One of the advantages of temporary unemployment is there is plenty of time to plan this trip.
As our route slowly takes shape, I've been getting guidebooks from the library. And as I read through them, I've been putting more books on hold. We've got quite a collection at this point.
One thing I've learned so far is that there is way more to do and see than we can fit in a single trip. So we're not going to try. We're going to go deep in fewer areas, rather than doing a Rick Steve's "two days per city" whirlwind tour.
The approach has served us well when travelling in Canada. Our two weeks in Prince Edward Island is half a lifetime compared to the guidebooks - they'd have you on and off the island in 48 hours. But there is joy and wonderment in the little villages as much as in the famous cities.
As for the guidebooks? I tend to lean toward Rough Guides, even if we're not going to be staying in hostels very much. Fodors and Frommers tend to be for people with higher budgets than we have (at least that's the sense I get.). Lonely Planet might be a good fit but isn't available at the library much so I haven't formed an opinion.
WIth our 'go deep' strategy, the individual country or region guides (Portugal, Paris, Andalucia) are a better match than Europe in 500 pages. The regional books have room for smaller, quirkier places in addition to the big names.
The "general overview" books have been helpful too. Rough Guide's "First Time Europe" or Rick Steve's "Europe Through the Back Door" get you in the right frame of mind for travelling, rather than talking about where to eat and what to see.
But all this book smarts can only give us the basics of a region. I can hardly wait to get there and see Europe with my own eyes, meet new people, and follow my nose.