Tourist Guide: Karolia
Karolia's main points of entry by air are Säntjana Anola-Fiore and Vasireii Liasu airports. Both offer a large number of international flights and shorter connections. For budget airlines, Santjana's second airport at Tougu may be a less expensive option. There are also smaller airports at Paliiso, Lapise, Fontjana and Gorjee.
Tranins travel from Ispelia via undersea tunnel to Samacja, and from Darcodia to Osu, Lapise and the Tolka canal area, connecting to major cities.
Karolia, Meridonia, Vartisimulia, Ispelia and Darcodia are in a common-border area, which means you can drive (or use any other means) straight over the border without any customs or passport checks.
Visitors from the following countries do not need a visa to enter Karolia:
Ardisphere, Darcodia, Freedemia, Ispelia, Kalm, Mecyna, Meridonia, Northurland, Paxtar, Pretany, Tircambry, Vartasimulia, Wiwaxia, Zanyzix
Karolia offers to the traveller a great variety of both landscapes and urban centres. On any traveller's list should be the Old Towns of Säntjana, Vasireii and Känton, the 'floating city' of Paliiso, the Majos valley, the Central Plains, Kyor city, and the Taamras mountains.
Säntjana, the Karolian capital, is actually two cities in one - the metropolitan area includes the neighbouring state of Osmila. The city boasts a well-preserved medieval centre, a castle and palace, fine nineteenth-century boulevards and the landmark Parliament building. There's also a wealth of museums, theatres and concert venues, music festivals, and nearby islands and parks.
Osmila is a state of contrasts. Formerly an industrial centre and still an important port, a few kilometers away are both the new skyscrapers of the Enterprise Quarter and the hills of the country's smallest National Park.
Vasireii also has an Old Town and a castle but has a markedly different feel to it, being situated inland on a river and in a different cultural area.
Karolia's third city is the centre of a distinct regional culture. It's main landmark is the extravagant cathedral which sits elevated above the plains and it visible for kilometers away. The city also has a strong music and arts scene.
Paliiso is one of the most unique cities in the world. Built originally on a spit of silt deposits at the mouth of the Majos river, it was continually expanded by dredging and building on both natural and artificial islands in the bay. The Old Town and New Town are both full of architectural delights and history.
Home to the oldest university in the region, Känton is a green city.
Karolia is officially a bilingual country. The majority of residents speak Karolian, part of the Ugric language family which has only a few relations. The remaining 15% speak Romans, a language related distantly to Darcodian and Castellian. Both are considered fairly difficult for non-natives to learn, but most Karolians speak Ingrish and/or Darcodian well and would probably rather do so than snigger at your attempts to speak Karolian.
You may also hear several dialects and related languages being spoken, most notably Teps (in the north), Kyori (in the east) and Meridonian (which is closely related to Romans).
The whole country uses the Karolian Korone. Be aware, though, that four different banks are authorised to mint money in their own designs (although the state bank, the KVB/BFK, issues 60% of coins and notes in circulation) and that a high-value unit, the Loore, is also in use. There is a limit of Kr50,000 on amounts that can be brought into and out of the country in cash. Credit cards are widely accepted although Karolians use cash for most purchases under Kr500.
Karolia has an excellent national rail service, connecting virtually every settlement of significance with modern, efficient and affordable trains. The country's high-speed network was inaugurated in the 1980s and is still being expanded, but all major cities are connected as of 2015. With the exception of a few small private operators, all services are owned and operated by the state railway, RVK/KSF (Raudtee Vaabariik Karolias/Karolia Statale Ferroviae)). Their website, www.raudtee.ka, is available in six languages and offers a complete route planner and can sell tickets for any journey starting or ending in Karolia as well as some ferry routes. They also have a telephone sales service in the same six languages. The fastest means of inter-city travel is the 300km/h Karolian High-Speed network.
Trains are divided into four classes: the aforementioned Karolian High-Speed (HS); the Intercity (IC), Regional Express (RE, sometimes REX) and Regional (R). All can be used on the same ticket (excluding the top two classes on HS, which require a surcharge) and tend to run to 'clock' timetables with frequencies from every half-hour to every three hours.
