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How did you travel before the internet?

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I used to go downtown to the United Airlines office to buy my ticket. I'm not quite sure how I reserved hotels, though I think I figured out a way to reserve the first night and the last night of my stay, probably by calling long distance for a reservation at least for the first night. That would be my guess, anyway.

I have a Rick Steves for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland 1998 and another for Belgium, France and the Netherlands for 1999. In the back they both have a sample letter (in English) that one could send. I did that at least once.

Once I arrived at my destination, I pretty much winged it. Once, probably in Munich, I had just arrived was looking at a board in the train station on which was listed names of hotels and pensions when a woman came up to me and offered to take me to her B&B. The room did not have an ensuite bathroom, so I stayed there only one night. She was disappointed that I was leaving, so I paid for the next night or two, which made her happy. It was a cheap place, so it wasn't a big deal to pay for night(s) that I didn't use.

My sister and I drove to Rome in the late 60's. She hated not having a reservation when we came into a town. To me it wasn't a big deal. I'd just drive until I saw a sign "Pension," and then I'd park the car and ask if they had a room free. They usually did.

In Rome, a similar thing happened as in Munich. A guy on a motorcycle was shilling for a hotel. He told us to follow him, and we did. The hotel he led us to was very nice, even with embroidered sheets. The only problem was that the room was right by the elevators. We stayed there, though, and liked it, though it was noisy.

The big change came when the guides started listing email addresses and then the REALLY big change when website addresses were listed, so that one could make a reservation over the internet. You could also buy your plane ticket on the internet, which really made me nervous at first.

Nowadays, of course, I check out the hotel website to see what I think of the rooms. Then I check Trip Advisor to see what others have to say about the place. I don't reserve restaurants--but I do get train and bus tickets when available online--also tickets to busy venues, like the Alhambra. I wish I'd thought of doing something like that in St. Petersburg.

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