4, 3, 2, 1...Count Down!

There are less than 4 weeks until I have the giddy pleasure of leaving the U.S. of A by jetting off to my favorite vacation destination: Europe.  My husband of 31 years (as of Wednesday 7/28) and I will be joined by his sister and brother-in-law, Jackie and Dale, and they will be with us for part of our 3 week journey.  They will be taking off on a Mediterranean cruise in Venice and then join us again in Barcelona, Spain 10 days later. 

Our journey starts with a few days in Paris and then a flight down for several days in Venice.  This will be my fourth trip to Venice in 9 years; James's 2nd.  It is a favorite of ours.  Venice is a fascinating city in a state of what I call elegant decay.  The premise of this city in the middle of a bay with no cars is pretty amazing.  We love visiting the churches with the incredible art captured within, find hidden piazza's (plazas) as well as just get lost while walking the city alley ways. Oh, and the shopping is amazing.

We have traveled with Jackie and Dale several times before.  Let me interject here that it is important to make sure you travel with people you get along with really well. You want to be able to be yourself and voice your opinions on the "what do you want to do today,"  or "where shall we eat" questions without letting yourself get shut out if there are more opinionated voices in the group.  That said, we've traveled with them before and get along fabulously.  We are very much looking forward to showing them the joys of traveling in the alluring Europe. We picked a good time of year to go as far as the weather.  It is also the tail end of the tourist season, so we'll miss some of the larger crowding typically found in June - August.

We start out in Paris, only for a few short days, and then head on to Venice for 3 days.  Jackie and Dale leave on the 2nd day for their cruise.  From there James and I head over to the South of France to Nice. We'll do some day trips to Monaco and St. Tropez from there before we rent a car and go to a quaint fishing village of Cassis (see photo).  Cassis will be our restful respite after lots of touring and walking.  We'll be able to meander the small town and hit the beach.  I also hope to take a boat tour of the Calanques, sort of like fjords, that make up the rugged coast line there.

After Cassis we drive up into the mountains in the Provence region.  There we'll stay in a tiny, nearly forgotten town of Les Baux.  Les Baux has ruins of a 12th century castle that was once a regional seat of power.  It was destroyed in 1632 by King Louis XIII.  The city is literally carved into the rock that rises up from the valley floor.  While staying in Les Baux, we'll do day trips to visit the famous Pont du Gard aquaduct, the city of Nimes, Arles, an other nearby towns.

Our next big leg of the trip is down into Spain.  After a quick night in Avignon to catch a 6 a.m. train, we're off to Barcelona.  This is where we catch up with Jackie and Dale who will finish up their cruise there.  I am very excited to see the Modernisme architecture made famous by Gaudi in the late 19th century, and Gaudi's famous  Sagrada Familia, still unfinished (slated for completion in about 50 years).

After Barcelona, we head down to the south of Spain, starting in Granada to see the Alhambra.  We've purchased our tickets to that structure in advance at the advice of several travel gurus.  After Granada we'll head even farther south and check out Gibraltar.  We hope to take the gondola up and then walk down and check out the Apes of Gibraltar.  We then spend the night in Tarifa in order to catch an early morning catamaran ride over to Morocco where we have a tour or Tangier arranged.  Jackie is very adamant about wanting to ride a camel, which we hear is available on the tour. I may opt to be the photographer and watch the others meander herky jerky around on the smelly, lurching behemoths.

The trip is rounded out with a nice stay at a Marriott resort in Malaga before we head on home.  From there I hope we have time to visit one or two of the white villages that dot the Spanish coastal area.  I've seen some really nice videos and pictures of the area so I do find myself conflicted about visiting that or laying on a beach.  I tend to bypass the beach because one can lay on a beach with closed eyes lots of places around the world, even at home, where I can only see these unique sights one place.  Hmmm... which do you think I'll choose?

So that's the trip in a nutshell.  You can see the entire itinerary, if you so choose, by visiting TripIt. You do not have to sign up to view the itinerary.  As usual, I will also blog as we go.  I also hope to post occasionally on Facebook.

Europe Travel Map

Travel Route
 Take a look at our itinerary on the map above as well as check out the details I've made available on TripIt.