Europe

10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe

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 Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe

  1. 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 Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  2. 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!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  3. 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 Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  6. 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”.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  9. 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!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  10. 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!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 More Things I Learned While Visiting Europe

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?

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10 more random things I learned while visiting Europe. From all of the history to missing blue cheese to being prepared for plans to change.

Our European Vacation Itinerary

Happy Wednesday everybody! I hope that y’all had a blast celebrating Memorial Day back in the States! For about a week now Chris and I have been gallivanting around Europe for our second European vacation together! Even though our last trip was only about 9 months ago, I found some really cheap airline tickets online (using points Chris and I both are flying round trip for only $500 total), and going during this time of the year just made the most sense for us with work as well. So I got started planning.

The Wandering Weekenders- Our European Vacation Itinerary

We had visited quite a few countries in Southern Europe last time, so I knew that I wanted to maybe explore some areas that were more Northern Europe. I’ve always been really drawn to British history and culture, so I knew that London needed to be on our itinerary. I’ve also read quite a few of the Outlander books and watch the show and am pretty much obsessed with Jaime or Claire so the idea of visiting Scotland sounded pretty amazing as well.

The last place that I thought would be perfect to end our vacation would be Paris. I was kind of hesitant because I’d read so many horror stories about people visiting Paris and just hating it, but then I thought that I couldn’t be that close to the Eiffel Tower and not visit it! Plus all of the pastries and the museums, I was basically sold! So that’s how we originally decided on all of the cities that we were going to visit during this trip and now for the fun part, our itinerary. I’ll definitely go into a lot more detail once we get back because I’m still not 100% sure if we’ll be able to do everything that I want to do!

Edinburgh (3 days)

We’re officially flying into Edinburgh from Houston to start our European adventure. Edinburgh is a smaller city, so I knew that we’d be able to see everything that we’d want to see in about 2 days, but when I was consulting my bestie Rick Steves and his Edinburgh book, one of the recommendations that he had was to do a day trip to the Highlands from Edinburgh one day. My Outlander loving heart basically exploded and I told Chris no ifs, ands, or buts, we were seeing the Highlands, Loch Ness, and hopefully Jaime Fraizer!

London (3 days)

After our three days in Edinburgh we’re hopping on a plane and flying to London where my friend Stacy will be meeting up with us! We have two days in the city together where we’ll be exploring Westminster, getting High Tea, the Churchill War Rooms, Tower of London, and eating as much fish and chips as possible. Unfortunately she can’t spend the whole time with us, so on the last day Chris and I are on our own and we’ll be seeing St. Paul’s, riding the London Eye, and hopefully going on a Jack The Ripper tour too!

While I would have loved to take a day to go to the Harry Potter Studios while we’re in London and so close, I honestly didn’t want to give up one full day in London to do it. I’m a huge British history nerd, and there’s just too much to do and see in London. Rick Steves doesn’t give any itinerary suggestions that are shorter than a week, so it’ll have to wait until maybe next time.

Paris (4 days)

Instead of flying this time around, we’ll be taking the chunnel to Paris. I figured that it’d be a little bit easier than going through an airport, but we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll spend two days exploring the city seeing Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, eating a ton of pastries, and seeing as many art museums as possible.

Our last two days in Paris will actually be day trips from the city. We’ll spend a day at Versailles (when the fountains are running, which I’m sure will be crazy), and then we’re doing a day trip from Paris to Normandy. Chris is a huge WWII history buff, as am I, so I know that this will be an experience that we’ll really appreciate.

And just like that our short and very packed European Adventure will be over! It’s going to be one heck of a ride, but it’ll be so exciting and so much fun! I can’t wait to share all about it with y’all, and our trip from last year as well!

Have you ever visited Edinburgh, London, or Paris? How do you plan what places that you want to visit? 

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A 10 day European Vacation Itinerary that covers Edinburgh, London, and Paris. How to see the most in a short amount of time!

 

20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe

I still can’t believe that I’m officially back from Europe, and I’m still trying to get all of my thoughts and feelings about the trip in order so I can start blogging about it. I promise that I won’t just forget about it like I forgot about our trip to Hawaii last year… Oops! Before I jump right into posts I thought that I’d talk all about the things that I learned while on this trip because believe me it was a lot!

