6 Essentials for European Travel

6 Essentials for Europe Travel — Your guide to planning a European trip, including what to pack, what to leave at home, and what should never leave your sight.

Guess who’s back. Back again. Em-ly’s back. Tell a friend.

 

Whew! I am just jam packing these Frenchy french posts in this week ain’t I?! One and done is the way I look at it. And by one I mean ONE. WHOLE. WEEK. Dedicated to all things travel/croissant/french related.

 

And it’s Thursday so that means VTPBlog for the win!

 

 

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Seeing this was my first trip overseas, I didn’t really know what to expect as far as traveling went.

Did I pack enough? Too much?

Do I have to show them my driver’s license AND my passport?

Do I have my passport?

Will the plane ride be all in French? What about the movies?

Will an accordion playing, beret wearing Frenchman greet me with a baguette upon arrival?

Do I have my passport?

 

Deep thoughts.

But there were some things that I’m glad I remembered or knew for flying overseas, and also some things I wish I remembered. Like a rain jacket. Or a chapstick that wasn’t on it’s last leg. So if you are planning a trip across the border pond, here are 6 helpful tips to remember before you go.

 

6 Essentials for Europe Travel -- Your guide to planning a European trip, including what to pack, what to leave at home, and what should never leave your sight.

 

 

1. Outlet Adapter

One must have is an outlet adapter. Plugs and outlets are different over yonder, so even if you could fit your phone charger into the plug, you’d most likely blow a fuse in half a second. I bought this one here since I thought all of my electronics has a usb cord. Until I realized the tablet I brought didn’t. Luckily I found a converter for about 9 euros over there, but save yourself the hassle and make sure you buy an adapter that fits all your electronics. I bought this one from Amazon and love it!

 

2. Credit Card/Debit Card

 

Credit card? You got it! Before you think you have to take out all this cash, get it exchanged, and carry around a wad of euros like you’re heading for the Moulin Rouge, don’t bother. Most places take credit cards just like here in the US, and they have plenty of ATMs as well. The only thing is to make sure you have a Visa or a credit card with the little square chip built into it.

 

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Since my credit card didn’t have this I just stuck to taking out money from the ATM. BE SURE to alert your bank of your travel dates! The last thing you want is for your cards to be frozen while in another country and no easy way to call them. I did this about a month in advance just to be sure. You will also most likely have to pay the conversion fee when taking out money since 1 euro is equivalent to about $1.40 US, or at least this was the rate when I traveled which could go up or down depending on the day/temperature/way the wind blows.

 

3. Translator

Not like foreign exchange student translator. More like an app, such as google translate or if pen and paper are more your style, a good French-English dictionary is handy to have. I can understand French for the most part, but there are some words that would come up repeatedly that I had no idea what they meant. Like jamais. I knew I heard it before, but I would have NEVER guessed it meant never. Jamais.

Also, trying to say something when your not that fluent in French is all the more easier with a little help. Even if it is just a few words, people can usually understand what you are trying to get at. As long as you’re trying to talk the talk, most people are helpful and nice about it.

 

4. Passport

I know, this should be a no brainer. If you’re leaving the country I’d hope you know you need this by now. What I didn’t know if HOW OFTEN I would need it. Especially when you have a connecting flight. We transferred in Dublin, and had to go through a security check even though we never left the terminal. So as soon as you land until you leave the airport have your passport handy. Then make sure it’s in a safe and secure place. I think I checked to make sure I had it still every day I was there.

 

And just because I like making fun of myself I thought I’d share my passport picture. I was 17, and the lady told me NOT TO SMILE. You can tell how hard this was for me as. How does this make me look less like a criminal?

 

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5. Packing your bag

Pajammies, sweater, jeans….okay again I think you should know how to pack your bag, and if you’re like me you make a list..or two just to make sure you remember. What I’m talking about is when you go to bring home all those souvenirs.

You are allowed to bring one bottle of alcohol (ahem, wine) in your checked in bag without having to declare it. Any more and you’ll have to declare and pay for it. And make sure you wrap that sucker good. Wine taste much better when it is not soaked into your suitcase and dirty clothes.

 

It’s also helpful to know how much your bag weighs before you get to the check-in desk. Of course they use the metric system over there, but the max weight is 25 kilos, or about 55 lbs. I got a a luggage scale for Christmas and used it before I left. You think I brought it with me? There’s a reason this made it to the list..

 

6. BYOPB

And the most important for last..Peanut Butter. Bring. Your. Own.

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It’s pretty much non existent in France. Granted they have 5 shelves full of Nutella in every shape and form. I managed to find a jar of Skippy.

And make sure you add it to your checked in luggage. Last time I checked, peanut butter was a food, but TSA seems to think other wise and will probably yank it out of your cold dead hands carry-on. That’s a risk I am not willing to take.

