Warnings, Tips and Advice for your European Trip

October 6, 2010 at 11:13 am (Travel) (, , )

I have managed to learn quite a bit about travelling in Europe after two trips over there in the last 6 years and thought I’d share my tips with you (I know a few of you have planned trips over there, so I hope this helps)! 

  • Be prepared to pay to use the toilet. We paid as much as $1.50 Australian to use bathrooms that weren’t necessarily clean or had seats attached. It is what it is.
  • Take a phrasebook for every language you may need. The locals always appreciate tourists trying to speak their language rather than speaking slowly and loudly in English (that’s just irritating). This will also ensure you are able to communicate when you’re in a tough situation. The Lonely Planet phrasebooks are great (and small).
  • Pack clothing that dries quickly. You don’t want to be lugging damp clothing around with you and it also means that you won’t have to fork out (and wait) for the dryer at the laundromat (if you can find one). Use towel rails, chairs and hangers to dry.
  • Check in online for flights. Why wouldn’t you? If you are travelling with carry on, it means that you go straight to the gate. With luggage there is often a separate (faster) queue for bag drop. Avoid early wake up calls and stress – you can also sometimes avoid having your bags weighed.
  • Photocopy your passport. This is Travel 101. I misplaced my passport on a trip to Bali last year and the scanned copy I had emailed to myself was invaluable. Luckily I found it again but it makes the process of gaining a temporary one faster and easier. Email a copy to yourself and perhaps a parent or friend.
  • Book all your accommodation before you leave. I’m talking to the rest of the Sagittarians out there who would love to hop on a plane and find a hotel/hostel on a whim. I know we love to be spontaneous, but train station benches aren’t comfortable.

    Photos by moi

     

  • Change your body clock and eating patterns. Shops and museums don’t usually open before 10.00am, sometimes later (Paris, I’m looking at you). In Spain and Italy it is common to start eating dinner at 9.00pm – some touristy restaurants will open for 6 or 7.00pm but the local places with the best authentic food will keep your stomach waiting.
  • Stop converting currency. I know it’s hard but you need to start thinking of prices in the local currency rather than your own dollar. Most things are more expensive over in Europe (compared to Australia or New Zealand) – London more horrifying than most. Check your bank balance regularly though.
  • If you’re taking your mobile phone… check with your provider that you have global roaming enabled and check the call/text prices (usually available on the provider’s website). Shut off data roaming. Using the internet on your phone without wifi will cost a fortune – updating your Twitter account isn’t worth eating 2 minute noodles for dinner for the next 6 months!
  • Buy really small gifts for people (if any at all). You don’t want to be lugging around huge souvenirs the entire trip. Perhaps consider buying gifts in your final destination. I bought little food samples and set up a small tasting session for my workmates.
  • Take containers with you. Little empty bottles are perfect – you’ll thank me when you’re trying to save space and need a container for your washing powder, shampoo etc.
  • Don’t promise to send postcards. You won’t.
  • If you want to see ‘tourist attractions’… be prepared to wait in a long line (particularly in peak season) and pay quite a bit.
  • If that tourist attraction is a religious building… ensure that you are wearing a top with sleeves and a high neck and either a long skirt or pants.
  • Be prepared to eat bread. A lot of it. And pastry.
  • Do not wear high heels on cobble stone roads. Self explanatory.
  • Triple check your hotel/hostel room before you check out. Do not leave your international power adaptor and phone charger behind like we did.
  • Look for interesting tours if that’s your thing. We had a ride in a Mini Cooper around London, bicycles in Nice, bus tour of Rome and noticed a few segway tours in a number of countries. There are often unique themed tours on offer such as ghost or mystery, art and architecture.
  • Don’t expect things to be like they are at home. Sometimes hot chocolates are thick without milk, hamburgers don’t come with buns, shops close at strange times (in Spain some close between 1.30 and 4.00pm) and cheese tastes unlike any you’ve had before. You’re there to enjoy the differences not complain about them.
  • ENJOY YOURSELF!
Do you have any other tips for readers travelling to Europe?
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Postcard: Italy, Spain and Prague

September 24, 2010 at 11:27 pm (Travel)

Sorry for the gap between posts, I am trying my best to keep Dream. Delight. Inspire. up to date during my travels but as most of you will be aware, it’s not that easy. Internet cafes are usually ridiculously expensive and free wifi is fairly elusive (and/or slow). 