20_things_i_learned_while_visiting_europe

  1. Venice doesn’t smell- Our friends live about an hour outside of Venice, so one of the big stops on our trip was Venice, obviously. I was looking forward to visiting Venice because it’s a modern engineering marvel and because of St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, but to be perfectly honest I wasn’t really looking forward to it because I’d always heard that Venice stank. As soon as we stepped off the train and I saw the beauty of Venice, I was completely blown away, and not from the smell! In fact, through all of our walks around the city, Venice didn’t smell at all! I really fell in love with Venice and I’m already wandering when I can go back and visit some of the islands around Venice.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  2. Italians take their coffee very seriously- Our friends Stacy and Ben had already warned us about the Italians and how much they take their coffee seriously, but there’s definitely something different about experiencing it in person. We got breakfast one morning and our cappuccino was served in real china that we were expected to drink at the actual restaurant. There was no to go cup! You were expected to enjoy your coffee right then and there and not rush it. Another way that you can tell that Italians take their coffee seriously is by the fact that they don’t allow Starbucks in the country. I love my PSL as much as the next basic girl, but let’s be honest it’s expensive for what it is and not the best quality. The Italians recognize that and won’t allow them to build stores in the country, which alas, means that I didn’t get a Starbucks mug from Italy. Although they’re currently working on building a Starbucks in Milan, so maybe I’ll have to head back once it opens!
  3. Italian wine is strongly regulated by the government- One of the first things that we did when we arrived in Italy was wine tasting at some of our friends’ favorite wine places. While we were wine tasting we not only learned about the wine, but a little bit about the wine making process as well. In America, wine is obviously regulated, but not to the extent that Italian wine is regulated. In order to get certain wine ratings you have to grow your grapes in a certain area and meet all sorts of other regulations. There’s a reason why Italian wine is so good!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  4. Wine is cheaper than water in Italy- When I think about a good bottle of wine in America, most of the time I think about a $15-$20 bottle of wine. Yes there are those $8-$10 bottle of wine that are good, but that doesn’t happen to often. You can imagine our surprise when we were wine tasting and we realized that these delicious bottles of wine that we were trying were only 8 Euro! You’d better believe that we stocked up!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  5. Italians don’t believe in stoplights- While we were driving around Italy with our friends, one of the things that I really noticed was the fact that there really weren’t any stoplights. To help with the flow of traffic, the Italians use traffic circles instead. I think that I’d like to see what a traffic jam looks like in Italy with all of those traffic circles!
  6. Breakfast is my favorite meal in Europe- I’ll be the first to admit that I’m weird here in the States. I would much rather eat lunch food for breakfast rather than breakfast food, while most people would rather have breakfast for dinner. If we go out to brunch, you’d better believe that I’m ordering lunch and not breakfast. Well you can imagine my pure excitement when I realized that in some of the countries that we visited (Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany), we were served cold cuts, some sort of bread, and a few other lunch-y type of foods for breakfast! What made it even better was that there was sparkling wine at breakfast too so you could have a mimosa every morning if you wanted!
  7. You really don’t find that many chips for sale with sandwiches- Since we’re on a food kick over here, I don’t think that it’s any surprise to us Americans that portions here in the States are a lot bigger than in other places around the world. So besides the portions being a lot smaller in Europe and a lot more fitting for how much I had wanted to eat, it surprised me a little that there wasn’t a side of chips with all the sandwiches that we were eating. It was almost like it wasn’t even an option with your meal because the sandwich was big enough. Maybe if I cut out chips again, I’d lose some more weight!
  8. Goulash might be my new favorite meal- When I say it’s my new favorite meal it’s because at practically every restaurant we went to in Prague, Austria, and Germany I got goulash! I had never had European goulash before, and after I tried some of the goulash that our friends ordered during our first day in Prague, I was immediately hooked! It’s just beef stew, but I loved trying all of the different varieties and seeing how they differed from country to country and even from restaurant to restaurant.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  9. Pretzels will be put on your table in Germany, but they aren’t free- One of the things that I was most excited about in Germany was the fact that we were going to eat the most massive sized soft pretzels at Oktoberfest with our huge beers and we were going to feel so totally German! Well you can imagine how excited I was when pretzels were served at practically every single restaurant that we visited in Germany after we had placed our order. Thinking it was kind of like chips and salsa at Mexican food restaurants, we dug in at those restaurants, until we found out that they charge you, by the pretzel! So just make sure you ask if the pretzels are free before you dig in, but the pretzels are that amazing that you’ll want to try them all!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  10. Ask for tap water instead of paying for water- Since we’re talking about things that cost money, let’s talk about something that doesn’t cost money in some countries, tap water! We started off in Italy where they really don’t serve tap water, you have to get bottled. As soon as we started moving farther north into The Czech Republic and Germany and Austria we started to notice that we could get tap water and it didn’t cost the 2 or 3 Euro that bottled water cost! It was the greatest! So my words of wisdom would be to just ask for tap, the worst thing they can say is no!
