October is NOT the best time to travel around Europe!

Travel in the rain

In October I left Paris still feeling ill, taking a high-speed train to catch up to the overnight train to Venice (Big Mistake)! When shown to my cabin and the conductor opened the door there were two people in the lower bunk I had reserved and the cabin was so full with luggage I couldn’t see how I could fit! I ended up paying an extra 50 Euros for a private cabin where the heat was on full blast (Not great while still sick).  If you want the adventure of an overnight train, I wouldn’t book in a 6 person cabin!

overnight trainvenice station

At least the weather was good when I got to Venice. So I sat outside for coffee at the train station before taking the “water bus” to the Hostel.

I liked the Generator Venice hostel, it was away from the main tourist attractions, had a bar/restaurant and good views. The neighborhood was good to walk around and explore. The weekend entertainment was also good with a live band! A Booking.com link to Generator Venice

The good weather didn’t last and on the day I left it was pouring so bad the “bus” back to the train station wasn’t running. I missed my train and had to book another because I didn’t know I couldn’t reschedule after it had left.

On to Rome and more rain. the hostel I had booked in Rome looked seedy and had strange rules that you had to vacate and leave your stuff for 5 hours each day.  Still sick and with the rain I got a decent deal as a walk in at a hotel nearby and not far from the train station.  Feeling a little better on the day before I was going to leave and the rain seemed to be letting up,  I decided to do one of the double decker bus tours.  Of course it started raining again 10 minutes after I got on.

Next was a great train ride along the coast to Nice.

train1 to Nicetrain2 to Nice

In Nice the weather was finally nice (I had to say it)! I stayed at another great hostel! The Villa Saint Exupery Beach Hostel is great with a lively bar and some rooms even have bathtubs! It’s a short walk to the beach, lots of restaurants and shops. A Booking.com link to Villa Saint Exupery Hostel

A note about public bathrooms in Europe: They charge in many public locations, so make sure you have some Euros!

After getting better again in Nice I found a cheap flight to Barcelona and back to the rain! I found another good Hostel in Barcelona. The Black Swan hostel has food every night and even has cooking lessons on some.  A Booking.com link to the Black Swan Hostel

BE WARNED! Barcelona is probably the worst place in Europe for pickpockets! I had my phone and fake wallet stolen the day before I left.

Finally into the sun

I got on board the Norwegian Epic for the 13 day cruise back to the states. The weather was great with stops in Tenerife and San Juan. I finally felt human again when we got to Orlando. One thing about cruising is that most stops are just for the day with enough time to do a shore excursion or tour before you get back on the ship. If you want to get to know a place find a way to go there and stay cheap … Teaching English as a foreign language is one way… more about that in a future post!

 

I’ve been busy getting ready for my trip!

I’ve been scouring travel sites and getting recommended gear together that I think will work well for this long of a trip.
I searched a bunch of booking sites to see what I could find in deals and ways to make the most of my visits to France, Italy and Spain. Also, I’ve been trying to brush up on my French (which is terrible), my Spanish that is only slightly better and a little Italian. Fortunately, the word for bathroom is the same in Spanish and Italian :>
I’ve been practicing with Google Translate on my phone and it’s brought back more than I remember knowing.

I have found a few things that I think are great! One thing I found that isn’t frequently recommended is The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for US citizens to register for their trips and get warnings about the areas of travel and be notified of natural disasters, etc.
For non-US citizens The US department of State has information about everything you need to visit the US and The Diversity Visa Lottery ending November 7th, so if you want to get a green card you may want to enter that :>

Another thing I found when looking at booking all this travel is the trip insurance offered by airlines, hotels and booking sites, I added all those up before I booked anything and found that they add up to A LOT!
Many people recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance and from what I’ve seen by reading through the site and what they offer, even for adventure travelers, I agree!
I booked for the duration of my trip for a little over $3 a day including stolen property up to $500!
(I liked them so much I became an affiliate and will get a few cents if you book through my link above.)

Something else that I found that is not really stated in many places, is that you don’t need a power converter.
Almost all new or recently new personal electronics, ie cell phones, tablets and laptops, with work with just an adapter plug for where you travel. That means you don’t need an expensive, heavy and bulky converter!
To be sure you can check the fine print on the AC adapter (You may need a magnifying glass). For it to work in the US and abroad the INPUT should say something like INPUT: 100-240V~1.3A 50-60Hz (my laptop/tablet).
Things like hair dryers and curling irons that are made for only one voltage will not function or be damaged without using a converter.

 

My First European Trip!

I’m finally going to start traveling the world soon!
I’ll be flying out of Philadelphia (PHL) to Boston (BOS) on American Airlines then onto Paris (CDG) on WOW Air with a 90 minute layover in Keflavik, Iceland (KEF) for an amazing price. I’m not a small person…. weighing 280 pounds and standing above 6 feet tall, so the larger seats, baggage and other fees almost doubled the price to around $360, still cheap for a flight to Paris from the East Coast of the United States.

Paris in the Fall, I hope it’s as nice as in the Springtime. I’m going to spend the first 5 nights in a hostel in Paris and will review it in a later post. I hope to see at least a few of the big tourist attractions and get out of town to see life in France away from the big tourist attractions (traps:).

From Paris I’m going take a high speed train to Dijon Ville and switch to the overnight train to Venice (VCE), arriving around 9am in the morning. So I’ll have 4 days and  3 nights to explore and see it before it’s under water. I’ll be staying in another hostel there trying to keep costs down and meet other people who travel the world without spending a fortune.

From Venice I’m taking another high speed train train to Rome (ROM). I’ve booked 6 nights in another hostel there. That should give me enough time to see many of the sights and plan the last part of my trip.

After Rome I’m not sure what I’ll do… I’ll have 10 days free. I’ll play it by ear to see where I want to go before I take a 13 Day cruise from Barcelona back to Florida and a plane ride home.