Here I go again with the weather updates… but MAN this is like my dream forecast!!!!
It would seem that this is a reoccurring theme for me: planning next year’s vacations before even taking this year’s but I can’t help it!! A fellow travel-blogger referred to it as a disease! HA! He’s so right!
Planning so far ahead is like planning a dream vacation because you are untethered by the constraints of real life like: will I have a job next year? Will I have enough money to travel next year? Will I be healthy enough to travel next year? At this point the answer to all those questions is YES so there is nothing holding you back from fantasy-planning.
My 3 fantasy trips in 2015 look like this:
1- Vienna & Prague. By 2015 it will have been 7 years since we’ve visited Austria and I think we are due for a return visit. My idea is to use Vienna as a home base and then do day trips to Melk, Linz and Passau and possibly Salzburg although that will be weather dependant. I’ve been twice in the rain and I am not going for a third time unless the weather is bright and sunny. I also want to do the “Sound of Music Tour” and I don’t care how touristy or kitschy it is! Prague (last visited in 2009) is an easy 5 hours away by train. No day trips planned so I figure travel day + 2 full days in the city will fill us up; it’s such a gorgeous place!
2- London. I know this means only a 2 year gap between visits, but we loved it so much that we can’t help ourselves - and still want to do all the day trips we cancelled when we made our 2012 plans: York, Oxford and Windsor. In addition, we’d like to somehow meet up with our Chicago friends again and a big city like London would be perfect!!
3- Norway. This came about because of my wish to see more of Scandinavia. I already decided on a bus tour, but most of the itineraries spend too much time in Stockholm and Copenhagen which we’ve already done. Stunning cities, but I don’t want to spend time and money revisiting places by bus. Norway on the other hand would be totally new, and I like this itinerary because it includes Bergen and Oslo (although really, all organized trips to Norway would include these 2 cities!!)
Its 9 days, and then I plan to spend a few days in Helsinki with an excursion to Tallinn before heading back home. PLUS (icing on the cake) this also = THREE new countries and THREE new guidebooks!!!
I am so in love with this 2015 plan! I wonder if it will pan out... I’ll know in November! This is the danger of planning too far ahead: falling in love with a plan and then discovering it was never feasible in the first place!
To Be Continued!
I am working out if buying a train pass for our day trips is worth while… but it’s not an easy task because pricing out each leg of each journey is not so straight forward!
Train prices depend on different factors such as what time you are leaving, are you taking a fast train or local-regional train, are you booking in advance or the day before or the morning of your trip? All questions I can’t answer at this point!
We know we like to hit the road early, and historically we usually start our return journey back to home base around 3PM… but I can’t lock down any specifics and commit where I will be and what time I will want to return at this point.
So to give myself a general idea, I looked up the price of a 1-way ticket and multiplied that by 4 (mine, his, going to, coming back).
But check this out – a rogue 9€ ticket amongst more expensive prices! of course we’ll aim for that one, but who’s to say it will be available on the day we want to go for that price?
So really, it’s all just going to be a guess at this point!
Then, another factor to consider it the exchange rate. Suppose that the rough calculations I did for Bergamo, Bolzano, Brescia, Modena, Trieste, Vicenza and Venice are correct – this would total 484€ total. At today’s exchange rate, it’s 726$ and a pass is 686!
The fast easy answer is: DO IT! it’s 40$ cheaper and having a pass makes travelling so much easier… but what if I really screwed up in my calculations and it turns out I am way way off?? ARGH!
What to do, what to do, what to do…
I don’t want to spend too much time dreaming about my trip to Switzerland in the fall - I have 2 great vacations to enjoy before then, and in all honesty I want to finish paying them off first before I jump into full Swiss Planning Mode… but… who am I kidding! I’m too excited to not think about it!
This trip (like the last one in 2011) is incredibly weather dependant. It’s not like London for example where if it rains who care because we’ll go see a show, or hide out in a museum, or let the storm pass while we hang out in a pub etc. Our Switzerland plans are all outdoors all the time. We need good weather.
I am mulling over taking a chance with the Glacier Express. It’s a scenic train that runs at a snail’s pace through the most gorgeous scenery in Switzerland. It runs from Zermatt to St Moritz and I was thinking about catching it in Andermatt (from Bellinzona) and riding it to St Moritz.
It’s not the fastest way to get from point A to point B, but it is the most beautiful way! The fastest way would be by bus from Bellinzona to Thusis and then change to the train for the rest of the way – but I’d get bus sick… not worth it.
Here you can get an idea of how it’s a bit of a detour. Yellow = bus. Red = train.
