Europe Trip 2018: Planning, Reflections and Off I Go.

It’s time for a break from writing up old trips and to start sharing my recent adventure.

In May I spent 23 nights in Europe, just me, my camera, my walking shoes and my appetite. My fourth trip to Europe in just over four years.

The planning for this trip was erratic at best. Having lost my dad last year and having to sell up my family home and go through all that grief stuff that comes with it, I knew that I needed a break before I get back into studying later in the year. Trying to pick the best time to go was a bit of a roller coaster. My oldest was starting university and I wanted to be around at the high stress times in case he needed me, my other kids had various needs and I was conscious of seasonal travel issues in Europe. I finally took the plunge and decided on 3 weeks in May. Before I settled on dates I spent a lot of time thinking about where to go and writing up plans. I have a folder full of various plans that I made up at different times, in different moods, and I think the only reason I settled on the plan I did was because it was the one I was working on at the time I decided to book! At least I have done the work to plan my next trip or two!

My aims for this trip were twofold. Firstly, I wanted to go to places that I could enjoy photographing. I get a lot of enjoyment post holiday from processing my photos and making up books of them so I prioritise finding places that are photogenic. Secondly I wanted to eat delicious food. I have been to Germany, Italy and France before and loved the food and wanted to eat more so I came up with a plan where I could visit those three countries, but I also wanted to dip my toe into Spain so that made the cut as well. Probably a third consideration was that knowing I was a bit tired and vulnerable given the lead up, I was keen to have a sense of familiar at times. I was able to come up with an itinerary that saw me visiting familiar countries and some familiar cities but adding in some new experiences as well.

Now that I am home and can reflect on my time away I think my plan worked pretty well. I dropped a couple of things that I had thought I might do, simply because I was tired. And by the end I was happy to just wander and eat when earlier in the trip I would have pushed myself harder. I did several walking food tours this time that were really a highlight and broadened my understanding of food from each region. Definitely something I will do again in the future. The only low light was a small one. I got caught by the French train strike and ended up on a nine hour bus trip. I have a policy of not getting on a plane in Europe till it’s time to head home but I think, if I was to do it again I would look to a flight rather than a bus if something like that happened again. Despite that, memories of the bus trip disappeared quickly once I finally arrived in the new destination.

Like all my trips, this one started at my local train station. Trains in Australia are nothing like trains in Europe. Timetables are sparse, in my region, trains are old and pretty slow. But they are still trains and still a relaxing way to travel. I love train travel but the downside to starting my trip this way was a very long wait at the airport for a 5am flight. A sleepless night prior to 24 hours of travel is not optimal but going to Europe from Australia is never pretty, aside from the fact that you end up in Europe!

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14 hours to Dubai, another 6 to my final destination. A whole day lost to the skies.

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Let the adventure begin.

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