Monday, November 14, 2011

Looking Back at Our Two Weeks in Europe

View from the Pantheon, Paris

It took two months to cover a two-week vacation to Europe in this blog. Or, to put it another way, 19 posts to cover a 15-day trip.

OK, so it took a while to spit everything out. And with more than 1,100 photos, I had a lot to share. But you've finally seen the highlights and read about the lowlights, and I have only a few parting thoughts.

As the time for the trip got ever closer, I frequently speculated that I had gotten in over my head. The trip was a lot of work -- by far the toughest vacation I'd ever planned. Coordinating five flights, places to stay in four cities, and doing at least a modicum of research (and much, much more for Paris and Rome) takes time. I can't even guess how many hours I put into it since our itinerary first began to take shape in February.

For each city we were to visit, I prepared a list of the sights I wanted to see, along with their hours and prices. I determined the best and cheapest ways to get to and from each airport -- and we were in seven airports in all -- and kept track of the exchange rates for four different units of currency. We booked ahead what needed to be booked ahead (tours in Iceland, a visit to the Vatican Museum) and planned day trips we weren't sure we'd ever take (yes to Versailles, no to the Appian Way in Rome).

There were certainly times when I was frustrated, and almost every day I was tired. There were days that were strange. (Sitting in Rome, watching TV programs cover the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in a language we couldn't understand ranks right up there.) But I never thought I was in over my head. It was a priceless experience, and knowing that we pieced together the trip ourselves made it even more memorable.

My regrets were few and revolved mostly around food -- couldn't I have had one more croque monsieur? One more chocolate pastry? My biggest regret, however, is that I barely had time to digest a city before darting off to the next one. But that's hardly a real problem. Really, it's a problem I was lucky to have had at all.

In case you missed any of them, below is a complete list of the blog posts about our trip. Thanks for playing along.

The Overview
Two Wonderful Weeks Exploring Europe

Paris, Sept. 4-8
View of Paris from the Top ... of Everything
Museum Hopping in Paris
Adventures at the Eiffel Tower
A Day Trip to Versailles
A Look Back on Paris

Rome, Sept. 8-12
Uncovering Ancient Rome: The Colosseum & Forum
The Religious Must-Sees of Vatican City & Rome
Piazzas and People-Watching in Rome
Reflections on Rome

Copenhagen & Malmö, Sweden, Sept. 12-14
Morning in Denmark; Evening in Sweden
Copenhagen: Tivoli & Other First Impressions

Reykjavik, Sept. 14-17
A Day at Iceland's Blue Lagoon
Iceland's Golden Circle: Sites & Scenery
Roaming 'Round Reykjavik, Iceland

Food & Fun
Eating Our Way Through Europe
The Hot Dogs of Scandinavia
Paul Presents Our Vacation

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