Day 47: And … Scene

I write this from the comfort of my own home early on the morning after returning (jet lag, y’know?). This was, all in all, a trip I greatly enjoyed. Perhaps at some point I’ll pull together some thoughts and some favorite photos and places. For now, I just wanted to close out the daily blogs with an appreciation to everyone who played a part in this grand journey – family, friends, and especially those who helped along the way when things got a little crazy.

I now know most of Europe and have a strong sense for those places where I wish to spend more time. Looking forward to the next adventure!

Paris, France, to Seattle, Washington · 5103 mi / 8212 km

Paris, France, to Seattle, Washington · 5103 mi / 8212 km

Just for fun (and because I’m a hopeless map geek), here’s the overall trip:

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By the numbers:

  • 47 days
  • countries visited: 18 (10 of them new to me)
  • total distance traveled: 22,838 mi / 36,754 km
  • planes: 10
  • trains: 2
  • automobiles: 9
  • ferries: 3

Day 46: A Bonus Night in Paris

As I mentioned yesterday, my return home didn’t quite go to plan, but fortunately no major derailment this time. I wound up making it to Paris and managed to choose a hotel with a very nice view of the Eiffel Tower. I think I made some pretty good lemonade out of those lemons, right?

Here are some photos from the flight and some walks around the Montmartre neighborhood.

Vienna, Austria, to Paris, France · 708 mi / 1140 km

Vienna, Austria, to Paris, France · 708 mi / 1140 km

Days 43-45: More Unplanned Adventures

I guess the charitable way to put this is the European mainland wanted to hang on to me a bit longer. Circumstances conspired to keep me in Vienna a few days longer than planned and there are some parts of the journey that have had to be scrapped, but … such is life.

The important pieces: I’m OK, I was able to remain comfortably in Vienna for a few days while I got things in order, and I had the company of my dear friend Keron for an extra day.

Today I am at the Vienna airport. The plan was to fly to London and then home to Seattle. But, when I arrived at the check-in counter for British Airways, the plane that was supposed to take me to London had not yet left London. There would not be enough time for me to make my connection, so I am rebooked.

If I have to wait another day, why not ask for a change in venue? So, tonight, I will be in Paris, and from there I can take (hopefully – please no more changes to the plan!) a direct flight home.

While waiting things out in Vienna, I took many long walks around the city. Here are some photos captured from those walks:

Day 42: Austrian Countryside and Vienna

Today we drove from Salzburg to Vienna. Keron and I part company (sniff) tomorrow (actually, tonight as my flight tomorrow is much earlier than hers) and I will be on to new adventures for a few more days at least.

Tonight’s photos are from the countryside east of Salzburg and from Vienna itself.

Salzburg to Vienna, Austria · 239 mi / 384 km

Salzburg to Vienna, Austria · 239 mi / 384 km

Day 41: Salzburg and the Nearby Alps

Today we stayed in and around Salzburg. In the morning, we took a photowalk through the old city; later in the day, I took a solo roadtrip through parts of the nearby Alps.

There are many more potential black & white photos sitting in the queue. Look forward to working those up as I have time after the trip.

When That Storm Comes · Staudach-Egerndach, Germany

When That Storm Comes · Staudach-Egerndach, Germany

Salzburg, Austria, and surrounding area · 164 mi / 264 km

Salzburg, Austria, and surrounding area · 164 mi / 264 km

Day 40: Escaping the Microwave

So the plan was to go slightly north from Pula to maybe Trieste on the Italian coast and lay low for a day or two before proceeding to the next airport. But instead the heat wave sunk in. When we arrived in Trieste around noon, it was 35°C / 95°F, and it just wasn’t inspiring to get out and make photos in the bright light and intense heat.

So we kept looking and searching for places with a reasonable combination of temperature, scenery, and available lodging. Long story short, we wound up in Salzburg, Austria. Not many photos today, as we needed to pound down the miles, but tomorrow should be very promising.

While in Slovenia, we stopped briefly in a small village to make a few photographs. Little did we understand the alarm we could cause by doing so. Our car has Croatian license plates. Apparently the sight of Croatians hanging out (and especially, taking photographs) is quite concerning and people started asking questions very quickly.

Once it was clear we weren’t Croatian (even before we identified ourselves as American), tensions diminished very quickly. One very nice older gentleman motioned for us to follow him to his house. We did and were treated to some very nice grapes growing in his garden and some nice photos of said grapes.

Pula, Croatia, to Salzburg, Austria · 404 mi / 650 km

Pula, Croatia, to Salzburg, Austria · 404 mi / 650 km

Day 39: Hello, Croatia

This morning: a brief photo walk around the Old Town district of Bucharest. Then, a farewell to Romania and moving on to Croatia. We drove to the resort community of Pula, which is clearly a favorite among European travelers.

