Tuesday 29 July 2014

European Adventure: Day One - Traveling and Trip Overview

A few months ago Dad was looking at the sister-site of his timeshare program and realized that there were places available in Europe. We played around looking at the various counties and accommodations offered and saw some in Austria and Hungary. Both of these were places I had wanted to see so I didn't discourage this research! After checking his available points on his airline program he realized he also had enough to get return tickets and thus our European Adventure was born. We started looking at nearby counties and attractions, realizing that the timeshare provided a decent base point to drive to and from. We also looked at some other reward miles he had accumulated and realized there were enough to cover some hotels in other cities and countries. Within a few days I (being the planner that I am!) had mapped out an intinerary. We decided that this trip wouldn't just be a father/daughter one but that Brian would come too. Soon after we started making arrangements and getting things booked.

As per usual I was the one in charge of planning, researching and developing the final intinerary. I tired to include the travel styles and interests of all three of us in my plans to ensure everyone would have a good time. For example, Brian isn't big on organized tours - he would much rather explore an area on his own rather then be told where/when/what he is seeing. As such, all of our main travel is independent and I have only booked three organized tours. I am one who is very much about having a plan, so I have mapped out day trips and attractions, and pre-bought a few of our tickets for busy sights like the Vatican. Dad is definitely a morning person, so all trains and tours were booked with that in mind. I also worked with our interests - Dad and I are going to do a Sound of Music tour, and Brian will get a chance to explore some musical attractions like Mozarts residence. Plus, I am going to visit Swarovski Crystal Worlds - a place I have wanted to see for years! 

I read the newest Fodors Book - Essential Europe which was vital to my planing. Since it covers all European counties it highlights the key attractions, restaurants and information rather then going in to deep detail. As we only have limited time in some places, I want to maximize what we can see so this book was a huge help! 

All of our hotels are booked as well as our travel methods - and we are literally going to be taking planes, trains and automobiles! Some of our days are pre-planned but others are open. Below is the intinerary that we have thus far. 

July 29 - July 30 - Leave Toronto and Fly to Prague (via Montreal and Munich)
July 30 - Aug 2 - Prague 
Aug 2 - Take the train from Prague to Budapest, rent a car and drive 2hrs to the timeshare in Cserszegtomaj
Aug 2 - August 8 - Timeshare in Cserszegtomaj (day trips to Budapest, Zagreb) 
Aug 8 - Train from Budapest to Vienna 
Aug 8-11 - Vienna, Austria 
Aug 11 - Rent car and drive to timeshare in Maira Alm, Austria 
Aug 11 - 16 - Timeshare in Maria Alm (day trips to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich) 
Aug 16 - Fly to Rome, Italy 
Aug 16-18 - Rome, Italy 
Aug 18 - Train to Florence, Italy 
Aug 19 - Best of Tuscany Tour 
Aug 20 - Train to Venice 
Aug 21 - Venice, Italy 
Aug 22 - Fly home

Initially it wasn't going to be anywhere as long as this - 2.5 weeks at max. However we waited a little to long to book the reward flights and based on that availability the trip got extended by a second week. It is a long trip, but I am excited for it! :)

We arrived at the airport a few hours early for our flight to Montreal but it worked out well as it gave us time to check in and get through security. We were happy to confirm that our bags would be taken care of, meaning we dont have to worry about getting them during our two stops. Because Dad had so many Aeroplan miles we were able to book all the tickets in Business Class - this allows us access to the lounge which is a great way to relax pre-flight. The Maple Leaf Lounge has a selection of drinks and light snacks available so it was nice to utilize it.  

Below is our flight information:
Air Canada: AC418 – Leaves Toronto 16:00 / Arrives: Montreal 17:15
Lufthansa: LH475 – Leaves Montreal 20:20 / Arrives: July 30 in Munich at 9:55am 
Lufthansa: LH1690 – Leaves Munich 11:50 am / Arrives in Prague at 12:40pm

We are packing up and getting ready to head to the gate, so stay turned tomorrow for a recap of our travels and the first impressions of Prague. 

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