Let me start by saying that intra-European flights are among my least favorite ways to travel. I much prefer trains, and tend to plan my trips to have reasonably short distances between stops, ones easily traversed via rail or bus. It’s cheaper and more convenient, liquids are acceptable to bring (as is whatever weight my luggage happens to be), and it’s better environmentally.
However, for part three of my European odyssey this year, I’m meeting different people in different places, separated by distances not really doable by train or bus. I rationalize my flights in that it is better than going back and forth between Europe and the US to see everyone on the same trip, even though it means several flights around the continent.
This section of the trip is the last roughly three weeks of what is three and a half months in Europe, and it will be the busiest. I’ll be switching locations often, staying mainly in hotels rather than rented apartments, and needing to see as much as possible during relatively short visits in each place. Again, this is not my preferred way to travel at this point in my life, but the chance to spend time with several people I love dearly who don’t have the ability to travel for months at a time is worth the rushing around. And since it’s the part at the end of the trip, I’ll hopefully have plenty of time to catch up on writing when I get home.
Below is the general itinerary for this part of my trip. The places are set, but what I do in them is mostly up in the air. Yes, I have some must-sees, but mainly it will depend on things like weather and what is open when. And as content here on The Royal Tour will be months behind my actual movements, if you want to follow along you can catch me on Instagram for daily real-time photos.
Day One: Milan to Copenhagen
The first flight of the trip takes me from my two months in Italy to meeting TRT writer Mandy in the Danish capital. I was here once, in 2007, for a single day. So basically it’s a new city for me.
Days Two Through Four: Copenhagen
We have three full days. One will be spent outside Copenhagen itself, exploring the old Danish capital of Roskilde and the Viking
Day Five: Copenhagen to Istanbul
Flight number two takes me to one of my favorite cities, Istanbul, to meet TRT writer Dan. I was here for three days back in 2009, in the days well before starting to write.
Days Six Through Nine: Istanbul
Dan has never been here, so his wish list is mainly a best of: the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, cistern, and Topkapi Palace. I’ve done all those things before, so we are also seeing a few new things for me: the archaeology museum, Hagia Irene, and perhaps another palace. I’ll be writing about three different periods of the city’s existence: Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern.
Day Ten: Istanbul to Brussels
Flight number three takes me to the Belgian capital and seat of the EU, there to meet my sister in law for several days of beer, chocolate, and waffles, and some sightseeing. My experience in Belgium is a single day way back in 1991 or 1992, so this will be exciting.
Days Eleven Through Sixteen: Brussels
One day will be spent in Bruges, and another at a brewery about a half hour outside the city. Otherwise, we are in Brussels for the duration. I’ll obviously write about the EU, Flanders, and other aspects of what seems like a really cool city. Plus my grandmother was born here, so that’s exciting.
Day Seventeen: Brussels to Antwerp
I have a couple days to kill before seeing my next people, so a short side trip to Belgium’s largest city is an easy way to spend that.
Day Eighteen: Antwerp
Diamonds, history, cool architecture… there’s a lot of things to experience in a single day. With comfortable walking shoes and some cooperation from Mother Nature, I’ll get it all in.
Day Nineteen: Antwerp to Maastricht
Off to the southernmost tip of the Netherlands to visit with TRT writer Hedy.
Days Twenty and Twenty-One: Maastricht
One day will be spent in Maastricht itself, with the other being a day trip to Aachen, the home of Charlemagne.
Day Twenty-Two: Maastricht to Brussels
Back to Brussels and an airport hotel.
Day Twenty-Three: Brussels to Los Angeles
Homeward bound, with the end of my longest ever trip.
So that’s the jetsetting portion of the trip. Below is a map of most of it. Note: Istanbul is not in the picture. But for the rest, Copenhagen is in yellow, Brussels is blue, Antwerp is red, and Maastricht is green.