It's A Wrap

The six week break I took from work is ending. The trip through Europe is over. We landed back in the US on friday night and drove up to our kids’ college yesterday for homecoming/parents weekend. It was great to see our kids (two of them) and we’ll see our oldest this afternoon. I’ve missed them terribly and I’ve missed NYC, our dog Ollie, and our bed, shower, kitchen, local coffee shop, etc, etc, etc.

Many people have asked me what the highlight of the trip was. I always give the same answer – spending every waking (and sleeping) hour with Joanne for an entire month. It’s been a long time since we did that. I think the last time was the summer after we graduated from college thirty one years ago. We are the same people who made that trip around the country, just a bit older, wiser, wealthier, and with three wonderful young adults to show for it. It’s good to know that, even if you already knew it.

The trip through Europe was fantastic. We started in Rome and finished in Paris and stopped in a bunch of places along the way. This Foursquare map/list shows the itinerary:

fall trip map

The list has 131 places on it. We visited many more than that, but I only listed the places in Foursquare that I want to remember and let others know about. I wrote a tip on every single one of them.

As you can see our major stops were Lake Como, Cote D’Azur, Provence, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bordeaux, and Paris. Of those, I would say Provence and San Sebastian were probably my favorites. I also loved the Piedmont wine region in Italy (Alba) and the city of Bordeaux and the wine region surrounding it. The best food was in Provence and in the tapas bars in Barcelona and San Sebastian.

The most beautiful place we found ourselves in was on a boat in the middle of Lake Como and staring out into the mediterranean sea from the tip of Cap Ferrat. We mangled three languages along the way and found that english is spoken almost everywhere, particularly if you are nice about it. If you want to learn more about the trip and the places we stayed along the way, the past thirty days of blog posts on will deliver all of that to you.

I turned off my out of office responder yesterday. It gave me great trepidation to do that. If you ever want to give me a gift, the thing I would most appreciate is a filter from incoming email. I was able to manage all of my email in less than 15-20 minutes a day on this entire trip. I just archived everything that came in that wasn’t from someone that I knew I needed to respond to. The out of office responder sets up that expectation and so I feel absolutely fine doing that. Now that the responder if off, I am back to drinking from a firehose and I am terrified of how that is going to feel.

I’ve never taken an extended vacation or sabbatical from my work before. So all of this is new territory for me. I believe you should take the time away from work to get some distance from it, read, learn, relax. I did all of that and feel like I got what I was looking for from the time off. But it won’t be until I’m back at work that the new perspectives will totally reveal themselves to me. I’m looking forward to that too. Then I will know for sure what this time off taught me and I am eager to find that out.

And, as always, when I figure something out, I will share it with all of you here at AVC.

#Blogging On The Road#life lessons#Travel

Comments (Archived):

  1. Marissa_NYx

    Welcome back. And thankyou for the tips & recommendations of your fav Euro spots.

  2. jason wright

    “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR

  3. Anne Libby

    There’s nothing like a road trip. Welcome home.

  4. awaldstein

    Welcome home Fred.Early morning rides along Hudson River Park are beautiful this time of year. Road through Riverside Park very early yesterday and it was magical.Maybe I’ll see you on the path.

    1. fredwilson

      I was out biking from dawn (6:30) to just now (8). I looked for you but did not see you

      1. JamesHRH

        Easily in your Top 10 All Time Posts.Poignant, confident & completely your voice.$5 says you barely edited it.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t think i touched a word to be honest

  5. meredithcollinz

    That’s a great love letter to life. Sounded like you had a smile on your face writing every word (except for maybe the firehose ;-). Glad it was a great trip. Welcome home.

  6. kirklove

    “It’s good to know that, even if you already knew it.”Nice line. For some reason that whole paragraph made me think of a painter. Deep into their painting. Feverishly brushing away none of it quite making sense. Then they step back and voila they can see and appreciate what they’ve done. Important to remember to take that step back from time to time to avoid losing the big picture.Welcome home Buster. I forgive you for A) not spending enough time in Italy and B) Not bringing me a T-Shirt 😉

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. Taking the step back is key. I thought I might see you on my ride up to the GWB this morning but did not. It’s fucking amazing out right now!

      1. kirklove

        Sundays are long walks in the park with the fam days. Then breakfast at Maison Kayser outside. Then some AMNH time to see the “Teddy Bears” as Bean calls them. I live for Sundays.

        1. AMT Editorial Staff

          Not to be grim, but a medical issue can also provide a similar “step back” relief. Recently had hip replacement (age 44). 2 weeks of doing NADA…that was a first in nearly a decade. Letting things “go” for a short while was hugely therapeutic. Able to enjoy things much more after the break.

          1. kirklove

            Yup. You need to step away to be able to come back.

      2. Richard

        That’s what I say about everyday in Los Angeles. That Hollywood Startup Crowd, circa 1920s, sure knew how to pick’em.

  7. Tom Labus

    So amazing that you could do all that and for us not feel like you were away at all.I hope you caught Wanderlust.

  8. Jayadev Gopalakrishn

    I suggest you make your next one to the Indian subcontinent. Can assure you that the perspectives will be truly enriching and not to mention, the region is a gastronomical delight.

  9. Mike Zamansky

    Welcome home Fred. Really enjoyed reading about your escapades – even the photoblogging.

  10. JimHirshfield

    Welcome home! Looking forward to the new you.

  11. William Mougayar

    It was fun following your trip via Foursquare, Tumblr, and here. You made me relive some of the places you visited that I had too in the past, and that was a great feeling.It’s weird saying Welcome Back, as you almost never left online. But between you, New York, home and family, it was definitely a welcome back!

  12. sigmaalgebra

    Can understand that Provence had the best food, but would have guessed that the Italian Piedmont, Barolo, etc., would come in second!

