I accumulated many things to think about on my trip to Europe. I feel I’ve learned more in three months than I could have in a whole year at home reading books. My favorite way to learn was by walking around cities, ancient sites, and hiking trails. It was a great way to see people and places. While hiking around, I learned things about the country, history, culture, and the earth by seeing it in an overview. If I wanted to dig deeper we could go to particular places I was interested in, or search it up on the web.
That brings me to the whole topic about Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi played an important role in our daily schedule. Now that Wi-Fi is so big all around the world, one of the most common questions restaurants get asked is “do you have Wi-Fi?”. We were one of those people that asked that question, and I have to tell you, even in very small towns and rural areas, the answer was usually yes. There were some places that told us no, but most of the time, there was Wi-Fi everywhere we went. We found it mostly in hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops. Almost every afternoon, we would go to a coffee shop that had Wi-Fi and use the internet for about two hours to work on my blog and play some games. I used the internet for math and Crash Course World History videos. We would usually get more than one drink :).
In Southeastern Europe, cash is the predominant form of payment. Credit and debit cards are just starting to be widely used in countries like Albania and Croatia. These countries were also war torn and are now getting funds from the EU to build roads and buildings. I know this because wherever money from the EU was used to sponsor a project, there is a plack saying that it was funded by the EU. We were OK with using cash, because we like to collect one of each coin from each country we go to. It also let me be able to purchase things because I am not old enough to have debit or credit cards. While Southeastern Europe is just getting started with card transactions, Western Europe is way more developed and credit and debit cards can be used everywhere and cash is becoming less common. It is still accepted, but people are using it less and less.
We were traveling in early spring and were almost only using public transit. We used mainly buses which were not always operating at full frequency, which made it more difficult to travel across a continent. Finding a route wasn’t too difficult, we used a couple helpful apps, one called Rome 2 Rio to find routes and explore our options for pricing and mode of transport. There were also some very nice people that called on our behalf to check schedules. There were sometimes delays due to construction on the roads. I think they were trying to get the roads ready for the coming summer. Once in Macedonia our bus had to drive off the road to get around a section that people were repairing. Even with the occasional traffic delays, public transit is more developed in Europe than in North America, although it still requires a little planning. If you are planning to leave the city and go to another city and you know when you’re going more then 24 hours in advance, it is better to book right then, because all over Europe, prices go up the closer to departure. On one occasion, we wanted to take a high-speed train from Paris to London, and three days before, it was about 50 USD. Then on the day when we were going to buy the tickets, the prices were all the way up to 300 USD. Instead of the train, we took a six hour bus and a ferry. We saw the white cliffs of Dover.
Some of the countries that we went to are very big tourist destinations. They need to clean up from winter and get ready to receive thousands of people. Since everyone was getting ready, some places were shut, even though there were still more than enough places that were open to fill up our time. It was also helpful to plan in advance so we didn’t end up going all the way to a place to find it closed. That happened once in Santorini where we went to an archeological museum and found it was closed. In Bitola and Tirana, the staff turned the lights on for us because we were the only people there and at Pelister National Park, we even got a private tour with a ranger of their exhibit on wildlife in the area.
My favorite part of the trip was the food. I really like food (who doesn’t), and most of the local foods I liked a lot. Most of the countries we went to love their bread, so, almost every morning we would go to a bakery so I could get a baked good. Usually, I would get a sweet pastry like a chocolate croissant to eat at the shop, and also a loaf of bread to last me the whole day. I like my bread light and fluffy with a light crust. I always hoped that the bread was going to be like that, but there was only one place that had exactly that. Other places made their bread with a darker crust. I found this bakery in Litochoro, a small town with streets that have no order to them and we got lost (even with a map). It is on Mount Olympus in Greece. I would say my favorite food from the whole trip came from Greece, because they use organic materials and have a wide variety of food that will fit everyone’s needs. The one food that I liked the most were Gyros, a sandwich like dish that had an assortment of different meats, vegetables and sauces in them (more description in my blog post on ‘Greek Food’ casibusmeis.com).
If you ask me what my favorite part of the trip was, it is hard to answer, but I can give you some of the top places on my radar. Argalasti, Greece; staying in London with old friends; and FOOD. If I could do this trip again, I would do it in a heartbeat because it’s nice to see how places change and to be able to see things I didn’t see the first time. Thank you for following my blog through out my trips around the world. My next trip will be to Canada to visit my cousins. I MIGHT post a blog on it, but don’t quote me on that, I will still post periodically, so stay tuned.