Subject: Quick Summary of Europe Trip
Hi Fellow Ziners,

Well, here it is, a week since Maria and I left our room in Paris and enduring 23 hours of various forms of travel, we were turning the key in the front door of our home in Los Olivos, California. The sense of relief of finally being home was nearly overwhelming. It was so nice to lie down in our own bed and rest our heads on our own pillows for the first time in almost three months. We had dozed some on the planes, and then again on the shuttle from LAX to Los Olivos, so we were ready for some real sleep. Maria was off to bed right away, but I had to spend some time on my computer, checking Email and such. It was pleasant to not have to pay to use it, as was the case in most of the areas we had stayed.

In the three months that we were in Europe, we traveled through Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. We covered quite a bit of Southern Europe: France: Nice, Arles, Carcassonne, Sarlat, Amboise, and Mont St. Michel, ending our trip with a week in Paris Spain: Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Sevilla, Arcos de la Frontera, Salamanca, Madrid Portugal: Lisbon, Selama, Evoro, Combria Switzerland: Zurich, Gimmelwald Italy: Varenna, The Alpe di Siusi area,Venice,Florence,Monterosso in the Cinque Terre area,Siena, Orvieto, Umbria, Pompeii, Sorrento, Rome, Milan

We flew into Zurich, stayed a night there and headed off to Gimmelwald for a couple of nights. We then made a train connection to Varenna on Lake Como, where we joined a "Rick Steves Best of Italy" Tour for the next 21 days. When the tour ended in Rome, we activated our two month rail pass and were off to Milan. Our plans for the remainder of our vacation after the tour changed every so often, whether we wanted them to or not. The French rail workers changed it for us once; by striking on the day we were to leave Nice. We sat in the train station for a while and then noticed that there weren't very many people around and the schedule board didn't have very many departures listed. Finally, we were told that there was a strike in progress and only one or two trains would be running. We then tried for a bus to our next destination, but they were full for obvious reasons. We then returned to our hotel to see if they could put us up for another night, but they were booked up also. Just as we turned to leave to find some other lodging the desk received a call. Another party was canceling for that night as a result of the strike, so we had our room for another day.

By using a combination of our rail pass, buses and taxis, all went well after that for a while until we tried to arrange for housing in Gibraltar. Never did make there, ended up spending an additional day in Granada. Toward the end of our trek, we were unable to get into Segovia and so stayed in Madrid instead. At one point in time we had considered cutting off two weeks of our vacation and just flying home from Madrid. These thoughts came to us because of the unrest in France about the proposed changes to the government workers pension plan and as a result, the threat of strikes every few days. But thanks to some sage advice from Michaelanne Jerome, a guide with the Rick Steves organization, we decided to tough it out and continue up into France. So glad we did, as there were no further disruptions in our travel plans. We did experience some long, complicated and confusing train connections from one destination to the next, but as it turned out, it was worth the effort.

Now the tasks before us are to first sort through all the mementos we brought home and create a scrapbook for them and then try to bring some order to the 2872 pictures I took, (Aren't digital cameras wonderful?) to cull out those not decent enough to inflict on others who will politely ask to see them. As many of you have done on extended trips, I continued to off load my memory cards on to CDs, ending up with six of them plus 384MB worth still on the cards. Found various prices for the off loading as you did I'm sure. The least expensive was in Arles, France, where it cost me 4 Euros for 512MB worth of pictures on to one CD. The biggest surprise was in Lisbon, Portugal, where I was going to be charged 0.25 Euros per picture for the transfer. Having close to 500 pictures waiting to be transferred, I decided to wait a little longer.

Well, I should let you all get on to the more important things in life than reading Email. It is my intention to place some of the better pictures somewhere on the WEB for viewing and when I do, I will inform you all, in case there is any interest. Also maybe a little travel log. Feel free to contact me for further info.

Best regards to you all,

Maria and Ole Gunderson Los Olivos, California