The Costs of Living in Madrid

Madrid, the Spanish capital is famous for its spectacular nightlife, cultural attractions and good climate. No wonder many are making plans for a more permanent stay in the hectic city.

Madrid has a quite large expat-community. It's not as big as the one in more international Barcelona, but still, it's possible to hang out with your own people while staying in the city. If you are more interested in learning Spanish and to meet the Spaniards, Madrid is a better choice than Barcelona because it's the capital of Spain, while many Barcelona-residents want to break out of Spain and the a tangible amount of locals prefer to speak Catalan.

But, enough of the Madrid vs. Barcelona debate. If you want to move to Madrid you will want to know that the costs of a place to stay starts at 250 euros a month.

Whether you're planning to hang out for 3 months or 3 years, you'll need to get yourself a place to stay. Your best bet is to rent a room in a shared flat, which, depending on the size and location could cost you between 250 and 500 euros a month. This is by far the best option, as assuming you don't live with crazy people, shared flats are very fun. Renting your own place can be quite expensive, as apartments in the center (and even outside of the center) usually start at around 700 euro, and can require deposits of up to a year at times (insane, I know).

Financing your stay? Your best bet for making some cash is teaching English, and there are no shortage of offers. Read the classifieds in the local newspapers and phone around.

Dirt Cheap Madrid [] show you how to have an inexpensive stay in the Spanish capital. Visit to get more tips about the expat life and moving to Madrid.

Germany Travel Tip - Visit Gohren-Lebbin

The small village of Göhren-Lebbin and the famous Baroque-Castle Blücher, in the district of Müritz, State Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, are located between the Fleesensee and Kölpinsee lakes and a perfect starting point for any family fun day. As part of the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte, the biggest connected lake area in the whole of middle Europe, naturally water sport is a big theme with sailing-, paddle- and house boats, but also swimming, horse riding, hiking, cycling and nature watch are favorite leisure activities not to be missed. Especially the Golf enthusiasts will find perfect facilities on the 5 different 18- and 9-hole courses, beautifully created and well maintained on 500 hectare of land.

In the heart of the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte, only 1.5 hours away from Berlin and 2 hours away from Hamburg you will discover Göhren-Lebbin, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is a small community of 628 inhabitants and made itself known as a tourist destination with a wide range of sport and leisure activities. If you are a Golfer or like to give this sport a try, don't look any further. Here you will find the biggest Golf facilities in Northern Europe. 5 different 18- and 9-hole courses will challenge even the professional player and the Golf Arena with its Driving Range and the Golf School offer courses for any level of player. Off course there is always time to relax at their inviting Clubhouse. If you or a family member prefers Tennis, you are right on the spot with one of Germany biggest Tennis Sport Centers. 8 indoor- and 9 outdoor sand and artificial grass courts await you and you can get a coach to learn more about this sport. To round up the offer, Squash, Badminton and Football can be played here as well.

From 1843 to 1914 Göhren-Lebbin carried the name Blücher and from that period stems the Baroque-Castle Blücher. Today it is a luxurious Hotel and place of a Wellness Center, called Fleesensee Spa, with modern facilities and treatment options. The Fleesensee Spa is one of the biggest Wellness Landscapes in Germany with an area of 6.000 square meters. Try exotic treatments such as Ayurveda, Chi Yang, Sung Rei, or experience an Oriental Bath in the Hamam or the Cleopatra-Bath (for 2 persons) or pamper your beauty with luxurious brands, such as Ligne St. Barth, Thalgo and Maria Galland. Maybe you fancy the huge Water- and Sauna World with a Waterfall, a 52 meter long Slide, Whirl-Seats and the outdoor Brine-Pool. Definitely not boring on a maybe rainy day and reasonably priced with € 21, 60 for a day ticket per adult.

