Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A few final travel thoughts

The sign above belongs to a beautiful hotel in the town of Equisheim, France, which is also recognized as the best Alsacian village. We stayed there 20 years ago and had a photograph of the outside of the building. We wanted to go back. We found it, but it was slightly different. It had a different color and a more beautiful sign. It had been sold 12 years ago to the new owners, and the lady of the house was so tickled to see my old photo, she immediately asked if she could make a photocopy of it for herself. It was too early for lunch, but it was such fun to go back after all these years.

The signage is what always takes my breath away. It is so beautiful. You can just see the pride that the owners have in their establishments.

Another sign of a vintner in the Alsace region. And now, just a few more thoughts as I bring this trip to a close.
Luckily, it is not such a great challenge anymore, switching from an automatic to a manual transmission in Europe. The Trout does very well, and I simply do not drive in Europe. Another challenge is filling the car with gasoline or diesel, which we use. It is not so simple, at least for us.
As Americans, our credit car are accepted almost all over without a problem, but filling the car can be a real problem.
First rule, start looking for a gas station when the tanks hits 1/2 full. Our credit cards lack a chip which allows them to be used in gas stations without an attendant. You need to find someone working at a station who will swipe the card for you. Just another challenge we have gotten used to.
Now, how about those toll booths! Once in Italy, not finding a slot to put the money in, we simply threw it in an unmanned open window. Luckily, there was not a barrier in front of us.
In Norway, we could not translate fast enough in heavy traffic to know which gate to enter and, of course, we entered a "paid pass" gate and just kept on flying through. I hope we were smiling, which I doubt, because our pictures were taken, sent to the rental agency and we were billed an extra $80 for that mistake.
A couple of years back, in France, we again could not find the slot to put the money in. This time, the arm would not rise before paying, so cars were building up behind us.
An elderly lady behind us got out of her car, but wasn't much help either. She did find a HELP button which we pushed. With our fractured French and the HELP man's fractured English, we finally figured it out.
Parking lots also need coins deposited and then the receipt placed in the front windshield. There have been times when we failed to find the box to put the money in, but we have never had a problem with the police.
This year we also bought our train tickets over the Internet while still at home, printed them out and this way we avoided long lines at the train station. There are many ways to make traveling easier on yourself, and I think we have them all figured out by now.
And what lies in the future, well....the Trout has been searching homes to rent in Provence for next spring. We'll see what comes out of this plan. Nothing is definite yet, but we are working on it, and that is just as much fun, if not more, than the actual traveling.


  1. Just discovered you, great blog, I will be back for more. Diane

  2. I have enjoyed reading about your trip since I have never been to France. I would have trouble with the toll booths too--we had never seen toll booths until we visited Florida!

    And the signs are gorgeous. As a former sign painter I too appreciate the artwork and craftsmanship in a beautiful sign. I especially love the brackets!

  3. The signs are beautiful, so ornate! I bet the lady was thrilled to see the old photo!

    Those tolls are not a fun thing, kind of sounds like driving in Chicago! This reminds me of a horrible experience we had in Luxembourg trying to pay for gas.

  4. Haha... throwing the money into a window is something I would do! Sounds like you have lots of wonderful memories of your trips!

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  6. I have enjoyed your trip Susan. We are thinking of renting in Provence sometime next year also. You are right that planning is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

  7. I love all those travel stories. They are much funnier when we get home and can laugh about them than they were as we were living them. The memories are so enjoyable.

    My daughter and I have our plane tickets and hotel booked for our return to Paris next spring. Yay!

  8. I just smile as I read your travel posts. I guess the experiences are part of the journey of travel. I think it's awesome.
    I am really going to look forward to reading out renting a house in France next Spring.

  9. Your throwing the money at the toll window reminds me of something from the show Seinfield! :D Those signs are just gorgeous. I love all of the wonderful detail!

  10. Do you know which area of Provence? I think the Luberon area is really great: such as Lourmarin or Ansouis. Or near Avignon or St Remy.