Many of you know that Dan works for Bayer. As in aspirin, but in the crop science division. If you look at pesticide products in your local garden shop you’ll see the famous Bayer logo on some of them. Who knew? They are based in Germany with 115,000 employees all over the globe. I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s been to Europe already since Bayer acquired the small company he worked for in Davis in the summer of 2012. Dan says 8 or 9; even he’s lost count. They are busy and productive trips for him but not much fun.
But as long as he works there and they keep sending him, we’re going to turn at least one of those trips into a vacation for us each year. Last year we managed to plan one perfectly timed to coincide with my 50th birthday – I left 2 days later on my first trip out of the USA. And what a trip it was. Dan was already there, had gone ahead of me 6 days for work and I met him in Mainz, Germany. There was something oddly adult about having to navigate my way through 2 foreign countries (Belgium and Germany) and 3 train transfers all by myself on my first international trip. It was exciting and intimidating and fun all at the same time. It was an amazing trip: 10 cities in 18 days (Mainz, Frankfurt, Koblenz, Cologne, Amsterdam, The Hague, Harleem, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels).
At the urging of a good friend from work, I did a travel blog for that trip and I am so glad I did. (Thanks, Melanie!) Having that objective as I went through very full and exciting days made me pay attention to things in a way I’m now sure I wouldn’t have otherwise. And while I often can barely remember what I had for dinner the night before, I remember details of all 18 days of that trip with a vividness that escapes me in my day-to-day life. I’m sure the blog did that, too.
The most fascinating thing to me about the blog was the dedicated following it had. From the start the feedback and interactions about the blog made the trip more meaningful and interesting to us, and the blog became a thing in and of itself. Once Dan joined me on the third day when his conference was over, he became the official blog photographer. We became very disciplined about it, every evening planning what photos to use, with me doing the writing about them. I’m very glad we did it every day because there’s no way I could have remembered everything 3 weeks later had I waited.
This Tuesday, we’re going again. Dan’s business this time is short so we’re traveling together, and I will get the first couple of days by myself as I did last year. I actually like that – it will be a nice way to disconnect from what’s been a very hectic year for me so far at work and school. (I’ve been working on a masters in HR through Golden Gate University if you’re not aware.) So I’m Ready For A Vacation!
The lineup this trip makes last year’s trip feel like a starter package: Cologne (again for me, while Dan is working), Paris with side trips to Normandy and Versailles, Edinburgh, London, and one night in NYC on the way home. It will definitely be warmer than last year which we’re grateful for; it’s later in the year and last year was unusually cold at that time in Europe. Weather so far looks like a fair amount of rain here and there (umbrellas already packed), with temps in the 40-65 range. I can deal with that, especially since it never got above 40 the whole time last year.
I’m surprised at the number of people who’ve asked expectantly if I will do a blog again, from many different areas of my life. Even if the interest wasn’t there, I would do it again because I got so much out of personally. That there is such interest continues to fascinate me, but I’m grateful for that as well, so to whatever degree you are following this know that I appreciate it!
The whole purpose of this entry today was to set the stage, and create the blog address for those who’ve asked.
We leave Tuesday afternoon, 4:40pm flight to London and then Dusseldorf. Then a train to Cologne where I’ll explore that a bit more deeply while Dan works in Frankfurt and Monheim. We were only in Cologne about 28 hours last year, so it will be nice to start somewhere somewhat familiar with more time to do things I missed. Saturday we take a morning train to Paris. (I just love writing that, gotta tell you.) We’ll be there for 6 nights, spending all day Sunday on a side trip to Normandy. We are both Very Big on World War II history so this was a must and in some ways the thing I’m most excited about. The following Friday we fly to Edinburgh and spend the weekend there. Monday morning, a 4 hour train ride to London where we’ll spend the next 5 days. Saturday morning, May 24, we fly to NYC and spend one afternoon/evening there before coming home that Sunday before Memorial Day.
The planning of all that was a project in and of itself. Planes, trains and lodging have been booked for some time, as well as the Normandy trip and 2 shows in the West End. (I have my priorities!) I learned a lot on last year’s trip and enjoyed the planning of this one in a way I didn’t the last time.
So we’re ready! Mail has been stopped, pNut plans are arranged (thanks, Art & Mike!), we’ve been eating only whatever is left in the house so as to empty the refrigerator as much as possible. It’s going to be a great adventure and I look forward to you coming along for the ride….
Tags: Bonn, Churchill War Rooms, Cologne, Edinburgh, England, France, Germany, Hampton Court Palace, London, New York City, NYC, Paris, Scotland, Steve Haas, Travel blog, Wimbledon