At any rate, back to the US I go, whether or not I am ready - or willing.
1. Smoking is quite prevalent everywhere I went - I think Istanbul was the worst.
2. People were cautiously friendly in general. I did get some direct looks now and again, but I’ll attribute that to my rugged good looks, rather than being an obvious stranger in a strange land.
3. Food everywhere was relatively inexpensive, and tasty. Vienna was the most expensive, Budapest the least. For beer, though Prague definitely was the best place. Even in the airport lounge, a beer is only $2.50.
4. Kebabs are everywhere in Istanbul, Budapest and Prague. Universally good, and inexpensive - especially in Budapest: $2.00 for enough for a meal stuffed in a pita.
5. Budapest tram and subway are easy to do, and cheap. I didn’t try it anywhere else.
6. Flying in Europe is so painless compared to the USA. Ten access points to scan your boarding pass, and you’re in. No one or two TSA agents scrutinizing your ID and boarding pass. Shoes? They stay on your feet. Pull out big electronics? Sure, but they go in the same bin as your carry-on, and coat. The longest it ever took to get through security was maybe 10 minutes.
7. RyanAir is certainly low cost, no frills. You walk out in the rain and climb the stairs to get on. And storage is a free-for-all. While I wasn’t looking, someone else stuffed a bag under the seat in front of me. Ballsy.
8. Europe is “pay to pee,” which is different. Public restrooms are not free.
9. Top sheets are not a thing. I stayed in six different places, and none had one. Bottom sheet and a single-wide duvet. On a double bed, there were two single-wide duvets.
10. Traveling with Spencer was better than traveling alone, and traveling alone was better than not traveling at all.
It’s time to go, so I must ask myself, of the places I’ve just been, do I want to return?
Budapest: nah - I was there long enough
Prague: definitely. I’d like to get more comfortable and do some exploring outside the city as well.