Europe 2016: Honeymoon Edition

Europe 2016: Honeymoon Edition

September has been a great month. I got married and went on an awesome honeymoon to Europe. We visited four cities: London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. I brought my GoPro with me and took a few shots using my new Feiyu Tech G4S Stabilizer. It worked really well and I hope the video comes out great. I posted a lot more pictures on my Instagram (@ENPalomo) if you want to see some stills.
After reading a lot of posts about pick pocketing in Europe, my wife bought a Pacsafe Venturesafe 150 GII cross body pack. I used this instead of a body wallet that people usually recommend. This worked great on the subways and buses throughout Europe. It has a lot of anti theft features which makes it a great alternative to a body wallet. I might do a review on this after all the cities.

Cell Phones 

We purchased SIM cards in London, Paris and Rome. We did not purchase SIM cards in Amsterdam, instead we used our previous SIM cards and roamed. This lasted about three days into our trip to Amsterdam which was enough.

Airfare and Transportation

 

I booked my tickets using Kayak and my train ticket using Eurostar. Each city has a different system for public transportation which we picked up after landing. We also used Uber for a few rides in London and Paris. This was the first time using Uber and it took a few rides to get used to using it and the etiquette when using it. The app didn’t update numbers when switching SIM cards which I found out the hard way. Overall, I had a great experience with Uber and the drivers I interacted with.If you plan on using taxis to get to your accommodation, use a legitimate one. Their will be people asking you if you need a taxi in the airport terminals and some of them are not legitimate. Make sure they have a meter and a taxi sign or licence. They prey on tourists and will overcharge you.

Another great app to download would be City Mapper. This app was a lifesaver on the trip. It requires an internet connection but you can use it offline if you save routes. You pick a starting point or use your GPS location and pick a destination. The app then calculates the quickest route to your destination including all forms of public transportation. It also calculates driving, walking and rider sharing apps like Uber. This made navigating the city that much easier. It doesn’t have all major cities so check the website to see if the one you’re visiting is on there.

Accommodations

 
Trying to find hotels that fit within our budget and proximity to the city center was extremely difficult. We opted to go with AirBnB. This was my first experience using AirBnB and it was great. It was also more affordable and located in great areas within the cities. At first I was hesitant to use this site but after talking to multiple friends we decided to give it a try. Each place we stayed in had an excellent guest ratings and had a minimum 50 reviews. I also read all the negative reviews if any. We had a great time in each place which I’ll discuss in each city review.
Attractions and Restaurants
We primarily used the website Trip Advisor to look up attractions and restaurants. I’ve used this website to plan past trips to Tokyo and Seoul. They have a great forum if you need to ask questions about places you’re going to visit. I would also save locations using Google maps. I will talk about the few we visited on our trip.
Money Exchange
We took some cash with us with the intent to change it at a currency exchange. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best way to obtain foreign currency. We should have brought half the amount of cash and pulled the rest out of ATM’s. When I added up the fees from the ATM transaction, it was lower than the fees from currency exchange. Most European bank ATM’s do not charge fees, with most of our fees coming from our local bank. Our bank fee was about $2. Try to avoid independent ATM’s and stick with bank ATM’s.

Some currency exchanges have commissions and the trading rate was higher than the bank rate. Make sure you inform your bank before traveling. Most banks will lock your account since withdrawals from a foreign country looks suspicious.

Credit Cards

My wife and I have a travel friendly credit card. We do not get charge foreign transaction fees and we get the best dollar to euro/pound conversion rate as opposed to cash. The rates are made by Visa which is close to the bank currency exchange rate.

I will be writing about the cities in the order I visited them, London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. I’ll try to finish one each week.
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