I have started to compile a list of the lessons I have learned on this very extended vacation to Europe. This list is by no means complete but it does represent much of what we have learned in our travels.
1. If you are visiting Italy or Spain bring only a pair of flip flops and buy the rest, the shoes are gorgeous and affordable in Europe.
2. After you pack your suitcase and backpack with everything you are certain you will need for a two month trip, take half out. Those damn things get really heavy climbing seven flights of stairs.
3. Enjoy eating in outside cafes but realize that you will likely be sitting next to smokers.
4. Always secure the laundry that you hang outside with extra clothes pins, because your downstairs neighbors will not give you back whatever fell on their balcony.
5. Topless beaches are really not what they’re cracked up to be, typically old, overweight ladies and hairy men dress with interchangeable bottoms. No picture necessary.
6. Any restaurant or cafe with the word “American” in it is a tourist trap where you will end up paying triple for a cappucino and pastry.
7. Pay the buskers, they are providing you with entertainment and it’s hard enough to to earn a living as a musician.
8. Don’t let anybody fool you, that lovely historic, charming building will NOT have an elevator, so choose wisely, but you will get your exercise.
9. If you are driving in Italy be prepared for motorbikes passing you on both sides. And realize that there are more cars in Italy than parking spaces. Better yet, don’t drive.
10. Do not get your hair colored or cut in a salon where you don’t speak the language. What you will end up with is lost in translation. Speaking from experience here.
11. Get off your mapquest app and look at the street signs.
12. Stay at an Airbnb. The hosts know the area and can really help you get comfortable in the neighborhood.
13. Eat like a local, it may be your only chance to try a real delicacy.
14. Smile, be friendly and remember you are representing your country.
15. See all of the sights that YOU want to see but take time for relaxation.
16. Talk to the people sitting next to you. You may make some new friends.
17. Bring digital books only. They weigh less.
18. Realize that the television will likely be in another language, so read your book.
19. Bring clothing with quick drying fabric, virtually nobody has a dryer in Europe.
20. Get your husband a murse (men’s purse)-these guys need to share the load.
21. FaceTime is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, but they will never remember the nine hour time difference and will wake you up at 3 AM.
22. Remember the bum passed out in front of you on the beach is probably somebody’s son “studying abroad”. #couldbemykid
23; Everything you buy has to be carried for the rest of your trip. Think packable.
24. One good cappuccino can convert a lifetime tea drinker.
25. Memories cost you nothing but are with you forever.
26. The siesta has been a common practice for hundreds of year, take advantage.
27. Go with the flow, stores often open at different times than you are used to and close whenever either earlier or later than you expected.
28. Take public transportation, the worst thing that can happen is you wind up with a good story.
29. Climbing stairs at twelve thousand feet is much more difficult, after only a couple of flights you may be out of breath.
30. Wine is cheaper than water so drink more of it.