I am sitting in a hotel room in Oostende, Belgium (what an awsome way to start a Chicago blog) and I started to reflect on the subtle differences between America (Chicago in general) and the European cities we have visited so far. I wanted to pass along a few tips to any of you potential explorers out there in the Windy City.
I will start with THE MOST important issue facing all global travelers: bathrooms! Finding a public bathroom in Europe is hard. Finding a FREE public bathroom in Europe is almost impossible.
My son and I were about 600 feet up on the Eiffel Tower when an "emergency" struck. The one bathroom...closed for cleaning! I had to pound on glass and force our way in to avoid turning one of the "wonders of the world" in to "Lake Salzwedel." Lesson? Always hit the bathrooms at ground level.
Also, when traveling to Europe, be prepared for a price shock. The Euro is crushing the dollar as we all know, but in America we have access to more consumer freebies. A large soda in America is the size of Buick. In Europe not so much. A "cola light" will run you about 3 American dollars and may stave off dehydration, but will not last a whole meal. Same for water. Their coffee? Comes in an american expresso cup, but does come with a fancy treat.
Last, bring a DVD player for the kids! My son is chilling watching "Megamind" for the 10th time right now, but he needs to be able to decompress as much as Mom and Dad. European TV is not child-friendly at night and loaded with last years American dramas, so the DVD player can entertain Mom and Dad as well. Just remember the power outlet converters!
I hope this helps, and see you all back in Chicago soon!
Ryan lives in Uptown with his wife, Pascale, and 5-year-old son, Leo, and works in Chicago as an actor and on-air host.
See more of Ryan's stories here.