Our not-so-normal flow: work intensely, save, and then take some time for extended personal travel, was disrupted in 2015 as we thoroughly combined work and downtime. This year’s work contract was structured very differently and forced allowed us to take sizeable chunks of time off. Although these times were unpaid, we were sometimes compensated with a food and lodging stipend while we waited for our next event. This allowed us to fill our time happily: from a road trip through England between our London and Stockholm events, to exploring the medina of Fez between Tel Aviv and Madrid, among other adventures. We have been terribly remiss in documenting our travels this year, but with copious notes and thousands of travel photos, rest assured there are many more posts in the works.
Top Travel Photos 2015
The year began with training in Toronto for our roles as Tour Managers for the Game of Thrones Exhibition 2015. It was a blustery blur of long hours, sub-zero days, and lots and lots of materials-packing. The exhibition kicked off in February in London at the O2 Arena. Our stay nearby introduced us to a new and different neighborhood, and we enjoyed exploring Greenwich.
With about two weeks until our Stockholm event, we decided on a whirlwind road trip through South West England. Highlights included historic Bath and the quaint, whitewashed village of Clovelly. More of our posts from our travels in the UK, can be found by following the link.
Our time in Stockholm marked our first introduction to Scandanavia. We warmed ourselves with wonderful food, wandered around Gamla Stan (Old Town), visited some museums, saw some of the archipelago by boat and ended with a photo journey through the very artistic subway system.
Being in Israel during Passover, and in Jerusalem on Easter weekend was truly unforgettable. Our event was in the center of the revitalized Tel Aviv Port (Namal Tel Aviv), so we were able to fully explore the port’s cafes, shops and seaside promenade. The city bike program allowed us a wonderful ride along the sea all the way to Old Jaffa.
Between our Tel Aviv and Madrid events we made a decision to try to save some Schengen days. Morocco seemed like a great choice given its proximity to Spain. We enjoyed our time in Fez more than Casablanca, which didn’t surprise us. Fez had this feeling of stepping back in time, and it was pretty magical. We spent days just wandering, learning our way slowly around the Fez medina,
A country that drew us back. Our work event in Madrid only allowed us a little time for exploration. We found ourselves pulled back by the gravity-like force of Spain’s food and culture later in the year. In fact, we spent the most time in Spain of any country this year, allowing a sampling of the grand and popular cities as well as some less visited country villages. In the end we were forced to leave as we were out of visa days but there is no doubt we will return.
Deutschland is another country we visited multiple times this year. First, was Berlin for work with only two free days before we were required to move along to Amsterdam. We again found ourselves here later in the year during Oktoberfest and the beginning of fall. Our countryside road trip through Bavaria was the true highlight of all of the time we spent in Germany. We stayed in Unterammergau, a quiet town with unlimited access to hiking and cycling trails through gorgeous fall, mountain landscapes.
Amsterdam was host to our last work event before our summer break. We were briefly able to visit some of the surrounding towns, including Alkmaar and Utrecht. The omnipresence of world class cheese was certainly welcomed and we fully indulged in it as well as other local specialties.
After the Netherlands we were able to catch up with a friend in Brussels. I don’t even want to think of our caloric intake here! World class beer, french fries, waffles and chocolate tend to take priority to any sort of reasonable diet.
After a train ride over the Alps we found ourselves in Italy. We admit we didn’t have nearly enough time to get a proper sampling of this historic country as we were en route to Malta and pressed for time. However, we were able to sample some fine cuisine (of course pizza included) and some lovely scenery. Our road trip from Milan to Pisa allowed us a restful few days in Tuscany, just outside lovely Lucca. Let’s just say Italy is still on the short list. We shall return.
The last stop on the first leg of our European tour was prime for travel photos and our designated spot for a “vacation.” Here we enjoyed outstanding weather, seafood and scenery while taking it easy and enjoying the Mediterranean island vibe.
Our three month summer hiatus was unexpected, and being without work for that long wasn’t easy, but who could complain about spending the summer on Cape Cod? With our generous family providing us with a place to stay, we biked, beached and seafooded our way to yet another road trip: this time from Cape Cod through Burlington, Vermont and on to Montreal. It was a stop dominated by parks, architecture, lots of biking and great food. In Quebec City we felt we were right back in Europe. Our loop passed through Portland, Maine on the return to the Cape.
After our Paris event, we stayed in the city and walked. Since our event was held in the exhibition space of the Louvre, we had that neighborhood pretty well covered. We did all the things everyone recommends to the first time visitor. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, visited Notre Dame Cathedral, took in the views from the Basilica Sacré-Cœur in Montmarte, explored Le Marais and the Latin Quarter, wandered through catacombs and cemeteries and ate and drank to our heart’s content. With our bellies full, and plans to visit again, we took the train west to the region of Alsace, almost to the border with Germany. My (HT) ancestry research made leaps and bounds, ad we fell completely in love with the fascinating history, picturesque countryside and charm of small towns like Colmar, Anjoutey, Kaysersberg, and Giromagny.