Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lessons from Abroad

Now that I'm back from my trip and fully adjusted back to my life in NYC, I have some time to reflect on my trek through Europe. I took two weeks off from work and went to Paris, Barcelona, Marseille, Cinque Terre, and London. I had an incredible time and did not want to come back home -- a sentiment not shared by some of my travel companions. I'm sure I'll have other posts about specific moments and memories I have from each city I went to, but I wanted to put into words some of the general things I've been thinking about since I got back.

In no particular order, some valuable lessons I learned:

People are as nice to you as you are to them. (Most of the time anyway.) The stereotype is that people in Europe are arrogant and rude to tourists, but I didn't encounter that at all. I was polite and friendly, ate their food, tried to speak their language, and got nothing but friendliness in return.

Packing is a science. I didn't need half the shirts I brought. Could've done with a few more socks. Hiking shoes were my best purchase ever. Plastic bags, ziploc bags and duct tape became my best travel companions. Speaking of packing...

Always bring a bathing suit. Because the weather forecast is as unpredictable in Europe as it is back home. The forecast said partly cloudy and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but I found myself sweating profusely in the blazing sun and wanting nothing more than to work on my tan at the rocky beach near the hostel.

It's always possible to have fun on a budget. As long as I stayed flexible and figured out what mattered to me, I was fine. Suddenly the nutella sandwich meant to be a snack was the entire meal, but who cares because then I could buy awesome Beatles souvenirs instead!

I could probably keep going, but I'll leave it at that for now. What are some travel lessons you've got to share?

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