Seventh Time is a Charm!

It finally happened!

In March of 2020, Ellen and I were set to leave on our greatest adventure. Months in the planning, our trip of a lifetime included stops in a couple dozen cities in multiple countries in Europe. Planning it involved more than 50 individual reservations and hundreds of hours of research.

We all know what happened next. About 10 days before we were set to leave, Italy locked down in the first phase of what has become our ongoing COVID nightmare. One by one, we painstakingly canceled each reservation, working through a maze of refund recoveries, saddened with each one.

But we were not ready to abandon our dream of another trip to Europe, and to Italy specifically. First, we tried to re-book a trip later in the spring, hoping to stay ahead of the virus by limiting our trip to northern Europe. But the infection moved faster that we could, and that trip was canceled as well.

We decided to try for early fall, then moved it to later fall. Neither of these were remotely possible, and we ended 2020 at “0 for 4.” So we opted to take our RV on a “fall colors and more” trip across the USA, and try again for Europe in 2021. The RV adventure is documented in the “USA Travel” portion of this blog.

New year, same results. Our fifth attempt, set for spring 2021, met a similar fate as all the others: not even close. But then a glimmer of hope emerged. The vaccine rollout looked like it might clear the way for at least a trip to the UK, so our sixth attempt targeted that venue. Perhaps my wife would actually see Highclere Castle after all. Alas, the delta variant targeted the same area and our hopes were dashed again as the travel corridor did not materialize in time. Flush another set of plans.

Then, for the first time in 17 months, portions of the EU began to open to Americans. This time we waited until we actually had a green light before booking anything. Travel was indeed possible, and we jumped at the possibility. Then came the series of questions we had to answer.

How soon could we get reasonable air fare? Three weeks.

How many countries should we visit? With every border crossing meaning a change in rules, we decided to stick with one.

Which one? Italy, hands down.

But won’t Italy be sweltering in July? Yeah, so let’s do what the Italians do: vacation in the lakes and mountains of Northern Italy. SPOILER ALERT: It was still very hot…

And that is how, on July 12, we found ourselves boarding a plane, masks and vaccine records in hand, to take this 16-hour trip to visit a portion of the world that we had made seven attempts to see. And yes, the red line is the actual flight path from Seattle to Amsterdam.

Finally, on the seventh attempt, a plan to visit Europe actually worked. And we came away all the richer for the experience, convinced it was all worth it. As we document each part of our 2.5 week adventure we hope you will agree.

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