Hi folks! I am back from my recent 2-week sojourn in Europe. Slightly tanned and just a wee bit of jetlag. But nothing to stop me from leaping straight to work immediately. The joys of working.
During my brief stay in Europe, I came across a few things which I did not know about and would like to share them with you. Maybe some of you have things to share too about places that you thought you knew but still bring about some surprises right at the end.
1. Spotted By Locals
Okay, this is not something that I learnt while during the trip per se but I visited a few of the recommended eateries suggested by this website and found myself enjoying it very much! In hindsight, I should have downloaded their paid iPhone app or at least the PDF versions, which would made savouring European-styled dishes that much easier.
2. Learn their language (Read: menu)
This I knew before hand, but by just memorizing bonjour, arrividerci ordanke schoen is not enough. The places that I mentioned above, most of them could only understand a smattering of English, and worse of all, their menu isn’t in English! And when we tried to strike up a conversation with the locals, all we got were muted looks, some smiles and plenty of head-scratching.
3. Get a smartphone/tablet
Call me old-fashioned but I never had much use of my phone while at work. It is just a tool for someone to contact me in times of emergency or for me to find some help, usually the former. Had an iPad but passed it to my Dad since he wanted to read while waiting for the plane/train/bus. The smartphone or tablet would have come in handy if we wanted to check for the latest weather, Google Maps or even on-the-spot research. Even a few sneaky fellows used their iPhone as a camera by pretending to answer a call in a no-photos-allowed area. And free wi-fi is amazingly easy to find as compared to my local environment.
4. Environmentally friendly locals
I did not test this out in all of the cities I visited but I am quite sure it worked in Paris and Munich. The Rome guy which we rented from said he never heard of it. The point that I am talking about is the returning of 25 cents for each empty plastic mineral water bottle to any of the supermarkets. Maybe some of you could clarify further or add in more cities that allow this to be done. In my opinion, I feel that this will educate people more about the importance of recycling. This is not even done in my country and to rub salt to the wound, while I was on the regional train from Munich to Füssen, I was amazed to find that almost 40-50% of the town houses along the way had solar panels installed on their roofs, some even had it covering the whole roof! I am embarrassed to say that, in my country where we have almost 300 days of sunshine, there is no initiative on the part of the policy-makers to educate or legislate solar panel usage. It is a pity.
5. Best laid plans of mice and men
Often go astray, or awry depending on which version you liked. That certainly summed up some parts of my vacation during the 2 weeks in Europe. First of all, the rain spoilt most of the time in Paris, especially on the 3rd day when we were supposed to walk down the Champs Elysées. Then we failed to rent bikes in Munich as it was all rented out, and we missed the cut off point by a mere 2 places. Just 10 minutes earlier and we would have biked our way in Munich.
Worst of all was that there was some incident with the tracks in Italy on our Munich-Venice route. So we had to take the bus from Munich to Verona and from there, switch back to the train to Venice. I can tell you, sleeping on the train and on the bus are two entirely different situations altogether.
But at the end of the day, no tears were lost, no hair was harmed and we had much better fun than we expected, which turned all these small setbacks into nothing but part and parcel of any vacation plans. It surely didn’t ruin the mood, so all is well.
Stay tune for more updates soon as I sift through the tons of information and jottings I made during the trip!