It’s 3 am and I can’t sleep but it’s hard to complain. After 2 weeks in Europe I have a bad case of jet lag and thank goodness I have a great book to keep me company from 3 am to 6 am….The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (over 700 pages and maybe not long enough to recalibrate my sleep).

However, the haze of jet lag has not daunted my spirits one bit.  

Three sleepless nights and I’m still buzzing and grinning as I write this. We realized what we loved most about this trip was we weren’t racing through a pre-planned itinerary which made it relaxing, allowed for us to hang with the locals, and linger wherever we pleased. 

The only thing planned about it were flights, car rental and hotels mostly as our last night we didn’t have a hotel and we called same day, asked for a discount and got it.  Because our days were wide open and unfolded easily and we travelled with friends who embraced this style of travel too, the trip was a 10!

The Journey..

The Flights: The travel part was way easier than I thought. Granted we flew in comfortable beds – we had miles etc. and it was well worth it to go business. The flight over on a smaller airline La Compagnie out of Newark was incredible. They are only business class and they are super efficient, the cabin is light, bright, clean and comfortable.

We flew back on Emirates and that airline is way above any I have flown. The window shades are electric, the stewardesses bring you a mattress pad, there is a bar in business class, the bathroom have magnifying mirrors like a hotel room and they are kept clean. The service was incredible, like being in a 5 star hotel. Frankly, I was sad to get off the plane.

Avis Made Car Rental Easy. The only issue with driving between countries is a hefty fee for drop off. We picked up the car at the airport in France and returned it at the airport in Italy. But, we shared our rental with our travel buddies and it worked out  great. Frankly some of our favorite coffee stops were on the autoroutes. They have bakeries and at one place we had an expresso ice which was a slurpy with style and kicked our ass. So good. 

Every turn at the wheel was “Push Push” Formula one style as we wound through cliff side mountain roads and small villages and everyone wanted a turn at the wheel.

The biggest challenge was how to put the credit card into the tolls and we’re still waiting for the fines to kick in as we may have screwed up a bit.


The Food

We were surprised that we didn’t love the French food. But I shouldn’t  have been surprised because I am the least adventurous eater ever… think BORING — no meat, no garlic and I hate fishy fish….right there.  I was screwed.

France has always been my favorite place and I do speak French which makes it fun. But, our mistake was going to recommended restaurants where the menus were precious.

But, I love France, next time I will stick to what I love best about simple French food. Every meal should have been their amazing bread and salted butter, cheese and salads of tomatoes and endives and carrots, vegetables and yogurts and omelettes, artichokes and their incredible pastries.  

Italy: The big surprise here is not that we ate pasta for lunch and dinner for an entire week and didn’t gain weight. Our flour in the US is not built this way but in Europe it is. I am on a mission to find authentic ingredients and I’m bringing spaghetti back into my life big time.

BTW, the Italian bread is no match for the French Bread.


Our trip was broken up into 3 parts and we traveled with 2 different couples. As we had never travelled with either before, we were thrilled that they were all adventure seekers, adaptable and easy to travel with.  We felt so lucky that we were all In Sync and none of us needed a rigid plan which made it so fun to let the days unfold.  

One day after a 8 mile walk along the coast, we decided to lunch at a local beach club, rent chaise lounges, and even made friends with a few other loungers. No reservations required ahead. Dressed in beach clothes we decided to head to a well known hotel to have a sunset drink and were snubbed by the staff for not being dressed properly — Undaunted, we stepped into the hotel shop and the guys picked up some great looking linen pants — it was hilarious. Needles to say, they let us in – we looked at the menu – it was way too fancy and begged to eat in the more causal pub. The whole thing was hilarious.

Boat trip

Another day we decided to stop last minute at Lake Como and our friends wrangled an un-captained motor boat. Good thing the guys were skilled boaters as the lake was crazy choppy – but it was incredible and totally spontaneous and we were so impressed that we pulled this off.

Shopping in Europe


My favorite shopping experiences in France were at the local markets. As much as I love how beautifully the stores are laid out — there are deals and incredible style.  After a 7:30 am hike, my friend Jill  and I decided to wander down to the local market. It was only 8:30 and they were just setting up.

Within moments – we found gorgeous silk tops that were only $20. 

There are plenty more stories to tell – but the what I’m encouraged about most about this trip was how we flowed from adventure to adventure which is what made this trip so fun.

More travel awaits and we are more game than ever. 

Hope you get inspired by this post and book a fun trip for yourself — we would love to hear about it — where are you going next?

The Gifts of Unscheduled, Free Flow Travel — Our Trip To Europe Had Big Surprises was last modified: by

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