Paring Down the Wish List
Well, reality is setting in, budgetarily and chronologically. Assuming I am utterly ruthless with myself on taking leave between now and next September, the MOST I could hope for is 20 days in Europe. I have a budget ceiling, but don't feel like sharing it with the entire Western world. Suffice to say, I've got a budget in mind, and so I ended up prioritizing to some extent:
- Wine Country (Bordeaux / Lyon)
- Paris / Versailles / Strasbourg (if I can manage to finagle a tour)
- Salzburg / Alps
The itinerary is not impossible, travel-wise. Accounting for Europe's quirky rail, ferry, and air routes, I could probably manage the following:
- Paris (incl. Versailles and possibly Strasbourg)
- Switzerland (Geneva)
The advantage here, too, is that I might be able to avoid driving, which is something I'd really rather avoid--especially if I'm going to be wine tasting, etc., getting lost, etc. Friends and family have offered a variety of references and advice, everything from recommending tour organizers to "Let us handle it!" My father sent a site that provided a "vacation personality test," which pretty much confirmed what I knew already: once I'm off the clock, I don't play well with others. So independent travel is still an option. I just like to keep my options open. One coworker I talked to actually did what I suggested was doable only in America: driving down the Moselle without a plan or a reservation, and staying wherever the mood suited him. That itinerary irritated his wife, who preferred more structure, but as I'm the only one on this trip, I would probably be fine. However, again, I'd prefer not to drive in another language.
And the research continues. If I stick with the prioritized list above, I can hone my reading and ditch the German phrase book. Progress, of a sort.