zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Dusting Off My Passport

over the last few days, i've been doing some research and planning for a long-looked-forward-to European vacation. i had planned to visit The Netherlands and Belgium for 2 weeks in September 2004. but, just days before my scheduled departure, Hurricane Frances decided to visit my old Florida neighborhood and shut things down. (btw, those 8 days and 7 nights without electricity... in hot, humid Florida... profoundly reminded me and reinforced with me the high level of reliance we have on electricity. as a friend of mine said, "electricity is civilization".... hmmmm, this idea reminds me of ice and Paul Theroux's 'The Mosquito Coast', but that's a whole other train of thought...)

so now, i am eagerly looking forward to making my long awaited trip to Holland and Belgium :) but, this time around i'm going to make the trip a bit longer and more extensive since i am currently without obligation to any employer or anybody/thing else. because most Americans (unlike our civilized European friends who enjoy a minimum of 3 weeks holiday time) are lucky to receive even 1 week paid vacation from their employer, my initial thought was to try and squeeze as much of Europe as i can see into only 3-4 weeks before returning to the workforce.... here's the driving intinerary i was thinking of doing...

Amsterdam - Utrecht - Brussels - Bordeaux - Narbonne - Neuchatel - Milan - Amsterdam

that's 5 countries and about 4,200 kilometres (~2300 miles). hmmmmm, probably a do-able drive in 3 weeks, but i wasn't sure. so, i asked an European friend who has done some travelling and driving around these parts of the world if i was being too ambitious. hehehe, my friend giggled at my oh-so-typical American attitude that Europe can be "done" quickly. he gently reminded me that Europe is best appreciated when given enough time to experience.

he's right, of course. Europe is far from homogeneous and it would be a shame to speed through all the diverse culture, ancient history, beautiful geography and rich and varied cuisines without stopping long enough to see, taste, hear and smell all that which i want to experience.
so, guess i won't treat my European holiday as though it were a cross-country USA marathon. lol

guess i'll spend some time exploring Amsterdam's museums and galleries, admiring the architecture and checking out some nightlife.
next, i'll make Utrecht my home base for checking out some historical sites, exploring the countryside and catching a Golden Earring gig :)
then will be a wandering drive through Belgium and France with the Dordogne Valley as my destination before making my way back to Amsterdam for another night or two before catching the flight home.

i'd love to hop over to Switzerland and say hello to some old friends before heading over The Alps to set my feet upon Italia and hear the most musical language upon my ears, but i suppose i should save that for another adventure. hehe, or maybe not...

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