Our trip blog is here, so I won't go through it all again, but I do want to mention some of the things that stand out about the trip for me.
Renting apartments and staying for a week or two was absolutely the right choice for us.
I wanted to have a 'home' in a few places, rather than spending a lot of time in transit, trying to cover a lot of ground and not really experiencing the places we stayed. It meant we only unpacked/packed three times in five weeks, we could revisit places we really liked, and we could get to know some of the local people (as much as you can get to know people in a limited time).
|Looking out the window in Paris|
Each apartment had its particular highlights. The one in London had two bedrooms - much as I love my daughter, we slept better in separate rooms. It also had the most comfortable beds and lounge furniture of the whole trip.
The Paris apartment was in a Hausmann building, on the 6th floor. We had a lovely view of the street below, without being assaulted by the traffic noise at street level, and three tiny balconies - just enough to step out the window. Best shower of the trip.
In Rome, we were in an old building with a massive wooden door, marble steps, and large shuttered windows that you could hang out of to talk to your neighbour across the street and admire their beautiful window boxes. This was the largest apartment, although only one bedroom, and the most centrally located - we walked almost everywhere.
Long day trips weren't such a great idea.
|Brandishing a Roman gladius at our |
impromptu swordfighting lesson in the
Micklegate Bar Museum in York
|The main road through Ostia Antica|
Taking a netbook and using Skype to keep in touch worked really well.
We had no problems keeping in touch with the boys at home, using Skype on the netbook and the free Wi-Fi connections in each apartment. It didn't really feel like we were such a long way from them when we could see them and talk every day. The little netbook was also fabulous for storing photos (I downloaded them from the cameras every evening) and blogging daily (we used Travel pod). I had a few games loaded just in case Miss Tizz wanted them, but she preferred to log into Club Penguin online. The netbook was also useful for email, and making a couple of bookings online (we booked our London Eye tickets the night before, after checking the weather forecast, and booked a car to take us to the airport in Rome). We checked the weather, directions, opening hours, etc. in the apartment before we left for the day.
I chose the right time of year, and the right order of countries.
Yes, sometimes it was cold in England and France, but I was assured this was unusual weather for October, and with all the walking we did it didn't matter too much to us. I expected more rain, but we only had a few wet days. And as the weather became cooler, we moved further south - England, France, Italy.
Often the best things are those you don't plan.
|Filming the next instalment of |
Pirates of the Caribbean in Greenwich
A year of planning and research really paid off.
I read a lot before we left. I joined the Slow Travel forums and read everything in the UK, France and Italy sections. I borrowed numerous guidebooks before deciding on the ones to buy. I studied printed maps and Google maps. I walked around parts of the cities with Google street view. I found out how the transport systems worked. I bought tickets and passes in advance. I read up on street scams and potential problems and how to avoid them (and we did see them, but had no problems ourselves). I took a basic Italian language class. I borrowed DVDs and novels from the library. And everything went very smoothly once we were there.
I love slow travel.
|Miss Tizz loved the carousels in Paris|
The idea of slow travel is to get more of an experience of a place, rather than ticking off a list of 'sights'. We had days when we spent several hours in cafes and restaurants, over coffee, lunch and dinner. We had one particularly rainy day when we lounged around the apartment and read and watched tv until 4pm. We walked miles most days, sometimes following a specific route, sometimes just seeing where we ended up. We rarely had to be anywhere at a particular time, so we could change our plans if something caught our attention. And frequently, it did.
I want to go to other parts of the world, and back to the places I've been.
|I'll definitely be returning to the Roman Forum|
Other places I'd like to visit - New York, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, other parts of France and Italy, Greece, Russia, in fact, pretty much anywhere!
Planning the next trip already ...