Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come to once again question the borders of the European continent along with its penchant for sequins and a strong dance beat. It is a time when old alliances are totaled in “points” and everyone is reminded just how many countries the former Yugoslavia has now become. Mesdames et messieurs, let the pre-game warm-up to this year’s EUROVISION SONG CONTEST now begin!

We’re on the ground here in Malmo and Copenhagen, researching budget travel ideas and soaking up the sparkly spirit of Europe. So if you haven’t “liked” our Facebook page yet, now is the time — get in on the ESC action by voting for your favorites in a series of fun and fabulous categories. I’ve sorted all the videos so you don’t have to! Just sit back, relax, enjoy, and VOTE.

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Welcome to the eighth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand, and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photo inspiration this week comes from my friend Ciaron, currently gallivanting around Japan.  While this image is from one of his previous trips, you and your stomach can also travel vicariously via the tumblr of his current trip here.

One of my favorite cultural differences is the Japanese obsession with vending machines.  Two great photo blog entries on that topic come to us this week:  first, on KuriositasJapan — the Land of Vending Machines.  Then, Joe Schott borrows a few from the first link, yet manages to find some other winners in his post The 20 Awesomest Japanese Vending Machines: Porno, Panties & Pringles at Heavy.

In more news of vicarious travel fantasy, my friend Coco is moving to Chennai with her husband later this spring.  In her honor, I’ve put together a few links of interest about things to see and do in her new hometown.

In all your dealings, it can’t hurt to follow Dean Foster’s advice on How to Make Friends and Not Alienate People … in India, posted at National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s site on Informal City Dialogues has research devoted to Chennai, including this great article by Jamie Osborne on Why Chennai’s Vendors Prefer the Sidewalk to the Mall.

Readers at Lonely Planet have put together a general shopping guide for Chennai.

J.C. Lewis at USA Today has a few informal tips on Southern India for Tourists, but if the official word is what you’re looking for, visit the Tamil Nadu Tourism Organization site.

There I found information about the hill station of Ooty and its amazing Botanical Gardens.  Get a quick overview in Chris Chopp’s post Botanical Gardens in Ooty, posted at Full Stop India.  For even more information, check out Baiju Joseph’s post and photo albums on Government Botanical Gardens, Ooty.

If you make it further afield to Mumbai, Sulagna Dasgupta recommends taking off to the Sahyadri mountain ranges for stops at the hill stations of Panchgani, Lake Tapola, and River Wai.  Check out her account in Our Romantic Holiday in Lake Tapola, Panchgani & Wai near Mumbai, India posted at Love in India.

Wrapping up, if Thailand is your destination, National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel has two great articles for you.

Erin Block describes four must-see (and -taste!) Bangkok markets in A Market for All Seasons in Thailand.  Finally, Alana Morgan describes the highlights of Chiang Mai, from where to get lost to what to drink, in I ♥ My City:  Chiang Mai.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Asia, Oz using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Antarctica. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Saturday.

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Europe makes it so easy, even for the busy tourist, to take a meandering stroll through a public park.  Due to their central locations, the following parks are hardly an addition to a traveler’s checklist — indeed, they connect visitor points of interest so smoothly, you’ll think you planned to take that little break in the grass.

Here are three of my favorite urban gardens across the European continent:

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, France
Capped by the Louvre on one end and the Place de la Concorde/Champs Elysee on the other, a detour through the Tuileries garden is hardly one at all. For art lovers, the place is a magnet: the park itself contains both the Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume, as well as numerous sculptures; on its northeastern edge, it borders the Museum of Decorative Arts. With its many chairs and benches, the park is an excellent location for picnicking and people watching.

Planten un Blomen, Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen park runs from the central area near the University and Convention Center, clustered near the Dammtor train station, all the way past the lively area known as St. Pauli, down to the harbor at Landungsbrücken. Alternatively, you can take an easterly branch towards the Alster and the city’s main train station. In summer, there are regular, free water and light shows at the park’s lake. In winter, the giant skating rink at the Wallanlagen attracts young and old alike to venture out on the ice.

Letny Sad, St. Petersburg, Russia
Arguably St. Petersburg’s prettiest park, the main allees are flanked with statuary, giving the simple endeavor of a stroll a decidedly regal feel. While it is indeed glorious in summer, autumn’s golden leaves are an annual highlight. The park is located across the Neva from the Peter and Paul Fortress. Enjoy the views from the Troitsky Most (bridge) before entering the park. A visit to the Summer Garden is easily married to a further stroll through the Mikhailovsky Gardens, on one’s way to the Church of the Spilled Blood, the Russian Museum or Ethnographic Museum, or simply to Nevsky Prospekt.

