March 10, 2004


David Moore's Notes...

Background... David Moore spent the summer in Italy as a part obtaining his Master Degree from Clemson University.  While there he tried to see as much of Europe as he could.  David and friends traveled to a new destination every weekend.  When asked what to do, this was his response...

Rome: There is a great bus tour. You can buy tickets at the train station. It will show you all of the major sights. There are a TON of gypsies so, watch yourself. Rome is really cool. Everything that you've seen on TV and in books is there. Pay special attention to the Vatican's schedule and dress code. I saw lots of people they wouldn't let in for being too late or not wearing enough clothes. St. Peter's Basilica is awesome. They even have the remains of THE St. Peter below the altar. Lots to do in Rome.

Cinque Terra: I can't say enough about it. It's awesome. There are five cities and each one is really beautiful. There is a hiking trail between the five cities that overlooks olive groves, cliffs, and farmhouses. It's worth the effort. Not many "sights" just really beautiful and a neat place to be. Monterosso is the town we stayed in for beaches and stuff. Vernazza is the town we found rooms in and ate in each night.

Venice: I love Venice. It's confusing with all of the alleys and what-not. What I found amazing was the fact that there really are NO roads. It's all canals. Check out the Piazza San Marco. You've seen it in a ton of commercials, movies, and such. Go through the Cathedral, but don't eat at one of the restaurants on the square. They are great, but very expensive. Looking at the cathedral from the front, the water is off to the right. There is a market that runs along the waterfront. It's neat. Basically, don't be afraid to walk around, take a vaporetto (water taxi), check it out. It's easy to get turned around, but just as easy to find your way out. By the way, take a trip out to Murano and Burano, the islands just off Venice. It's a great trip.

Munich: If you only take one piece of my advice, take "Mike's Bike Tour." You'll find info about it everywhere. It'll show you so much and you'll have a great time. Also, take a trip from Munich to Fussen (just a half day trip is all that is needed). It's where Mad King Ludwig's castle (the inspiration for Walt Disney's Disney World castle) and a beautiful little town. If you need somewhere to stay in Munich, I highly recommend the "Hotel Modern." It's down the first street to the right from the train station and is quite nice. It's near everything. You should also schedule time to see the Glockenspiel. It's something. They'll tell you about it on the Bike Tour. If I didn't make myself clear TAKE MIKE'S BIKE TOUR.

The Rest of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland: I'm afraid that my experience with the places that you mentioned is limited at best. I've had friends who went to Interlaken and really enjoyed it. They did something called Canyoning and did a little white-water rafting as well. They had a great time.

Paris: Tracy has been to Paris. I've not. Although, she just had a little more than one day there and said that she saw a lot. So, it is doable if you only have a small amount of time.

Now, so far as money goes, the more museums, cathedrals, etc. that you go into, the more expensive it will be. As you leave a country, spend everything you have in that country's currency. So, you need to get out only as much as you will need. However, try to get all the money you need in one transaction. That way, you will cut down on exchange fees. Your ATM card will work just about everywhere. You'll have to pay the normal ATM fees, but it will automatically give you the exchange rate for that day. If you go to "Exchange, Cambio, Weischel" (that is what they are called and you'll see them everywhere) you will get the last exchange rate that they have. That can work for you or against you.

Don't carry your wallet in your back pocket unless it has a button on it. Be cautious, but not overly so. The bag deposits at train stations are a great place to drop your bags if you have an hour or two to tour around a town. The train stations are the center of everything tourist (usually) and you can get hotel rooms (there is a tourist hotel office at most large stations and there are also "Hotel Pimps" that hawk individual hotels at most), you can find out about tours, see what is going on, etc. Starting in Rome you'll get a good idea of what can be (but not necessarily at all stations) found in a station. Get a good phrase book with multiple languages. Usually you will find someone who speaks English, but not always.

I should tell you this. I saw many people fall into this trap and they looked like ignorant Americans, yelling about this and that. Don't expect everything to be run like it is here in the states. In Europe (especially in Italy) officials are extremely laid back. They are not so interested in customer service. Everything will get done, it may just take a little longer. By the way, you don't need to tip in most cases. It is already added in. In Italy, they'll add a "Coperto" or seating fee. They are not concerned with turning tables so, it can be very relaxing. This was the case most everywhere that I went.