As you read this post I will be on a bus tour from Rome to London, the second bus tour of my sixty-six day long visit to Europe. How did this vacation come about? Well, it started three years ago when my dragon boat team, Angels Abreast from Nanaimo, B.C., found out that the next Breast Cancer Survivor International Dragon Boat Festival was going to be held in Florence, Italy. Although we voted to attend the festival, eventually it was decided not to go as a team. Since I had already begun planning my trip, I put out feelers to other breast cancer survivor teams who wanted to attend but didn’t have enough paddlers to fill a boat. I was picked up by Sunshine Dragons Abreast, a team from the Sunshine Coast.My husband originally planned on going with me and we discussed other countries we wanted to see, but he had to back out because of his health. By this time I had decided that since I was already in Europe, I might as well visit as many countries as I could. I didn’t want to travel alone so I asked the members of Sunshine Dragons if anyone was interested in travelling with me. One woman, Ev, agreed. I also spoke with a fellow employee, Heather, and she and her sister, Beverly, hopped on board but couldn’t join us until the beginning of the Rome to London tour on July 9.
The festival was from July 5 to 9 so I began looking at tours and cruises before and after those dates. Ev and I picked a 16 day Spain, Portugal, and Morocco bus tour beginning June 15. Then we decided to spend three days in Milan before going to Florence. At the end of the festival there we headed to Rome.
After this bus tour through Italy, Switzerland, and France, and ending in London, Ev is leaving to do a tour of Denmark, while Heather, Beverly and I plan on spending eighteen days backpacking and riding trains to Brussels, Luxembourg, Cologne, and Amsterdam, and then fly to Copenhagen. We will meet Ev in that city to take an eleven day cruise of the Baltic Sea. One of the highlights of that will be a two day visit to St. Petersburg, Russia.
I wish the planning had gone as smoothly as it sounds, but that is how attending a five day international breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival in Florence morphed into a sixty-six day visit to Europe. And this isn’t the first time that has happened to me.
In 2007, an international festival was held in Coloundra, Queensland, Australia. Angels Abreast attended the five days festival. Afterwards, the team split up, some going to New Zealand, some touring the interior and some, my group, spent three weeks sightseeing along the eastern coast ending in Sydney to see the Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, and go out to the Great Barrier Reef. Then we spend a week in Fiji.
I missed the festival in Peterborough, Ontario, but in 2014, the festival was held in Sarasota, Florida. Rather than fly there with the team, do a little touring and fly home, I decided I wanted to see some of the country between the Pacific Ocean, where I live, and the Atlantic Ocean. So my husband and I bought a motorhome and spent four weeks sightseeing on our way to Sarasota and five weeks sightseeing on our way home.
I could go on about all the other trips I have taken, like the nine week my husband and I took in our motorhome across Canada in 2017 to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, but that can wait for another post.
My novel, Romancing the Klondike, is set in the Yukon, a place I have travelled to twice and hope to visit again in the next couple of years.