The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

WEEKENDER / Entertainment

November 23, 2012

Long way from home

Getting the maximum out of tours of Italy, the Vatican, Switzerland, France, England


• We had good luck with an iPad instead of a laptop to send photos and communicate with people. You need a $30 camera connection kit and wireless internet is iffy or costs extra at many hotels. IPads are less of a hassle at airport security, too.

Favorite stories:

• There are many, like seeing the Michelangelo’s sculpture of David in Florence. (It was made of cheap marble)

• Being called onstage at a pub in Lucerne and have to yodel and chug a beer, then being recognized for my exploits by a stranger hundreds of miles away in Paris a few days later.

• You won’t find toilet seats in public restrooms in Italy and no wash clothes in Italy or Switzerland.

• Wherever we went, people were friendly. The most helpful: People in England. “You look lost. Would you like some help?”

• To get electricity to work in hotels in Italy and Switzerland, you needed to use the card that unlocked your door and place it in a separate receptacle (almost like a time clock) in order to get lights to work. Pull the card out and out go the lights within two minutes.

• Wireless Internet was a new adventure everweekdywhere. Some places gave you 15 minutes free. Others had it free in the lobby. Some charged a euro an hour for service. None of it was particularly fast. If you have an iPad with AT@T service, you can get foreign data plans that are costly and offer less than a gig of service. We decided before we left that Internet access would not dominate our trip and the sites of Paris and London would win out over Facebook and email.

• Once you’ve learned a few words from all of the countries you’ve visited, are in awe of crazy driving in Rome and traffic-challenged Paris, once you can discern a euro from a pound, it’s time to hop a plane for the long ride back to North America.

Auf wiedersehen.

Read more from Lebzelter in Europe and other columns at Lebzelter is special sections editor. Email him at

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