Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Europe: A love story (and summary)

Now that I've filled you in on all the details of our Italian and Spanish vacation (in just under a month after returning home...ek!) it's time for a quick summary. If you've missed any of the posts you can read all about them -- Rome, Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Madrid -- but consider this a best of/worst of/what we learned.

Hotels

Food
  • Best meal in Italy -- giant antipasti platter at La Bottega del Caffe, Rome
  • Best meal in Spain -- tapas at Lonja de Tapas, Barcelona
  • Best meal value -- mini bocadillos and mugs of tinto de verano at Cerveceria 100 Montaditos, Madrid
Sightseeing
  • Best museum -- Museo Picasso, Barcelona
  • Most amazingly historic -- Colosseum, Rome
  • Most relaxing -- Park Guell, Barcelona
  • Best view -- atop the stairs at Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
  • Best clash of cultures -- La Mezquita, Cordoba
  • Most unusual -- La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • Most claustrophobic -- walking up St. Peter's dome, Rome
  • Most crowded -- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
  • Only sightseeing you need to plan in advance -- La Alhambra, Granada
  • Best way to see all cities except for Venice -- follow a Lonely Planet self-guided walking tour
  • Best way to see Venice -- vaporetto Number 1 from Piazzale Roma to Ledo
  • Worst audio guide -- Palazzo Ducale, Venice
  • Best sightseeing discovery -- WalkiTalki iPod apps audio guides

Cities round up
  • Best city in Italy -- Florence
  • Best city in Spain -- Sevilla
  • Best big city -- Barcelona
  • Most overwhelming city -- Rome (I'm so glad we started our trip here when we had the most energy)
  • Most touristy city -- Venice
  • Spain vs. Italy? -- Spain beats Italy, in my heart
  • Favorite city of the entire trip....SEVILLA!

And now, just for fun, because this was only my second trip to Europe in my lifetime, I kept track of what I love about Europe and what I don't love about Europe/what I love about America. I'm really into comparing cultures and keeping lists, so this was a fun activity.

Things I'll miss about Europe
  • Cheap, good alcohol
  • Food in reasonable portions
  • Siestas
  • Extensive public transit
  • Plazas
  • Small cars
  • Creative street performers
  • How it stays light for so long in the summer (it would be 9:30 and still light!)
  • Fanta Limon (why don't we have this in America? Check out this Wikipedia page dedicated to the international availability of Fanta products)
 Things I won't miss about Europe
  • Paying for water
  • No ice
  • No free refills
  • Sub-par customer service
  • Unclear tipping practices -- to tip or not to tip was always the question; we tried to leave small tips everywhere even though tips seem less customary in most places we visited
  • Places that don't accept credit cards
  • Smoking
  • Unmarked streets
  • Scary traffic -- at cross walks, particularly in Italy, drivers look like they're about to run you over
  • Less emphasis on small social graces -- people don't hold doors, bump into you in the street without batting an eye
I'm not moving to Europe any time soon, but I thoroughly enjoyed my three weeks in these two fabulous countries. And maybe some time down the road I'll get to check off my next European destination -- Greece!

Next up...how did I pack only carry-on luggage? I'll share my packing plan and my packing retrospective -- what I did well, and what I'd change next time.

1 comment:

  1. We have just moved to Italy from the U.S. We are in Maniago, in northern Italy at the base of the Dolomites. I have to admit, I had hoped (and expected) that it would be much like Seville, Spain, which I visited for work a few years back. I so fell in love with that city and it is still the favorite place I have visited...and I have been lucky enough to travel a lot for my job. I am glad to see that you enjoyed it as well. It is certainly a beautiful place that I would recommend to anyone.

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