Now that I'm back in the United States, I've had a chance to think about the places I've visited over the last two months. It has been quite an adventure. I spent the first 10 days moving around England and much of France with my friend Roger Sims. I cannot express enough, my thanks to Roger and Helen for the kind hospitality. Their sons, Nickolas and Robert and delightful young men, and it was a pleasure getting to know them better.
Once I was on my own, I made my way from place to place by rail. For those of you who plan any travel throughout Europe, I can highly recommend the Eurail pass. I was able to go to many of the European Union countries without any problems, never having to show my passport and only having to pay a small additional "fee" occasionally. Otherwise, all train travel was covered, which by the way included some of the underground (subway) systems in many of the cities. In every case, the people in the train stations, information bureaus and tourist bureaus were kind, courteous and helpful. If there was a "language problem", there was always someone who helped. I did my best at learning some of their language and the "locals" were always grateful and humorous.
In many ways, when something did go wrong, it was part of the adventure. For example, on my way to Pompeii, I missed the stop and went too far. The next stop was Solarno, a beautiful Italian city on the Mediterranean Sea. I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours there waiting for the next train back to Pompeii.
Importantly, one must not take themselves too seriously. Many times I laughed at myself for some reason or another. The second time I broke my camera, for example, it cost me a couple of $, but it was fun to seek out a store, find the camera department and explain what I wanted.
Many of the countries I visited were battlegrounds just a few years ago. Now their communities are thriving and prosperous. Many people are multi-lingual, educated and well traveled . Generally, the average workweek is 35 hours and most Europeans get 25 days or more vacation per year. Most of the countries I visited have universal health care systems, and while there are always "pros and cons" about subjects such as these, it seems better to have a health safety-net than nothing at all.
In my opinion, the most beautiful cities were Paris, Budapest, Vienna and Krakow. The most interesting was Rome. The most delightful was Amsterdam. The most friendly people were the English, French and Dutch. The cities I would visit again -- ALL of them. I can't think of one city that disappointed me.
Here's a list of the countries and cities I visited.
Stratford upon Avon
I've enjoyed keeping this blog. It's a reminder of my experiences along the way -- an experience I will not soon forget. So, until the next adventure -- Ciao... Dennis