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Exploring Europe From a Base in London

Anyone who’s spent a summer on the road exploring Europe knows it can be a costly proposition. Even the most budget-savvy traveller can struggle to keep expenses below €75 per day. Add a museum visit, an evening meal out or a night of bar-hopping to the blend and your daily spend can quickly climb over €100.

If you’re willing to mix a little work in with your play, you can not only extend your time abroad but perhaps even return home with a little hard-earned in your pocket.

Finding summer temp jobs, basing yourself in London and making the most of budget fares to European capitals, can be one way to experience a European summer on a budget.

With the recent proliferation of cheap apartment rentals flooding the market via sites like AirBnB, many of the hotel booking sites are hitting back hard with unbelievable deals on two and three night stays. Whether you’re preference is to opt for apartment or hotel accommodation, the key is to plan ahead and make your reservation as far in advance as possible.

Departing from London Gatwick, Ireland’s cut price carrier, Ryanair, can have you downing a Guinness in Dublin before you can ask, what’s the craic?

Dublin’s literary history is well-celebrated. Names such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeates have all spent time perfecting their written craft in the Irish capital.

Head for Parnell Square where you can do a literary one-two, taking in the Dublin Writer’s Museum and the James Joyce Cultural Centre. Literary pub crawls are a popular attraction where a guide well-versed in Irish history will share legendary tales of Dublin’s most famous writers and bards over a pint or two of the good stuff.

Fancy the fiddle? Follow your ears and finish the night up tapping along to some Irish folk in any of a number of Temple Bar establishments.

There’s a well-worn tourist path in Amsterdam that takes in the Anne Frank House and the world-renowned Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedelijk Museums. None will disappoint, especially if you can jump the lengthy summer queues after booking your tickets online.

Canal cruises are a popular way to get around and get a feel for the city and there’s no shortage of stops on the city’s major waterways. Grab a two-day pass and combine a little sightseeing with your transport between neighbourhoods.

For many, maximising their enjoyment of Amsterdam comes with little or no pre-planned agenda. It’s an incredibly accessible city and one best seen on foot. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht form a concentric belt—known as the Grachtengordel—and provide the visitor with a constant point of reference. With over 1,500 monumental buildings lining their banks, there’s always something to see and literally thousands of cafes, bars, coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy the sunshine and take a little canal-side time out.

Head to the markets around Jordaan for tasty Dutch treats and second-hand bric-a-brac and then continue on to leafy Westerpark where there’s always plenty going on.

Summer in Paris can be the ultimate test of patience, particularly on weekends. If you’re visiting the Louvre, book online or at least remember there are four entrances and avoid the queue that snakes around the pyramid. Cut price tickets are available on Wednesdays and Fridays when the Louvre stays open until 9.45pm.

For lovers of antiques and bric-a-brac, jump the Metro out to Porte de Clignancourt for Les Puces (the fleas) de Saint-Ouen. It’s the largest antique market in the world and wonderful place to grab a coffee and get lost.

It’s not a long walk from Porte de Clignancourt up the hill to Montmartre and the exquisite, Sacré-Cœur (or there’s the the Montmartre funicular that’ll whisk you up the hill from the Butte in minutes). Although incredibly touristy—particularly following the popularity of the 2001 Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, Amélie—the views are stunning and well worth the walk. Pose for a portrait with one of the many street artists plying their trade or you can fight for a table at one of dozens of tourist restaurants and cafes.

You’re better off making your way down the hill to the cafes and bars of Abbesses, where things will ease up a little. There’s a number of dining options along Rue des Abbesses and if you’re lucky you may stumble across a little live jazz.

From Abbesses if you keep heading down you’ll eventually arrive in bohemian Pigalle—Paris’ red light district and home to the infamous, Moulin Rouge—where you’ll find cheap eats and perhaps the chance to partake in a Cognac night-cap before heading back to your hotel.

Cartwright P. Moocjheenie
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