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Europe Trip Thoughts

Author
by Troy Grosfield
Date
June 14th, 2010
Category
Travel
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Here are my thoughts about my trip to Europe.

Music

I was very surprised to hear American music in almost every country we were in. I didn’t realize American music had such a global influence.  The locals love it and even if they don’t speak English they will likely be able to sing an American song.

Street Entertainment

Breakdancer in Rome

Breakdancer in Rome

It was very fun walking around in populated areas and seeing all the street entertainment.  There was everything from musicians, to breakdancers, to artists, and provided good cheap fun entertainment (for a minimal donation of course).

Weather

The weather was good for almost the entire trip.  Amsterdam was a little chilly and we needed a light jacket almost everywhere we went.

Sicily was nice.  The sun was almost always shining except for toward the top of the volcano, Mt. Etna.  There was a huge temperature difference between the top and bottom of Mt. Etna, but once you were toward the base it was majority sunny skies.

We got the best weather in Rome. Everyday was low to mid 80′s and sunny skies. It only got really hot a few times where we had to call a timeout and get some water. Other than that, it made for some great sightseeing weather.

Greece rained one of the 5 days we were there which apparently isn’t too common. All the rest of the days were around 85°-90° and was very easy to get a sunburn. You noticed the heat almost everywhere you went, but I definitely enjoyed the sunny skies and warm weather. On the Greek islands it was much of the same, but the heat didn’t feel so dry there.

Safety

Amsterdam felt safe in the majority of the areas, but had it’s few moments late at night in certain areas. If you stay in the more populated areas there isn’t much of a problem.

I felt safe in Sicily as well. We were able to walk around at all times of the day without worry.

Town Square in Rome

Town Square in Rome

I felt the safest in Rome. I really didn’t feel like there were any unsafe areas at any time of day or night. There are many people around all the time so walking the streets late at night felt very safe.

I didn’t feel safe at all in Athens. I frequently walked around with my hands in my pockets at all times of the day worried that a pickpocketer may be near. We heard numerous occasions where someone had something stolen in broad daylight. We nearly witnessed a fight, we saw large protests, and heard of protest riots from other travelers.

The Greek islands had a very different feel.  It was much more laid back and everyone was friendly. Security wasn’t a concern at all.

Expenses

Amsterdam expenses were average to a little high. The one thing that hurt was the value of the euro to the dollar. We ate out a lot more than anticipated which added up.

Sicily was also fairly average on pricing. Eating at fairly nice restaurants was affordable. It also helped staying with a friend and eating all his food.

Greece was very affordable and the food was very good.  There are many places all around that serve kabobs right off the grill.  It was easy to find meals for under €5 and transportation costs were low as well.   It only costs us €19 euro round-trip to get to Aegina, one of the Greek islands a little over an hour away.

In the tourist areas Rome was very expensive.  Water was very pricey and most meals were expensive and you didn’t get a lot for your money.  If you venture off the tourist path meals and drinks are much more reasonable.

Accommodations

The thought behind renting apartments was to go to the supermarket and get food to keep costs low so we didn’t eat out all the time.  We didn’t utilize that at all so we were left with an unused kitchen for the most part.   I would still recommend apartments if you’re trying to keep costs low, but locate a supermarket early and do some grocery shopping.

Hotels we’re also a nice option.  We had a fridge to keep drinks cool. We also had breakfast every morning which saved a lot and was very good.  Fresh towels everyday was a huge plus as well.

The bed and breakfast was very interesting.  It wasn’t what I had expected and definitely had it’s pros and cons.

The one pro is you meet people traveling just like yourself.  I really liked this aspect because people were, for the most part, very friendly.

There were a few cons.  First, you have to trust everyone you’re staying around and your host.  We were in a pretty good situation with being around good people. Sharing a bathroom with 5 other people was a pain in the butt because everyone seems to need it at the same time.  We didn’t have AC and our room was right by a busy street so it was very loud.

Transportation

Amsterdam Trains

Amsterdam Trains

Amsterdam had excellent public transportation.  They have a light rail that takes you almost anywhere in the city center. You are suppose to buy tram tickets which can be purchased at supermarkets, but nobody ever checks your tickets. They work on an honesty policy and if they do check for your ticket and you don’t have one the fines are quite hefty.

We didn’t have much use for public transportation in Sicily because we rented a car.  It looked like the bus was the best way to get around.

We didn’t need to use public transportation at all in Rome.  Every walk you take is fascinating so walking really wasn’t a problem.  All the attractions are quite close together.  They did have a metro system available though.

Greece had great public transportation. You can buy a 7 day unlimited public transportation pass for just €10. It allows you to take all busses and the metro. The metro takes you from the northern side of Athens all the way to the shoreline in Piraeus.

Favorite Place

Each place had it’s own piece of awesomeness.

Amsterdam was the city of no rules. You can pretty much do whatever you want there. It’s something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

Sicily was very scenic and the geography was incredible. Looked like something straight out of a movie.

Streets of Rome

Streets of Rome

Rome was one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to. Every building you see has an immense amount or detail which gives walking down the street a whole new meaning.

Greece had a nice tourist attraction with the Acropolis and the islands were beautiful. The lack of safety in Athens put a huge damper on Greece.

My favorite place was Rome. The architecture of the buildings is something you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Everyone interested in traveling should stop in Rome! You will not regret it!

Links

Amsterdam, Utrecht, Netherlands 5/27/2010 – 5/31/2010

Catania, Palermo, Sicily 5/31/2010 – 6/4/2010

Rome, Italy 6/4/2010 – 6/7/2010

Athens, Piraeus, Aegina, Greece 6/7/2010 – 6/11/2010

Rome, Italy 6/11/2010 – 6/13/2010

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