Taking the (ironically named) Glacier Express would take all day. Leaving Bellinzona at 9AM and arriving in St Moritz by 4PM. I said to my husband: “what if it rains and we wasted all that time and money on a fantastic view that we didn’t see? (memories of not seeing the Matterhorn in 2006 coming to mind).
His answer said it all: “what if the weather is perfect and we have a great amazing journey on the train with fantastic views all day!” Hard to argue with that kind of optimism! I think we’ll end up taking the chance.
We’ve done the train journey up from Bellinzona before in 2006, and in 2000 before I met my husband, I did the ride to St Moritz from Chur – all by “normal train” and I still remember it as a stunning, so why not kick it up a notch and do it in style on a train with comfy seats and panoramic windows!!
Are we there yet?
A colleague of mine is heading off to Rome the same week my husband and I are off to Verona. Ironically, Venice is on both of our itineraries; how funny would it be to bump into her there!!
Just chatting with her about the sights and sounds of Rome set me back on a culinary walk down memory lane from our trip last fall. I still maintain my rant about food in Italy in general, but MAN I could kill to be back there now!
Here are a few images of the memories that are ‘torturing’ me.
… that moment when you wonder “was this really the best hotel choice?” …
In the middle of nowhere, close to the “sexy shop”! HA!
BUT… check out the glamour shots on the website!!!
And, I am also optimistic because breakfast appears to be more than just cake and desserts which is typical for Italy…
Can’t wait to evaluate it in person!
Now that I have been back a while, the “passion” for blogging about my experiences is fading. This confirms to me that blogging on the road is a great idea. Bit by bit, day by day… better than one long never ending post at the end!
Intrigued by the signs around town, I was curious about the “Art of the Brick” exposition. We went on Friday to ask the price and I baulked. 26$ per person! Are they INSANE! does that include lunch??? We skipped it.
But then on Saturday the weather turned and an indoor activity starting to look more and more appealing to me – so we went.
It was SO SO COOL! I am glad I went; but I still think it cost too much.
I was more impressed by the 3D art than in the 2 dimensional works because those seemed too easy. Any computer program can pixilate an image and anyone can then create an image with uniformly coloured bricks! Presumably I am supposed to be impressed because the artist did not use a pixelated image as a guide… but still, the “I can do that too” impression was strong.
Nevertheless, they were impressive (squint to get the full effect):
Mona Lisa - Leonardo da Vinci
Self Portrait - Rembrandt
The Girl with a Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer
Starry Night - Vincent van Gogh
Like I said, I found the 3D works the most impressive - both the imitation of popular works of art, and his own creations (the pictures don’t do them justice).
The Kiss - Gustav Klimt
The Scream - Edvard Munch
Whistler's Mother - James McNeill Whistler
American Gothic - Grant Wood
David – Michelangelo
Our pictures of Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and the Thinker didn’t turn out that great, they just look like jumbles. It’s too bad because in person they were quite appealing!
Among his original works, I liked this one a lot!
It was a nice exposition!
What’s not to love? It’s such a great city!
We used to go to New York City about once a year for an extended weekend, but we skipped it in 2011 and then in 2012 we went to Boston instead - so after a 3 year absence, we were excited to go back!
Since this was our 7th visit, we didn’t really have any firm plans for things to see and do. We said to ourselves that we would let our moods guide us. In fact, the planning for this trip was so lazy that I forgot my guidebook at home!
We don’t actually stay in the city, we (now) stay in fleabag places in North Bergen or Rutherford instead. It’s so much cheaper and NYC is expensive enough!!!!!! We used to stay at the Sheraton (which is now a Hilton) back when it was about 110$ a night, but those days are long gone! Inflation is alive and well and that place is now almost 200$ a night… we are NOT paying that!
Prices are UP in the city that never sleeps! The Lincoln Tunnel Toll is now 13$!! We have to examine an alternate route for our next trip because that cost alone rang up to 39$! PLUS 3 days of parking… not cheap!
So what did we do on this trip? Little bits of everything and lots of nothing.
We walked and walked and walked like we always like to do; up and down 5th, around and around Time Square, through Central Park, on Friday we walked down from Midtown to lower Manhattan to see the Freedom Tower…
You have to find a spot far back to get the proper “WOW it’s really tall!!” effect. I found that if you stand too close, the surrounding buildings mess up your perceptive and it doesn’t seem that high.
We also saw the “New Year Eve Ball” (this one was retired in 2008) and this REALLY was a lot smaller than I ever imagined!
But for me, the highlight of any trip to New York are the shows. (Followed closely by restos, but that applies to any trip, not just NYC). We saw two shows this time, both great but so different from one another it’s hard to say which one I liked best!
