Before I knew it, lunchtime arrived and I was breaking into my taco salad.
Using the leftovers from taco night to create a gigantic taco salad may be one of my favorite parts about making tacos in the first place. Taco salads are always so fresh and flavorful. I think I need more of them in my life.
Before moving on, I just wanted to let you know that the Fashion page was updated this afternoon!
Europe Trip Q & A
Now it’s time for some fun! I’ve compiled a list of the questions you guys asked me about my recent trip to Europe and detailed the answers for you below.
Since I received so many questions specific to what I packed, stay tuned for a post dedicated entirely to what I crammed into a carry on suitcase. I want to do some laundry first so I can snap some pics of clothing that isn’t totally wrinkled, but I hope to have the post up soon.
Let’s get started!
Tour Group Questions
What tour company did you use and would you tour with them again?
My family and I used Globus and went on the “Essential Europe” tour. We all absolutely loved our tour group and our tour guide and would definitely tour with Globus again.
If you were to travel to Europe again, would you do so on your own or with a tour group?
I’m really not sure. I was fortunate in that my parents paid for my most recent trip to Europe, so if I were to go again, I would definitely do a lot of number crunching before deciding whether or not to go with a tour group.
The benefits of a tour group are that they make travel from place to place and absolute dream, logistically speaking.
It’s fantastic not to have to worry about finding transportation or booking hotels in various countries, especially when you can’t speak the language. Plus, the tour always included a half-day of sightseeing in each country with stops by the popular attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome.
Planning my own trip greatly intrigues me as well because you’re not restricted to the tour group’s travel schedule and if you want to spend more or less time in one particular place or exploring one area, you can! Whether or not to tour with a tour group is really a tossup for me and a decision I think I would make based solely on finances in the future.
Did you like the other people on your tour? What were the demographics of your group?
We had a great group of people on our tour. Demographically speaking, most of the tour group members were Americans, with a few couples from Australia and New Zealand. The ages of tour group members varied, with my sister and me definitely at the younger end of the spectrum. We really enjoyed talking with every single person on our tour, though I think my sister and I most enjoyed a group of girls who were touring together from New York.
Did you have to do everything with the tour group or could you go out on your own?
You were always free to go out on your own any time, but everyone usually stuck with the tour group because you’ve already paid for the activities and meals included in your tour ahead of time. As I previously said, the group dinners got a little old, but all of the sight-seeing adventures with the tour group were a blast!
If you had to pick two different foods you ate on your trip, one sweet and one savory, and only eat these two items for the rest of your life, which dishes would you choose?
Mousse-style gelato from Italy for the sweet dish, no questions asked! As for the savory dish, that’s so hard! I loved the pizza in Italy, the cheese fondue in Switzerland and a roasted chicken stew with portobello mushrooms dish I had in Paris. I totally dodged that question, I know.
Did you have a hard time communicating in the countries that did not speak English? What was it like ordering in non-English speaking restaurants?
Since we were with a tour group, the language barrier wasn’t nearly as bad as I think it could have been. We felt a little lost ordering food sometimes and often stuck to restaurants off the street where we could point at what we wanted (and say thank you in the native language, of course). Fortunately many of the sit-down restaurants are used to lots of tourists and we were surprised just how many waiters could speak enough English to make our ordering experience easier. Many menus were also available in English, which was very helpful.
Which country was your favorite?
Switzerland. I couldn’t get over the beauty of the mountains and lakes and absolutely fell in love.
If you had wanted to work out, would you have been able to? Were there easily accessible gyms in Europe?
About half of our hotels had gyms and half didn’t. The gyms the hotels had were pretty teeny and typically had a treadmill or two and a bike. I didn’t see many gyms along the streets in any of the countries (I noticed a few in London), but I wasn’t really looking either.
What was the highlight of each individual location for you (attraction, restaurant, etc.)?
- Rome: The Colosseum
- Florence: Seeing the statue of David and the gelato place with mousse-style gelato
- Venice: Wandering up and down the gorgeous canals
- Lucerne, Switzerland: Mount Pilatus
- Paris: Dinner at L’Auberge Aveyronnaise
- London: Exploring Harrods
Were food and souvenirs more or less expensive than you thought they would be?
More expensive! The U.S. dollar is worth basically negative money overseas right now, so everything seemed outrageously expensive.
Family, Ryan & Personal Questions
How did you handle being away from Ryan and Sadie for so long?
It was hard! I found myself wishing Ryan was with me numerous times every day because I’d see something that would remind me of him or a funny joke that we share would pop into my head and I’d want him there to laugh with me. We’re also “partners in crime” and share a snarky sense of humor sometimes, so I missed those exchanges as well. Fortunately we were able to Skype a few times which was phenomenal. It was so wonderful to see both Ryan and Sadie from thousands of miles away.
Did you enjoy your long break from the gym?
