Lessons I Hope I Only Have To Learn Once
1. Do not go to the doctor unless I am dying.
-Janie and I went to a travel doctor before we left and paid hundreds of dollars to learn nothing I hadn’t heard before
2. Tours aren’t worth it.
-The few tours we have paid too much for have not been good experiences. Doing exactly what I want, when I want, at my own pace, is so much better and I really am competent to figure it out.
3. Speak up when you are being ripped off or mistreated.
-Not getting the right change back, being sold an overpriced item, being treated rudely at a restaurant, just be bold and walk away if necessary.
4. It is not rude to say “no”.
-If I don’t want something then don’t be suckered into it.
We were only in Bordeaux for two nights and we decided to try couch surfing at some French students flat which turned out to be a great and free experience. We were a bit exhausted while we were in Bordeaux and Janie had lost her voice in Spain so we really took it easy. We lounged around the city all day visiting various parks and the riverside.
Janie got this strange idea that we should take pictures of her hugging trees in every city we go. She is apparently part of some tree-loving Facebook club she wants to contribute to.
Bordeaux, being our first French city, began our croissant extravaganza.
We unknowingly arrived in Paris the night of Nuit Blanche, apparently a large celebration. Because we had no idea, we spent the evening eating baguettes and tuna salad and listening to a men’s group sing in the Notre Dame. Then we went to bed. Whoops.
Yay! Clean clothes! We do laundry every few weeks, whenever we find it cheaply. The original plan was to only do sink laundry but that is really impractical save for underwear and the occasional sweaty shirt, so laundromat it is! But this does mean wearing dirty, stinky clothes over and over again. It is a wonder anyone dares approach us.
Because we arrived the night of a big festival, we had a hard time finding a good hostel. We tend to be very last minute with our hostel bookings (night before) just in case plans change but Paris is the only place we have had a bad hostel experience yet (bedbugs) and that was only for one night. This did mean though that the next we had to trek across the city (over an hour walk) with our backpacks. Although they are small they are still a pain to haul around and I can’t imagine having anything bigger.
Trevor’s leg, my leg. Which is which? Yes, I must admit I refused to shave my legs because why should I? But I also must admit I finally gave in and shaved my legs for the first time last week. Trevor and Janie are really happy about it.
View of the city at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Awesome. We went to all the main Parisian sights like the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre, the Sacre Cour and even the catacombs.
Oh, the map. In most cities, we acquire a free map and wear it out quickly. It is always a struggle though who should hold the map and lead the way. We all think we know the best route but whoever takes control will be blamed for going the wrong way so it is a tricky decision.
Ah, Switzerland, our unexpected detour stop. We were all amazed at the beauty. It mostly rained while we were there but one day it cleared up and the sun came out just for us.
Switzerland, with the perfect little houses with the perfect little flower boxes on the perfect little streets with the perfect views. Can it get any better?
Saving money on accommodation is not always worth it. Camping in Venice was an experience, I kind of enjoyed it, but being freezing at night with no warm place to run to was not fun. A little more research on the weather would have been good.
While in Venice we learned how important it is to stay properly hydrated. Our first day we were totally exhausted and had no energy to even walk around. We got big two-liter water bottles and drank them up and it was amazing how quickly our energy levels rose. I hate buying water bottles but it is not worth being dehydrated.
There really isn’t a lot to do in Venice other than walk around and see the canals. We like to bring our journals, find a sunny spot, and just sit and write or draw for awhile when that is the case.
Eating gelato with Christine! So fun to see her. Janie always gets a cone when she orders gelato and inevitably she spills all over herself.
I truly believe it. Walking is the best way to see the world. We get to know the cities we visit so fast because we walk nearly everywhere and it is free!
We have really been figuring out all the cool settings on our little digital cameras and we have had a lot of fun trying them out. Janie’s favorite is the “macro” setting where you can take up close photos with a blurry background like is one.
Yes, I must admit we went to McDonalds in Italy. Our hostel didn’t have a kitchen so eating out was our only option. This was my first time eating at McDonalds since the trip began (other than getting apple pie at the Switzerland McDonalds which was so much better than the American ones). We decided on McDonalds because they had a special, limited edition, for only 20 days, and only in Italy, McItaly burger created by a top Italian chef. It was pretty good but obviously in typical McDonalds style it wasn’t as good as the picture made it to look.
A lot of the big European cities have water fountains that are on continually. Seems like a waste of water to me, but I can’t complain about free water.
There are a never-ending amount of palaces, forts, and temples made of marble or red stone you can visit in India. They do have very interesting architecture but a few is enough for me.
Our tour guides liked to take us to these handicraft demonstrations (here is block printing) which are kind of cool to see. But of course the catch is after every demonstration they take you into their shop and try to sell you a bunch of stuff. We practiced saying “no” a lot.