The gorgeous surroundings of Göhren-Lebbin and its location between 2 lakes naturally invites you to a boat trip. A highly recommended tour starts in the neighboring village of Waren (Müritz), crosses the lakes Kölpinsee and Fleesensee and finally reaches the village of Malchow. Another way to discover the lush nature between water, fields and woods, is to hike or rent a bicycle. Depending on your preference you can choose from a mountain-, racing- or touring-bike. At the Tourist Information Center you will get a detailed map for bikers and hikers, which shows you the various routes and gives you road information, such as the faster, asphalted routes or the most beautiful, scenic routes. Networks of 400 km trails are made for you to discover the beauty of this region and if you look carefully you might see a Fish- and Sea Eagle, Black Storks, Ice Birds and Gray Herons. Every year this is the resting place for thousands of migratory birds, such as Cranes and Wild-Geese, where they find plenty of food and water in this unspoiled, natural habitat of Göhren-Lebbin, in the Land of Thousand Lakes.

This is an example of what you can do in Göhren-Lebbin while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Göhren-Lebbin we compiled a more comprehensive Göhren-Lebbin travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

This article has been written by Monika Petra. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German - a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture / language, and to find great Germany vacation rentals or holiday apartments when going on a Germany vacation.

Top Things to Do in Chicago

If you are thinking of visiting the U.S. and don't know where to start your sight-seeing, consider Chicago. Chicago is a vibrant city located in the state of Illinois; it contains loads of history and culture for those who love to understand the past and the people, where the young and hip will love this city of entertainment.

Attractive Sights
There are numerous places of interest for your taking, depending on your time and budget. Here are some of the more popular places for your discovery and you will discover Chicago's beauty and charm that will attract you back again and again.

The set up of Chicago city itself is already an amazing sight to behold. It has the Harbor right at the front of the splendid Lake Michigan which parts the city on its left and right. Chicago has many beautiful and fascinating architectural monuments that are worthy of a second sight. Given below are few of the many tourist attractions in Chicago:

Sears Tower
This monumental skyscraper was the pride of the U.S.A in 1973 when it was declared to be the world's tallest structure with 110 stories at above 1,353 feet street level. The top story gives a breathtaking view of the whole city.

Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is a definite stop while you are in Chicago as it is the largest city park with many statures and monuments. You can even find nice beaches and playgrounds for the children's enjoyment as well as the famous Lincoln Park Zoo that houses a working Illinois farm replica. To see the stars, check out the Conservatory in the park.

Navy Pier
This hustling and bustling area is full of activities with wonderful museums such as the Chicago Children's Museum and the Smith Museum which houses beautiful Stained Glass pieces. The Navy Pier also houses the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for those who love the arts and drama. For the nature lover, the indoor botanical gardens, Crystal Gardens, will charm you with its wide range of flora and fauna.

John G. Shedd Aquarium
This has to be the world's biggest indoor mammal marine exhibition. There is no need to launch out to the sea for a good view of the beluga whales, dolphins, penguins, harbor seals and even sea otters. There are 22,000 amazing aquatic animals of various species housed in this aquarium.

Art Institute of Chicago
Art lovers will appreciate the wide range of intricate pieces that are available in this art museum which houses great collections as far back as 3,000 BC.

The Field Museum
This is an exciting and interesting attraction which gives you insight into the past civilizations. Its Underground Adventure is full of excitement as its name implies with a peep at the Egyptian tomb laid below ground. There are simulations and demonstrations of different cultures and ancient living environments that will thrill you.

Virtual Tour on Chicago
There may be too many sights for you to take in with your allotted time and budget. An alternative to get more than you can bargain for is to make a virtual tour to appreciate the renowned architectures of Chicago.

Chicago Bears
For the sports fan, you can enjoy a game or two at the Soldier Field that has just been renovated. It is at the Lake Michigan's shore south of Chicago downtown.

My team can write any article on any topic at a very reasonable rate. You can contact me for any article requirement at
USA Phone Cards

Bratislava is a Great Starting Point For Discovering Europe

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the largest city in the small country with 250 000 inhabitants. You may not believe it, but this small capital city is a great entry point if you want to travel around Central and East Europe.

They say Slovakia is located right in the heart of Central Europe and it is indeed very true. Many travelers enjoy the trip to Bratislava from Vienna - only a 45 minute drive away. I love it because of its location and convenient accessibility to other European countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia. You can go anywhere in Europe from Bratislava on a budget.

