Notes from Mollie Cundall
Excitement and apprehension are two key words when planning
and leaving for a European Trip. Being on foreign soil for seventeen days and
not speaking any foreign languages at all is cause for some concern. It is not
as bad as some would think it to be.
Stepping off the plane in Rome and being able to decipher a
few of the signs made it a little easier. Actually getting some of the currency
in your hands also helps. There are places to “change” money all over Europe.
Finding the “i” (tourist information sign) is of great help
in everything that you try to do. From giving you directions, finding a hotel
for you, providing you with maps of the area and answering just about any
question that you have. And most of the time they speak enough English to get
you through the situation.
Being somewhat flexible in your eating habits is almost a
must. Nothing looks and definitely does not sound like, or taste quite the same
as our U.S. food in the smaller towns.
Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time when ordering a
“sit down” meal. Europeans like to linger over food and drink. Sitting at the
table for hours is quite common. You have to ask for the check most of the
I found most the food quite enjoyable. If you are a very
picky eater you can find French fries almost everywhere.
Be prepared to buy bottled water almost everywhere. Only
once did we have tap water with our meal. Ice is virtually non existent. Wine
and beer flow like water. You can readily find cokes, but most of the time they
will only be slightly cool. And you will pay from $1.50 to $5.00 depending on
When we check into a hotel here in the States we would
never ask is there a bathroom in the room. It is taken for granted here. You
definitely have to ask in Europe. In many of the hotels or bed and breakfasts,
you also pay more for a room with a bathtub as apposed to a shower. It seems
tubs are more of a luxury to them. Also you will not find many smaller hotels
with air conditioners. You will find this luxury in American hotels such as
Most of the people try to be as helpful as possible
despite the language barrier. There are a few exceptions just as you would find
here at home. I found it amazing the help you get considering we are in their
country at their mercy. They could very well take the attitude “When in our
country, do as we do”.
Public restrooms are not plentiful. A lot of Europeans
just “go” wherever and think much about it. Since water is not the commodity
for them, that it is for us, this must factor in to fewer toilets. You learn
very quickly to look for the “WC” signs, meaning bathroom. Some are in good
shape, some not. They do have toilet tissue, certainly not as soft as ours.
Each place we visited was unique unto itself. Rome was
amazing to me. It makes you realize just how true the saying “Rome was not
built in a day”, really is. The ruins of the Roman Empire are magnificent, to
think people could build such structures so many years ago without the tools
and equipment that we have today is unbelievable. And so much is still standing
today. Probably the most memorable architecture of our trip. You would have to
spend much time in Rome to see all there is to see.
Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa on postcards does not do
it justice. It is a massive structure that leans so much more than it appears
in pictures. There is nothing else to see in this area but is worth a trip to
The small villages high on the hillside called Cinque
Terre, overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea is a breathtaking sight.
This entire area is beautiful and is like turning back the pages of time. Not a
tourist trap and a must see for any European Trip.
Venice is a world unto itself again. To see how a
complete city operates on water is quite a learning experience. Not to mention
the beautiful canals as streets and beautiful architecture everywhere.
I’m glad I got to see Munich, but it is not a small quaint
German City. It is a very large metropolitan city. “Mike’s Bike Tour” is
definitely the way to see the city. Very enjoyable while getting some exercise.
We used Europe’s train system and found it to be very
easy, reliable and comfortable. An easy way from city to city and country to
We also rented a car for a different prospective on the
trip. I don’t think it was as easy as the train but we didn’t have to take our
backpack with us all the time. It could be left in the car as you continued to
If high speed is something that you love, then the
Autobahn, the European interstate, is for you. Most of the Autobahn has no
speed limit and the drivers do take advantage of this fact.
We chose to take the Romantic Road through a portion of
Germany. The idea was to take the back roads thru small villages. Parts of
this road did that. There were also parts that went thru large cities with a
lot of traffic. I’m not sure I would do this again.
The stop at Neuschuanstein Castle was very beautiful
because of its location in gorgeous mountains. Driving through the Alps in a
car was definitely worth seeing in a car instead of a train. The views are
breath taking at times. Another must see. The castle ruins was also another
nice side trip. A nice hike to get to the top, magnificent scenery and very
peaceful. Glide planes floating high in the clouds were a beautiful sight.
The old walled city of Rothenberg Germany is also taking a
step back in time. A few souvenir shops are the only thing that time has
changed in this old city.
The Rhine River area with the grape vines on the hillside
is very special to me. A beautiful are with nice memories. These small
villages and a boat ride on the Rhine River are what I think about when someone
says Germany to me.
Spending time in the Swiss Alps is worth a trip to
Europe. There are no words or pictures that could come close to the magnificent
beauty of these mountains. A tram ride to the top of the Schilthorn gives you a
spectacular view of the magnitude and splendor you are in. A definite must see.
France, the last stop of our trip. We spent one night in
Colmar. A very unique old city. Enjoyable but not a must see. An extra day in
the Alps if I had it to do all over again.
On to Paris for our final stay. The Eiffel Tower, The
Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame and Louvre are just a few of the sights awaiting you
in this city. But along with these wonderful must sees, is a very touristy
expensive city. Plan on spending a few more dollars. Be very selective in
choosing a hotel room. You may be quite surprised when you actually see what
you paid for.
The entire European trip was worth the time and money
spent. Everyone should at least make one trip.
Traveling in Europe will make you appreciate all of the
things we take for granted. The electricity, food and water that we waste
compared to the conservationists they are, is remarkable. They build things
that last for ever and continue to maintain and preserve them. We continue to
tear down and rebuild.
The term “another world” takes on new meaning as you
collect your thoughts. Take the time and the money to go and enjoy much of our
ancestry and history.