from cities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. All of these flights should be booked on the internet well in advance, otherwise the price advantage may become non-existent. Always compare prices with major carriers like British Airways, LOT or Lufthansa! One should never pay more than € 80 on any airline when booking a month or more ahead of time (except on very long routes e.g. Dublin - Istanbul). You should also make sure where the airport is located, since some low cost airlines name very small airports by the next major city, even if the distance is up to two hours drive by bus (e.g. Ryan- and Wizzair's Frankfurt-Hahn, which is not Frankfurt/Main International)..

See also: Discount airlines in Europe

Passengers Rights

European Union (EU) Regulation 261/2004 of 17. February 2005 gives certain rights to passenger on all flights, schedule or charter and flights provided as part of a Package Holiday. It only applies to passengers flying from an EU airport or from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport on an EU carrier.

Denied Boarding

If:

  • you have a valid ticket
  • you have a confirmed reservation
  • you have checked in by the deadline given to you by the airline

Then you are entitled to a compensation, which is:

  • €250 if the flight is shorter than 1500 km
  • but only €125 if it is delayed less than 2 hours
  • €400 if the flight is between 1500 km and 3500 km
  • but only €200 if it is delayed less than 3 hours
  • €600 if the flight is longer than 3500 km
  • but only €300 if it is delayed less than 4 hours
  • and a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant)
  • or alternative transport to your final destination.

The airline also have to cover the following expenses:

  • two telephone calls or emails, telexes or faxes
  • meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time.
  • hotel accommodation if you are delayed overnight.

Usually they will give you a prepaid phone card, and vouchers for a restaurant and a hotel.

Refund

If your flight is delayed 5 hours or longer you can get a refund of your ticket.

By bus

Eurolines connects over 500 destinations, covering the whole of the continent and Morocco. Eurolines allows travelling from Sicily to Helsinki and from Casablanca to Moscow.

For longer distances, travelling by bus often isn't any cheaper than flying with a low cost airline. It's only worth considering if you travel at very short notice, have heavy luggage, or are keen on reducing your travel-related CO2 emmisions.

Gullivers and Sindbad are other options.

By ship

Besides ferry connections to and from the UK and other countries, there are also various ferries on the larger lakes and for crossing rivers. Furthermore, there are several regularly running cruise-lines on the larger rivers like the Rhine or the Danube.

By thumb

Ridesharing (Carpooling, Hitchhiking) is a common way of travelling in some parts of Europe, especially former Soviet countries. It is a pleasant way to meet lots of people, and travel without spending too many euros. Don't forget to check out the tips for hitchhiking.

The viamichelin.com route planner can help you planning your itinerary.

The Marco Polo Euro Atlas is great (but not for Eastern Europe), it has detailed information about gas stations on the highway and doesn't contain unnecessary city maps. It can be found in Slovakia and probably other countries...

Countries

Country Symbol Currency EU-member Schengen
implemented
Time zone³ Inter Rail
(zone)
Eurail
Albania AL, .al ALL n n CET
Andorra AND, .ad EUR n n CET
Armenia ARM, .am AMD n n +5
Austria A, .at EUR 1995 y CET C y
Belarus BY, .by BYR n n EET
Belgium B, .be EUR 1958 y CET E y
Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH, .ba BAM n n CET
Bulgaria BG, .bg BGN 2007¹ n EET H
Croatia HR, .hr HRK 2007+? n CET D
Cyprus CY, .cy CYP 2004 n CET
Czech Republic CZ, .cz CZK 2004 n CET D
Denmark DK, .dk DKK 1973 y CET C y
Estonia EST, .ee EEK 2004 n EET
Finland FIN, .fi EUR 1995 y EET B y
France F, .fr EUR 1958 y CET E y
Germany D, .de EUR 1958 y CET C y
Greece GR, .gr EUR 1981 y EET G y
Hungary H, .hu HUF 2004 n CET D y
Iceland IS, .is ISK n y WET
Ireland IRL, .ie EUR 1973 n WET A
Italy I, .it EUR 1958 y CET G y
Latvia LV, .lv LVL 2004 n EET
Liechtenstein FL, .li CHF n n CET
Lithuania LT, .lt LTL 2004 n EET
Luxembourg L, .lu EUR 1958 y CET E y
Macedonia MK, .mk MKD n n CET H
Malta M, .mt MTL 2004 n CET
Moldova MD, .md MDL n n EET
Monaco MC, .mc EUR n n CET
Montenegro SCG, .yu (.cs) EUR n n CET H
Netherlands NL, .nl EUR 1958 y CET E y
Norway N, .no NOK n y CET B y
Poland PL, .pl PLN 2004 n CET D n
Portugal P, .pt EUR 1986 y WET F y
Romania RO, .ro RON5 2007¹ y EET H n
European Russia RU, .ru (.su) RUB n n MSK4
San Marino RSM, .sm EUR n n CET
Serbia SCG, .yu (.cs) CSD² n n CET H
Slovakia SK, .sk SKK 2004 n CET D
Slovenia SLO, .si SIT6 2004 n CET G
Spain E, .es EUR 1986 y CET F y
Sweden S, .se SEK 1995 y CET B y
Switzerland CH, .ch CHF n n CET C y
European Turkey TR, .tr TRY 2010+?¹ n EET G
Ukraine UA, .ua UAH n n EET
United Kingdom GB, .uk GBP 1973 n WET
Vatican City V, .va EUR n n/a CET n/a n/a

¹ Official EU applicant countries. Bulgaria and Romania acceding January 1, 2007.

² The Serbian province of Kosovo (administered by the UN) uses the Euro as its official currency.

³ Winter time. In summer (last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October): WET → WEST (UTC+0 → +1), CET → CEST (+1 → +2), EET → EEST (+2 → +3)

4 Russia uses multiple time zones. EET in Kaliningrad Oblast, MSK (UTC+3) in Moscow, up to UTC+12 near Alaska.

5 New leu (RON) replaced old leu (ROL) on July 1, 2005. Old leu are legal tender until December 31, 2006.

6 Slovenia will adopt the Euro on January 1, 2007.

Other territories

Note: Russia and the Caucasus are sometimes considered to be a part of Asia.

Political History

Europe, prior to the conclusion of the Second World War, was a region ravaged by large-scale wars. National leaders realized after World War II that closer socio-economic and political integration was needed to ensure that such tragedies never happened again. Starting with humble beginnings, the EU's first form was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The founding group was Belgium, West Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Impressed with the results of the union the six countries pressed on and in 1956 signed the treaty of Rome, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market — the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1967 the union was formalised further with a the creation of a single Commission, as well as a council of ministers and a EU parliament.

Post-1967 the EU continued to grow; Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973. Greece joined in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986 and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. The EU pressed on with economic integration and launched the Euro(€) across several nations on 1 January 2002.

In 2004 a further 10 countries joined the EU. These were: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.


This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!






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