After spending last summer in Europe, I swore I would never do it again. Summer in Europe is gruesome. But, I'm back doing summer again.
Why? I've asked myself several times. Why am I doing this?
The answer was logistics. I wanted to be Tokyo in September for my birthday and I had the chance to housesit for my friend in Geneva in August (now) so if I wanted to do other travelling in Europe, it had to be before August.
When they first announced there was going to be a heat wave here, in typical Australian fashion, I laughed. A few days in the 30s, that's not a heat wave. But then the days got hotter and hotter without seeming to end.
So, how do you survive summer in Europe:
Go to hotter countries
It might seem counter-intuitive but trust me on this. I figured going to places that have a milder summer would be a good idea. Nope. It's a terrible idea.
Last summer in Italy, it was disgustingly hot outside but I never had an issue with accommodation. Most places had air conditioning but even the place I stayed in Naples was fine without it.
Go somewhere with a milder climate though and they just don't deal with the heat. No air-conditioning, no fans. Most of the time you can't even open a window because they don't have insect screens
I am absolutely shit at this. I have good intentions but get distracted and forgot to hydrate. Plus I hate carrying a water bottle in my bag, in case it leaks.
I have had a lot of muscular issues this trip though, so bad I had to spend a few days confined to my room, and I think dehydration played a bit part in that. I get cramps so severe that I wake up screaming (tip: the best cure for cramps is to drink a bottle of Gatorade or similar).
One of the issues is that you don't always know where to get something to drink in an unfamiliar place. I mean, sure you can pop into a tourist cafe and pay $10 for a small glass of Coke if you are crazy rich.
Most cafes in Europe charge you for water. I'm so used to having free water available that I never think of that until I sit down.
The worst situation I got in was leaving Budapest. I'd spent all my florin (I love that the money is florins) and, of course, didn't want to get more out on my last day. Most of the train stations I'd been to in Hungary had vending machines took card but not at this station. I thought I was going to wither away to a prune on that platform.
My point is, you can't rely on knowing where to top up your fluid levels in a strange place so don't be like me, carry water with you. Unless you are in Italy. Italy has water everywhere.
Arrange your schedule around the weather forecast
People in hot countries have siestas for a reason -- and it's not just that napping is fun. Avoid afternoon heat like it's the plague. The Black Plague that killed thousands.
If you can't, or don't want to, go back to your lodgings for a nice nap, then plan to go to museums, galleries and other indoor/cool places during the hottest part of the day.
Get up extra early and do all the things that need exertion, like walking around the city.
Check opening hours - often tourist places are open later in summer or you can do special night tours.
I love to walk when I travel. I can spend hours walking around a new city. And, if I have more than a five minute wait for transport, I'll walk instead. But, if it's stupid hot, it's better to conserve your energy.
I found I'm more likely to catch public transport if I buy a pass to cover the whole period I'll be in a place so that I can forget about it. Buying one trip tickets gets annoying and expensive. Even if I'm going to be somewhere for say five days, I'll buy a weekly ticket so I'm covered.
Cut your 'must see' list down to the bare basics. The 'really, really must see' list rather than the things I think I should see. Instead, check out what the locals do in summer. Most cities have "beach" bars (either set up in the middle of the city with imported sand or by the river).
Catch a festival, play some "beach" volleyball, have a mojito.
But, most importantly -
Don't travel in summer. It's a really shit time to travel. Not just too hot, but too many tourists. I wanted Central Europe to be all broody and mysterious. That's the image I had of places like Prague and Vienna. But you don't get that in the middle of summer. You just get heat.
And, seriously, if I announce that I'm going to Europe in summer again, leave me comments telling me I'm a freaken idiot!