If you are the adventurous-type, the Twin City Liner offers a unique experience for travelers who would like to ride a ship to Vienna. The ship leaves daily from the Danube River and takes you directly to the Austrian capitol.

Only one train ride away, Prague awaits you at the Charles Bridge. Or you can head south and be in Budapest in less than three hours. I have been to both cities by train and I simply love the efficient travel time. There are also direct flights via Ryan Air to London, Paris, and Milan departing from Bratislava.

A tip: If you take a day trip to Bratislava, you can head to Austria and catch Blaguss Vienna airport shuttle from the New Bridge for only 6.00 euros. Blaguss offers affordable bus rates for adults and students, ideal for the budget traveler. Buses leave regularly from the Erdbergstrabe bus station to cities Berlin for 33.00 euros, Zagreb for 33.00 euros, and Budapest for 23.50 euros.

Ken writes for Dirt Cheap Bratislava which is a honest travel guide [] to Bratislava.

Madrid's El Rastro is a Paradise For Bargain Shoppers

Do you want to go for some serious bargain shopping on your vacation in Madrid? Look no further than El Rastro!

Set your alarm for 09:00 on a Sunday morning and head off to the Rastro flea market. Yes, it may be crazy to get up this early in the weekends, but for the thousands of people who wake up early to head to what is arguably the coolest flea market in the world, it's nothing more than typical Sunday behavior in Madrid. If you are there early you can get the chance to pick up the best bargains.

The Rastro is the largest flea market in Spain, and gets going every Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm, all year long. Looking for leather goods like bags and coats? They got it. Want to buy paintings or art? It's there. Small, not very useful plastic souvenirs? Clothing? It's all here. More in the mood for furniture? Music? Antiques? You've come to the right place. You can find just about anything, used and new, cheap and cheaper at the Rastro. Haggle that vendor down from his starting price and walk away with a bargain or two at any of the 3,500 stalls.

Indubitably, after all that shopping you'll have worked up a great hunger and thirst. You are well catered for. The bars that line the Rastro overflow on Sundays as the market shoppers pop in for beers and snacks which often include such delicacies as paella, olives, sardines and calamari.

How to get there? Take the metro to La Latina or to Puerta de Toledo (Metro line 5) and you will find yourself in the center of it all.

More about El Rastro, Spain's largest flea market, including shopping tips can be found at Dirt Cheap Madrid [].

Prague, Czech Republic - Its History Is the Basis of Its Culture

Of the great cities in Europe I've had a chance to visit; one that I would most highly recommend is Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. It has warm summers and chilly, but not extremely cold winters, and in 2011 was the sixth most visited city in Europe. The Vltava River is the city's focal point, and the main attractions are its history and culture, having ten major museums, theaters and historical exhibits. Fortunately much of the old architecture has survived the destruction of Europe during the last century.

Being a major city in Eastern Europe, it has been at the center of history in that region for 1000 years. At that point it became a center of trade for Europe, and with the wealth that trade brings it became a seat of power for what would become the Kingdom of Bohemia. A large Jewish community was established, and the Old New synagogue, constructed in 1270 still stands.

Over the centuries Prague has had its ups and downs. The city flourished under the King of Bohemia Charles IV, who ruled from 1346-1378. Much of the architecture you will see in the city comes from this time, such as Charles University (the oldest university in Central Europe), the Charles Bridge (the important thoroughfare connecting the right bank district to the castle area), the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, and New Town (which is a charming district adjacent to Old Town). During this time Prague was the third largest city in Europe, with only Rome and Constantinople larger.

Following Charles death the city experienced about 200 years of turmoil, caused mostly by differences caused by religious beliefs and religious persecutions. Things settled down under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who was elected King of Bohemia in 1576 and took up residence in the Prague Castle. Rudolf was a forward thinker and a lover of art, and Prague became the cultural capital of Europe. The year 1618 marked the beginning of another turbulent time in Prague, as the devastating Thirty Years' War was fought especially in the first seven years in Bohemia. Plague and famine caused by the war sent the population of Prague to plummet.

