Being an obsessive planner, Euro Trip 2012 & how to operate in a whirlwind.

I’m a planner. That’s a well established fact. I make lists. I check things off. I plot. I scheme. I plan. I plan everything, from parts of my work day, to traveling adventures, to the order in which I intend to prepare for my day. Order puts me at ease, lowers my anxiety and helps trick me into a false sense of control. Planning is my jam.

Very soon I’m going to be heading across the Atlantic Ocean and embarking on what I’m choosing to call the Eating, Drinking, Wandering and Shenaniganizing Euro Trip of 2012. This trip, this magnificent trip planned to coincide with both my spring break and my 28th birthday, has been in the works for well over a year. It was supposed to happen last August, but it didn’t. It got pushed back and I got still more time to scheme and plot and plan for it.

This trip is a whirlwind. Andrew and I have good friends in Sweden who we’ve been anxious to visit because 1.) we love them, and 2.) they are the proud parents of the cutest baby girl in all the lands, and 3.) THEY LIVE IN FUCKING SWEDEN. So we knew that if we planned a trip to Europe, we had to visit Sweden, and given that flights to Europe are all expensive-like, we reasoned that we should pack as much action and adventure into our trip as humanly possible. So we’re visiting Paris & London too, plus Sweden, with a few days spent at each location.

In other words: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My favorite part of vacation planning is the hunt. I love stalking airfare prices. I love digging through hotel booking sites, searching for the best and most fabulous hotel for the smallest and most reasonable expense. I love breaking out my credit card, entering the numbers, and knowing that I’ve found the best deal available on the internets.

But, my planning has limits. I don’t like to over plan visits to cities. I always buy a guide book – ALWAYS – but it’s a rough guide. It’s like a friend who’s been there and visited and knows the local customs and can help me search out deals and destinations I’d otherwise never uncover, but it doesn’t rule me. I do my own thing, honey badger style, as usual.

The plan for this trip, given it’s exceptionally whirlwindish character, is to make a list. A short list of the things we MUST SEE and MUST EAT and MUST DO in each city we intend to visit, made up of no more than 5 items.  There may be a subsequent or secondary list comprised of things we’d like to see, but that we won’t cry over too much if we get caught up in some other amazing sight and miss it.


1. SEE: Buckingham Palace. To me, this is the most quintessential British thing I could probably see in London.

2. SEE: Big Ben & The House of Parliament. In terms of iconic London imagery, I’d say one of the first sights that comes to my mind when I think of London is Big Ben.

3. SEE: The British Museum. I want to see the Rosetta Stone. Part of the fun of traveling to Europe, for me anyway, is marveling at things that are really, really old.

4. EAT & DRINK: Pub Fare. While I’m not the hugest fan of things like Fish & Chips, the husband is and what I can’t enjoy food wise, I sure as hell can enjoy beer wise. The past six months have included a bit of a beer awakening for me and I’m slowly coming out of a phase of almost exclusive red wine drinking. Something has happened to my taste buds and I’ve suddenly become very aware of all the deliciousness of all the beers.

5. SEE: British Airways London Eye. This looks like the most terrifying contraption ever designed, but Andrew keeps mentioning it, all excited like, while I furrow my brows in consternation. He says we don’t have to ride the damn thing, but I’m afraid that just looking at will make me tremble in fear.


1. SEE: Eiffel Tower. It’s the first that comes to mind when thinking about Paris and I’ve always, always, always wanted to see it. It seems so romantic, so far away, so beautiful.

2. SEE: Arc de Triomphe. It’s another iconically Parisian thing that we’ve just got to see.

3. SEE: Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise. Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Auguste Comte are all buried here. They’ve become pilgrimage sites, in away, along with a handful of other grave sites found here. It’s weird, maybe, but I like cemeteries, not for any morbid reason, but because they’re historical sites, whether the grave holder was famous or not.

4. EAT: All of the things. I mean really. There are crepes and croissants and macaroons and French wine and ALL THE DELICIOUS PASTRIES. I want to eat all of it.

5. SEE: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Because I’m for sweeping city views and architectural loveliness.

There’s no list for Sweden because we know people in Sweden and we’re trusting them to guide us while we visit, plus the three of them top our list of must-sees. There are a handful of exciting adventures in store, including a night in Stockholm and the possibility of an open house tour, during which I will understand absolutely nothing, but will absolutely feel like (and pretend that) I’m on an episode of House Hunters International.

Have you been to these places? If yes, what did you love? If not, what would see if you were going?

21 thoughts on “Being an obsessive planner, Euro Trip 2012 & how to operate in a whirlwind.

  1. London Eye is really fun and not scary at all, just really scary looking 🙂 I’m sending you an unsolicited email with my thoughts on some cool stuff I enjoyed doing in London. Plus, if you’re not into pub food, they have the BEST Indian food there.

    1. Yes please to emails with thoughts on cool stuff to do in London! This is a solicitation, so send away!!

      And also, Indian food is totally on our secondary eat/drink/do list because I keep hearing that if you’re going to try Indian food, that’s the place to do it. I can be a bit of a brat about hot spicy things, but I’m going to suck it up and burn my mouth off for the deliciousness. Taste buds be damned.

  2. I went to London on a side trip when I studied in Spain and stayed with a friend there – I think you’re list is just about right in terms of MUST see. Make sure you ride the underground and see a show if you get a chance. You’re going to have a blast!

    1. We’re absolutely planning on riding the underground! I’m a big believer in traveling the way locals travel and I think using public transport is one of the best ways to get a feel for a city. I CAN’T WAIT!!

