Not sure where to start.
So far, the internship has been a series of adventures: I don't believe this Gypsy ever visited so many (new) cities and villages (in depth) in such a short time -- not even whilst backpacking in Central America two years ago.
A list of the places visited off the top of my head (meaning I'll probably forget half of them, but it's just to give you an idea anyway):
First trip was mainly Austria:
- Deggendorf (Germany)
- Salzburg ( Austria)
- St. Wolfgang (Austria)
- Bad Ischl. (Austria)
- Wienerwald (Austria)
- Wien (Vienna - Austria)
- Spitz - Krems (Austria)
- Melk (Austria)
Second trip: a cruise. Passed by bus through Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Switzerland to
- Como (Italy)
- Genua (Genova)
- Barcelona (Spain)
- Palma de Mallorca (Spain)
- Malaga (Spain)
- Cadiz (Spain)
- Liboa (Lisbon - Portugal)
- Vigo (Spain)
- Le Havre (France)
- Dover (one of my favourite countries: England)
- Ijmuiden (Netherlands)
Back in the bus to Belgium before going home for a day. Then back to start a new trip to Northern Spain (mainly Cantabria):
- Limoges (France)
- Fuente Dé ( Spain)
- Potes (Spain)
- Comillas (Spain)
- Santillana del Mar ( Spain )
- Laredo ( Spain)
- Santoña ( Spain)
- Santander ( Spain)
- Suances - where we slept during the entire week (also Spain)
- Poitiers (France)
Up till now, there's been three main trips. All of which have been with an experienced guide mentoring me throughout. The cool part is that you end up learning a lot, without immediately being responsible for the entire group.
Each guide has a stack of tips and tricks: advice, what to do and what definitely not to do. This advice included information about the region, but also about the drivers of the company, and the general groups that book with Lauwers. They aren't very consistent in their mentoring: where one guide treats you as a colleague, and lets you actively participate as one, another will constantly remind you that you're just an intern (a clearly lesser being), and only lets you tag along. Sometimes.
I've had beautiful luck considering the groups: all three of the trips had mainly wonderful people who added positive vibes to the group as a whole. Belgians definitely have a sense of humour that is catchy, puns and sarcasm are not beyond them. And then there's the obvious Dutch vs Belgian jokes, as soon as they heard my accent.
Already, I have received emails with thanks and compliments (and pictures) from some of them. Something that I, being "just an intern", completely and wholly appreciate.
The only thing I've had trouble with so far (excluding Flemish - the Belgian accent-, which can, at times, be extremely confusing and/or inarticulate) is how the advice of one guide is the exact opposite of the other.
Everyone decides for themselves in the end what they're most comfortable with, so partly, I guess I'm lucky I got several very different guides with opposing opinions.
At the moment, I'm on my way home from Cantabria, via France and Belgium. I'll update more about the destinations themselves in a next post when I get the chance.
For now, I'd like to point out that I've been through almost all kinds of " average" weather types (so excluding tornadoes and snow storms) -- and I don't have to admit (slightly embarrassed) anymore that I've never in my life been to Spain yet: it has been successfully crossed off my list.
Also: In the last month, I've been home a total of 38 hours, and I'll be glad when I'm home (no rest though: editing and handing in my thesis forreals)-- already looking forward to the next trip!