Hits and Misses

I guess it’s time for the final assessment when it comes to
traveling Europe with the family. 
A trip we all agree has been fantastic.  Not perfect, but truly a wonderful experience.  Two weeks running around on our own and
two weeks in an organized tour. 

It’s really hard to say which was best because it felt like
two separate vacations.

Some of our best memories come from camping in Hourtin.  Getting up at our leisure and heading
to the beach without a care in the world. 
Relaxed and fun while we soaked up life in a small French town.  We may never be able to repeat the
thrill of climbing up and down the Dune du Pilat, truly a unique
experience.   And I will never
forget the beauty of Beny-Sur-Mer cemetery and being able to pay tribute to the
sacrifice of my great Uncle Charlie and so many others. A special moment on our
terms with no buses to catch or deadlines to meet.

Those highlights help fade the memory of the stressful

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times.  Not being able to relax
behind the wheel because every turn could be ‘the wrong one’.   

(and this was driving mostly in small towns – not the big

That’s the biggest knock on winging it – you’re making all
the decisions.  Do your homework! 

The Rick Steves’ tour also had many more pluses than
minuses.   NOT having to make decisions topping the
list!  It is a well-run tour that
hits all of the hotspots and goes the extra mile to help bring context to what
you’re seeing.  Staying mostly in
family run hotels and B & B’s added special ‘real Europe’ moments at every

(And having an enthusiastic guide who can speak 4 languages
is never a bad thing!)

We initially dismissed going the tour route because of the
cost, but after crunching all of the numbers they come out pretty close — And
that’s not factoring in the convenience of having it all organized for

Of course, it also means you’re on a fixed timeline and you
can’t stay longer at the places you like or skip out on the places you don’t. 

Neither was perfect, but both were unforgettable.

If there’s one thing we’d change it would be the
timing.  We knew August was the
busiest month to go and man was it was brutal.  Try and skip tourist season and I guarantee it will be much
more enjoyable.

Thanks for taking the time to check out our adventure.  I tried to make it fun and informative,
and apologize again for not figuring out how to add photos to the blog.  It would have added so much more. 

Safe Travels!