As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I am going try to recreate the 2004 and 2006 trips we took. I never posted trip reports (bad girl), and my only records are the emails and photo albums I sent to my family along the way.
So, these blog entries will serve a dual purpose - hopefully to entertain my readers and also for me to relive the trips myself.
This 2004 trip happened because of Gary Eberle, one of the winemaking pioneers in Paso Robles. Gary went on a cruise, and we followed.
Actually, he does a couple of cruises a year as a guest lecturer. Several wine events are included as part of the package.
Another thing that convinced us to go was the fact the the cruise was on a Windstar sailing ship, which holds only 150 passengers. This meant we would never get lost on the ship!
So we booked the cruise, along with a bunch of other Paso Robles fans of Eberle.
Now the planning began. The cruise started in Barcelona and ended in Rome, so we thought we would spend some time at each end of the cruise sightseeing. Bill had been to Europe before, but I had not, so this was a real adventure for me.
Airline tickets were my first priority, and for my very first transatlantic trip I didn't want to sit in coach for all those hours. So, I started shopping for Bus/First fares. After a couple of months of watching fares on a daily basis, I saw that Continental was having a sale on Bus/First tickets. I jumped on it! The Bus/First tickets were about double what Coach tickets were ($2,000 each instead of $1,000), but it seemed worth it to me for my grand entrance into European travel.
I booked our tickets thru London, so we then took EasyJet from London to Barcelona and Meridiana from Florence back to London at the end of our trip. We decided to spend one short day in London before traveling to Barcelona.
I researched all of the hotels online, using TripAdvisor, Fodor's, and yes, Slow Travel! This was the time I discovered Slow Travel Talk - I joined on 2/14/04. Although I was a lurker for awhile, I soon joined in. And I have never looked back!
The trip report episodes that will follow this are based on email reports and photos that I sent to my family as we traveled. All the way to the Tuscany part, which I am going to have to recreate. So, hopefully you will understand why that part has fewer details - because my memory isn't so good without notes!