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We were determined to see as much as possible in the last month of our trip. Starting in the UK, we spent several very enjoyable, yet pricey, days in London. Being in Europe again was a complete delight after spending months in the developing world. From London we took a day trip to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath. The city of Bath was very quaint and it left us itching to return there one day.
The next stop in Europe was Italy. In Rome we had a week-long treat of art and culture with a boost of several cappuccinos a day. Jason realized very quickly he had found his new favorite desert, tiramisu gelato. Ewa had a very easy time navigating the city as she lived there some years ago. From Rome we travelled north to Florence for another copious amount of old master and Renaissance art. Venice was the next destination and as beautiful as one would expect. We spent a couple of lovely days wondering the narrow streets. Between visiting museums and sitting in cafes, we noticed there seemed to be more American visitors in Italy than any others.
After Italy we took a detour from Europe to explore Egypt. The sculptures and paintings we saw, particularly in the pharaoh tombs, were exceptional and the colors were amazingly vivid even after thousands of years. Unfortunately visitors cannot photograph some of the most interesting sights, such as the Death Mask of Tutankhamun, or the tomb interiors in Valley of the Kings. The first few days we spent in Cairo. The Pyramids of Giza, located on the outskirts of Cairo, are one of the oldest tourists destinations in the world and a fascinating place to visit. The site is also rife with very persistent sellers of camel and horse rides. While we tried to explore the area on foot, we were approached every few minutes by someone trying to sell us something. Unfortunately most visitors to Egypt have the same story to tell. Cairo, with the maddening traffic, pollution and another crop of very persistent sellers was a difficult city to navigate, but we did manage to walk around it quite a bit and see the Coptic area and numerous mosques and bazaars. From Cairo we took the overnight train to Luxor to see some of the largest and well-known ancient Egyptian ruins and tombs. We chose to ride bicycles to the Valley of the Kings. It proved to be a very enjoyable way to see the tombs and we did it all at our own pace as we watched countless busloads of tourists being shuttled in and out for quick tours. We arrived at the Ramasseum Temple late in the day after all the tourists had left and had the place to ourselves. We saved the most impressive ruin for last. Exploring Karnak was an amazing way to end our trip to Egypt.
Our year-long trip came to an end in Spain. We found Madrid to be very manageable, affordable and relaxing. It did not take much to get used to living off tapas and red wine. The Prado and Reina Sofia museums have amazing art collections, and we brushed up on our knowledge of Velasquez and Goya. From Madrid we took a day trip to the Medieval city of Toledo. We spent the final few days in Barcelona. Seeing Antoni Gaudi’s architectural works up close was one of the best aesthetic experiences of our trip. We can’t wait to return to Barcelona one day to see The Sagrada Familia cathedral when it’s completed in the coming decade.
So this is it! It was a year like no other for us. We’re back in New York now. Thank for sharing this incredible journey with us. We hope to do this again sometime.