A Helluva Trip

In seventeen days I’ll be boarding an overnight flight at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, en route to Berlin, Germany. However, three days ago I realized my passport was about to expire.When it comes to trip planning, I’m meticulous. Some would even call it obsessive. I pick hostels based on their proximity to train stations; I map out everywhere I want to go within a city; I even print out route maps of transit systems. I’m detail-oriented to the core, yet somehow I totally spaced on the fact that my five-year passport is in its final year of validity, expiring before I even leave for Europe.

Thankfully that issue has been rectified by the good people at the Canadian passport office in Toronto (and an extra $140 that I did not budget for *shakes fist*). My passport will be in my hands five days before I depart and I’ve bought myself another five years of travelling time.

A few things have occurred since my first post about this trip. To begin with, Lauren and I now have an additional travelling companion for the entirety of our European tour. Secondly (and partially due to this addition), our plans have changed a bit, resulting in even more days and countries being added to the itinerary.

When we first started planning this adventure, Lauren and I were going to part ways in Prague with me returning to Toronto and her to Australia. As I mentioned in that previous post, I had found a flight home that had a nineteen hour layover in London. A seat was put on hold for me, yet the booking wasn’t going to be finalized for a few more days. In the interim I made plans with my Moose Mate, Glen, to spend my time in London with him as that’s where he lives.

A few days later the time came to pay for my flight and two things happened: the price went up and the wrong flight was put on hold. I was irked but not without hope. I then went through and made a list of my options, debating between finding the cheapest flight home without stopping anywhere on the way, or flying from Prague to London where I’d spend a few days (not just a layover) before finally returning to Canada. By this point I had already gotten my hopes up about being reunited with Glen, though, so I turned to him for his thoughts.

I was originally planning on flying home on Easter weekend, so Glen would have had a holiday and a day off to spend with me in London. But then he mentioned that he had the whole weekend free, and then the gears in my brain started to turn…

I suggested we meet up in Paris then take the train back to London. Then he said he could meet me in Prague, then it was revealed that he could actually take ten days off and he started listing cities I didn’t even consider visiting before: Frankfurt, Cologne, Antwerp, Amsterdam…all depending on if he could get the time off work.

A day or so later it was confirmed that not only could he get the time off work, but he could also get the entire time Lauren and I are in Europe off work. So no more London — Glen’s joining the party!

With that decided, an extended itinerary past Prague was planned. Here’s what we came up with for the whole trip:

itinerary

That’s eight countries in sixteen days, officially making this my biggest international trip ever. Travelling will all be done by train thanks to our handy Eurail Global Passes, and our hostel beds have been reserved in each city. Things are coming together!

As noted above, Berlin and Vienna are on the list. Although they’re beautiful, historical cities in their own right, I added them to the itinerary for purely selfish reasons…named Lisa-Marie, Bufón and Richard.

In hiking the Camino de Santiago through Spain last year, I met some exceptional people who truly touched my life. These people hailed from all around the world, but most of my new friends resided in Europe. Lisa-Marie hailed from Germany; Richard from Austria. Hence, my need to visit Berlin and Vienna. This trip will not only reunite me with my best friend, Lauren, and my Moose Mate, Glen, but it will also allow me time with some of my Camino friends!

On top of spending time with my human friends, I’m also going to become reacquainted with a friend of the equine variety — the lovely Bufón, aka the horse that allowed me to overcome my fear of horses. I love horses. My spirit animal would be a horse if I had a choice. However, I’ve always been too scared to approach them so my love was always from afar. Bufón changed that for me — he also changed ME in the process — and now I get to introduce some rather special people to him. I think this will be the perfect way to start things off.

So there you have it. This is going to be one helluva trip!

Leading up to my departure day I’m going to be sharing some fun facts about each country I’ll be visiting, as provided by the Lonely Planet publication Not for Parents: The Travel Book, as well as other sources I may find. A copy of the Lonely Planet book randomly appeared in my office a little while ago, and I was immediately enamoured with it (it brought me back to a similar book I owned as a child that shared facts and data about the world’s countries). I thought I’d share its knowledge with you all as well 😉

Seventeen more sleeps until departure!

 

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