Europe by Land and Sea — Fall 2021

This, our most ambitious European trip, was three years in the making. When I retired in August 2018, we planned two great adventures. The first was to travel the USA in an RV, seeing all corners of this great country of ours at our own pace. The second was a similar “once in a lifetime” trip. We wanted to see Europe more in depth than we had been able to do while I was working. Instead of rushing through towns, we wanted the opportunity to spend enough time in key locations to thoroughly explore without the rush to get on to the next city. Our trip was centered around Paris, Rome, Istanbul, and the region of Cinque Terre, although one of these would not actually happen. Here’s how we arrived at that plan.

There are 4 “iconic” cities in Europe that stand out because of their history over thousands of years: London, Paris, Rome and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). But in two previous trips, we had spent about a week in London, and felt we had seen the things we most wanted to see there.

On the other hand we had only spent a few days in Paris, part of one day in Rome, and had never been to Istanbul. So we set these three as anchor points for our trip. To these we added one other location that we had visited before for a single day and most wanted to explore in depth. The area known as Cinque Terre (literally, “five lands”), is a group of five small fishing villages on the beautiful northwestern Italian coast.

We allotted a week each to Paris, Rome and Cinque Terre. Istanbul was a little different. We did not feel comfortable traveling there on our own, but would like the benefit of a group making the “in and out” arrangements. So we booked a cruise that included a 2-night visit to Istanbul, and this became the fourth “anchor” of our trip.

Once we had the major stops, we inserted 3 “short stays” of 2-4 days in between each of the major stops. So when we were done, the final itinerary looked like this:

  • A week in Paris
  • A stop in Carrara to see the marble quarries on our way to a week in Cinque Terre
  • A stop in Florence to see their famous art on the way to the 12-day cruise to Greece and Istanbul
  • A stop in Venice on our way to a week in Rome

It it easier to see the plan on a map:

The trip you see pictured is ALMOST the final version, after a dozen changes, mostly caused by COVID complications. In the end, the cruise line cancelled Istanbul as a port of call, so Athens was as close as we could get, simply calling the cruise itself our third of the four anchor points.

As usual, I will create posts to walk through the journey sequentially. I plan to continue my self-imposed limit of 10 pictures per post, although the major cities may have two or three posts because of the diversity of major sights located there.

It was a fabulous trip, and hopefully we can inspire you to travel to these places, or others like them that are significant for you.