Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Best Accommodation 
 L: The Bed & Breakfast in Brussels. Although the owner was creepy and in desperate need of a belt, the room was spacious and clean. This room also had the best shower of the entire trip and breakfast was great.
J: I liked Brussels the best too. If only because the 500 stairs you had to climb to the room helped me burn off all the waffles and beer. (*On a side note, Jason had to make an additional notch on his belt during this trip to make it smaller. Who does this on vacation??)

Worst Accommodation
L: Oddly enough, the "Perfect Hotel" in Paris was my least favorite. The view was that of a lovely brick wall and the bathrooms were disgusting. Cheap though!
J: Perfect Hotel. I'd rather not talk about it.

Best View
L: I loved the view in Corniglia, Italy. Just past the lemon trees under our window you could see the town perched right at the edge of the ocean.
J: Gryon.

Favorite Gelato Flavor
L: White chocolate hazelnut
J: Chocolato

Favorite Beer
L: The cherry Kreik beer in Belgium
J: The Gueze at Cantilon Brewery

Would Never Return

L: Paris. I would go back to France but never to Paris. I think the Eiffel Tower is something you just need to see once.
J: Brussels. It's like the Edmonton of Western Europe with more waffles.

Would Like to Return

L: To Switzerland, Belgium and Italy... and Amsterdam.
J: More time in the Netherlands and maybe Belgium during the bike racing season.

Favorite Museum 
L: The Louvre. The best part was a tie between Napoleons apartment and the Mona Lisa.
J: The British museum was pretty amazing. I could have spent a weekend or two perusing its nooks and crannies.

Easiest city to get around in

L: London. Jason caught on to the underground system really quickly.
J: If I was on a bike, Amsterdam. Without a bike, London for sure. The underground and the train lines are enviable.

Favorite Street Food
L: The crepe that I posted a picture of in Paris was the best crepe I've ever had. We had 2 more later on in the trip but that Paris one blew them out of the water. It was almost paper thin.
J: Waffles

Packed, but didn't need

L: I think the only thing I packed and did not use was a rain-cover for my backpack. This was only because we didn't see any heavy rain. I would still bring it next time though.
J: I used everything in my bag at least once.. even the rain cover.

Wish I'd packed

L: Jeans. I think I would have looked less like a tourist with jeans. Everything I read said not to bring jeans because they're so heavy when they get wet but I think I'd still bring some next time.
J: Jeans. I wouldn't have felt like such a loser in all the swanky cities we visited. However I don't have any fashionably ripped, super tight or $300 jeans so whatever.


  1. Welcome home! That's too bad about Paris. I think it's one of those places people expect a lot out of, so it's too bad it didn't live up to it for you.

    That B&B in Brussels looks lovely, but that view from your room in Italy... so beautiful and picturesque.

  2. Hi Laurel & Jason,
    Here are a few more bests & worsts.
    Best travel tip you received & best tip you would pass on.
    Money well spent & money wasted.
    Favorite moment & worst moment (maybe you can't say here!)
    Glad you are back safe and sound.
    Jean, Russ & Nic

  3. It was indeed instructive to say what you wouldn't take, but let us know what you DID take. (just for those who might want the info...

    Love, Mom (J)

  4. Marianne - I think the thing with Paris is that people do expect too much! Thanks to romantic comedies I was literally expecting to see fireworks and fairy dust exploding out of the Eiffel tower to the sounds of angels singing. When I got there and just saw a large metal structure I was kind of disappointed. The hundreds of tiny bakeries and street crepes saved Paris for me though :)

  5. The Goods,

    We answered your questions separately as to not sway one another!

    Best travel tip you received
    L: The best one might have been from my friend Melissa. Before the trip I was telling her how I kept buying things for the trip. She told me just to bring shirts that were almost rags so that I could buy new stuff in Europe and leave my rags behind!
    J: Withdrawing money from bank machines was by far the best way to get local currency (tip from family friends Bill & Karen)

    Best tip you would pass on.
    L: One thing I did before we left was look up every one of our hostels in relation to the train station and right down walking directions. This prevented us from having to ask around or search for a map the moment we got off the train. I was quite proud of myself for this.
    J: Read up on the local scams and hot spots on wikitravel.org because it's the most up to date resource and freely available.

    Money well spent
    L: 120 euros covered our trip from London to Amsterdam on a Stena Line ferry. This included a train from London to the dock, 8 hours on an overnight ferry, another train from the dock in the Netherlands to Rotterdam and one more train still from Rotterdam to Amsterdam! Not only did we avoid a plane (always a good thing), our accommodations were part of the transportation. Nice accommodations too... private bathroom which was always a treat. We were pretty proud of ourselves for figuring that one out.
    J: The London transportation oyster card was a great way to use the public transportation without paying maximum fares. You pay a capped rate after so many rides per day and it's easy to swipe the card in and out of the underground, buses and ferry's. Also the trip on the Stena Line boat was awesome because we got a new experience, lodging (which was really nice) and the first clean bathroom in days.

    Money wasted
    L: In Versailles you can purchase a pass that lets you into the palace and the gardens for 15 euros. Turns out the gardens were free on their own and we spent about 15 minutes in the palace and 7 hours in the gardens! Could have saved those 30 euros for sure.
    J: Pre-booking the trains wasted some money because you could generally book trains on the platforms for maybe 5 or 10 euro less than we prepaid. The only thing paying extra got us was piece of mind knowing we had a seat.

    Favorite moment
    L: Picnicking with swans in Versailles. The weather was perfect and it was the first relaxing day of the entire trip.
    J: Strolling through Versailles and then eating 3 baguettes and a huge babybel.

    Worst moment:
    L: There was one time in London where we did get lost. It was dark and late and crowded. Basically it was a total "Amazing Race" breakdown moment. Thank god no one was filming that one. After that I was paranoid about getting lost and made a mental note of every metro station that we passed.
    J: Trying to re-book a flight with 4 days notice from Rome to London.

  6. We packed extremely light I think. Depending on what I was wearing my bag weighed between 15 and 20lbs. We had 2 pairs of pants each, 2 shirts, a hoody and a gortex shell. We each brought a bathing suit, flip-flops (for the showers) and 1 pair of really good hiking shoes. Our towels were the small microfiber style ones that dry really fast and we each had a sleeping bag liner. We had umbrellas and rain-covers for our bags, underwear and socks, small first aid kit and a kit I assembled with some medication. I could have fit much more in my bag but am glad I didn't. It was all part of the adventure and I will forever pack light because it's not that hard.