Friday, 1 April 2011

The Grand Tour

I'm going to travel! Around Western Europe! Hooray! In centuries past it was a rite of passage for young upper-class men to travel around Western Europe for 2-4 years on the Grand Tour. I'm only going away for a month but I think it's the closest modern day equivalent I'm going to get to do. Now I think I may have mentioned previously that I've spent the last few months working as a Receptionist but I don't think I mentioned much else about the job. That's because I hated it. I'm glad I stuck with it because I managed to save up enough money to go away but it was so not a good job. The frustrating thing is that it could have been. I was working as a Receptionist for a Law Firm and almost everyone who worked there was really nice to me. But it wasn't a good job because of my Boss. The Law Firm was run by a couple (one male, one female) and the woman - I kid you not - was the most horrible person I've ever met in my life! But anyway, the past is prologue and all that jazz. I'm going away in May! (hey, that rhymes!)

This is the plan: on May 4th I'm going to be catching the Eurostar to Paris. I will be staying there for approximately two days. I've been to Paris before so I won't be spending too much time there. I'm planning on seeing the Pantheon where Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo are buried and I'm also going to the Luxembourg Gardens which features in Hugo's Les Miserables. Spot the love of French Literature? Also, I've seen the Eiffel Tower before but I'd quite like to see it at night-time since I've already seen it during the day and I'm thinking of spending a day at the Louvre as well. Now the thing is I would actually prefer to spend a day at the Musee d'Orsay again. It's in a beautiful building and it's devoted to Impressionist art (which I love). And I've read a couple of reviews which say that the Louvre is expensive and that it's so massive you could never see everything there in one day anyway. But I feel I should go just to say I've been there. Well, I guess there are worse reasons to visit places.

After Paris, I'll be catching an overnight train to Barcelona. I'll be there for three days and my Mom is flying out to join me. I'll be staying at a Hostel in Paris but I'll be staying at a B&B with my Mom since she's paying. We'll be seeing all the touristy stuff in Barcelona: Las Ramblas, the Gaudi Buildings, the Nou Camp, etc. After that my Mom flies back home and I'll be by myself once more. I'm planning to see Nice, Rome, Florence, Vienna, Interlaken, Munich, Dresden and Berlin. I might be able to squeeze Venice or Salzburg in there as well. So I'll be going to six countries in total: France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Well, eight I suppose since I'm probably going to go to Monaco and the Vatican as well.

I'll be going travelling by myself which I am quite nervous about. Ideally I would prefer to travel with friends but the people who I'd actually like to go travelling with either don't want to go or can't afford it. And I don't want to pass up on the opportunity and regret it. My friend who's been travelling around Europe assures that most people under the age of 30 speak some English in the countries I'll be visiting in case I get stuck while chatting to locals. So far I have my rail pass booked and my travel insurance sorted. I've booked the Hostel in Paris and the B&B in Barcelona. I've booked my Eurostar ticket and I've booked a flight from Berlin to London Gatwick with Easyjet on June 2nd. I've let my Bank know what dates I'll be out of the country. I've bought a backpack and the Lonely Planet Guidebook to Western Europe as well. I just need to sort out the clothes I'll be bringing, toiletries and a First Aid kit. I need to contact Orange to see if I can get the price of International calls reduced while I'm away. I may book up a Hostel in Nice before I go so that my accomodation for my first week of travelling is booked up. Oh, and I need to ask my Dad if he can pick me up from Gatwick. I could go back to Birmingham by train of course but the rail fare looks quite pricey. There's probably a million other things that I need to do before I go away but that's all the stuff I can think of at the moment!

I'm planning to write a Blog post about my travels as well. I don't know if I'll write posts for each city or each country but it's something I'd like to do so people back home can see what I'm up to. I hope to write a few more Blog entries before I go out as well.