Friday, July 22, 2016

2016 Europe Vacation Musings

This year's summer trip had three basic goals. First, I really wanted to visit the Netherlands and Amsterdam. I self identify as Dutch. I really enjoyed Amsterdam. Except for the fact that it rained on us off and on for the entire first week, the highpoint of the trip for me was the first week in the Low Countries.

Second, Jack really wanted to see one of the Euro 2016 soccer games. One of the quarter final games fit almost perfectly into our schedule. It was in Lille, France and was only about 46 miles from where we were staying in Ghent, Belgium. We saw a great game between Wales and Belgium. In spite of the amount of beer that the Welsh fans dumped on Sharon, it was a very neat experience!

Once we were on the trip, Jack added a goal of wanting to get to as many countries as possible. He was not happy that we cut out a leg that would have taken us into Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As it was, we hit six countries: Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria.

Third, Sharon wanted to get to Salzburg, Austria. In 1985, between her second and third year in law school, Sharon spent six weeks taking classes at the University of Salzburg. She hadn't been back since. The itinerary for the first part of the second week of the trip was designed to get us close to Salzburg. Even though I was starting to come down with a cold, we had a great couple of days in Salzburg. We got a chance to revisit some of Sharon haunts from 31 years ago!

Over the course of the second week, I drove over 900 miles in two different rental cars. Both cars were manual transmissions. I have spent my whole life driving manual transmission vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but frankly I had kind of forgotten how much more you have to stay connected to the vehicle with a manual transmission. You have to pay attention and drive! I also got a chance to drive on the German Autobahn without any speed limit!

[Note to self], the one thing that I probably done differently on the trip was schedule one or two guided tours. We did self guided tours in most of the cities. While I enjoyed all of these, there were a couple of places where I think that a guided tour would have helped make more effective use of the time. For example, Sunday morning in Luxembourg City would have been a great spot to do a guided tour. We had guided tours in Rome and Charleston that I really enjoyed.

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