 

There. Now you are ready to travel off to Paris where you can have your Nutella and PB too.

 

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Make it a great day!

What’s one thing you would add to the list?

Have you ever had any bad travel experiences?

**Disclaimer: This post is on behalf of Vermont Peanut Butter Company. I did not receive any compensation other than a discount on VTPB products. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

WIAW: En Francais

 

Good morning young lovers! I’m ba..ba..back for my first What I Ate Wednesday post in what feels like forever.

 

And it’s not just any old WIAW post either. I have been waiting to share my bites through France pretty much as soon as I got there because I’m that kind of food freak fanatic..in France.

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So break out your passport and unbuckle that belt, cuz we’re eating Francais style today y’all!

 

Breakfast:

 

Breakfast was always light and consisted of either a croissant or a hunk of a baguette with butter and homemade jam.

 

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And depending on where I was I either got a legit bowl of coffee, or a cup of espresso from the “George Clooney” machine.

 

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For some reason all the French went out and bought an espresso machine since it was told that it was what George Clooney had. They were pretty disappointed when I told them I had no idea what they were talking about.

 

 

Lunch:

Lunches were a bit more substantial usually started with an aperitif or a before meal drink. My favorite was either the Kir Royale, which was champagne mixed with creme de cassis liquor, or a simple Kir with white wine and strawberry syrup. A close second was a beer called a panache which was half beer and half citrus soda. It was like the lightest beer ever made to man.

 

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I ate lots and lots of fish in all varieties for a lot of my meals. Either mussels with pasta, baked salmon with creme fraiche, or of course the escargot.

 

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Which okay I guess aren’t exactly seafood, but they tasted a heck of a lot like a clam or mussel so I pretty much thought of it like that. And drenched in butter and parsley I couldn’t get enough!

 

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Other lunches included a real French fondu, Raclette which is a cheese melted in individual pans and served over fried potatoes, or one of the most interesting experiences of cracking an egg I picked about an hour ago over hot fried potatoes. I guess you can’t get any fresher than that and I survived to tell the tale!

 

Dinner:

Depending on how big lunch was, dinner was usually seafood or a vegetable dish such as garden zucchini in a cream sauce, served with a cucumber salad, tomato salad, and/or green salad.

I had to include my dinner on the plane though. Just because it was my first meal on a plane.

 

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I barely nibbled on the pasta since it tasted like canned mashed potatoes, had the two bits of lettuce “salad”, the cheese, and the roll only so I could finally try Kerrygold butter. The perks of flying an Irish airline. Verdict: That buttah is bettah! Now I know what butter ACTUALLY tastes like.

 

Oh, and let’s not forget the stars of the show. You know your in France when…

 

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You have an ENTIRE aisle dedicated to cheese. And this was just one side. Let’s just say they don’t mess around when it comes to fromage. My favs were Camembert, Chevre, and a really runny cheese called Cancoillotte, which I guess is a pretty acquired taste. Must be my French blood. Not to mention that an entire giant wheel of Brie cost about 5 euro. If I bought that here, I might have to refinance a home first.

 

 

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…And the wines are separated by region, not type. There was about 5 other aisles to go with this one in every super marche. Not to mention you can pick up a handle of whiskey or a pack of tequila flavored beer to go with your gallons of cheese and back to school clothes. Yeah, I said TEQUILA FLAVORED BEER. And they wondered why we didn’t have this in the states.

 

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Dessert:

Oh, dessert. I think I had dessert after lunch and dinner most days of the week. But I was on vacation so YOLO! (is that too old yet?) Call me crazy, but the desserts there didn’t taste as sweet as here in the states. I don’t think their sugar (or flour) is the same stuff we’re using, so I didn’t feel as guilty eating it. At least that’s what I told myself after a slice of pie the size of my face.

 

 

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Like this apple tart for example. Done the American way with applesauce. I guess misconceptions flow both ways. Either way I still downed a near quarter of it without a problem.

 

Another of the popular tarts made in France is with a fruit called a Mirabelle.

 

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They only grow in the Lorraine region of France so they are quite the hot commodity. While at our cousin’s farmhouse I saw them growing EVERYWHERE since people had a lot of farm land. It tasted similar to a plum. I also enjoyed an apricot and a rhubarb tart in my travels. Fruit and pastry play well together.

 

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I was also spoiled with homemade beignets. After having some in New Orleans, I have to say they were a bit different in France. Much smaller, less sweet, and a bit more dense. For once I have to go with the ‘Merica version on this one. I could eat those Nawlins beignets every single day.

 

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I made sure to get my fruit in many forms for dessert. This one just happened to be filled with rum and custard. How was I supposed to know?!

