We had a wonderful time in Barcelona including taking a bus tour of the city and swimming in the sea (for most of the boys), and it was also about this time in the trip when I was thinking...maybe it's time to "re-think!" This 2013 trip, like the previous three, had always traveled with no itinerary and no reservations except for the first two and last two nights leaving all the other cities, countries, hotels, activities basically up to chance. Oh, past experiences taught us to travel smart but it could sometimes be a bit unsettling to find out that we couldn't get to the place the boys had voted to go to. But if getting to some of those places did work out (and it usually did), we then had to find a place to sleep. That always worked out as well. However, these adventures could be stressful just because of the unknown. I remember leaving Barcelona with no real plan. We got on a train headed to some small town in France which we were told was very nice. It wasn't what we had planned but we could get there and were told we would enjoy it. I remember getting out of the train station without a clue what was there. It wasn't exactly in the guide books. We went back into the station and after about ninety minutes of talking with a train ticket agent and with that agent spending a lot of time on the phone helping us out...we were soon back on a train headed to Paris - a destination we had been told we couldn't get reservations for just a few days earlier.
A few few hours later, on a Friday afternoon we arrived in Paris on the week of the last stage of the Tour de France which would end in Paris on Sunday. We had no place to sleep. I could go into detail, but will just say a couple of hours later we had found a two-star hotel that amazingly Ray & I remembered staying in during the very first Europe trip in 1981.
And it was also then that I decided the next trip to Europe would be different. We would plan an itinerary, select and reserve hotels, and make the train reservations in advance....and that's exactly what I've been doing for the past several months. Slowly the trip is taking shape to be, by far, our best European experience ever. As one of my co-leaders said, "Mark, think of all the extra time we'll have to do things instead of standing in line trying to make train reservations, finding hotels, etc." And he's so right. Without hesitation I'm sure this will add the equivalent of two days of activities to our 2015 adventure. And it has been a fun experience. So far I've sent out and received hundreds of emails, made international phone calls, sent money transfers by wire, etc. And it's all coming together.
No need to bore you with the details here, but hotels are booked, some activity reservations are made, and other activities will be assembled into "discussion points" for the boys to consider this June. Subscribe to this blog and you'll have a chance to follow our adventures this summer as we visit some incredible places like Brussels & Bruges, Belgium; Strasbourg, France; Bern and Grindelwald, Switzerland; Venice, Italy; Vienna & Innsbruck, Austria; and Munich, Germany. I am totally pumped for this 2015 Europe by Eurail adventure.
And that is just the beginning of our summer experiences. This coming summer will be our most ambitious calendar ever with two nearby domestic trips filling out the summer.