Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Time Machine

Just when I started thinking that I’d not been paying enough attention to the first city that prompted this blog–good old Las Vegas, Nevada–I received a call from Orbitz dot com.  It was an automated message, and I only caught the second half, but I did hear the words ‘Las Vegas’ and ‘change’.  So I checked my email, and sure enough, I had a message telling me that there was a ‘significant change’ to our itinerary.  We called the non-toll-free number to find out this: the flight times had been changed.  It seemed we were to fly out of Philadelphia at 6:30 pm to meet a connecting flight in Columbus, Ohio at 6:10 pm.  I’m not very good at math, but I’m PRETTY SURE that wouldn’t work out (I’m also 100% sure that there is no time difference from Philly to Columbus).  So my husband stayed on the phone with the Orbitz people for a VERY long time, only to find out that there was nothing they could do, as it is a weekend.  It seems they can alert us of a giant mistake on a weekend, but they cannot remedy it.  We will not be booking with Orbitz…ever again.  That is, unless they do something epic to fix this issue.  And I’m talking Lord of the Rings epic.  But we shall see.

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Poor Me

So the trip has officially been shortened slightly, giving us extra time only at the beginning of our trip; originally we had a five to six day cushion at both ends.  But we’ve made some decisions based on this, and I think they are good decisions.  They are as follows:

1.  As we do not know what the airfare situation is, we need to have multiple plans.

1.1.  Multiple plan number one–Airfare dips down incredibly, we buy a cheap ticket to Paris, and we stay at the cheap rental in Florence.

1.2.  Multiple plan number two–Airfare does NOT change AT ALL, we buy an expensive ticket to Amsterdam on a large website with a hotel–in Amsterdam–included for the first part of the trip.

1.2.1. We stay in Amsterdam for four days, travel by train to Brussels, sight see for an afternoon, continue to Bruges, stay for a day and a night, and end up in Paris.

2.  If we don’t get to do Florence this trip (what I want), and as we will definitely not get to Prague this time around (what the husband wants), we will plan to return for at least the next two summers, one year doing Italy/Greece, and one year doing Eastern Europe.

3.  I am going to stop looking at airfare obsessively until at least the middle of March.  Note the addition of ‘obsessively’; I will still be looking, but not in an obsessive fashion, and I will not expect to find any amazing fares anytime soon.

I think this is all very good.  I plan to kill time between now and mid-March planning every detail of our two week stay in Paris, which, to be fair, would be a pretty amazing experience in and of itself.  And, of course, I’ll be consoling myself that on my way to Paris I only get to go to EITHER Amsterdam (and Belgium) OR Florence (and Tuscany).  Poor, poor me.

Great Husband Post #2

Ok…talked to the husband.  I’m a little more calm now.  Here’s the new new plan…

We will likely ditch the Florence portion of the trip.  We would like to see all of Italy eventually, possibly as soon as next summer, and we can do a whole tour of Italy–Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, maybe even Venice.  And we will go as soon as school lets out, so that it will be a few degrees cooler.  It is a good idea.  And anyway, who am I kidding when I say ‘possibly as soon as’?  We will do this next summer.  18 months from now.  Not a huge concession on my part.

We will keep Paris–that’s the only thing anchoring this trip, as it is 100% set in stone (as in ‘we’ve paid a deposit and I’ve been re-learning French so we ARE going’)–and permanently add Amsterdam.  Amsterdam gives us the option of including the hotel with the flight, therefore costing zero more dollars, along with the probability of a day (or two) spent in Bruges and/or Brussels.  Perhaps a day in Bruges on the way down, and a short stop in Brussels on the way back.

This all seems reasonable.  I think I shall start researching and planning….now!  (Also–I’ve been given last-minute-Bermuda approval.  So really, all is well.)

The Dark Side

I am unbelievably frustrated at this moment, and felt that I should share, in case anyone ever reads this and feels the same way.  Here are my reasons:

1.  I am not getting ‘good’ feedback about summer air costs.  I put ‘good’ in quotes, because it actually IS good in that it is honest; it is NOT good because it is not what I wanted to hear.  I did NOT plan on spending as much money on airfare as I think we are going to have to spend.

