Maggie's awesome mid-life up and quit her job went to Europe for two months road trip – I'm outa here

2008 July 24

Hi everyone, welcome to my travel blog.  Quite a number of you asked me to send postcards. No offense, but no way; it’d just take too much time.  So, I hope this blog will be OK and I think I’d enjoy keeping you all up to date via this medium.  I’ll try to update it every couple of days or so.

General proposed route

General proposed route

Not all of you are up to date with me.  I recently quit my job and am taking the rest of the year off for a much needed break.  I’ve taken four weeks vacation in the last seven years and there’s something inherently wrong with that.  I need to explore beautiful places, I need grandeur, I need to rejuvenate the soul and get in shape and so I’m kicking it off with a two month road trip in Europe.  I fly to Paris on July 28 and then I’m off to the coast of France (Brittany and Normandy), north to Belgium, then to Germany’s Rhineland and Bavaria, Austria (Salzburg and the Salzkamergut Lakes District), the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland, the south of France, the French Riviera, Northern Italy, Southern Italy and the Amalfi Coast, Greece (if I have time), Rome, and finally back to Paris to fly home late September.

I’m almost ready; I’ve got my bills all paid ahead, I have my general route and timeline planned out with plenty of flexibility built in as well as some down days to just relax and enjoy wherever I am, and I have my car all lined up.  I just finalized my car lease (Renault Eurodrive); technically I bought a brand new Renault Modus Long, 85 hp diesel and Renault promised to buy it back after a couple of months.  I get a brand new car, unlimited mileage, roadside assistance in 43 countries, and they pay all the insurance with a $0 deductible.  It’s not a bad deal; it’s cheaper than renting a car.

My only baggage - one carry on

My only baggage - one carry on

As my buddy Rick Steves says, “there’s two kinds of people in the world, those that pack light and those that wish they had”, so I’ve been practicing that and I’ve gotten everything to fit into one carry-on size bag that also has shoulder straps so I can wear it on my back.  Yep, that’s right.  Five changes of clothes, a pair of shoes, toiletries, camera & tripod, computer, guide book, maps… In that bag I also have a wadded up day pack that I can use when out and about.

My ASUS 900

My ASUS 900

You’re probably wondering how I got all that and a computer in one bag.  I have to tell you about my little computer I just got.  It’s an ASUS 900 netbook, it weighs two pounds and falls into the ultra portable notebook class.  I got this one with Linux OS and it has a wi-fi radio and an Ethernet connection so I can get on-line just about anywhere.  I can browse the web, do my emails, make phone calls with it, manage my pictures, etc.  I really like it.

  • *******Update on the ASUS – It did great while I was on the trip, but about a month after I returned home, it no longer booted.  ASUS was quick to replace it and the new one failed after one day, same exact problem.  They replaced it again and it failed after four days.  And, they replaced it again.  I now have the 4th PC after I sent the 3rd in two weeks ago; I’m gonna sell it.  This whole fiasco took over six weeks and throughout it all, no one at ASUS seemed interested in getting at the root cause of the problem.  It was very difficult dealing with ASUS and I felt like I was talking with a bunch of children who had not developed interpersonal skills yet.  No one showed initiative, I got different stories from different people inside their organization, my phone calls and emails went unanswered, and no matter how much I asked and then demanded, I was never allowed to speak to a supervisor or manager.  I eventually got the names and email addresses of two managers and sent them an email, but I’ve never gotten a repsonse from either.  I DO NOT recommend the ASUS computers and I’ve had an absolutly miserable experience with them.  I’m now using a Sylvania g meso netbook and I like it even better than I initially liked the ASUS. ********

I’ll be staying at hostels about half of the nights and B&Bs, small hotels and farms the other half.  I have several nights booked already and many are still open. We’ll just see where I wind up.  I’m trying not to over think or over plan it all.  Feel free to post comments, questions or make suggestions about places to visit along the way.  I’ll make my next post from Paris I reckon. Cheers for now.

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