Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Splendors of Spring Travel in Europe

This is my final post about our spring vacation. I’ve already written about how we came to choose England & Scotland as our destination and how much you can expect to spend on a similar trip. Now I’m going to talk about the overall experience.

When traveling in this part of the world in late April and early May, you can generally expect mild weather. Most days there was some chance of rain in the forecast and, depending on cloud cover and wind, the temperature could fluctuate from very cool to quite warm. The best advice is to wear layers; clothes that are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable in rainy weather; and good walking shoes. This is pretty much the same as what I tell people who are visiting the Pacific Northwest as the weather is comparable to Portland, OR. It was very easy to pack as we took almost exactly the same clothes as on our around-the-world trip, just fewer of them.

As it turned out we were pretty lucky. Daytime temperatures were usually in the 50's although there were a few sunny days when it got up into the 70's. While it did rain the better part of one day in Alnwick, the day we visited Stirling, and off & on the whole time we were on the west coast of Scotland, it was never a complete wash out. I only felt the need to don my full rain gear (waterproof pants & jacket) on one day, and that's because we planned to do some hiking plus it was windy & cool and I knew it would help keep me warm.

The scenery was much more spectacular than I expected. As I mentioned in a previous post, we were both a little concerned that Scotland would look and feel a lot like Ireland, where we spent an entire month in 2011. Yes, some of the landscape was similar - the rugged beauty of the Highlands, mist-shrouded coastline, and very little development outside the big cities. But we actually ended up comparing it more to New Zealand instead of Ireland. Perhaps this is because it was lambing season and there were sheep everywhere! At other times it brought to mind Alaska and Oregon. Northern England was also beautiful, with yellow fields of rapeseed providing a nice contrast to the lush green farmland (and sheep!).

It's hard to choose my favorite memories from this trip as I covered so much ground and experienced so many things. My Spring Vacation photo album, which is currently featured in a slideshow to the right of this post, has 199 photos. I picked those from more than 2000 I took over the course of my 25 day trip. I also posted albums featuring each destination on my Facebook page. Ultimately I would say the scenery was a definite highlight along with visiting small breweries and spending time with friends & family in The Netherlands. Oh, and the baby sheep!!!

I now realize I haven't published a list of all the places we visited. Greg was only with me for the England & Scotland portion. All of these places are worth your time to see!

Netherlands:  Utrecht, Emmen, The Hague, Delft, Scheveningen, Leiden, Bodegraven

England:  Alnwick, Hadrian’s Wall, Durham, York, Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Scotland:  Edinburgh, Stirling, Pitlochry, Inverness, Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, Oban, Isle of Mull, Iona, Glasgow

...And countless other towns & villages that are too small to even mention! I honestly wouldn't change a thing about this trip, with the exception of having a little more downtime to relax and do nothing. But that's what an island-based all-inclusive beach resort is for, right?! Maybe next time. :)

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