Haven’t had enough city parks?  Check out four more recommendations in my post on Hanging with the Locals:  our Favorite Urban Parks in Europe, over at EuroCheapo blog.

photo credits:  flickr/Welshdan; flickr/CrispyRice

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Welcome to the eighth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for the Americas. Here you’ll find North American, Central American and Caribbean travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Speaking of the Caribbean, have you followed this horror story of the Triumph cruise gone awry?  Apparently the passengers couldn’t catch a break, even once they were rescued:  following their cruise ship disaster, their charter bus to the airport broke down, then their charted flight had technical problems and was also delayed.  As noted in the article, the only thing that can get you through such a serious string of bad travel juju is keeping a sense of humor about the situation.

The first article reports that passengers were not only being refunded their fares, but given equal credit toward a future cruise.  After such an experience, would that entice you back on board?  Could anything?

Onto happier thoughts …

Photo inspiration for this week’s carnival comes courtesy of Andrew Crusoe of Byteful Travel.

In his post A Stunning Hiking Tour into Red Rock Canyon, NV, Andrew describes his adventure through the trails of gorgeous rock formations at Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas.

It’s absolutely no wonder then that Dani Blanchette has Red Rock Canyon on her list of Free Things To Do In Vegas Guide 1 and Guide 2 posted at Going Nomadic, right?

Zhu from Correr Es Mi Destino is back again this week with Ten Things That Surprised Me in New York City.  She writes, “One of the rea­sons it took us so long to pay NYC a visit is that, like most major world cities, it has a rep­u­ta­tion for being expen­sive. This is true to a cer­tain extent, but there are many ways to enjoy NYC on a budget.”

Zhu mentions saving money by visiting the MoMA for free Friday nights, but readers should note that’s just one of many free entries to museums and cultural institutions across the U.S. made possible by Target sponsorship.  You can find more about this, including participating organizations near you, in my post, Friday Freebie:  Target Free Museum Days.

On this same theme, Spencer Spellman at EuroCheapo Blog has the scoop on San Francisco:  Calendar of Free Museum Days.

We close up this week’s carnival with some advice from William at at Card Guys Blog. In his post Don’t sunburn your credit card, he explains how to economically protect oneself while giving into the post-holiday urge to follow the sun.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Travel on a Shoestring: Americas using our carnival submission form. Check out previous editions of this and other Shoestring carnivals here.

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If you weren’t able to catch — or catch tickets for — all the films you wanted to see at this year’s Berlinale, a few of Berlin’s theaters offer additional showings of select films in their theaters in the weeks following the festival.

Perhaps it’s just a rainy February Tuesday evening, and you’re not in the mood for a Sri Lankan documentary, but instead in need of some blockbuster therapy?  Or maybe you’re collecting ideas for cheap places to enjoy some air conditioning on hot July afternoons?  No matter your mood or the time of year, here’s how to save on entrance fees in Berlin’s major movie theaters.

Yorck Kinos

Kinotag: Monday; extra Kinotag days for BVG/S-Bahn subscription holders: Tuesday and Wednesday (valid for up to two people)

Customer Card: see 10 movies, get one free. Must remember to carry card and hand it over BEFORE paying.

Unlimited subscription, valid in all theaters: six months, €129; one year, €229

Cinestar

Kinotag: Tuesday

O2 Kinotag: Thursday (O2 customers can text STAR to the number 72990 to receive a code for 2-for-1 entry)

5-Sterne Ticket: €32.50 for 5 films (no expiration, valid only for one person), any showing, any length, any seating area

CinemaxX

Kinotag: Tuesday

O2 Kinotag: Thursday (O2 customers can text CINE to the number 72990 to receive a code for 2-for-1 entry)

Hackesche Höfe Kino

Kinotag: Monday and Tuesday

Say “After Work” for all films M-F before 1900 for €6.50 entrance

10er-Karte: €58; 5er-Karte: € 30 (valid one year, may be used for multiple tickets)

UCI Kinowelt

Kinotag: Tuesday

O2 Kinotag: Thursday (O2 customers can text UCI to the number 72990 to receive a code for 2-for-1 entry)

photo credit:  flickr/EvelynGiggles

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Every Monday, the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum in Berlin opens its exhibition to the public for free.  Located on Unter den Linden, it’s nearly equidistant from Museuminsel or the Brandenburg Gate and is a quick hop from Gendarmenmarkt.  Plan 30 minutes to an hour to view the artwork and browse the gift shop in this relatively small museum.

