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Claire Suzanne Pfau
Europe & Eurail Traveler
- When did you go on your Europe trip?
- How old were you when you took this trip?
- Including your air ticket and other expenses (incl. air ticket, rail passes, etc.), about how much did your trip cost?
- Where do you live now?
- Did you buy a rail pass?
- What pass(es) did you buy?
- Before your trip: registered nurse
- Now: retired
- How did your travels affect your career when you got back?
Actually I had retired just before two trips. However, as usual my eyes are always opened after such a trip, to what goes on in the rest of the world and how it perceives the United States.
- What is the route you took/places you visited?
Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Al, Norway, Oslo, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Ulrichstein, Germany, Black Forest, Bodensee, Stuttgart area, Paris, Giverny, Chartres, Brussels and Brugge, Haarlem and Amsterdam.
- Why did you decide to take this trip? What got you into this type of travel, and/or influenced you to go?
Wanted to visit friends and relatives and spend time in Black Forest vacationing with son and family. This was my third Eurail trip to Europe. We enjoy the convenience, quickness and spontenaity of train travel.
- What did your family, friends, co-workers, etc. think of your trip? Were they supportive of you? What is their opinion of your traveling and railing around Europe?
They were all for it. I am of an age where I don't have to ask permission!
- Out of all your experiences traveling around Europe, what was the:
- Best Moment
- Worst Moment
- Biggest Hurdle, Obstacle or Difficulty?
- Biggest surprise?
- Who is the most memorable person you met on your trip and why?
A woman near Stuttgart with whom I stayed. Although my German was limited and her English was just a little better, we became fast friends. She too had traveled quite a bit.
- How much planning and preparing did you do?
- What was your favorite piece of gear?
My 22-inch suitcase with wheels!
- What did you bring, that in hindsight you could've left at home?
An umbrella - it only rained slightly one day! Wasn't I lucky!
- How did your trip change your life? How did it affect and change you as a person?
This is the fourth time I have been to Europe. Because I visited relatives in Norway and Germany, I have a deeper appreciation for the past and for my forefathers. Hope I can pass this on to my children. Also I find that the whole world does not revolve around the US and Americans. Thank goodness.
- If you had to sum up your trip in one sentence, what would it be?
Europe in the early summer is magnificent!
- Are you planning more trips and travels for the future? Are you planning another trip to Europe?
Definitely! There are so many places in the world that I haven't seen. Before I go back to Europe again, I would like to go to South America, Australia and Africa. However, I never rule out another trip to Europe should the opportunity arise.
- Why do you think people should take longer trips like this? Why not just take a regular old one- or two-week vacation instead?
Travel by train and planning your own trip is not for everyone, but it does give one a sense of adventure and accomplishment. Europe is an area that can be as easy and familiar as going to San Francisco, and probably safer for a single traveler. It is fun to share with someone however, when traveling with a companion or on a tour.
- What is the most valuable thing you learned?
Flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way toward making a trip like this a success.
- What is the biggest myth that people have about traveling Europe by rail?
That trains are crowded? Not true when traveling first class, but if one wants to meet the people one needs to take a local and sit with the locals occasionally.
- Why do you like to travel?
I have a strong sense of the past and want to study the land, the politics, the architecture, the life style of that past. At the same time, by looking at the people of the present in their daily lives in different areas of the world, one can develop a sense of what the future of our world will be like and how we can learn to live with each other while retaining our separate entities.
- What is your advice for people planning their own Europe trip?
Be patient; be tolerant of others; smile a lot; have some idea of where you want to go; remember you are a guest in the countries that you visit and at the same time, an ambassador for the US.
- What is a tip about Eurailing you would have, that would help other travelers who are using train travel in Europe?
If possible, get to the train station ahead of time so you can find out which track the train is leaving from, which end of the train your car is located and realize there may be last-minute changes in departure times and tracks. Listen for these changes and watch others around you. Be willing to ask if you don't know where to go.
- Now: retired
May 2002 - June 2002
Healdsburg, California, USA
Eurail Pass 21 days