10 Lessons from Europe

1. France makes possibly the best pastry, foie gras, and cheese in the world.

2. Better to buy cheap wine than expensive coffee (honestly, the only decent cuppa we had was made by an Australian in Paris at €4 each) 

3. Make the effort to learn some basics of the language - seriously this is a massive game changer, we had been warned about how rude French people were and we experienced completely the opposite.

4. Plan ahead for lunch, boulangeries, charcuteries, epiciers and other food type shops often close down from 12.30pm to 2.30pm (so THEY can have lunch). 

5. Buy local - bistros and restaurants put a lot more thought and choice into wines sourced from the nearby area, and menus made from seasonal fresh produce can be exceptional.

6. You will never see it here, when in Spain you MUST try their top end cured meats like the proper Jamon Iberico, it sells for €100+ per kilo but is unbelievable stuff. Also, proper choritzo is nothing like what we see here.

7. Do NOT rent a car in Paris, the traffic and parking are ridiculous, the streets can be absurdly narrow, and whole sections of the city can be paralyzed by a protest march, accident, etc. The metro is excellent and cheap (though Barcelona's is even better).

8. Everything is relative - before you complain about the state of the NZ economy, console yourself that unemployment in Spain is 25%, and government debt is 4x ours as a percentage of GDP. 

9. Get a European phone SIM card, there are even companies that sell them here in NZ and can be used right through the EU. Say goodbye to roaming charges. 

10. Just Do It - it has taken us 7 years to get here, and now can't believe we left it so long. It won't be another 7 years before the next one that's for sure!

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