Local trains are also a comfortable way to see the country, in some cases taking more scenically spectacular (although slower) routes. You'll most likely ride on older rolling stock where the windows actually open and with a mixture of compartments and open saloons. The best rides are the old Majos valley line and the Riispere - Gorjee line through the Taamras, as well as the Plains lines between Kyor, Mors, Känton and Liava.
Karolia has a motorway network connecting major cities which is backed up by a solid network of secondary roads. On some of these there is little difference in width. The whole country drives on the right. Speed limits are 50km/h in towns, between 60-90 km/h on single-carriageway roads, 110 km/h on multiple-lane roads and restricted motorways and unlimited (although with a de facto limit of 150km/h for insurance purposes) on all other motorways. The only toll roads are the A105 in Säntjana. Fuel prices are comparable to countries with similar economies and is sold in litres.
Driving in Karolia is generally safe and there are few cars on the road outside major cities. The mountain areas have some spectacular drives if you take the slower routes.
Be warned, Karolians like powerful cars and can drive quite fast if they know the road. They expect you to be alert and paying attention and won't be happy if you take too long to move off at the lights or go too slowly for no reason. There are drivers (usually of larger cars) who will flash their lights if they come up behind you and think you are not going fast enough, although this is as much a warning as aggression. This usually only happens in the fast lane of the motorway, but if the slow lane is clear this might happen here too. If you do decide to go flat out in the fast lane, you need to be very alert and always ready to jump on the brakes, which may feel alarmingly ineffective at high speeds. The main thing to watch for is slower vehicles pulling out to overtake trucks - which will make you understand why the light-flashing occurs - and changes in gradient. If you have a normal car it might be fine at 200kph on the flat but a long hill will make then engine work hard and possibly risk damage. Also be aware that driving fast will use up a lot more fuel (unless you have a large engine or a powerful electric car).
Somewhat unexpectedly, the Karolian preference for large, sleek and powerful cars is more than equaled by the population's love of bicycles. The fact that you basically can't drive in most city centres is less of an incentive than the fact that by getting in the saddle and joining the army of spoked wheels you will be instantly integrating into Karolian culture in a way that is totally accessible for foreigners. Literally everyone over the age of five cycles, in total safety and confidence (which means the quickest way to identify yourself as a tourist is to wear a helmet and wobble) and making a huge contribution to the country's green credentials. The only drawback is that the typical Karolian reserve is very much maintained whilst cycling - don't expect to get any friendly waves, conversation or special kudos for cycling seeing as it's what everyone else is doing.
In fact one of the major issues facing the country's cities is providing enough cycle parking at stations and major destinations, so it might be worth locking up a few streets away (cycle theft is rare since it's hard to sell something everyone already) - if you're not causing an obstruction locking bikes to railings and posts is completely acceptable if bike racks are full. Be warned too that some of the hills in cities like Samacja and Vasireii are only for the very fit (you can push the bike to the top and freewheel down though!) and that cycling on remote roads is only for the adventurous - drivers are less expectant and it is much harder to get help in an emergency.
Karolians may come across as introverted, uncommunicative and even unfriendly to some nationalities used to more outgoing cultures, but don't take it personally. Once they have taken a liking to you, they will be generous, happy to engage in quite open debate and interesting people.
There aren't really many topics of conversation that should be avoided with Karolians. They are perfectly happy to discuss relations with other countries (including Belphenia as long as you don't bring it up immediately, and be sure to take the prevailing point of view that the country is a weird joke), politics, religion (not that many Karolians will have much interest in it), and sport. However be prepared for them to give frank and blunt assessments of your own country if you do the same to theirs. They will often downplay any notion that Karolia is a 'great' country (with the exception of football) and don't expect you to know anything about the nation. One thing not to do is to imply that all Karolians are the same in every region. And if you get into serious debate, expect any Karolian to be merciless in dissecting and criticising your ideas.
Avoid touching or make any judgmental comments about anyone's siikesilla. They are highly personal and the meaning of the symbols is a private matter. And don't attempt to get one for yourself unless you are at least half-Karolian by blood. Do not make sexist, homophobic, racist or otherwise crass comments, and don't insult a region unless you know what you are talking about.
Do not be drunk and disorderly in public. The authorities won't take kindly to it, and neither will the Karolians.