Today’s black and white is from Croatia; most of the other photos are from this morning’s walk about Bucharest.

Vanishing Lines · Most-Raša, Croatia

Vanishing Lines · Most-Raša, Croatia

View from where we stopped for lunch · Plomin, Croatia

View from where we stopped for lunch · Plomin, Croatia

Bucharest, Romania, to Pula, Croatia · 762 mi / 1226 km

Bucharest, Romania, to Pula, Croatia · 762 mi / 1226 km

Day 38: Romanian Countryside

Today I took a long drive through the Romanian countryside. I especially enjoyed the mountain regions and small rural villages. Here’s a sampling of what I saw today.

If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time in the valley between Brasov and Campina. By the time I got there, it was getting later than I wanted it to be, but I will remember it well. Next time, right?

Starting this evening, I will be traveling with my dear friend Keron Psillas, who is a fantastic photographer and photographic instructor. If you’re not familiar with her work, I encourage you to take a look.

Bucharest to Sibiu, Romania and back · 365 mi / 588 km

Bucharest to Sibiu, Romania and back · 365 mi / 588 km

Day 37: Go East, Young Man, Go East!

Oh, wait … that wasn’t the advice they gave people in the early American days? Ah well. I always was a bit of a contrarian.

Today I flew east to Bucharest, Romania. No photos from today as I landed a bit tired from all the chaos and the long days of driving, but tomorrow is full of opportunity, right?

Rome, Italy, to Bucharest, Romania · 913 mi / 1470 km

Rome, Italy, to Bucharest, Romania · 913 mi / 1470 km

Day 36: Microstates Fascinate Me

I’ve long found the notion of a microstate intriguing. How is it that a relatively small parcel of land gets deemed to be an independent nation after all the wars, mergers, and other events that led to the general pattern of large nations?

So, over the years, I’ve visited several such nations: Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Andorra, to name a few. (And, yes, I realize the notion of microstate is ambiguous. Some might not think of Luxembourg as a microstate.)

I arranged this part of the trip specifically so I could visit the remaining two microstates in the European mainland, San Marino and Vatican City. Vatican, of course, is known to everyone as the heart of the Catholic faith. San Marino, on the other hand? I’m guessing most of you haven’t heard of it. It’s basically a city on a hill that somehow remained independent from Italy, which surrounds it on all sides.

Today’s photos are from San Marino, the countryside along the route from there to Rome, and then from Rome in the vicinity of the Vatican.

Panorama: View from atop San Marino.

Panorama: View from atop San Marino.

Panorama from Italian countryside.

Panorama from Italian countryside.

Bologna to Rome, Italy, by way of San Marino · 327 mi / 527 km

Bologna to Rome, Italy, by way of San Marino · 327 mi / 527 km

Days 34 and 35: An Unexpected Adventure

You might have noticed that there was no Day 34 post. The plan had been to drive Cologne to Innsbruck yesterday, to Bologna today, and to Rome tomorrow, taking photos all along the way. This being a public blog, I’ll shy away from describing what happened, but let’s just say it didn’t go according to plan. The good news is I’m OK and things have resolved themselves sufficiently that I was able to proceed this morning. (Those of you who are friends on Facebook; I posted yesterday describing what happened.)

So, anyway … what had been three days of driving and taking pictures is now compressed into two days. I decided to sacrifice photos today and leave time for more exploration tomorrow on the way to Rome. I’m safely in Bologna now after a long day of driving.

I regret not having the time to stop for photos in the Swiss and Italian countryside and that I’ve arrived late enough that I couldn’t really experience the old city of Bologna sufficiently. It looks fascinating. Added to the must-revisit list.

Good news: I got to experience a nice, heavy thunderstorm. Having lived in the midwest, I really miss those. (Pacific Northwest thunderstorms are rare and very, very mild by comparison.)

Bad news: The storm hit at dusk on the Italian autostrada (toll expressway) when I still had 125mi / 200km to go. It was intense enough that it really slowed down the driving for a while.

Should be some interesting things to see tomorrow (including two more new countries – yay!). See you soon.

Cologne, Germany, to Bologna, Italy · 660 mi / 1062 km

Cologne, Germany, to Bologna, Italy · 660 mi / 1062 km

Day 33: Amsterdam to Cologne

I thought I would take the day off from photos and such, but … here I am. (Somebody help me, I can’t stop!)

Had the chance to catch up with good friends who I haven’t seen in a long time this evening. After we were done and they headed home, I took some time to walk through Cologne’s main cathedral and made a few photos there.

Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Cologne, Germany · 164 mi / 264 km

Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Cologne, Germany · 164 mi / 264 km

Day 32: Hello, Amsterdam

Today I flew to Amsterdam where I will shortly be meeting some friends. I know I said there wouldn’t be any photos today, but … I lied. Today’s photo selections are from brief photo walks in both Vilnius and Amsterdam and also from takeoff and landing.

