Summer Vacation Part Deux ~ Europe!

So you’ve saved your money and now you want to know where you should go on a long vacation this summer. If you’ve accumulated enough savings, a backpacking trip to Europe is the way to go!

The great thing about a backpacking adventures, like cruises, is that it gives you the opportunity to see a little bit of each country and it gives you a good idea which countries that you would like to re-visit. I did it for two months and had the chance to see many cities in Europe from Eastern to Western and From Southern to Northern Europe. We went at the end of the summer into early fall. It gave us the chance to visit at a time when the continent wasn’t completely flooded with tourists. The truth is, however, that there are very few places to go where you won’t be overwhelmed with tourists. Anywhere you go in Italy, you will have this problem. Which is easy enough to ignore if you want.

We decided to do the Rick Steves travel route, we followed all of his advice and did almost exactly what he suggested and it was a good trip, unfortunately, it seemed that millions of others had also done the same Rick Steves trip. I say, buy his art book for sheer efficiency. He gives you a detailed list of which art you ‘have’ to see and the fastest routes through the museums to see what you want. The efficiency of the mapping allows you to truly appreciate what you have come to see. Otherwise, there’re a lot of Jesus paintings you will have to weed through. Unless you like Jesus art, and if you have, take your pick because Europe is full of them.

When you go to Europe, there are definite things that you have to keep in mind. It is VERY expensive no matter where you go. Try to travel with at least one male for obvious safety reasons. Pay constant attention to your belongings. I locked my bag every day, and then locked that to my bed. I got drunk one night in Copenhagen, forgot to lock my bag (the only time while I was in Europe I might add), which coincidentally was also the only time not staying in a private or semi-private room, and my Tag Heuer watch was stolen from my bag that was right next to my best friend’s head. I believe it was called The Green hostel, I don’t recommend it. However, Copenhagen was stunningly beautiful, so much so that its beauty still allowed me to enjoy my trip there. That and my best friend who was amazingly understanding, especially since I was being such a bitch at times hehe oops.

My top five favorites are:
#1 Vernazza, Italy WOW!! Stunningly beautiful and we managed to get the most incredible room in the village. We got there and could not find a place to stay, after much walking and searching, we found an incredible room with a terrace over the water. A pure fantasy room. Coincidentally, a friend visited there last year and had taken strangely familiar pictures, she and her friend had also stayed in the exact same room we had. This was our view. Amaaaaaaazing! If you want to stay in the the room, contact me for information and I will send you the contact information. We just happened upon it, but my friend booked it ahead so she actually has the contact info. I can contact her and then send it to you.

#2 Paris~ My trips to Paris have been amazing. My best friend who I traveled with is American, and he experienced no Anti-American sentiments whatsoever. The people were pleasant and kind to us. I grew up speaking French as my second language, but, only felt comfortable to use it when I really needed to. I was frankly embarrassed at how bad it had become. I loved France in general. Provence is beautiful, the south of France is just incredible. LOVED IT! There is also nothing about Paris that I didn’t like, I think this is probably different from many others thoughts, but I can only speak about my experience. When we went to the Louvre, we got there very early and somehow lucked into the one day that the museum’s admission was free. By the time we left, the line up was out the door, through the courtyard and into the street. We walked right in.

#3 Rome~ i really loved everything about Italy too. The food, the history, the city, the people…definitely I will give Rome two thumbs up. If you want to see the sites in one day, do the Rick Steves thing, follow his instructions and you will see what you want to see quickly and then have time to truly explore what Rome has to offer. We did a lot of walking and very little subway taking in Rome, there is just so much to see and enjoy that it is best to do on foot.

#4 London~ SO EXPENSIVE!!!! But, also so worth it. The great thing about London is that some of the best places are free to visit. The British museum, which is one of the best museums in Europe has free admission. Go see some London shows, we got off pretty much every subway stop in London central and walked around and loved it. It’s such a great mix of new and old. I’m first generation non 100% British, so it’s in my roots. I think perhaps this might also have affected my judgement, but I really did love it. There are too many things to see to write about here. Ask me my advice and I will tell you.

#5 Berlin and Barcelona tied ~ This was a tough choice. I actually went to Berlin and expected to hate it, I don’t know why though. When we got there, I fell in love, it’s an incredible city with amazing energy. I loved everything about Barcelona. I love the climate, I love the architecture and the history.. Even despite flying into a rage at one hotel owner who gave our room away after we had a reservation at 1am, I still loved Barcelona. Other favorites include, Gimmelwald, Switzerland. This is a definite must-see for everyone, there is nothing bad I can say about this place. Switzerland is like a fairytale land that I wouldn’t believe exists had I not seen it for myself. Prague, Munich (during Oktoberfest), and of course Amsterdam are also some other favorites. Greece is pretty incredible too! So much to see and do!

Least favorites of Europe~the Spanish people. I was so shocked, I had heard about the French people being rude, but no matter where we went, the Spanish were rude, very unhelpful, the customer service was horrendous and Madrid goes on my list as one of the worst cities I have ever visited. Many many people will disagree with me, but I have now traveled to more than 35 countries and usually if a city is dirty and disgusting, at least the people are kind. But, not in Madrid. It was so unpleasant in every way, I refused to stay longer than a day and it was back to Barcelona. I had always had pleasant experiences with South American and Caribbean Spanish people, but, I honestly did not meet one single nice Spanish person in continental Spain (Ibiza however, was phenomenal with amazing people). I may go back to change my opinion one day, I don’t like to think negatively about a nation of people, so I am willing to try to change my opinion. My other least favorite is the thief in Denmark who stole my very expensive watch! hehe Oh well, it was a valuable learning experience, I learned quickly what is truly important in life. so, I guess I did find myself in Europe.

Save your money, plan your trip and be flexible. Give yourself enough time to go and truly enjoy your time there. Be prepared and be cautious. Overall, just have fun! You worked hard for your visit, you should enjoy it!

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