Subject: 1st time solo traveler in Europe
Traveling solo is the best way to see Europe in my opinion--you really observe what's going on around you. When you're with a friend or a group, you tend to spend more time and energy interacting with them.

About the dress codes -- having just returned from France, Italy, and Spain, I was surprised to see how shabbily most of the natives dressed. And, as one who checked out quite a few stores along the way, I can tell you that most of the clothing sold was inferior in quality to what's available at our local malls. Venice was the only city in which we (in our shorts and t-shirts) felt underdressed, and I suspect that most of the people making fashion statements were tourists, since hardly anyone that you spot in Venice actually lives there.

Because we were traveling by train a lot, I bought the Eurail selectpasses (3 countries, 8 travel days). The names of the passes are so similar that it is hard to keep them straight when you're comparing them. There are several online sites that show the costs of various train trips--I recommend that you calculate how much you'd probably spend if you bought individual tickets and see how that compares to the pass costs.

It is much easier to wing it in Europe than in the States. This was the first time I actually planned my trip (and only because I was traveling with 4 kids). Having flexibility to move from place to place on a whim is one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel in Europe for me.

JoAnne in Silicon Valley