European 101: Basics For Americans

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I am a Europhile. Unsure of the spelling, but you get the jest. I love the place and while they aren’t feeling the same with our current government, they are cordial, well most of them. And be ready for their opinions..

Here’s a few things to know when you visit:

  • The first floor in Europe is “0,” the second floor is 1.
  • When you enter a hotel room put the room card in the plastic holder next to the door. It turns on the lights.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Take trains.
  • Ask a millennial. They know English. Recently got scammed by a senior in a train station so watch out for those old ladies and men. I can say this I am one, a senior that is..
  • Smile.
  • Take pictures of street signs rather than writing them on a piece of paper.
  • Bring an umbrella.
  • Wear your clothes to the airport, it lessens the luggage weight.
  • Have coins available for the bathroom.
  • Get GPS on your phone. European Sim cards are cheap, usually about $20 and are available in airport kiosks, and vending machines. I like going to the kiosk and having service but you can do it yourself. Remember to store your American Sim card safely.
  • Know the exchange rate.
  • Use ATMs for currency exchange and do this transaction in daylight.
  • Bring an empty water bottle with you through airport security, refill.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Those stone streets are killers.
  • Bring a listing of phrases in the native tongue. Learn hello, thank you, and I’m sorry. Even if they throw the book at you as was done to me in a Spanish train station let it go. We all have bad days. 🙂
  • Make eye contact. It helps.
  • Layer clothing. In Brugge this year I brought what I thought was appropriate clothing. It was May and frigid. Finding a clothing store was not easy and luckily the train station had one. Tights and a hoodie embroidered, “New York City Original,” was purchased. Not the souvenir sweat shirt I expected but it was the warmest.
  • Go with the flow.
  • And let me close with that.. traveling is a learning experience and fascinating to meet folks of different lands and tongues.

Sculpture Outside a Portugal Rest Area. Isn’t it great.

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