This video is a bit of an experiment. Shortly after beginning the US road trip, I got the idea to do it and starting trying to capture the trip from a single perspective. You'll just have to watch it to see what I mean.
I absolutely fell in love with creating videos during our trip and I'm amazed by what is possible. I couldn't get over how easy it was to edit the videos (using software that came with my computer) and share them on our web site. After a day on the road I could have a 3 minute video edited and posted within a couple of hours. This just wasn't possible for the average person a couple of years ago.
If you're considering a trip like ours, consider using video as a way to capture the experience and put it on the web. Not only will it be fun, but your friends and family will feel even more connected to you and your experience. Like my brother said "it's so great to be able to hear your voice."
After spending some quality time with the family and eating our weight in southern home cookin', we are about to depart for the final leg of our journey. This afternoon we pick up our rental car and head west toward Seattle (actually only slightly west to Atlanta for now).
Home here in North Carolina is certainly an authentic slice of Americana, but being where I'm from, it's just home. However, on the road trip over the next 2 weeks, we will be on the lookout for those things that seem to be uniquely American for us. For example, one of the most striking things has been the sheer size of everything. People, voices, homes, yards, vehicles, portions, TVs, everything. It all seems so, um, big.
Thanks too for the folks who have welcomed us back stateside with warm emails. It is indeed nice to be back in the US and speaking complete sentences again. I had a dream last night about our dog Amos who will be on the top of our minds all the way across and possibly causing a mad dash to the finish line at the very end.
Our route very basic will go something like: Atlanta --> Dallas --> Grand Canyon --> Las Vegas --> LA -->San Francisco-->Home.
We highly recommend renting an apartment in Barcelona if you are here for more than just a few days. It feels so nice to stroll back to our flat (right in the heart of the Gothic quarter) with a few bags of cheese, veggies, fresh seafood and pasta from the local market after climbing a few hills in the area. Lee will have more pictures coming of course - Gaudi buildings are not to be missed - but for now we are saying a heartfelt goodbye to our washer/dryer, kitchen, separate bedroom, and terrace looking over the city. A perfect place for a short break from moving every three days.
Tomorrow we are catching a train to Zaragoza and Pamplona for just a night or two each on our way to San Sebastian on Spain's northern coast. The guidebook reads, San Sebatian is..."the undisputed queen of Basque resorts". And it is supposed to have the best restaurants in the country. We can't wait.
Rome was a highlight of the whole trip, not because of the ancient sights or the delicious food, but because of the people – specifically Robin Good and his brother Giovanni, who knows a *lot* about the city. As promised, they scooped us with their motorbikes and showed us their Rome – the Rome that doesn’t appear in many guidebooks. I had one of the best sandwiches in my life at a place that Robin has visited since he was a kid. Warm focaccia bread came from heavan I swear.
I wish we could see every city from the back of a motorcycle driven by a local. The video hopefully captures a little of the feeling. I love my conversation with Giovanni about Ducati Motorcycles. It's de MOST!
Music: Devotchka: Charlotte Mittnacht
We've seem these little "Smart" cars all over Europe - especially in Germany and Italy. They cost about USD 6-8,000 and we've been curious about their gas milage. Seems pretty smart to me.
The first few hours of driving from Milan were hell. We thought we'd flex our independent wings and dismiss the interstate and sieze the rural roads, where we would surely be winding through tiny Italian villages within minutes.
Four hours later and barely outside of Milan, we realized our predicament. We had not found rural Italy, but industrial zone after industrial zone (or perhaps the same one as we were lost for a while). We did see a farm along the way. Oh, and it was raining the whole time, did I mention that? The lesson is that sometimes interstates are better- and they even have wi-fi at some rest stops!
However all was not lost. The inside of the rental car was quite nice. The rental car place was out of the economy car we reserved (Insert Seinfeld reference here). So, darn it, they had to give us an Alfa Romeo instead. That added some sun to a day of rain.
Once we escaped the industrial zone, we did a drive that was one of the best of the whole trip. Between Milan and Verona, Lago di Garda (a lake) stretches north into the Alps. To finish the day, we drove around the lake and even through the fog and rain it made up for the suffering of the morning.
We're taking lots of pics, etc. but the hotels so far have not had reasonable Internet access. The hotel from last night wanted (USD 1.20/minute). Shyaah, as if.
Milan was never high on the list of destinations - not because its not worthy, but because Italy offers so many other places. We're going due to geography - its a great place to rent a car and drive around Italy and Switzerland. So, that's what we're doing over the next 10 days or so.
Judging from the people boarding the plane, Milan should be interesting in a way that exposes our complete lack of euro-fashion sense. The city is one of the world's fashion capitals. I already feel like I'm not nearly cool enough for Milan - and we're still in Prague.
We learned a valuable lesson on the day we shot this video. Europe is not Asia and apparently whole cities can sell out of hotel rooms - especially on football match days.
Also, in the video I mention the "stupid" check in procedures of Norwegian Airlines. This is what I mean...
All international travelers are lined up in front of 7 check-in counters. As flights get close to leaving, the attendants yell out "Anyone going to Berlin! berlin anyone??" When they do, anarchy nearly breaks out as all the people going to Berlin are allowed to the front, replacing people in line. This was repeated 3 times as our departure time got closer and closer. The system punished people who arrived early (us) and rewarded the late ones. We were so frustrated. I don't know why they don't segregate the travelers by flight. Ugh.
The little countdown gizmo on this site tells me that we’ve been on the road for 299 days as of today. You’d think that in that time I would have travel arrangement down to a science. Apparently not.
We were in
I was humiliated and embarrassed – how could I be so careless? Apparently it was easy, because when I got the third ticket, I purchased it under my name instead of Sachi’s, creating two Lee LeFevers on same flight. Ugghhh.
This was further proof that Sachi and I make a great team and my part of the team needs to stay away from airline reservations for a while. Luckily though, we have a killer jump shot and lots of team spirit.
It's funny how things tend to work out. Sometimes a tiny bit of information can turn into something wonderful. Without this helpful post, it's likely that we would have made other plans and not gone north at all. As it turned out, our decision to keep moving northward turned into a highlight of the whole trip. Thank you Internet!
Our overland trip across Scandinavia...
This video is from two days of exploring the Lofoten Islands via car. Despite being a couple of hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, it is quite mild thanks to the gulf stream current. A stunningly beautiful place our jaws are still on the floor. Pictures and more info coming soon...