14 weeks, too many options…

We started with a big list of countries we wanted to visit. As we traveled, our priorities shifted and we adopted a slower pace for the European leg of the trip.

Before we took off on the world trip, we made all of the reservations for the first two legs, Asia and Africa, and figured we’d plan Europe and South America as we traveled. Exception: we booked the flights in and out of the continents. We allocated extra time in Europe because there is so much to see; 14 weeks offered many wonderful options. The list of possible destinations included Croatia, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Romania. There were only two constraints – our inbound flight from Africa landed in Zurich and our outbound flight to South America departed from Lisbon.

In South Africa we started to plan the Europe leg. First, we looked at the best ways to get around, including train, plane, ferry, and even a cruise. Around the same time, we started to feel burned out from moving around so much. Michael took a few weeks to recover from dysentery and then developed a mystery allergy/cold/flu. And, every time we left a destination we wished we had more time there. So, we looked at slowing things down a bit. By the time we left Africa, we had booked the first two destinations: Berlin (7 days) and Istanbul (28 days). In Berlin, we continued to research and I ran across a website, Slow Travel Berlin, at the perfect time – it reinforced what we had been thinking. We went through several versions before coming up with the final itinerary.

Final Europe Itinerary

Germany: Berlin
Turkey: Istanbul (4 weeks)
Spain: Madrid, Ibiza, Barcelona (6 weeks), Valencia
Portugal: Lisbon

We won’t visit all of the places originally planned. But, hopefully we will enjoy the slower pace and get to know two interesting cities during the long stays.