Europe or bust
Editor’s note: Vail resident Luc Pols is on a five-week trip through Europe, hitting Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and more. Each week, he is filing a report on his travels and sending them back to us along with photos of the journey.
UDINE, Italy – The preparations for this trip are somewhat different from my last, the Mekong Odyssey. Gone are the swim trunks, shorts and T-shirts. In their place are sweaters, long pants and a winter overcoat. The one constant is obviously the camera.I need more money than in Asia, since the Euro has increased by 50 percent over the last couple of years, but will I still be able to travel light? The simple answer is yes. I’d rather do without or buy than to travel with way too much stuff. Even in Europe there are laundromats.
For the next five weeks I’m touring Europe. Starting in Italy around the Triest area, not too far from Venice, I will then drive through Austria to the Czech Republic, visiting Zlin (in Moravia) and Prague, before going into Slovakia and Bratislava, its capital. This used to be one country, Czechoslovakia, but now there are two, both belonging to the European Union. I will spend a long weekend in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and the Hague, before returning to Italy for a final week, when I might visit Slovenia, an independent country now, but better known by most as previously being part of Yugoslavia. Even Bosnia Herzegovina, of the same heritage, is not out of the realm of possibilities, but a lot will depend on weather and time. For all you travelers, late winter/early sping is the best time to fly to Europe. I secured a roundtrip from Eagle to Frankfurt on United/Lufthansa for $433.60, everything included and only one stop in Denver to change planes. Not too bad. Upon arriving in Frankfurt I change planes and fly to Venice, where my friend Martina is waiting to drive us to Udine, my homebase for the next week or so. Udine is only an hour drive from Venice and not too far from the famous Italian ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, a place Vail knows well. The mountains around here, the Dolomites, are breathtaking, and it will be a pleasure to tour this region again.
My companion on previous trips, Peter Franke, gives me a ride to Eagle and I am off. The flight is smooth to Denver, where the big plane waits to fly me across the “pond.”In Frankfurt I have barely enough time to change planes (I sincerely hope my suitcase will make it) and I arrive in Venetia. My worst nightmare comes true, and I am not reunited with my suitcase until the next day. After clearing customs, I meet my friend and we drive to Udine.
What a difference traveling here compared with the U.S. It is all so much easier here. I did not even have to take my shoes off and my water bottle made it here as well. My friend has set quite an agenda with me, and even though I don’t speak Italian, Quite a program has been set up for me and even though I do not speak Italian, her fluency allows me to partake in conversations. The first day is spent trying to get over jet lag and tasting the local red wines. The red wine definitely helps me to get over the time difference, and I wake up the next day ready to commence my trip.