Just some highlights, randomly

Travel

Narrow roads mostly, especially in and around towns.    Fast aggressive drivers, but in their own way courteous, you just have to learn the road language.   Toll ways in France, major roads between the cities through the countryside, nice, fast, 130 KPH most times. Scooters and motorcycles riding between lanes in France at very fast speeds, even when it’s raining.

 

Rail Travel

Regional trains and metro trains/tube.   Lots of rail travel that is at times in the big cities complicated to understand, especially in non English speaking countries but once you start to get used to it seems like a good way to travel. Not all helpers are knowledgeable. Some local of the locals on the platforms are just as helpful. Platforms can be 3 levels down. Machines that take v=credit cards to buy tickets. Gates, plug the ticket in, take it out and move on but keep the ticket so you can get out again.

 

Language

Good to have some basic words before you show up or at least try to learn some of the local language to help get by. English is spoken in a lot of the bigger cities but as you get more rural, less and less.   Hand signals, pointing  at pictures, using your imagination, smiling and laughing when the attempts break down, all a challenge but fun, at least for me. Franch, German, Dutch, and lowly English, plus various dialects.

 

Scenery, Architecture

Amazing , as I’ve said before, a picture everywhere you look. Northern latitudes so the climate, trees and landscape our similar to Minnesota area. Take lots of pictures, even if they are crap, you can always delete the bad ones, you can’t add new ones once you are home. Look behind you.

 

History

Wow, everywhere, see above. Makes our little world back home seem so poor in history. The USA has nothing to compare.

 

Communication and electronics

Wifi almost everywhere, some good and some marginal.  A different SIM card needed for just about every country you visit. We aren’t the only ones changing sims, sitting on international trains you see people changing SIMs in their phones.

 

Money

England= pounds and pence, the rest of Europe= Euros.  UK= expensive exchange rate and higher big city prices.   The rest of Europe the exchange rate is better with USA dollars taking about a 10% hit. Paris, big city prices, other towns more reasonable. Belgium, Germany, Holland seem more reasonable price wise.

 

The people

Lots of smokers, everywhere, not in restaurants but in the sidewalk cafes and plazas, cheap cigarettes, in Paris 7 euros a pack, less then $10 US. All are friendly, most in the small towns get a smile on when you start talking English. Generally, all are helpful and try to figure out what you are saying but English is not always spoken.

 

Belgium

Ghent, Brugge, Antwerp, The Forest, Valkenburg, Brussels, Malina, Spanish, canals, friendly bike ride culture. Cobbeled climbs, failed 1st climb. Great towns, lots of history, great town squares.

 

Germany

Schnitzel, Eifel National Park, Gravel roads and hill climbs, Salzburg versus Saltzberg, Mercedes versus air travel

 

Holland

Dikes, canals, Delft, Hague, Amsterdam, Hans and Margrit, great time share space. Lost while riding, thanks Google maps for getting me home.

 

France

Orient Hotel, Rental cars, Saint Egreve, Alp Duez, Avignon, Ventoux, Bagneres-de- Bioore, Lourdes, Tormalet/Ferme, Gare de Midi, Charles de Gaule, Pryenees, rain and clouds and cool weather.

 

Driving

Rental cars, bring your passport and driver’s license. Sometimes the extra insurance pays off. Over 4000 kilometers of driving. Paris, rush hour is massive and bad/slow.