Epilogue

Thursday, June 02, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

3 MONTHS IN EUROPE:  EPILOGUE
     
When we left in early March for a three-month adventure around Western Europe, we had only a vague idea of where we wanted to visit and how long to stay at each location.  Our longest trip to the continent before had been a two-week jaunt in the 1980s.  Much had changed in the meantime, both in Europe and in us.  
      
Our decision to pack light turned out to be a life-saver on many occasions.  Though the bags did at times seem excessively heavy (they really weren't), the ability to carry all our things and still have two hands free proved to be ultra convenient.  Not once in 93 days did we wish we had packed more.  Yes, on occasion we wished for something different to wear (Dianne only), but having a greater variety of clothing was certainly not worth carrying more.  
   
Frequent blogging offered us an effective way to journal our trip and to stay in touch with family and friends.  However, at times it became a grind when I stayed up until the wee hours day after day to edit photos and write and post.  One day in Provence, about midway through the journey, exhaustion overwhelmed me and I took to the bed a little after 1 pm to try to catch up on some much needed sleep.  Ken's bottomless patience, wisdom and support always offered a balm when frustration threatened to overtake me.  
   
The length of the trip turned out to be just right.  Although we could have gladly kept exploring, having a family event nudged us home.  Never once did we consider cutting the trip short for any reason, allaying any future concerns about planning a trip of this length.
   
Now that we're home, and before we start planning our next trip across the pond, we decided to recap the highlights, lowlights and insights from our three months in Europe.
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Trip Stats
Trip Stats
  • Days: 93
  • Countries: 11
  • Miles: 15,520
  • Letterboxes: 56 F, 9 P
  • Flights: 6
  • Trains: 30
  • Subways/Trams/Buses/Taxis: 115
  • Water craft: 12
  • Rental cars:  5
  • Photos taken: 8,815
  • Miles walked: 230.15
  • Museums: 80
  • Parks: 121
  • Smallest country:  Vatican City
  • Largest country:  France
  • Most bicycles:  Amsterdam
  • Most canals:  Venice
  • Theatre productions:  6
     
     
     
Highlights
Venice view
     
Best view:  
 - Overview of Venice from San Marco Campanile
      
Biggest surprises:
 - Size of Manneken Pis, Brussels
 - SCAD, a Georgia college, in Lacoste, France
 - Highway overpasses for animals, Luxembourg
   
Best unexpected experiences:
 - Guggenmusik festival in Zurich
 - Bull games in Arles
   
Best scenic trips:
 - Train ride through the Alps
 - Amalfi Coast drive
   
Most exquisite natural scenery:  
 - Verdon Gorge, France
   
Most picturesque cities:  
 - Venice, Italy
 - Roussillon, France
   
Favorite cities/towns:  
 - Fonterutoli
 - Venice
   
Favorite museums:
 - Uffizi Gallery, Florence
 - British Museum, London
 - Museo Leonardiano, Vinci
   
Loveliest cemetery:  
 - Holy Doors, Florence

Favorite travel companions:  
 - Flat Alex & Flat Stanley
   
St Peter's Cathedral
Most awe-inspiring:
 - Verdon Gorge
 - St. Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City
   
Touristy places we actually liked:
 - Pisa
 - Cinque Terre
 - Venice
   
Best lodging:  
 - Merchiston Residence, Edinburgh
   
Favorite historic sites:
 - Ancient Rome, Italy
 - Old Pompeii, Italy
 - Pont du Gard, France
   
Best city parks:
 - Villa Borghese, Rome
 - Bois de Boulogne, Paris
 - Hyde Park, London
   
Favorite trails:
 - Cap Taillat, Saint Tropez, France
 - South West Coast Path, Cornwall, England
   
Prettiest crop:  
 - Rapeseed in Provence 
     (lavender not yet in bloom)

Favorite legend:  
 - Star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
   
Most sentimental experience:
 - Visiting Enghien-les-Bains, 
      where Ken's mom lived in 1930s
   
Best theatre production:
 - The Crucible, York Theatre Royal
   
Best value:
 - 25+ free top-notch museums, London 
   
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Lowlights
Tight driving quarters in Polperro
     
Wish we had skipped:  
 - Bruges, Belgium  
   
Biggest disappointment:
  - Letterboxing at Dartmoor National Park
    
Toughest driving:  
 - Urban:  Florence, Italy
 - Rural:  D952 on rim of Verdon Gorge, France
   
Worst day:  
 - Arrival in Venice on Friday, 3/13
   
Unforced errors:
 - Walking to top of Capri on hot day
 - Speeding in Lyon
 - Wrong Tube station, line & direction, London
 - Driving on busy pedestrian street, Polperro
      
     
       
Cheesiest souvenirs:
 - Mannekin Pis, Brussels
 - Leaning Tower, Pisa
   
Worst lodging:  
 - Les Trois Sources B&B, Bonnieux
   
Most shrinkage in longest time:
 - Combination washer/dryer, Edinburgh
   
Smelliest experience:
 - Jorvik Viking Center, York, England
   
   
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Insights
   
Tuscan vineyards, not to be missed
Missed most from US:  
 - Tumble clothes dryer
 - Hotel room heated overnight 
 (both energy hogs in European perspective)
   
Great idea we'd like to see at home:  
 - Bathroom attendants
   
What we got right:  
 - Packing light
   
Most helpful advice:
 - Recommendation to visit Fonterutoli 
        (Florence innkeepers)
 - Manners lesson (Monte Carlo bus driver)
   
Unexpected hurdle:  
 - Need for PIN to use credit cards
   
Biggest lesson:
 - We want to return to Europe!
    
THURSDAY, 2 JUNE 2011