Europe offers many lessons on how to build walkable cities

It’s been a while since I last visited Europe, but this summer I’ll be packing my bags and heading overseas for an extended trip to some amazing historical cities. What will be most gratifying is that my wife and son are joining me on this much anticipated adventure – the latter having never been to Europe.

London, England

Our first stop will be London, England where I will be attending an international Alzheimer’s conference taking place in the Canary Wharf district. Some of the best and brightest minds will be gathered to explore the latest research and trends related to this debilitating disease.

Once the conference is over, we board the Eurostar for a quick two-hour train trip to Paris, France through the Channel Tunnel. We’ve booked an inexpensive, but wonderful looking boutique hotel overlooking the Louvre. Of course there are plans to visit the Eiffel Tower, but a guided three-hour bicycle tour is what I’m looking forward to the most!

The next destination will be Venice, Italy where we will be there less than 24 hours before we jump aboard a cruise ship bound for Greece. These will be uncharted waters for me as I haven’t been to many of the ports of call we plan to visit over the next seven days.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

I’m particularly looking forward to visiting Dubrovnyk, Croatia. I’ve heard so much about the beauty and history of this city. We’re jumping off the ship and will take part in a cycle tour which includes a planned visit to some local wineries and olive farms.

Down the coast we go with a brief stop in Albania before we head to Athens, Greece. What would a visit to this city be without a guided tour of the Acropolis. While the temperature normally soars into the low 40s this time of year, I’m told it’s all worth it once you get to the ruins! Only time will tell, but I’ll bring the sunscreen and some bottled water just in case.

Florence, Italy

Then it’s off to the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos. The photos I’ve seen of this place are simply stunning. Our day trip will include visiting a “quiet” beach somewhere on the other side of the island for a bit of time in the Mediterranean Sea.

On our way back we stop in Katakalon, Greece and Bari, Italy before heading back to Venice. That’s where we’ll board a train and make our way to Florence, Italy to visit the amazing Duomo Cathedral. This will be my third time visiting Florence, but never get tired of this city which many have described as a living canvas.

We then jump aboard a high-speed train for a three-day trip to Rome. There are scheduled visits to the requisite Trevi Fountain, Roman Coliseum and Vatican City – with a few unplanned pit stops sure to be tucked in here and there.

Then it’s back to London overnight before we make the journey back to Vancouver. It will be the longest and most complex trip the three of us have ever taken – but we’re all looking forward to the adventure.

The trip will surely be a reminder of how Europe has managed to build so many dense, walkable and livable cities. There are surely lessons to be learned for a place like New Westminster and I hope to write about that in the months to come.

My blog will look and sound a lot like a travel magazine over the coming weeks, but rest assured, I’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming of covering civic politics upon my return!