2.  My husband just found out about another work commitment today that shortens our trip and makes our travel time even less flexible.  To be fair, it does mean that NEXT summer we’ll be able to take another trip (which my husband did not fail to immediately point out, after he broke the news), as we will be able to afford it (the work commitment is related to a promotion) BUT…who knows if we will have time next year, what with the promotion and all.  It seems people either have time or money.  We’ve always had time.  Right now, we don’t have either.

3.  I’m a spoiled brat who wants to go wherever I want whenever I want.  Perhaps I’ll abandon my (admittedly great) husband and stay in Europe without him.  THAT would be interesting! (Note:  I’m not actually going to do that.  But I’m thinking about it–which is important to note.)

So here’s how I’m going to deal with this–given the fact that we will be saving money by making our (admittedly already very long ) trip ‘shorter’, I am going to look into last minute deals for Easter weekend cruises.  To Bermuda.  Take that Two Cities!  (Note: that’s a trip that is clearly not ever going to happen, but I can still search.  Right?)

Helpful People are Everywhere

Today at lunch I spoke with a very nice substitute teacher who completely allayed all of my travel fears.  She spent some time living in Europe–the Netherlands, to be specific–and she was so very reassuring that I not only feel better about our travel plans, I’m back to being thrilled.  I expressed my two main concerns; one, that Florence would be unbearably hot and crowded and two, that Amsterdam is just a city full of men roaming around looking for…well, you know.  She assured me that Amsterdam has so much to offer it is a not-to-be-missed destination, citing museums and canal cruises and bike tours animatedly, and that the so called ‘red-light district’ stays where it is–you can simply not go there.  As for Florence, yes, she said, it would be hot, but not unbearably so, and even if it was unbearably hot, no one really cares because there’s so much to see and do, you don’t have much time to stand around and be annoyed. 

I am constantly amazed by how helpful so many people can be–especially when it comes to trip planning.  I cannot wait to turn around and be helpful for others.

Italy in July?

I’m starting to rethink this whole plan.  I’ve read NOTHING but bad things about Florence (and all of Italy) in the summer (and I’ve read a LOT about Florence and Italy in the summer!), and we would be there during the worst part of summer.  Additionally, there is the whole airfare idea.  If we just flew into and out of Amsterdam, spent some time in Brussels or even Germany on the way to Paris and then a week or so in Amsterdam on the way back….that would be so much easier, and we could do it all by train.

Wow.  I cannot believe how complicated this whole planning process has become.  Though I suppose I could just say to hell with it all and just enjoy my two weeks in Paris.  But really–we all know that’s not going to happen!

I wonder how difficult it is to get from Amsterdam to Prague, back to Paris.  Hmmm.  Stay tuned.

A New Level

A tragedy had led me to take several days off from planning this trip, but that same tragedy has created renewed enthusiasm for said planning.  I’ve been trying to plan by the mantra ‘assume you will return’, but right now it seems ‘live life to the fullest’ is a far better affirmation.  So…here’s the new plan…for now.  I’m pretty sure nothing is in stone until airfare is procured–but this sounds like a pretty great trip:

Day 1:  Fly out of Philadelphia.

Day 1 NIGHT-Day 2 Morning:  Arrive in Amsterdam.  Take cheap flight to Rome.  Note:  Sleep on plane from NYC to AMS.

Day 2:  See Rome.  Sleep in Rome.

Day 3:  See more Rome.  Take train to Florence.

Day 3 Evening:  Sleep in Florence.

Days 4, 5, 6 and 7:  Florence.  Side trip to Sienna.

Day 8:  Wake up in Florence.  Train to Pisa.  Tour Pisa.  Fly to Paris.

Day 8 Evening:  Sleep in Paris.

Days 9-22: Paris

Day 22 Afternoon-Day 23 Morning : Train to Bruges.  Tour Bruges.  Sleep in Bruges.

Day 23 Afternoon:  Train to Amsterdam. Visit Amsterdam

Days 24 and 25: Amsterdam.

Day 26: Fly home.

Wow.  That seems like a lot.  I’m willing to bet it won’t happen.  But still–it is a plan.  And I like plans.