Once more into the breach…

And so it is that we find ourselves embarking on an extended journey.   After months of preparations, my wife and I are setting out to explore a new corner of the world.  This time, it’s Europe.

Although we were very happy to return from our last big trip in 2009 (ten months through the Middle East, Africa,India, andSouth East Asia), we knew almost right away that we’d like to travel again.  This time, a terrific option presented itself, an offer from friends to borrow their motorhome in Europe.  This would make seeing a lot of Europe feasible at a manageable cost.  And since neither of us has ever been to Europe before, other than a few days in London last trip and two days for Patrick in port on an educational cruise when he was in high school, it was an offer so generous and too good to turn down.

At the airport
At the airport

We flew out of Vancouveron Saturday, September 3rd, arriving in Vienna, Austria via Frankfurt.  We almost missed our connecting flight in Frankfurt, scrambling to collect our checked bags, then check-in again on Berlin Air, one of the many European discount airlines, before racing to our gate where everyone else had already boarded.  This was similar to our experience in Qatar two years ago when an over-zealous security agent , insistent on reclaiming the tweezers from the bottom of Patrick’s backpack, instigated a mad dash through the airport.

We’ve wanted to travel in Europe for many years.  I’ve always wanted to see the great cities ofEurope, home of the characters of yore.  The grand cathedrals, the brooding castles, and the historic battlegrounds patrolled by the spirits of the fallen.  The great works of art and architecture.  I’ve longed to meet the people, and experience the rich and varied cultures.  My wife has an incessant desire to see Paris, something she reminds me of regularly.  She’s also really looking forward to experiencing the food of Europe, including extravagant repasts, regional specialities, and humble (and often most desirable) street foods.

Our gear for this trip

The logistical requirements of leaving on a long trip are not trivial.  We arrived exhausted after months of preparation, including the frenzied last month when we packed our entire house and moved it to storage, rented this house to a nice couple from Texas, and arranged and packed for our trip, all while preparing for and completing the Ironman triathlon on August 28th, 2011.  Despite having traveled before, our life continues to evolve and every trip is different, and it ended up being more work than anticipated.  The support of family and friends was invaluable and greatly appreciated.  As a result, we’re now here recovering, with little idea of where we’re going or what we’ll be doing.  Sometimes this is the best way to begin.

Our gear packed
Our gear packed

We will share our journey with you on DreamBigLiveBoldly.com.  We welcome your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions as we progress.  We hope that you enjoy yourselves and thank-you for participating.

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5 thoughts on “Once more into the breach…

  1. Fantastic! You are in for an amazing journey no doubt.
    If you’re open to suggestions for must-go spots, my recommendations from past travels are:

    1) DEFINITELY Paris! Go to the left bank – and wander wander wander…Paris is a city best seen by walking. The 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissments are classic Paris: cobble stone streets, cafes, book sellers along the quay, ancient buildings, grand churches, food markets (go to the rue de Buci for the best food market). Notre Dame is fantastic, Musee d’Orsay is stunning, Rodin’s museum is my favourite, Les Invalides (where Napoleon is buried) is a must..and of course the Eiffel Tower. The Louvre is gorgeous, but often lined up. If you want to avoid the line ups and miles and miles of art indoors, still go and see the building. The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee should be on the list too. Versailles is a short train ride out of town, but well worth the trip.
    For a lively after dark spot go to rue de la Harpe and rue de L’Huchette. Left bank, close to the St Michel metro populated with resturants (neon lit) and shops. A great spot for an evening wander.
    2) Prague. Beautiful city.
    3) Barcelona.
    4) The South of Spain. We stayed in a little hilltop town called Arcos de la Frontera (gorgeous). From there you can explore Jerez, where sherry is from, then travel along the south to Gibralter and over to Portugal (the Algarve). The south west coast of Portugal is quite stunning with cliffs that run right into the ocean.
    5) Gibralter (don’t pay the guys who go along the line up of cars waiting to cross the border. They are scam artists). While on Gibralter, go explore the rock, but watch out for the red monkeys. They will jump on the car and try to get in the windows… There is a lot of Moorish history on the rock, so it is quite interesting. Plus it is such an odd thing to go from Spain to a little piece of England…complete with British cars & number plates, ATMs that spit out GBP and pubs that serve traditional Brit food.
    6) Krakow & Oswiecim (where Auszwitz & Bierkenow are). If you head over to Poland, another very cool place to go is the Wieliczka salt mine (close to Krakow). The mine’s attractions include dozens of statues and an entire chapel (two stories high with a spiral stair case) that has all been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. It is like nothing else in the world.
    7) Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. This is the real Disneyland Castle, built by Ludwig II (who, from what I’ve heard was a little bit crazy and built a bunch of extravagant castles in Germany).
    8) Cinque Terre & Portofino, Italy. Cinque Terre offers an amazing walk along the hillside through the 5 small towns that make it up. Very picturesque.

    That’s a good start!
    If anything else comes to mind, I’ll pop up another comment.

  2. Ooops…the system turned my #8 into a happy face with sunglasses! Cinque Terre and Portofino should be a separate item…

  3. Wow! Great suggestions Christine. With a fair bit of time on our hands (which will no doubt fly by), I’m hoping that we’ll get to see a lot of these and you’ll be able to read out our experiences. Thanks for the terrific input. Enjoy the last warm days of summer. Patrick and Diane

  4. Looking forward to all your blogs and comments and suggestions from Patrick and Diane’s friends. I already want to go to Paris after reading Christine’s comments. (not that I hadn’t wanted to go prior) but this wants me to push the trip up!

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