Europe

Spring into summer.

Where to begin?  No, seriously… and in what order should I proceed?

If coming directly from Hong Kong, then I assume London will be my port of entry.  Presumably, other stops in the British Isles and Scandanavia would follow before continental Europe, right?  I’m wide open to suggestions about this.

One thing is certain, I plan to spend some time with good friends Rudolph and Venda in the Czech Republic. (They are the parents of Jan, with whom this RTW adventure begins in Alaska.) They have been renovating an old house in a Bohemian hamlet called Zumberg. I hope to lend a hand with heavy lifting and other labors, and to spend time musing about the world’s woes and wonders over coffee and delicious food.

The following is what I’m thinking about the rest of Europe. As with other stops, I’m planning to do farm-stays (e.g., WWOOF) Couchsurfing, and engage with SERVAS for accommodations.

I’m curious about life and work in places which have high taxes and regulations accompanied by quality services and civic engagement.  Call it what you will, but I’m fed up with the right-wing phobia of “socialism” in America. (Yet our military, mining, agriculture and many other federally-subsidized industries somehow escape this label!)

Furthermore, many European countries are far more advanced in their planning and operation of waste and resource recovery programs, producer responsibility laws, and so on. Thus, I’m very interested in these career options here. Europe has some great (and old!) universities and I appreciate the self-driven tradition for graduate study, so that is on the table, as well.

Before I ramble on too far, here’s the short-list of other countries where I wish to travel.  I look forward to your suggestions within and beyond them:

The British Isles, particularly England and Scotland of my ancestry, but also Ireland where I plan to meet a geographer of garbage governance.

Scandinavia, which is also part of my heritage. As noted above, I’m interested in an honest assessment of socialism in practice by citizens who embrace it as part of the cultural fabric (as with capitalism, too). Plus, how can I resist Viking lore?!

Holland, because I love bicycling, flowers and windmills, among other things that make the country distinctive.

The Mediterranean coast, presumably centered around Italy.

The French countryside (wine, cheese, food!) and the Iberian peninsula.

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7 thoughts on “Europe

  1. No Croatia? 😛
    Well, as far as Spain is concerned- I would suggest you visit northern parts, such as Salamanca. Amazing place, and it houses the oldest library which holds some of Columbus’ original diaries, etc.
    Madrid- just as any other big city-crowded, hot (in the summer, of course), but Prado museum is worth a visit. You must try “churros”-dough sticks (best I can describe) that you dip in a very thick chocolate. A MUST!
    I also suggest visiting Cordoba-if you’re there just for one day, “La Mezquita” is amazing. It’s a church within a mosque…the history is amazing, you’ll like it.
    If you have time, visit the Basque Country and try the locally-made wines.
    Paris- I’ve only been for a short time. Louvre, of course, is a must-see but the downside of it is that it is huge and you would probably need days to peruse all exhibits. Also, Paris is probably the most expensive European city (Madrid is also very, very expensive), so that might be a problem.
    If you’re in Italy- visit Florence (I’m into Medici!!). Northern Italy is more of my favorite “flavor” than southern, but Tuscany is beautiful.
    Crete is also wonderful, if you get a chance. Of course, the Croatian coast (not Mediterranean, I know, I know, but Adriatic Sea is a part of it, so there!). I suggest Pula (duh!) and Dubrovnik. You must try “rakija”, which is pure alcohol that will get you drunk quickly.

  2. Just finding your travel blog now. Let’s chat about Spain. We have lots of family there on my husband’s side. Maybe we can hook you up.

  3. Oh Europe. I think Italy is a wonderful place to spend a lot of time. The food, people and pace of life are full-on pleasant. Rome is an amazing historical and cultural destination, and some of the sights there truly are worth seeing (the Vatican, the Colisseum, the Pantheon, Villa Borghese). Other Italian wonders not to miss: the Amalfi coast, Capri and Pompeii are all accessible through Naples, though Naples itself leaves much to be desired. Cinque Terre is small and lush chain of small towns, linked by walking paths, right on the water. You will rest and swim and hike here. Siena, in tuscany, is a remarkable small town that is truly stunning — its duomo is beautiful. We happened upon a walking history tour (by pamphlet) and had such a fun adventure there.
    Other European cities to consider: Nice (south of France) – YES. go here. The Cote d’Azur will tantalize all the senses, and it’s lovely and full of frenchness, especially if you happen by bypass Paris. Berlin & Munich are civilized and full of delicious beer and fun and tremendous history. Food is better in Italy and France but BEER. and pretzels. Also Krakow, Poland. The food, people and feeling of this old city are truly not to be missed. Krakow is one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

    For what it’s worth, I think that not all massive, well-known museums are worth visiting; for example the Louvre in Paris [sorry to disagree with the post above] is way too big and overwhelming, and there are so many smaller, more intimate and amazing museums nearby… In Paris I think the two most notable museums are the Musee D’Orsay, which is an old train station and houses the world’s largest collection of French Impressionist works, as well as the Picasso museum in the French quarter. Le Marais district is where to hang out at night; dive bars and funky peeps. If you do go to Paris, don’t miss dinner at Jim Haynes’ home: http://jim-haynes.com/. This is a very cool way to spend Sunday night!

    I could go on and on but ultimately, you are going to have an amazing trip no matter what. I propose leaving yourself the flexibility you set out, with priorities you must see and others that may get rearranged as you meet travel buddies and meander around.
    PS. I am very jealous of this trip you’ve proposed, and would like to come along in your luggage! hugs, claire

    • Lots of great suggestions, Claire – many thanks! I plan to bypass Paris on this trip, but am keen on the countryside. The people of Nice, are they “Nicer”… and what about the town next door, Nefew? I’ve heard many positive comments about Cinque Terre, so I shan’t miss it. Got any good books to recommend for all these places?

  4. What was Europe’s first incinerator called? The Destructor? Any chance you could tour that place, I love it that you are considering the garbage aspect in your travels.

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