Europe is known for its beauty. Not just the land but the people too. As I traveled from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, I marveled at the people and places I encountered.

Every European country has its own unique and beautiful culture and landscape.

I usually prefer to ride through non-tourist countries and experience unknown people and cultures. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride Europe by motorcycle. A group of us started in Western Europe and rode through so many breathtaking sites: The Black Forest, the Dolomites, Switzerland, France, the Alps in northern Italy, then on to Eastern Europe. It was way beyond what I expected, and I loved seeing a different side of Europe—away from the big cities.

Traveling through Eastern Europe was amazing. I was so impressed by the people.

Every European country has its own unique and beautiful culture and landscape.

In general, I found Eastern Europeans to be reserved, but once I connected with them, they opened up and interacted with me. And though the language was a barrier, connecting through a smile or a laugh made me feel a part of the community and culture.

I can’t imagine growing up with the conflict and stress from the turmoil in the region, but these people have done that. And they are more resilient because of it.

The current conflict in Ukraine hit home for me when I encountered a family on my travels that had been shattered by the war.  

My heart broke for what the family had gone through and how their lives will be forever changed.

Everywhere I go, I watch, learn, and try to understand. Here are some personal observations from my time in Europe traveling by motorcycle:

  1. Napkins are hard to come by. They are thin like tissues, and you frequently must ask for them.
  2. There seems to be a lot of German police that drive Mercedes Sprinter Vans. I’m talking about hundreds of them. What do they put in the back of those vans?
  3. The scrambled eggs are very liquified. You could eat them with a straw.
  4. I am always looking for something different than a dinner roll for breakfast.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are pretty awesome in Europe.
  6. Lettuce is much better in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe.
  7. There are lots of flowers on windowsills and in front of houses. I love this.
  8. My favorite roads are the “lane and a half” roads in rural areas.
  9. The most beautiful women are in Hungary, with Poland and Czechia a close second.
  10. There is very little graffiti and almost no trash……..anywhere!
  11. Gelato is everywhere!
  12. Pizza is important to Europeans.
  13. You cannot pay at the gas pump. You always have to go in. And don’t count on gas after they close.
  14. Chocolate chip cookies need to be bought at Mcdonald’s.
  15. Mcdonald’s seems to be a social gathering place.
  16. Hamburgers at Mcdonald’s aren’t very good. French fries are.
  17. People are friendly once you engage but they don’t seem to initiate the connection.
  18. Europeans have truly engaged in helping Ukrainian immigrants.
  19. They do not miss the fact that the US has been steadfast with NATO on Russia.
  20. Street signs still confuse me. I am not sure how many times I screwed this up.
  21. Air conditioning was lacking everywhere. Even when there was air conditioning, it was hot.
  22. Bratwurst is my favorite food in Europe.
  23. Gas prices were $8-9 per gallon. This is up from $6 two years ago.
  24. Ice cubes must be in short supply.
  25. Everyone wanted to help but you had to ask first.
  26. Tipping doesn’t seem to be important to most. I had a cab driver try to give my $5 tip back and said that it wasn’t right.
  27. The history is unbelievable . . . everywhere.
  28. Beauty was everywhere and anywhere.
  29. I loved traveling 6,000 miles in 14 countries.
  30. The euro is not a very universal currency in Eastern Europe. Each country has its own currency and it’s hard to use euros or dollars.
  31. Drivers are generally polite and there’s rarely horn honking.
  32. Lane splitting on motorcycles is a lifesaver.
  33. There are a lot of motorcycles in Western Europe and very few in Eastern Europe.