July 2015

Tips for travelling in Europe

I thought I would start this post with a disclaimer: These are my tips for people travelling in Europe based on my experience as an Australian.

I feel like this disclaimer is necessary because I have seen posts about tips for travelling in Australia and have found them hilarious - do other countries really not buy rounds when you're out having a drink? 

So - to any Europeans out there -there’s a chance I’ve gotten the details wrong in places, and I hope you find it as funny as I do when people write guides about Australia.

Smoking laws are different

I think the biggest one for me was that many restaurants still allow smoking indoors in certain areas - and smoking in public places such as train stations (and the Colosseum) is completely normal. It’s something to consider if you are sensitive to smoke or just don't like marinating in it over dinner. Of particular note is Greece - which doesn't seem (at least to me) to observe any rules regarding where you can and can't smoke.

Take the train

The European train system is incredibly good - we've almost exclusively used it on both our trips and love it. You can book ahead online - which I do recommend if you don't speak the language - and it is always very affordable.

Plus travelling via train through Europe is visually stunning  I'm pretty certain Mike and I spent the whole time doing heart eye emojis as we pressed our faces against the windows when we passed through Switzerland.

Dinner is much later

Normally around 7-8. This was one we struggled with, Mike and I are morning people so we would normally get up around 7, have breakfast and then head out for the day. So by 6 we were starving and would have to head out for dinner. I love participating the routines of a country and it made us feel a lot less like tourists when we pushed ourselves and waited until later to head out for dinner. It also gave us a very flimsy excuse to eat afternoon tea.

Food service is relaxed

Food forms a large part of the culture of Europe - it's something to be enjoyed; preferably with loved ones and with no rush. This is reflected in the food service, which is a lot slower than it is in Australia. This isn't bad service; it's just a different attitude to how long a meal should take. It can initially take a bit of getting used to but by the end I really enjoyed the slower pace - it feels more like how meals should be.

Enjoy the culture

European countries are so small (comparative to Australia) but so intensely different and that is all part of the fun! Drink Feldshlossen in Switzerland, eat all the gelato in Italy, ask for raki after dinner in Greece and for the love of god eat any bread you can get your hands on in France. Keep your eyes peeled for moments unique to the country you are in.

Walk everywhere

Some of my best ever memories are from our epic treks around various cities. Check out the cute little gardens that people have on their front steps in Amsterdam, wander down all the random alleyways in Venice, walk through the streets of Paris, pet all the cats in Rome (seriously do). These cities have had millennia to become as magical as they are today - and most of that magic is missed if you drive or take a train around the city.