  11. You can really get anywhere in Europe, whether it’s by planes, trains, or automobiles, and you can get there quickly- If you’re planning on traveling in the US, chances are your only reasonable options are to drive or fly, and sometimes the prices really aren’t that great. The train public transportation system really isn’t there. In Europe though, there are multiple ways to get between countries and cities, and most of them are reasonably priced too! While we were there we flew twice, took two trains, and drove through Italy. It was awesome!
  12. The public transportation systems are fantastic- Living in the South everything is so incredibly spread out. I need a car to get any and everywhere. Even if I lived downtown I would still need a car in order to get to the grocery store unless I ordered in all the time. Because of that I really appreciate any city that has a great public transportation system, and every single city and country that we visited in Europe had just that! In our hotel in Munich we didn’t even step outside the building the whole time we were there because the metro stop we needed was literally right below our hotel! I hope that Houston gets something like that soon!
  13. Countries in Europe are relatively young- The United States is known for being a relatively young country compared to the rest of the world. We’ve only been a country for 240 years, and even though that seems like a very short amount of time relative to countries like England and France that have been around for double that amount of time, I was surprised by how many young countries there are in Europe. Take The Czech Republic, for example. The Czech Republic has only been a country since 1993, and before that it was Czechoslovakia. So even though the buildings in a lot of countries have been around for hundreds of years, the countries have only been around for 30 or 40 years! Which leads me to the next thing that I learned…
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  14. History is around every corner in Europe- This was the thing that blew me away the most while we were in Europe, just the amount of history that is literally everywhere! It seemed that there was an old church or building or statue of somebody important around every corner or on every street that we walked down, and I loved every single minute of it!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  15. People in Salzburg don’t really know or care about The Sound of Music When we started planning our trip to Europe the main reason that I threw Salzburg into the mix was because I love the movie The Sound of Music! Julie Andrews is just pure perfection, and I loved all of the beautiful and amazing views throughout the whole movie. Well you can imagine my surprise when we walked through Salzburg and we saw very few references to The Sound of Music or to the Von Trapps at all, even though our friends who had been there before warned us that we wouldn’t see much. Our tour guide even mentioned the fact that his Austrian wife had never seen the movie until after they got married and he suggested they watch it. So if you’re looking for a ton of Maria paraphernalia during your trip to Salzburg you’ve come to the wrong place.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  16. A lot of the places that you see in the movie The Sound of Music are a lot farther apart than they appear in the movie- During our last day in Salzburg we did The Sound of Music bike tour that took us to a lot of the main sites for the movie. I don’t think that any of us expect to be biking to all of these amazing sites from the movie that were literally all over the city! It just goes to show that there’s definitely a lot of movie magic happening in The Sound of Music!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  17. Mozart is a big deal in Salzburg- For all of your classical music buffs or band nerds (like everybody else that I was on the trip with but me), you probably already know that Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart. So while you’re hard pressed to find anything related to The Sound of Music in Salzburg, you will definitely find anything and everything Mozart related all over town! I think that my favorite thing that we saw was some Mozart rubber duckies!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  18. Dirndls and lederhosen are worn by people in Austria and Germany on a daily basis- The only thing that I knew about dirndls and lederhosen before our trip to Germany was that it was a requirement for Oktoberfest, so you can imagine my surprise when we saw people walking around in that getup on a daily basis in both Austria and Germany! In fact, there were whole shops dedicated to the traditional German outfits. My friend Stacy put it perfectly that it’s probably a lot like cowboy boots, some people wear them daily and others don’t, it’s just a personal preference.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  19. A liter of beer is a huge- The only size of beer that they serve Oktoberfest is a liter, so of course, that’s what everybody drinks. What people don’t realize is how heavy that liter of beer is in those glass mugs, but also how much alcohol a liter actually is! Apparently the glass mug weighs 1kg by itself! I tried to lift up three that were only partially filled, and I could barely do it! Also a liter is a lot to drink! We did a quick calculation and Chris drank 4 liters of beer at Oktoberfest over 12 hours, which is 1 gallon! Let me just repeat that, Chris consumed 1 GALLON of BEER! I’m surprised that he didn’t have a hangover the next day!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe
  20. If you don’t dress up for Oktoberfest you look out of place- Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, so chances are your top priority is drinking some of those huge liters of beer and having a good time with thousands of your closest friends. But Oktoberfest is also a great way to celebrate German heritage and tradition, which is why everybody dresses up in the traditional dirndls and lederhosen when they head to Oktoberfest. The day we went to Oktoberfest, everybody knew that’s exactly where we were headed because we were dressed up, and I really feel like it added to our whole experience.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 20 Things I Learned While Visiting Europe

Whew that was a lot! If you’re still with me, thanks for reading! As you can tell, I really fell in love with Europe while I was over and got bitten by the bug and can’t wait to start planning my next trip over there! But before then, I hope to share all the details about our trip and hopefully I’ll give y’all some pointers for your next trip!

I’m linking up this post 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!

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The Wandering Weekenders- Did you know that most people in Salzburg have never seen The Sound of Music? This and 19 other things I learned during our trip to Europe!

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