Monday, February 11 is the last day to enjoy free entry to their current exhibition, Visions of Modernity, with works by Cezanne, Miro, Klee, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Chagall, among others.

On all other days, the exhibition costs €4/€3.  Open daily 10-20.

photo credit:  flickr/Euphoriefetzen

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The days are getting longer and lighter.  The New Year’s debris has finally been cleared from the streets.  Snowfall has turned to rain.  And so, once again it is time for Berlin to put giant bears on posters, roll out red carpets across town, and welcome the glitterati of the film world to the city.  That’s right:  early February means BERLINALE!

As the festival becomes more popular, it is increasingly difficult for pedestrians to score tickets to film showings.  What was once a matter of scheduling various showings into one’s calendar and standing on line for tickets has become an involved matter of sitting online days before your showing, hoping that your film of choice hasn’t yet sold out (and paying  a pretty penny for the privilege).

The Berlinale has once again changed their ticketing practices.  Here’s what you need to know to have the best opportunity to pick up some seats.

Standing in line, advance purchase
THREE LOCATIONS now serve as general ticketing outlets for all Berlinale films and events.  They are open every day from 1000 to 2000.

Most convenient, of course, is Potsdamer Platz.  Expect extraordinary waits.  Haus der Berliner Festspiele is not as conveniently located — head there for the shortest lines!

Tickets may be purchased up to three days in advance, four days in advance for repeat screenings of Competition films only.

Advantages:  save €1.50 per person per ticket — if you’re attending multiple showings or attending with friends, this can quickly add up, ec-cards accepted
Disadvantages:  must wear pants, travel time, waits in line can be long, might have to repeat multiple times depending on time window before your preferred showings, no credit cards accepted

Tickets are also available at all 91 EVENTIM ticket offices across the city (link > enter “Berlin” in the search field).

Advantages:  locations close to you all over the city, shorter lines, credit and ec-cards accepted
Disadvantages: mostly same as above, €2 per ticket service fee is the highest of all fees

Online, advance purchase
Limited allocations of tickets for each show are available for online purchase.  You can view if/when tickets are for sale for each showing by browsing on the Berlinale’s programme page.  Tickets for purchase (or sold out) are visible on the far right of each listing.

Even if you purchase online, however, you must pick up your tickets in person (print your confirmation and bring ID) at the internet counter at the Potsdamer Platz main ticket office ONLY.  Open 10-1930 daily, 10-15 Sunday, February 17th.

Advantages:  convenience, clear picture of availability, reasonable likelihood of securing tickets, lowest effort threshold, credit cards accepted
Disadvantages: €1.50 fee per ticket, must queue in potentially long lines anyway, credit card payments only

Standing in line, day of showing
If you haven’t managed to secure tickets in advance, your last hope will be the box office of the theater where your film will be showing that day.  Note that every theater has different hours for lining up.

Advantages: last opportunity for remaining tickets, students get half-price tickets on anything still available
Disadvantages: highest potential for standing in line, lowest potential of seeing the film

Tickets for Berlinale showings range from €9- €13, before fees.  The Generation series, with films targeted at children and youths, is priced at a bargain €4 per ticket.  This year the festival is having a special discount day on the close of the festival — Sunday, February 17th.  All films this day at all venues are just €6 per ticket!  These tickets are already available online.  Check out the discount showings here.

Who do you think will win this year’s Golden Bear?  Leave your Berlinale 2013 thoughts in the comments.

photo credit: flickr/bloggingdagger

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Welcome to this week’s Travel on a Shoestring Carnival, focusing on the highlights of the European continent. Photographic inspiration of the Crimean vineyards at harvest time comes to us from Q. Sakamakil at National Geographic’s Best Trips 2013. Click on the image to view further pictures of this Ukrainian destination.

Four posts from France start us off this week. Laurie Pike highlights the best swap and flea markets in Paris in her post Affordable Europe: Shop Paris’s hidden markets, posted at This Just InBudget Travel.

