Several years ago, when our oldest daughter, Jessica, went off to college, I began a "savings fund" with hopes of sharing a "Mother/Daughters" trip somewhere to celebrate both girls finishing college, if and when it happened. I had a chunk of money taken from my check and automatically put into a savings account. A few years back I read "Traveling with Pomegranates" by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor, which further inspired me to keep saving. At the time, David wasn't all that interested in going, as he grew up traveling the world via the Army, and isn't keen on being too far from home.
Last year our youngest daughter, Kailyn, talked to us about her desire to participate in an immersion program in France her junior year of college. She spent the first semester in Caen, which has been mostly wonderful, although she suffered greatly from homesickness. It's been a treat to have her home the past three weeks, but, she will return to France for the rest of the school year.
Plans have changed, sort of. Now we're planning a European family vacation in June. I use the word "planning" loosely, as there isn't a solid plan put down on paper as yet. We attempted to discuss our collective "wishes" during the week following Christmas, while all four of us were mostly under the same roof, a rare occasion. While driving to the beach one of those days, we made a list of places we want to visit, and momentarily discussed which country we should fly into, but that was about it.
Since then, I've gotten progressively more stressed out about the idea, with visions of National Lampoon's European Vacation dancing in my head. I'm the only one in this family who has never been outside the US (unless you count British Columbia, which hardly counts, even to me). The girls and David have been to numerous countries. I am worried about getting there, getting from place to place, finding accommodations and recognizing what I'm eating. I'm also fretting about "missing" great places to visit because I know next to nothing about Europe.
I googled Rick Steve's European tours and was ready to book one, making life simple, until my husband talked me out of it. He reminded me that our 21 and 23 year old daughters are not going to enjoy hanging out on a tour bus with a bunch of old folks and/or young families. Put that way, I decided I probably wouldn't enjoy it much, either! The idea of being stuck on a bus for several hours every other day didn't appeal to me, once I looked at the sample itineraries.
David said, "Let's just wing it! It will be an adventure!" This is so totally out of character for my husband I thought he must be joking, but he wasn't. Kailyn researched renting/leasing a car, which actually makes some sense, as we would have unlimited freedom of where to go and when. After looking at Eurorail prices, for the four of us, it could be cheaper to go with a car. Of course, driving with my husband in traffic in America is a little stressful at times; across the pond, on the other side of the road in strange territory, it's downright frightening to imagine.
At this moment, the only thing we're sure of is that we will be meeting Kailyn, somewhere in Europe, in June. We've tentatively chosen June 19th to fly out of here, (mainly because her boyfriend, Nick, is meeting her June 12 and they are spending a week traveling to visit his family in France). Financially, we think we can manage about three-four weeks. That's all we really know. I've done a little investigation on airfare, and have a general idea of that cost, but other than that, I feel like a blind person without a cane (or a dog).
And so, I thought I would appeal to my blog friends, who live all over this great big world. Does anyone have any suggestions of European places that must be visited? I know we'll see the main attractions, but I'm honestly more intrigued by the out of the way, unique and non-touristy type places. Perhaps that's why I'm kind of leaning towards renting/leasing a car. My one request of my family is that we visit the Isle of Jersey, where my ancestors came from in the 1600's. As it isn't too far from where Kailyn is living, she has assured me that my wish will be granted.
This is the adventure of a lifetime, for me, and while I'm anxious and stressed out at the planning, I am giddy with anticipation of unknown possibilities.
Who has a place in mind that I must visit?? I will appreciate any and all suggestions and ideas! Perhaps there may even be the possibility of meeting some of my blogging friends in far flung places for a spot of tea while we are "over there" a-wandering!