When planning any trip you get the most out of it by performing due diligence prior to departure. You could do it yourself but like buying a house, getting the proper fit on a good suite or dress, or any other purchase that warrants detail using the services of a professional not only makes good sense but in the long run will save you time and money. With that said, being the travel professionals that we are, we utilized our expertise in planning our adventure to Europe. When you are going to countries and regions that you are not familiar with or even if you are returning, it is a good idea to have guidance to give structure to your navigation, enrichment, and getting the most out of your visit. Prior to our departure we employed the services of several excellent private guides to be available to us during our trip. It most certainly helped to make our trip memorable. We set our own parameters with them for what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go. Like many of you, we cannot stand being shuffled around in mass to all of the tourist traps. Our journey began in the romantic city of Venice, Italy. When the Byzantine grip slipped, Venice seized the moment is 726 AD and became a grand empire which ruled commerce of silver, wine, and other commodities in Europe for centuries. This is truly a most romantic city of canals, architecture, wine, food, and wonderfully welcoming people. We met our guide, Tamara, who is a Master Sommelier and historian. She greeted us in the early evening at one of the squares near the Rialto Plaza. She had a magnificent evening lined up for us sampling Cicchetti, which are the Italian version of Tapas, superb local wines, and laid back enrichment by a local expert in a number of quaint local establishments. We enjoyed a most wonderful evening and after relishing lots of food, wine, walking, and conversation we returned to our hotel on the sea, Royal Caribbean’s, Legend of the Seas for a restful night and some catching up on jet lag so that we were prepared for our second day in Venice devoted to exploration of the city. To get the most out of this European journey we planned a Mediterranean cruise with a post stay in one of our favorite cities Barcelona, Spain.