We spent 3 glorious weeks in Europe way back in 2005, which seems like a lifetime ago. That was my first trip overseas, and one of the best times of my life. At that time, we flew into Paris, spent 3 days touring the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, and the Palace of Versailles. Then we took a train to Interlaken, Switzerland and took a funicular train as well as a Gondola ride to Schilthorn, where we seemed to be on top of the world, and we looked down at the clouds as snow gently fell all around us.
We loved Interlaken so much, with its fields of lovely flowers and its walkable town, that we decided we would someday return to live there and open up a “Wash and Dry”, which is their version of a Laundromat, only because their were so few options to wash clothes in that town! Next we took the train to Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa via Florence, and finally rented a car.
We drove through the picturesque villages of Tuscany, and then embarked on an epic trip to eastern Italy, to visit my grandparents’ hometowns of Caramanico and Sant’Eufemia, to meet up with my grandma’s cousin and his wife. Although they only spoke Italian, they prepared us a home cooked meal, and spent most of the time yelling at us in Italian. It was incredulous and fantastic, and a memory that I will never, ever forget! We stayed in the Hotel Mazzocca, where *possible* relatives granted us a special room in their sold out hotel, merely because I shared the Mazzocca name, as they called in people from the streets to try and communicate with us to understand if we were related or not.
Then we drove back west, passing hilarious road signs, warning us of cows falling of cliffs and a person running with fire at their behind. We ended up in Rome, doing the tourist things, including an audience with Pope Benedict the XVI, the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and of course Trevi Fountain. We took a side trip and visited Pompei. We returned home exhausted but exhilarated, and vowed to return! Here is my travelogue from that adventure.
So, here we are, 12 years later, and we will be returning to Europe in a few short weeks!
This time we will set our sights on the United Kingdom. Our travel will be much slower this time, with a balance of work, school, visiting, and exploration!
Here is a rough itinerary:
We will be in Iceland for a few days, but hopefully enough time to pick up our rental car and visit the famous Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, which includes Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. We plan to stop in the capital, Reykjavik, and an extra bonus would be to witness the Northern Lights, which are just beginning to appear around the end of September.
From Iceland we fly to Edinburgh, where we will stay for a week or more, during which time we will do a side trip to search for the Nessy, the Loch Ness Monster near Uruquart Castle, and see the gorgeous Highlands, including the Glenfinnan Aqueduct (sight of the Harry Potter train) and Glencoe.
We will take a ferry from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin. While in Ireland, we’d like to see the Cliffs of Moher, and perhaps Blarney Castle. If we feel the need for the “gift of eloquence”, we may even kiss the famous Blarney Stone while we are there.
GREATER LONDON AREA
Our dear friends have been living in London for almost a decade, and we cannot wait to spend some time with them! My mom will also join us for this leg of the journey, her first time to Europe! My list of things to do in London and the outskirts is outrageously long. At the top of our list is the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour, the London Tower, Westminster Abbey, witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Oxford, Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, the Cotswolds, and perhaps a bit further north to see Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest.
We are still undecided about where we will go at that point. If we still have some energy left, it would be very convenient to hop on the Eurorail to Paris and the rest of mainland Europe! Neverthless, we hope to spend Christmas in Chicago. Stay tuned to see where we end up!