General chatter - Europe Trip




View Full Version : Europe Trip


JudgeDread
03-20-2012, 12:37 PM
Hello folks,
I realize there are a lot of people from Europe on here, as well as many of you who have traveled there as well! I am going to go to Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the island with Ajaccio. Half of the trip is on the bus, and the other half we are sailing on a cruise ship.

So, being an American, I already know a lot of Europeans don't like us. One of the main reasons I was told was that nobody bothers to learn the language of the country and expects everyone to speak English. I am NOT fluent in Spanish, but I can get by. And this is Mexican Spanish LOL..I can't conjugate verbs to save my keester hehe. Due to my job and my BF (he is originally from MX) I have gotten a good grasp. However Italy, Portugal, and France could be tough.

Anyways, does anyone have any advice as far as traveling to those places? Do's and dont's. Packing essentials you can't get over there, or is super spendy? Suggestions for places to go? It is a guided tour, but they will be giving us some wandering time.

Thank you!


sontaikle
03-20-2012, 12:43 PM
I studied abroad in Italy. Where are you going?

I spent a lot of time on buses the other times I traveled around Europe. Bring books! haha! One of the Harry Potter books came out when I was over there, so I bought the English version and read that on the buses, then came home and read the American one.

I didn't really have a good grasp of Italian when I was there, but I did know basic things. Most people seemed to appreciate that I tried to speak Italian, but I guess I was REALLY BAD because everyone would just respond in English to me and some would thank me for at least trying.

When I was in Germany my friends and I tried to get by with a phrase book, but once again most people just seemed to appreciate that we tried.

I don't know where you're staying, but I was in a hotel while I was studying abroad and I always grabbed breakfast and smuggled out fruit or other munchies to eat during the day so I could have a bigger dinner if I knew we were going to go somewhere nice. Otherwise in Italy it's really easy to find a grocery store to buy fresh things and make whatever you want. I didn't have a kitchen so for me it was mostly sandwiches and other cold things. Not a problem really since I was there in the middle of the summer.

JudgeDread
03-20-2012, 01:18 PM
Thanks :) In Italy we are stopping in Rome and Pisa for 12 hours each. 7am to 7pm.


Sum38
03-20-2012, 01:32 PM
Don't worry...most Europeans LOVE Americans. -- I was born over seas, but I have a very slight accent therefore to untrained ear I sound American :D My hubby is American, and kids of course. -- We have traveled all over Europe. Yhe only place we were not welcomed with open arms was Nice, french Riviera. AND it had to with the fact we had kids, and maybe a little bit that we were American.

Portugal is one of my favorite places on this earth. People are THE NICEST!
we always just hop on car and just go out on a venture. So many deserted, empty beaches.

Pack light. Comfortable shoes. If you have a bit extra $$, invest on good accessories, like scarves etc. European women tend to be quite well put together....Americans can be spotted miles away :D -- (ETA: Please don't take this as a rude comment.... it is not meant that way)

Spain has the best night life. Expect to dance the night away.

I am so jealous :D have FUN!!!!

krampus
03-20-2012, 01:52 PM
If you know some Spanish, you can read some Italian, Portugese and French!

My suggestions are to pack light (everything in one carry-on) and plan to shop and eat. You'll have no trouble finding your size and there is so much great food to be tried. Don't waste luggage space on stuff you can get there (toiletries etc). Dress nicely if you want to blend in and wear comfortable shoes. A positive attitude and willingness to use what you do know in the host language will win people over anywhere on earth. Say "bonjour" and "obrigado" and don't overtip. ;)

JudgeDread
03-21-2012, 10:45 AM
Thanks guys! I am going to be overseas for 17 nights. So packing light is for me, scary! We do have a tour group though so I should be able to leave the larger luggage with them, or on the cruise ship.

Right now I am planning on taking a small backpack, and having mini locks to keep it secure while wearing it rather than carrying a purse around. I know I will stand out but I'd rather have that than a stolen passport!

