Subject: Upcoming Trip
Hi to You All,

In way of re-introducing myself to the group, my wife and I, we are a 60 year old couple deeply in Love with each other and with traveling. We live in a small valley north of Santa Barbara, California called the Santa Ynez Valley. There are 5 small towns here, the most prominent being Solvang whose claim to fame seems to be identifying its self as the Danish Capital of America. Somewhat of a humorous point of contention between some of my Danish friends and myself, being Norwegian and all. We subscribe to the Rick Steves way of thinking about traveling light, inexpensively, and off the beaten path. We have traveled to Europe on two previous occasions, once in 1994 and again in 1998, the last time with backpack suitcases. Maria says no backpack this time, so have gotten new rolling carry-ons and some smaller day packs. We like to say that we have given most of western Europe a lick and a promise.

Now we are ready to start fulfilling some of those promises. I've been away from the group for some time, but as my wife's and my trip to Europe is but a month away, it's time for me get serious about drawing upon the combined knowledge base that resides in this group. We leave for a 10 week stay there. We have already arranged for housing in Zurich and Gimmelwald prior to a 20 day guided tour thru Italy. At the conclusion of the tour in Rome, our plan is to activate our 60 day rail passes and head to Milan for a couple of days before starting our trek through France and Spain for the next two months. I have been collecting the messages that Marco has been posting about Milan, so have some good ideas about that area to follow up on.

I'm hoping to have some guidance about the rest of the time though. We have no certain plans as of yet, although we had given thought to spending the last 4 - 5 days of our stay in and about Paris. Really looking for suggestions of things to see, places to go, but without a car, they'll have to be accessible by train. Also looking for inexpensive housing, have gotten our memberships to the International Hostelling organization as possible housing options.

In any case, we are excited and can hardly wait until the day we can get started on this our latest adventure.

Best Regards To You all,

Ole Gunderson in little Los Olivos, California