Europe Sabbatical 2000 Last Updated: 22-Apr-03

Please click on map or scroll down to text and chronology

Zürich München Worms / Heidelberg Graz Karlovy Vary Prague Warsaw Kaunas Vilnius Kleipeda Kalinigrad Riga Tallinn St. Petersburg Berlin Hannover World Expo 2000 Wien Parma Nice / Monaco Cannes / Antibes Saint Tropez / Le Baou d'Infer Pisa Firenze Roma / Vatican Siena Modena Venezia Porec Click at destination or scroll down

white = commercial air travel      green = ground transportation (train, bus, car, ...)
blue = travel in small plane piloted by Roswitha (not always as straight as shown)




















Background - How did we decide on this vacation:

Christmas of 1989 Scott and I (Roswitha) watched AND LISTENED to hundreds of people hammering on the Berlin Wall to get a piece. Before the New Year, we moved to the USA. At that time I wanted to return in 10 years and see what had become of the former Eastern Block.

One of the great benefits of working for Intel Corp was that one gets to take a 8 week sabbatical every 7 years. I was able to add another 5 weeks of accrued vacation and was planning to spend most of it in Europe. My first (and most likely last) sabbatical with Intel happened to fall into the year 2000, and I immediately decided to travel to the former Eastern Block and see for myself how life was there now.

I also added 2 weeks of cooking school in France and Italy as anniversary present for Scott to entice him to join me in Europe for the Sabbatical (yeah, like he wouldn't have come anyway...). He was one of the lucky ones who got one and only one sabbatical after only 12 years of service at KLA-Tencor. Although it was due before mine, he was able to take it at the same time as I did.

One day in early 1998 on my way to work I was musing about the best way to travel around in Europe. I thought about trains, cars, and motorbikes. But I found I carried too much stuff for trains and motorbikes, and I got too many speeding tickets driving. I don't know if Jimmy Buffet's "Jamaica Mistaka" or "Take me to the Moon" was playing while I was thinking, but all of a sudden I decided it would be really cool to learn to fly for this vacation and fly a small airplane across Europe.

I started lessons on July 5, 1998. After one 4 month, one 7 month, and one 2 month hiatus, I received my Private Pilots License on February 10, 2000 after ~80 flight hours. I immediately tried to get the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) rating before going to Europe, but found that I was still too busy flying a plane to meet that tough set of requirements. However, I did take one aerobatics lesson to harden my stomach and to learn how to react should I get into trouble flying close to LARGE airplanes (namely what to do when you get flipped over in a small plane). Since I was planning to fly through the Alps, I also got a Mountain Checkout before I left. So I found myself in Europe with a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) rating and ~120 hours of flight time.

The main worldwide aviation language is English, so communication was not a major issue. But it took some research to find a plane I could use in Europe for 2 months. The US pilots license basically allows one to fly a US registered plane anywhere in the world following the local conventions. Although there are several US registered (first letter in the call sign = N, say November) airplanes in Europe, most are used for instructions and would need to return each weekend, which was not very practical. We even considered flying a plane to Europe (which would have taken up all the time we had), shipping one or having one ferried over (which was fairly expensive). So I was very glad when I found that Aeromobil in Germany was able to rent N53611 - a Cessna 172 - to me for the time period.

To determine the route in the former Eastern Block we researched government reports, interviewed friends and family, and decided to stay with the Baltic Countries and Czech Republic. We definitely decided to NOT fly to Belarus or any part that is still Russian, since we heard horror stories about gasoline and ownership disputes. Poland was intended only as a fuel stop. We predicted it to be safe to fly in any parts of Western Europe provided we stay close to the coast in Croatia.

The entire trip only had a handful of fixed dates and places we had to meet: Conny's 100/3 birthday, Yolanda joined us in Berlin, the cooking school dates, Rosi's Birthday party in Croatia and the return flight to the US to make the final part of our Sabbatical in BVI and Jamaica.


Chronological Details:

Date Location, Route, etc.
May 1 Roswitha takes SwissAir from SFO to Zürich and then on to München where she stays with Cornelia Engel and her friend Edi
~ May 3 Roswitha takes train to Worms to pick up plane (-- NOT)
May 8 Roswitha takes train to Graz for Conny's 1/3 of a century celebration
May 10-11 Rosi and Roswitha accept the plane in Graz and fly to Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
May 12 Rosi and Roswitha fly on to Prague
May 15 On the second try Rosi and Roswitha fly to Warsaw
May 16 Rosi and Roswitha fly on to Kaunas
May 17 Rosi and Roswitha fly on to Vilnius
May 19 Rosi and Roswitha fly to Palanga/Kleipeda and drive via the Curian Spit and Nida to Kalinigrad
May 21 Rosi and Roswitha fly to Riga
May 22-23 Rosi and Roswitha fly to Tallinn and take the train to St. Petersburg
May 27-28 After being stuck in Tallinn for 4 extra days due to winds and "dried up" compass, Rosi and Roswitha fly via Kaunas and Gdansk (Danzig) to Berlin to meet up with Yolanda
May 31 Yolanda and Roswitha fly to Hannover for the World Expo 2000 (Rosi took the train back to Graz --- What a Hero! 30 hours in a plane with a brand new pilot!)
June 6 Yolanda and Roswitha fly to Worms to get the airplane inspected
June 8 Yolanda and Roswitha fly via Neuschwanstein and St. Johann in Tirol to Graz
June 12 Yolanda and Roswitha drive to Wien where Scott arrives from the US, and Yolanda returns
June 14 Scott and Roswitha drive to Graz for Roswitha's Birthday Party with her family
June 17 Scott and Roswitha fly via Parma to Nice / Monaco with a vacuum pump failure shortly after leaving Parma
June 18 Scott and Roswitha visit Cannes / Antibes and get plane fixed in Cannes
June 19 Scott and Roswitha fly on to Saint Tropez to attend a French Cooking School with Alex MacKay at Le Baou d'Infer
June 25-26 Scott and Roswitha fly on to Pisa and then park the plane in Siena
June 27 Scott and Roswitha take the bus to Roma / Vatican
June 29 Scott and Roswitha take the train to Firenze
June 30 Scott and Roswitha visit the Italian Cooking School with Lorenza di Medici in Badia a Coltibuono and attend the Palio on July 2 in Siena
July 5 Scott and Roswitha fly to Modena and visit a Balsamic Vinegar maker
July 6 Scott and Roswitha fly on to Venezia
July 7 Scott and Roswitha fly to Porec to celebrate Rosi's Birthday with Cornelia and Markus
July 9 Scott and Roswitha return to Graz, and leave the plane there for pick up due to weather
July 15-24 Scott and Roswitha hang out & sail in Tortola, BVI
July 25-29 Scott and Roswitha go jammin' in Jamaica

Back to Home Page Back to Top On to Zürich