As far as communicating with home, is there a lot of internet cafe places, or a cheap way to call home and tell you're family everything is going good?

berryblondeboys
03-21-2012, 10:56 AM
Have to second the pack light. When we went to Croatia and Italy in March for 3 weeks, we packed for a family of 4 (two parents, a 9 year old and a baby) two carry-on bags and a diaper bag and a couple backpacks - THAT'S IT. And these weren't summer clothes either. We knew we had to pack light because we were renting a car and would need room for the luggage AND the stroller in the trunk of a small rental car.

If Europeans will make fun of one thing - it will be the amount of crap Americans bring with them when they travel - honestly. And the language thing is no big deal. You probably won't be mingling with the locals much and when you do it will be to order from a menu - just try to learn how to pronounce things correctly and you'll be good.

wtfudge
03-21-2012, 12:28 PM
Wine is cheaper than water in most restaurants in Spain, Italy, and maybe France. My friend went there last summer, and that was her main pro-tip :)

Have fun!!

sontaikle
03-21-2012, 12:39 PM
As far as communicating with home, is there a lot of internet cafe places, or a cheap way to call home and tell you're family everything is going good?

You're going to major cities. Internet cafes are EVERYWHERE. I had a blog while I was studying abroad that I updated all the time from internet cafes :)

I used calling cards to call home. They're pretty cheap and you can use them from just about any payphone or landline. If you're going to be there for longer you can look into getting a cheap phone. I didn't really want to bother with that, so I just stuck to the calling cards and called home every few days or so.

If you have an AT&T phone you can buy a sim card when you get to your destination and swap it out. Or, you can call up your cell carrier and see what kind of international plans they have.

Or you can buy some cheap AT&T flip phone and do the sim card swap (one of my friends did this).

Edit: You can also do this with T-mobile phones.

Sum38
03-21-2012, 01:28 PM
Lots of internet phones everywhere. You can either get a calling card or just use your debit card. -- Europe is really high tech what comes to cyberlife. You will be able to stay in touch really easy.

ETA: You can also get a cell phone with a sim card. Basically pay as you go phone.

JudgeDread
03-21-2012, 06:59 PM
Thanks guys...very good to know. Do they charge at the cafes? And, I am assuming you buy the cards over there..I can't find ones here that say they work overseas!

Riddy
03-22-2012, 01:20 AM
Yes, you buy the calling cards there. Probably the airport gift shop will have them, but definitely a newstand or corner store. Last I knew, they came as cheap as 5 Euros.

lovemydoggiesx2
03-22-2012, 05:17 AM
I live in Spain. Before moving here and meeting my great DH I backpacked around alone for several months through most of Europe. I didn´t find people hated Americans, it was quite the opposite actually. I can tell you that they do appreciate if you learn how to say please, and Thank you in their language, as it is just polite. Other than that about wherever you go people do speak English and are always happy to practice with you!!ç

As far as phones. You can do the calling card (buy at the supermarket or anywhere), but all these countries have internet cafes (locotorios) everywhere, and are really cheap for making calls, like 10c a minute back home. PM me if you are coming to Madrid becasue after being here about 4 years, I can tell you the BEST places to see, eat, drink or party in the city!

Have fun and be safe. You should carry a money pouch under your clothes and make sure to make copies of your passport. 1 to keep with you and 1 in your suitcase. I have been robbed 3 times, and tourists stick out like paydays to theives.

Where in Spain are you coming? I live in Madrid. It is pretty awesome here, and is one of the party capitals in the world. You can literally get into a traffic jam at 4am (when people are changing clubs). Portugal (Lisbon is nice, but I think it lacks the ¨ummph¨that Spain has). I love Italy and spent about 2 months there and it totally wasn´t enough. I can live there. If you are in Rome, write this down!! Go to Termini and exit the exit of the supermarket, directly cross the street, go three streets down and turn to your right. 1 block down on the left is the BEST pizza place I have eaten in my life (and beleive me I have tried a lot)!

