So, the seed for this journey got planted shortly after Ryan and Mia got married in May 2011 and honeymooned in Venice and Rome.   Got me thinking....I’ve been to a lot of places, but not those two cities.  So I found a cruise that included those, as well as the Greek island of Santorini of which I’ve heard so much.   I also wanted a panoramic train ride through the high Swiss Alps which we hadn’t seen on our 2010 trip.  And Carol wanted to go to Mont St. Michel on the western coast of France.  And we both wanted to see Moscow.

    So, we contacted our travel agent Monty and he started connecting the dots, as well as suggesting other stops between these widely spread locations.

    Long story short, almost a year later, we left on May 11, 2012, for Venice to begin a 12-day Holland American cruise from Venice to Barcelona, then continued on via only two plane flights, but tons of Eurorail train rides (which I much prefer to traveling by plane) to finish in Moscow, returning to the States on June 13, after 35 days of a trip of our lifetime.  (though I’m ready to start planning another one.)

Above, our room with its “obstructed view.”  Each evening we’d find a new towel animal, some more recognizable than others.

Above, Mario, the DJ with the impossible trivia questions.  Below, Daniel, the cruise director.  Both very personable and entertaining.

So, one of the hard things about long trips is what to pack, of course.  We were going to be in 12 different cities, and and average temperatures indicated that we should prepare for everything between mid 40s to upper 70s - quite a range.  So prepare we did, packing a little of each.  Suffice it to say, when it was between 70 and 80 in most places, and the coldest it got was  mid 50s, we were pretty tired of wearing and washing the same clothes.

The theme for my photos attacked me quickly.  For whatever reason, the huge variety of architecture manifested in doors and windows fascinated me.