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July 2012

It was almost 5:00 a.m., and I was inside our Mongol Rally car, trying to sleep in the front passenger seat. I had no idea the Czech Republic would be so cold in July. I packed a couple of warm pieces of clothing, but I honestly thought I could get away with sleeping in a tent, on a Thermarest mat, with the Maasai blanket I bought last year. I was wrong. I froze the first night we camped at Klenova, which is why I was sleeping in the car - the wind can't get me in there.

Architecture and history is my version of travel porn. I could walk around staring at buildings all day and never get bored - which is probably why I am loving Europe so much. This continent is full of incredible - and sometimes salacious - history, not to mention head-turning architecture.  So, when I had a chance to hook up with Urban Adventures for their Prague Explorer Tour, which focuses on the city's architecture and history, I was in!

I know, you're shocked. Dijon, France is more than just a mustard town?! Hell yeah, it is!! I didn't know a lot about Dijon, but I did know that it was only a 90 min train ride from Paris. J'adore Paris. I really do, but the stairs were causing big problems with my right knee, and I needed a wee break - flat ground - for a day. So, I opened my Eurail train schedule, looked at trains leaving Paris, and decided to go to Dijon - and yes, I did plan to buy mustard!

Stairs are not the only things I did in Paris - I know, I had you thinking I was totally obsessed with the stairs, and my lack of agility - but I can totally understand why you would think that way. Paris sparks a passion within my soul and gets me aroused about travel, discovery, and exploration. When I walk around Paris, my mind takes a journey through the past and revisits things I enjoyed when I was younger. I recall lessons in art history class about specific works of art, or architectural styles. I remember lessons from history class, or from books I've read. For me, walking through Paris (and most of Europe) is like walking through history, and it makes my skin tingle with delight.

Will my love affair with Paris - or France for that matter - ever wain? As I travel, I find myself looking for places to stop. Places where I can go beyond being a tourist. I look for areas that are quiet, full of character, and off the tourist track. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be social, and party from time to time, but I want more. I want a connection to where I am.