It’s been a year since we started this adventure – Update #2:
Over the last dozen years or so we have taken a number of river cruises and had booked one on the Douro River with our friends Gloria and Jerry.
We met them several years ago on a tour of the UK and been able to convinced them to join us several times on various river cruises in Europe. Starting in Lisbon
and moving to Porto with the group was enjoyable. We have been to both areas previously but it was nice to be able to share it with Gloria and Jerry.
The cruise up the river was relaxing and filled with fun times – we became part of a group of 12 or 13 passengers
who all dined together and exchanged experiences.
Once the boat returned to Porto
we had a chance, for about 10 minutes, to connect with Janeen’s old high school friend Cherlyne
and her husband David, who live in Eastern Oregon. They were with a different group and we caught them just before they went to taste Port wine!
From Portugal we flew to Stuttgart Germany. The prior December (remember this is now late September) we had ordered a Mercedes Benz for foreign delivery. It was now time to pick up our new car!
There really is something special about buying a new car and picking it up from the factory. After several days in Stuttgart we packed everything up and headed to Venice stopping in Igls Austria for the evening and continuing through beautiful vistas of the Alps and Northern Italy.
In Venice we picked up Jason and Terri from the airport as they were going to join us for several days in Venice
after their adventure drinking great beers as part of OctoberFest.
After Venice we really didn’t have any plans other than to head south through Italy along the Adriatic side (east) with the intent of trying to get all the way to Sicily.
We stopped along the way and enjoyed the sights of Silea, Padova, Barietta, Campoposto, and Torre di Palme to name just a few places we stopped. We took a tour of a
Balsamic producer and learned how long it takes to really make the aged stuff – like 50 years! We toured various gardens learned about the local cultures, ate great meals and drank wonderful wines. Along the way we met any number of interesting people – both fellow travelers and locals.
As we got further south in Italy, around Bari (just above the “heel” of the ‘boot’) we decided to turn north and head to France. Along the way we stopped at Paestum and walked some Greek Ruins,
visited Tivoli Gardens near Rome,
Neive in the Piedmont region
and stopped for a few days in Genoa along the Mediterranean.
On our way to France we passed through an 8-mile long tunnel – half way through it we went from Italy to France.
Our goal in France was the Loire Valley. We found a fantastic VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in a small village of Rochecorbon. I loved this place – out the door and about 50 yards down the road was a boulangerie where I would walk down and pick up a warm baguette and croissant for breakfast. Fantastic! During our stay we visited several
Chateau’s and gardens – wonderful time.
From there we went to Brittany – northeast France for a few days and then to Bayeux
and the Normandy Beaches plus
a day trip to St Mont Michel
. Then off to Paris, via Rouen, to drop of our car for shipment to the dealer in Virginia.
Next stop London! We went from Paris to London via the Chunnel
taking all of 2 ½ hours or so with average speeds of well over 160 Mph. We had another VRBO apartment this time in Covent Gardens. Over a week, we saw 3 plays,
shopped in Harrads,
had a fantastic meal
and generally appreciated being in a country that speaks English!
A flight to Dublin
to got us set for a 10-day introductory bus tour with CIE Tours around Ireland.
After the tour we spent Thanksgiving in Kilkenny a town south of Dublin . We had not been to Ireland it was amazing. Stops in Waterford,
County Kerry, Blarney Castle to KISS THE STONE,
Galway, Cliffs of Moher,
Belfast and lots of other places. There is one thing that there are a LOT of in Ireland – Sheep. We visited a place where we were treated to a sheep guard dog demonstration – really neat.
We will be back to Ireland!
Scotland – Glasgow
and Edinburgh and LOTS of scotch. It was Christmas Market
time and we visited several in both cities along with the historical sites of course.
From Edinburgh we flew back to Paris and connected with Ryan and Chris in the apartment I had leased for the month.
Christmas in Paris!
Our friend Claudia joined us and we all had a fantastic time touring,
visiting various places,
taking in the sites
and of course eating and drinking great foods and wines.
New Years Eve was spent at a traditional French Bistro where we expected to be done in a couple of hours,
but were there for over 5 hours and rang in the New Year over an extravagant dessert!
OK, we have now been in Europe for four months and it is time to fly back to the States. During our time in Europe we had visited 9 countries collecting a number of stamps in our passport. We boarded our flight back to start part 3 of our yearlong adventure.