How to Prepare for your Trip to Europe (no matter what time of year!)

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Dreaming of a long weekend in Paris, Rome, or Seville never gets old. And traveling around in Europe never stops just because the weather has gotten colder. For many, it's an escape from their city to explore a new place, sometimes for cheaper prices, or to partake in activities and events only available during certain seasons. There's always a good reason to visit Europe and get a taste of what the European lifestyle is all about. This post will share 5 tips to help you prepare for your European trip, no matter what time of year.

 

Pack layers, a carry-on suitcase, and walking shoes 

Let's face it, no matter what time of year it is in Europe, there's a good chance the weather will change during your stay, especially if you are traveling from one country to another. Rain can be an everyday occurrence in some countries like England and Ireland. But don't let the rain stop you from visiting! Just pack accordingly, or take a shopping trip and discover what the locals are wearing. Bringing at least a hooded jacket or coat, along with a good pair of walking shoes (because you will be walking a lot) is a good starting point. And here's some good news - tennis shoes are very trendy right now. If you're not a tennis shoe kind of person, a chic pair of leather boots with good ankle support and a thick heel will work very well. Because no one wants a sprained ankle from wearing heels, tripping on cobblestone streets or climbing up some unforeseen stairs. Bringing along a couple tank tops, a lightweight or warm scarf, a long-sleeved top and/or sweater will cover all your layering basics during your trip, as well. Fitting everything into a carry-on suitcase or backpack will save you the stress of over-packing and having to wait at baggage claim, as well as avoiding having to lug big, heavy suitcases around

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Carry a copy of your passport and/or visa with you 

Traveling wisely and being aware of your surroundings when discovering new lands, especially if it's for the first time, will help you immensely in creating a smooth and memorable trip. Having some sort of ID with you at all times during your European vacation (or anywhere you travel to) is important and it's always best to have at least a photocopy in your bag just in case. Keep it inside a hidden coat pocket, or deep down inside your purse or backpack where it cannot be easily seen. Just like using your driver's license to verify your credit card or your age when buying your favorite bottle of wine, you may be asked for some kind of identification from purchasing new clothes to buying a train ticket, etc. Plus, in worst case scenarios, reporting suspected identity theft from a stolen photocopy is not the same as having to report and replace a stolen passport. Check before you travel or ask when you check-in at the airport or your hotel if a photocopy of your passport and/or visa is just as good as the real thing - usually it is

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Learn some of the local language (at the minimum please & thank you)

How amazing is it to know that you can travel from London to Paris to Munich to Barcelona all within one trip to Europe! So many countries, so many cultures, and so many languages all neighboring each other. With my experience in travel adventures, no matter where you go, the locals do appreciate it when you know a word or two of their native language. It shows a kind of respect and appreciation for visiting their country. Don't make the mistake that everyone knows English. Sure, perhaps in popular restaurants and at the hotel, but what if you venture outside of the big city and into the countryside or to a small village? Being prepared with at least the basics - hello, please, thank you, goodbye - can work wonders when communicating and receiving the answers or help you were looking for. And don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect. Just the attempt and try will most likely be appreciated by the person you're speaking with. There are plenty of language apps and websites to help you, and creating a small language notebook or journal adds to the excitement and fun in experiencing and remembering all those great memories when you look back

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Research places off the beaten path

I've learned over the course of my travels that there is fun in not having everything planned out before arriving to your destination. But in order to have some not-so-touristy adventures and walking off the beaten path, a little bit of research can be done to at least have an idea of what kind of vibe and feeling your trip will be. Of course, you can do the research at any moment before or during your trip to Europe, but if you're someone like me, I like to write things down in my little notebook so I don't forget or miss out on  anything I've found. Also, take a chance and ask your server, hotel concierge, or tour guide for their favorite go-to spots. I've found some of the best restaurants this way during my trips to Amsterdam, Venice, and all around current place I call home, France.

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Plan ahead to know how to get to your accommodations

The quicker you arrive and check-in to your room, the quicker you'll be able to get out and explore. Planning ahead will save you a lot of time and unwanted stress in your new surroundings. I wasted a complete full day (out of a 4-day trip) trying to find the hotel I had reservations at during my first time in Rome. Although I did get the chance to walk down some beautiful streets in the process, even stumbling upon an old tramway that I had no idea existed, but during the search, I wasn't really thinking about those things. When I finally arrived at the hotel, it wasn't in the location the website had described, which was supposed to be in the city center, but in fact, it was in the outskirts just outside the center along a busy two-lane road. It wasn't until checking in that I realized there was a bus transfer twice daily from the hotel to the nearest subway station and vice-versa. So now I've learned it's definitely worth knowing where to go before you go.

