EuroTrip Redux is 100% BOOKED

Travel and lodging for EuroTrip 2.0 is DONE. I leave in less than a month.

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Planning this trip again has been hard. Harder than planning it originally hard. I fluctuated between planning the trip EXACTLY as it had been before, and doing it completely differently. I settled on a happy medium. I’ll be following the same trajectory, sans London. I will not be staying in the same airBnBs, besides the one in Pula, which was from the advertisement, everything I needed and like RIGHT next to my arch.

The stars above indicate overnight stays…I’ll be traveling to many other places besides those listed…but you’ll have to follow my instagram to stay updated on the day-to-day.

Now that it is all planned, and I’ve taken care of a few other things that had me stressed, I AM ACTUALLY EXCITED.

I GET TO SEE PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME (kinda. In April).

From the Archive: Packing Light

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Packed bags for 4 months in France

I am not, nor have I ever been, very good at packing light. I like choices and there’s nothing worse than getting to your chosen destination and feeling completely annoyed with your clothing options. The above picture is from way back when right before I did my semester-long study abroad in France. The duffel on top is the size of what I would consider a normal size duffel bag, the bottom is a super large rolly duffel. This lasted me for the four months I was in France from late summer to early winter. I purchased another duffel in France that became “my carry on” on my way back home because of all of the stuff I had acquired while there (mainly books! quelle surprise!). My bags were also SUPER overweight on the way home but the delightful attendant for Air France let them go without a charge when I spoke French to her and responded that I had been there for months and was sad to go home. SPEAKING FRENCH is always a good idea on Air France…they give you extra wine.

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Flash forward to Summer 2015, ten years later, when I was on my way to Italy for six weeks. The same two large and “normal” duffel bags made their appearance again (there was a little more room inside and seriously, guys…LL Bean stuff is made to LAST) and here we have a 9lb cat in the shot for size comparison. In those bags, I think I had an entire American pharmacy and SO many clothes all for one season. I only checked the big duffel so I had to run from Gate 25 of Terminal D to Gate 4 of Terminal C (basically the entire length of two terminals) with that stupid bag. I literally thought I was going to die. Luckily for this trip, I was staying in one place. There wasn’t a lot of moving around to be done.

This trip will be OH so different though. Hauling around this ungainly, heavy large duffel for six weeks is a TERRIBLE idea, one that stressed me out a lot. Even my less ungainly large spinner suitcase would be too heavy for the heaving up and down train stairs continually that would need to be done for me to get where I am going. I knew I needed to make a change. I think I decided a couple of months ago that this trip would be done with nothing more than a carry-on sized suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. And that scares the hell out of me.

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This is my suitcase for the Eurotrip 2016 on the right in both pics with my large duffel and large spinner cases on the left. 

It’s just so small compared to what I’ve traveled with before! And it needs to last me for six weeks. I’ve got some great tips from one of my BFFs Ashley,  who is currently doing her own Eurotrip with similar baggage constraints, on how to get this done and be sane.  I tried to isolate exactly what freaks me out about travelling light.

I don’t like the idea of needing something and not having it. I understand that all of the countries I am visiting this trip are developed and have resources, but I just flashback to my 2004 trip to France when my camera broke (this was pre cell phones) and I couldn’t find a disposable. And then to my 2005 trip to France when I got the WORST blisters on the back of my heels and the French bandaids sucked and there was no neosporin or comparable substance to be found (my mom mailed me some bandaids, neosporin, and tennis shoes). And then to my 2015 trip to Italy when my eyeballs decided that they were allergic to the city of Rome and my eyedrops were insufficient to handle whatever crazy junk was happening and EVERY TIME I tried to go to a pharmacy, it was closed.

I need to get over it though. I will be fine. For every one thing I brought and used and was glad to have, there were probably 5 things I did not use, and then 3 things I wished I had that I had not packed, but did just fine without. After making the decision to pack light, I could feel my stress about moving around so much dissipate, somewhat.

Another thing that freaked me out was access to laundry. I LOVE clean clothes. My favorite (yes I have a favorite) chore of the week is to do laundry on Sunday. I love having all of my clothes clean and ready to go and the idea of maybe having to re-wear clothing that was to my (perhaps slightly OCD) way of thinking was dirty, made me cranky. But thanks to friend Katie’s suggestion, I found what I think will be a great solution. Woollite has sink packs…complete with a sink stopper, and travel-sized clothesline that doesn’t require clothespins. None of my airBnB’s have a washer, so this seems to be a perfect solution.

