I was keyed up with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and anxiousness as we set off on our European adventure.
Don't ask me why, maybe it's my age. But anyway, let's say I was worrying about lots of little things.
Out of the comfort zone and into adventure
And I realise that I'd been happily lulled into a comfort zone within the safe confines of Western Australia where my daily routines were ordered and free from having to think about the where, what, when or hows of daily life.
But now on day three of our European odyssey I'm beginning to exhale. It's ok, I haven't forgotten anything too vital, I have adequate warm clothes, my toothbrush is packed, the hormone wotsits are deep in the depths of my suitcase, and most importantly my passport and credit cards are in a safe secret place which surprisingly I have remembered and even more importantly kept in a constant secret place!
So breathe. Yes, it's possible.
I'm not the idiot I thought I'd become.
And for any of you contemplating a travel escapade then my advice is 'just do it' and don't look for or at the problems – just go!
What was I worried about?
Leaving the kids (albeit that they're grown up) thousands of miles away in Australia.
Visiting my Mum and Maurice (below) and my Sister in England and promptly leaving them to embark on an extended trip.
Worrying that people on the tour would be much younger than me.
Anxious that boats might sink.
Worried that I'll not be fit enough for bicycling in Croatia – ditto, that people will be much younger than me.
Wondering what's it all about? Being so privileged – being able to jet off to travel and enjoy a holiday when there are people starving in this world and struggling to survive. I am very grateful, but is that enough?
Would you worry about these sort of things? Are you like me capable of hiding cares and worries behind a smiile?
What am I learning?
That travel broadens your horizons and gives you a different perspective on life.
That meeting new people from different walks of life is interesting and fun.
That people are younger than me (mostly) but that's ok. I can still play the fool a little 😉
That travelling is not scary and it's easily doable. Dave's just called me 'clever clogs' – I have no idea why?!! Just Scroll down 😉
That the kids are perfectly capable of looking after themselves, and actually (I can't believe this!) have not wanted or needed to Facebook me very much!)
That I can exist with very few personal things (I am actually under the 20kg baggage allowance – Yay!)
That mainly all I need can be packed in a day pack which I can carry as a rucksack. (I'll be writing about this in a future post).
That Dave and I really do still enjoy being together – even after 27 years of marriage.
What have we done so far?
First up we crossed the Channel on the train, and it was a weird feeling knowing that we were on a coach, in a train, in a tunnel surrounded by sea. The crossing only took about half an hour so it was over by the time I'd found the loo!
With the tour company Expat Explore we motored through France, to Belgium and stopped in Amsterdam where we embarked on a canal cruise during which we were fed a light dinner and for 8 Euros per person had the chance of unlimited drinks. Yes, I have to admit Lifestylers that I didn't hold back on the Chardonnay – after which the tall imposing buildings of Amsterdam seemed to slant at a bit of an angle 😉
We motored onto Germany and boarded the Loreley a clean, spacious boat ((behind me below). We were entertained with a running commentary about the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and we were roused by stirring German music too.
A wine tasting at Vineum in Boppard was made all the more enjoyable by the very knowledgeable Felix, who at just 17 years old astonished us with his facts and figures of the wines of the region.
There's so much to do and see at Boppard, that I'll defiinitely be hankering to go back and discover more of its cobbled alleyways and historic sights.
You can reach Boppard via Cologne or Mainz by road,, and Koblenz, Mainz and Frankfurt by train. Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is 55 kms away and Frankfurt airport is 100 kms. Well known River Cruise lines also stop in Boppard.
Fun Fast Facts
Amsterdam has more waterways and canals than Venice
Most castles in the Rhine Valley were built in the 11th Century – many are derelict but many have been turned into hotels and restaurants. The Rhine Valley has the highest density of castles in Europe.
The Rhine Valley is known for its Eiswein, a sweet wine that can only be harvested at minus 7 degrees celcius. It's left on the vine all winter until its shrivelled to a raisin like size, and only once in about every four years can the temperatures be expected to be right to make the wine.
The Rhine River is a Unesco World Heritage site as it passes many major European capitals and it's one of the most used water routes in Europe (families live on cargo vessels, which you often see passing with two cars on board, curtains at the windows and pot plants on the window sills).
Cuckoo clocks are not from Switzerland as many people think but are from Germany. The scenes depict the life of the people who used to live in the Black Forest. Interestingly, the little town of Saint Goar, on the Rhine, has the largest free hanging hand carved cuckoo clock in the world!
Zur Klosterschenfe is a pub and a church joined together (see below). You have to go through the pub to get to the church and the priest often serves the drinks!
Bad Salzig is a small town with spring water which lays claims to be a cure for sciatica, liver problems and rheumatism.
I really hope you've enjoyed this first post from Europe, Lifestylers! I'd love to hear from you in the comments … and for those of you who do comment, thank you! I'll be popping over to other people's blogs when I have a little more time, so please don't give up on me.
Until next time … Do you have a favourite spot in Europe, or where would you like to visit?