My Europe Trip – first impressions and a few random thoughts. (Germany-France road trip)

Paris France

My vacation is over, but here with me are my memories, emotions, numerous pictures waiting to be organized and retouched, gifts and souvenirs ready to be presented to their new owners and most importantly hopes to transform events and scenes of the journey into stories which could attract and inspire the reader.  As you might remember, this was my first trip to Europe and I am thrilled to announce the verdict – I absolutely loved it! No exceptions. Yes, I know that 10 days are probably not enough to reach an objective conclusion, but let me have my subjective one for now. It is never too late to get disappointed, so why not try to stay excited for as long as we possibly can? I think the ability to get excited and curious about new things, like little kids do, is a true gift and the right way to go.


So, I loved it. I loved each old cobblestone covered in moss and each adorable window with beautiful shutters and flowers on the sills. I loved the feeling of the ancient history hanging in the corners of the walls of buildings huddling together like sparrows on a branch. I loved the people: kind and responsive with just a bit of an edgy attitude, smiling eyes and unexpected sense of humor. I loved the colors, abundance of greenery and flowers everywhere, the air filled with scents and flavors, the noise of the streets.

I made an interesting observation for myself. Europe for me is somewhere in-between my homeland Russia and my new homeland America. It is a like a photograph which was enhanced by Photoshop, but only to some extent, so that all those little imperfections, which build up the character, were retained. To complete the metaphor, Russia could be represented by the raw image with no Photoshop involved whatsoever, USA by a perfectly airbrushed face looking at you from a glamour magazine (it is perfect, but unfortunately, with all flaws removed, it becomes impersonal) and Europe would be portrayed by a wisely retouched photograph (pimples removed, wrinkles retained kinda thing). Could it be that Europe found the golden mean? I am afraid I should pay another visit to search for answers. But today, to be honest, I like all three images - after all, I love photography!

My whole trip will be covered by many posts. It is simply impossible to fit all the pictures and all the information into one single story. Now, I would like to share a few practical tips for those living in the States who are planning a Europe trip.


Here’s the most basic check list of things to do before your trip to Europe:

1)      Figure out if you need to apply for a Schengen Visa (US citizens don't need a visa to visit Europe)
2)      Get a medical insurance for your upcoming international trip (I used this website to get mine for $48).
3)      Buy some Euros, as many places don’t accept credit/debit cards or accept only “smart cards” (chip or pin cards).
4)      Call your credit card issuing bank to inform about the upcoming trip (to avoid your card being blocked).
5)      Figure out how you will be able to use your cell phone.
6)      Figure out how you will be able to get a tax refund for the things you are bringing back to the States (most countries Embassies/Consulates websites provide this information). See an example here.


If you plan to rent a car in Europe:

1)      Consider renting with the help of Auto Europe – great pricing comparison, awesome 24 hours customer service, convenient GPS and MiFi rentals.
2)      Get International Driving Permit at any local AAA office for $15 (you should have both your regular US Driver License and International Driving Permit which serves only for the purpose of translation)
3)      Call your credit card issuer (Visa, Master Card) to find out if you are eligible for coverage under the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Benefit. If you are – ask to email a letter of verification. DO NOT buy CDW insurance from your rental company (which costs about $20 a day)!


I hope my check list will be helpful! Stay tuned)

Europe Travel

Europe Travel

France Travel

France Travel

France Travel

Germany Travel

Germany Travel

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