Europe 2023

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had the last round of long service leave, but apparently I am entitled to it again, so the plan is to head to Europe for 10 weeks in 2023. The plane tickets from Perth to Prague are booked and we fly out of Australia on the 29th July 2023. It seems as long way off (it is currently October 2022), but there is so much going on between now and then, it is sure to fly by.

Our first 5 nights will be spent in Prague. I have no idea what Prague is like or what to expect, but the options look good. A few things on our “wishlist” include city tours on scroosers, a night trip to the castle and a day trip to Terezin concentration camp. We have booked our accommodation, an apartment near Charles Bridge (whatever that means).

From Prague our intention is to catch a train to Berlin so we can tick off something from the Seventy B4 70 list. Again, we will be in this great city for 5 nights, hoping to see what’s left of the Wall, check out the Brandenburg Gate, maybe head into the dome of the Reichstag and ascend the Berlin Television Tower. We have booked our accommodation, another apartment, in “Prenzlauer Berg, a leafy green, relaxed, yet vibrant and creative neighbourhood. Its streets are lined with great cafes, bars, restaurants and fabulous independent shops which showcase local labels and unique design”.

From Berlin we plan to catch the train to Amsterdam, a place I have always wanted to visit. I can barely wait to ride a bicycle to a windmill. In my imagination that is all that people living there actually do! If we have time, we might get out of Amsterdam, into Belgium, to Tyne Cott memorial and cemetery. We have booked our accommodation here too, and are staying 6 nights in an apartment in a building that dates back to 1665! For someone who comes from a place where building are less than 200 years old, that is a staggering thought (and exciting). Our last full day in the city is Mr P’s birthday. I will need to plan something extraordinary for that …

From Amsterdam we head into the UK, the “Motherland”. As yet, the plans are not set, but we think we will catch a flight from Amsterdam to England (somewhere) and spend time with my mum’s family. On my wishlist is a trip to Stonehenge and a photo crossing Abbey Road. We anticipate 5 or 6 nights in England, before heading up to Scotland to spend time with Mr P’s best mate, his family and my dad’s family. That means we will be going between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Mr P’s sister has very generously said we can borrow their caravan if we want, so a road trip to see the Northern Lights and Loch Ness is on the cards. We have booked tickets to the Military Tattoo, for the last show of the 2023 season. They look like they will be some of the best seats in the house, in the pink section on the picture below, facing straight down the arena, to the entrance! I grew up watching the Tattoo on the small screen, many months after it finished each year. I am so excited to see it live, even if it is “just for tourists”. We will also catch a few gigs at the Festival while we are there. The trip highlights though, will be spending time with both our families, especially meeting Mr P’s daughter and being there for his mum’s 80th birthday.

From the UK we head back to Europe, landing in Barcelona on September 6th. We are yet to work out exactly what we will be doing in this city, but Mr P has been there before so I am sure he has a plan, which may involve attending a football game. I hope it involves lots of walking through the old town and Jewish quarter, maybe drinking coffee and eat baked goods. Our accommodation is booked but we haven’t yet booked our flight to the city, although our transport out of the city is sorted …

After our three nights in Barcelona a camper van will be delivered to us so we can take off on a big and exciting drive to Venice. Along the way we intend to visit Perpignan, Rocamadour (oh my goodness me!), Montpellier, Antibes, Nice, Genoa, Pisa (The Leaning Tower!!!), Florence, Bologna (Mr P is planning a spag bol) and end up in Venice, where our camper van will be collected from us. I hope I love the van as much as I loved Britzy. Imagine driving the Mediterranean coastline. I can hardly believe we are going to do this. A couple of things will get ticked off the Seventy B4 70 list on this leg of the trip.

We have 5 wonderful nights in Venice, a city built on canals whose public transport is comprised entirely of boats! So, we intend to do a kayak tour of the canals. So different to kayaking the canals of Mandurah. I am going to attempt to cross as many of the 391 bridges over the 150 canals, that surround the 116 little islands that make up Venice!! We will definitely be heading for Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, Accademia Bridge, the Ponte del Diavolo and Ponte dei Pugni. How exciting. Our accommodation is booked and this review is what sold me on this apartment: “The windows overlook the canal which is part of a gondola tour route. It is magical sitting on the windowsill watching these go by. The accordion and the singing adds a romantic touch”.

I think it will be hard to leave Venice but the thought of heading to Santorini may soften the blow. For many years I had a pair of prints hanging on the wall in my house of archetypal Greek Islands buildings, with white washed walls and blue domed roofs. Now we are booked to stay in this very type of place, where I can take my own photo to bring home and hang on the wall. My beautiful niece eloped to and was married on Santorini a few years ago. How romantic. Our plans are to relax after such a busy itinerary leading to this destination, hence the extended stay, spend time in the hot tub, but also explore the island on a quad bike and on foot. We should manage a caldera hike, a trip to the black sand beaches, a few sunsets and hanging out in the local town of Pyrgos. It sounds incredible. In preparation for our trip I recently bought a Greece on a Budget book (for $2), published in 2002! If nothing much has changed, it seems we are going to have both a relaxing and exciting time on Santorini.

The final city on our itinerary is Athens. I can barely believe I am going to the birth place of modern civilisation, the city that houses the Parthenon and Acropolis, the home of Socrates and Aristotle. My goodness, what a place to end a trip like this. I hope we get to wander the ancient sites, take in some open air theatre, eat amazing Greek food and drink superb Greek Ouzo. Our accommodation is booked and the thought of eating breakfast or drinking wine ” staying in the historic district of Plaka in a fully renovated penthouse with breath taking view of the Acropolis” is unbelievable! Can we leave now, I don’t think I can stand the wait.

There are a few things left to organise including our transport to Prague and between Berlin and Amsterdam, our transport to London and on to Edinburgh, the flight to Barcelona, and flights to and from Santorini (not on sale yet). We have nothing booked to do in the places we are visiting (apparently some things sell out so need to be booked in advance), but we will get these sorted closer to the time. For now, it is time to enjoy our trip to Sydney and New South Wales in 2 short weeks time, settle in for Christmas and the excitement the New Year will bring our family, kayak the canals in March, climb the mountain at Easter and cruise into the start of our trip in July. It’s going to fly by …

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