Bryan Pirolli’s got the scoop on 2013’s hottest events in Paris in his post 13 Reasons to Visit Paris in 2013 (as if we needed MORE reasons to visit Paris, non?), posted at EuroCheapo blog.

If you find yourself in the south of France, Gorges Du Verdon, The Europe Green Canyon would make an excellent excursion from Nice, Cannes, or Aix-en-Provence.

Zhu compares the cost of living (“a national sport among immigrants”) in North America and Europe in her post 8 Things More Expensive in Canada than in France, posted at Correr Es Mi Destino.

Meghana describes her scenic Swiss adventure in Luzern to Interlaken Panoramic Train, posted at Around The World.

Nicky and Susanne detail why staying off the beaten path is better in their post Holland and Belgium: Consider Smaller Destinations Beyond the Capitals on EuroCheapo blog.

Perhaps you missed my very own post on Weird but Memorable Restaurant Options in Berlin on EuroCheapo blog?

I’m a fan of murals and street art, are you? Heather discovers an Italian mountain village with “walls that talk” — where the shops and houses are covered with murals, ranging from traditional scenes to political protest, in her post Bandits and Murals in Sardinia, posted at Heather on her travels.

Bas Grasmayer describes how making friends with the locals in Turkey pays off in numerous ways in his post The Vegetarian Sandwich, posted at BasBasBas.com.

Across the Channel, Annie Fitzsimmons describes the highlights of Galway and the best excursions from the city in her post Galway: a Hundred Thousand Welcomes, posted at Intelligent Travel.

Steven has 10 great tips for making hitchhiking easier and safer in his post Hitch Hiking For Dummies, posted at Socratez Online

“Those miles that you’ve been stockpiling by charging everything from a pack of gum to a flat-screen TV just got a little less valuable,” warns Matt Schulz in his post on frequent flier credit card changes, No more free travel for some airlines’ frequent fliers, posted at blogs.creditcards.com.

Emily Starbuck Crone gives smart advice on saving money while using credit cards in Europe in her post Credit card postcards from Europe: Vol. IV.

And wrapping up this week, hopefully smart Shoestring travelers already know Austin Hill’s Top Five Little Ways To Save Money In Europe, posted at Travellious?

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Travel on a Shoestring: Europe using our carnival submission form. Check out previous editions of this and other Shoestring carnivals here.

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Welcome to this week’s oversized Travel on a Shoestring Carnival. We’ve got posts from 3/4 of the world collected here for your reading pleasure. Best get started!

Photographic inspiration for this edition comes from National Geographic’s Photo of the Day series — a picture taken of the Great Sphinx in 1921 by Society photographer Donald McLeish. Fitting then that our first two posts take us to Egypt.

Making a visit to Giza’s Pyramids a more enjoyable experience for travelers while simultaneously helping the local population sounds like a win-win. Check out the details in Rachael Dunlap’s article Peddler-free Pyramids? posted at Intelligent Travel.

Kimberly Sandberg becomes a vacation celebrity and must deal with the fan mail in her post Flashy ecards & Egyptian Love, posted at Go Green Travel Green.

Further south on the African continent, Ashley Thompson highlights a lodge in Rwanda that uses sustainable tourism practices to help the vanishing mountain gorilla in her post Rwandan Lodge Focuses on Gorilla Conservation posted at Intelligent Travel.

Heading westward now to South America, Andrew Evans recounts falling in love with the Argentinian countryside and getting the last seat on the last bus of his epic adventure in Bus2Antarctica: Argentina Long Haul posted at Intelligent Travel.

Mark O’Neill shows us the best views of the city from Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago, Chile posted at Travel Tips from a frequent traveler.

Dani Blanchette learned these universal budget Travel Tips posted at Going Nomadic while traveling in South America.

How do you feel about medical tourism? Dr Tooth writes that while more and more visitors flock to Costa Rica for its stunning landscapes and scenery, many are unaware that high-level medical and dental services are available at a fraction of first-world prices. Make up your mind for yourself after reading Prime Dental Tourism Destination – Costa Rica posted at WorlDental.

Let expert Tim Leffel sort the wheat from the chaff for you in his post on the most Useful Mexico Travel Websites posted at Tim Leffel’s Cheapest Destinations.

Leyla Giray Alyanak gives some great tips for NYC visitors on a shoestring in her post Cheap New York: When You’re Close to Broke posted at Women on the Road Blog.

