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Planning my 2023 Europe trip: II

[Written 2 July 2022] The week before the New England trip, and the week after, I occasionally would pull up the spreadsheet that I’d created with the places I’d listed in the earlier blog, I expanded the planning from the 2020 trip, especially for Switzerland, and found during a subsequent iteration that I’d mistaken Lausanne for Lucerne. On another pass, rereading my concluding blogs from the 2020 virtual tour, I know want to perhaps stretch this trip out even more. I even spoke with an iCruise agent about the potential of a return transatlantic cruise sometime in August.

In any case, I’ve added a few “extra” days into the plan – sort of a “stop and smell the roses” kind of day – where I might find a non-church/cathedral activity. This summer’s trip to the Irelands has tour of cities, distilleries, ruins that will expand my trip (and soul) and hopefully keep me from getting “church’d out”. Pus about every other week I need to get to a laundry! Also adding more stops in western Germany to the expansion for the Swiss cities, it will now be 5-6 weeks from debarking the ship until I reach Italy. And this is where I’m going to have to reread each blog entry to see if the stop is a go, or if there’s somewhere I “wished I’d included.” Right now, there’s no anchor – a fixed return date – so planning can be somewhat open-ended and as long as the money, health and spirit hold out …

Probably my next real step is to go through the notes and either confirm that an option for a tour or activity still exists, or, based on the potential date, see if there’s an event I might enjoy. For example, I had a ticket to see a ballet at La Scala in Milan: I’ll need to check their schedule for what might be offered in early June of next year. I’d made some email contacts in cities like Bergamo and Bari with local guides, and I’ll be attempting to reach out again and determine if those services are available.

My epilogue blog suggested some additional activities, such as visiting Mt Etna while on Sicily, which I wouldn’t have had time to do in 2020. The Amalfi coast is another place I glanced over, and might want to find a way to explore a bit more in detail. Adding days in Paris, Siena, Rome, Messina; maybe doing a 3-4 day villa stay in Tuscany, a 4-5 day cruise on the Adriatic out of Venice? I definitely want to interject that blog 25½ stop in Eguisheim after leaving Strasbourg.

How can you help? The way I decided to travel to the Dutch cities would be to use Amsterdam, initial starting point, as a base for a day trip to Haarlem, as well as take the opportunity to revisit a few museums I’d visited 25 years ago. First day of the circuit would be the orthodox cathedral in The Hague before heading to Rotterdam for the night and its cathedral. Second day passes through Breda on the way to an overnight in ‘s-Hertogenbosh. Then onto Utrecht for a full day with 3 churches to visit. My fourth day would involve taking the train through Amsterdam to Groningen in the north.

Then into Germany, with day and overnights in Bremen, Hamburg, Hanover (day trip to Hildesheim and Himmelsthur), Münster via Osnabruck, and Essen, before returning to the Netherlands and Roermond. Onward into Belgium and two nights return to Liège (Malmady; Hasselt and Tongeren) before a day and night in Namur. Onward through Lille to Amiens for 2 nights and then 2-3 nights in Paris.

That’s nearly 3 weeks at the start of the trip. The program for Amiens that my concierge at ViaHeros put together will keep me quite active in that city, the home of Notre-Dame de Amiens, the cathedral that triggered my obsession back in 1999. Because none of the rest of these places were on the 2020 itinerary, I’m open to suggestions. In the meantime, I’m off on another of my “domestic” road trips.

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