Well, if you’ve sat through the whole collection of vacation slides, you’ll be glad to know that’s the end of ‘em! And I didn’t post more than about a quarter of what I took!
So how did it all come out once we got home?
Fabulous trip. Both parts. Couple hiccups along the way, not all of which I’ve shared with you or will share with you! But overall a wonderful experience.
Would I do it again? Yes, but not the same way.
I don’t think either of us feels a need to return to Spain. Sort of “been there done that”. We definitely saw what we had thought before we left that we wanted to see. We did not feel rushed anywhere we went. We tried–and succeeded, I think, mostly–to space out museums, cathedrals, etc., so we didn’t overload on them too much. Food was a challenge in Spain, as we both knew it would be. We never did really get comfortable with waiting till 8 or 9 pm to go out for dinner. We made it work but it was a challenge. We enjoyed the tapas experience, but even that did not work as easily everywhere as we thought it would or that we wanted it to. I would have liked more historical museums to give me more of the educational experience I had wanted but as I said in another post that was my bad not to have gotten it!
As for the solo trip: That was fabulous too. Since I’m a train freak, I loved nearly every minute of that part! I did a fairly good job of winging it, overcoming my lifelong anal obsession with over planning every step of the way.
I took 48 separate trains in 30 days! My record was six in one day. And Judy and I together took 8 more in Spain!
I used 9 currencies.
I visited 17 countries, at least in passing: Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain.
I used keyboards in at least 11 countries and languages! By the end, I was mostly used to the Z being where the Y is and vice versa! I can’t remember how many times I failed to log into hotmail until I noticed I had typed my user name email@example.com! Without a doubt, figuring out how to do the @ sign in all those keyboards was one of the most interesting things I encountered! In Poland, it’s ctrl-alt-V if you can believe that! And that’s on a keyboard that has the @ sign where it is at home, too!
I managed languages pretty well, with my high school French and college tourist German. I found both of those along the way in places I did not expect to encounter! When I was befuddled with a train change in Gorna Orjakovice, Bulgaria, a local citizen managed to help me in French! And when I was lost trying to find my pension in Tatranska Lensa, Slovakia, a local citizen asked “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” and I almost cried I was so happy! Other places, since I was a tourist, I found tourist English often enough that I could make myself understood most of the time. Pointing helps a lot, too! Especially on menus in the Cyrillic alphabet!
I did the hostel bit just enough to know how it all works. I would not repeat that, unless I booked private rooms. I only had one noisy room experience, but the entire experience of sharing a room with strangers is one I’m glad I know about but which I have no desire to repeat.
Managing my diabetes was never a challenge! I never had trouble with highs or lows. I never had trouble carrying supplies across borders, as I had worried I might; especially in Eastern Europe.
I had to manage laundry along the way, and that took some preplanning. One time I scheduled a stop specifically where I had been told in a travel book I’d find a do it yourself laundry. That aspect was manageable but as I said it took some thinking.
If I did it again, I would not spread myself so thin. I was motivated a lot by a desire to “tick off” countries on my “been there done that” list. And a big part of it also was my goal of ticking off countries Andrea has not ticked off her list! But if I do it again, or anything like it, I won’t just rush from one city or country or train to another the whole time. Several of the cities I visited–especially smaller ones like Veliko Tarnovo, Brasov, Bar, Zagreb; and certainly Istanbul–were definitely places I would have loved to spend a couple more days in at least.
I probably would not take as many overnight trains next time either. That was not a bad experience; it wasn’t always comfortable but it was never really bad; just different. I can sleep well on trains so that was never an issue. I just found that I missed seeing Europe from a train window more than I thought I would!
But would I do it again, one way or another? In a New York minute!