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Grand Tour Europe IV

June 15, 2010

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Traveling around Europe as a  family and roaming the back roads slowly,  finding delights along the way,  is one of our greatest joys. Late May or early June is the perfect time to start a road trip around Europe beginning from deep southern Spain as it heats up and heading north. If you want eternal spring or endless summer, then it is important to follow the weather as you explore Europe, as perfect weather makes a trip a lot more fun. Summer comes very early to southern Spain, but even as far as south as Provence and Barcelona, it will be cooler and usually having more rain even in May. 

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We feel really blessed to be doing our fourth year of a European Grand Tour which allows us to explore deeply in ways that few get to see Europe. Our nine year old, spontaneously broke into the song, "On the road again" as we began and each of us were filled with the excitement of this phase of our journey. Thirty two countries and over 175, 000 miles so far and we're  still like kids in a candy store about the adventures of family traveling. The many joys and simple pleasures warm my vagabond soul. 

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Due to my injury last year and long recovery, I was more confined than usual this past winter in Spain, so I can not tell you how my heart sings to be "heading out on the highway, looking for adventure" once again. I'm always happiest when we are traveling and love the thrill of the new. I love it that  we are unplugged more and out in nature more. I love the rhythm of the road that makes me feel more alive. It IS more of a challenge in many ways, but the simplicity suits me and it feels like a permanent family vacation and sweet summertime sensibilities!

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I'm still recovering, so this year will be slower than usual, but that is fine, because we have a very exciting year planned circumventing the globe. Actually, I'm still planning it as we go, as we are lucky to be able to follow our bliss. So far we have been to Granada, our favorite hot springs and Barcelona. This is our ninth time to Barcelona and Granada and we like this campsite in Barcelona for a long-stay and the owner and regulars here treat us like old friends. We plan to explore more of the Pyrenees, Andorra, Provence and Paris, probably adding Versaille this time and Loire Valley ( we have seen, but Mozart has not). We also want to get to Lake Como in Italy ( which we missed last year because we just couldn't leave Cinque Terre) and back to Switzerland to explore the Alps there. I still want to explore Mallorca, Corsica and Sardinia, but they may have to wait until next year to do them justice. 

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It was hot when we left, so we were surprised to see so much snow on the Sierra Nevada mountain range near Granada in June!. It felt great to soak in the cool pool and gaze at the snow peaks. I love absorbing the beauty as we roam, from castles to wild flowers, to distant farms that look like earth's quilt to turquoise lakes. I wonder about the people and villages we past and sometimes imagine what it would be like to live in some of the homes that are out in the middle of no where. We gab, sing, read, play games as we go and sometimes just sit in silence. Mozart usually likes to take a long nap which makes the trip go faster for her. She puts her snacks and books under her pillow and has long mastered the art of sleeping with her seat belt on.

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We'll see more of cities as we go with their great cultural advantages, but I think it is rural areas and little villages that I love most about Europe. Our summer 2010 Grand Tour is off to a great start! Hope you enjoy the photos! These are just a few of the reasons why slow travel and overland makes for a special Grand Tour of Europe.

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Britt-Arnhild

I am so happy for the three of you that you are on the road again. Thanks for letting us follow you along :-)

soultravelers3

Britt- Aw, thanks! You know we are happiest when we are on the road!

Kerry

Best wishes on this tour! You know the kids and I will be following along. Don't forget, we'll be in Stuttgart . . . not too far from the alps come August. That photo of Mozart sleeping is so precious. I know she's still tiny, but she looks so much bigger than she did in the photos from year 1.

Nika

Wishing you loads of wonderful moments. It is a true gift to be able to see the beauty in smaller things. Thank you for sharing and letting us be part of your tour of wonder through Europe and the rest of the world.

We will be traveling in Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia this summer with our tent. I am very much looking forward to being away for 5 weeks.

Nika

soultravelers3

Kerry- Thanks! Maybe we will get to meet up again..that would be fun! I love that pic too, but thought only me and her Grandmother would. ;)

She is still tiny, but she HAS grown. She is a 9 year old who wears size 6 ( that falls off her) now but when we started she was a 5 year old who wore size 2,3 and 4, so we are making some progress. LOL! At 9 she can still wear the shorts we brought that are in 1 year old baby sizes!

soultravelers3

Nika- Thanks so much! Oh, those are wonderful places, so I am sure you will have a wonderful time!

Melissa Read

Congrats on making it on the road again, I'm sure the prep must have been harder this year, with your arm still recovering, but it is wonderful to be out in the world making discoveries. We loved Lauterbrunnen (they had a daily 5:30 pm cow parade, and through the rocks waterfall) and Gruyere, both modern and traditional cheese making, along with a castle. Lovely pic of Mozart, so glad she sleeps with her seatbelt! Wishing you all a safe, healthy & fun season!!

Gabrielle BLANCHOUT

Following the e-mail I sent you (don't worry if you don't have time to reply, I'll understand ;-) I couldn't resist checking where you currently were. A you seem to be heading towards northern France, do tell us if you are in Saint-Malo (near the Mont-Saint-Michel). It would be lovely to share some info on our beautiful region with you, and maybe meet you in person.

Have a safe journey!

soultravelers3

Gabrielle - I'm sorry, I'm not sure if I got your email. I must admit I do get so much that it is very hard to keep up with it, even more so on the road.

A blog post comment IS the best way to get me attention because I can't miss them.

We are heading towards France and I really appreciate your offer. We adults have been to
beautiful Mont-Saint-Michel but our child has not.

I'm not sure if we will get there this year or not as it was not planned, but lets see what happens when we get to Paris. We plan to be in Paris in August ( but with us everything is open).

Already we are thinking of letting go of Swiss Alps & wait til next summer when we would have more time.

We will be doing summers for a while in Europe, so if we miss it this year, there is always the next! ;)

Gabrielle

Jeanne,

Thanks for your answer and also thanks for taking the time to maintain this blog. I do a little family blog and I know how much time and effort must go into yours.

That was one of the thing I was saying in my e-mail to you ;-)

The other things, apart from my offer to help you if you came to our part of Brittany was questions regarding family travel.

My offer still stands, please keep my e-mail and do not hesitate to contact me - we will be in England all August but back in Saint-Malo as soon as the 1st of September and the light is really special and beautiful here in September. There also is a beautiful campsite with a great view, and some delicious seafoods, crêpes, galettes, and cider to sample !

Regarding my questions about family travel... what would be the best way to put them to you ? I have read most of your posts on family travel now and so I know they haven't been addressed elsewhere. Essentially because they mix your expertise on extended family travel and your knowledge of the american continent (which is where we'll probably be headed first).

Anyways, do tell me if and where I can send you a few questions. If it's too complicated for you, no worries, I'll just have to hope I can meet you in Brittany one of these days and ask you in person ! ;-)

Take care,

Gabrielle

(sorry everyone for the long blurb...)

soultravelers3

Gabrielle- OK we will see if we can make it and I appreciate your offer.

The best way to write to us is to write it here on the blog or on facebook so others can benefit as many have the same or similar questions. Or you can do as you did and write to us privately via our contact page here on the blog.

The problem with that is I get more than I can keep up with, so sometimes I miss them like I did yours. I found it again now though and will answer you.

It does take too much time to handle the blog and even more all the people who write as I am only one person with little extra time. I keep trying to find a way around this, but haven't yet.

I will answer your letter now! ;)

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