Finally! I'm going to Europe!

Where ever possible, pay by credit card. You’ll get a better exchange rate, closer to the wholesale rate.

Recommended place to stay in London:
Hotel 167 in South Kensington, double room £ 90 or £ 99 ($141-155). Close to the top museums.

The British Museum is definitely recommended, one of the world’s greatest museums. Take the 90-minute Highlights guided tour if your time is limited.

If you are staying overnight in London, take in a play in London’s theatre district, the West End.

And to repeat what peepthis said, avoid the fanny packs, baseball caps, and sneakers; and I’ll add, sweatsuits. Adults are a tad dressier in Europe and England than they are in America.

I forgot to mention the incredible Food Halls at Harrod’s Department Store.

If you have the time, I have some reccommendations for the trip from Switzerland to the Netherlands. Going up through southern Germany, I’d hit Neuschwanstein, the castle Disney based the Disneyland castle off of (it’s beautiful, and the history of mad King Ludwig is funny too). Neuschwanstein is just into Germany, near Füssen (IIRC). If you like nature, I’d drive up through the Schwarzwald region on your way north and stop in some remote areas at a hiking parking area and walk around a bit…it’s very nice.

I’d head up and hit Heidelberg, with it’s beautiful castle, and picturesque old city. From there, I’d drive through my town :slight_smile: and head up to Trier, which is the oldest city in Germany, and has some amazing sights: A roman amphitheater built in 100 AD, the Kaiserthermen, which are gloriously intact Roman baths…you can tour the waterways underground and everything, and the crowning sight in Trier: the Porta Nigra, the gate to the city, built in about 200 AD, which is still completely intact and sturdy…you can go all the way to the top.

After that, I’d hit the road to Amsterdam, although if you want to spend more time in Germany, you can stop by Cologne and see the Cathedral…it’s one of the largest in Europe, and is truly an impressive sight. Heidelberg and Trier are both half-day stops, and Neuschwanstein will take you about a half day, but the driving in between will make hitting all of them about 2-3 days worth of sightseeing.

As far as eating in non-touristy areas…just stop by some city and eat downtown somewhere…there are lots of good restaurants.

Jman

Oh…and as far as the European version of Wal-Mart? (even though they have Wal-Mart over here)…in Germany the closest thing is probably Real, which is kind of like a Wal-Mart supercenter, with grocery store and everything…although, it’s not that exciting.

Jman

I assume you mean that the delicious ‘rijstaafeel’ is not Dutch?!
Well I eat one (or several) every time I visit!
Oreo, it’s a refillable bowl of rice with loads (and loads!) of small side dishes to choose from. There are both Indonesian and Chinese versions.

When visiting London, have a stroll in the Parks. That’s one thing us locals do! (There may be a bandstand, which might have live music on a weekend.)
Do look for street markets (there’s one at Covent Garden which usually also has some street entertainment). Sadly I must echo Jammers’ warnings about pickpockets.

Remember that London is very old - you will see amazing contrasts in time all around you. Watch for cute street names!
There are guided walks -

  • which will let you absorb the sights in a leisurely fashion. Note that accredited guides have the blue badge qualification -

Londoners use public transport a lot, compared to the US staple of car travel. (We’ve recently introduced a coingestion charge to cut down the number of cars in the centre of London.)
You can get maps of the Underground (Tube) and bus routes (the trains run out of London, not through it).
There are open-topped bus tours with commentaries. Did I mention that it rains a lot in the UK? :eek:

Enjoy your visit!

I still think Neuschwanstein is overrated…but here’s the link to their website for more info. It’s pretty, I have to admit. But IMHO if you go see it it’s better to just take pictures from the outside and for an inside look visit Linderhof castle right next to it. It is a lot less overrun.

I also just remembered Rothenburg which is always a favourite. If you visit this city, Heidelberg or Trier be prepared to run into a LOT of tourists, though. But hey, those are the “classics” :slight_smile:

I’ll second Jman’s notion that Real isn’t that exciting. You’ll probably enjoy shopping at a local bakery/butcher’s shop/small store more.

