The countdown (not to mention frenetic packing, packaging and pre-emptive income tax preparation - shudder) has begun for our adventure in Europe during the months of March and April. I am so excited for this trip - I feel like it should be somebody else's life and I'm just getting to hear about it! We have done a ton of planning in advance - I think we're actually a bit fed up with planning and want to just go and do it, which is a great place to be!
I will be taking lots of pictures on our trip, of course, but I will only be blogging sporadically from David's iPod when I have access to a wifi signal. We'll have a chance midway through the trip, when we're staying with my parents, to catch up on some computer things, which is when I plan to do a big dose of updates and upload my photos.
Here is our itinerary, with most of the details worked out. The biggest sections up in the air will be what day trips we take while staying with my parents in Geneva - watch this space. :)
Erica Anderson, my charming associate, if you are reading this, it will give away all the surprises - so don't read it!! ;)
Hilary and David’s Europe Trip 2012
March 4 to May 9, 2012
Fly to Lisbon (March 4)
· Sightseeing and exploring the city
Day trip: Sintra
· We have heard this is a neat little spot with a fantastic, fairy-tale-like castle (actually called the Palácio Nacional da Pena).
Leave Lisbon; travel to Lagos
· We will use Lagos as a base to explore some different parts of the popular and geographically stunning Algarve region of southern Portugal. We will take in the beaches, markets and cliffs and eat sardinha assada: just-caught sardines grilled by the shore.
Day trip: Sagres
· 1-hour walk to promontory of Cabo de São Vicente (where Vasco de Gama launched; south-westernmost point of mainland Europe)
Day trip: Silves
· Morning market at Fabiricia Ingles; 13th-century Cathedral of Silves
Leave Lagos for Seville
· We'll take in the riverfront walkway, the immense Cathedral, tapas bars, and more
· We will explore the Alhambra, and hopefully take in a flamenco show, as well as wandering the ancient Moorish streets. Our apartment is in the shadow of the Alhambra!
· This is a small town dominated by a Borgia castle which I can’t wait to explore. David thinks there might be some nice leafy walks to be done around the area, too.
· Major trip highlight for both of us
· Must-sees for Barcelona: Mercat de la Boceria (which I totally saw on that PBS show Spain: On the Road Again), Gaudi’s Basilica Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló, the Fundaciòn Mirò, and of course the inside of numerous tapas bars!
Leave Barcelona for Narbonne
· Small town in the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France
· A bit of a quieter stop; our hotel apparently has a shed full of bikes available to guests. We’ll take it easy and possibly poke around the local covered market which I’ve heard is interesting.
· We’ll be staying in an ancient stone farmhouse-turned-B&B outside of Cluny, actually in Lieu-dit la Pierre Folle, Burgundy, France
· Have a look at the B&B, it's so cute: La Pierre Folle Chambre d'Hôtes
· We will stay over one night and meet up with Mom and Dad / Andrew and Wendy at the B&B in the morning! Much merriment to ensue. They will bring us borrowed camping gear in preparation for our next stop.
Leave Cluny for Taizé
· What I am possibly looking forward to the most – we will spend a long weekend at the Taizé Community, culminating in worship on Palm Sunday morning.
· Accommodation: a tent, the ecumenical community of Taizé
· My parents will stay on at the B&B in Cluny, and join us for the worship services.
Leave Taizé for Geneva
· Staying chez Andrew and Wendy
· We’ll visit with my parents and see their new surroundings, explore Geneva, meet Dad’s new people at the WCC and attend worship there (as well as my parents’ new Lutheran congregation), sleep, catch our breath and I’ll download the bajillion photos I’m sure I’ll have by then!
· We will also take this time to make day trips into different parts of Switzerland and France; these details are not totally worked out yet. I am particularly hoping to visit Gruyère and Lucerne.
· Dad will leave for a two-week meeting in Florida on Easter Monday, so David and I will be keeping my Mom company during that time!
· We’ll celebrate David’s 28th birthday on (Good) Friday, April 6 and attend, I’m sure, multiple worship services on Easter Sunday, April 9.
Leave Geneva for Montreux
· Magical, sound-of-music-esque town on the edge of Lake Geneva
· We’ll take a stroll down the lakeside promenade to the 13th-century castle of Chillon, and also take a mountain train up to les Rochers-de-Naye (6,700 feet), which aside from being breathtakingly picturesque in itself, boasts an alpine garden and a marmot zoo. (Say what?)
Leave Montreux for Florence
· Staying: Milligan apartment, central Florence
· We’ll spend ten nights with Florence as a base and enjoy being in David’s old stomping grounds from OCAD days.
· We’ll take a couple of day trips into other parts of Italy; I’m especially hoping to visit Siena again, and if the weather is warm, the beach at Viareggio.
BELGIUM / FRANCE
Leave Florence for Brussels
· Staying with John Fass and family for two nights (John is a friend of David’s from the MRes programme)
Leave Brussels for Arras/Vimy
· We will take the train to Arras, France and continue on to the site of the Canadian World War I monument outside Vimy, returning to Arras for the night.
Leave Arras for London
· Eurostar, with a transfer in Paris
· On a quick stopover, we'll stay at Sue and Mark’s house in Dulwich
After a couple of days, we'll fly from London to Toronto! Home sweet home.