Europe Sept/Oct 2011

This is my report on our 20 day trip to Europe.

We have been to Europe several times before but usually with Trafalgar Tours. After having been to Venice, Florence and Rome, we felt we needed to return and spend more time in these cities. Seeing airfare is the biggest part of the expense we decided to add some other cities to our itinerary, hopefully cheaper cities. So we started by going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, followed by Venice, Florence and Rome.

This report is going to be so big that I have decided to break it into six parts each dealing with one of the cities.
Debbie has created a Shutterfly book which you can peruse. You don't need to sign in or join to see it just click on "View Photo Book". Here is the link - Deb's book

We decided to avoid some problems, and adding others, by using public transportation. We flew in then used Metros, trams, buses and occasionally taxis.

A large part of our trip was planned using Rick Steves recommendations. When I refer to RS it means Rick Steves. More comments on RS later.

We were taken to SFO by our friend Frances. We are so happy she did this for us. We owe her a big favor. Maybe I'll paint her living room or something.

Prague - Prague, Czech Republic is quite a beautiful city with a Castle and Cathedral on a hill. Other attractions were the Charles bridge, the Old Town Square and the millennium clock. We pretty much did it all.

Vienna - Of course a beautiful city. We did what we could but missed a couple things.

Budapest - We sort of errored on our timing and only spent two nights here. At least we arrived fairly early the first day and were able to cover most of what we wanted to see.

Venice - Still the most beautiful city. The canals are interesting. It's also expensive and crowded.

Florence - We stayed practically on the famous Ponte Vecchio. We visited many museums and climbed the Duomo.

Rome - Rome was too big and there was a Metro strike the last day so we didn't see all we wanted to see.

Fun stuff -
Manhole covers

Comments -

- A tabacchi is a tobacco shop which seems to have a critical role in Europe. They sell many small items including stamps. They also sell various tickets including transportation tickets. They tended to be very helpful.

- We bought a rather expensive Eurail pass. I suspect we didn't save anything and might have been better off just buying tickets. Especially since we usually stood in line to make or check our reservations anyway.

- Quite a lot of smoking in Eastern Europe. Many young girls walking down the sidewalk smoking. Apparently no smoking inside restaurants.

- The low flow toilets everywhere except Prague were a problem.

- Our Visa card charged 3% for a foreign transaction. Our Credit Union debit card charged 1%. Exchange rates were exactly when the transaction happened. We used ATM's exclusively for cash.

- Some hotels will give a discount for cash.

I hope you enjoyed my reports. They were written mostly for my use so I can recall our trip. We took about 3600 pictures so picking the best to put here has been an interesting job.