I am so afraid I’m going to jinx it that I can hardly type these words: Our long-term railway adventure, so often interrupted and delayed, is back on track. At last. Rich and I leave Monday with our roll-aboard bags, Eurail passes, and sighs of relief. Our work in California is done, and we are once more free to roam the world. Yay! (Short pause while I jump up from my desk to do the happy dance.)
If you suddenly had three months to travel, where would you go?
Industry pundits say that today’s travelers want authentic experiences that let them feel like adventurers and offer unique ways to connect with locals. And yet most international travelers choose to vacation in Western European capitals where they can count on being part of a massive herd.
For as long as I’ve known him, Rich has been coaxing me towards the outer edges of civilization, the cultural equivalent of the places that on the old maps said, “Here there be dragons…” In our younger days, that meant the Peruvian Amazon, the Himalayas, and other rugged territories. Now it means heading to unknown countries in parts of Europe that were once in the forbidden zone behind the Iron Curtain; we still get to have adventures, but with a bit more creature comfort.
So where are we heading next?
For us, the choice was simple: restart the long rail journey we were calling our Balkans-to-Baltics Tour. However, we’re now doing it in reverse; we'll land in Paris and head north to the Baltic Sea.
For those of you who, like me, tend to get a little fuzzy about Baltic geography, the Baltic Sea is situated between Scandinavia and Northern Europe. This morning I Googled a map of the region to include in this post and found this.
The alert reader will notice the large red arrow pointing to the Baltic Sea Anomaly. Five years ago today, Swedish divers uncovered a mysterious shape on the sea floor. Geologists insist it’s rock, military personnel suggest it’s a WWII anti-submarine device, and UFO experts are certain it’s a space ship, possibly the Millennium Falcon. I’d love to think someone from another planet dropped by the Baltic Sea in search of off-the-beaten-star-route intergalactic adventure. But I suspect it’s just a freak rock formation. Of course, I've been wrong before . . .
So what’s our travel plan?
We’re going to pack light, each bringing a small roll-aboard plus a shoulder bag for maps, water, etc. Much as we enjoy luggage-free travel, this journey involves far too many climate changes for a single set of fast-drying clothes.
Travel will be leisurely. We'll take trains for no more than a few hours in any given day and spend three to seven days in each destination, lingering or moving on as the spirit moves us.
Our goal is to get off the beaten tourist path as quickly as possible. From Paris we’re heading to Amsterdam to visit friends who are opening a coffee shop (or possibly a “coffee shop”) there this summer. After that we intend to seek out obscure, smaller cities we’ve never heard of, places that haven’t been turned into theme parks of themselves by an excess of visitors.
We’ve pinpointed the first jumping-off place. After Amsterdam, we’ll head north to the port of Lübeck, Germany, gateway to the Baltic Sea and the place, locals claim, where marzipan was invented. How sweet is that?
From there . . . we’ll decide as we go. Ferries sail from Lübeck to ports in Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, and Finland, with easy rail connections onward. We plan to hang out in Lübeck for a while, nibbling marzipan, reading up on various obscure cities in the region, and deciding which route to take.
The journey will include all three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Beyond that? Our original itinerary called for touring the Balkans as well, but since we’re shortening the trip to a “mere” three months, we aren’t sure we can squeeze them in and still maintain our leisurely pace. But as I say, we are making this up as we go along . . .
Whatever happens, Rich and I are very, very excited to be back on the road again. Wish us luck and watch this blog for updates from the road.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
6/22/2016 04:11:56 pm
Have fun you guys! Sounds amazing, as ever. Looking forward to reading your Baltic blog - providing you get out of the Coffee Shop first!
6/22/2016 05:44:07 pm
Yes, getting out of the Amsterdam coffee shop could be the next big obstacle, but we're just going to have to risk it! Thanks for your good wishes, David!
6/22/2016 04:18:17 pm
Mazel Tov! My maternal grandfather and his vast family lived (and opened the first camera store) in Riga, Latvia, during the 19th century. I've never been there, but I'm looking forward to reading about your stay there!
