Motivation and General Plan - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

January 30, 2022

Motivation and General Plan

Planning a cycle tour in these pandemic times is difficult. There are no certainties, with new variants and restrictions arising with little notice. Back in January, 2021, I was so heartened by the development of effective vaccines that I took a chance and booked a two-month trip to Europe for that fall. At the time, Europe was not open to US visitors but I believed  widespread vaccine immunity would curtail the virus and that life would have returned to near normal by September. Besides, the plane ticket was fully refundable.

 My optimism was partially rewarded.  Although vaccine acceptance in the US proved to be highly controversial, there was a seasonal drop in Covid cases by summer and the EU opened up to US visitors in June. Traveling was a bit more complicated that previous trips to Europe - vaccine cards, Covid tests, quarantine rules, contact tracing - but it all was fairly straightforward once you navigated the varying requirements for each country. I spent a wonderful two months in Europe, including a fantastic cycle tour through Germany, Austria and Italy.

 While in Europe, I grew accustomed to living with mandates - masks and/or a vaccine pass were usually required for entrance to hotels, restaurants, and museums. As a consequence, these countries had a fairly high vaccine rate, life seemed somewhat normal, and I felt comfortable knowing that everyone in the restaurant/hotel/museum was vaccinated.

It was unsettling returning home to North Carolina, a state with a relatively low vaccination rate and no mask mandates.  I almost immediately vowed to return to Europe - this time for an extended stay. All I needed was a general plan and a long stay visa.

The general plan 

For a variety of reasons, I've chosen not to be in touring mode for the entire time, preferring instead to establish a home base in Paris from whence to launch a series of adventures ranging in length from a few days to a month or more. In various stages of planning are a springtime tour in Spain and Portugal, Slovenia in the summer, and southern Italy in the fall.

I’ve wrestled with how to organize this journal - one long journal encompassing the entire time vs. a series of journals documenting each tour, no matter the length. I’m leaning toward a combination of the two: longish tours of a month or more to be documented in their own journal with smaller tours lasting a few days to a week or two  recounted here. 

I've purchased a one-way ticket for Paris departing Mar 18. Not sure when I’ll return, but I promised not to miss my niece’s wedding in mid-December.

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Comment on this entry Comment 17
Scott AndersonCan’t wait to see where you take us this time Susan, and of course to hopefully hook up in northern France later this spring. It should be an amazing year. I see that you’ll be over there almost precisely in our own window - we leave March 15th and return early December.
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6 months ago
Rich FrasierSounds exciting! I’m looking forward to hearing all about your new adventures!
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6 months ago
Kathleen JonesThat’s a great plan. Can’t wait to follow along.
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonAn amazing year indeed. I'm still a bit shocked that I pulled the trigger on a long-stay visa. Looking forward to meeting up with you and Rachael in a few months!
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rich FrasierThanks Rich. I likely will be down your way sometime this summer and am hoping we might meet up.
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Kathleen JonesThanks Kathleen!
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6 months ago
Rich FrasierTo Susan CarpenterHi Susan - that would be awesome!! You can send email to me at rxfrasier at gmail.com.
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6 months ago
Suzanne GibsonYou put it in a nutshell - the three C's, cycling, cuisine and culture! And depature in just six weeks for your long stay. It's going to be a fabulous year. I do hope our meet up in Burgundy with the Andersons works out. We are already looking forward to the three C's in France.
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6 months ago
Jacquie GaudetSounds fantastic! We are looking forward to experiencing the "three C's" in Italy later this spring.
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6 months ago
Rachael AndersonWow, I bet you are getting very excited! We sure are. We look forward to following your journal(s) and hopefully meeting up with each other.
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Jacquie GaudetThanks Jacquie. I've been poring over your Rain in Spain journal for info on my ride in Andalusia. Am looking forward to following your upcoming Italian adventure - I absolutely loved my time there last fall.
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Suzanne GibsonThanks Suzanne. I'm sure we'll arrange a meet up or two sometime in 2022. Looking forward to it.
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachael AndersonRachael, Yes, I'm getting very excited - still can't believe it all! I'll look forward to following your adventures, as always. I'm sure we'll meet-up sometime this year.
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6 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesType your comment here
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6 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWe have always accepted to look at life in 90 day slices. Actually I do get anxious to check on the house and land at around 90 days. But Dodie keeps talking about a second home base - like, Paris! and the long stay visa. So far we know nothing of what this involves. Can you fill us in a bit?
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Steve Miller/GrampiesSteve - I was planning on an entry on getting the long stay visa. Your comment compels me to post it sooner rather than later, likely in a day or two. Thanks for your interest.
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6 months ago
Leah ketringSusan! Glad to see you are over there safe and sound! Just saw your fantastic pictures from around the Raleigh/Cary trails. Can't wait to see what you capture along this trip. Be safe! We're getting ready for Safari Florida.. a bit daunting given the little I've ridden this season.
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4 months ago