Her Facebook post said, “I want to wake up in Paris on my 40th birthday.” I replied, “Then do it!” She instantly “Liked” my comment. To propel Ruth out of “like” mode to “action” mode, I shared with her my life motto: “If you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to make it happen.” Within a matter of minutes, she had bought into my philosophy and what started out as Ruth’s dream quickly turned into a mad planning session. Since we both firmly believed that Ruth needed to stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower and eat a fresh baguette, we decided a week in Paris would provide adequate time for this to happen. She was hooked and I was off in La-La Land researching and, clearly, impressing my friend with my incredible ideas. I know she was impressed because she’d start hyperventilating and squealing when I’d call. We reserved a flat for seven nights right next to Notre Dame and across the street from the most popular tube station in Paris. The next obvious thing to do was get train tickets to London so we could spend a day in England visiting the Palace and Ruth’s dream of seeing Les Misérables in the West End was a no-brainer.

 A few days later, I was struck with a lighting bolt and saw the two of us riding through a Venetian canal on an elegant, black and gold gondola. I immediately ran to my computer and priced out an EasyJet flight from Paris to Venice and looked for hotels on the island. It was my turn to hyperventilate and squeal, as I tried to explain the vision I had just had and the ridiculously cheap airfare I had found. Why, yes! What were we thinking?! One week in Paris was ridiculous! If we’re going all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, we might as well make the most of it. So, Venice was added to the itinerary.

I felt we needed to make the system work for us so I searched for international flights with connections in exotic locations so the return flight would be as exciting as possible. I tried routes through all kinds of places like Sardinia, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Iceland, Nice, Madrid, etc. In the end, Zurich was the best with a three hour layover in London. That’s when I had my next vision! Instead of flying from Venice to Zurich, we needed to take the train so Ruth could see the Alps. After all, Switzerland is my favorite country and I will never turn down an opportunity to go there. As expected, Ruth endured yet another one of my lightheaded phone calls and found herself exclaiming, “Of course!” So, a six hour train journey was added with a stop in Milan. It was perfect! We would now get to visit four countries on this dream birthday extravaganza.

We began this adventure almost 400 days ago, and as I write this, we have 17 days left to go. The past year has been so much fun. I love details and planning trips makes me oh, so, happy. Ruth has been an incredibly good sport and is along for the ride of her life. I’m just glad she’s crazy enough to listen to me and I can’t wait to see her face when she gets to the top of the Eiffel Tower with her still warm baguette.

Europe trip

I'm an English girl in California. I'm a professional wedding, portrait, event & travel photographer, video & television producer & world traveller.

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