6/22/2016 05:47:49 pm
I didn't know you had roots in Latvia, Alicia. I'll give you a full report on Riga — aka "the pearl of the Baltics." Sounds like a fabulous city. Any chance the family camera store there is still around?
6/22/2016 04:23:26 pm
Fingers are crossed that it is smooth sailing ahead for you. As I wrote in this week's post, we too, (knock on wood) may be through our medical adventure back on track to adventures more to our liking. We'll be waiting for your reports. Safe travels~
6/22/2016 05:56:12 pm
Jackie, I was so glad to read that the Scout's cyst turned out to be benign; scary and massively inconvenient, to be sure, but hey, any one you can walk away from... Hope he's well on his way to recovery and that you'll both be back on the road in no time. Good luck and safe travels to you both!
6/22/2016 04:27:19 pm
So glad you are back on the "out there" track. Our Cleveland and Boston and the Cape itinerary was such fun but I have been thinking of you with your family in California. See you next time you return to the "Bubble" that is our part of the world.
6/22/2016 05:58:48 pm
Looking forward to our next CA trip when we'll have more time to hang out. Your travels sound like good fun, Jean, and I can't wait until we can all meet up and exchange the latest road stories!
6/22/2016 05:48:59 pm
i read only a few posts/blogs for the info on new adventures
6/22/2016 06:01:30 pm
Traveling solo definitely has its challenges, Lee, and I give you a lot of credit for getting out there on your own. Good luck in Japan and OZ, and wherever life takes you from there.
6/22/2016 06:11:47 pm
the alternative is to never go anywhere, so the challenge is worth it, except when i am left in a town via bus with nothing open or other small challenges
6/23/2016 07:18:26 am
How exciting and adventurous for you both> I will look forward to reading your travel blogs. Getting out of the big cities for a different experience is a good idea. I am a solo traveler doing a camper van trip in Australia and I have not had any problems being on my own. Mind you I am not 24 anymore, I'm 64 these days. My next adventure will take me overseas and I even daydream about living there and hopping off and on trains to travel around. Good luck
6/24/2016 03:53:04 pm
Taking a camper van through Australia on your own sounds very adventuresome to me! I'm glad you've not run into problems as a solo traveler; being our age does help with some of that. I do hope your travels will continue overseas; please keep me posted!
6/25/2016 10:03:26 am
Your plans sound great; glad to hear you're back traveling again!
7/1/2016 08:23:41 am
Thanks, Jeannie. It is great to be back in travel mode, at the start of a new adventure. We're in rainy Amsterdam right now; I'll be posting about the details soon.
6/28/2016 04:40:12 pm
Kris and I have been to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (twice). We loved all the Baltic countries. If you're in Klaipeda, Lithuania, do spend a day on the Curronian Spit (sic). And, you must visit Vilnius and Kaunas. Ed.
7/1/2016 08:26:14 am
Great tips, Ed; the Corronian Spit, Vilnius, and Kaunas all sound fascinating. For us this is a totally unexplored part of the world. Can't wait to see it all! Best to Kris and thanks for sharing this info.
6/30/2016 04:27:12 am
12/27/2022 11:24:01 am
Thank you for your information about cannabis. This is very important for me and I'm very interested in your information.
Leave a Reply.
Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
#1 Amazon Bestseller in Tourist Destinations, Travel Tips, Gastronomy Essays, and Senior Travel
This blog is a promotion-free zone.
As my regular readers know, I never get free or discounted goods or services for mentioning anything on this blog (or anywhere else). I only write about things that interest me and that I believe might prove useful for you all to know about. Whew! I wanted to clear that up before we went any further. Thanks for listening.
TO I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain.
Wanderlust has taken me to more than 60 countries. Every week I provide travel tips and adventure stories to inspire your journeys and let you have more fun — and better food — on the road
Don't miss out!
SIGN UP HERE
to be notified when I publish new posts.