European countries welcome more than 480 million international visitors per year, more than half of the global market, and 7 of the 10 most visited countries are European nations. It's easy to see why - a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different phrasebook. Although it is the world's smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries.

My first real travel experience, in 1979, was to Europe. Two months, friend Joanne, no guidebook (I left it on the flight over), Eurail passes, a new camera, a first real travel experience. Craig & I have been to Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Corsica, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, London, Paris, Vienna. He thinks it is too European. Read: snobby. I find it charming and easy. We both find it expensive.

Italy is a favourite. We’ve been a few times, and will return. And we still want to go to Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Sardinia, Sicily. 


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Trogir, Zadar & a race to Venice

Trogir is just a half hour north of Split but it takes us much longer than that to get there as the GPS keeps directing us into the same dead-end alley behind Diocletian’s palace. We finally figure out how to program it for our destination and are on our way. Trogir is a small island sitting between the mainland and …

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Split: Dalmatian Riviera

A short drive to Trpanji from Orebic takes us to the car ferry that will take us back to the Croatian mainland. We arrive early and have time to walk on the waterfront. More cats! Unbothered by getting close to the water, these ones apparently know how to fish. Once on the mainland we take the coastal road north to …

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Orebic: Island Idyll

Two hours north of Dubrovnik the Peljesac peninsula juts out into the Adriatic. It is just 65 km long and averages about 10 km wide. At the north west end of the peninsula is Orebic, a small port town directly across a narrow straight from the well known island and town of the same name: Korcula. We book 5 nights …

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Dubrovnik: Dalmatian Jewel

The wake-up call comes at – ugh! – 0445 Wednesday morning. It is raining and grey when we board our 0630 flight from Sarajevo to Zagreb, raining and grey when we land in Zagreb, still raining and grey when we pick up our rental car from the parking garage, raining and grey for 6 of the 7 hour drive south …

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Sarajevo: West meets East

We are overjoyed to wake up in Sarajevo. Getting here was a challenge: changing plans, booking flights, stashing the rental car in a parking garage in Zagreb, being homeless in the rain waiting for our flight out. A lightning storm delayed many of the flights out, so even once we got to the Zagreb airport we were unsure we’d get …

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Zagreb: the real Balkans

Leaving Ljubljana proves to be every bit as difficult as arriving. Traffic is completely jammed on the main road out of the city. We sit through green light after green light without budging an inch. Horns are honking, people are getting out of their cars for smoke breaks (I’ve not yet mentioned how much smoking there is here!), others are …

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Ljubljana: one day in a hidden gem

The trip from Venice to the airport is serene in the early morning fog. We find Sixt, the car rental agency, fairly easily. They have our reservation. So far so good. When the attractive Italian woman working the counter asks where we are going, we nonchalantly list our destinations: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia. She smiles broadly until we get to Bosnia. …

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Venice is sinking!

We arrive in Venice by train from Milan. The sun is shining, the outdoor cafes are full of chattering tourists, the gondolas cruise the canals and we are thrilled to be here. Google maps claims it is a half hour walk from the train station to our hotel, but we stop for photos, to ogle the goods in the shop …

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Italian Lake Country

From Rome, we take trains north to Milan and then Como, on the southern shore of Lake Como. From there it is a one hour bus ride on a winding, narrow – sometimes one lane – road to Menaggio, where we have made vague plans to meet friends in the main square around 4 PM. We arrive at 3:30, a …

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Bella Roma

It seems like everyone has been to the Balkans, the countries formerly known as Yugoslavia. Croatia in particular is a hot-spot. I’ve wanted to travel to this part of the world for some time, but Craig has vetoed it. He’d rather go to India, which I have been vetoing. This year we reach a compromise: I will go to India …

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The Sceptre Makes it to London

London, United Kingdom An epic day and a half of travel from Ndali Lodge in Uganda to London, England involves a harrowing one hour drive from the lodge to the Kasese airstrip; an hour flight from Kasese to Entebbe; an hour flight from Entebbe to Nairobi, where we spend 10 hours in the airport, losing a night’s sleep; then a …

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Europe 2012

June 2012. We’ve moved from E 14th to the main floor of E 19th and lived there for over a year, while we renovate E 2nd, where we move on June 1. Quintan & Leighanne move into the attic. It’s hectic as the house is barely habitable. We are trying to move in and pack for a trip at the …

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Italy 2010

For our niece Mackenzie’s 16th birthday I suggest a trip, telling her we can go wherever she wants. She chooses Italy and I approve wholeheartedly. We go to Rome, Florence and Levanto, just north of the Cinq Terra. She is so quiet and polite at first. Over time, she opens up and we have a lot of laughs and good …

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Italy 2008

We get an invitation for a week at a villa in Umbria for Sharon’s 50th birthday party. Accepting immediately, we plan a month long trip to Italy, where we have never been together. We go in June and get a lot of rain. A lot. Days in a row. In Rome we stay in a small room in a small …

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Spain 2001

May 2001. My dad is still alive. Craig’s mom turns 75. A party is planned for the May long week-end in Vancouver. Her twin sister Louva is still living in Richmond. Is that where the party is? I don’t remember. Oh, wait a minute, we weren’t there. We went to Spain for a month. Did we not know about the …

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Turkey & Greece 1995

May 1995. I am in the middle of my masters degree. We’ve been busy renovating the big wreck of a house at 19th and Inverness we bought the previous year. It has been a decade since we’ve travelled outside of North America. A big trip is in order! We choose Turkey, not realizing that we will be there during Eid, …

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Europe 1979

While living in Los Angeles in the late seventies I meet Joann Kozak, a fellow nurse from Moose Jaw, Sask. We’re both interested in travel and soon make plans for a trip to Europe. Freddy Laker’s no-frills Laker airlines provides cheap flights to London. Eurail passes provide economical transportation around the continent. Our guidebook, the name of which I have …

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