Preparing for my European Vacation
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Preparing for my European Vacation

Preparing for my European Vacation

In just under 3 weeks I’ll be off on my European sojourn, so I thought I’d share some of the research I’ve done in  advance, and some of the sites I hope to visit.


  • Paris – 2 days
  • Milan – 2 days
  • Venice – 5 days
  • Edinburgh – 5 days

My time in Venice coincides with the last days of Carnivale, so there should be lots of masked mayhem to photograph 🙂

I’m flying to Paris from Cork, then taking the train to Milan, and subsequently on to Venice. The return trip to Edinburgh is via London Gatwick, with a fairly tight turn-around. I haven’t done much advance work on Edinburgh, because I’ll be staying with my sister, so I intend to follow her lead for what to do and where to go 🙂

I booked the Paris, Milan and Venice Hotels through, and the European trains through the French rail site of SNCF. This site is  a great resource for buying rail tickets across Europe, and you can have the tickets posted to your home for free, which I did. Depending on where you’re buying your ticket for, you can usually only book 90 days or less in advance.

Another booking I made in advance was for a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The official Eiffel Tower site allows you to book a specific time slot, and you can then have your ticket sent to your mobile phone. It allows you skip the normal queue, and join a hopefully shorter queue. I’ll let you know how it works out.

I’ll be bringing my iPhone 4 with me, loaded up with every vaguely travel related app I can find. I’ve already got a nifty translation application, which not only translates text between many languages, but it can also let you save common phrases. Even better, it will actually read them out in the chosen language, so you can practice your pronunciation. Or if you’re feeling especially challenged, you could even let the iPhone do the talking.

I’ve added the tripAdvisor app, for suggestions on things to do and see in each city, as well as a mapping app that stores its map data on the phone rather than relying on the internet to download info. That way I won’t be totally lost (literally) if I don’t have wireless coverage, or more importantly, don’t want to spend a fortune on data transfer.

I intend to travel light, with just a carry-on bag, so I’m quite limited in the camera equipment I can bring. For that reason I’ll be stripping my kit down to the bare minimum. Below is the list of what I will be bringing:

  • Canon Eos 550D
  • Battery grip
  • 4 camera batteries
  • Tamron 17mm – 35mm 2.8 – 3.5 lens
  • Sigma 24 – 70 mm 2.8 lens
  • 156 Gb of SDHC memory cards
  • Slik tripod

I wasn’t going to bring a tripod for the obvious weight and bulk reasons, but I came across a dinky Slik Sprint Mini CG tripod in Harvey Norman that is about 11 inches when totally closed up, and around 4 feet when open. It weighs almost nothing, which means it isn’t the most solid piece of kit in the world, but the convenience of being able to fit it easily in the pack makes it a must have.

I’ve just ordered an Asus 1015PE netbook for the trip, so I can do some sort of running edit of image and video as I go. It will also give me the facility to free up the flash cards. Though 156 Gb of cards may seem a lot, I’ll be shooting video as well, and perhaps some timelapses, both of which rapidly gobble up storage. The netbook has a 250 Gb hard-drive  that should provide a reasonable safety net. Oh yeah, I’ll need to bring a card reader and USB cable with me for the transferring.

Depending on how much internet access I have, I hope to blog during my travels, along with uploading some photo’s if I can.

I created personal Google Maps for each destination, and populated them with some locations of interest, I’ve embedded the maps below for you to check out. Hopefully they’ll be of some use, and I shall annotate them when I return 🙂


View Paris in a larger map


View Milan in a larger map


View Venice in a larger map


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