Pre-Departure and General Updates

The Louvre. We will definitely be back here!

Are you ready?  Next Saturday, August 18, I have a 6:30am flight from SFO to Heathrow. As is now my custom, this is an introductory post to catch you up on what’s going on with us and give a preview of the trip.

Back to Europe again. This will be my 7th trip to Europe. Can you believe these words come out of my fingers? It’s bizarre. But this will be unlike other trips because I’m going alone. All kinds of new adventures could be coming our way 🙂

Many of you know that Dan moved to Raleigh, NC, in January of 2016. We had a good strategy initially for me eventually joining him there, or him eventually returning to California. But unforeseen circumstances got in the way of those options and after a while there weren’t many left as our careers continued to improve in our current state. So after 7 years of being together and 2.5 years of living on opposite sides of the country, we have agreed to go our separate ways. It’s an incredibly amicable separation and we quickly transitioned into a business partnership so we could continue some other projects we have in the works.

So that is why I’m going alone. As I told Dan when we discussed separating, there are many great things I got from this relationship that vastly improved the quality of my life that I get to take with me. One of those things was the development of the passion for travel, and learning how to do it and do it well which is a thing all by itself. That the blog came out of it I still thank Melanie for!, but anymore I couldn’t imagine a life without travel, nor traveling without the blog. I’m now excited to do it a little differently. Dan asked “what would you do differently?” and I quickly responded with “less structure.” He smiled knowingly.

That’s, at least in part, where the adventure will come in on this trip. I’ve certainly got some very specific things planned in each city, some requiring advanced purchases or reservations, but more than any other trip (other than my few days in Puerto Vallarta earlier this year), big hunks of this trip I will make up as I go along. And I might be most excited about that.

I thought about going to places completely new but decided that I needed to get back to Europe to sort of make it mine. The prior 6 trips were all with Dan. I want to create new memories in familiar places.

And if I want familiar, Cologne is where I must start. For reasons I still have trouble explaining beyond “it’s where I feel I lost my European virginity” it has a special place in my heart. If you’ve been following for awhile, you may remember me saying before that Cologne is somehow a touchstone for me – I’ll go as far as to say a spiritual touchstone – and as I start a new life it makes perfect sense to me that I start there. And it’s the one place on this trip I have nothing specific planned. There’s one museum I’m interested in that I haven’t been to before but that’s as far as I’ve thought about it. Maybe I’ll check it out, maybe I won’t. For sure I will spend some time in the cathedral. And the train station. Beyond that, I’ll be there 2 nights and will just roll with it. I just want to be there.

From Cologne I go to Paris for 4 nights, which will include a side trip to Giverny to visit Monet’s gardens. Next is London for 4 nights, which will include a day trip to York. I also have plans to go to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter movie studios which is the one thing I’m as excited about on this trip as I am the lack of structure. From London I go to New York City for 3 nights; a coincidence and a somewhat random side conversation led to plans there that I’m now very much looking forward to. In some ways the adventure has already begun! More on that as it happens, don’t want to spill it all at once…

You can’t have a travel blog without photos but since I haven’t left yet, I will include some of my favorite photos from prior visits to these places.

Cologne and the Rhine River
Cologne and the Rhine River
Cologne Cathedral next to the square outside the central train station
Cologne Cathedral next to the square outside the central train station

It’s difficult to explain why but the above spot is one of my favorites on the planet so far.  The sight of the majestic cathedral as you exit the train station takes my breath away Every Time, I’m never quite prepared for it. This will be my 4th time going to Cologne. The last time was in 2015; I tried to explain my connection to Cologne then.

The Louvre. We will definitely be back here!
The Louvre. We will definitely be back here!

It’s rare to see so few people here, which is why I love this shot. In a rookie scheduling mistake, I’d came here on a Tuesday in 2014 thinking it was open. But it made for a great photo!

Buckingham Palace wasn't open for tourists when we were there in 2014, but I will get to go inside this time.
Buckingham Palace wasn’t open for tourists when we were there in 2014, but I will get to go inside this time.

Buckingham Palace is only open for tourists a few weeks a year, like 6-8. We were too early when we were there in May of 2014, but I luckily planned it right this time.

A little housekeeping before I wrap this up: as I explained when I launched this new blogging platform here, one of the goals I had in doing this was to get all the interactions of my readers in one place. Eventually I may get off of Facebook completely (horrors to some of you, I know, but I want to be prepared to exit that world if I need to at some point). So while I certainly can’t require it, I ask all of you to do two things:

1. If you haven’t subscribed here to get notifications of when I post, please do so. It’s easy to do – just to over to the right of the page and enter your email address. You will get sent an email asking you to confirm your subscription, so check your spam/junk folder if you don’t see if pretty quickly.

2. Please comment directly into the blog if you’re going to interact, that way all readers – not just those on Facebook – get the benefit of the entire experience. As the writer, your interactions are a significant part of the experience for me and I want to share that with all the readers. You don’t need a separate account here, you just enter your name and email the first time and then it remembers you (I assume as long as you use the same device).

Enough of that. And I think that’s all the intro I have for now as well. We leave in a week. (That’s me and all of you, of course!) So Excited….

PS: I love how easy this platform makes it to link back to earlier blogs. I promise I won’t overdo it 🙂 But I am excited to see how the new platform influences how I write on the road, and how traveling alone influences what I do and how I write about it. And I’m kind of interested to hear if you notice anything different. We’ll do a debrief at the end, how’s that?


20 thoughts on “Pre-Departure and General Updates”

  1. I hope you have landed safely and started on your exciting European adventure! As I always have, I will look forward to reading your travel blog every day. P.S. Believe it! ?

  2. Your “European virginity” comment flashed me back 9 years ago to 6:00 am in Shannon airport when the Customs Agent handled my passport back to me and said “Welcome home, Mr. Burns.” I might’ve burst into tears!

  3. As per usual, I loved reading your blog. I’ll be checking often as you make your next joutney. Wishing you lots of enjoyment & adventure.

  4. Sounds like an amazing trip! My favorites have been this that were not fully scheduled. Have fun and make great memories!

  5. Thank you for taking us with you. Safe travels and look forward to hearing all about it when you get back. Xo

  6. Have fun, Steve. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures. I was sorry to hear about you and Dan. I wish you well with peace and fun.

  7. Vamos amigos! Let’s get this party started. I’m looking forward to this trip and this new blogging medium ??

  8. Oh, the places you’ll go .. and share! I look forward to your journey and more photos of Cologne. I get the connection and hope that we can both be there at the same time someday.

  9. Have a wonderful time, Steve. I’m looking forward to “our” trip through you blog. Travel safely and do lots of fun things for us. Loved catching up with you and others last week. A real treat to see you. ?

    1. Thanks, Suzy – it was great to see you and I Really Appreciated our little conversation on the sidewalk. Your statement to me was oddly revealing and validating at the same time :). Love you!

  10. First, i’m sorry to hear about you and Dan. Second, Harry Potter in London?! OMG! (Yes, i’m a total HP nerd.)

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. re: HP – me, too! And that idea was vetoed when we went to London in 2014, so I’m thrilled to put it on the agenda this time around…

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