Travel Tips for Europe: Come Fly With Us!

By Jun 3, 2011 May 16th, 2012 18 Comments

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My sister, Gianna, is back from her time abroad and recounting travels today.  If you are looking for great travel tips for your next trip to Europe, or if you just want to daydream for a bit with us, then read on!

The start to the summer has been somewhat bewildering. Take today for instance. It’s cold, it just hailed and the sun is far out of sight behind clouds and wind. Nevertheless, the weather does not discourage me from thinking ahead to warm, temperate days filled with excursions and trips. Although I just finished a year abroad in Europe, I am a proponent of parading future, hopeful travels through my head. If anything, my recent time out of the country helped me to hone my travel techniques, particularly pertaining to food on the road. Following the trail of food led me to delicacies, meals and realizations while covering Europe’s rich landscape.

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I landed in Amsterdam with a friend, a backpack and a bed reserved. I was a first timer who only knew that I wanted to see Anne Frank’s house. In terms of exploring everything else the city had to offer, I was open to suggestions. Good thing because my meals in Amsterdam were completely shaped by my dear hosts at the B&B where I stayed. Starting with apple pie, moving to an Indonesian smörgåsbord and finishing with a home-cooked Dutch dinner, my dining picks all originated from listening to locals. After this experience, I am more inclined to put aside my travel guide and place my ear to the ground. I figure I will let the people who already know the direction lead the way.

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My schedule was my own when I lived in Berlin during my final internship. So, carving out time to visit one of the destinations on my list was no issue. The conundrum lay in how my trip to Scotland would look. Should I go the route of major cities, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, or were there other options? When I remembered a friend working on a farm in the countryside, I decided to follow a path away from the city centers. By straying from the crowd, I discovered artisanal cheddar cheese and the fudge-like confection of tablet among the lakes and hills of Scotland. These days, I’m constantly on the lookout for trip detours that will take me down a side street or into a field where not everyone treads.

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When you’re away from family for a year, you don’t waste any time in accepting invitations to go home with friends. This was the case when my Swiss comrade opened her home in Zürich to a few of us last fall. We rented a car, piled in and headed northward out of Italy. To avoid eating roadside food, we all pitched in sandwiches, fruit and the best roasted Italian sweet potato you will ever find for lunch. While winding through the mountains, we stopped and took our pick of open, grassy areas where to sit. Lunch on a Swiss mountain–not something you do every day. Accordingly, I now embrace chances to picnic or eat-in while traveling. Grocery stores, although typically considered part of our daily routines at home, reflect cultural melting pots for food. Shopping for and packing a lunch will not only convey another perspective to native food customs, but it may also drop you on the side of a mountain for a meal.

My recollections from the past year constantly weave into my ideas for the journeys in the days and months ahead. I smile and sigh as my encounters come rushing back to me. These travel tactics subtly resurface when I consider how it came to be that I found myself on a Scottish farm eating cheddar or in an Amsterdam restaurant dining on Indonesian. I think to myself how I will have to do it all again soon, just after it stops raining of course.


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  • Lauren says:

    I’d absolutely love to go visit all of these places someday! Thanks for the great post. 🙂


  • Lady Jennie says:

    I live in Europe and have never traveled to any of those three cities. The food pictures look yummy.

  • Lizzie says:

    I absolutely love Scotland – as soon as you cross the border from England to Scotland, the difference is startling! So much greenery compared to England!

  • Rebecca says:

    Now my bug to do more traveling is itching even more! Thanks for those wonderful suggestions. Very thoughtful!

  • Alia says:

    Oh! What a lovely place! I really want to visit Europe some day. My husband just came back from Belgium and said it was HEAVENLY!

  • Leah Rubin says:

    If only! I may never get to Europe, but I love seeing it through other peoples’ eyes! Beautiful!

  • TheProDiva says:

    I am slowly but surely making my way to the many countries in Europe. Unfortunately, my travel have not yet included Amsterdam or Scotland. I’m working on it though! Thanks for the tips!

  • Luci says:

    yes! My guy and I recently found the market in Cannes to have the BEST food in the city. We are still here – a week longer! – and we’ll be cooking in most nights from our finds from the market. I plan to blog about it soon with pictures!!

  • Queen Mum says:

    I was excited to see a story about Europe this morning. I’m traveling to France and Italy in 11 days, I’m uber excited! My boyfriend and I love to shop in grocery and try new things, half the time we have no idea what we are eating. Food is an adventure for us.


  • Christine says:

    This was a fun read and momentarily distracted me from my fear of flying across the pond to Europe. Your food experience is really enticing!

  • very informative post and great tips!

    thanks for sharing. 🙂

    have a lovely weekend, everyone!

    betty xoxo

  • Some of the best meals I have ever had in my life were eaten on picnics in the Swiss Alps.
    The delectable foods available to the everyday consumer, combined with the fresh mountain air made for heavenly, heavenly meals, high up in the mountains, where you really were closer to God!

  • Lindsay says:

    I am currently living and traveling Europe and completely agree with these tips. Ask the locals, always. And foreign grocery shopping is the best. Healthy, convenient, and always interesting!

  • We always try to make time for getting off the beaten path to really experience the culture. I definitely second that! Europe is definitely a fun place to explore (and not a shabby place to live, as we are currently doing)! =)

  • Fenny says:

    Thanks for a different look at Amsterdam, my nations capital! Would love to read more about your time over here in Europe!

  • Oh, how I love travelling to Europe. I love all the countries you visited and your report just brings back instant memories. Right up the street from Anne Frank’s house (once you get your emotions back under control) is my favorite pancake place. And on and on . . .

  • Shelly W. says:

    These are great suggestions! I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I do a lot of the same. I love to explore small villages–they are the best. And every time I travel I MUST hit the local grocery store. That’s where you find the true culture. 🙂