Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saying good bye to 2010 with a few world travel tips

We returned home tired and relieved to have had some 'luck o' the Irish' in getting out of Dublin (the airport closed at 10pm the night before our 9am flight and opened at 4am the following morning. Our flight left without incident at 9am,luckily just before the airport again closed at 12pm for the day). I have been remiss in catching up since our return due to life and of course the holidays.

First, I feel I must address the loss of my loyal travel companion H.D. (Hair Dryer) Blowerson. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy from my dear readers. You all will all be happy to know a new hair care professional has joined our team This blowdryer promises to add volume to my hair and improve luster,oo la la.

Secondly, I wanted to update you on my packing successes (and one failure). As I reported my 12 day wardrobe consisted of: (6) sweaters, (6) pairs of jeans (3) cuddle duds, (2) long sleeve t-shirts, (2) pairs of walking shoes, (1) pair walking boots,(1) pair dress boots (1) full length down coat, (1) microfibre vest. (1) nylon trench coat and my wool coat. I wore everything except the nylon trench. My plan to wear every piece at least twice and update the look with accessories worked like a charm. Since I am used to independent travel, I did not factor in how many 'nice dinners' and events we would be attending. I would have traded my trench for an extra pair of heels and my (2) long sleeve ts for what only the ladies will understand 'a cute top'. My plan to leave room for purchases by throwing away my old pjs and an unplanned toss out - my walking boots sprung a leak leaving me with very wet feet as I slogged back to the hotel in the Dublin white out-left me plenty of weight to pack my Irish treasures.

Now for a few 'you'll only know this if you go'

Italy: Restaurants:'Ristorante, trattoria, osteria and enoteca' they all mean restaraunt. 'Ristorante' is the fanciest and most expensive. Trattoria and osteria are usually family owned and run. Enotecas are wine shops that serve food. Don't ask for butter or catchup or anything like that- Italians are very proud of their dishes and will consider it an insult. Italians dine late and stay long. You will never have a problem getting a table at 7pm. Unlike American restaurants, you will never be rushed, you will need to ask for the bill. Hotels: Most Italian hotels have showers not tubs. You may boil or freeze if you don't ask for assistance with the heating and cooling units in each room, also, corridors and elevators are never cooled or heated. Keep in mind, many hotels are remodeled ancient buildings. Elevators are small and it is considered rude to not return the lift to the lobby if it is not automatic.

Greece and Turkey:It is rude to flush your toliet paper. Please dispose of it in the provided basket - this is true in all public places as well as hotel rooms.

Vienna:It is perfectly acceptable to go into a coffeehouse and sit there for hours with only purchasing one cup of coffee.

British Isles and Ireland: Most hotel rooms will have that most wonderful of modern amenities the heated towel bar and the trouser press - enjoy!

Europe overall: Tipping: It is customary in the US to tip 20%, in Europe that would be insulting. Waiters, taxi drivers, conceirage, bell caps are all paid a living wage, tipping is not expected but appreciated. Bell caps about 1 euro per bag, conceirage it is not necessary to tip each time, but a euro or two would work, bar tenders one or two euros for the evening, not per drink, round up to the next euro for taxi driver and approximately 10% for your waiter. Language: Here's the reality, if you need to speak to someone in English, look for a someone under the age of 40 - English is required in most European schools. Young women in their 20s or 30s are almost 100%. But, keep this in mind, if you want to see a country that doesn't speak your language, don't expect them too. Take some time and at least learn enough of the local language to be polite. Thank you, please, good morning, good evening all go a very long way in making new friends.

Finally - as promised I have included my favorite Irish photos. Slainte!