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Would You Backpack Through Europe?

I've done some traveling, but it has been with my personal car or by taking a plane to a destination and either renting a car or taking a cab to the hotel. It's always been relatively easy. Get in the car, or buy the tickets and go. Get there, stay at a hotel and come home. No muss no fuss - pretty easy trips.

When we saw Europe the first time, it was just like that. Only we took a cruise of the Mediterranean. It was a 12 nighter onboard Royal Caribbean. We went to a different port each day except for two entire days at sea - one day at sea on the way to Venice and one day at sea coming back from Venice.

We looked at each place we went with an eye that asked, "Is this someplace we would like to come back to?". Southern France was very nice. O.K. maybe more than just very nice. It was fun, exciting, great food, great places to visit. Did I mention how great the food was? But Italy was my favorite. There were lots of places I would like to go back to on another trip to Italy.

So we started planning. If you've read any of my articles, planning is just something I do a lot of, before going anywhere. At our house, every Saturday morning we watch PBS and we like "Bob Ross - The Joy of Painting", "Lidia's Italy" - an Italian cooking show, and "Rick Steves - Europe through the Back Door".

Rick Steves was our favorite, and he always says to travel with a backpack and not a suit case. I have to tell you that I am not an exercise fan. Sure, I walk, and watch what I eat and I've lost 15 pounds this summer by doing mostly portion control. But I am not one of these extreme types who throws their stuff in a rucksack and heads out for parts unknown.

So when we started talking about going to Europe with a backpack!!, it was beyond my comfort zone. We trained for a year. We bought backpacks online from Rick Steve's website, so we knew we had the right backpacks. Then we would load up the backpacks with encyclopedias to get the weight just right. They we would drive a ways from our house, to another neighborhood, (where we wouldn't be seen by people we knew), and walk around for a couple of miles with the backpacks loaded with heavy books.

Remember that I said that I was not an extreme type, and here I was doing "extreme stuff" in another neighborhood. It was pretty funny. I researched and kept a spreadsheet on ticket prices to Germany and back from Milan for six months before making the online purchase, when my research said it was time to buy.

Then we went. We were going to fly open jaw. That is fly into one city and fly out of another. Rick talks about this in all of his TV shows, so we decided to try it. We flew to Munich on Friday, the last Friday of Octoberfest. What a blast!!

We left 12 days later and departed Italy from Milan. We had a great time. On my next backpack trip to Italy, I'd like to spend more time in Southern Italy and see more places that are not written about in travel books. We still want to go back to Southern France - backpacking of course.

Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?

Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy

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