1: On a tour bus in Rome. 2: Trevi Fountain (Rome) 3: City square in Valencia

 

Anyway, since my last postcard we have travelled through Italy, Spain and have been in Prague for the last couple of days. In Italy we flew through Cinque Terre, Pisa, Siena (and made a quick pitstop in San Gimignano which is a gorgeous little old town), Verona, Venice and Rome. I was lucky enough to catch up with my parents for about 24 hours in Rome and took my dad on a wine tour which was amusing. 

I have eaten my weight in gelati, pizza, pasta, paella, patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and garlic mayo), various tapas and now strudel. 

Since I was unable to post Things I Love Thursday this week, I’ll jot down a few loves just to keep you in the love loop!  ; ) 

Getting caught in storms and laughing in the rain. Funnily enough, this was in Barcelona after drinking a Pina Colada (as the song goes). It was one of those moments where I’d usually curse the weather but instead just giggled as we rushed to find shelter. 

Chocolate Museum. Need I say more? The ticket was a bar of chocolate and I was already sold. We learned all there is to know about chocolate and saw some amazing sculptures made out of the delicious stuff. 

Eating without guilt. I love food (it’s no secret), so trying all of the fabulous local cuisine has been absolute heaven. I am craving a gym session though (strange huh?). 

Ticking another item off my 25 Things list. After 2 failed attempts (one weather cancellation and a confusing no show), we finally took off in a hot air balloon about 40kms out of Prague. Seeing the sunrise in the chilly haze was breathtaking, making the 5am wake up call well worth it. See the photo below. 

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week. I have a long list of blog post ideas that I can’t wait to get up on this blog, so by next weekend all will be running smoothly and I hope to entertain, inform, inspire and delight you. 

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Postcard: France

September 5, 2010 at 4:14 am (Travel)

Another quick post from France to keep you updated on my travels. I accidentally missed Things I Love Thursday this week too, so I’ll let you know what is on my love list.

Yummy dessert made in our patisserie class in Paris

We have headed down to the south of France after Paris to the warmer weather and the calmer cities. We created delicious desserts at a cooking class in France (Cooking with Class) including Creme Brulee which we used a blow torch on! You can see a picture of one of my creations above.

Things I’ve loved this week include coffee and snails (which I tried in Paris with some trepidation).

Drinking my 2nd coffee for the day and eating escargot

Finding my perfect leather jacket, Sushi Shop, butter crossaints, cool breezes in the evening, picnics by the water

Our picnic consisting of delicacies from the market in Avignon

French as a language and the accent, watching a lot of CNN and feeling connected to the world as a whole, tiny little laneways, managing to speak a little French (badly), my boyfriend’s face full of awe, looking forward to seeing my parents in Rome in a couple of weeks and people watching.

Fountain in central Aix en Provence

I’d love to know what you’re up to my fabulous readers! Do you enjoy the postcard updates or would you prefer I didn’t do them?

Update me! xx

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Postcard: Paris

August 30, 2010 at 2:44 am (Travel)

Bonjour from Paris. After two days we have seen so much of the city, eaten just about everything in sight and attempted requests in the best French I can muster.

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The Crazy Carry On Concept Part II

August 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm (Travel) (, , , )

A friend of mine struggled to take carry on for a weekend away interstate, and couldn’t believe that I am going to be travelling with only carry on for at least three weeks of our overseas trip to Europe. How am I going to do it? 