I’m going to do a test pack in a week or so just so I feel prepared and can adjust my expectations if I need to (likely). Does anyone have any travel tips for packing light while gone for an extended amount of time?

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, AVIGNON, France and PROVENCE

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My last stop before heading back to Paris for my second, longer stay there, is Provence and Avignon. I will be in this area for a week, the longest stay of anywhere else so far. Mainly because I have a LOT to do. I chose Avignon because it’s smack in the middle of all of these wonderful things I need to see. The map above shows areas I need to visit, most all of which have arches.

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I am also super excited to be in France again, and in Provence where I’ve never been. I have so much to do, that I hope I can fit it into one week!

I’ll be there in late October, so hopefully it will be not super crowded and mild, or even cool weather. In Avignon, I’ll have the opportunity to explore some historical sites from medieval France, including the Palais des Papes (gotta love those anti-popes!), and maybe even some 19th-century highlights. I’ve been told it’s cheesy but visiting the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh stayed and standing in his room where he ‘saw’ the scene he painted in Starry Night in St-Rémy is pretty cool (there’s also an arch in St. Rémy, so I’ll definitely be around….) I’ll also visit the Pont d’Avignon (below) and sing the little ditty, “sur le pont d’avignon, on y danse, on y danse…” All of the Frenchies will think I’m crazy 🙂

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This is ninth in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

Paris * Besançon * London * Venice * Pula * Ravenna * Rimini * Torino

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, Besançon, France

This is a second in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

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One of the most exciting things about this trip is that I will be visiting a bunch of smaller places around France and Italy that I’d never have considered going to without needing to for research. Maybe it’s because this petite ville is in France, and because the arch seems SO COOL, but I cannot wait for my excursion to Besançon.

Located near the Franco-Swiss border, this is a small-ish city in the foothills of the Alps. It was of interest to the Romans because of its positioning in relationship to Alps, and the settlement’s positioning on the Doubs river.  Since the first century BCE, it has been a city that holds military strategic importance, shifting between Burgundian, Spanish, Austrian, and French control over the centuries.

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Image Credit 

Besançon is reportedly one of the prettiest cities in France that has yet to really receive a great amount of tourist attention (which is fine by me!) Surviving historical edifices in the city include: a Roman monumental arch (of course), a 12th-century cathedral, fortifications of Vauban from the 17th century, and much, much more.

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I will be visiting Besançon in early October and I’m, perhaps naively, hoping for beautiful, mild October weather for my explorations of this city. I know it’s a little too early for the leaves to turn, but one can’t help but hope right?

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Image Credit

Previous Spotlights: Paris

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, Paris

This is a first of a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see. 

Paris was my first international destination – and for a long time the only place I’d really been in Europe. I visited for the first time in 2004 and then I returned in 2005 for my semester-long study abroad. As cheesy and corny as it sounds, this city has my heart like no other. I’ve yet to visit a place that challenges Paris’s supremacy in my heart.

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Some of its primacy definitely is tied up with how I feel it connects to me as a person. I regard Paris as the first place I learned how to be myself as an adult. At the age of 19, I got on a plane and flew to France for months…I remember standing in the security line at Dulles watching my dad leave the airport and getting very emotional; two Russian grandmas comforted me very sweetly and made me feel less alone. As I think back on that now, I am constantly surprised that my younger self handled it relatively well; 30 year-old-me definitely would not have been as chill about the semester abroad.

Paris has some great personal memories…I did some amazing things, spoke the best French of my life (the state of it is so sad now in comparison), and met some truly fantastic people (including one of my oldest and bestest friends, Ashley!) Our small group of R-MC and Goucher folks, plus the ones we picked up in our language classes, had some amazing times together.

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But Paris – the place Paris…I literally can’t imagine a place I love more. The main touristy areas full of history, each arrondissement with its own personality and rhythm, from the grand Haussmannian boulevards, to the narrow twisting streets of the Quartier Latin, to slightly too pristine Champs d’Elysée, I love how this city *feels*. So going back for me this trip is HUGE. It’s been over ten years. It will be different; a lot has happened to Paris and me in the past decade. I’m hoping it will be like reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, but you pick up where you left off.

