The term “jetsetter” makes me laugh, particularly said about me…but a couple of weeks ago, I guess it was true. I traveled to Europe (my first time!) for work, and was absolutely a “stranger in a strange land.” Still, it was a blast, and very productive as well.
I learned a lot in one short week, and was completely fascinated more than once. My observations, in no particular order:
- Count on the kindness of strangers. There are always people who want to help, in all languages.
- Jet lag is no joke. Plan an extra day of “not much” on the front end of your trip if you possibly can.
- Plug adapters – there really is a different type of plug/outlet in every country. Do not be surprised.
- I learned that my hair can go from zero to afro in about 6 minutes in the right weather conditions. Who knew?
- Highway driving in western Europe is PERFECTION. The Euros do not play: left lane is for passing only, not sitting and gabbing on the phone with cruise control set at the speed limit. (Considering the fact that our driver was going upward of 160kph the whole time – roughly 100 mph – this is not only logical but necessary. BTW, the photo above was taken from the back of a car on the EINBAHN between Bratislava and Vienna.)
- Be open. “Normal” takes many forms, including an Irish pub in the middle of a Slovokian nation, with BeeGees blaring alongside German sports TV.
- There are many opportunities to be seen as a stupid American. Do your research, and keep your observations private. (Or, to the Texan in the British elevator – SHHH.)
- Exchange rates: research, plan and budget accordingly. It adds up quickly!
- You never know what a relief it is to return to an English-speaking country until you’ve been outside of one for 5 days.
- “Old” and “new” are relative. The USA is absolutely, definitely new – even the old parts.
- If you get a chance to see the view from a castle, go. (See what I mean?)
We visited Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovokia – about 3 hours by train from Prague, for reference), and passed through London on our travels. So many people from so many walks of life crossed our path, and it was a privilege to meet and talk to each of them. After seeing and learning so much, I feel so lucky to be an American. (As my friend Teresa said, “it’s good to be a super power.”) Coming home is the best feeling, isn’t it?
Even so…I can’t wait for our next trip!