Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Latest European Tour

2017 Group of 38 Travelers
Photo credit: D. Shiner
Last week I concluded my six-week series on how and why I lead student trips to Europe. I started the series about a month before I was to take my fourth tour: March 10-21, 2017.

Since I am (mostly) retired, this was probably the last time I will have the opportunity to introduce students to international travel. Of course, I would never refuse a request... but my contacts are dwindling, and perhaps it is time to pass the baton.

We returned from our whirlwind tour about eight weeks ago, which is the perfect length of time for me to review and reflect. As I mentioned in my Travel Journaling post, I need time to re-establish a routine, catch up on life, and process the adventure.

aerial view of Tuileries Garden
First of all, let me state, this was a near-perfect trip. And if it ends up being my final swan song, I have no complaints!

The tour guide was fabulous! This was my second time to tour with Slobodan, and he is the BEST! His easy-going personality helps calm my anxious nerves. He strives to please everyone - and nearly succeeds. His knowledge of every city is indispensable in deciding what to see during our free time. He relates well to adults as well as students. Can you tell I'm a big fan?!

Sorrento lemons
The weather was ideal. We had one day of rain out of ten. Of course, it wouldn't be London if it didn't rain though, would it?

We wore our winter coats twice. Daytime temperatures ranged from the mid-50s to low-60s. While we walked nearly one-hundred miles over the course of the trip, the weather made it bearable and almost fun.

We had plenty of free time in every city. Sometimes schedules on group tours are tight and don't allow for much personal exploration. Not so this year.

We had a full five hours in London, which afforded me the opportunity to visit Kensington Palace and have tea at the Orangery.

We had two days in Paris, with free time each day. One day I had time to ride the Grand Roue - and see wonderful aerial views of the city, as well as enjoy a fantastic al fresco lunch at the Cafe des Deux Magots. The second day I visited three museums (!)

Tea at Kensington Palace
In Florence I saw the original Porcellino fountain (we have a sister fountain here in Kansas City) and enjoy another relaxed meal at an outdoor cafe on the square.

We were in Rome for my good friend's birthday and had the opportunity to celebrate that evening at an outdoor cafe on the Piazza Navona. We spent two glorious hours sipping Chianti and watching people pass by.

Sunday in Sorrento was relaxed and carefree. We had a leisurely lunch at the only Mozzarella Bar in the country and then did some shopping. Lemoncello, colorful pottery and inexpensive table linens made excellent souvenirs.

I plan to detail all these events in future posts - and maybe a few more. I hope you join me on this virtual adventure.



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