| Friday, August 10, 2007
| Lessons Learned
|Next time we go to Europe (hopefully very soon), I will first consult my new list --
- Non-stop flights ONLY. Since we're on the east coast, we can make this happen. As I will likely detail in a later post, we missed our connection on the way to Paris. It was no fault of ours, and honestly, it shouldn't have happened, but it resulted in a good bit of inconvenience (and new countries traveled to), and if we'd gone direct, it wouldn't have happened. We could not afford the direct flights this time, so we are less kicking ourselves for this time, and working to focus instead on next time. see separate post as to which airline we WILL NOT fly next time.
- Bring a cell phone. If it means I upgrade my cell phone so it works on the Other Side, then that's what it means (honestly, I never checked if mine does). But the travel books (ooooh, another number on the list!) made it sound like getting "a phone card" and using it "at any phone" was going to be a piece of cake. HA! We only called the girls twice, but the second time, we stuffed at least 12 Euros into a phone, b/c it was the only way we could do it, despite a handful of phone cards and credit cards.
- Bring my laptop. Internet cafes are not nearly as convenient to get to or to spend time in as I'd imagined. I didn't need much - but we did find out three days later that our cat-sitter locked herself out of the house, since e-mail was the only way she could contact us and we hadn't made it to a cafe in a few days. The girls also would have likely enjoyed a little more contact (but next time, they're coming with us! So it won't matter!)
- No Shopping in Paris. Not that we did this time. But still, it's freaking expensive there. And I saw very little that wasn't just marked up because it was in Paris. There was one art gallery that we raised our eyebrows at as a place to return to if we ever have our own house to decorate. I think that's it. Actually -
- No Going to Paris Unless Money is No Object. Which with house-buying and kids' college in our future will likely mean NEVER. It's just really hard for me, a girl with no job, to sit in a cafe and look at the menu to find that your cup of coffee will cost 6.50 in Euros, which translates to approximately 10 US Dollars! I am a Starbucks person! I am accustomed to giving an eyeball a day for a cup of coffee, but still, this was too much for me. Too much.
- Do not rely on travel books. They are wrong. A lot. This was not such a big deal, but there was at least one time where our disappointment warranted several later references. We went to Haarlem, just outside of Amsterdam for the day on Monday. At that point, one of the items on our "to do" list was to eat Indonesian food. When looking through Time Out's narrative (small) on Haarlem, one thing that popped out at us was that there was an Indonesian restaurant that was the best on the planet right there in the center of the town. On the planet? (or maybe it was the country, but still, Amsterdam's known for its Indonesian, too, so it was still a big deal.) Definitely a two birds with one stone opportunity! But alas. As we found the address, and saw the sign for the restaurant on the street, we were immediately confronted with a sign on the door, scrawled in pen, saying something that must be Dutch for, "Ha! We fooled you, fuckers! No Indonesian food for you!" It was closed. Permanently.
Learn to Speak French.Buy Art in Amsterdam. And Clothes. They have cool stuff. Their prices are nowhere near as high as in Paris.
- This was by far not the only instance where something was closed. We knew that one of our books was published in 2005, and so we forgave it its inconsistencies (but if a restaurant is the best on the planet --- why does it close?) There were also pricing differences and such. As I said, though, this wasn't such a big deal. We were familiar enough with travel and Beloved was already familiar with Amsterdam, that it didn't cause even a hiccup, but it's a lesson.
If the Dollar Ever Gets a Backbone - Go to Europe!!!
I think that's it.
Things I already miss:
- 10 p.m. sunsets
- the music of foreign languages on the train
- rows of cafes with outdoor seating where servers don't rush you out as soon as they see you wipe your mouth with a napkin
- wondering what's around the next corner
- the excitement of figuring a new city out, realizing that you understand the layout, even if just a little bit.
Labels: europe, travel
|posted by Zuska @ 7:12 AM