Monday, February 24, 2014

Dennis and Europe 2017 - Part 1 The Background

Some background info on my desire to go to Europe in 2017 after a 40 year absence.

My only previous time visiting Europe lasted little more than 72 hours - while on vacation in Europe by father fell ill and passed away in Tralee, Ireland - the date was June 28, 1977 - it is one of those dates you don't forget. He was on 62. It was stomach cancer - no indication before he left that he was sick but he was such a workaholic running the home construction company. We brought the body home for internment here in Vancouver.

I was able to arrange a quick flight over to Shannon and then a combo of bus and train arrived in Tralee - he had past a few hours before I arrived.

After making arrangements with the Canadian counsel - the following day we trained to Cork and then flew Aer Lingus to London - then an overnight in London - it is now July 1, 1977 - Canada Day - I got a big break on the return air as I was able to us my late father's home bound ticket - it was their actual departure date after seeing a fair amount of the continent. The Air Canada flight was suppose to be direct London to Vancouver but they added a stop in Calgary - while flying over the Rockies the plane hit a major turbulence - dropped perhaps 5000 feet or seems like it did - scared the shit out of me - no sleep for almost three days, drinking beer to steady my nerves - I vowed then that as long as my mother was alive I wouldn't take another plane ride.

Well she lived to almost 93 and passed away March 1, 2003.

By then I had taken my first cruise to Alaska with some friends who also won't fly and enjoyed it so much it has become an annual ritual for me.


Once I retired at the end of 2006 I started to do more travelling - mostly cruising and using Amtrak where necessary to get to the embarkation ports.

Europe has always been on my bucket list but the logistics of doing it without flying are a challenge.

Once you turn 65 they call ideas - brain farts and errors or omissions - brain cramps or a senior's moments.

Well I had a brain fart recently - it goes like this.

In 2017 I will turn 70 and it will also be the 40 anniversary of my dad's passing so why not combine the two events in one celebration.

So thus the idea of going to Europe in 2017 was born.


It will be a massive undertaking.

1. Getting to Europe - how to get there and where to start the trip.
2. What countries to visit - Ireland for sure as I would like to re-visit Tralee and the hospital where dad died. My maternal roots are Irish - grandparents come from County Salgo and County Galway.
My paternal roots are from what is now Slovakia - a small town in the High Tatras near the Polish border.
3.What time of year - one idea is to try and be in Tralee on the actual date June 28th.
4. Finances - it won't be a cheap trip but have had some talk with my financial advisor on how to pay for it.
5. How long to be gone - while traveling solo has many advantages as I learned on my long 49 day cruise a year ago it can become depressing especially for some one who suffers from anxiety attacks.
6. Independent vs group travel.
7. Rail vs bus.
8. Other parts of Europe that I want to see are the Scandinavian countries and the Norwegians Fjords.

I have started to look at what some of the tour companies in Europe have to offer and had the good fortune this past weekend to attend a Travel Expo show here in Vancouver where just about all the major players had booths and literature to help my planning. Also had the opportunity to talk to some of them and have some planning options to persue.

I see it having three compenents.

1. British Isles and Ireland
2. Scandinavia and Norwegian Fjords
3. Central and Eastern Europe with a stop in Slovakia.

For the most part the tours don't change much from year to year - the dates are similar with only pricing being the most likely to change.
I can expect the first of the 2017 brochures to be available late 2015.

Over the course of the next little while I will start to outline and answer some of the questions raised above.

Also as I get closer to making firm decisions I will create a dedicated blog to use.