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For this trip, Paris is serving two purposes. One, I get to start the trip in a place that is at least nominally familiar and I will be able to navigate it without large amounts of stress (hopefully). Two, it will serve as a kind of home base; I will arrive in Europe and depart to the US from Paris. I will travel to a few other locations in the north(ish) of France from there as well as make use of some library collections in Paris.

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I can’t lie though; returning to Paris definitely feels more like a personal pleasure than something expressly connected to work. Paris me manque toujours. Ma chère amie, à bientôt!

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This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: When Plans Go Awry

I am only able to plan my trip in fits and bursts. I’m afraid if I go too fast, I’ll get careless and make a costly error. I feel like I made one of those errors today, but perhaps it was a case of reading and receiving old information, or the info I’m looking at now was recently updated.

My trip to Croatia is probably one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ve been planning, loosely, for this trip since February or March. All of the internet and print resources informed me that the best way to get to Pula, Croatia is by ferry, which runs April through the end of October.

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Pula is on the tip of Croatia’s peninsula, and ferry IS the most direct route. But apparently, in 2016, as opposed to previous years (I think), the ferries are ending at the end of September. I will arrive in this area in early/mid October..Previously, I thought it to be plenty of time to hitch a ferry from Venice across the Adriatic..enjoying a great view and experience all the while. But alas. ‘Twas not to be. All of the ferry schedules I can find confirm…no ferries after September.

After taking a step back for a few minutes, minutes that were filled with incredibly intense panic, I realized that all was not lost. I shall simply take a train from Venice to Trieste, and bus from Trieste to Pula. A bit longer perhaps, but MUCH cheaper, and instead of seeing the sea, I’ll see the countryside.  I’ll see plenty of the sea in Venice, Pula, Rimini, Ravenna, Fano, and Ancona.

I confess myself disappointed, but it is not the end of the world. Hopefully this is the only travel related snafu (knock on ALL the wood); with so many legs of the journey, I feel like some mixups are to be expected.

I think I’m done planning for the day!

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Plane Tickets Booked!

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I get a little nervous every time I schedule international travel – It always feels like I am doing something HUGE, which I guess I am. So no big surprise to someone who is pretty regularly an anxious individual, it stresses me out.

BUT! It’s done. I will be in Europe from the last week in September to the first week in November. I conveniently arranged my travel times to fall around the dregs of the 2016 election season, and when I arrive back in the U.S.A. there should be a new president elect. I did this entirely on purpose because I’m already ridiculously stressed out about it (see the above note about being an anxious individual).

This trip departs from my other previous international travel in a couple of ways. Previously, I’ve pretty much just been responsible for booking the ticket and showing up. This time, I’m responsible for my housing, travel, and all of the nitty gritty for 100% of the trip. Also, previously, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in ONE country, and to be fair, seen a good portion of that country.

Collectively, I’ve spent several months in France and a couple in Italy. When putting together my original proposal for this trip, I realized that I would be returning to the only two countries in Europe that I have been to for another lengthy stay.  However, I will be ADDING two countries to my list of visited countries; one that I have loved from afar since the tender age of like…seven (England), and the other one I never really expected to go to, but I’m REALLY excited for it (Croatia). I also get to spend time in the south of France, where I’ve never been, and northern Italy (the farthest north I’ve been is Florence).

In short, this trip should feel HUGE….it’s such a great opportunity, on top of the OTHER great opportunities I’ve already had…and I’m that great blend of nervous and excited for it.

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Research Trip 2.0

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This blog is a little dusty; it’s been a year since I started it! ..but it’s time to dust it off, and take it for a spin in preparation for my next research trip in Fall of 2016! I originally started this blog as a way to document my 2015 trip to Italy, but I figure I can take it a step further and use it to document my travels, mainly research related, in the process of completing my PhD. (Hopefully, there will be no scaffolding surprises this trip! See above!)

This fall, I’ll be traveling to Italy, France, and Croatia. I am debating tacking a long weekend to England on somewhere, because honestly, it’s a huge personal failure for me as an Anglophile to never have gone. Plus, I’ll already be over there so why not?

So this post is a metaphorical dusting off of an old blog in preparation of new adventures!