Our trip has come to an end and needless to say we are both weary from our travels. It has now been one week since we returned home and we are not quite back to normal yet.It was a fantastic trip that has left us with wonderful memories and experiences.
In case you are wondering or even planning such a trip here are some hopefully, helpful, hints we can offer from our experiences.
First and foremost, do use a travel book/guide. You don't have to follow every bit of advice, however when you are starting from nowhere it is helpful to use the experience and advice others have to offer.We chose to use Rick Steves' books and they were invaluable.
What we might have done differently; maybe picked fewer places to see and spent more time in each. The constant traveling on planes, buses, taxis, subways, etc. was very taxing and we became exhausted by the end of the trip. Yet... we don't regret going to any of the places we went.
We loved staying at the Bed & Breakfast's, however that puts you on a schedule if you want the breakfast part of the deal. Therefore, we never were able to sleep in and have a "lazy" morning. Something to consider.
We chose to mix up our trip with some sightseeing and some outdoor activities. We feel that was a great decision and I believe the highlights of the trip ended up being the outdoor activities, such as climbing Mt. Brendan in Ireland and biking from Brugge to Holland along the canals.
We did follow Rick Steves' advice and carried only one backpack each. It is very doable and if you are planning a trip like this, I strongly suggest it. We never once had to check in luggage which saved us time and expense. If you are flying on multiple airlines as we did, find the one with the strictest requirements for carry on bags and go by that.
Lots of people want to know how we packed with so little. Bring 4-5, easy to wash and dry outfits that you can mix and match. I washed clothes in the sink twice and a laundromat once. It was easier and faster to wash in the sink and let air dry.
We also chose not to go shopping for "souvenirs". Several reasons for that; you need more room in your bags to bring them home, you spend valuable time shopping when you could be experiencing instead, most of that stuff ends up in the "goodwill box" sooner or later anyways and you have to stand in another line to "declare" what you bought. Skip it... go hiking or biking or sightseeing instead. We took a camera and I will make a scrapbook for a keepsake.
With such a long flight over there, we left at 9 pm on an overnight flight. Coming home it was a noon flight. We both felt the overnight flight was better. You don't sleep well, but it sure goes by a lot faster. Bringing night shades to block out light both on the plane and for sleeping once there was very helpful. It gets dark very late and the sun rises very early. you get some This was taken at 4:30 am in Prague.
We learned to embrace each culture and understand it is different from where we live.
Ask questions, most people are more than willing to point you in the right direction or answer your questions. We found it easier to just ask than try to read signs and maps ( especially when they were not in English). Learn a few basic words if you are somewhere that English is not the primary language, it can go a long way! Oh, and point to what you would like on the menu, it is easier than trying to explain it.
Most of all, be flexible and open to changing plans. We had planned a bike trip in Ireland but ended up climbing a mountain instead! It was a great trip :) Enjoy a few more pics from this beautiful part of the world!