A handful of knee-jerk responses to our European Vacation

  • When in Europe and don’t want to use cellular roaming, but use maps (at least on iPhone), you can at least use the GPS to find out where you are without using data. This was especially helpful when getting lost in navigating the streets of Venice. I discovered it in Rome, and it would have been helpful while in Istanbul. Although I noticed that in Istanbul, I could use the compass without using roaming data. Compass was extremely helpful for navigating everywhere, as all I had to determine was which way we needed to go, and then click over to compass to determine which way to go.
  • The above remix’d song from a French band called Lilly Wood and the Prick was our official vacation song that will be associated with the trip.
  • We stayed in AirBnBs, and the homes were exceptional if not awesome. EVERY home had white walls, which convinced me to let Tina repaint our walls white in our apartment.
  • In our experience, AirBnBs are WAY better and more economical than hotels when traveling Europe (and America). They give you a chance to discover a new city in a home, with a kitchen. One night in Rome, I cooked spaghetti and meatballs. One night we bought a variety of deli-type foods from a small place in Florence and reheated it at our home. We tried cheese encrusted with red pepper flakes, another cheese with truffles, wild boar, a spinach lasagna, a potato and ham frittata, traditional Bolognese sauce with pasta. We tried an olive-filled bread. In Rome, we stayed in the home of a famous writer. The home was filled with art and books. It was just as important to us as walking the streets of Rome.
  • We stayed one night in the Airport Hilton, which was not nearly as comfortable. The air in the rooms is stale. In the morning our lips were chapped and it just felt dirty and traveled.
  • I thought Istanbul would be more dangerous, but ended up getting my phone stolen in Rome. A place where I thought we’d be a bit safer. My phone was in the front pocket of my coat. I’m pretty sure I was knocked hard from behind and it was slipped out very quickly. Fortunately it wasn’t something like my wallet or passport. Still annoying as it would have been helpful to have.
  • Italians are — from what we could tell — a very kind and energetic people. We went to one store near our Rome apartment twice, and the guy remembered Tina from the day before. He was so kind and helpful. Most people we met were approachable and thoughtful. One cheese shop owner gave us an incredible dinner recommendation at a place called I’Raddi. This was a restaurant far from any tourist attraction, and man, was it great!
  • We took one paid tour while in Rome and it was invaluable. We learned things we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. But Tina and I like traveling on our own; laying down our own schedule and route.
  • In France and many places in Asia, I could always find a grocery store that rivaled the size and offering of most grocery stores here. But in Turkey and Rome, we didn’t see larger sized grocery stories. We stayed in non-tourist locations, and space seemed to be at a premium.
  • We were in Venice on Halloween, and it was refreshing to see that every child’s costume that we saw was homemade. Not one costume was something bought at a store or resembled a Hollywood character like Superman or Spiderman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But kids in Venice don’t have a Target or Walmart to shop in.
  • Everywhere on earth, there are people that appear honest and ones that will take advantage of you as soon as you open your mouth. In Turkey, a cab driver told us it would cost triple to get to our apartment … which was about a half mile from our location. Other people seemed more honest.
  • Turkish Airlines, like all airlines these days, has no flipping knee room — even for Tina. And like any 12-hour flight, the bathrooms become revolting throughout the trip. I hate this so much, but there’s no way we can afford business class as it was some $5,000+ per person. Surely there could be a “meet me in the middle” offering between no room and some room on International flights that doesn’t involve getting the exit row.
  • Someone should do a film to put on exhibit of people putting luggage into the overheads. I find the process endlessly entertaining especially on long flights when people somehow slip more bags on the plane than should reasonably be allowed.

I realize these are a lot of thoughts, and I likely will think of more.

What are your responses to travel, European or otherwise?


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