Author Topic: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]  (Read 785 times)

Offline Daniel Kalal

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A few years back, Dusty asked if I would put a few notes together for his Cedar Vale thing.  The evening schedule didn't work out, but (having come across the list) I thought I'd share those notes.  They're all quite brief, so if anything needs explanation, I can do that.

More to the point, I hope others (who have also done trips in Europe) will also chime in with further notes and travel tips.  That main point:  it's easy.


    Decide to do it; then do it.
      ○ Daily cost isn't much different than in U.S.
    Packing
      ○ Quick dry clothing
      ○ Laundry every night
      ○ Use straps; not bungee
      ○ Tire repair and pump
      ○ Electrical outlet
      ○ shoes
    Arrival (Italy)
      ○ Aiport customs non-existent
      ○ Validate your train ticket
    Language
      ○ English mostly common
      ○ One-page translation chart
          Gasoline v diesel
    What to wear
      ○ Riding suit
      ○ Layers
    Credit cards and PIN & Chip
      ○ Notify before leaving
      ○ Buying fuel
          France problems
      ○ Some hotels
          Switzerland problem
    Banks
      ○ ATMs work fine
      ○ Check for partner banks
    Phone
      ○ update your plan
      ○ Keep data turned off
    Maps
      ○ Waterproof
          Reise Know-How (German)
          National Geographic Adventure
    GPS
      ○ Getting through towns
      ○ Set 25 miles at a time
    Food
      ○ Head-nod method to order from menu
      ○ Tipping not necessary
      ○ Extra slow restaurants further south
    Hotels
      ○ Accepting of motorcyclists
      ○ Finding
          Not at edges
          Park in town center and look about
          Rooms above restaurant
      ○ Reservations needed?
      ○ Single = one twin bed
      ○ Bathrooms are late-additions
      ○ Breakfast included
          Farther north; the more like U.S.
    Riding
      ○ 120 - 200 miles per day
      ○ Lane Filtering
      ○ Lane Splitting
      ○ Manners
          Better further north
      ○ Fuel availability
      ○ Tunnels
          Lighting
            □ Austria uses red reflectors on RH side
          Temperature - can be over 100 deg
          Fumes
          One-way w/signals
      ○ Switchbacks - look twice
      ○ Road Signs
          Hit and miss
      ○ Highway Routes
          Not much used (E highways excepted)
      ○ Toll roads
          Quite high in France
          Switzerland and Austria Vignettes
      ○ Ride your ride
    Ferries
      ○ Tie downs (generally provided)
      ○ Slick steel deck
      ○ One strap over seat works best
    Photography
      ○ Best shot is never from the seat
      ○ Take establishing shot

Offline oldbike54

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2018, 12:44:50 PM »
 Brilliant , thanks Deke  :bow:

 Dusty
Transmit the message , to the receiver
Hope for an answer someday


Offline Furbo

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 08:59:50 AM »
Lived 22yrs in Europe, mostly in N. Italy - that was a good run down.
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Offline adaven

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 10:35:20 PM »
That's a great list. Super complete. One thing that I thought about was the phone. if you have an unlocked phone (often you can simply get your current phone unlocked by your carrier) you can buy a local sim and a prepaid plan. In Spain, I used Yoigo. The kid at the store would change the sim and set up the phone. Usually you can recharge the account online. You get to keep all of the normal functions of the phone, including data, and it is pretty cheap.

Offline fossil

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2018, 01:11:59 AM »
That's a great list. Super complete. One thing that I thought about was the phone. if you have an unlocked phone (often you can simply get your current phone unlocked by your carrier) you can buy a local sim and a prepaid plan. In Spain, I used Yoigo. The kid at the store would change the sim and set up the phone. Usually you can recharge the account online. You get to keep all of the normal functions of the phone, including data, and it is pretty cheap.

Or better, use a Dual Sim version. By the way, tips are- well - very appreciated in the vicinity of 10 percent here in Germany.
Greetings from Germany!
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Offline Unkept

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2018, 05:18:00 AM »
I opened a checking account through Charles Schwab, they have a refund program on any ATM fees you receive, and no international fees!

ATMs give you an accurate exchange rate, where banks and airport services will use a rate in their favor when you swap for another currency.

I loaded the money I wanted to spend on my Schwab, and had a Visa with no international fees as backup.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 05:18:44 AM by Unkept »
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Offline azguzzirep

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2018, 07:10:00 AM »
I've been living in Germany for nearly seven years now. I traveled to France, Italy , Spain, Austria, Switzerland and other places. Don't worry about language, you'll get by.

Biggest problem is electric plug ins. They are different in England and Italy and you need an adapter or a cord where you can use your car/mc lighter plug to charge your phone.

Come on over!! It's friendly, pretty and full of castles and stuff!!
Murphy's  Law sucks!

Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2018, 08:31:16 AM »

Quote from: adaven
you can buy a local sim
Good point.  Many new phones now come with e-sim which will allow you to make the change on the fly without the need to change out a physical sim.

