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Brendan and I have good news...we're headed to Europe this summer!
We've been planning the trip with our friend Tony since May 2013. The whole idea started because Tony is a PhD student at Oxford...in the past seven and a half years, he has visited me/us in Austin twice (once for my 21st birthday and once for Brendan and I's wedding), Lake Charles, and Midland, so I've been telling him we owe him a visit (the only issue being that he has lived overseas for the past several years). We figured once we made it to Europe to see Tony, we might as well stay and see as much as possible :) Since all of us are off in the summer, it became the perfect plan.
We made the last of our reservations about a week ago. The above is our actual itinerary, but don't worry, we'll only be driving the last 1,207 miles (yes, part of this has involved me learning to driving standard...buckle up Tony!)
All of the logistics are taken care of...we have our new passports, and with Tony's expertise and some insights from Europe on a Shoestring, plus the help of plain old fashioned google, we've managed to book all of our transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles + one ferry) and accommodations (apartments, hostels, and hotels). We'll be in Europe from June 12--July 30, giving us 7 weeks to cover our itinerary. I was overwhelmed when we first started, but we managed to get it all booked. Tony was instrumental in staying on top of it all. I think between the three of us there have been 1,000 emails at this point!
The total expense for everything so far was half of our planned budget, the other half we'll spend on eating, gas, and entertainment. So far, I'm surprised at how far our money has stretched; of course, this is something we have saved up for (and having a year to plan certainly helped!) I have some planning on a budget tips that I'll do a post about when we return.
The other part of our summer travels includes a week in Austin with my family and a week in New York City with college friends beforehand and a week in Maine with Brendan's family afterwards. We'll probably spend a few days in Austin recovering before traveling back to Midland. So, in total, we'll be gone about 10.5 weeks.
The whole plan is a little crazy, but it is something we've wanted to do for a long time. As teenagers, we both traveled to Europe with class trips or summer programs, but it has been over a decade since either of us has been (plus, going as a teenager is a different experience, of course). On this itinerary, I've only seen Oxford, and Brendan has seen Oxford, near Saint Contest, and Paris. Almost all of it will be new to both of us, and a lot of it will be new to Tony as well (though he has traveled Europe more than both of us.)
I think the three of us are going to travel really well together. We all share a lot of the same interests, world views, and sense of humor. Tony speaks some French and some German, and Brendan has been refreshing his French on his iPad. Though I took three years of French in high school, I've retained nothing, and Brendan's French program is more focused on teaching people ridiculous phrases (think: "I am a little frog") rather than practical phrases like "Where is the bathroom?" Everyone says I'll be fine, or, as Tony states honestly "the days in the Czech Republic are the only ones during which we'll be 100% lost and helpless." I'm sure that there will be some interesting moments, and I'm sure some things will go wrong, but I also know it's going to be an adventure.
And now the biggest question of all...What about Lola and Zoe?!
Don't worry, they will live in Austin with their "grandparents." Lola and Zoe get spoiled rotten by my parents (they get cans of Fancy Feast every night), so they might not even miss us! I certainly will miss them though, and leaving them makes me sad to think about!
We'll that's our Europe news for now. I plan to blog about our travels and use the blog to keep in touch with our family and friends....but despite all the excitement to look forward to, I'm not wishing time away. We still have a couple of months before we leave, and I'm planning on making the most of the Spring.