08 May 2007

Planning for Europe

Everything is almost planned for the trip to Europe that Adriana and I are going on later this month. It is certainly going to be one fast-tracked experience, with visits to Paris, Rouen, Caen, Milan, Nice, Monaco (F1 Grand Prix), Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Munich and London in the space of three weeks.

I'm trying not to get flustered about it (and some people who know me well enough could imagine what I'm like right now), but it's difficult not to. Part of me wishes that the organising part of the trip was finished a couple of months ago. Unfortunately things happen, schedules must be changed, and that is what I'm going through right now.

I've tried to take advantage of what is offered in terms of deals as much as possible, however misinterpreting some things early on has led to a bit of frustration now. I think I switched between buying the Eurail pass or buying point-to-point rail tickets two or three times. I'm flying the cheap airlines (flylc.com is great for finding which cheap airlines fly between what cities) as much as possible. At one point we were heading from Munich up to Berlin via train. We're still using the train, but now going from Berlin to Munich simply because of a cheap airline ticket (and time...) Milan wasn't even on the list, at first. Neither was Prague. They were simply "since we're in the area, we might as well check them out" thoughts. This has shortened time in other areas, and our visit to Berlin is now structured around a "Berlin in one day" guide.

Language. I'm worried and embarrassed that I won't be able to speak German properly, having sworn and cussed at people in German for what seems an eternity now. I've been revising that like crazy recently. I'm also trying to learn some basic Italian and French words just to not feel like such a dweeb. I remember for a time I was in Nicaragua, by myself, not being able to speak Spanish. It was bad, but I actually knew enough words to order some chicken and get the right seasoning (oh, and an accompanying beer, of course). In the end a lot of the people we'll meet will probably speak more English than I speak of their language. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

Just preparing for this trip has been an interesting experience. I know what not to do next time, and I know exactly how it should be planned out. It seems the places you visit (and when) are more dictated by how you're going to get there. For example: look up what Eurail pass you can use first, then plan what cities you're going to see around that. Better yet, give a travel agent a list of cities you want to visit and see what comes out the end. It caught me by surprise and brought out someone I haven't known for a while: da flustered PK.

After all this, there is one thing I can't wait to do: take pictures. Not just a few, not just a few hundred, but a few thousand. I have a brand spanking new lens, a photo backup device, and a happy little trigger finger. Bring it on!