- Paris: On Thursday night, my son, his companion and I fly to Paris, where we've rented an apartment on the Ile St. Louis for a week. We selected this location because my son, an avid biker, will be able to see the finish of the Tour de France on Sunday. The two of them have paid a hefty price to get grandstand seats. I decided not to join them, but I'm having second thoughts. It's the race's 100th anniversary, and for the first time, it will end at dusk in the "City of Lights." I just saw this description of the last day:
"It's the final day, and it's going to be incomparable in the strictest sense because we really wanted to pay full tribute at the end of this 100th edition. From the sporting perspective, there shouldn't be too many surprises: it's difficult to imagine the sprinters missing out! And if that sprinter happens, for the fifth consecutive occasion, to be called Mark Cavendish, then that really would be an extraordinary exploit. From the celebratory point of view, we have an unforgettable route, which will start in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, pass the monument to Jacques Anquetil, then go through the courtyard of the Louvre, before turning not in front of but around the Arc de Triomphe. The finish will be at dusk, at around 9.45 pm. It will be magical..."
Hmmm. I imagine they sell Pampers in Paris. Maybe I could last three or four hours in the grandstands.
- Scotland: After our week in Paris, we'll fly to Edinburgh for four days, split between that great city and the Highlands. I'm hoping we'll pass Scott's View, reputed to be one of Sir Walter Scott's favorite prospects. I remember being there over a decade ago, with my London pal Richard, while he played a recording of Nina Simone's I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free on the car's CD player. A few years later, Richard's ashes were scattered in his favorite glen nearby.
- London: We'll take the train from Edinburgh to London for a four-day stay. This is my favorite city, in part because it's so beautiful, historic, and walkable. It's also the home of two of my nearest and dearest friends. Richard is no longer with us, but Terry most vibrantly is. From 1978 (when I first visited Terry) until 2000 (when Richard chose an early exit), I stayed with one or the other at least once a year.
- Switzerland: Next we'll fly from London to Zurich, where my father was born. We'll rent a car and head for Mürren. Most guidebooks don't even mention Mürren, but Rick Steves recommends it highly. Here are the two quotes that sold me: "Pleasant as an Alpine resort can be. Mürren is traffic free and filled with cafes and old timers with walking sticks . . ." And this: "Mürren perches on a ledge, overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. You can walk from one end of town to the other in about ten minutes." Sounds like my kind of town!
- Asolo, Italy: Coming down off our mountain high, we'll drive to Asolo. I discovered this lovely "town of the 100 horizons" on a visit to northern Italy in 2000. Asolo is also just an hour's drive to a town on the main Milan-Venice train line. We could use Asolo as our base and take day trips east to Venice or west to Padua. I remember wishing we could just stay put and enjoy this this pretty town for a few days. Now I will.
- Venice: We'll end up in Venice, where we'll be joined by the other two generations of Schappi's for an 11-day cruise to Barcelona. I'm happy to report that we'll also have with us the impending new addition to the family -- my first great-grandson! He'll be born later this year.
Much as I hate Washington's summer weather, traveling in Europe for over five weeks is a long stretch, mot just for me but for other family members with job and other commitments. We're still considering the option of breaking this into two pieces -- Paris and London as the first segment, then home for a couple of weeks, and then the Venice-Barcelona cruise. Stay posted.