spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

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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I feel like a real EuroSTAR

I took the Eurostar train from London to Paris once before, and I remember it was pretty cool.  I was all, European Rail Travel! Crumpets to Croissants! The Chunnel! For this trip, once our departure to Europe changed from the NYC area to North Carolina, and the opportunity to fly into London was in play, I realized that my next Eurostar opportunity had arrived!  I immediately started researching, and saw the magic words any uber-planner loves…“prices are cheaper the earlier you book”Read the rest of this entry »

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Award travel success- transatlantic flights

I plugged our voyage  into the Great Circle Mapper, an excellent site to determine flight miles between destinations, potentially very useful in the near future (see Flights to Spain and Flights within Spain further down).  This is what came back!

europe trip route map

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Award travel success so far, European hotels

Yeaaaaaaaaaaah buddy! We currently have 4 of 7 hotel nights needed covered with points, with 2 of the remaining 3 hopefully covered by certificates later this year.  I shall now regale you with my recent adventures in hotel booking.

Um, have you ever noticed that European hotels (even American chains) rarely sleep more than 2 people?  I’ve had quite a time setting up 4-person rooms in London, Paris, and Barcelona.  We are lucky to be able to stay with family or friends in our other 3 stops (North Carolina, Seville, and New Jersey).  My chart:

Location # of nights needed # of nights booked on points # of nights paying OOP % nights covered
North Carolina  3-4  3-4 sister points  0  100%
London 1
Paris 3
Seville 3  3 friend points  0  100%
Barcelona 3
New Jersey 2  2 daughter points  0  100%

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Some lighting, some watching, some planning

 

Lighting: I hope everyone had a Happy Hanukkah if your family celebrates the Festival of Lights.  This year, my son was finally old enough to remember the candle-lighting prayer from one night to the next.  He previously would just hum along with big sister and dad, but now he knew the words and sang more confidently.  This bodes well for the future, since my husband’s family tradition is that the youngest family member leads the singing, and my little guy will have to step up to the musical plate once DD leaves for college.  I received some fun Disney-themed gifts for Hanukkah this year, including this trading pin jigsaw puzzle and Mickey sanduche-caliente maker.

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