Yes! Being away from the gym didn’t really bother me too much because we were so active. I started to get the itch to work out during the last three days of our trip and by the time we were boarding our plane back home my family and I all agreed that we were craving a workout.
Did you gain weight?
Yes. Three pounds of straight gelato weight. 😉
Did you and your sister fight or get irritated with each other at all on the trip?
Actually, no. We’ve always gotten along really well and this trip was no different. She’s so easy going and happy so it’s honestly hard to get irritated with her. I think I may be a little more difficult. 😉
Did you use your own hair tools or ones supplied by the hotel? How were the converters?
This was probably the most annoying thing about the whole trip! The outlets are totally different and we needed different converters for all of our electronics for several of the countries we visited. This was frustrating because my family only had one of the different converters, so my sister and I had to run back and forth from my parents’ hotel room to our room (often on different floors) if we wanted to straighten our hair or charge anything. We brought one cheapy straighterer to share because we’d heard horror stories of peoples’ expensive straighteners getting ruined in Europe. We relied on the hotels for blow dryers which worked out okay (remember the vacuum-cleaner blow dryer?), except for in Paris where they apparently don’t believe in supplying complimentary blow dryers to hotel guests.
Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life says
I love taco salad, probably even more than tacos!
I really hate that the outlets are different in Europe, having to travel with the converters is a pain in the butt!
WOAH! what a great Q+A.. love how you loved harrods!! its so fun just walking around!! did u ever visit selfridges?! its like harrods but more.. funky and hip.. less posh!
Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) says
3 pounds for all the delicious gelato, pizza and other goodies sounds totally worth it 🙂
Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) says
HAHA “straight gelato weight”!! That happened to me too when I was there a few years back! 😛
Oooh another question: What was your highlight of the whole trip for you?
Laura @ prettylittlewords says
Hahaha oh my gosh, I straight-up MELTED my bangs off with my converter/straightener combo. I cried for three days. Smart move, Julie…
Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife says
I hate the converter problem too!
being Swiss and all (70%), I too believe Swtizerland is THE best country. ever. hands down.
My husband and I want to live there later on 🙂
LOVE your idea of the best food….mmmm! Totally worth weight gain on vacay, it always comes off again anyways!
Shanna, Like Banana says
I’ve done two tours, one in Spain and one in Egypt. Both were great for different reasons, but overall, I’d say I like going on my own. Having the freedom to extend some days/events is so nice. While in Italy we ended up taking two unexpected day trips to Verona and Milan that were, um, quite memorable..hehe.
Holly at HLD Fashion says
mmm three pounds in gelato would be glorious!! 😛
I loove taco salad, too!!!
Great Q&A!!!! 😀 Your trip really sounds like it was an awesome experience!
My expensive hair straightener did not get ruined in Germany. It knocked out the power in the whole hotel! Oops–my converter apparently wasn’t strong enough!
It’s so funny that you mentioned the hair straightener thing….when I was in London my friend plugged her expensive straightener in and it literally melted in front of her eyes!
Kelly @foodiefresh says
My experience with Italian hair dryers is what prompted me to chop all of my hair off in Sorrento.
oh my gosh, this made me laugh out loud! 🙂
I broke my CHI straighter 3 days into my semester abroad..even though it’d lasted all over the world until then 🙁 You totally have to be careful!
I think everyone should totally take a shot at backpacking and making your own schedule through Europe. While it’s nice to have a guide and tour – and maybe the best way to start – I think it’s such a great experience to go with the flow, meet people in hostels and explore a city on your own two feet. I think it may be something you have to do at a young age too though, when you still don’t mind sleeping on trains and napping on benches while waiting for an open room.
Gina @ Runningtothekitchen says
Did you have any problems charging your computer? We’re going to Ireland tomorrow and I have an adapter and converter but I’m still scared I’m going to fry the thing!
no! it worked really well w/ the converter. my mom said most of the issues w/ converters are w/ things that get really hot like hair tools, irons, etc.
I gained 5 pounds of bread and cheese weight last time I was in Europe! But it was definitely worth it.
If you ever go again, try to go to Amsterdam! Its my favorite place I’ve been to overseas!
Holly @ The Runny Egg says
Great post Julie — I really want to take a trip to Europe with Jason at some point and I’m not sure if we’d do it on our own or if we’d take a tour group trip. I sure don’t think I could go without him though — I’m so sad when he’s gone for a day or two!
Jihane @Sinful Sundays says
Great Post! I for one seriously loved reading your travel stories while you were away. I thought they were fun!
I’ve done a tour and logistically it was great, however I felt because I was on such a schedule I didn’t get to experience the people of the country and saw how they really lived. I was constantly surrounded by touring Americans–which is cool, but I felt that I didn’t get the full experience of that country’s culture. I will probably never do a tour again, but I think they are good starting points for new travelers.
Liz @ Tip Top Shape says
I’ve done three European vacations with Globus. Love them!
