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.

sace   tats
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

space    space 
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 

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 
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
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!