  13. Kirsten Lambertsen

    That went by fast! Welcome home 🙂 You do seem renewed, by the tone of your writing.

    1. Rohan

      That did go by fast!

  14. pointsnfigures

    Accounting firms give their partners a year off after 20 yrs on the job. I guess now you know why.

    1. fredwilson

      a year? i think i got gipped 🙂

    2. LE

      If that is still the case it’s a holdover from the gold watch days. Accounting, many parts at least, is more like a 9 to 5 job. I was lucky to have a job in college (for a short time) at an accounting firm. Realized very quickly that there is nothing less in life that I would want to do than accounting as a full time job.In any case when you have the type of job where client (or business) relationships are important 1 year off really seems to long. For that matter I can’t see Fred being able to come close to even taking 6 months off and still maintain the relationships that he has in business.Besides, if you really like what you do why would you want to take 1 year off? That sounds like something that a postal worker would want to do.

      1. pointsnfigures

        So, since Fred “worked” on 4Sq; and it’s a portfolio company: can he write off the trip?

        1. LE

          You ask 10 different accountants business people you get 10 different answers.Here’s my take.1) Fred could make a credible case for writing off a portion of the trip. (No time to read, see #2 below…)The probability of being audited is low. Also he travels quite a bit on business already and I’m sure he did business while there (in fact I’d have to say I kind of know that he did – depending of course on what it meant by “doing business”).Now of course there are other factors at play as well. How many chances does he take with other tax issues? Does claiming this open up a can of worms that could bring scrutiny to other things that could be harmful? How much is he paying in taxes as a percentage of income? Who is his accountant (big firm or small firm)? What other deductions does he normally claim? Is he already well below the discriminant function in the eyes of the IRS and their IBM System/360?Another big question is can (and will) the IRS make a case that it’s not reasonable [1] and that it wasn’t partly a business expense?In other words there is a difference between:$10,000: I bought an oven for my kitchen and I see clients in my kitchen (cross your fingers that the jail is Allenwood)-and-$10,000: I took a trip and I saw clients on that trip. (pay a penalty and interest and/or be asked for supporting documentation).2) My feeling is that unless it’s super clear that he did business he shouldn’t take the chance. [2]Why? Because Fred is somewhat well known and would be a juicy target for the IRS to go after. Different set of rules and motivations. That alone to me makes it a non starter in my eyes. Along with “he doesn’t really need the money so why take any chances at all”. Read that again, reducing risk profile is important when there is little to gain why take any chances?[1] If audited who is to say that if he claimed he had a meeting with an entrepreneur that that didn’t happen? When he is audited many years later is that fact even discoverable?[2] But if he does I’d also cover it with some memorializing emails to the accountant highlighting the decision and getting feedback.

        2. Richard

          Not with the trail (literally) he left.

  15. iggyfanlo

    Thanks for sharing… your obvious joy and excitement about both the trip and the return is inspiring and just plain makes em smile 🙂

  16. Andrew Kennedy

    Welcome back! Sounds like you had a wonderful experience.

  17. kenberger

    unrelated, but I sat down with Daniel Ha at Disqus HQ last Friday.Was great to meet the man whose brainchild powers all this ongoing fun down here, and so many other places.

  18. Lee Blaylock

    Welcome back from vacation. I call it “re entry” like the space shuttle does. Generates a lot of heat coming back due to all the work but once you land safely and in the groove, you’re happy to be back at home in a familiar place.

  19. Peter Beddows

    What a terrific summary of your trip and of your feelings about time and journey through life spent with Joanne: What wonderful memories you will have both built up. All resonates perfectly with my own passions and sentiments. Really enjoyed reading this from you Fred. Thank you.

  20. Kirk Sohn

    Thanks for sharing the itinerary. It really sounded exciting What was the total cost of the trip, start to finish?

  21. jason wright

    how’s the waistline?

    1. fredwilson

      No different

  22. RichardF

    I’m interested to know if you think you really switched off Fred? I haven’t been able to since the advent of the net really. I relax on holiday but in reality have never cut the cord when I’m away and its so much harder now with internet access everywhere all the time.

  23. Twain Twain

    Thanks for sharing all these tips on 4SQ! Now I know where to go in Bordeaux. France is only a Eurostar ride away but I’ve only been to Paris and Marseilles.It’s obvious you’ve both worked really hard ever since you met for your family and success and it’s really wonderful and inspiring that you shared this 6 week adventure with each other (and we were lucky to get glimpses into it).Did you read that Sir Richard Branson is giving Virgin employees unlimited vacation time?*

  24. Semil Shah

    One of my favorite posts of yours. Not sure why. It’s the style in which you write, reflective, economical, grateful, but with a hint of fear re: email and being an empty nester. Welcome back.

  25. Redwoods

    are the new perspectives just for when “I’m back at work?”what did you learn from European city or family culture you would like to see more of back at home?

  26. Michael

    Fred, I’ve been a long time reader and for what it’s worth, my read is that your ready to leave venture capital and move on to new greatness. 🙂 I’m sure whatever you decide it will be excellent.

  27. garethwong

    Glad you took a rest Fred.. looks like you had a great time! curious though as most French enjoy Food, Wine, Cheese, but most importantly the desert.. seems like you guys skipped that course? Chinese is not great fan of Cheese nor desert but after long marriage with a lovely French wife, I have since learnt to appreciate it (& got almost obese for it), I can give you some recommendations when you next to go France.. e.g. St Honoré cake at La pâtisserie des rêves Laduree Macaroon gorgeous black sesame & green tea home made ice cream at Restaurant Tsubame Quality varies dramatically though, you need to know where to go! 😉

    1. fredwilson

      we aren’t big on desert. we did do a few cheese courses at the end of the meal though