Thanks so much for joining us for another Tips for Traveling in Europe! We’re honored and thrilled that you’ve chosen to visit.
Let’s recap. Our first week, we discussed research, specifically itineraries, hotels and airfares. Next we went over packing, how much, how little, what to bring and why. Then, we covered the trip itself, on the plane and when you get there. Last week, we discovered ways to get around, and how public transportation is a way of life in Europe, unlike most of the US.
This week is our final post, and we’ll be chatting about cultural differences and overall experiences.
Why do we expect foreign travelers to know English when they visit the US? In unfamiliar territory, we were thrilled to happen upon people who spoke our language, but why should we expect them to know it? An attitude of entitlement will not go as far, nor is it as kind, as a simple “English please?”
In general, Europeans seem much more relaxed and easy-going than Americans. For example, we boarded a train in Germany headed to Amsterdam, our last stop. A few minutes in, hubby’s all settled, reviewing work documents on his tablet, and I’m reading. Since the announcements were in German, we’d mostly ignored them, but I caught a snippet of somewhat identifiable words.
“Technical difficulties. Depart. Bus.”
Twenty minutes later, the train stopped and passengers loaded up and began to exit. We found a kind, English-speaking soul who informed us that, indeed, we were to exit the train and wait for a bus to take us to our final destination.
No complaints from anybody. If that happened in America, don’t you know somebody would make their displeasure known loud enough for everybody to hear.
Three or four buses and an hour later, we’re rolling along on the bus, people stuffed in like sardines in a tin, standing and sitting all along the aisle. Suddenly, there’s a commotion and good-natured laughter permeates the bus. Of course, because of the language barrier, we have no idea why.
Border patrol. Checking passports and identification of Every. Single. Person. On. The. Bus.
Still, not one person complained during the entire trip to Amsterdam. Even when another train cancelled, forcing those same passengers to take yet another train and backtrack to their destination. One of those sweet travelers had spent her savings to take a university class that she was in danger of missing. Another was extremely late for a new job. Yet, the whole day, they laughed and smiled and rolled with the punches.
Me? I’m glad I found the water closet on the train. 🙂
Cruise versus land
We’ve done both now, and can’t really say which we prefer. Both offer tremendous value. It’s like choosing from your favorite ice cream flavors. Do you feel like coconut today or espresso chocolate chip? Here are some items to consider:
With land travel…
You pack and unpack often. On a cruise ship, you unpack once and have a home base every night.
You dive deeper into the cultures of each city. With cruising, you visit multiple ports, but a shorter duration and may not even have the opportunity to sample local cuisine. Eating local could be a pro or a con, though. In Venice, the majority of restaurants are Italian. If you don’t like Italian food, you might not want to plan a week-long stay there. 🙂
You choose to stay or move on. With cruising, your itinerary is pretty much set, except for inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances.
Bottom line, there’s work/research involved in both methods of traveling. Even cruising, we still research prices of airline tickets, excursion choices and pre/post cruise stays. We initially thought we’d have more control over our day, but considering the train incident above, maybe not. 🙂
If your idea of a perfect vacation is to be pampered, definitely go the cruise route. If you enjoy more freedom and flexibility and don’t mind the exercise, opt to travel by land.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Which travel method would you choose? Land or cruise?