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WAY OFF TOPIC---I need trip advice ASAP!


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Well, considering the job market sucks A$$, I am doing something I never got a chance to do when younger; I AM HEADING TO EUROPE ON VACATION.


I am taking my last pennies and dust bunnies in my savings account for a three week trek across the pond. I need some advice from anyone who has travelled over there regarding the following cities:


Paris, Brugges (Belgium), Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague. Notable is my dumb luck to meet someone who is going to get me into the War Tribunal Trial of Yugoslavia, in the Hague. So it is business oriented in a sense.


Basically, I need help on day trips...life in the hostel for a 30 year-old, language issues I may encounter, paying (by CC or Cash...where do I trade my $$ for Euros), train travel and buget Intra Europe airlines. Any help would be appreicated. Barring a UA first round NCAA game, I am leaving in three weeks.



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I have been to Paris, but none of the rest. If you don't speak French, it's kind of a biotch to get around. Most people expect you to at least make an effort at French, even if its broken and stilted. Most people either don't speak English, or if they do they hold out on you. At least that was my experience. My girlfriend at the time spoke French a little better than I did (I took it in high school) and I was able to get the very basic communications across. So they made the effort back with what English they knew.


I stayed in a small hotel across from Gare du Nord (North Train Station). The closer you can stay to public transportation the better, in my opinion. We actually took the Chunnel across from London, to Nord and then used that to catch the subways around Paris.


Champs d'Elysee (I know I didn't just spell that right) is long as HELL. If you attempt to walk it up and down, plan for a long long walk. The Louvre was cool, except when I went we didn't even go inside because the lines were so freaking long.


Obviously try to hit the Eiffel Tower if you're into those types of things. It was pretty cool. I walked all the way up (there are elevators) just to say I walked all the way up, and man it's big.


I found I liked to pay for things with credit card, because, depending on your company, they just do a straight-up conversion. If you trade in your money, I've never done the multiple-country thing at once.


The problem with trading in money is that if you do it at a commerical company, or even a Euro bank, they charge you a fee. So to go from dollars to Euros is one fee, plus whatever conversion rate they give you (tends to be just slightly under the actual rate so they make money off you there too). If you can use Euros everywhere, which I think you can, great. If you can't, then you'll get a little soaked going from dollars to Euros to xxxx.


When you take money out of an ATM, same thing, your bank uses whatever conversion rate they have (again usually they give a little less to make money off you). So that's always an option too, because usually you won't get charged another flat fee.


Also, I found the hostels in France and England to be kind of shady. You can leave your bag locked up in sort of a communal place, but there is no guarantee some shady bastard won't get into your stuff even though they keep it locked up. That is the general feeling I got. I preferred to find a hotel, however seedy it may have seemed.


As for the train travel, try looking up the EuroCard or eurorail or something. There is some kind of train card that you can purchase in advance that is good for a defined length of time, unlimited number of rides. It would probably save you money, especially if you can figure out how many times you're going to ride while you're there. I unfortunately don't remember the exact name but EuroRail sounds familiar.

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