We started planning this trip a couple years ago (yep, you can see where I get my planning skills from!). Mum and I both had milestone birthdays one month apart, and neither of us being ‘party’ people, we thought ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to do an amazing trip together to celebrate?’ Mum was keen to visit France and I thought Italy would be an obvious match. We both thought Barcelona would be cool. So off we went to a travel expo where we grabbed armfuls of brochures to start dreaming up our perfect holiday. We made half plans and then sat on them for about a year.
Then, after a stint working for a travel agent, I thought it would be a great idea for us to do the trip via a Scenic River cruise. We chose an itinerary which took us from Barcelona to Paris in around 14 days, which sadly meant missing out on Italy, but we would be living it up with a complimentary mini bar every day and smorgasboard meals each evening, doing a bit of sightseeing here and there and just, relaxing. We booked a stopover in Singapore at the end of the trip as usual and sat back to count down the months. Easy.
Then the trip for the date we booked was cancelled. A new date was offered with a shorter itinerary and we decided we could still make it work, so we said ok. Then came another cancellation. A little worried about what this meant, and without any proper explanation of why from Scenic, we decided to get our money refunded and go back to the original plan to travel the way we always travel – our own way.
We put Italy back on the agenda. And then Lisbon, which had started appearing everywhere I looked, got added soon after. Next thing we knew, we were going to be away from home for over a month, travelling to five countries and taking in a lot more than we would have if we’d been on board any boat. The trick was going to be how to do so much, but still be relaxed and not have it feel like a whirlwind of a trip.
My niece was sceptical when I showed her all the places we were going. “Don’t you think that’s a little far for Nanny to travel? Perhaps you should go somewhere closer?” she worried.
I assured her that Nanna had already travelled to this part of the world only a couple of years before, so she would be fine, and of course I would be there with her. She looked dubious, her ten year old mind clearly pondering how I could possibly think about dragging a 70 year old woman around Europe with me on a whim.
We wouldn’t be rushing around, but she had me wondering, were we biting off more than we could chew?