Vilnius, Lithuania, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands · 967 mi / 1557 km

Vilnius, Lithuania, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands · 967 mi / 1557 km

Day 31: Rural Latvia and Lithuania

Today I took a long, winding drive from Riga, Latvia, to Vilnius, Lithuania.

I’m struggling a bit with how to write sensitively about some contrasts I’ve observed among the Baltic States. At an admittedly quick glance (roughly a day in each country), there are profound apparent differences in economic status despite their shared history of gaining independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and subsequently joining the European Union.

Herewith, some photos from rural Latvia and Lithuania.

I would have loved to explore the old town of Vilnius, where I am now staying, but while it was daylight, it was raining hard here. (When I drove in, a car in an adjacent lane hit a rut in the pavement and kicked up so much water that I could not see for a couple of seconds!)

Tomorrow and Thursday, there will likely be no photos as I’m moving place to place quite a bit (Amsterdam and then Cologne) and spending time visiting people in both places rather than making new photos. See you on Friday, when I’ll be traveling solo again.

Riga, Latvia, to Vilnius, Lithuania · 310 mi / 499 km

Riga, Latvia, to Vilnius, Lithuania · 310 mi / 499 km

Day 30: Estonian Countryside and into Latvia

I left Tallinn this morning (I’ll be back 😘) and headed south through some rural roads and then into Latvia. I had fully expected to have a similar reaction to Riga as I did to Tallinn, but I found a lot less charm here in Riga than I did farther north.

Today’s photos are all from rural Estonia.

Waiting for the Spring · Hälvati, Estonia

Waiting for the Spring · Hälvati, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia, to Riga, Latvia · 248 mi / 399 km

Tallinn, Estonia, to Riga, Latvia · 248 mi / 399 km

Day 29: A New City Crush

Today I took a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. Rather than use a taxi, I walked the 20-30 minutes from the ferry terminal to my hotel and … my, oh my … swoon … I love Tallinn’s historic old city.

This makes three European cities that I have full-on crushes on … the other two being Amsterdam (see you soon!) and Barcelona. Tallinn goes high on my must-revisit list.

Here’s a little taste of why:

Helsinki, Finland, to Tallinn, Estonia · 62 mi / 99 km

Helsinki, Finland, to Tallinn, Estonia · 62 mi / 99 km

Day 28: Hanko and Fiskars

Based on a great tip from a friend who is originally from Finland, I ventured west from Helsinki today and visited the coastal resort town of Hanko and the inland village of Fiskars. (Yes, in case you’re wondering, that is where the scissors and garden tools got their name.)

If Scars Could Sing · Päiväkumpu, Finland

If Scars Could Sing · Päiväkumpu, Finland

Enjoying a sunny day on the beach in Hanko.

Enjoying a sunny day on the beach in Hanko.

Helsinki to Hanko and Fiskars, Finland · 204 mi / 329 km

Helsinki to Hanko and Fiskars, Finland · 204 mi / 329 km

Day 27: Points East from Helsinki

Decided to take it easy today, so I hit the motorway east from Helsinki for an hour or so and then took the old / slow roads back to the city.

A friend who is originally from Finland recommended some places to see west of Helsinki, so I shall spend some time on those tomorrow.

Still New to Me · Lovisa, Finland

Still New to Me · Lovisa, Finland

Helsinki and points east · 148 mi / 238 km

Helsinki and points east · 148 mi / 238 km

Day 26: Goodbye Family, Hello Finland

This morning I watched as my wife and daughter walked through security and on towards the flights that will take them home. Our paths diverge today and I continue on for another three weeks or so on my own. As I write this, their flight is said to be somewhere over that great frozen tundra known as Greenland.

A couple of hours after they left Oslo, I also left Norway and headed east to Finland. I am writing from my hotel in Helsinki, watching the sun make a semi-futile attempt to set at almost 10pm. This is summer at 60° latitude!

After a long day of driving (yesterday) and a day of flying and airports (today), I desperately needed a walk. So … here are a few photos from a walkabout in central Helsinki. Tomorrow I shall hit the road and explore some of nearby rural Finland.

Oslo, Norway, to Helsinki, Finland · 536 mi / 862 km

Oslo, Norway, to Helsinki, Finland · 536 mi / 862 km

Day 25: Back to Oslo

Today we returned to Oslo. We were anxious to get through the city before commuting time began in earnest, so there are no photos from today. We will spend the night in the airport hotel and then tomorrow bid farewell to Norway and to each other.

Tara and Ayla will return home tomorrow (sniff) and I will continue on my own through mid-August.

Mandal to Oslo (airport), Norway · 261 mi / 420 km

Mandal to Oslo (airport), Norway · 261 mi / 420 km