First was Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Excellent! With Rodgers and Hammerstein's you know it’s going to be good and it was! I loved all of it, the songs were great and CLEAR (you could understand every word) the story was funny, the costumes were fantastic and Cinderella’s transformations were AMAZING! rags flip and rip in milliseconds and POOF she’s in a ball gown and glass slippers and tiara!!! No cheap tricks like hiding behind a bush, no – right there on stage! spin, distract, flip, voila - ball gown. I wish I could see that in slow motion; it was jaw dropping.
A big thrill for me (my weekend celebrity sighting) was seeing Harriet Harris in the roll of Madame (the evil step mother) she was FANTASTIC and so FUNNY!… and to me, she did channel Bebe Glazer into Madame in the most perfect way! I loved it!!!
I hear Fran Dresher is taking on the roll next year – no offence, but I can’t imagine she could possibly be any better! Harriet was outstanding!
The second Musical we saw was Spider Man.
It’s said to be the most expensive Musical in Broadway history ever. Easy to see why! WOW. Spider man actually flies around the theatre! Talk about good use of space!! ok, the harnesses are CRAZY visible but still, it’s really cool!
It’s hard to find pictures that can convey the coolness because they are all taken with the view towards the stage and you don’t get the effect that they are flying around over the heads of the people and when he lands on a platform rigged up in front of the balconies it’s SO NEAT!
The kids LOVED it (the adults too I am sure!) Here’s shot of Spidey about to land on one of the platforms in the audience, check out the kid! I think he is actually squealing with pleasure!
There were SO MANY young kids there! (ok, it was Saturday 2PM) but frankly I did not think it was appropriate for all ages. Aside from the immensely cool acrobatics, I think a lot of it would go right over their heads. By young, I mean under 5: can’t sit still for 3 hours age. PLUS, the tickets are not cheap! if you want seats in the front row of the “Flying Circle” you’re paying over 100$. Seems to me a small fortune to spend on a kid that won’t really pay attention or ‘get it’. But what do I know, I don’t have kids and perhaps 4 year olds today are more sophisticated then I was in the 70s.
The interactiveness of the show was a lot of fun! I too got close to Spidey when he popped up in our box and webbed me! Actually, I think he was aiming for the people over me in the balcony but my huge pompomed hat caught most of the web! HA!
My only complaint about the show was that the Theatre was FRRRRREEEEZING, plus the show was long so after 2 hours I was starting to look forward for it to be over so I could warm up! I had my had and scarf on almost the whole time and I husband has his parka wrapped over his shoulders.
It was a really great spectacle!
… that’s enough for now, I’ll fill you in on the rest of the weekend later!
I don’t really want to get serious about planning the hotels for Switzerland now. It can wait until next spring - even summer … but you know me, I can’t help myself!
In order to save money, we are flying in and out of Basel AND we have lousy flight times.
The day we arrive, we land at 5:30 PM if we are on time. Optimistically, we’ll be out of the airport by 6. Getting to the train station from the airport is easy, it’s a shuttle bus and costs 4 francs – we’ve done it before and we know what to expect. It’s fast and easy, takes about 15 / 20 minutes and you’re at the train station. I figure it’s logical to expect that we get there by 6:30PM.
Trains to Bern are frequent, there are about 3 or 4 per hour, some direct and some with a change in Olten.. easy. I calculate that the earliest train we’d catch is around 7PM – which means we’d get to Bern by 8 / 8:30. THEN we have to get to the hotel; I figure opening the door to our room at 9PM is a reasonable estimate.
My idea is just to spend the first night in Basel. Have a nice meal, then crash for the night and head out to Bern early the next morning. My husband however said we might as well get all the travelling over and done with on the first day so we can start in Bern the next morning.
Meh. I’m not in the mood to decide. Thankfully I have almost a year to make up my mind!
When I picked Bolzano as a day trip from Verona during our next trip to Italy, I didn’t realize it was the home of Ötzi the Iceman! Cool!
I remember when he was found (over 20 years ago! where does the time go!) so I think it will be neat to see him in person – albeit somewhat gruesome!
Yeah! Another successful vacation circulation done!
Despite being at the bottom of the list, I got all the weeks I wanted. I still have not picked my individual days, that’s taking forever, but thanks to “emergency days” I can still get some key days off even if they end up being closed in order to get a better deal on the airfare… although I doubt I will have to resort to that – the days I want are not very popular.
So now comes the fun part! Plotting and planning and making a fun itinerary fit into a budget that makes sense… or win the lottery, that’s another good plan!
This is kind of fun – documenting the “so far” plans to see just how much they will change and evolve once the real planning gets going!
Ideas change, hotel prices force alternate home-bases, etc etc etc…
So far so good! How will it end?