My carry on bag from Urban Originals (click for website)

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAG

Size restrictions:  T and I are catching a total of 8 flights, using 5 different airlines. This worked out more cost-effective but it also means that we had to check the dimensions allowed for carry on for each leg. Write down each airline’s luggage restrictions and then take the lowest weight and smallest dimensions – that way you won’t get caught out. 

Weather considerations:  I learned this the hard way when I last went to Europe.
Bags with wheels and snow do not mix. They don’t deal with cobblestones very well either. 

Design:  As we have a few late check in times around the place, I’ll be carrying my bag around with me while exploring so it had to be easy to sling over my shoulder and tuck under my arm safely.
Do you want lots of additional pockets? Do you want lightweight canvas or a more solid leather case? 

WHAT TO PACK

Clothing 

  • 3 singlets (black, white and striped)
  • 1 thin long-sleeved top
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of shoes: one small walking sneakers, one ballet flats
  • 1 skirt or lightweight dress
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 4 pairs of underwear and 2 bras
  • 3 pairs of socks

That still seems like a lot, but keep in mind that you’ll have to wear something on the plane, so that cancels off 1 singlet, the long-sleeved top, jeans, sneakers and 1 of each undergarment. So really, my bag will contain: 

  • 2 singlets, 1 skirt/lightweight dress
  • 1 pair of shoes: ballet flats
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 3 pairs of underwear, 1 bra and 2 pairs of socks
  • Do not pack your entire wardrobe – you will only end up wearing the same few (comfortable) things every day. I plan on hand washing my clothes in the basin and occasionally taking them to a laundromat. I’d much rather buy lovely frocks and accessories over there and save them for our one suitcase on the way home. 

    Cosmetics and Haircare 

    • Deodorant (small roll on)
    • 5ml travel container of Ella Bache serum
    • 5ml travel container of Ella Bache eye cream
    • 10ml travel container of Ella Bache moisturiser
    • MAC foundation and concealer
    • Armani Mascara (trial size from makeup event)
    • NARS Blush/Bronzer Duo
    • Coral Cabana palette by Bobbi Brown
    • MAC gel eyeliner in Blacktrack
    • Benefit brow pencil
    • Hair brush and little hair conditioning sachets
    • Toothbrush, floss and toothpaste

    Shampoo and conditioner you ask? I’ll grab some when we get to London. Ditto with sunscreen. 

    Important additions 

    • 2 x cameras (my Nikon D90 and a point and shoot Canon) + memory cards
    • Travel journal
    • Travel wallet complete with tickets, foreign money and train passes
    • Passport
    • Phone in case of emergencies
    • Power point adaptors for each area of travel
    • Chargers for camera and phone
    • Folder with itinerary (complete with dining, sights and shopping suggestions), train timetable and hotel booking print outs

    Please let me know if you think I’ve forgotten anything! 

    Other travel posts I’m working on are:

    How to plan a lengthy trip without a travel agent
    My favourite travel items
      

    I was also thinking about doing a video post on my packing rehearsal – would you find that interesting?

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    Maintenance Cycles

    June 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm (Beauty, Travel) (, )

    Zoe Foster from PRIMPED (my beauty guru – you should see this girl in person.. immaculate!) has just published a blog post called “Oh God I’m already at the end of my Maintenance Cycle“. She is over in Europe to write her next book (lucky thing). 

    Now, I’ve always been proud of the fact that I am well groomed MOST of the time. I tend not to worry about beauty trends or new products that promise to lengthen, thicken and strengthen, but I do love exploring the make up counters and going to get my hair done. Why oh why have I not even heard of a Maintenance Cycle then?