Related Anecdotal True Story: An American friend of mine loved going to the bakery where she would purchase a different food item each time. Once she did not know the name of a small cake type thing, she just pointed at it. The salesperson said: “Amerikaner??” and my friend was very puzzled as to how she could have guessed. Well, it’s the name of the cake. :smiley:

So you might want to try one of those. Though I hear some of them have been renamed “Freedom cake” or some such nonsense :smack:

Actually, no, it isn’t, except in the way that Indian food is British (i.e. very popular around here though originating elsewhere). There are variants that have been blandified for Dutch taste, but a proper ‘rijsttafel’ (note the spelling, glee ;)) is authentically Indonesian AFAIK. It is not really a chinese thing. Chinese do eat in a similar manner, but that is not called rijsttafel (rice table) but simple dinner.

Nitpicks like the above besides, it is delicious and glee must be commended for his (her?) excellent taste. If you want restaurant recommendations, let me know and I’ll think it over.

Indian friends of mine assure me that Indian restaurants in the UK are serving a British version of Indian food. Our most popular dish (Chicken Tikka Masala) involves a can of tomato soup!

As for spelling:
I blame the Dutch for all speaking perfect English! How am I supposed to learn the local lingo?
I can assure you that there are Dutch Chinese restaurants that serve a rijsttafel (and jolly nice they were too!)

As for my sex:
The clues are all in my profile … ‘Chess, AD+D, Computer games’ sadly is far too likely to be male :smack:

If you’re looking for somewhere “interesting” to stay in London, my fave is the Goring Hotel - it’s just behind Buckinham Palace and is a gorgeous family-run establishment. All the rooms are different and quirky, and they all come with a fascinating book about the family and the hotel’s history. Can be a little expensive but well worth the experience - especially the bathrooms!!

[hijack] The Dutch Chinese restaurants you refered to, glee, are exactly the ones I meant when speaking about ‘blandified’ rice tables. Those restaurants call themselves Chinese-Indonesion (meaning they serve both cuisines), the owners are Chinese, but the rice table is purely derived from the original Indonesian one. What they serve is actually not too bad, but not as good as the real stuff, found in more specialised restaurants.
[/hijack]

I kinda agree with that… the castle is stunningly, stunningly beautiful from the outside, and I’d recommend a trip there just for that. On the inside though, it’s not really such a big deal. The neighbouring Hohenschwangau castle isn’t all that impressive either, so I’d suggest that once you’ve oohed and aahed at the castle from a distance, take a walk down the Radweg, or cycle track, that starts at the foot of the lake (yeah, the castle overlooks a lake!). Or better yet, take cycles - it’s a beautiful track, going up and down the mountain alongside the lake… you can actually go all the way up to the Austrian border with it!

If you want to see the inside of a castle, then go visit the Linderhof (beautiful on the inside, with beautiful surrounding countryside), and the Herrenchiemsee, which if I’m not mistaken, it’s a smaller scale almost exact copy of a castle in France whose I just can’t remember now!!! Y’know, the once surrounded by a lake… Anyway, all three castles are not far off from Munich, but you can’t visit all in a day, or even two…

Europe is a beautiful continent, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute of your holiday there. Do try and learn a few phrases in the local language of the place you’ll be visiting… it makes a difference!

Well, I looked up “paling” in my combination-Dutch-dictionary-and-fan (how did I ever live without that thing?), and it said “eel.” Any comment? (I did try the herring as well, but didn’t like it as much.)

Wow! You guys are great. This is good stuff. I had no idea Wal-Mart was already extending it’s plan for evil world domination to Europe. (Not suprised, though.) I guess it might be interesting to stop in to compare and contrast, just like we’ll probably take a peek inside a McDonalds to check it out. Won’t waste much time doing things like that, though. I can get more McDonalds and Wal-Mart than I care to at home.

We had originally planned to include Paris on our little tour, but canceled for time restraints and plus, well…not wanting to go where we’re not exactly welcome at the moment. I was pretty disappointed about it, but now I think I’m grateful. We’ll have more time to do all this stuff.

So keep it coming!

Oreo<-----scribbling notes furiously

[Dutch cuisine hijack]

Ah, you did mean the eel indeed. I’m sorry; I rarely hear foreigners talk about eating eel. Mostly they are grossed out by the raw herring. Guess in this case it was a …

red herring. ::rimshot::
[/Dutch cuisine hijack]

In Amsterdam you might want to visit the NEMO science museum. It’s pitched mainly at kids, but good fun.

There’s a Tibetan restaurant called Sherpa which is both cheap and groovy. I’ll try to find an address and post it if I do.

Have fun.

milo