When you’re 20, you sleep in hostels, stuff everything in a backpack, travel by train and eat in small cafes. That’s pretty much expected when you’re trying to see 10 countries in two weeks over the summer.
But somewhere along the way, the quality of the experience replaces the quantity. Years ago, my husband and I traveled by car through Europe with good friends. The men took turns driving. The only true mishaps were driving the wrong way down a one-way street in Florence (the polizia were all too happy to turn us around) and stalling our tiny Alfa Romeo in the roundabout on the Via Veneto in Rome. Good times, for sure!
Traveling by car in Europe gives you maximum freedom. And you haven’t lived ’til you’ve driven on the autobahn in Germany. Those flashing lights behind you mean “Get out of the way!” in any language.
As fun and exciting as pinching grapes from roadside vineyards and unplanned stops at castles can be, my husband and I now enjoy a more relaxed form of traveling. We recently went on a Greek cruise with another couple. Late September/early October was the perfect time to visit some of the oldest sites on earth.
With stops in Messina, Mikanos, Delos, Santorini, Rhodes and Athens, it was a perfect way to see the southern Mediterranean. We ate in several wonderful Greek restaurants. Who knew there were so many versions of calamari? The standout was Da Costa perched on the cliff in Fira, Santorini, with sensational views of a nearby caldera.
Cruising may not be for everyone, but nothing beats going to bed in one port and waking up the next morning to an entirely different view. Another bonus is you get to try the local food at each stop, with lunch prices generally lower than dinner prices. And at the end of a long day of exploring, it’s nice to return to the ship where your biggest decision is what to order for dinner.