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Map of Europe

Both John and I are of the opinion that Europe is the definitive continent in which to tour on a bike as it has everything, the scenery, the culture, the diversity, ideal weather and the conveniences like having a good meal in a street cafe that make life pleasurable. Ever since arriving in the Asian side of Turkey we have experienced all of the above and a wonderful spell of weather has only added to the enjoyment of it though perhaps sometimes you can get too much of a good thing and suffer from overload. From Istanbul we wound our way up through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungry, Slovakia, Austria, The Czech Republic, Germany and are now in France only a couple of days from taking the ferry home. Along the way we visited some of the continents most beautiful cities and towns as we made our way through its gorgeous countryside but perhaps as Ive said before in relation to needing to give all the countries we traveled through the justice of an individual trip the same is true of Europe for while its size allows you to journey from one country to the next or from one fabulous city to another in a matter of hours you can get burnt out and exhausted from trying to take in so much and the cliched American tourist saying "It's Friday so it must be wherever..." rings true for us all that try to do this. To a large degree the time factor is a major contributing factor to this experience but at this stage of the trip with money low coupled to the very high cost of Europe, it has meant that we have gone through it a little more hurriedly than is appropriate. All of the cities like Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Heidelberg deserve a week each but the couple of days that we gave all of them was all we could afford and has been an hectic schedule for us.

Tonight we are in Reims and will take the ferry home in two days time. Once again, thanks to Don's intervention Declan Mescall and Irish Ferries have as with our outward trip very generously provided passage and board for us so hopefully we will be able to enjoy it more this time than as the two exhausted souls who departed ten and a half months ago and sat listlessly in front of first class food in their executive restaurant. Ironically we are in many respects back where we started as the last few weeks have been hectic travel that has left us tired and that perhaps helps us to come in from a trip that might be otherwise hard to conclude though maybe it still will. Time will tell.

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