A Trip To Europe (Pt. 1): Looking For A Place To Happen(The Tragically Hip)

 

December 7th, 2015.  That’s when I got hit with news that I really wasn’t expecting (or maybe I was).  My wife decided that she wanted to leave me.  Hit me like a hammer across the mouth.

I was upset/mad/disappointed, use whatever adjective you want.  I was a mess.  Work sucked, life sucked, Christmas sucked.  Life was a complete mess.  Nothing was cheering me up and then I remembered that some payments were coming up for what was supposed to be our 10 year anniversary trip to Europe.  That made me even more mad.  I had just put down a deposit on a villa in Tuscany.  Now I would have to cancel.  Luckily the lady who owned the villa was very understanding.  Got most of my money back.  Next I had to cancel a cruise.  That’s when it hit me.  Why do I have to give up this trip?  Not this exact trip, but going to Europe.

I had an epiphany.  Go, travel.  On your own!  So I changed it up.  Hunkered down and started researching.  I googled a map of Europe and started planning a route.  I realized though that I didn’t want to keep packing and unpacking, so going on a cruise as part of the trip made sense.   No extra packing and unpacking.  A bunch of places to visit, and all I had to do was make sure I got back to the ship in time.

So I started looking for a cruise that would leave from a decent port that would end up somewhere for a lack of a better word, cool.  Celebrity Cruises is my cruise line of choice.  So I started with them.  After looking through some itineraries I found the perfect one.  It started in Venice and ended in Istanbul(cool, right?)  I sent an email to my travel agent and told her to move my booking from the itinerary I was booked on to the one I had just found.  It leaves October 10th and ends October 21st.

So know where to start my European sojourn from?  Back to the map of Europe.  I needed a place to start that was historic but also a little inexpensive.  The cruise was pricey(going as a single isn’t cheap), so being frugal was more of a necessity.  Austria?  No.  Switzerland?  Not cheap.  Prague?  Hmmmm.  Maybe?  So I started snooping around on websites like Tripadvisor, airbnb, and a cost of living website and  realized that it was the perfect price point.  I decided Prague was a great place to start.

I figured that I would get there on October 1st and give myself 10 days of travelling around 2 or 3 cities before I needed to be in Venice.

Now the most important part.  Can I get there using just miles and without crazy connection times.  I use two mileage programs for flying.   Alaska Airlines for travel within North America and Aeroplan for further destinations.   Luckily for me I have accumulated a fair bit of miles through credit card programs by paying for purchases for the family business. I checked Aeroplan first and wasn’t too happy with the selection.  5-6 hour connection times and poor flying times.  Luckily for me I can use my Alaska miles for partner travel, so I checked on there, and B-I-N-G-O.  The jackpot.  British Airways. The new A380-800.  And first class was available.  I don’t think it took me more than 30 seconds to book the flight to Prague and back from Istanbul.

So, I knew where I was starting and I knew where was finishing up.  Now all I needed was to figure out where else I was going to go.  Going back to the map  I found Budapest.  Perfect.  Once again, it played to my frugal side.   And It looked beautiful.  Sold!  Next up was a tough choice because it only left me a couple of days to visit.  I ended up choosing Vienna.  It was close to Budapest by train and I could easily fly to Venice from there.  2 days was all I figured I needed.

So I started looking for apartments to rent and it everything just fell into place.  I was booking so far out in advance that the places I wanted weren’t even booked yet so I got all my first choice places in Prague, Budapest and Vienna.  A couple of them even asked me if I was sure.  Yup.  Book me in please. Total cost for 8 nights of accommodation…….$650.  Canadian!  I decided that I would use a hotel in Venice.  That was my splurge.  A Best Western hotel.  Pricier than what an apartment would cost but close to the cruise ship terminal and I could iron my clothes before I got on the ship.

So there it was.  The itinerary was set.   In 5 days, I figured out a trip to Europe.  A solo adventure through some of the most beautiful places there.  A funny thing happened though over those 5 days.  I started to heal.  I was happier and more involved again.  I still hurt but there was a smile on my face from time to time.    That’s when I realized I had the Wanderlust again.  I knew it was there but I hadn’t had that feeling you get from the joys of travelling for a while, but it was back.  There was only one problem……270 days of waiting…….sigh!

prague2

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