Dram, Հայաստան

The Armenian word ‘dram‘ (դրամ) just means ‘money‘ – and it is the name of the local currency. A dram is divided into 100 luma, but there aren’t any luma coins circulating anymore. Currency symbol is Դ, but most often the abbreviation ‘dr.‘ seems to be used. The dram was introduced in 1993 and replaced the Russian ruble as the formerly official currency.

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Visa or no visa

Sheremetyevo International Airport, Москва́

Russia is one of the countries with the most complicated visa rules. When I wanted to fly from Germany to Armenia, the only sensible flight was with Aeroflot via Москва́ – including switching planes at the Sheremetyevo airport (SVO). If you plan such a trip two questions arise automatically: how much time is necessary to switch planes at SVO and – do I need a visa? The first question is easily answered by Aeroflot; their website tells you the minimum amount of minutes you need.

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Airport, Dublin

Official languages of Ireland are Irish and English. If you travel on the island you don’t need to learn Irish, everybody will be able to talk to you in English (but it is always nice to know some words!). Every now and then you will probably hear somebody speaking Irish and most signs a bilingual. I didn’t experience any real problems because of that – only when I wanted to go by DART to Howth I was surprised that the destination of the train was Binn Éadair and I needed to get the clue that this is just another name for the same location.

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Iarnród Éireann

Ceannt station, Galway

For two days I was travelling by bus through Ireland and Northern Ireland. And then on my way to Galway, Ireland, I decided that it was enough. Jammed into an uncomfortable bus I took my smartphone out of my pocket and booked a train ticket from Galway back to Dublin. Without registration on the website. With online payment. And with choosing a seat like in an aeroplane. One of the best decisions I made on this trip.

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Luas, busses and the DART

Luas, Dublin

Getting around in Dublin, Ireland with public transport can be a bit confusing in the beginning but is quite simple once you know how to do it. The city feels like a beehive of different busses, but there are also tramways, the DART and normal trains. The first contact with public transport system will for sure be at the airport – where you can catch the busses 747 and 757 that bring you within 30 minutes on different routes to the city center.

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Superfluous flight

Flughafen, Frankfurt

Most people might not get into the situation of not using a flight they booked. But what to do if this happens to you? Cancel it, get a refund – that might be the first thought. However pretty often flights are non-refundable. So why not just ignore the fact that you’re booked on a flight and just don’t do a check-in. That might be okay if it is the only flight you booked. If you’ve booked a flight back home afterwards or an onward journey within the same booking, not cancelling a superfluous flight segment can bring you in serious trouble.

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Up and down

View from the northern tower of the Martinskirche, Kassel

The city center of Kassel, Germany was largely destroyed during World War II (80 %). Before 1943 it must have been a wonderful place with many half-timbered houses. Today it feels like there is not much to show on a guided tour; tourists normally book art tours during documenta times or visit the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe with guides. But yet there are some hidden gems and fortunately a club of history enthusiasts offers special tours.

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Partially accepted

NEWBORN monument, Prishtinë

Kosovo is a stabilized de-facto regime accepted by 114 of the 193 member states of the United Nations – in addition to Serbia (which claims this country to be part of Serbia as the region ‘KosMet’, Kosovo i Metohija) and its close friends many states with regions that want to be independent don’t support Kosovo. It is a very young country with young citizens and old ethnic conflicts. It isn’t really prepared for tourism but it is a good place for travellers. Many of them seem to come from the United States of America; a country that is still beloved by the locals because the 42nd president (Bill Clinton) took side for the country and forced NATO to attack the Serbian army on Kosovan grounds until they left. Kosovo declared independence on February 17th, 2008.

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