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Report 1259: On the Road - Seven Weeks in Europe

By dgassa from California, Spring 2006

Trip Description: April 28, 2006 Through June 10, 2006 Driving trip though France, Belgium, Germany and Austria, staying in B&Bs, some with reservations ahead of time, some we arranged as we traveled.

Destinations: Countries - France, Austria, Belgium, Germany; Regions/Cities - Alsace, Loire Valley, Normandy, Other France Region, Rhone-Alpes

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 29: Introduction and Planning

We are Dana (me) and Cathie, in our 50's and retired. We have traveled extensively throughout the US in our RV, but never overseas together. I was lucky enough as a child to make two trips to Europe with my family, once for a year when I was nine and a second time at 17 for 11 weeks. On those trips we camped our way across Europe, and that became our first plan for this trip. We intended on renting a camper-van, but after some research we learned it was less expensive to lease a car and stay in B&B's.

About eight months before we left, we started doing research on where to go and what to see. We read guide books, searched the Internet, talked to friends and came up with a general idea of what our trip would look like. We were not interested in visiting large cities and preferred to be in the countryside and to take it slow. Our general plan was to fly to Lyon, and after a few days, head southwest to Cahors and the vicinity. From there it was north to the Loire Valley, Normandy and Belgium. We would then turn right had head for Bavaria and Austria finally returning to Lyon for our return flight. We did not want an itinerary and preferred to "wing it", staying in places we liked and moving on from those we didn't.

We visited web site after web site learning what to take with us, how to pack it, what to wear, what not to wear, (turns out jeans and tennis shoes are OK), how not to act, when to tip, where to shop and every other piece of advice we could get our hands on. I think the worst bit of advice I found was how not to act like a tourist. Hey, I am a tourist and I soon learned that just about everyone we encountered on our trip knew we were tourists despite how we were dressed or how much of their language we spoke. And another thing, nobody cared!

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