Tori (Fresh Fruition) says
What an awesome idea to take taco leftovers as a salad! And I adore Italian pizza. It’s so fresh and flavorful!
Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine says
The converter issue is so annoying! My mom actually has one that she ordered online with three different outlet plugs so you can take it to most European countries. Pretty nifty!
awesome! aahhhhh I know switzerland would be one of my faves!!! especially b/c it seems similar to sound of music 😛 great Q&As
Emma @ Getting There & Going Places says
Haha I love all these questions people came up with! 😛
And I love how you shamelessly admit you put on 3 pounds in straight gelato weight! 😛 authentic Italian gelato is so worth it! 😉
It looks like you had a great trip! 😀 And I really enjoyed all the posts about it! 😀
This is so awesome! Definitely some useful information here for anyone thinking about traveling to Europe.
I loved following your journey in Europe!! This Q+A is perfect too, so I’m bookmarking it because I (cross my fingers) hope to go to Paris for my junior year abroad. I loved hearing about your favorite sites and restaurants, too. I cannot wait to try REAL gelato!!
megan @ the oatmeal diaries says
LOVED reading about your travels! I would love to travel around Europe… I went to Italy once and definitely gained the oh-so-worth it gelato weight! 🙂
Julie, what kind of GUM did you find over there?
I booked our 3 week honeymoon in Italy all by my lonesome…it was such a fun experience mapping it all out, finding the best methods of transportation for each area, and researching how to travel and live like a local. We stayed in all B&B’s and our hosts were pure Italian hospitality. I highly recommend it if you enjoy nerding out and doing research!
Cait @ Beyond Bananas says
Thanks for sharing so much about your trip! I have only been to Europe once.. with an ex who had studied abroad in London. We did our own thing -which was cool. As college kids..we hit up hostels.. scary. Traveled to Dublin too. I liked hearing how different is was for you since you were with a tour group!
AWW! I loved this! Especially since I plan to study abroad there like my sister did! She was in greece for 2.5 months and went free-travel for 2 weeks with her four best friends! She does not regret it, but has decided to cut this out of her life as a christian but OH the bar hopping stories she told me! lol. She went to Italy and Israel, Mt. Sinai, Egypt! ALL AROUND. So jealous, She brought home all her 4 close guy friends a yamika hehe
I can’t wait to try Gelato! have you ever had the kind here in the states? is it as good? I’ve seen some in stores and should check some out even though I HIGHLY doubt its half as good as the real stuff!
Do you plan on doing anything to lose the three pounds or do you not care? Are you going to cut back on regular sweets? JUST WONDERING! I would so gain weight if I went there. Ice cream is my best friend!
This is going to sound really bizarre but I LOVE how proud you are of your three pounds of ‘straight gelato weight gain’. It means you didn’t hold back, ate your way through Europe, and yeah you put on 3 pounds but it was worth every moment. That means you’re LIVING, not dieting. Awesome stuff. <3
Tessa @ Amazing Asset says
I agree with you Ally! This shows how much fun you had and enjoyed whatever the heck you wanted, I love this 🙂
Jayme @ Runner-n-Spice says
Oh! I loved Rome too!! I remember eating gelato at the trevi fountain……I want to go back!!
Glad you are safe and sound back at home. Love your trip posts!
Thanks for doing the Q & A, Julie 🙂 Loved hearing all of your answers.
I have to google it, but I wonder why you need a converter? I know the outlets themselves are different, but I guess the energy supply is different too? So crazy! I totally want one of those air dryers that looks like a vacuum 😉
Sarah @ The Pajama Chef says
love it! when i spent a summer in france i bought a straightener/hair dryer there cause i didn’t want to ruin my stuff. good decision!
I loved reading this and the rest of your recaps- it was like a virtual tour around Europe 🙂
Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers says
I’m happy to hear you liked Switzerland. I haven’t been but would love to go there.
Really helpful Q&A, although I was in Paris last month and they do have blow dryers 🙂 Hope you will enjoy your next trip to Europe soon.
That’s awesome that you get along so well with your sister. I have two sisters and I love them dearly but I think they would drive me crazy after a few days.
Amy @ Love4Living says
I cannot help but LOL, of all the questions one could ask about Europe.. Did you gain weight? Really? LOL
Thanks for the Q & A Post though.. I followed your recaps like a stalker!
That was the most common question I got!!!
Amber K says
Thank you so much for this recap! Switzerland is definitely one of the best places I have ever traveled to! I can’t stop thinking about how beautiful it is, and my trip was over ten years ago!
I know this post is from a while ago, but I was just exploring your blog and was very interested in your trip to Europe. I’m looking into going, and was wondering how long you went for? Your link to the “Essential Europe” tour did not work, I was wondering if it was anything similar to the Europe in Depth tour? (link here: http://www.globusjourneys.com/Product.aspx?trip=4KM)
That one looks amazing! Did you feel like your tour was kind of rushed, or was it a good pace for you? Thanks for all the recommendation and information! 🙂