spreadsheets and suitcases

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 11: New Year, Old Memories

¡Feliz año nuevo!  January 1st, 2019 found us in one of the most special places in the world to me: Sevilla.  Out itinerary this day had us hitting my daughter’s favorite bakery and playground, our neighborhood and apartment, a place to eat my favorite tapa, and a recreation of a treasured photo.  We woke up without an alarm- a true luxury!

We breakfasted with our friend, who had gotten in at 4am!  She jumped right into a Spanish New Year’s Day tradition that I was not aware of: watching the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day Concert live on TV.   I have to say, it was a lovely and gentle start to the day- and year!  Gotta love Strauss, especially while consuming reheated Freiduria chicken wings.  After a while, my itinerary began calling out to me…this was our last full day in Sevilla, after all…  Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 10: Hola España

A note before I commence with the Trip Report: I was of course deeply affected by the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the Notre Dame.  DH and I feel honored to have visited it so recently, as, even with renovations, it will never be the same again. The kids will always have that memory, too.  Travel is important!  Ok, let’s proceed.

After a nice evening in the Star Trek-themed Paris airport hotel, we woke up at what felt like dark o’clock.  Our nonstop flight to Sevilla (SVQ) on Vueling had a listed departure time of 7am.  It took less than 5 minutes to go down the elevator, drop our room keys at the front desk (which was this hotel’s checkout policy), and enter the terminal.  This hotel was definitely very convenient for early departures.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 9: Paris touring, Eiffel Tower & Mr. Spock in the elevator

How lovely it is to wake up in Paris! We got to sleep in a bit on this day, which was nice after our long touring day yesterday.  Our tickets for the Eiffel Tower were not until 10:30a.  This gave us plenty of time to shower and make sure all our stuff was properly stowed.  The hotel would be holding our luggage for us as we toured around the city.  Another shoutout to the family suite at the Best Western Plus 61 Paris Nation– we had slept comfortably during our 3-night stay, and greatly enjoyed to towel warmers in the bathroom on these chilly Paris nights!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 8: Paris touring, Notre Dame & Louvre

I normally get post-Disney Depression after leaving a Park for the last time in a while.  I had no time for that on this trip, because there was so much more to see and do!  We were in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Having said au revoir to Mickey, it was time for a blast of old-world culture.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 7: much magique at Disneyland Paris

After finding our way back from the suburbs of Paris and into our hotel, we prepped for the all-important next day: Disneyland Paris!  I felt as prepared as I could be…the day was planned, the tickets were bought and printed and stuck into my day bag, the credit card was well-rested (lol), the official Disneyland Paris app was downloaded, and most importantly, I was happy and excited, and my crew were, too.  Warning: this is a photo-heavy post!   Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: Southwest & travel visa to Europe

You may have seen the news…

sw hi

Tickets are now on sale, at great introductory prices!  Flights start this coming weekend.

  • Flights between both Oakland and San Jose, Calif., and the Islands, now available for purchase through March 5 for as low as $49 one-way.
  • Interisland service to begin April 28 between Honolulu and Kahului (Maui), and May 12 between Honolulu and Kona, now available for purchase through March 5 for as low as $29 one-way.
  • Visit Southwest.com/Hawaii to learn more about Southwest’s offerings for the Aloha State.

Unfortunately, that is too late for me to take advantage of for my next trip (I’m leaving tonight).  But you can still try and book.  Keep in mind that Southwest has a general rule that they will not operate red-eye flights.  So the Hawaii schedule is a little weird when you are looking at the return to the islands in a round-trip itinerary.  Play around on the site a bit.  I’m considering telling my parents to fly Southwest on an interisland trip when they visit us in May- strictly for research purposes, you understand 🙂

The other travel news that affects US citizens flying abroad is:

Starting in 2021, Americans and travelers from other visa-free countries will have to take an extra step when visiting more than two dozen countries in Europe.

I’ve read many articles claiming that the extra step is obtaining a visa, which it is not.  A travel visa usually means you as a traveler are essentially notifying a country when you want to visit, and are given (or pay for, depending on the country) a temporary pass for that specific country, biometric information might be taken, you might need to visit a consulate, etc.  This is not that.  It’s essentially a documentation step, and is not tied to any specific travel plans.  It’s worth noting that UK residents have been using this system to visit the United States for years.

The European Commission explained it thusly:

The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.

The current cost estimate is about $7-8 per traveler.  The authorization is good for 3 years and allows an unlimited number of entries during that time.  Americans would still be able to move around in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days at a time.  People are getting a little upset about this but I see no big deal.  Just another thing for the to-do list for our next European adventure!

Well, as I mentioned above, I’m leaving to the mainland tonight.  Worry not, I will be working on the Disneyland Paris trip report post while I’m gone 🙂

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 6: Chunnel train, Metro pain

After a wonderful 28 hours in London, we had arrived at the Eurostar terminal on time for our scheduled departure to Paris.  I had scored a great deal on these tickets months ago, and it was time to put them to good use!  Originally, since we were supposed to have this morning “free” after going to Platform 9 ¾, I had planned to leisurely go to Marks & Spencer Simply Food and choose our lunch for the train and some other English snacks (roast beef crisps and Jaffa cakes, anyone?).  But since we had squeezed in the Hop-On Hop-Off bus, that leisure time vanished.  So we got into the security line with plans to purchase something from the shops inside the small terminal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 5: woke up in England, went to sleep in France

For someone who travels a good amount, the title of this blog post doesn’t seem like that big a deal.  But I was reminded of the huge impact of travel 2 days ago- DD’s school band will be heading to an important performance on the mainland in March, and there was a parent meeting to finalize the details.  I listened to some of the more inexperienced parents and students ask very basic questions about whether you need a passport to travel entirely within the United States (no, and 3 weeks before we leave is way too late to be asking that question anyway!) and what will happen if it snows (life/the performance will go on).  For many of the kids, it’s their first time to the East Coast, though they may have gone to California or Las Vegas.  For some, it’s their 1st time away from Hawaii.  Wow!  Talk about a whole new world.  Anyway, after getting this 1st taste of travel, maybe one day maybe they’ll take the Eurostar and be able to write a blog post like this one…let’s get started! Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 4: back on track with traveling fun

Having gotten let through into the part of Hyde Park where we were going to be ice skating, we piled our backpacks and the rolling bag onto poor DH and the kids & I dashed into the tent.  It was a nice, heated room where we could exchange our shoes for skates and check our personal belongings (purses/cameras were not allowed on the ice).  Everyone out on the ice looked rosy-cheeked and happy!  We were soon to join them 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 3: in which my optimistic nature is tested in 2 different countries

Part 2 left off with me and my family heading to Raleigh Airport (RDU) on Christmas Day to catch our nonstop flight to London on American Airlines (AA).  BTW, I updated that post.  Can’t believe I forgot to mention The Nutcracker and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!  Go read it, I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’re back…the European adventure was about to begin!  First, though, we had to drop off the rental car.  This is where some of my troubles began… Read the rest of this entry »

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