stuff the tour guide hasn’t taught me

1. Even a family of six can backpack Europe. The less you bring, the happier you are. But it will take you longer to decide what to put in the backpack.

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2. It can take days to sleep through the night when adjusting to a new time zone. Last night was the night. Yayyyyyy!

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3. Europeans must have skinny genes…you, dear North American, were not meant to eat cornettos (chocolate croissants) for breakfast, pizza for lunch, Chianti for dinner and gelato for snack every day…you lost that ability when the ancestors crossed the Atlantic.

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4. Dishonest beggars are everywhere. I’m most suspicious about those sweet old ladies… The fellow hanging back with his sign, Give me some junk so I can get drunk, almost got me to open my wallet. I liked his honesty.

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5. Buy fruit, no matter how overpriced. It’s not a romantic notion about travelling, but it’ll be one that sets the tone to enjoying it all: fruit keeps you regular.

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6. Kids really can do guided tours…just make sure they’re set up with the same equipment you are.

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7. You will take pictures of stuff everyone else is taking pictures of, even if you don’t know what you’re photographing. Prepare with enough camera storage.

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8. When in Rome, do what the Romans do…buy one, just one, bottle of water; drink it till its dry and fill up at watering stations around the city. Free, clean water. Oh, and don’t eat at eateries close to a major attraction…expensive and unless it’s Disney, the food isn’t as good. Eat where the locals eat.

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9. Simple entertainment needs to be balanced with adult interests: gelato is 2 Euros, while Colosseum guided tours are 60. Carousel rides are 2 Euros, fancy dinners are much more than 60. You might not do as much, but you’ll all be much happier.

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10. Cheap entertainment, really, really cheap entertainment is found in piazzas, squares, anywhere it’s warm and open. Those musical folks sitting with their guitars or lyres or bongo drums can become a half hour Euro of entertainment. Dance, I say, dance. When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore…

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You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching

Love like you’ll never be hurt ,

Sing like there’s nobody listening,

And live like it’s heaven on earth.

William W. Purkey