Got any questions for me about planning your trip to Europe? Comment below!

Bon voyage!

Inspired by…Musée du Louvre in Paris

If I had to recommend just one museum to visit while exploring Paris, it would be le Louvre. From French to Italian paintings, Egyptian artifacts to Roman and Greek sculptures, everyone can find something to their liking during a morning or afternoon visit to this enormous museum.

Spending a week in Paris was the perfect time to reserve a day to finally walk around the extravagant halls and rooms that once belonged to royalty and see priceless works of art and sculptures with my very own eyes. I had previously walked inside and looked around the foyer and entrance area of the museum, but never had enough time to spend the hours needed to really get a good look at a large selection of art.

Waiting for our "Breakfast of Champions" before heading off to the     Musée du Louvre.

Waiting for our "Breakfast of Champions" before heading off to the Musée du Louvre.

Me and my Auntie Joan posing for a quick shot under the rain, just about to go inside the museum to warm up.

Me and my Auntie Joan posing for a quick shot under the rain, just about to go inside the museum to warm up.

Everyone has seen art in books and online, but to actually see the works in person gives you a much better sense of scale and size with each piece, which I truly appreciate. I’ve always been a big fan of art, going way back to my middle school days when I took my first art class.

The day we went was rainy and grey, perfect for going to a museum. My aunt and uncle were visiting from California touring around Europe, and stopped to meet up with me and my love for a week in Paris. Le Louvre was #1 on their list of things not-to-miss in Paris, and I was excited to wander around with them and admire some of the numerous masterpieces the museum holds.

Inside the Louvre, looking out to another view of the palace.

Inside the Louvre, looking out to another view of the palace.

What’s unique about Le Louvre in comparison to other museums is that you enter by going downstairs, underneath its famous glass pyramid that juts out in the middle of the grand plaza, a view you cannot miss. Rain or shine, the pyramid is a skylight and provides natural light into the entrance and foyer of the museum – Gorgeous!

Love this view of the Pyramide du Louvre and it’s amazing architecture.

Love this view of the Pyramide du Louvre and it’s amazing architecture.

You can see a smaller, upside down version of the pyramid as you walk towards the entrance to the shopping mall attached to the museum – yes, there is a museum themed mall connected to Le Louvre. Without a ticket, you are permitted to go inside the entrance, through security, and walk around the difference exhibit entrances (there are also public restrooms if you need a quick break), but you need a ticket to enter into any of the exhibits.

My uncle told us that he would like to focus on Roman and Greek art first and them move on to Italian in order to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s infamous Mona Lisa. Great plan, it was exactly what I wanted to do and everyone was in agreement.  And so our tour began…

Don’t forget to look up! I love looking up, down, and all around to see what lavish murals and moldings I get to feast my eyes on.

Don’t forget to look up! I love looking up, down, and all around to see what lavish murals and moldings I get to feast my eyes on.

For any of you who are history buffs, the Royal Palace had been home to royalty since the 12th century, initially created as a fortress, which is where we started, seeing the large, rounded columns and walls that formed the foundation. Then, in the mid-1500s it became the royal residency, and transformed into a museum in 1793 after the French Revolution.

Leaving the basement level after viewing the remains of the original foundation of the fortress, we then made our way to the Greek and Roman sculptures and artifacts.

Leaving the basement level after viewing the remains of the original foundation of the fortress, we then made our way to the Greek and Roman sculptures and artifacts.

From the fortress room is a door that connects you to the next room filled with amazing Roman and Greek artifacts. We opted not to take the audio guide because we knew we wouldn’t have had time to see everything. And from experience, although it is interesting, using the audio guide in the largest museum in the world can be “information overload” and you come out with your brain feeling like jelly.

It was an enjoyable moment to share together with my aunt and uncle – before my uncle suddenly disappeared and got lost (more on that later).

Such impressive pieces of work created so long ago.

Such impressive pieces of work created so long ago.

Room after room was filled with an assortment of Greek and Roman Gods, artifacts of jewelry, bowls, and other everyday items, and even a marble bathtub big enough to fit three or four people. These aspects, along with exquisite details of the exhibit rooms, were matchless and simply magnifique.

Masculinity depicted at its finest. And a children’s group sitting right next to it creating art with their teacher. Welcome to France!

Masculinity depicted at its finest. And a children’s group sitting right next to it creating art with their teacher. Welcome to France!

