Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Summer Vacations

Tomorrow it'll be 4 weeks until I leave Florida and in some ways I'm ready for going home.

I love so much about America that it used to be difficult to leave but that tended to be in my pre retirement years when I'd only be here for a few weeks at a time. Of course, going back to work was an added reason for not wanting a holiday here to end.

Being here for 6 months at a time is great and after doing it for several years now, I'm pretty used to living half my life in America. Spending Oct-Mar in America and April-Sept in England, I should be able to benefit from the best weather that both countries have to offer.

In theory.

The only thing more optimistic than planning anything around the weather in England is to have gone out in August last year and bought a Leeds United League One Champions 2008 t-shirt.

Just plain stupid.

Here in sunny Florida things are somewhat different. If you arrange to play golf two weeks on Thursday, you can be pretty darned sure that it'll be both hot and sunny for your round and you'll only need an umbrella to ward off the sun.

If I try that in Leeds even in mid July, the chances are it'll be cool, breezy and that umbrella will be used to stop me from looking more like a drowned rat than a fearsome Tiger.

But unpredictable weather aside, England has plenty to offer me for the 6 months I'll spend there.

Being closer to mainland Europe than Florida is one thing ! I know this will lose many of my US readers but stay with me here. It's a short ferry crossing or, thanks to the Channel Tunnel, an even shorter car ride to what most people call Europe. Or France, if you're a blond contestant on a US quiz show. Somewhere close to Australia anyway.

I've not travelled much in Europe as since 1989, all my trips abroad have been to.....America. Every single one. About 22 round trips to date.

So this summer I hope to redress the geographical balance a bit and go 'do' some of Europe. Now I don't plan on becoming a 1980's US type tourist and take 2 weeks to have a whistle stop coach tour of 25 countries ! This sort of tour actually coined the expression 'whistle stop' as the tourists only had time to whistle in each country before moving on to the next one. This got very confusing in Alpine countries as the echo led them to believe they'd visited Switzerland twice and they never actually realised they'd visited Austria at all.

No, I'd like to take a more leisurely tour around only a few countries and get to see them in some detail. I think they deserve this as some of them have been around a long time and have a few sites (and sights) worth seeing. Well except for those funny ex Russian countries; oh and Serbia; and Montenegro; and maybe Croatia. Or are they all the same ? Shit, I've been here too long.

I'm going to start with a few of the REAL European countries and pass on the newbies for now. I'd like to visit Southern France for instance, and Italy of course and some parts of Austria or maybe Switzerland too. Then Spain and Portugal could come into the plans and there is always Poland and Germany.........oh God I can hear the whistle. I'm with that bloody coach party in 1985 with 3 film cameras and a suitcase sized VHS camcorder slung around my neck, chewing a wad of tobacco and handing out money to the stallholders saying "here, you local person you, just take as much of this mickey mouse money as you need and why aren't you speaking English anyway ???"

My plans are in the early stages of development as you can see. I'm not even sure if I want to drive my car over t'Europe and tour that way or take a cheap flight directly from Leeds to somewhere like Nice or Venice and rent a car from there. Given the high cost of petrol and how much time and money it would involve driving down through France to get to the interesting countries (hehe......sorry but I don't get any French readers so sod 'em), a fly/rent option might be best.

For one thing, the steering wheel would be on the right side. The wrong side of course but the right side. Would make overtaking a lot safer, except in Italy where all driving is geared to putting you into an early grave.

So over the next few weeks I'll be looking at maps and getting ideas. Naturally I'll buy my maps when I get home as a map of anywhere other than one of the US of A is rarer here than a baseball player NOT on performance enhancing drugs.

I also hope my pilot has a GPS device when I leave here.

"In 3450 miles, turn right, then turn left. In 200 miles drop gradually to zero feet. Taxi for 350 yards. You have arrived at your destination".



Daphne said...

Whilst you've been doing 22 trips to America (!!) I've been doing 22 trips to Wales.
Wales is good too, don't forget. What's America like? Worth a visit?

Anonymous said...

I have reasonably fond memories of my time in America but you will adore your European holiday I'm sure. So many cultures, so many different foods, so much history. America can't compete on any of those fronts though I do like going there for holidays.

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