Random Things from Europe

* Just like every restaurant in the US is likely to have chicken fingers and hamburgers and/or hot dogs somewhere on the menu, every restaurant in Europe will probably include chicken curry on the menu.
* UK taxi drivers have to pass a series of examinations providing they know every street in their area.  It is called, awesomely, The Knowledge.  Tests take a minimum of six years to complete, and they can’t earn money as taxi drivers while they’re taking the tests.
* It is true that Europeans don’t seem to wear shorts unless they’re at the beach or in a beachy environment.  It is also refreshingly true that they wear swimsuits that are revealing no matter their age or body type.  Women of all sizes wear bikinis. Men of all sizes wear little swim shorts and speedo-style suits.
* Drawing a dick and balls on things is done in all countries.  It’s like the universal symbol of, “I had a marker and nothing better to draw.”
* Switzerland is damn expensive.  I’m speculating that because their government is artificially keeping the exchange rate constant that it is causing inflation, but that’s just me speaking pidgin economics.  I actually had to go to the ATM twice at the post office (fees, ouch!) because I underestimated the cost of postage by a fair amount.
* In Italy, there’s a whole channel just for 1-900 number ads, and the ads show so much that (per DH) there’s really no reason to call.
* DH wanted to change as little money as possible, because we were dealing in so many currencies over the course of the trip.  One thing we learned that is worth sharing is that, for a trip like ours, even though the Euro isn’t the currency everywhere, most places will at least take the Euro, so having a bunch of that is probably a good thing.  However, you don’t get change in Euros, so try to break your bills as much as you can.  A surprising number of things did take credit cards, like all the transportation kiosks, all sit-down restaurants, all chain stores took them even for small amounts…but any independently owned shop (like ones that sell postcards) woulddn’t take credit for purchases less than about 15-20 Euros.  Also, the left luggage counters did not take credit cards, so if you’re planning to use those, have some Euro handy.  (DH had a horrible time trying to find some way to get Euros just as we left the cruise ship so that we could use the nearby left luggage.  For 4-6 euros per bag, you could drop bags off at the cruise port and pick them up at the train station or at the port.  Or, once you get to Piazza Roma, you could leave bags there (which is where the airport buses come and go from) for 5 euro each.  There was a huge line for left luggage at Piazza Roma, though, from all the cruise ship passengers.  Picking up was no problem, but the drop-off took quite a while.
* As on our Alaska cruise, we had good luck in meeting a fun couple playing trivia.  On our second day of progressive trivia (the first being the event detailed in The Drunk Leading The Blind), our original team didn’t show, but a couple from Winnipeg joined us, Chris and Lori.  They turned out to be very fun to hang out with, and they travel probably as much as we do (except for work-related trips that we do).  They also tend to eschew excursions and just wander on their own instead.  We had fun swapping travel tales.  In particular, they told us about an experience they had in Athens where a taxi driver was trying to convince them to go with them.  They were saying that they were just walking to their destination, and the taxi driver leaned in really close to them and said in a thick accent, “You THINK you know where you are going, but YOU DON’T KNOW.”  We had many a laugh over that, and it became one of our catchphrases for the trip.  I mean, after all, was that really supposed to convince you to take his cab? 🙂
* My wedding band broke while I was in the pool swimming at one point.  Specifically, one of the silver mini-rings that goes around the middle (hard to explain if you’re not familiar with our wedding bands) broke and came off of the band.  So, I ended up not wearing my wedding band for most of the trip.  Result:  sunburned ring stripe that is now peely and itchy!

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