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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)

TITLE: Europe in a Brown Bag
By Joy Bach


The meeting was over. We stood to leave, and Pam (our travel agent) handed us a brown bag…….a brown bag that contained all the necessities and some of the wants for our trip to Europe. I held in my hands our entire trip. As Pam presented the brown bag to us, she said; “I’ve taken your trip several times. You had a very good time”.

One month in Europe, backpacking around Scotland……Theatre in London……..Cruise on the Rhine River…….backpacking around Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. How do you get ready for that?

We didn’t plan to take anything electrical, so that meant no blow dryers or curling irons. John got a buzz cut and I was close behind. My hair has never been so short. I made a list. Travel towel, clothesline and collapsible clothespins. Finally we were packed.

We landed in London and headed for the underground. We had a train to catch. After about 45-50 minutes, we arrived at King’s Cross. Of course I had seen nothing of London, just concrete walls flying by very fast and about a foot away.

The board (which we would become very familiar with in the next few weeks) said the train to Edinburgh was on track 7. We were on our way to Scotland! We pulled into Waverly Station and quickly found a taxi which would take us to Aaron Guest House. We wash the first of many clothes in the sink, put up our two clotheslines and fall asleep.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city. Green and VERY old (we have no history in the USA). I can’t get used to cars driving down the wrong side of the street. One thing I discovered…..no matter where I go in the world, I still have to put the new roll of toilet paper on the holder.

Castles … Loch Ness … and heather everywhere. Clothes flapping on clotheslines. We take a hike at Glen Affric. Beautiful area. Waterfalls. Then Loch Benevan with mountains in the background. Drove through Balmoral country.

Next stop, York. We walked on a footbridge called Scarborough Bridge. Leaving our backpacks, we wandered in the rain. We found steps to the top of the wall around the city. It was built in 67 AD. The rain turns to snow so we take an earlier train and get to London ahead of schedule.

Next we get in the queue for a taxi. I give the driver the address. We pass Buckingham Palace on the right … and travel through Trafalgar Square. Once again, we are in the room for only five minutes before we are off to explore and find something to eat. The evening’s entertainment, The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Next morning we took a taxi to the Waterloo Station where we were going to get on the Eurostar train. Big Ben chimed as we went by.

We traveled 80 MPH under the English Channel. Now we are hurtling through the French countryside headed to Belgium at 186 MPH. In Brussels we have 20 minutes to get from the EuroStar to the train to Cologne. I run through a town that has such good chocolate. I didn’t even get to smell it!

Next stop, Dusseldorf. We stay in a real hotel. We haven’t seen one since we left the states. After a few days in Dusseldorf/Cologne area we board the train to Koblenz, where we switch from train to boat. We will travel down the Rhine River for over four hours on a small cruise ship.

After spending the night in Bachrach, Germany, we head for Chur, Switzerland. Another day and night and the next stop is Liechtenstein. We decide to make the loop around to Klosters. Liechtenstein is such a small country (60 miles square) that trains don’t stop there, so we have to get off the train in Buchs, Switzerland and take a bus to Liechtenstein.

From Liechtenstein we travel to Innsbruck. Next stop was Garmisch Partenkirken, Germany. We took a tour of the Bavarian countryside. Then Munich and from there to Dachau. There are no words to describe the feeling, as I walked through this concentration camp. It’s a quiet trip to our next stop in Salzburg. Music leaks from everywhere.

Time does not allow telling of Vienna … then Venice, Florence (where they have the best Gelato in the world) and Rome.

Pam was right. We had a very good time. This was, indeed, a trip of a lifetime.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon01/13/11
Either I'll be soon packing my own brown bag, or you saved me a lot of money. Love the music "leaking out" all over. Can't wait!
diana kay01/17/11
i enjoyed this whistle stop tour. it is interesting to read about some of the places i am so familiar with from a "tourists eye" or pen maybe!
i did not quite get what the contents of the brown bag were..
and was the blue moon the "once in a lifetime experience" ?
maybe if you could have gradually unpacked the bag as you went through the countries it would have tied it together a little more.
Theresa Santy 01/18/11
Nicely done. I felt like I'd come along with you on this trip. Then I realize I hadn't, and wish I had.