Europe by Eurail 2024

May - August 2024
Southern & Eastern Europe plus Scandanavia Read more
Currently traveling
  • 15footprints
  • 5countries
  • 25days
  • 167photos
  • 11videos
  • 18.2kmiles
  • Day 1

    1. Overlanding Europe!

    May 26 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 39 °F

    Overlanding again!

    I'm so excited to be joining Craig for our 3rd 3 month overlanding trip together. This one will be different from the others: on the South America trip we were in Craig's car and had corresponding flexibility to go where we wanted when we wanted. In Africa, we were on a guided tour, so transportation and lodging were pre-determined. Here in Europe we will be using the Eurail and other mass transportation to traverse through 22 countries in 13 weeks.

    This is the current itinerary, subject to change. (See attached 2 maps)

    Luxembourg
    France
    Andorra
    Italy
    San Marino
    Malta
    Albania
    Montenegro
    Serbia (Hello Novak!)
    Bulgaria
    Romania
    Moldova
    Hungary
    Slovakia
    Czech Republic
    Poland (Hello Iga!)
    Lithuania
    Latvia
    Estonia
    Finland
    Sweden
    Norway
    HOME
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  • Day 4

    3. Hugo & Lyon

    May 29 in Luxembourg ⋅ ☁️ 54 °F

    A mini-bus and 2 train rides later, we find ourselves catching up with our old Frenchman friend Hugo, whom we met in South America 5 years ago when he & Craig shared a container that shipped their cars from Colon Panama to Cartegena Columbia. Hugo is a Lyon local, and offered to spend the day giving us a tour of the city. He proved to be an excellent guide, we enjoyed the 16km (10mi) walking tour of the city as well as catching up with him personally.

    Briefly, Lyon is the capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It is located in the central-east of France and is the third largest city in the country with a population > 500k. Situated between Paris and Marseille, it sits at the junction of the Rhone and Saone rivers. If you're a foodie, you'll want to stop here as it is known as the center of gastronomy in France.
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  • Day 3

    2. Luxembourg City

    May 28 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    The capital of Luxembourg is a small, ethnically diverse city of 130,000 people, with 170 nationalities representing 47% of the population. We walked around the city today, hearing many languages being spoken. Natives speak primarily French, followed by Luxembourgish (I honestly didn't know that was a language), then German.

    As we strolled through the "old town", we walked the Chemin de la Corniche, which is a pedestrian walkway built into the side of a mountain offering views of the valley. Someone has subtitled "the most beautiful balcony in Europe". (I think that is a bit of a stretch).

    We also saw the Grand Ducal Palace where the Duke resides (Luxembourg operates as a constitutional monarchy), Cathedrale Notre Dame, and stopped at the City Museum to see the "All You Can Eat" exhibit.

    The more modern parts of the city had your standard fare of business buildings, shops, hotels and many cafes, bakeries & pubs. Our hotel was a boutique unit, with a comfortable room, strategically located a few blocks from the train station (and definitely in the hood).

    I'm left a bit underwhelmed by the city, and look forward to heading to Lyon tomorrow, where we will catch up with a friend we met on our South America trip in 2019.
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  • Day 6

    4. Mont Saint Michel

    May 31 in France ⋅ ☀️ 54 °F

    Mont St Michel was conceived in the year 708 when the archangel Michael reportedly appeared in a dream of Bishop Saint Aubert and asked him to build a sanctuary in his name. The castle that exists now was developed over centuries, acting as a destination for pilgrims to connect with their dead ancestors, as a prison during the 100 years war, and now as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Located in the Normandy region of France, the site is a tidal island - during high tide it is completely surrounded by water, and at low tide considered more of a peninsula of mud and quicksand. With a clear 360° view, it was considered fairly impenetrable by would-be attackers. There are about 25 residents there now.

    We got up early and enjoyed the 3km walk on the access boardwalk plus our stroll through the grounds before it got really crowded. Completely unbeknownst to us, the site was scheduled to host a torch lighting ceremony for the upcoming Olympic games later that afternoon. This attracted many local schoolchildren who participated in various sporting events at the venue throughout the day.
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  • Day 8

    5. Andorra

    June 2 in Andorra ⋅ ☁️ 37 °F

    Bon dia!
    Hola!
    Bonjour!

    Welcome to Andorra, a small (181 sq mi) but beautiful country nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain & France. Here, we wait for someone to greet us before knowing what language to put in our translation app. Andorra is 48% Andorran, (speaking Catalan), 25% Spanish, 11% Portugese, and 4% French. Catalan is an offshoot of Spanish, so Craig is doing fairly well with communication.

    We are staying in Andorra La Vella, which, at 3350 ft, is the highest capital city in Europe. It is a typical historical European city with narrow roads, cobblestone streets, quaint shops and hotels, and a plethora of street cafes, bars & restaurants, but stands out by a view of the surrounding mountains at every turn.

