Saturday, June 22, 2013

Upside, downside

Every adventure has its upsides and downsides here are a few
A major plus was our travel partners Joan and John. John did almost all of the driving and was a great tour guide. As the person with the most travel experience he knew where to go and what to see. Joan did most of the navigating with a map and three GPS that didn't always agree. She always kept a positive spin on situations even when the Tour bus is coming at us on a very narrow walled road/lane in Ireland and it looks like there is absolutely no room for us to pass.
Joan also kept track of expenses so we could split the costs. This was extremely helpful when our major credit card was compromised and cancelled. I suggest to anyone traveling in a foreign country to have at least two credit cards per person. Another tip is to investigate credit card coverage for rental cars which can save a lot of money as we found out in Ireland.
A downside is we rediscovered that Europeans of all ages smoke much more than in the U.S. As a consequence it is difficult to escape second hand smoke. I was continually surprised by people who I would guess as being non smokers and then would light up.
Europeans have improved their bathrooms and showers but they still have a ways to go. It wasn't a cleanliness issue more like a space, water pressure or water control problem. I never did figure out the shower controls even after three nights in Sarlat. On another note all the hotel rooms were bigger than I expected.
My vote for the best food was Ireland outside of Dublin and at the best prices. Most expensive food was in Switzerland including prices in Lucerne. We did find a good restaurant in Lauterbrunnen at a campground close to our condo. I wouldn't think of going to a campground for dinner but this place was good, maybe the best in town. A few of our better and least expensive meals were prepared in the condo by Joan and Gail after a stop at the local, sometimes small, grocery store.
My favorite stop on our tour was Switzerland. We had a nice condo with a beautiful view of a Yosemite like valley and at least four waterfalls, and where we watched the farmer move his sheep every evening. The car was parked when we arrived and we walked or took trains for the entire five days. Which brings up another point we did a lot of walking almost everywhere we went. I would have liked to rented some bikes but the opportunity didn't really present itself.
The travel time back to California we figure at about 24-25 hours. That is from doorstep to doorstep and includes the taxi ride to the airport, waiting time. layover time and the final ride home. Actual flight time was close to fourteen hours. The final two hours felt like ten. We flew from Paris, a very confusing airport, to Charlotte and then to SFO.
All in all a very nice trip but it is always good to be home and in an English speaking country.

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