    Zoe’s Maintenance Cyle is described as:
    Hair colouring (8 weeks)
    Haircuts (6 weeks)
    Eyebrow waxing (4-5 weeks)
    Nail polish (2 weeks)
    Waxing (3 weeks)
    Tan (1 week)
    DIY facial (1-2 weeks)

    Wow.
    Here comes that female guilt again…

    If I were to outline mine, it would probably look a little something like this:
    Hair colouring (8 – 10 weeks, depends on how long I can get away with wearing hats for )
    Haircuts (2 – 3 months)
    Eyebrow waxing (never
    – shock horror! )
    Nail polish (non-existent fingernails)
    Waxing (never –
    I’m a shaving girl )
    Tan (never)
    DIY facial (once a month maybe)

    Am I horribly in need of personal grooming lessons or is it a good thing to be low maintenance? I am thinking about trialling a high maintenance lifestyle starting the week before I head to Europe (why not live the life of luxury while I’m on holiday?). Yep, expect the unexpected over here at Dream. Delight. Inspire!

    Now, Zoe said she would never put herself in the hands of European beauticians she doesn’t know, but since I am such a low maintenance and free-spirited Sagittarian – why not?! I’d have to get manicures, tans and waxes – everything else I can do before I leave and not worry about getting it done until I come back.

    What will this achieve Kim, you may be asking. Well, as long as my nails have grown, I will tick off one of my 25 Things to do Before 25 (get a manicure). I will pamper myself for 6 weeks straight (after working 7 day weeks for over a month) – what’s not to love. And I will have come to a conclusion about whether a low maintenance lifestyle suits me better than a high one. Plus I am sure it will be highly entertaining for you to see me come out orange in a tanning salon in Spain.

    What I need your help with lovely readers, is if you have any recommendations of beauty therapists in London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Prague. Or if you have any friends that live there that could suggest any.

    Do you have a Maintenance Cycle? What does your look like?
    Do you think I’m crazy with a beauty challenge like this?

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    The Crazy Carry On Concept

    June 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm (Sweet Nothings/Ramblings, Travel) (, , , )

    Everyone that I have told about our plan has said that we are crazy. Travelling to Europe for five weeks with only carry on luggage. Hear me out – I’ve been to Europe as a teenager and had the huge hiking pack and a wheeled suitcase and it was a nightmare. Catching trains every few days meant that we had to lug everything up (what seemed like) thousands of stairs to get to the right platform. We arrived at each hostel grumpy and sweaty because of course it wasn’t walking distance from the train station as it had said on the website.

    I want to wander around the streets of Rome and Barcelona without whinging about how much my back hurts or how the wheels of my suitcase aren’t coping with the cobblestones, and so the Carry On Concept was born.

    We won’t have to worry about losing our checked in luggage and nowadays a lot of the airlines are even charging for suitcases! So I’ve been trawling the world wide web for tips on how we can successfully do this and this is a list of the best I’ve found:

    • Most airlines don’t count handbags in your carry on limit so grab a big one (something that a celebrity would put a dog in), pack your heavy stuff in there and pray they don’t weigh it. Don’t make it obvious that it is heavy by leaning to the side and groaning.
    • Wear the clothes that take up the most space on the flight, leaving more room in your luggage. Layering is a wonderful thing, meaning you can still be comfortable on a long haul journey. If you want to take boots, wear them on the flight.
    • Pack versatile items. Don’t pack a formal silk dress, instead perhaps a basic skirt and a light dressy top. The skirt can be worn dressed up or down which means you can wear it for a variety of occasions. Plan clothing so you get a number of possible outfits out of just a few pieces. Use accessories to jazz up your outfits as they don’t take up much space.
    • Be realistic. Will you NEED 2 pairs of heels or will one suffice (with a good pair of walking shoes)? Only pack the essentials.
    • Find inventive ways to roll your clothes up to cram them into your small bag. My mum has an interesting sock rolling technique that makes them into tiny balls.
    • Bring clothes that do not require ironing (believe me, you will never iron). Metalicus has some fabulous stuff.
    • If you want to do some shopping along the way (and who doesn’t?), put in a collapsible bag that you can check in as luggage on the return leg of your journey. I think this is what we might do, just in case.
    • Last time I went I bought so much stuff that I ended up leaving old clothing behind, so it might be a thought to pack clothes you wouldn’t mind parting with if you find too many must have items along the way.
    What do you think of the Carry On Concept?    Would you try it?   
    Any tips of your own?

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