Monday October 20, 2008 at 2:02 AM | 3 Comments
Budget Friendly, Green European Travel Options
“Are you looking for budget friendly ways to travel in Europe without harming the environment? I wrote this post for the Uptake blog and outlined some alternative forms of transportation. While Americans like to travel by automobile, in some parts of the world, cars are a luxury and in other places they are a nuisance.
“Bicycles are sacred in Amsterdam,” said Michiel Laterveer, director of sales and marketing at the Amsterdam Renaissance Hotel. “Like cows are to India.”
On a recent trip to Europe, I was struck by the green transportation efficiencies that were created out of necessity.
“You don’t want a car in Amsterdam,” added Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita of the Netherlands Board of Tourism. “Everyone rides a bicycle.”
In fact, I spotted several business men and women talking on their cell phones as they peddled to work. The Amsterdam train station had a three level parking garage specifically designed for bicycles. With its cobblestone streets and numerous canals, Amsterdam is a city to be enjoyed on foot.
Scooters and Motorcycles Preferred in Spain and Portugal
Scooters were the preferred mode of transportation in the narrow streets of Madrid and Seville, Spain, as well as Lisbon, Portugal. While there isn’t a helmet law, most riders sported helmets in the heavily congested city of Madrid. The upscale city also offers an easily accessible underground and affordable subway system. The Sunday that I visited Madrid, thousands of bicyclists swarmed the Paseo de la Castellana that had been closed to cars for the event. I watched from my club room at the Intercontinental as the bicyclists demonstrated their solidarity in demanding bike lanes for riders. Unfortunately, there is not much room to expand for bicycle lanes in downtown Madrid.
Eurail Offers Transportation From Train to Boat
For the green traveler looking to cover a lot of Europe, Eurail offers many alternatives from train to boat. I selected the 10 day, first class Global Pass, which is valid within a two month period. For Lisbon, Portugal I took a day trip to the charming city of Sintra. After several days in Lisbon, I boarded the overnight train, #385, to Seville, staying at NH Plaza de Armas. The hotel was a 10 minute cab ride from the train station. For a lovely day excursion, I recommend a train ride to the waterfront town of Cadiz.
Smart Car – Smart Mode of Transportation
Finally, a common mode of transportation spotted throughout my 10 day tour of Europe was the adorable Smart Car. Squeezed between bicycles and barges in Amsterdam or cozied up next to horsedrawn carriages in Seville, the Smart Car is slowly making its debut in the United States.
While I drive the fuel-efficient and sporty BMW Mini Cooper, I would happily convert to a Smart Car if I didn’t have to contend with SUV’s, Humvee’s and tanker trucks sharing California’s highways. Our gas guzzling USA would benefit greatly if we were to implement many of the green transportation alternatives offered in Europe.
Is green travel important to you? Do you find that you travel differently abroad than when traveling in the United States? For more information on this topic check out the Go Green Travel Green blog. I look forward to hearing about your travels.
Seville bicycle photo, Cadiz scooters, Eurail train and horse and carriage photos by Nancy D. Brown