Well we might have gotten back from Europe about two weeks ago, but I finally feel like I’m getting settled into the normal and everyday routine after being gone for so long, thank goodness! One of my favorite things to do after our trips is to write a quick little post about the things that I learned because I feel like no matter what, you’re always learning something when you’re traveling. This trip was especially full of learning opportunities because of all the history surrounding Edinburgh, London, and Paris, so I hope that you enjoy the 10 things that I learned during this last Europe trip!
- The history never gets old- I totally didn’t think about it until now, but we actually visited three capital cities during this trip! THREE! When you factor in how old all of these countries are, you can only imagine how much history is literally ingrained in the walls of these amazing cities. I’m a known English history nerd, so I felt like I already knew a lot going into the London portion of this trip, but what really blew me away was learning about all of the Scottish history while we were in Edinburgh and the Highlands. I had no idea how long Scotland had a king and that it really wasn’t until James VI (James I) took over the British throne that the two countries were united. Let’s just say I might have had more fun talking to Chris about the history on our trip than anything else!
- The Royal Family is kind of a big deal- Probably one of the things that I was looking forward to the most about our trip to Edinburgh was exploring the Royal Mile, especially Holyrood Palace which is located at the very bottom of the Royal Mile. You can imagine how surprised and kind of ticked off I was when we reached the bottom of the Royal Mile and walked up to Holyrood Palace, only to discover that it was closed because a member of the Royal Family was visiting! I mean how rude! Did the Royal Family not realize that I’m kind of a big deal and that I would only be in Edinburgh for a short time and needed to see Holyrood Palace? Of course they didn’t because they happened to be leaving the same day that we were leaving. Needless to say, when planning a trip to the UK, be prepared for a change in plans if the Royal Family is nearby!
- Afternoon Tea might be the best thing ever- We managed to have Tea twice on our trip, once in Edinburgh where we shared a pot and some scones, and once in London where we actually had Afternoon Tea. Let me just preface with what’s about to come next with the fact that I live in Texas and I do not like Sweet Iced Tea, and if given the option I would much rather drink water than Iced Tea, which of course, makes me anything but Texan or Southern. With all that being said, I actually really loved Afternoon Tea and hot tea! I fully expected to not like it all and to have to choke down my cup, but I can see myself having a cup of tea in the evenings during the winter or when I’m feeling sick. I guess maybe I’m more European than Texan now! Anyways, our Afternoon Tea was pretty much the icing on top of our London trip and couldn’t have been more delicious or beautiful! I definitely recommend going if you’re visiting the UK!
- The London Tube and the Paris Metro are super easy to use- I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about using the Tube and the Metro while we were in London and Paris, and I think that just stems from kind of figuring out the Subway in NYC but never being 100% sure if we needed to go uptown or downtown. The Tube and the Metro on the other hand, was definitely easier than that, and that’s taking into account that we didn’t speak the language in Paris either! I think what made them so easy was the fact that they had the last stop listed instead of the direction that you wanted to go like in NYC, so if you had a map, you could easily figure it out. Chris even got comfortable with the Metro by the end of our time in Paris, and he’s known for being a little directionally challenged.
- The UK and Paris are a lot more credit card friendly than Germany or Italy- One of the things that Chris and I were prepared for when we came on this trip was having to pull out cash for dinners and souvenirs because we felt like we were constantly using cash during our trip last year. We couldn’t have been more wrong, which is definitely a good thing! It felt like the UK and Paris were a lot easier to use cards at, at least in the bigger cities, than when we were in Prague or Munich or even Venice last year! We were very happy that we didn’t have to use our debit card too much!
- The Parisians are actually super friendly and nice- Before our trip one of the things that we constantly heard was how not nice the Parisians were going to be to us as soon as they found out that we were American. So going into the trip that’s what Chris and I fully expected, and we couldn’t have been more wrong! We took the chunnel from London to Paris and we had just figured out the Paris Metro and where we needed to go to get to our hotel and were walking through the doors to get on the Metro and my bag got stuck in the doors right after the ticket counter! Chris and I were both trying to pull on my bag to get it loose and it wasn’t until a Parisian walked by and literally pulled on the door that we were able to get it loose. We had a few more encounters throughout our trip, and we didn’t have one negative experience! Maybe we’re in the minority, or maybe we just had very low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Parisians! I think that it helped that we always greeted with a “bonjour”.
- I cannot nor will I ever be able to speak French appropriately- So kind of going along with the statement above, I’m kind of surprised that the Parisians didn’t hate me because I literally butchered every single thing I said in French, except for maybe “Bonjour” or “Merci”! I think that it’s from all of those years learning Spanish in high school and living in Texas, but I definitely feel like I put way too much of Latin flourish when I was speaking French!
- Nothing beats a Parisian Cafe- One of mine and Chris’s favorite things that we did while we were in Paris was to sit and eat at one of the numerous cafes while we were there. Not only was the setting always beautiful, but the food was fantastic and you got to sit and watch what was going on on the street around you! The only thing that wasn’t that great was all of the smoking that happened at those cafes, but I was mostly able to look by that!
- I might miss blue cheese and charcuterie more than I miss wine- Literally every single menu in Paris and most of the menus in London had charcuterie as an appetizer, which if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough you know that’s actually one of my favorite meals to eat ever. So you can imagine how sad I was when I saw those listed and knew that I couldn’t partake. The other thing that was also depressing was walking through Borough Market in London and seeing all of these perfect and delicious looking blue cheese and realizing that I couldn’t eat that either! I was definitely way more depressed about not being able to eat that than not being able to drink the wine while we were in Paris!
- Be prepared for plans to change- If you read our European Itinerary, you saw that one of the things that we had planned during our trip to Paris was a day trip to Normandy to see the D-Day beaches. Chris and I both love learning more about WWII, and we were really looking forward to actually visiting the site of one of the greatest military operations in history, and also paying our respects as well. I had literally double and triple checked dates on everything for this trip except for this little portion, so you can imagine how upset I was when we woke up early Sunday morning to go on tour, only to realize that I had booked it for Monday morning and not Sunday! Chris and I tossed around the idea of renting a car and driving there ourselves, but after thinking it through, we thought that it’d be too crazy of a trip, so we decided to do something else. I was scrolling through Pinterest when one of the things to do in Paris that caught my eye was visiting Disneyland Paris. We quickly grabbed our things and headed out to the happiest place on earth. So while we missed out on a really cool opportunity, we definitely made the most out of our situation, and still had a great time!
And there you have it! A pretty crazy list of things that I learned during this trip to Europe! We seriously had the best time and I can’t wait to recap everything for y’all, although I might just have to get through a few other trips first, like our trip to Europe last year! I’m finally linking up again with these wanderful women for Wanderful Wednesday: Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World!
Do you learn things during your travels? What you have learned recently?