    We strolled through the town and climbed up a short steep vertical path to the Rec del Sola trail that circles the city offering views from above. A pleasant day in a charming city.

    Located nearby is Grandvalira ski resort, covering 215 km of ski area with 138 slopes. We would have liked to have checked it out, but our schedule and lack of car have to be considered. Maybe next time. :)
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  • Day 11

    6. Travel trials & tribulations

    June 5 in France ⋅ ☁️ 52 °F

    The challenge of navigating travel through multiple countries each of which have their own protocol for buses, trains and taxis was an expectation on this trip. So its no surprise that we've stumbled a few times making our way around. 2 stories here:

    1.
    We arrived at the Pontorson train station, a small French town which supports tourism to Mont St. Michel, around 6PM, expecting to grab an uber to our hotel 15 minutes away. When uber was unable to find a driver for us, we called the 4 taxi phone numbers listed on a street sign. 3 of them reached answering machines speaking rapid French, and the 4th was a Frenchman who hung up on me when I could not speak French. (I have a few french words for him). Fortunately, another taxi driver who showed up to pick up another group spoke excellent English & offered help. 20 minutes later a taxi arrived to chauffer us to the hotel.

    2.
    We grabbed a train from our hotel along the French Riviera in Nice on Wed for a 1/2 hour ride over to Monaco to see how the rich and famous live. This was a locals commuter train as opposed to the first class travel we've been doing and boarding it was like a competitive sport. Nice to Monaco is apparently a very popular line, and people were close to being trampled as they pushed and shoved to get on the train as the doors were literally closing on them. Ugly.

    We missed our train stop & had to grab an uber back to Monte Carlo. After touring MC, we spent an hour trying unsuccessfully to figure out how to get to Eze (another nearby French Riviera town) by bus or train. We walked excessively around the city (when there was otherwise a free bus available), then got on the free bus, where we once again missed our stop for the train station. By the time we found the train station, we were ready to skip Eze and head back to the hotel. Of course, both trains back to Nice were delayed, so 2 trains worth of people were again jockeying for position and shoving their way through to try to get a seat on the first train that showed up.

    Back at the hotel, we entered the code for our room, which got rejected. 4 tries, no luck. No one at the front desk, however we did see the hotel business card there, so we called and spoke to a manager, who knew very little English. He gave us a temporary code to get in, which worked on the 4th try. Whew. Made me think of my Mom who always said, if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Bet she was laughing at us from above.

    In the meantime, overlanding by Eurail has its pros & cons. We have first class Eurail tickets for 3 months, and I've found those trains to be very clean and pleasant, our (reserved) seats to be spacious and comfortable, and the ride to be smooth and quiet. On the other hand, hauling around a 45-50lb duffel bag plus backpack on and off the train, up & down stairs at the train stations that often don't have a lift or escalator, and through the streets (when our hotel is close enough to walk), has felt like a bit more of a workout than expected. So glad I got the duffel bag with wheels!
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  • Day 11

    7. Monte Carlo, Monaco

    June 5 in France ⋅ ☀️ 68 °F

    Monte Carlo, famous for Grace Kelly, expensive yachts & cars, MC casino, the MC grand prix, and the French Riviera is known for its "extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth". With the highest average income in the world of > $186k, and no income tax, its a haven for the rich. We took a 1/2 hr train from Nice to explore for a day.

    MC is a region of Monaco, the second smallest and second most densely populated country in the world. We strolled the city, viewing Place du Casino, MC harbor, & Prince Albert II palace. Aside from our challenges in navigating local mass transportation, it was a fun day.
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  • Day 13

    8. Venice Italy l - Vivaldi concert

    June 7 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    We arrived in Venice late afternoon, just in time to check in to our hotel, freshen up and head across the canals to the Church of the Pieta, where we had tickets to a chamber orchestra performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

    What a treat! This 7 person group was spectacular.
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  • Day 14

    9. Venice ll - canals & tourism

    June 8 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 70 °F

    As you probably know, Venice’s unique charm lies in its winding canals, gondolas, bridges & eclectic architecture. Known as "the floating city", it is best known for having no roads, with buildings built directly on/in the water. Due to rising sea levels and the weight of its buildings, some scientists claim that it will completely sink by 2100.

    Venice joined the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1987 as an "extraordinary architectural masterpiece". However exploding volumes of tourism, (with over 30 mil visitors last year, and roughly 90% of them day trippers), have left UNESCO just shy of adding it to the list of "heritage sites in danger". Venice is exploring ways to reduce tourism - currently it is imposing a small tariff on day trippers who do not stay in Venice overnight. Not sure this will do much good.
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  • Day 15

    10. Venice lll-St. Marks Square & Murano

    June 9 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    Piazza San Marco is the primary public square in Venice, and plays hots to several famous architectural structures, including the Basilica, the Doge's Palace, and the iconic bell tower and clock tower.

    We also caught a ferry over to Murano island, which is known for its glass making factories.
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