I have to say I was surprised by Kevin Giffin’s inclusion of Chatanooga, TN, as one of America’s highlights in his post 10 Trips All Families Should Take posted at Summer Nanny.

But then I read these three posts by Amy @ The Q Family: 13 Things to Do in Chattanooga, Journey Through the Tennessee Aquarium, and Fun Day at the Creative Discovery Museum, posted at The Q Family Adventures.

Attention SoCal visitors: theparttimelife presents five forms of frugal fun for five bucks or less in santa cruz on a shoestring, posted at the part-time life.

Tom’s got some tips on Getting a Free Airline Ticket, posted at FAC Travel Blog.

The next two posts are for the road warriors in our travel midst. Steve Faber presents How to Save Gas Tips – The Master List, posted at super gas saver. He writes, “If you’re driving on your next expedition, your single largest expense could easily be the price of fuel. Here’s how you can save money on gas (or diesel).”

Shaula shares three easy tips to make the most of “car cuisine” in order to save money on the road in her post Road Groceries: 3 tips to turn your car into your kitchen, posted at Your Mileage May Vary.

If you think of putters and wedges instead of cocktails and nightlife when talk turns to clubs, Lane Wright’s post on How to Avoid Sand Traps on Your Golf Vacations posted at Ping Golf Clubs may be just the thing you need to read.

Michael weaves a surprising and sad tale of musical mischief and mysterious love in Upon Meeting The 100% Perfect Moncton Girl posted at project hitchhiker. You’ll wish your Canadian travels led you to get “stuck” as he was!

Skipping now to Asia, are Laura’s 3 Day Trips From Tokyo You Shouldn’t Miss posted at Travelocafe Travel Blog already on your Japanese travel itinerary?

Find a short, off-beat itinerary you can do easily and adventurously in Beijing, without breaking the bank, in Cerise’s post 5 Things to Do in Beijing (That You Probably Don’t Know) posted at The Beijing Apartment Blog.

Who needs to take a fancy course to communicate with the Chinese? Not Dan Harris, who argues that following the no-nonsense model of Anthony Bourdain will get you far in his post F-ck China Culture Lessons. Give Me Anthony Bourdain With No Reservations, posted at China Law Blog.

The destination of Yelagiri is described on Discover Karnataka as a “small hilly hamlet in the India state of Tamil Nadu. People can visit there for a quiet weekend from Bangalore and Chennai. Do not expect the spectacular things of a hill station here. But is okay for a one-day visit. This tour can be done on a shoestring budget.”

Climbing Mount Everest is only one of many possible and popular Nepalese treks, accoring to Anish’s post Trekking in Nepal at BrowseNepal.com.

Maria Christiana’s post on Vietnam Trip : Colorful Bac Ha posted at Miss Bulbul will have you seeing rainbows and tasting snake.

If you’re headed to Australia, you may want to save a bit extra before you go. Zhu writes, “The Cana­dian dol­lar and the Aus­tralian dol­lar are roughly at par but in Oz is much more expen­sive. Hos­tel dorm-beds range between $20 and $40, and dou­ble rooms in back­packer places from $50 to $100. A movie ticket is $20, $30 for 3D. Aus­tralians don’t seem to real­ize how expen­sive their coun­try is com­pared to oth­ers.” Check out more of her wisdom in 10 Stuff We Learned in Australia, posted at Correr Es Mi Destino.

Finally, for those in snowy climes needing a winter getaway fantasy, may I suggest you read The Ultimate Travel Guide Of Phi Phi Island at tourism journal to melt your cold, cold hearts?

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this massive edition. Submit your posts for the next Travel on a Shoestring Carnival by following the links posted under the Carnivals tab. Next deadline is this Saturday.

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Here’s your chance to share your travel stories and advice with other no-budget travelers.

Travel on a Shoestring blog carnivals seek to highlight the best recent posts from across the blogosphere on budget travel topics. Each Saturday, a new area of the globe will be featured. Each carnival is published once per month on Saturday of its week. Submissions are due on the Wednesday of that week.

First Saturday of the month: Europe

Second Saturday: North and Central America, Caribbean

Third Saturday: Asia, Oz, NZ, Oceania

Fourth Saturday: South America, Africa, Middle East

Wondering if your post fits the bill or simply looking for all the carnival posts in one spot? Read through the archives.

Our first return carnival will take place next Wednesday — contribute your articles about travel in the Americas and the Caribbean by this Saturday for consideration.  Just fill out the form located here!

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