Eight countries in Eight days versus a Vacation Rental

Okay, so we actually did 8 countries in 16 days, but you get my drift. Usually I’m not a proponent of the “how many countries can we see on this trip” way of thinking. And usually when we go to Europe we try to become more than tourists – we soak up the locale, the culture…and of course the food and wine.

For example when we took the kids to Tuscany, we rented a unit in an agritourismo near San Gimignano for a week

Tuscany – near San Gimignano

Another year we rented a gite in Cotignac in Provence for a week

And then the wing of an 18th century chateau on the outskirts of Carcasonne

One of our favourite weeks was spent in a gulet off the coast of Turkey

And we can’t forget about the south of England where we rented a cottage 

When the kids were younger, renting a car and a cottage/gite/villa was a relatively easy way to go.The kids had their space and we had ours, bedtimes were flexible as were morning start times. We shopped locally for our breakfast and dinners, and then explored our surroundings and the local restaurants during the day. Our one rule of thumb was that we always, always rented a place with a pool – we found lots of vacation rental properties didn’t have air conditioning, but many had swimming pools. On more than one occasion those pools saved our bacon, whether it was cooling us all off during the heatwave in Tuscany or providing the kids with a necessary physical outlet. Oh yea, and my husband too – he used to enjoy tossing the kids around in the pool.

This time, however, my hubby and I didn’t want to drive. We didn’t want to shop for food and we didn’t want to cook. Nope, Captain Dumb Dumb wanted to be pampered. Well, maybe I did too, just a little bit. What we dreaded was the crowds – tons and tons of folks on cruise ships that you just can’t get away from! See, we really are getting old – old and crusty and antisocial 🙂 So I did my research and booked us on a mid size ship with lots of space; in fact, we hardly realized the cruise ship was full until the last day when we saw everyone in the terrace restaurant. Before then we’d had the deck to ourselves most days for a late lunch. When the Captain realized we could have breakfast served to our room,  we ordered in most days; okay,actually every single day. Rather than booking excursions organized by the ship, we organized our our excursions – with the help of a travel guide book. Yes, we did lots and lots and lots of walking, and we did see some pretty amazing sights. For example I’d love to return to Copenhagen and Stockholm and Riga and St Petersburg

Catherine’s summer palace

inside the Hermitage

Peterhof Palace

and spend more time there; as for the some other places, I can say I’ve seen them, but I won’t be running back any time soon.

So what’s the best way to travel? – any way you can!

And if you can’t get away this summer, then be a traveller in your own town. Discover something new. Check out look that museum or cathedral or city hall with a different perspective. Heck, take a bus or subway when you usually drive. Really!

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