I’ve said before that a big part of the fun of vacations is the pre-planning and plotting. But since my upcoming visits to London and Paris are practically planning-free there isn’t much for me dig into!
It will be the 5th time I visit each city so I’ve got it down by now. I know how to get into town from the airport, I know how to get to all the attractions, I know what’s worth seeing and what’s not… it’s routine! (God I sound like a snob!)
So why revisit a 5th time? Well these cities, along with Rome, can be visited a hundred times and you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The cities themselves are major attractions and not only the churches and museums and sights within them. Plus, these next visits will be extra different by default because I am not travelling with my husband this time.
One of my friends and I went to Switzerland together in 2001 before I met my husband; it wasn’t a great trip. OK, she said she liked it and had a good time…. and I suppose we did, but when I compare that trip to subsequent ones I’ve taken and that were so much more “WOW” I think about how much better that trip with my friend could have been and I now think she missed out. We didn’t have much money, we were working retail at the time, and so we essentially couch surfed at my relative’s. Nice time, but just not the same as if we had been completely independent… and a little richer!
We’ve been wanted a do-over for ages! (15 years now) and circumstances made it possible to do it this year… so off we go! We picked London because (how do I say this nicely in case she’s reading this) she’s more easy going than I am. I am always on the GO GO GO GO GO GO GO, while for her vacations are for relaxing. London I think was a good destination to pick because I’ve seen it all many times before, so I won’t feel like I am missing out on anything in case the pace of our days is a little “slower than my usual”.
I’ve put her in charge of the things to see. I told her: “tell me what’s on your list, and I’ll make it happen!” So, now I am on stand by while she works but one thing I didn’t give her a choice about was visiting Buckingham Palace. Every time my husband and I have been to London it’s been in the spring and so the Palace is closed - this time it will be open and I already bought the tickets. I have NO CLUE what she’s into when it comes to The Royals. I’m a Royalphile as you know, but I am not sure she is as up on Royal Family History… will I be wasting her time if I bring her to Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Castle or the Tower of London?? Or will she just enjoy it because it’s all lumped into the fun of “being on vacation in London”? I think so, but really I don’t know! We’ll have to wait and see.
Paris planning on the other hand is a little more interesting!
Next spring my mother has a big birthday coming up, and I thought it would be really fun for her to celebrate that milestone in Paris. She’s never been and I know she would completely lose her mind and fall in love with the place…. but really, who wouldn’t? My husband suggested we go this fall instead of next spring since the prices would be better, good idea! plus I was saying the weather would probably be a little nicer then instead of around the time of her birthday…. So off we go!
My mother is SO EXCITED you have no idea!!! I’ll be able to coast on this good-daughter-deed for years! I am off sooooo many hooks! Such a devilishly brilliant plan! She wants to see and do EVERYTHING and is full of questions, she’s also an energizer bunny like I am and she’ll be able to keep the GO GO GO GO GO GO pace without a problem (where do you think I got it from!) I appreciate her enthusiasm; it’s infectious!
I gave her the same mandate I gave my friend: “tell me what’s on your list, and I’ll make it happen!” She just replied “everything”…. The list is MILES LONG! I told her to put “everything” into some sort of hierarchical order from “musts” to “would be nice” to “if we have time”. She did, and made a colour coded map with lettered pins and corresponding legend. She is PSYCHED! I told my friend that she is being left in the dust by the level of my mother’s planning, she agreed she’s been outdone.
Since my mom was nose-deep in Paris planning, I told her to see if buying a museum pass would be worthwhile. Look at your musts, add up the costs (by going to their individual websites in case the Paris Museum Pass site gives you the most expensive quotes to make their product look even cheaper) and compare the total to the cost of a pass.
Except… she had something like 20 musts! I sincerely appreciate her enthusiasm and willingness to see as much as possible, but I don’t want to spend all day every day inside museums; we needed to pair this down even further. She agreed. (Although at this point, I think she is willing to agree to anything!!!!)
There are A LOT of places covered by that pass! I took her list and picked 6 things that I felt were a good mix of Museums, Monuments and Activities and if those 6 things totalled more than a 6-day pass, it would be a no brainer. This way we’ll have one thing planned per day and we can play the rest of the day by ear depending on our moods, the weather, the line-ups etc .
Turns out with the 6 things we picked we’ll save 5 Euros by buying the pass, but in reality I’m sure we’ll save a lot more than that because some of the things I picked are outdoorsy or only take an hour or so to do, in which case we’ll undoubtedly do 7th or 8th or 9th or even a 10th thing over the 6 days.
So, in the end, I was able to indulge in a little pre-vacation planning after all!