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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: substitute teacher
- Now: on break before I start grad school
- How did your travels affect your career when you got back?
Well, my travels started out as a job teaching English in southern France. As I now intend to go to grad school to get my English as a Second Language and French teaching certificates, I now have killer experience and some decent references that seem to be helping me get into programs easier. Additionally, I now intend to spend the next five years teaching abroad.
- What is the route you took/places you visited?
From my home base of Digne I explored vast amounts of Provence and the Côte d'Azur, went to Paris, the Burgundy region, Belgium, Northern Spain, Southern Italy, and in a week I'm off to England, Scotland, and Ireland.
- Why did you decide to take this trip? What got you into this type of travel, and/or influenced you to go?
My grandmother and parents who were part of the "I always wished" club and my five closest girlfriends who have all done similar "time abroad" influenced me, but I really decided to go because once you've been to Europe you just have to go back.
- 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?
Everyone was excited because most of them have been there. I got to memorize the "wonderful opportunity" speech. More support than the Golden Gate Bridge.
- 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?
Like the best moment question, I could think of hundreds, but forced to choose I will say the group of Italians in Savona who thanked me for America entering World War II and who called me Bella.
- How much planning and preparing did you do?
Winged it a lot
- What was your favorite piece of gear?
Sketchers tennis shoes. Yes; I know that Britney wears them, but by god, the things go with skirts and dresses and they are comfortable.
- What did you bring, that in hindsight you could've left at home?
Dressy clothes. I really couldn't afford anywhere that needed more than a simple skirt. They just took up room.
- How did your trip change your life? How did it affect and change you as a person?
I'm not the same having seen the moon on the other side of the world. It changed everything. And strangely, nothing. I just know all the details better now.
- If you had to sum up your trip in one sentence, what would it be?
What's over there?
- Are you planning more trips and travels for the future? Are you planning another trip to Europe?
Definitely. I might be renewing my contract to come back to France or going to Australia next year. All I can say for sure is that my frequent flyer miles are going into the fifth digit...
- Why do you think people should take longer trips like this? Why not just take a regular old one- or two-week vacation instead?
On packaged tours to Rome you see St. Peter's. Backpacking in Rome you see the toothless old man who will teach you to feed pigeons in front of St. Peter's. A country is in its people, not its monuments. People can spend a month over here and know nothing when they go home or spend two weeks and know too much to answer this survey.
- What is the most valuable thing you learned?
That I will not be beaten. That vegetables are the greatest things on earth. That I am uncomfortable without my bottle of water. And that people will always help a smiler first.
- What is the biggest myth that people have about traveling Europe by rail?
Well, I thought that there was some little backpackers club and you had to own Birkenstocks to get in, but other than that, I had it about right. It gets tiring. You get church burnout. But every little moment is worth it.
- Why do you like to travel?
I'd rather be a river than a lake. Lakes have to wait for change to come to them, rivers go to find it. Every day is a learning experience. Every evening has its breathtaking sunset. It's an addiction. I'll never give it up.
- What is your advice for people planning their own Europe trip?
Bring 1/3 of what you HAVE to have, get an MCI $20 phone card and activate it for overseas calling because it last FOREVER, and put the damn book down.
- What is a tip about Eurailing you would have, that would help other travelers who are using train travel in Europe?
Night trains. Always book night trains. Trains in Italy are really cheap so you can save some of your Eurail time if you want to. Learn how to say "please" and "thank you", and always use them when you talk to the conductors. Conductors are the guys to give you deals and help you out. They are gods, but you got to ask them and they've got to like you.
- Now: on break before I start grad school
September 2001-July 2002
at moment, Digne les Bains, France