Prague was to recover later in the 17th century, and by the mid-1800s factories spurred by the Industrial Revolution were to give it another revival period. Both World Wars I and II were too deeply affect the city, as was communism in the last half of the 10th Century.

As we can see, Prague has had a volatile history, and I devote most of this piece to its past. That is because much of what you will see there has a historical backdrop, and to really appreciate this great city is to have a grasp of what Prague has experienced in the last 700 years. When you visit, for me a great dining experience was eating the local food and drinking the local beer. They are both truly outstanding. There are literally hundreds of bars and pubs, and the local food we thought was more Slovak with some German characteristics. As with most tourist cities, go to the out-of-the-way places (the locals will point you in the right direction) and stay away from the touristy spots.

Prague is really an interesting city with history old and new. Check out our website for information on other great cities in Europe, and for ways to navigate your way around Europe by train. Glen Wheaton is a writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe.

Backup and Recovery Pays Off in the Long Run

People these days have the tendency not to think more than one step ahead. A lot of companies plan without taking into consideration internal factors that could lead to their bankruptcy. One little thing that could stand between your company and becoming completely erased from the names of the top competitor is in one word - information. The information that your company stores and has collected is the most powerful thing that your company has. It is therefore very important that the safety of your information become a priority and it is then that backup and recovery pay off in the long run.

Backup and recovery come hand in hand with each other. Backup is when multiple copies of the same exact data are made and are put into physical, virtual or both kinds of storage data devices or systems. This allows assurance that should you lose the file once, you have multiple copies scattered around in your system and so you never have to fear losing it ever again. Backup is the reserve form of the information that you already have, should something disastrous go wrong in your technical software.

Recovery comes when you need the files back for some reason. It could be the most serious reason, such as a powerful new computer virus that acts silently in the system or it could be the smallest reason like an accidental press of the permanently delete button. Recovery retrieves the backed up data that you had previously saved in a data storage device and allows you to regain the ones that you had previously lost. Things like these could prove quite handy, seeing that files could get deleted or misplaced so easily at any point in time. The need might not necessarily show itself immediately but with the fast paced world of technology today, anything is possible.

There might come a time when you would wish you did not delete those files or you would wonder where certain important documents from years ago had gone. The benefit of backup and recovery do not necessarily come post haste but they do come when the service is needed. Do not be fooled and get caught up in your own capabilities or the defenses that your company has right now. There is no harm in remaining cautious and thinking about all the bad things that could happen. It is perfectly fine to hope for the best but it is always an intelligent decision to prepare for the worst.

It is imperative to realize the importance that backup and recovery plays in the continuity and reliability of day to day operations.

How to Cut Down Your Electricity Bills

It seems to me that those dreaded little brown envelopes drop through the letterbox all to frequently these days. I seem to pay one electricity bill, and then feel on top of things having paid it off, and get that nice warm feeling of satisfaction. In a strange way it is a happy moment when I feel confident that although long hours at work are a real drudge, finally I am on top of my finances, sound familiar to you?

Somehow, even though most of us loath paying our bills, it is a plain and simple fact that they do have to be paid. Problem is of course that before you know it, another bills arrives, and quite simply spoils the whole feeling of satisfaction yet again.

What can you and I do about it?

You may be surprised to learn that a survey by cashback website Quidco, has found that one in three British consumers have stopped using price comparison sites, with a further 47% put off by 'biased' results. One consumer, reported that having changed to a recommended cheaper Utility Supplier, that when she checked again that same day, she was recommend to change back to her original supplier!

Consumers are reportedly concerned that results on the sites are displayed according to which company pays the most for their listings.

So in plain terms, this means that consumers like you and me, cannot rely on results from some comparison sites, simply because they might recommend that you switch to the Company that pays them the highest introductory commission!

So what can you rely on?

I have done considerable research online and offline, and discovered one Utility Company that makes a very bold statement indeed, "We Guarantee to be cheaper than everyone else" and they go on to state furthermore that if the competition should alter their prices, they will to, so that you can automatically be certain that you are on the cheapest tariffs!

They do not spend money on advertising their services, and simply pass these massive savings onto you and me, by word of mouth, and personal recommendations.

