I classify wanders as our longer trips, anything a week or longer. True, I’d love to have a European or Australian sensibility about this where we have those glorious long breaks, but we are forced to make do with the standard U.S. vacation schedule: three weeks a year. And yes, I know many have even less than that, so I’ll leave my grumbling at the door.
Since 2010, we try to take a two-week vacation together every year, and it is these trips that got me to thinking that we need to document the itineraries. I’ll go into more specifics on the itineraries else where on this blog, but this list will give you the basics.
- 2010 took us to Israel for about ten days between Christmas and New Years. My parents accompanied us (or maybe we accompanied them) as we went to the harbor at Caesaria, saw family friends near Eilat, wandered the ruins of Masada, and got lost in Jerusalem just like everyone else.
- 2011 marked our first long trip to France, two weeks of baguettes, rental cars, and wishing that we had thought to make hotel reservations. We started in Paris, then went north to Monet’s gardens in Giverney, the Normandy region with its WWII sites, Mont St. Michel, the Loire Valley and the Lemans 24-hour race, Tours, Toulouse, the fortresses of Carcassonne, and a bit of southeastern France before hightailing it back to Paris to return our rental car and make our flight.
- 2012 was France again, but this time we focused on southern France, using Geneva as our airport hub. We did a couple of days in Geneva, then picked up our trusty Yeti to begin moving south. We stopped into Chamonix and Mont Blanc for a few days before turning south for the warmth of Provence. This trip brought us to Juan-les-pins so that we could go to Monacco for the Grand Prix, window shopping at the Cannes Film Festival, Antibes, Grasse, the false papacy at Avigon, mustard in Dijon, and the the hill climbs of Lyon.
- 2013 was Belgium, using Brussels as our first hub. We spent a few days finding macarons, the Magritte museum, and before taking the train to Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent. Antwerp had the most amazing train station, and Bruges had a yellow lab that slept in a window overlooking a canal. Once we picked up our rental car (and thereby had an argument as we tried to navigate our way our of a city that featured a six-street intersection), we ventured south to Joel’s mecca of the Belgian Grand Prix and a Battle of the Bulge WWII tour.
- 2014 was northern France, but this time with my parents. My dad had served as a veterinarian at the World Equestrian Games and mum stewarded, so once their equine duties were complete, we met them at the train station in Giverney. We wandered Monet’s gardens, thinking how much my dad’s mother would have loved to see all of the flowers, before heading north for the WWII beaches and cemeteries. Joel and I had already seen some of these sites, but Pont du Hoc, the Normandy beaches, Saint Mere Eglise, but revisiting those sites never gets old. Odds are good that we’ll go a third time.
- 2015 was breast cancer, so we didn’t go anywhere except to infusion rooms, oncology wards, and surgery tables. (I’m fine now, no worries, and clearly I survived the ordeal.) Doctors had warned us that I’d likely be pretty tired after chemo, radiation, and surgery, so we took their words to heart and stayed home that year.
- 2016 was eastern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and a tiny bit of Germany. My parents once again joined us as we explored WWI and WWII museums, old racecourses and stables, the Belgian Grand Prix, quaint towns like Colmar, met a friend of mum’s and friend’s dog in Luxembourg City for lunch, crossed into Germany for Baden Baden and beer and hillside castles with goats.
- 2017 was not France but Italy! We survived delayed flights, lost luggage, and jet lag to venture out to Manza for the Italian Grand Prix, then up into northern Italy to drink wine of the Barolo region, see spectacular sunsets, wander through Turin and old Piedmont villages before heading south to Cinque Terra and Florence. I hadn’t been to Italy since my university days (and it is a LOT more crowded now), but we did find time to see the Galileo Museum, wander with the throngs, and be glad that dad had remembered the handicapped parking placard. Tuscany is beautiful, but my heart will always be with Verona and the northern reaches of Italy.