 

And then there was that time when I broke 9 years of not eating meat…

 

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I said I might go back to eating pig if they are all were filled with cake and coffee cream. I couldn’t bring myself to eat his face though. Plus marzapan is just a little too much for me to eat an entire pig’s worth of.

 

And there was coffee. ALWAYS coffee. I wonder why I was able to drink it at 9 at night and fall asleep like a baby….

 

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And now I’m sitting here trying to recreate my many meals with wine, cheese, and Blue Diamond almonds and nut thins. I have found my new almond addiction in the form of Rosemary & Black Pepper flavor.

 

 

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You know it’s bad when you go to the grocery store during rush hour just to sooth your Camembert withdrawls…

 

 

So there you have it friends! A peek into what I stuffed my face with for the past 3 weeks in France. Now head on over to Jenn’s blog and check out every other food fanatic’s eats!

 

 

Bon Journee!

If you went to France, what would look forward to trying the most?

Wine or cheese?

**Disclaimer: I received two jars of Blue Diamond almonds as free of charge. All thoughts, opinions, and french food are my own.**

France In Review: What I Did.

 

Salut my sweet friends! I first want to thank all y’all for your awesome love and support on Friday’s post. It took me a lot of courage to actually hit the post button on that one, but I’m so glad I did! Putting it all there is actually making it easier for me since well it’s all out there. Besides coffee withdrawals, I would say it is going pretty well for me. More of a check-in on Friday!

 

But for now, it’s time for my first recap post of France. How has it already been a week since I was there?! I seriously think time goes by so much faster here when the sun goes down before 10:30. And you think I’m kidding.

 

The first few days were spent in the grand and romantic city of PARIS.

 

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Except that it was dreary and rainy. But it’s PARIS for god’s sake! I’m pretty sure I could be squatting in a back alley and it would be romantic. Not like that happened or anything…

 

The first night we took a drive through the city to see the sights and of course the twinkling lights of the Tour Eiffel. It is as magnificent as you think it is.

Followed by a pass by ze Arc de Triomphe…

 

 

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and Notre Dame.

 

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I swear this was the same night. As how the sky changed so dramatically among our car ride…let’s just say it’s the romantic powers of Paris…or the fact that I was severely jet lagged and don’t actually remember the order of which we saw these.

 

The next day was a full day spent exploring the city by foot. In my opinion, this is the best way to see and explore any new city.

 

First up was the Louvre.

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Seeing the outside and giant pyramid was more than enough for me. And of course nailing my signature pose before toppling over. I swear I’m not a tourist though..

 

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A stroll by the grand roue on our way to Ms. Eiffel…

 

 

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And a view of the Alexander the Great bridge along the way (with the gold statues)

 

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And of course by the bridge of lover’s locks. I got a little confused and brought a lock of my hair instead so a picture of everyone else’s vows of forever love in the most unique and original way…repeated 1500 times.

 

 

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Ah there you are! I almost missed it, it’s so small.

 

 

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One of our cousin’s climbed the stairs to the second floor with me. 700 steps in case you were curious. And because I know you wouldn’t believe I took a awesomely narrated video.

 

Hellooo Paris! This view was good enough for me. I like to keep my croissants in my stomach thank you very much.

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And this was just one day. If..rather WHEN I go back, I’d love to spend a whole week in Paris. But there were more places to see and more people to meet!

 

Like that time when I climbed a mountain with a pack of cows.

 

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This was probably one of my favorite times other than Paris. The views were spectacular and you could even see parts of the Swiss Alps way in the background. I could have seriously hiked this mountain with these heifers all day.

 

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And then of course there was the week on the farm in Custine riding horses and picking farm fresh eggs.

 

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Don’t let that smile fool you. I was cow pattying my pants the entire time, while replaying that episode of Full House when Michelle falls off a horse and has amnesia. Yes, even on a farm out in the middle of France I remember a 1992 episode of Full House.

 

 

Then off to Nancy to the famous Place Stanislas and famous fountains.

 

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And a return visit at night to see the whole building light up in a spectacular show. I got my wish of waltzing with Grammy to some Edith Pilaf here.

 

 

And we can’t forget the visit to Ars-sur-Moselle, where Grammy grew up and a visit to the bakery she went to as a young girl.

 

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It’s safe to say it isn’t exactly the same as when she came, but hey it’s still there and they still had delicious croissants and cafe.

 

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Now there are plenty of other memories and day trips involved, but those are for me and Grams to remember. What happens in France stays in France 😉

But really the trips was beyond memorable and I couldn’t have spent it better than with my feisty French Grandmother. How many of you can say that?!

 

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Until next time….

 

 

Make it a great day!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

What’s the biggest stereotype you think of when I say Paris?