The trip is all over. Done. We had an incredible time. All of the research and planning paid off, all of the destinations were wonderful, and we got to see something amazing every single day.
In London we saw the London Tower, including the Crown Jewels, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, the national museum and portrait gallery. We happened to be there for Trooping the Colour, which is the Queen’s offical birthday celebration, so we got to see the royal family, and experience all of the pomp and ceremony of a British royal event.
In Paris we spent time wandering around the Champs Elysees, climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, explored the Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. We had dinner in the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed a late night cruise on the River Sien on the night of our anniversary. It was beautiful.
In Nice we hired a car and drove to Monaco to sit at a cafe outside the Monte Carlo Casino and watch the rich people in luxury cars drive by. We explored the perfume making town of Grasse, and the medieval village of Saint-Paul de Vence. In Milan we spent an afternoon wandering through a castle and listening to drummers in a park. In Venice we rode on a Gondola, watched glass blowing, and spent long afternoons sipping cocktails and listening to live music as the sun set.
In Florence we were amazed by the opulence of the Pitti Palace, the beauty of the statue of David, and the cityscape of bell towers. In Rome we ate more pizza than I would like to admit, and walked the streets of ancient history. We went to the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Stairs and the Pantheon.
It truly was amazing. Murray and I frequently just looked at each other and commented, “Can you believe we are here?” We had wonderful weather, enjoyed each other’s company, and will never forget this incredible experience.
The Packing List
I’m so glad that we packed light! At every train station and airport we saw people struggling with excessive amounts of luggage. It was so good to be able to have a bag that was easy to handle up and down stairs, on and off trains, and on public transport. We didn’t need to pay for taxis, and we didn’t need to wait for lifts. We washed once about half way through the trip, and we rinsed out a few pairs of undies and socks a couple of times. There was never a time that I wished I had more clothes to choose from or more luggage to carry!
I ended up taking 3 bottoms - jeans, black pants and Denham shorts, and 4 tops - 2 t-shirts and 2 sleeveless tops. I took 2 dresses, and wore them a lot. I probably should have taken 3 dresses, as they worked the best on long European summer days, so I bought an extra dress in Paris to make up for my mistake.
I did take 3 pairs of shoes and wear all of them. We did a lot of walking, the roads were dusty and uneven, so I wore Converse most of the time. I used both my black blazer and grey knit jumper, but could have managed with just one or the other. I didn’t need the singlets or my togs, but I’m glad I took them.
I used a small cross body bag with a zip closure. I had the strap a bit shorter than I usually would at home to keep it snug against my body for extra security. It worked. Thankfully we don’t have any pickpocket stories to tell. Murray wore his running pouch under his pants with our spare credit card and cash safely stashed away.
I’m glad I didn’t take my laptop. I didn’t have time for writing. I could have done without my iPad too. I hardly used it. We were out exploring amazing places for 14 hours or more a day. On the flights there was a good inflight entertainment system so I didn’t watch any of my own downloaded movies. Murray watched a few episodes of IT Crowd on his iPad on the train trips, but I enjoyed looking out the window instead. I did listen to music from my iPhone on some of the trains trips, especially when there were other noisy passengers close by.
The Shopping List
I bought my ‘mother of the bride’ dress in Monaco. It was the first dress I tried on, and it’s beautiful. I also came home with perfume from Grasse, and a leather jacket from Florence. I bought a few dresses and a couple of shirts. Murray also bought some great shirts and a pair of suede leather shoes. We easily fitted everything in our bags for the trip home, including gifts for the kids. We didn’t buy any tea towels, fridge magnets, key chains or logo t-shirts.
We have arrived home to our very normal busy lives and it has been a bit of an adjustment. The post-holiday blues are quite real. After four weeks off work there is quite a backlog of jobs to get through, and I still feel like I’m terribly behind. After four weeks with almost no stress, lots of fresh air and sunshine and very few time commitments it has been hard to get up early and spend my days staring at a computer screen in a small room with no natural light. Once again I find myself thoughtfully auditing my life and considering how I can build more life-giving activities into my routine, and cut down on the unnecessary pressure and stress. That is another story for another day…
I am so grateful to you, our family and friends, for following our trip and cheering us on along the way. I love being able to share both the great moments and struggles of my life with a supportive and loving community. Thank you!
Where to next?