To find out more visit

Rick Holland

Telephone 08450 568 966

The 3 Worst Tourist Traps in Madrid

Yes, Madrid is one of the greatest cities in the world, but like any other place, it of course has its flaws. But, if you are smart and research in advance you can avoid getting disappointed when you visit the Spanish capital. I have written a bit about a few tourist pitfalls in Madrid so you can avoid doing the same mistake as so many tourists have done in the past. Check out the tips below and don't fall into the same tourist traps as other tourists.

1. Don't eat or drink on any of the restaurants in Plaza Mayor.

When you're taking in the attractive Plaza Mayor, you might feel thirsty. You may feel hungry. You may be tempted to order some tapas and ice cold cerveza (beer) on one of the many restaurants and cafes lining the plaza. Please try to resist the urge! The prices are extremely inflated and the quality is so-so. A coffee for an arm and a leg? Paella in exchange for your lung? It's no good for any traveller who appreciates value for money. The restaurants around Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to practice your "No, gracias"!

2. Do not go to Madrid's Amusement Park and/or Warner Brother's Park

Thrill-seeker are ya? Looking for the rush of the wind in your hair and a roller coaster throwing you upside down at record speeds? Go to Six Flags when you get home. Madrid still has lots to learn when it comes to amusement parks, and these options are not only disappointing, they're fantastically overpriced. Basically you will end up paying through the nose for something very sub-adequate. Be smart, save your money, and stay away.

3. Don't tip

Yes, you may be used to tipping where you are from. But in Spain there are other customs. You are not, I repeat, NOT expected to tip in Spain as you would in the USA. There is no "15 to 20%" on your bill. Yes, they still get a good wage even if you do not tip them! However, it is customary to leave/give some spare change, a few 10 cent coins at most, in restaurants and to taxi drivers. If you've really enjoyed the service, or someone has been particularly great, you can give him or her more, but the maximum would be a euro, and even that might be considered excessive.

That's it. If you can avoid these tourist traps your trip to Madrid has already improved its chances of being a success.

About I'm Ken Sand and I love living in Madrid. You can read about the worst tourist traps of Madrid at my Dirt Cheap Madrid Travel Guide [].

A Walk to Remember in Prague

After my tour of the Jewish Quarter in Prague, I was led by Jirka, our local tour guide, to a walk around the rest of the district, to see the Rudolfinum, the old arcades that are now home to luxury shops and fancy restaurants. He pointed out some interesting factoids here and there - like how most of the cobblestones are in fact centuries-old, although resetting is a daily affair.

I must say Prague is a perfect place for walking tours, as long as you have a cap (or a wide-brimmed hat for the ladies), sunglasses, and sunscreen. All traditions of architecture have examples here, and they survived the wars because the city was a little far from where the action was. Beautiful Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classical buildings with red-tiled roofs truly make for a very pleasant view.

The height of my walking tour is the Prague Castle, which is a huge complex built on an elevated part of the city - a hilltop, actually. You see, it is the center of political, religious, and social activities. The castle has both the charm and weight of a truly old structure, one where the Bohemian monarchs of centuries past lived. There is also a moat, gardens, and of course, thick, thick walls that were always important among warring leaders.

Today, the complex draws hundreds of thousands of tourists raring to have a glimpse of such edifices as the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica of St. George, the Royal Garden, and the Golden Lane. The latter is a row of small houses, including one where the famous Czech novelist Franz Kafka stayed. Souvenirs are being sold here, too.

But my favorite is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which is also the seat of Prague's archbishop, whose construction began in 1344. The ornate details on the facade, ceiling, the altar, and the stained glass windows were truly breathtaking! Even adding to its appeal is how the different parts do not match, because it was built over 500 years. Some are Gothic, some are neo-Gothic. And the guide said that if I had more time and if I were so inclined, I should have signed up for climbing up the Cathedral Tower, for a view of Prague. But I believe I got it anyway on my way down, when I stopped for some beer at the Letna Beer Garden.

A tall glass of beer in spring, atop a hill in Prague - it was a great day!

For more about my Prague trip, visit my blog Richard Kimball Jr's Travel Blog.

Popular Posts