Countries, Europe

Black Drac and Blackjack

Think Romania and chances are it’ll be Count Dracula rather than counting cards but Transylvania is home to Black Drac and Blackjack.

And you thought Monte Carlo was where all the high rollers hang out.

Well, central Europe has a rich casino tradition with the suavest of the suave playing the tables in Czechia.

At the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary in the opening shots of Casino Royale.

Dog Holliday

Joker in the pack: Bandanaman

My own gambling credentials are more Dog Holliday than Doc Holliday.

Despite what the pictures from the Knott’s Berry Farm old-style casino in California might show.

As anyone who had seen my dice hop the craps table in Las Vegas, where I earned the nickname Hannibal, will testify.

Cards on the table I prefer to keep my money in my pocket and divert it to the bar but there is a gambling tourist out there.

Casinogrounds

Kerching: And would the Simpsons like it?

And we, and Casinogrounds, aim to please and know you players want to keep your shekels to spend on chips.

The online gambling site analysed the number of casinos and the average cost of hotels in 35 European countries.

And they arrived at these best gambling holiday destinations in Europe.

And putting the rummy into Romania, the land of Black Drac and Blackjack comes out top ahead of Czechia.

Rummy in Romania

Red meat: For Dracula

The land of Black Drac and Blackjack boasts 439 casinos, and the second cheapest cost of hotels after Albania.

And hang onto your hat, that’s an average £19.57 for your room.

Now if you want to channel your inner James Bond then you’ll have a choice of 421 casinos in Czechia.

And while if you can afford it then the Pupp is the biz.

You don’t have to break the bank at any of the Bohemians’ other hotels with the average price of a room only £38.17.

Do you take a Czech?

The Pupp and the Pupparazzi: At the Grandhotel Pupp

Czechia’s neighbour Slovakia is also a big draw for gamblers with 223 casinos.

And you’ll get change out of £40 at ab average £39.88 per room.

The rest of the top ten is made up of Balkans and Baltics with our favourite Croatians and Bosnia and Herzovinans featuring.

While Poland and the three interlinked states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are also flagged up.

Cheap as chips

In the money: You’d be quackers not to

Of course the burning question is just how cheap are those rooms in Albania.

Well, hold your breath, the average room is £14.19 and there are 54 casinos throughout the country.

So you can throw your money around, and your dice. 

 

America, Countries

Gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis

Go West young man (or woman) and join the gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis… just like they did, of old.

Tuolumne County’s Gold Country is one of those heritage holidays we love.

And we’re told it is alive with thriving historic towns including Jamestown, Sonora and Columbia.

Experience the Old West like nowhere else by taking a ride on the famous Sierra No. 28 locomotive, panning for gold and taking a drive along Historic Highway 49.

As the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, Tuolumne’s Gold Country has a three-day itinerary.

And that will feel like you’re in an old-style Western.

Morning has broken

Dead man’s hand: Or is it?

Heading out of San Francisco and Sacramento, Jamestown is the first town in Tuolumne County.

And you’re starting point on the first morning.

Jamestown is where gold was first discovered in the county.

And several of the town’s buildings that date back to the 1870s are now quaint historic inns, restaurants, shops, microbreweries and wine tasting rooms.

The kind which bring back memories from Knott’s Berry Farm for me, which those of you know SoCal, Southern California will be familiar.

For a true Gold Country experience, start your day by getting your hands dirty panning for gold like the 49ers once did.

Busy on a sunny afternoon

Outlaw: But I broke out

Visit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park to explore 24 acres of preserved Sierra Railway.

Take a guided tour of the historic roundhouse and locomotives and be sure not to miss the Movie Railroad Exhibit.

Hop on a train for a 45-minute trip through the scenic Sierra foothills.

And before leaving, stop by The Depot Store, a railroad specialty store for authentic souvenirs.

We’re thinking Waltons and Little House on the Prairie here but we’re open to being surprised.

Some enchanted evening

Grab a bite at Jamestown’s Main Street.

There are a variety of local restaurants in historic inns that will suit all tastes.

And the Jamestown Hotel is a great historic option as it was built in 1858.

After dinner, take a short 15-minute drive to Columbia State Historic Park, which preserves the historic downtown district that was once a bustling, lively gold town.

And you’ll stay in the heart of the park at one of two historic Victorian Inns – the City Hotel or the Fallon Hotel.

The next day

Ride on: California’s pastures

Wake up in Columbia State Historic Park where travellers can stop by the working blacksmith shop.

Take lunch at Columbia Kate’s Teahouse, then explore the unique shopping opportunities available at Columbia Merchants to find the perfect souvenir.

Spend the rest of the afternoon experiencing an authentic stagecoach ride.

Dip your own candle and dress up in costume for an old-fashioned photo or catching a show at the historic Fallon House Theatre. 

After exploring Columbia, drive 15 minutes to reach Sonora and wander around the town’s iconic shops in historic buildings, each with their own unique story.

Tour the Tuolumne County Museum, which is housed inside the former county jail built in 1866. 

And as you can see I’ve got form, although also for breaking out. 

Enjoy dinner at local hot spot Flappy’s Pizza Co.

And head to the quaint mountain town of Twain Harte, to experience more history in the ‘Gateway to the Sierra’.

Named after Mark Twain, Connecticut’s finest, and Bret Harte, the small town charm will win all hearts.

With a selection of charming B&Bs, rustic resorts and quaint cabins to choose from. 

And finish with a flair

Saddle up: In Colorado

 

After grabbing breakfast at Bean Around the Block, head east on Highway 108 for more adventure and some breathtaking scenery.

Saddle up for a horseback ride, and Colorado Jim would be proud of me, into the wilderness to see the Sierra as the pioneers did.

Seasonal trips  are available at Aspen Meadow Pack Station or higher up in the mountains at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

Take a short drive to the town of Tuolumne for a bite to eat at Cover’s Apple Ranch.

It serves lunch and handmade traditional bakery items, fresh-pressed cider, jams and sauces.

Go Issy, go: On the plains

Afterwards, enjoy an easy hike along the West Side Trail, which follows the old railroad line of the Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley Railway.

This idyllic trail features interpretive signs, scenic vistas and colourful wildflower meadows.

And it is the perfect end to a historic stay in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County. 

Head south to stay and enjoy the wonders of Yosemite National Park, or east to experience the incredible High Sierra.

Whichever route you choose, there’s no wrong way to end your trip to Tuolumne County. 

 But keep your find to yourself… you know those nuggets you got from the gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis.