When we are not busy working 9 hours a day to earn money for our around-the-world trip, selling off our possessions, getting our house ready to sell, or taking our daughter to her swimming lessons, piano lessons, or horse riding lessons (what were we thinking?) we are trying to work out the details for our first 3 months in Europe. With the typical tourist visa (Schengen) we will be allowed to stay in most of Western Europe for up to 90 days before we need to leave. There is so much that we want to see and do, but to keep the expenses low we are using the slow travel method and will try to stay put in a single location for 30 days before moving onto the next location where we will stay another 30 days. This will allow us to stay in 3 different locations in Europe before our 90-day visa expires.
First Month: Paris, France
When figuring out where to start a 2-year around-the-world trip it only seemed fitting to start in Paris, France. Paris is nicknamed “The Capital of Europe” and is home to some of the world’s most amazing art, has excellent food, and offers plenty of tourist accommodations. Plus, if we forgot to pack something it won’t be hard to find a replacement. We have been watching every travel video on Paris that we can find at our local library and reading plenty of travel guides to help us pinpoint where to stay and what to do. We have decided that the Latin Quarter in the 5th and 6th arrondissements (fancy French word for district) looks like the perfect location for a 30-day stay. It offers plenty of relatively inexpensive (for Paris) furnished apartments, cafes, bookstores, library, and is within walking distance to most of the major attractions. We have been busy finding all of the companies that manage one month furnished apartment rentals and keeping track of the different apartments that will meet our needs. Unfortunately, we cannot choose a date and reserve an apartment until after our house sells. This could force us to find an apartment in a different area if the ones we want are already booked. We are hoping to be in Paris around November, but if we get delayed, we might be spending Christmas in Paris, which could be rather fun. We have also been trying to figure out which museums and monuments are free, which day of the month the museums charging admission allow visitors in for free, and how to eat out without breaking the bank. Paris seems like a great city for any budget and we can’t wait to visit. If anyone can recommend an apartment for rent or a must see place, please let us know. We are always open to suggestions.
Second Month: Somewhere else in France
Okay, “somewhere else in France” is a little vague, but it is hard to pinpoint an exact location, especially when we don’t have an exact date, yet. We are hoping to find someplace in an inexpensive little village in Southern France where we could rent an apartment or gîte and be within walking distance to grocery stores, shops, and places where we can mingle with the locals. When you are traveling with an 8-year old girl finding other kids for her to play with is a high priority. I mean, what kid wants to be stuck with their parents all the time? We had looked into some the bigger cities on the French Riviera but soon learned that many of those places are on the expensive side. Plus, after a month in Paris, a nice quiet village might be just what we need. Once again, if anyone can recommend a town or rental, please let us know.
Third Month: Barcelona and the Mad Dash Across Spain
Spain is a big country and offers a lot of great places to visit. Unfortunately, unless we leave France early for some unforeseen reason we will only have 30 days to experience Spain. And if we are staying in one spot for 30 days that will mean we can only visit one location. Since we will be visiting Spain during the winter, heading to the warm and sunny beaches of Southern Spain to join all of the other tourists on their cheap Spanish holidays in the sun sounds very tempting. I mean, VERY tempting. But with only 30 days allotted for Spain we should probably head to a center of culture. So, we have chosen to stay in Barcelona where we can visit the museums and cathedrals. We are really looking forward to trying the tapas and Spanish cuisine. We have started looking at apartment prices, but we are not sure which areas to stay in and which to avoid. Once again, if anyone can offer suggestions on where to go or stay in Barcelona we would be most happy.
After 8 weeks in France and 4 weeks in Barcelona we should be seasoned travelers. So, what better place for seasoned travelers to head to before there visa expires than Morocco where we can be accosted by street venders…err, I mean experience the local culture.