  3. YES! I’ve been London and Paris, but it’s been AGES. Funny how traveling as a kid is so different, and it feels like you’re visiting a different place entirely.

  4. London Eye is worth the $ on a clear day. It moves s-l-o-w-l-y, like a giant ferris wheel. Also, London has great Thai, Indian, and Middle Eastern food.

    The catacombs under Paris are awesome and creepy. I highly recommend them.
    Yes, the food can be great, but I’ve found either high-end or low-end in Paris. In my experience, it was hard to find a good meal that’s not Michelin-rated.

    Have so much fun!

    1. I am so, so, so excited for ethnic delicious foods.

      And the catacombs are definitely on our “we’d like to see” list just because they sound so creeptastic and so very different from anything I’ve ever seen or probably ever will see.

  5. So to be all controversial… I thought the London Eye was stupid. It was expensive, and it takes 30 FREAKING MINUTES to get all the way around. Which is good I guess because it moves slowly, but bad because you’ve seen “the view” in about 5 minutes and then just sit there with strangers for the other 25 minutes. And “the view” isn’t that great… I mean, you can see far away but it’s not a very exciting view, ya know? I don’t think you’ll be missing out if you skip it. I do wish I had done the catacombs and the dungeon though… I did the Tower of London thing when I was there which was cool but not necessarily a MUST – SEE in terms of the coolest thing ever.

    As for Paris… the food. Oh my god the food. I ate a baguette every day for lunch in the 4 days I was there, partly because we were all broke and partly because it was just that delicious. We’d get a baguette and a bottle of wine and sit in the grass in a park. And the crepes are ridiculous. I’m sure there’s lots of fine dining in Paris but I would be content to eat street food and desserts for every meal.

    Can’t wait to hear all about your trip! Have so much fun!

    1. Yikes – not sure I could handle being up that high for that long. I think maybe we’ll look at it, be impressed by it’s height, and then move along. I gots shit to do, yo.

      We’re staying right next to the Tower of London so I’m sure we’ll wander over there just because of proximity.

      And I’m totally planning on grazing while we’re there. We might eat one real meal, but there are so many bits of food I want to try in the few days we’re there that we’re probably just going to snack as we go, grabbing baguettes and crepes and wines and croissants as we go. And if I’m totally honest, the prospect of eating all this delicious food is actually even more exciting than seeing stuff. I want to stuff my face most of all.

  6. London-
    sorry andrew, the London eye is BORING. it is not scary, it is just a big ‘ol ferris wheel with egg shaped pods. It moves slower than a snail ( I think 28 minutes) but does give some cool views of the big ben and city. After the 1st 5 minutes you will want it to be over. If you don’t have time to do this, do not stress.

    Paris- I remember Champs-Élysées being a famous street. I don’t recall why. mmm crepes with banana and nutella. mmmmm.

    I’ll miss you! and of course – happy early birthday

    1. Abbey Road is on the “would like to see” list – don’t worry! It’s on there! Andrew is enough of a Beatles nut that it’s got to be on the list.

      And thanks for the early birthday wishes, lady!!

      1. an FYI on abbey road- it is cool to say you’ve been there, and take the iconic photo, but it literally is just a street. nothing to do but see the crosswalk and what was once the studio. but you can’t go in the building. very anticlimatic but still cool for beatles dorks like me

  7. I really think you should do an open top bus tour of London AND Paris. They are fun and you get to see things you might otherwise have missed. When you see the Eye go for a walk along the South Bank (where the Eye is) as they have lots of street performers. Also a visit to Covent Garden just to have a mosey and a cup of tea is a good idea… you can walk there from Leicester Square, if you’re seeing a show or anything. Most of the museums are free. The geek in me loves the Natural History museum because they have a blue whale hanging from the ceiling. Go for a walk round Hyde Park. Don’t forget that what most people think is London Bridge is actually Tower Bridge. Maybe do a boat tour? Go to Hamleys and Harrods and have a cream tea somewhere. SO much to do. I love London!!! I also love leaving it and getting back to my countryside…

    Paris… are you not going to the Louvre? You also need to have a bowl of chocolat for breakfast… you can’t beat it. If you can rent a car and do a day trip you could go to Normandy… lots of WWII stuff there (I think basically every schoolchild in Britain has to go to Normandy at some point with their school as a right of passage), really moving and interesting.

    1. I’m really glad you chimed in Robyn! I was hoping to get some of your expertise.

      Thank you for all the London tips! That’s good to know that the museums are free – that’s always a happy surprise! And I hadn’t thought about doing a boat tour, but that’s a great idea.

      As for Paris, we are probably going to Louvre, just because it’s the Louvre and it seems like we have to visit. And bowl of chocolat for breakfast?! Sounds heavenly and has absolutely been added to the list! We probably won’t get to Normandy this trip, but want to go in the future. Andrew and I both serve in one of the units that helped to liberate France and have worked with a lot of D-Day vets through work and want to see the beaches firsthand. I’ve heard it’s an amazing experience.

  8. Ash

    When I went to GB so many years ago, I skipped London, and dove into the countryside with a resident friend. What I most loved… wandering up the cobblestone streets of towns, driving the narrow roads with the ancient stone walls that line them, the patchwork quilt of countryside driving west on the highway from London, market day in a smallish town, British Cheddar (in all its glorious forms), Avebury (much better than Stonehenge, IMHO, because you can touch & wander around the stones), climbing the Tor, the Chalice Well Garden, and Wales. Oh, Wales… breathtaking.
    Happy almost-birthday, and hopes your trip will be all you could imagine and then some!

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