Now onto my uncle’s M.I.A status. Not even an hour into our touring around, my uncle disappeared. Out of sight, nowhere to be seen. The last we saw him was when we all met up after viewing some statues together and commented on them. Then, as he had been doing since we entered, and we’d been warned by my aunt, he went off in another direction to take more photos. My aunt told us that it’s his normal habit and to just wait because he will come back like a boomerang, so my love and I thought nothing of it. Until a long instant had passed and he didn’t turn back up.

Awe-inspiring sculpture given as a gift to the French after a major victory, but I’m not sure for which war.

Awe-inspiring sculpture given as a gift to the French after a major victory, but I’m not sure for which war.

Surprising my aunt, we decided to backtrack to see if he had stayed in a room we had already been through. Nope. Everywhere we looked and turned we tried to spot for the bright royal blue hat he was wearing. Nowhere in sight. Did I mention the Louvre is the largest museum in the world?

Marble from floor to ceiling with elaborately carved sculptures gracing the room.

Marble from floor to ceiling with elaborately carved sculptures gracing the room.

Prior to entering the exhibits, it was my uncle that came up with the idea of setting a meeting point, just in case we somehow got lost. So after spending around 30 minutes looking for him, we continued our tour throughout the museum as a trio instead of the original group of four. Despite the mysterious departure of my uncle, we still wanted to enjoy our time at the museum. We assumed he couldn’t have left and we would find him or vice versa at some point.

Diana, Roman Goddess of hunting, the moon, and nature.

Diana, Roman Goddess of hunting, the moon, and nature.

Before going on a search for the Mona Lisa, we went downstairs into a quiet area full of Egyptian funerary artifacts and sarcophagi in all shapes and sizes, we sat on a marble bench to take a break from all the walking we did. It was a quite peaceful moment and at one point my aunt asked me why there weren’t many people in this particular room like in all the others. I answered that perhaps it was because this room is full of mummies in their sarcophagus. She didn’t realize where we were until I told her that point, and not long after, we left.

Athena, Greek Goddess of wisdom, craft and war. In every sculpture I’ve seen of her, she depicts grace and power. Sidenote: There’s a beautiful replica of Athena covered in gold-leaf and jewels inside the Pantheon in Nashville, Tennessee – a definite must-see!

Athena, Greek Goddess of wisdom, craft and war. In every sculpture I’ve seen of her, she depicts grace and power. Sidenote: There’s a beautiful replica of Athena covered in gold-leaf and jewels inside the Pantheon in Nashville, Tennessee – a definite must-see!

We made our way to the Italian art displays and followed the crowd into the room that houses the Mona Lisa. It is a masterpiece of small size, the size of a normal portrait we can find today. It has its own wall and is covered in glass and has a rope separating it from the crowd. I don’t blame the museum for doing that in regards to recent stories of priceless art pieces being completely destroyed by tourists taking selfies by them. I don’t need a selfie. I prefer appreciating the art.

The best capture I could get of the Mona Lisa, fighting for a shot along with flow after flow of tourist groups crowding the area to get a shot. I honestly just wanted to look at the work and gaze at a renowned masterpiece more than take a picture.

The best capture I could get of the Mona Lisa, fighting for a shot along with flow after flow of tourist groups crowding the area to get a shot. I honestly just wanted to look at the work and gaze at a renowned masterpiece more than take a picture.

After wandering around and got a good look at the Italian oil paintings, we decided it was a good time to go to reunite with my uncle. We went to a seating area in the entrance and foyer area of the museum that was dedicated as our meeting point. The place my uncle had pointed out at the very beginning for us to meet up at. And we waited. And waited. And waited.

An hour had past, both my both and my aunt had gone all around the foyer area, upstairs by the restaurants and cafés, downstairs by the entrance to the special exhibitions and bathroom, and back again to where I was at the seating area. No luck.

We hadn’t tried calling him because his cell phone had a sim card from England and we weren’t sure it would work from France. It did. Too bad we hadn’t tried it earlier, because my uncle had already left the museum, gotten lost on the metro, and was on his way back to the hotel. But now we have a story to tell and an unforgettable memory of our first time in le Louvre.

To end my week in Paris, a little walk through le Jardin de Luxembourg – another first!

To end my week in Paris, a little walk through le Jardin de Luxembourg – another first!

Thanks for reading, having a little laugh, and getting inspired! Please leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget to like and share! Stay tuned for a new blog soon, and until then:

Go.Get.Inspired!!!

Go Get Inspired by…Quotes: “In the end, we only regret the chance we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” ~Lewis Carroll

Disclaimer: ALL pictures are taken by myself and are not to be reproduced without my knowledge and permission.