My Stories

Final Thoughts On My European Adventures

Nothing like “Home Sweet Home” when you’ve been away but as I went through Duty Free in Sydney and stocked up on whiskeys before I picked my luggage up, Van Halen’s “Take Your Whiskey Home” came to mind. I guess I prefer to stumble and fall after all.

So as soon as I got inside my house, I started summarizing our Euro Adventure.

So here are my thoughts on my European Adventures.

Berlin

We just touched the surface of what Berlin had to offer. It’s definitely a city I would like to return to (Barcelona is also in this bucket as we only touched the surface of what Barcelona has to offer in 2016) and explore a bit more, especially the villages outside Berlin like Spandau and it’s Old Town.

I was comfortable with the drink prices but believed that the food in restaurants was a bit expensive especially when you have a family of five eating and drinking, but it was easy to communicate as the places always had an English speaking worker.

The public transport was the best in Europe I’ve seen so far (I’ve heard Switzerland is the top one but I’ve never been there, so I can’t comment on it and when we did Barcelona two years ago, we didn’t use the public transport, so I can’t comment on that either) and the way the train stations are situated, everything is within 2 to 5 minutes walking distance. Plus you can buy those one day cards or five day cards that allows you unlimited travel.

I just hope they fix their airports up and finish off their various capital works projects as it makes the city look like a construction site. Then again Sydney has the same problem with construction sites causing mayhem.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen was a rip off. It didn’t matter where we stopped, everything felt like it was super inflated and it left a bitter taste. The only bitter taste allowed is alcohol.

But the city is good to see even in the wind and rain. Most of the shops had English speaking staff and like all European cities it had construction sites set up around some of their old buildings. Plus their public transport system is excellent and we had no worries navigating.

I wanted to go to the Carlsberg Factory for a tour but time ran away from us.

Tallinn

It was windy, cold and rainy on day one and just windy and cold on day two. Then again it was towards the end of September.

We did Old Town and some of the shopping sites around it, like the train station mall/market like shops and an actual three story shopping centre that I believe was underneath a Hotel.

I felt the prices were okay for food and drink but any clothing price was extremely high which I found strange.

A local store worker told me the beaches are great when it’s summer and to come back to experience it, but I’m biased towards Australia and the beaches we have. Our beaches are fantastic, clean, well patrolled and for those who don’t know how to handle waves, currents and rips, very dangerous.

St Petersburg

It was very show offy like, here is a statue of a previous leader who crushed this country in this war and this statue was made to commemorate the victory and here is a statue of that same leader on his horse, stepping on the Danish snake after this war. And this dogma goes on and on. Here is a palace, here is a weekend Palace, here is a Palace with a Garden, here is the Post Office (which looks like a Palace) and so forth.

Everything is grand, everything has gold and every attraction has fantastic ceiling paintings/murals about some religious event/interpretation. Even the underground train stations.

Communication was difficult as the store workers didn’t have a great grasp of English and doing this city via a tour is totally worth it. There is a “Like A Local” tour via SPB that a few friends did that was highly recommended and it included drinking a lot of vodka and eating Russian style food.

Skopje, Bitola, Ohrid and Struga

The price of food and alcohol and cigarettes is dirt cheap. When it comes to food basically everything is made from scratch. There are no additives and preservatives added. The produce is grown organically with no spraying. The mountainous climate must help in some way. Check out this Vogue article that sums up the food side perfectly.

One Euro gets you 62 Denari or in my case, one Aussie dollar gets you 38 Denari so when you compare that beer is more or less between 30 to 80 Denari and a Macchiato is 30 Denari it’s pretty cheap.

Eating out for five people cost me on average 2500 Denari which comes to about $65 Australian. We had salads, entrees, mains, a lot of beers, soft drinks and sparkling water. For what we had, in Australian I would have paid close to $300 dollars. And because you had so much food you more or less ate one big meal and that was it.

And Ohrid had this ice cream place close to Lake Ohrid that was excellent. We visited that place regularly.

But the hotel prices are the same like Australia, ranging from 70 Euros a night which equates to about $120 Australian. And to hire a car, it cost me 25 Euro a day.

It’s pretty easy to drive here. Just need to watch for tractors on the road who don’t even try and give way or people walking on the road and refusing to move to the side. Otherwise all okay.

But it’s polluted. Everyone just burns shit like the crops they harvested or their rubbish.

Funny thing we arrived in Macedonia and left with the Government getting enough votes to change the constitution for it to be Northern Macedonia.

Visiting this place got me interested to check out the other countries that used to make up Yugoslavia like Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Helsinki and Stockholm we didn’t end up doing due to bad weather, which meant our Cruise ship couldn’t dock, but I made a vow to fly there direct and spend time.

So maybe I already have the embryo of my next trip in mind already. We’ll see what transpires for 2020.

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5 thoughts on “Final Thoughts On My European Adventures

  1. Really enjoyed your posts on your European Tour with the family Pete!
    Glad your back safe n sound!
    Indeed you can always ‘Take Your Whiskey Home!”

  2. Henrik says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts on cultures, countries and travelling. Very enjoyable to read, though I’m also a huge fan of your insight into 1980s hard rock and especially analysis of how this or that track is composed. (Have been listening to the shit since 1982 but absolutely no idea on any instrument nor music theory.)

    Public transport. Yes, the Swiss make it tick like a clock. Zurich is highly recommended. It can be extremely posh and stylish, yet very relaxed and cosy, thanks to breathtaking sceneries and nearby mountains, forests and trails. People of Zurich seem to be bourgeoisie and not so much about rock ’n’ roll but despite prevailing middle-class values they have legalized cannabis. (Because of its healing powers as ‘wellness’ is in Swiss DNA.)

    Copenhagen is super inflated but almost nothing compared to Norway, especially Oslo. Paris or New York come to mind when you consider bang for the buck in Oslo. That is, expensive as hell but somehow worth the money. Then again, living in any Nordic country does not come cheap. Yet Copenhagen is best of the bunch. Oslo is more scenic and Nordic, but CPH combines Scandinavian culture with Middle-European heritage.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Swiss transport system and the inflated costs.

      Since our Aussie dollar is always weaker we get killed on currency conversions so we try to get as much bang for our buck.

      I didn’t know that Oslo was also expensive.

      • Henrik says:

        Yes, it’s hard to believe because Norwegians are so modest, relaxed and down to earth. Yet their sovereign wealth fund is 1 trillion USD, which is highest in the world. Norway’s GDP is among top 10.

        Norway was considered as a poor little brother of Sweden until 1960s when oil and gas were found in their shores. Almost an overnight Norway became the richest country in Scandinavia and little later one of the richest in the world when measured by GDP.

        Happy people, high prices. But they are not like Arabs who show off their wealth. Norwegians are still humble, outdoorsy and laid-back despite their wealth. I guess most of the public money goes to infra, health sector, education and other common-good initiatives; not to skyscrapers, artificial islands, F1 races, huge tournaments, etc.

        Maybe this is one of the reasons why black metal arose in Norway and not, for example, in Finland or Sweden. The kids were so privileged that some of them started to feel uncomfortable and rebellious. So, what’s extreme opposite of being shiny-happy-people? Satan and brutal metal assault. Nah, I don’t know…

      • Thanks for the background info. Again I had no idea. It’s funny how little people know. Norway hardly ever gets featured in the conversation of Australians. We talk about Finland, because all we see are reports about happy city and government trials of different working days and times.

        Also as I was reading the comment I was thinking how did Black Metal rise from those conditions, and you nailed that as well.

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