St, Mikhail's Monastery of the Golden Domes
January is probably the least popular month for travel in Europe, and that can mean savings and a more pleasant experience for intrepid souls who don't mind cold, damp and the occasional blizzard. I have friends who visited Portugal last January, and liked it so much they are heading back again in the new year.
That's the moniker of a young former financial planner from Toronto named Nora Dunn, whose site www.theprofessionalhobo.com contains a lot of useful information on long-term travel and affording it. She does it through a combination of travel writing, volunteering in exchange for accommodation and picking up work as she goes.
The Eurozone and its fiscal problems have been in the news a lot recently. However, from the viewpoint of travellers from overseas, the adoption of the euro has brought many benefits. In pre-euro days virtually every European country had its own currency, and a trip on the continent required many changes of currency with all the associated costs--exchange costs, costs incurred from not understanding how much the currency was worth, embarrassment over not having the right currency.
For lovers of the French countryside (and who isn't?) there is a national network of holiday cottages called gites ruraux (http://www.gites-de-france.com) that are often reasonably priced. These are independent dwellings usually located in or near rural areas (there are a few in cities) and they are located across the country and even in some overseas territories of France.
One of the best Websites I have found on budget travel topics is http://www.hobotraveler.com. It is the creation of Andy Graham, an American who has made travelling and writing about it his vocation for the past 12 years. He has visited 88 countries so far, in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He blogs about his travels frequently, with photos. In addition to travel information, he provides content and commentary on diverse topics that include politics, society and religion.
I'm not a big fan of hostels, but reading the Hostels U.S.A guidebook is almost enough to get me to change my mind. The book lists and gives extensive reviews, including a rating system, of hostels in many American states and three Canadian provinces. Some of them sound very appealing.
This statue of Taras Shevchenko stands in a park in Yalta. Shevchenko was born a serf, but on account of his great abilities as an artist and poet acquired a patron who liberated him and paid for his education in St. Petersburg. Born just at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the poet died in 1861 just a few days before the universal declaration of the end of serfdom throughout Russia. He had agitated all his life for an end to serfdom and for his Ukrainian homeland.
A company called My Europe Base (http://www.myeuropebase.com) has apartments for rent along Germany's scenic river Mosel (or Moselle) in a town called Zell an der Mosel. The Mosel is one of the country's finest wine regions, and vineyards line terraced slopes rising from the river bank behind historic towns.