We’re planning some of the last few details of a hastily-arranged trip to Europe next month. It’s kind of funny, really, as this will be both my wife’s and my own first trip to Europe, and we’ve had only six weeks to put it together. When we went to Hawaii in 2007, and New York two years ago, I spent the better part of 8 months planning those excursions. This tour is twice to three times longer than those previous vacations, and involves a lot of intercontinental travel.
The impetus of going to Europe is for work. In fact, the first half of the trip will be entirely work-oriented. I have wineries that I represent in Spain, Portugal and France, and it is one of the Spanish ones who want to see me, so my office has arranged to make that happen. While I’m there, they figured, I should visit some of the others. And then my wife and I figured that if we’re going, we might as well tack on another week and do some of our own exploring. Thus we now have quite an itinerary spread over 16 days and three countries. My office has done a delightful job of planning our itinerary for the first week, in excellent detail.
The first week is entirely work-related. We’ll be flying into Barcelona and spending three days in and around the city. From Barcelona, we will visit the city of Cordoba. After Cordoba, we will endure a complicated travel day that will require a train and two flights to get to Porto in Portugal via Madrid and Lisbon. We will spend three days in Porto, which I am particularly excited about, as I’ve heard the port-producing Douro river valley and towns are quite spectacular. From Porto, my last work visit, we will begin our personal vacation time. We’re flying from Porto to Marseille in the south of France via Barcelona, and from Marseille we will attempt to get to Avignon. We will spend three days in Avignon, soaking up the rich history and beauty that make it so popular. My wife tells me that this region is famous for its lavender fields and that we’ll have to find one of those to walk in. After Avignon we will head north on one of France’s famous TGV trains (Train à Grande Vitesse – train that goes really fast) and land in Paris. The next day I’m hoping that we’ll take another train for a day trip in Champagne (one of our most favourite wines) and then back to Paris for four days of supreme old world culture. We’re staying near the Champs Elysees which will afford us proximity to many of Paris’s notable highlights. From Paris, we will fly home.
I’m going with an entirely open mind. I have scarcely few things that I really want to accomplish or see while we’re there. I suppose I want to eat some great food, see some beautiful countryside, vineyards and cultural icons, and experience culture and history, but beyond that it’s a blank canvas.
We’re really excited about this trip. We’ve been wanting to go to France forever, but always waited so we could do it ‘right.’ I think we’ll be very happy, albeit tired, with the entirety of this trip. Should get some good photos too.