If you were following my Facebook page you would of known that I made it back safely and that I had a great time on my trip. I’m still decompressing a bit and trying to get used to my old friend, the Eastern Time Zone so I will keep this a bit brief and go into more detail in some coming posts. My wife and I did 5 countries in 10 real days (12 day total trip but 2 of them were lost to air travel). I was tiring, but very worth it, and we didn’t kill each other which is always a good sign.
Our trip began at JFK in New York City were an hour before our take-off the CNN television that I had been watching informed me that two planes narrowly missed each other. Oddly enough, I learned that a man boarded a flight in JFK without a valid boarding pass just a few days before our return. I love airport security.
Anyway, a brief overview of Europe as a whole; a lot like America with better public transportation and worse service at restaurants. We didn’t have a car on this trip, the majority of our travel was done by rail. We purchased a Eurorail pass before we left and everything about it was very simple. The trains are on time, clean, and very efficient.
On the service side of things everyone was very nice for the most part, but they do not look after you the same way as they do here in the USA. At the beginning of our trip we often found ourselves sitting and waiting for the bill for a half hour or so. In Europe it is key to waive down your server when you need something. In the countries that we went to, tip was almost always included automatically, so the servers didn’t have to work the same way as they do here. It’s a small difference really, but for someone who likes prompt service, I found myself often frustrated.
To go along with the whole food end of thing, there is no free water, water is often one of the more expensive things to order as a drink. Water always comes from a glass bottle and sits just below room temperature. On a positive note, beer was generally very inexpensive and always less than water. It feels weird sitting at home right now, looking over my dinner, and not having a beer with it. I supposed I could, but I much prefer my Turkey Hill ice tea right now.
The language barrier was not very difficult to over come. Mostly everyone in the major cities speaks English and all of the mass transportation has signs in English along with the native language. I have a lot to share about my trip, but I’m going to take a few days to get back to normal before I share. I captured a great number of images, both beer and touristy, in my travels and I will be sharing them as well. I know that Leffe (pictured above) isn’t something super special or rare, but it is a damn good beer and I enjoyed a fair bit of it on my trip. More updates to come, for now, I need to force myself to stay awake as it feels somewhere between 6:00 PM and 12:00 AM for me right now.