This post contains travel tips together with some common-sense notions that will help you avoid scams and tourist traps. As in all countries, be on your guard for scammers, especially in the cities of Europe. Generally, western cities are safe places at most times, but make sure you do some reading of what areas to avoid when visiting a specific city.
Visiting the French- What should I look for?
A beautiful country, travel to France would be incomplete without a visit to a few key places around the country. Make sure you visit the Palace of Versailles, a beautiful and impressive structure that holds within its halls much of the history of this impressive country. Mont Saint-Michelle is a wonderfully preserved abbey whose location and design are breathtaking.
(Photo credit : Chad Dustin )
For the more physically inclined out there, the Chamonix- nestled at the foot of the highest mountain in the EU- is a ski resort where some of the world’s best test themselves against ski and snowboard slopes of legend. And no trip to France would be complete without a stop in Paris- the city is famous for a reason, and would require its own article to really go over what it offers!
(Photo credit : Tudorica Alexandru)
Given its position near the Atlantic and surrounded by water even on the side opposite the ocean, the country enjoys consistent temperatures with a fair balance of wet and dry seasons- expect more rain and cool temperatures to the north, and drier warmer climes to the south- but no matter where you go, expect to love what you find!
While in France, try to make sure you keep your mind on where your valuables are. I’ve seen too many stories of people getting pick pocketed or swindled out of their cash to leave it out. So be cautious- there are some shameless people out there.
Germany- A short rundown
A scenic and well-maintained country, Germany has no shortage of choice destinations. But if you’re low on time, you must not miss Heidelberg. A carefully preserved and quite attractive city, the Old City sector holds a unique appeal that all will enjoy. While in Berlin, visit the standing sections of the old wall- they are a powerful reminder of the world we once lived in and how lucky we are now.
(Photo credit : Lars Kehrel)
In the same vein, in Berlin, remember to take the time to visit the Brandenburg gate. Not only is the design and architecture impressive, it is a hopeful symbol of a reunified Germany.
(Photo credit : Neal1960)
In the south, take the time to find Neuschwanstein castle. An impressive symbol of Old Germany, it is a wonderful example of German industry and the Gothic beauty that Germany once exemplified.
(Photo credit : Dawid Martynowski)
Germany, like France, has quite a strong coastal climate, and as such is rather mild. Do be wary of colder, more windy temperatures and weather patterns in fall and winter, and the mountains, as should be expected, have colder and wetter weather patterns.
German thieves and scam artists
In general just be wary of anything that seems too good to be true, or perhaps seems a bit over-wrought or over-dramatic. People are quite ingenious and creative when they’re trying to cheat you, so don’t let them get the better of you- keep an eye on everything around you.
Italy- well worth the time
The country of exquisite food also has exquisite attractions to be found around itself. Start in Florence, and while there be sure you take the time to visit the Santa Maria del Fiore- a beautiful Gothic cathedral several centuries old that manages to outclass many modern wonders.
(Photo credit : Raffaele Ausiello)
Don’t let yourself travel to Italy without visiting Rome- the acclaim this city has is well earned.
(Photo credit : Moyan Brenn)
In Sienna next, take some time out of your tour to appreciate the Piazza del Campo- the genius in this city’s architecture and integrity will amaze and impress- you will not be disappointed by this visit.
(Photo credit : Any.colour.you.like )
And, of course, make the time to visit Venice, and appreciate the well-designed and organized Canals- no second there will feel wasted.
(Photo Credit : Pjrockey)
Unlike the other countries mentioned here, Italy’s climate and weather is rather more varied. In the north it’s harsh and hot in summer and frigid and wet in winter. In central Italy it’s milder, but with definite differences between the two season. In southern Italy, the winters are mild and the summers are as warm as they are elsewhere in the country. Plan your trip according to the weather you want!
Common Italian scams
Normal common sense applies, but a few scams that are most common are coin switching- passing off low value coins as high value- and people posing as gypsies to garner sympathy while accomplices steal wallets or from purses. You must be careful around people you don’t know- there are quite a few well designed scams ready to trap even the most wary of travelers.
Spain- a cultural wonderland
The palace Alhambra in southern Spain- near the city of Granada- is a beautiful fortress and garden that keeps your attention for the whole visit with its breathtaking design and strength. The Mezquita of Cordoba is one of the more beautiful attractions on this list, a mosque of wondrous proportions and with arches and pillars abounding in a way that puts many other such structures to shame.
(Photo credit : Tony Shertila )
El Escorial is a monastery and palace that is 4 and a half centuries old, an old seat of spanish government that is being used for many things including a royal palace today. Despite its age, it has lost none of its grandeur or beauty.
(Photo credit : Hans van Reenen)
One last attraction to find your way to is the Roman Catholic cathedral called the Sagrada Familia- located in Barcelona, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country, and for good reason. It is beautiful and impressive, a feat of human engineering.
(Photo credit : Carlos Martin)
What to be wary of in Spain
Spain uniquely has law firms and lawyers which look to scam unwary international travellers. The country also has its share of problems with false gypsies and ATM skimming, so keep an eye open when traveling there and when something seems off- it probably is. Trust yourself- you notice more than you give yourself credit for.
Traveling across Europe is an experience that is unforgettable no matter where you go- but don’t miss out on some of the most impressive attractions across the continent!