JudgeDread
03-22-2012, 11:55 AM
Thanks everybody!

And yes LMD I will be flying into Madrid actually! We will be staying in Madrid 2 nights. One night in Salamanca.......2 nights Lisbon........2 nights Seville....and 2 nights Torremolinos by Costa de Sol. Then we get on the cruise ship for a week.

You will have to tell me how you make international calls too! LOL I believe there are more #s involved right?

JudgeDread
03-22-2012, 12:08 PM
Oh we are making a port stop in Valencia too!

lovemydoggiesx2
03-22-2012, 07:51 PM
I am not a huge fan of Valencia, but you will love Sevilla (go to watch Flamenco there) and Torremolinos (In the main walkway on the beach there is a Charinquito that has a kick *** atmosphere. It´s just a bunch of white sofas, curtains and pillows. So laid back and different and they make a mean gin and tonic. Here in spain they keep pouring the booze until you tell them to stop). I was there last week! Make sure to pack your bikinis and sun dresses. How old are you, if you don´t mind my asking? Where are you staying in Madrid? Since your here 2 days I can give you the hands down best places to go (eat and drink). If you want, PM me and we could meet up. I´d love to show you my town!! I´m a normal American girl, I promise...haha!

LiLLy19
03-24-2012, 10:24 AM
Last September my husband and I did a 10 day self paced trip to Paris, Venice, Prague, Brussels and a few cities in Germany. I found that people were really friendly everywhere we went, and I never felt like the locals didn't want us to be there. Most of the shops and restaurants we went to, they knew knew a little bit of english or we used hand signals to communicate. My husband knows a bit of german and we both speak russian so that helped in Germany and in Prague

philana
03-24-2012, 10:56 AM
Hi, I am from Europe, though me saying I know what Spain is like would be the same as some one from New York knowing the way in Texas. However - I've backpacked around a lot and I can see how you worry about attitude towards Americans. But I think it's not an issue as much anymore. During the Bush administration people weren't really all too friendly about Americans and American politics. Which to me always seemed unfair, because the Americans that actually leave their home-town and own a passport are of the rare type that look beyond their own country and interest. LOL. I met a lot of Americans back then that travelled around pretending to be Canadians.

Anyhow, I think it's not like that anymore and I think it REALLY has to do with how you behave. Try a few words of the language just to be polite. It will be appreciated. If you don't want to stick out, here's just a free (maybe a bit blunt, that's what us dutchies are renowned for) tip: don't wear white socks and white gym-sneakers under shorts with big white, shapeless t-shirts. LOL. I've been in the US and I've travelled quite a few places from Europe to the Middle East, and what sticks out mostly is the easy peasy fashion sense some have. Though obviously people in New York or other big cities dress differently than some of the rural places in Texas and Louisiana I visited.Europeans, especially Spanish/French/Italian women and men dress to the latest fashion a lot.

Though I understand you want to keep your stuff safe, I think a money belt under your clothes will work better and you won't stick out so much than a big bag with a bunch of locks on it.

Just have fun and in the end it matters none if the people "like" you. You are gonna see beautiful places and taste amazing foods. Europe has a lot of old culture and architecture because 'we' have had people building stuff here a few hundred years before the first ship reached the shore in the United States. You are gonna love the big churches and kathedrals. The small allyways. It's awesome.

HAVE FUN!

JudgeDread
03-24-2012, 12:25 PM
Thanks! Yeah I have heard a lot of people claim Canadian....although I won't. I am proud to be an American :dizzy: sounds cheesy! I should get my BF the money belt. I need to look into some more stuff because if we go clubbing for sure I won't want a backpack. I just want a place to put water, my cameras, and whatever else we need to carry. It sucks I know we will stand out, but I am sure I will anyways haha. I have a mini camelback so it's not too bulky.

As far as fashion goes we will NOT be wearing clothes like that LOL..that sounds like middle aged man clothes hehe. My bf is a nice dresser....

