A family member lives in Europe as of this writing and will be celebrating a major birthday next year so the planning for the event has already begun. How to stagger the time such that all do not show up and then leave at the same time, creating joyful chaos for a few days only to be followed by massive post-partum depression once all and sundry have returned to their respective homes?
Mother has already stated quite clearly that she would be the last to leave, wanting to make sure the honored guest would have a calm and steady return to normalcy once everyone else has departed. It will also provide them quality time to visit without having to deal with other people or participate in planned, elaborate or even impromptu tours around the countryside in which they by then would have little interest. This would just be visiting time for them and I'm perfectly fine with that. The question is what do I do in the meantime?
Since I don't travel nearly as much as I used to this trip to Europe presents a golden opportunity to do many things, among them revisit old stomping grounds and explore new territories. The trouble is there remain so many things to see and do that choosing something to provide the most impactful experience is proving quite difficult indeed. At the same time I am trying to keep things down to only two weeks for the sake of expense since most likely I will be traveling alone.
In Western Europe the list of undiscovered countries is fairly small, including the Scandinavian nations, Portugal and Italy. Central Europe offers the enticements of Hungary and the Baltic States while the Adriatic region has never been explored, to include Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Then there's Russia and Turkey, one of which costs an arm and a leg while the other represents similarly large logistical issues of squeezing in everything I would want to explore in a week's time. Add on top of that wanting to see other family and friends throughout Great Britain and hopefully my dilemma is more clearly defined. I haven't been to London, Paris or Germany in at least nine years and would like to revisit all of those places but with time and resources being equally precious I feel compelled to strike out in new directions. I want to see as much of the world as I possibly can while I'm still willing and able!
I've thought about setting up a poll to allow you the readers to decide where I should go and what I should do but I'm not one for hiking the Matterhorn, running the bulls at Pamplona or traveling such great distances for the sake of a class in stocks and sauce reductions. I wouldn't mind paying a visit to an ancestral home on behalf of someone though; I would find that most interesting indeed.
Portugal is high on the list because it is small and economical with a compelling history, culture and cuisine. The same can be said of Malta, Romania and Croatia but if I spent the first week visiting family and friends between up to three different countries, I only have time for one new place during the second half.
What to do?