Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We're Home!!!

Here you’ll find little travel tips and funny things about our trip (make sure you at least scroll to the bottom):

London:

“Mind the Gap!!!” –you will hear this a million times! Some of you know why…the rest of you? You’ll have to find out! ;-)

Because of all the tourists, they have “Look Left” and “Look Right” painted at every pedestrian crossing; why? Because, according to the British, they “drive on the correct side of the road”!

You cannot drink beer on the subway! (Not that there was any danger of us doing that anyway! ;-) Apparently you could before June 1st, and they had a big party on May 31st all over London. Glad we weren’t there, as it apparently got out of hand! (We saw it on the news while in Paris.)

IT RAINS!!! But, don’t worry if you don’t pack an umbrella (or bring a little one as we did), they sell them for fairly reasonable prices all over—we bought a big one for five pounds. Carry it with you every day, because as sure as you don’t it will rain!

On the same note about the weather, it may be hot one day and chilly the next…so bring a light jacket and carry it with you no matter what. Trust me, I’m hot natured and I was wearing a long sleeve shirt with a jacket and still a bit chilly.

Don’t get soaked by a passing motorist (as I did); remember they drive on the “correct” side of the road…I forgot. Nice…

Go to the British Museum. Even if you aren’t a big history buff, they have so much from so many places; it is worth it!

The Tower of London was probably our favorite thing we did in London; a lot of info tons to see!

Fish n’ chips…if you like Captain D’s or Long John Silver’s, dig in; if not, don’t bother as it taste exactly the same…everywhere you get it.

Get an Oyster card for the Underground! It will automatically make sure that you spend the least amount; i.e. if you travel several times per day, then it will cap out at what a daily pass would have cost you. Very convenient! (It also helps because they have a bunch of different zones and if you buy a ticket it might only be valid for 1 or 2 of them; and the fine is like 20 pounds!)

The Eurostar train to Paris…comfortable way to travel but nothing special; the security checks are not as bad and you keep your luggage with you at all times.

Speaking of security, if you want to be funny (and keep all the security people laughing with—or at you, not sure) make your passport photo a memorable one like mine…. ;-)
It was hilarious to hear the French border control guy say, “Hmm…maybe James Bond?...” and enjoy a laugh that stretched across borders and language barriers.

Paris:

In Paris, go to Tour Eiffel (as the French call it) in the afternoon/evening, as the sunset from the top is amazing; and watching the tower sparkle from below is awe inspiring as well!

Expect to get frustrated in Paris by day 2 or 3; especially if you don’t speak French.

Most people are nice and polite; but they aren’t Burger King and even McDonald’s will not let you “Have it your way.” Which means, take your food as it is on the menu (most places) or don’t take it at all; that being said they aren’t rude about it; they just let you know if you ask.

Paris was the most expensive city by far. If the EUR/USD exchange rate had been better then maybe London would have been; but London was surprisingly not that expensive. (In Paris, a bottle of water might cost you 4 euros; the same one in London would be maybe 2 pounds.)

The Metro is very convenient in Paris! Lots of stops, and lots of lines, and you buy one ticket for anywhere in the city. That being said, you will probably end up using it a lot more than you planned, so a travel pass might be worth it—even if you aren’t staying a whole week. We ended up coming out a little worse by not buying the pass, and we were only there for 4-5 days.

If you do not plan it accordingly—and therefore skip by a lot of stuff—the Louvre will take you an entire day to see. We saw the 8-10 items we wanted to, and walked through some of the galleries; which took us nearly 5 hours. They know this at the Louvre, as your ticket is good for several days.

The pastries are great in France! However, the bread is not… Think hard, cold, teeth-breaking…
If you go near the Moulin Rouge, go during the day! I am a bit nervous about what that area would be like at night, as the whole street is lined with adult shops; and there were some interesting characters out during the middle of the day when we went!

Make sure you go to Montmarte and the Latin Quarter, as you will find souvenirs for half the price of other places; and Montmarte has a great view of the city!

Do not make Notre Dame your last stop of the day if you plan on climbing to the top (as we did). You will regret it when you pass step number 250 on your way to number 422. ;-) But the views were awesome!

Make sure you check out the funny crosswalk signs! The “stop” one looks really impatient, and the “go” one looks like he’s in a big hurry!



Just like in London, in Paris carry your umbrella with you! The day you don’t, it will rain! ;-)

The train to de Gaulle airport is slow! If you are on the south side of Paris, plan on 1 ½ hours apparently, not 45 minutes (which is what they told us at our hotel).

When you miss your flight, and you try 3-4 different options that don’t work, don’t freak out like I did! ;-) Something will work out eventually! You might even end up on an old train! (That was so old that probably even the GI’s who rode it during WWII thought it was old!)

Venice:

Venice is tiny and the streets are too; so forget the map! Just follow the signs!

Staying off of the island was actually nice, as you didn’t have to drag your luggage around looking for your tiny hotel—like we saw people doing!

The pigeons will not hurt you, so just be calm! They will land anywhere they can though, so watch out!

Venice is much cheaper than Paris was! Except when it comes to a Gondola ride! Expect to pay!

The bidet has hot or cold water…. ;-)

Driving in Italy was pretty easy over all; but driving in a city in Italy is not! Also, when you park at a garage, you leave your keys—which unnerved me, and basically negated the reason I got a rental car for the trip from Venice through Florence to Rome.

So, taking the above into account; don’t drive unless you have to! (1/2 tank in my little car cost 60 euros!)

This is where we lost our umbrella; we left it on the train!

Rome:

Parking in Rome is crazy! They basically cram as many cars as they can along the street, 2-3 deep, and hope that traffic can get around them!

The Metro in Rome is small, only two lines currently (they are working on a third); and a bunch of buses. The buses are confusing, but the trains are easy.

Your ticket is 1 Euro, and it is good for 75 minutes from the time you validate it; however you can’t get off and on the Metro during that time—only on once.

There are tons of ruins in Rome; everywhere you look! The main ones (i.e. Colloseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, etc) are all within ½ mile of each other.

Visit the catacombs; they will touch you.

Rome is covered by tourists in June! We got on one bus that was full of Americans!

That also means that a lot of the sites have plaques in Italian and English; very nice for those of us who do not speak Italian.

The food might be good here; but it can also be bad. It’s like playing Russian roulette.

Ok, final thoughts…

Driving in the UK is not that bad!

Turbo diesels are fun to drive!

You know you’re in Atlanta when you here the customs agent say “Welcome home ya’ll.” ;-)

They don’t have Mt. Dew in Europe! (It’s apparently illegal in the UK…)

You can get Dr. Pepper some places, but not everywhere.

A Coke with a cigarette butt in it tastes nasty, so look in your drink before you take a big gulp!

They don’t believe in ice in Europe either…or keeping things cold in the UK. (For the most part anyway; if they give you ice it will be like 3-4 small cubes.)

One last thing, as far as most of you knew Jenni and I were traveling alone; however, that wasn’t exactly the case…

…there were three of us! ;-)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude! Congrats on the new addition! I enjoyed the blog.

Corey

mom0ktdid said...

Awww...congratulations!!!! I can't make out any dates on the pic...did you guys know before you left!? Details details!

debjane682bellouth.net said...

thanks for the trip. I enjoyed it very much.
love all three of you,
Mom Jane.....