I think that some of our American brethren do give us a bad name though. There is a lot of variety of people, but the folks who 'typically' have more money and think they are privileged to be catered to. The rest of us, scraping the bottom of the barrel to pay for vacation tend to be a little more polite! LOL

I am SO looking forward to seeing the old cathedrals and architecture of old Europe. I have dreamed about it for years!

Hi, I am from Europe, though me saying I know what Spain is like would be the same as some one from New York knowing the way in Texas. However - I've backpacked around a lot and I can see how you worry about attitude towards Americans. But I think it's not an issue as much anymore. During the Bush administration people weren't really all too friendly about Americans and American politics. Which to me always seemed unfair, because the Americans that actually leave their home-town and own a passport are of the rare type that look beyond their own country and interest. LOL. I met a lot of Americans back then that travelled around pretending to be Canadians.

Anyhow, I think it's not like that anymore and I think it REALLY has to do with how you behave. Try a few words of the language just to be polite. It will be appreciated. If you don't want to stick out, here's just a free (maybe a bit blunt, that's what us dutchies are renowned for) tip: don't wear white socks and white gym-sneakers under shorts with big white, shapeless t-shirts. LOL. I've been in the US and I've travelled quite a few places from Europe to the Middle East, and what sticks out mostly is the easy peasy fashion sense some have. Though obviously people in New York or other big cities dress differently than some of the rural places in Texas and Louisiana I visited.Europeans, especially Spanish/French/Italian women and men dress to the latest fashion a lot.

Though I understand you want to keep your stuff safe, I think a money belt under your clothes will work better and you won't stick out so much than a big bag with a bunch of locks on it.

Just have fun and in the end it matters none if the people "like" you. You are gonna see beautiful places and taste amazing foods. Europe has a lot of old culture and architecture because 'we' have had people building stuff here a few hundred years before the first ship reached the shore in the United States. You are gonna love the big churches and kathedrals. The small allyways. It's awesome.

HAVE FUN!

JudgeDread
03-27-2012, 11:04 AM
Oh, forgot! What is the best way spend money? Have a lot of cash on hand, or use credit when you can? Is credit card fraud big in Europe?

krampus
03-27-2012, 01:50 PM
I've always used cash, but Europe isn't like Asia where credit is for huge important life event purchases only.

I don't think you need a big daypack or anything...just put your stuff in a nice big purse and keep the essentials in a moneybelt or wrist-moneybelt hidden from view.

Lunula
03-27-2012, 02:02 PM
I used to live in the UK, and I've done a good bit of traveling in Europe and I have found that not looking and acting like a "stupid tourist" is just as important as trying to learn a few keys phrases. I always learn "please, thank you, you're welcome, yes/no, do you speak English" in new countries - I do think people appreciate it.

But I also make sure that I am super polite whenever I travel and I never expect anyone to speak English- I approach each interaction believing that we speak different languages and I fully appreciate when anyone tries to help me. I got to travel to an ancestral homeland last year, Liechtenstein, and we stopped in to eat lunch. No one there spoke English and we only knew a few words in German. We pointed to things on the menu, asked for "Beer!!" with smiles and were very gracious when we got our mystery dishes. We smiled a ton, thanked everyone profusely (in German) and left a nice tip - we had everyone around us laughing, too and had an amazing time!

Also, use your head - if you're in a busy city, respect the people around you who live there. Don't do things like...stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to chat, open a map, snap a photo or view a monument (the people behind you are trying to get to work!) - don't dress like an obvious tourist (as others have pointed out) - don't expect everyone to help you - it isn't that they hate Americans, but they might be late for an appointment, running to catch the subway, etc.

Some countries are definitely friendlier than others, but other than a few negative encounters, we haven't had any issues (and nothing major anywhere). A smile and a "thank you" will honestly grant you a lot of goodwill while traveling!

HAVE FUN!!!! :D