Let your bank know you'll be using your card overseas before you go
Just got back from 6 weeks in Europe. It was soooo good
where are you going exactly?
- as far as a money belt goes, I didnt bother so much. Definitely get a sling satchel that goes over your body though. One that sits on your waist/hip so its natural to put your hand over the top of it.
- if you are a bit concerned, or going somewhere extra seedy (like Sacre Couer) put a safety pin over the zip ... is a little painful to undo every time, but stops anyone else undoing it.
- phone - it will cost you to have your phone on ... so I would make sure your phone is unlocked, and just buy a prepaid sim in whatever country you are in. France was a bit more expensive, Italy really cheap.
- pack light. remember you will buy heaps over there, so remember to leave room for it.
- lunch in supermarkets is great ... but overall I found food wasnt as expensive as I thought it might be.
- fodors and trip advisor are excellent !!!
- some sights I pre-bought tickets, and others didnt have much of a line so was good. As its the low season now, you should be right for most places.
have fun !!!!
Ooooh 4 star, la di da! So excited for you
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I'm from England, so done quite a bit of travelling in all the places you mention (easier when it's on your doorstep)!
I normally just drew out money in every country, like you've said you're doing.
In Amsterdam they do great wine and cheese cruises on the barges at night. Definitely worth doing if you get a chance.
So much to do in Paris... all the big ones like Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, etc. Montmartre (near Sacre Coeur) is lovely to wander around as they have an old fashioned carousel there, a Haagen Dazs cafe (very important ) and lots of street caricature artists and people hawking hand made stuff.
If you have the chance you can go to the big gothic cemetery at Montmartre and go down into the crypts. Very interesting, if a little gruesome!
Make sure you go to the Eiffel Tower at night, as it now sparkles and glitters with the lights! (Used to just be lit up, but now it's extra cool...)
Brussels - it's lovely to dine out in the Grand Place - a big square that lights up in gold at night. The Mannekin Pis is worth seeing (the statue of the little boy peeing), but it's way smaller than you'd think. Took us ages to find and then we were a bit 'oh' - but it's one of those things you 'have' to see if you go!
Erm... any other questions you might have? You can buy pretty much anything you need at any of those places. Have fun
Turn data roaming off on your phone!!! Only use wifi, not your own data plan. A weekend in NZ cost my friend $1000!! Make sure you switch it off, as something's use the net without you knowing.
I found my phone okay to use overseas, just not for Internet. But it is best knowing in advance how much it's costing so you can go sick on bragging to your friends, or just texts to tell your family you're okay.
Girl X - we're actually staying in Montmartre, right around the corner from Sacre Coeur, and I LOVE cemeteries so I will definitely check it out!!
I hope it's not too cold or cloudy in Paris so we get a good view of the Eiffel Tower.
Thank you for the tips for Brussels - I've been kinda stuck on things to do there, haven't found much on lonely planet etc - was just told by some friends that I HAD to go there so I am! Any other things to do there? Good shopping spots?
Katiesmum - thank you, I will put a pin on my bag, especially as I'm staying right next to Sacre Coeur. Is there lots of pickpocketing there?
In order I'm going to London, Leeds for a night to see a concert, Paris, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Cologne, maybe Hamburg if there's time, Amsterdam, and Brussels.
Oh yeah - great tip someone gave earlier about forewarning the bank you'll be overseas.
We did a 10 week trip around Europe once, and the bank cancelled our cards as they thought they were being used in too many countries in quick succession! Not helpful...
In the UK pubs have 'time at the bar'. So around 10.45-11pm a bell will ring, and someone will say 'time at the bar', which means that's your last chance to buy drinks before they close up and throw you out. Night clubs and bars in trendy areas usually have late licenses, but your standard pubs close earlier! That caught DH out when he first moved to England
There is a lot of pickpocketing throughout Europe in tourist places, BUT I've never experienced it. Just be sensible, and keep your hand on your bag/ wallet somewhere safe.
You might see some Christmas markets in Europe too!
Not sure about shopping, as I'm not a big shopper. In Paris Forum des Halles has good shopping, and also a cool Musee de Holographie, which is a cool museum that has lots of holographic images in it!
If you go to the Arc de Triomphe then you access it via some steps that take you under the road. Don't try to dash across the road!! (I have a friend who didn't see the underground entrance and did just that).
If you go to the Tower of London then do one of the tours with a yeoman of the guard. They give great info, but also it's lots of fun and really entertaining.
Berlin - lots of cool stuff. Checkpoint Charlie and around that area has a lot of stuff about the wall and the history there. Very interesting, but quite heavy going too. The Brandenburg Gate is worth seeing.
In Amsterdam don't do what my dad did, which was try to take pictures of an elaborately painted cafe in the middle of the red light district. He got shouted at by lots of working ladies, who thought he was photographing them, while Mum and I walked away quickly...!!
If you like art then there's a good gallery in Brussels, with works by Magritte.
Watch your drinks, as not everywhere in Europe works to standard measures. Often they just pour it out, and you can end up having more than you expected! (Not necessarily a bad thing...)
Oh, in France if you order a hot chocolate or milky coffee it often comes in a bowl, so suss out the place before you order. That typically happens in the morning, as French people often dip stuff in it (like croissants, pain au chocolat, etc.) It's less usual for French people to have milky drinks later in the day, so if you order them early it's sometimes assumed you want to dunk your pastry/ bread! Depends on how 'traditional' the place is though.
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