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Essential Europe

March 25, 2005

All that's been going through my head the last few weeks is Europe, Europe, Europe! I can't believe that this trip is actually happening! 59 days and counting! Holy crap!

(You know what I just realized? My calendar, a totally fly Bettie Page calendar by Ozone Productions, LTD. totally has the wrong holiday dates! In other words, the reason Easter crept up on me so fast is because my calendar says Easter is April 10th! No wonder I've been so darn confused...)

Anyway, if you are going to go to Europe anytime in the future, I am going to save you some hassle by presenting you with Moira Does Europe: The Ultimate First Time Guide. I'll try to update with problems / hassles that I'm facing in the process as well as links to sites that helped solve my problems:

First of all, I bought an infinitely helpful book entitled, aptly enough, "First Time Europe: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go" published by Rough Guides. It offers help figuring out a budget, itinerary, and accomodations. It breaks down the different types of rail passes available and includes all sorts of useful information in the appendices. This book was so useful that I didn't even balk at the $14.95 pricetag, and I'm a girl who lives on discount books and thrift store finds.

Links that will aid your European travel experience:

Hostelling International

$26 gets you a year-long membership, including discount coupons good for Buy One, Get One free. There is also a Free Nites program that earns you points every night you stay in a participating hostel. Membership includes a directory of all of the hostels in the U.S. plus access to the website which provides international information. Since the card gets you priority access to the hostels as well as a discount, I think it will pay for itself pretty quickly.

International Student Identity Card

Another good card to have is the ISIC, which costs $22 at STA Travel in Oakland, Pittsburgh. Add an extra $3 to get your picture taken, and you have both an extra photo i.d. which could come in handy any time but also access to all sorts of great deals. Word on the street is that ISIC gets you discounts on everything over in Europe, you just have to ask.


British USA

You'll need a passport. If you are a subject of the United Kingdom, this site is the only place in the US to get your passport, save walking in to the office in D.C. If you are a U.S. citizen, this site will tell you everything you need to know.

AAA

Oh, ye great gods of Automotive Towing, ye! Who knew exactly how useful Triple A was going to turn out to be? Not me!

After researching ticket prices online, my travelling partner and I dashed over to Triple A, hoping to quiz a travel agent and get a price comparison. An hour later, we had just purchased two round-trip tickets to London for $300 cheaper than the ones we'd found online including travel insurance and trip protection. Sweet!

We've been back to see our dear travel agent, (a most highly recommended Linda Rich in Greensburg) who answers our questions and laughs at our jokes, four times. We like Linda. A lot. We'll be paying her a visit next week to purchase our rail passes.

Eurail Passes

This is the official site with all the information you need. Read the fine print and check out the prices - if you plan far enough in advance, you can get a decent deal on travel by planning to use only certain days and getting a smaller pass. If you are under 26, you get a significant savings as well.

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I hope this links will get you started on living your dream. I'm off to continue working on making mine happen. Oh la la!

Moira at 12:15 PM :: Comments (4) :: ::
Comments:

You'll have to tell me all about your experiences. Which countries will you be visiting?

Posted by: Evan at March 25, 2005 11:00 PM

Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain, Scotland (I hope!), and maybe Denmark.

We'll be spending the first two weeks or so with my aunt in Cambridge. Tentatively we'll be flying from London into Seville on June 8th or so, working our way up the eastern coast of Spain for a week and a half, three or four days in France - we are thinking of a day trip to Monaco and two or three nights in Paris, a week or so in Germany, if we go to Denmark, we'll be spending a week there for the Roskilde festival (huge rock concert.. should be awesome... we're trying to get a volunteer job there for the weeklong fest), a week in the Netherlands with a day trip to Brussels, Belgium.

Then we'll cross the channel via hovercraft from Calais, France to Dover, England then spent the remaining 3 weeks or so with my relatives on the other side of the family in Birmingham (smack dab in the middle of England). I'm hoping to take a trip to Scotland at some point during the 5 weeks we'll be in England. Whew! I'm tired already...

Posted by: moira at March 26, 2005 11:24 AM

My very best friend Marian just got back from her first visit to Paris. A week in the great city... I wish I could've gone with her, but I was building houses in Connecticut! Haha, anyway, Moira... You'll have to collect some sugarpackets for me when you get around in Europe--get 'em everywhere you can!!! Write where you get it on the packet itself, and I'll be thrilled :-)

Do you know any other languages? If you want a crash course in French, I can help you out! Just ask.

Posted by: Karissa at March 27, 2005 09:25 PM

I've been teaching myself some German here and there, and a little bit of Swedish (which is a moot point since we aren't going to Sweden). I speak schoolgrrl Spanish and I'm going to try to learn a little Dutch. All I can say in French so far is "hello", "where are my pants?", "here are my pants" and a few choice swear words. (Thanks Evan!)

I would LOVE a crash course in French! (Evan's been teaching me some phrases here and there.) I would like to know how to say important stuff like "thank you," "where is the restroom?" and ... "How much is that bottle of wine?" etc. :c)

Posted by: moira at March 28, 2005 09:41 AM
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