Quote from: unkept
through Charles Schwab, they have a refund program on any ATM fees you receive
Beyond ATMs, you'll have difficulty with your American credit card (which are all Chip-and-Signature, not Chip-and-PIN).  The difficulty comes at unattended filling stations, otherwise your American card will be fine in most all hotels and at stations that have an attendant.  Travelex offers a cash card for Euro travel, which is a true Chip-and-PIN, and it works well.


Quote from: azguzzirep
Biggest problem is electric plug ins. They are different in England and Italy.
There is also a difference between northern Europe and southern Europe plugs, which is slight, but I've been in a handful of older places that it was a problem.  The round prongs are not the same size.  However, it's likely you'll be fine everywhere as most outlets can accommodate both types.  Most electronic things these days can work with the frequency difference and the voltage difference, so you don't need to mess with anything more than a cheap plug converter.

Quote from: fossil
in the vicinity of 10 percent here in Germany
Yeah; tips are funny things.  Yes; in Germany I typically ask the server to round up to the nearest whole number.  I think the number of one-time American tourists has changed things--particularly in larger cities.  We (Americans) are pretty free with tips (often above 20%) and tend to do the same in Europe.  That changes expectations.  But, generally, if you do tip, it shouldn't be anywhere near what you tip in the U.S.  Servers are actually paid a wage, whereas the nice lady in the Kansas coffee shop lives almost entirely on tips.

Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2018, 08:41:40 AM »
Quote
electrical conversion plugs

Carry two and put some bright orange tape on them.  They're the sort of thing that's easy to leave behind, and you'll be out of luck if you do--the last thing you'll want to be doing on your trip is looking for an  American converter plug in Europe so you can charge your stuff.  And, in some places, they're not sold.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 08:42:34 AM by Daniel Kalal »

Offline Unkept

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2018, 11:01:29 AM »
The Schwab debit card can be used as chip and pin.

I think I can enable it on my Visa credit card as well, but I've never needed it.
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Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2018, 11:55:10 AM »
The Schwab debit card can be used as chip and pin.

I think I can enable it on my Visa credit card as well, but I've never needed it.

You will find that assigning a Pin to an American card (easy enough) won't make it Pin-priority (over signature-priority) and still won't allow it to work at point-of-sale terminals (unattended fuel pumps w/o Internet access.  I find my Bank of America Visa often works, but my Travelex (with full PIN-and-chip priority) always works.

Offline Lannis

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2018, 06:04:45 PM »
But, generally, if you do tip, it shouldn't be anywhere near what you tip in the U.S.  Servers are actually paid a wage, whereas the nice lady in the Kansas coffee shop lives almost entirely on tips.

Restaurants here have actually tried "paying a wage" to their wait staff ... and the wait staff leaves and goes to another restaurant to work where they can get tips instead, because it's more money.   It's why you won't find restaurants here where you don't tip.   

They can't "go back" in Europe, but unless something seriously changes, the system here will pretty much stay the same, because the folks getting the tips would rather have it that way.

That and local taxes.  It really rubs our English buddies the wrong way when lunch here is advertised for "$6.95" and they've got nothing left from a $10 bill once they've paid the tax (13% here in our little town) and tip.   In England, if lunch at the pub is 6.95, you get 5 pence back from 7, because the tax is always included in the price there, and there's no tipping.

CULTURE SHOCK!

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Offline ScepticalScotty

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2018, 02:40:52 AM »
A few things from me;

Go outside of "the season" . Self and Guzzi Jeff rode down from Roscoff to the Pyrenees in September, about a week or so outside the season, and we were able to get independent hotels with bike parking undercover every night for less than 60 euros, breakfast included. One place the manager put his car in the street so we could park our bikes undercover..

Spanish/French/German bikers are very freindly.

The Guzzi dealer in Toulouse is staffed by super freindly guys.

Spanish petrol seems to be magic.

The road less travelled is the best one.

Traffic in South East England is horrific. But Wales and Scotland are fantastic places to visit if you like twisty roads.
Scotty

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Online tris

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2018, 05:17:45 AM »
That pretty much covers things Daniel  :thumb:

One thing to remember though is that Europe is a collection of independent nations and the road rules vary from country to country

In the UK you give way to vehicles on a roundabout but I think there are still places in France where you give way to vehicles joining the roundabout - the Arc de Triomphe in Paris comes to mind from a bunch of years back

Its worth have a quick google for the countries you plan to travel through as fore warned is fore armed

Tris

PS
If you come across the channel remember to look the opposite way for the car that's trying to kill you :wink:
It always takes me a couple of leery days to remember that when I go the other way  :shocked:



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Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: ...random notes for a U.S. citizen traveling in Europe [photo-free]
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2018, 08:53:19 AM »
Quote from: tris
...road rules vary...

You raise a good point, tris.  Perhaps the rule that will trip up Americans the most is that a red-light, stop-and-turn in Europe is illegal.  Yes; here and there, you'll see a sign that allows it, but the general rule is to stop and wait for the green.

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