1.24.2008

Not-so-accidental Tourist

Now that Max and I have a signed contract on our house, I can begin the important work of squandering the profits. Our vice of choice? Travel.

Because my husband is on the European vacation system, he enjoys six weeks off without including holidays, which are also abundant. Back home, and only after 10 years of employment, we each accrued four weeks of vacation. Even so, I always ended up requesting days without pay because I never seemed to have enough free time. I hardly remembered the days of two weeks paid leave and wonder how people manage to stay sane with so little vacation time. I suppose this is an example of doing what you have to do. Max tells me, in general and because of our historical roots, many Americans live to work. Europeans, on the other hand, work to live.

I’m diggin’ this philosophy. Last night, my husband and I went through the calendar, marked off just his four-day holiday weekends, and began dreaming about how we would use these blocks of time. Rome, Cairo, Athens, Prague, Budapest, Paris, and Barcelona ended up making the short list. Now, it’s my job to play travel agent and find the best deals on planes, trains, hotels, and attractions.

Have you ever visited any of these cities? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations? How do you find the best travel deals?

24 comments:

Andrea said...

My dh has been to Prague, Budapest and Barcelona for work. He really likes Prague for the beauty of the city itself. We have been to Paris quite a few times (as a family and dh for business). We have tons of reward points so we tend to stay at Marriot or Hilton. I look at Expedia for deals and go from there too. It's a bit harder since we've got two little kids though. Our Paris vacation generally consists of Disney :)

For Paris though - the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Arc De Triomphe, Basiliqu du Sacre Couer, Place de la Bastille, Palais Royal - I could go on and on! I LOVE Paris and if at all possible I'd live there.

Have fun planning :)
Andrea

running42k said...

I am so envious.

June said...

I'm totally jealous.

Will you adopt me?

Sara said...

I'm with the others.. I am so incredibly jealous! Have FUN!

AmyD said...

How fun!! This is definitely something good to spend your new freetime doing...have fun with it!

Diane Mandy said...

andrea- Thanks for the suggestions. I can't wait to get there.

R42K and Sara- oh, please don't be jealous!

June - Consider yourslef adopted.

Amy - it is much more fun than battling the dust bunnies, I must say.

The Guv'ner said...

If you're in Prague or Rome or Barcelona or even Paris you can pretty much just amble along and find fine stuff to look at, but any guide book will sort out the specifics for you. Lonely Planet are still my favourites - they give good tips on budget stuff too.

I'd love to go back to Budapest (I loved it there!) and I always love Spain. Madrid is my preference but Barcelona is lovely too. you can't really go wrong with any of those places in my opinion.

Croatia is one of my favourites. Beautiful coastline and towns like Split and Dubrovnik are really beautiful.

Diane Mandy said...

guv'ner- Croatia is a great idea! Thanks!

The Grunt said...

I need to start working to live.

I've not visited any of those countries, but I'd sure like to. Sounds like you've got quite the adventure planned.

sprizee said...

Oh Barcelona is really lovely. I was there last March and the weather was perfect. Not to hot and not too cold. I highly recommend Barcelona, Spain or Lisboa, Portugal. Both countries are a little less expensive than other European countries like Italy and France.

cHICO said...

What?!? No Lexington, VA...

Diane Mandy said...

grunt - I'm hoping it's a great adventure. That's part of the reason we signed up for this stint.


Sprizee - Less expensive? Hmmm. Even more reason to go!

Chico - yeah, I'll get right on that. First you need to come see your sister in Germany. As I recall you were suppose to come over Christmas. Ditched me for a Caribbean cruise with the fam. Hmph!

Sizzle said...

i've never been to any of those places- go for me so i can live vicariously through you! ;)

that whole "work to live" philosophy? i can totally get behind that!

Monica said...

Diane...
Rome.. having lived in italy, I'm a bit bias... but Paris, very romantic, Barcelona is beautiful, one of my favorite cities and don't get me started with Athens. I hear that Cairo is a must in one's lifetime... As far as Prague and Budapest, I need you to go so I can have the encentives to get my a** on a plane and see it in less than 7 days (because the people left over in the US don't get 4-weeks vacation - LUCKY YOU GUYS!) booo hooo! I'm surprise that Africa did not make your guys list.... what is up with that?

M said...

I don't understand how people get buy on the holidays they do. Out philosophy of work (and Australia's sounds much like the US) is really wrong I feel. The euros know where it's at.

I've been to Paris, Rome and Barcelona. All are absolutely wonderful cities - but for me Paris was just so beautiful. It was like looking at a postcard wherever I turned!

Jenn in Holland said...

We tend toward the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants planning when we travel. And we very much do the budget hotels, because the point is to be out seeing the city and sights, not sitting in a luxury hotel room, right?
Of your list, we have done Paris as a family and it was divine. We've also recently done Berlin, Brussels, and Megeve in the French Alps. As a couple we went to Milan last spring. That too was divine!

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I am thrilled that you have so much time to spend traveling and having a great ime! You deserve it! I would check for online deals and then see what cities are on special for specific airlines and see if there are any package deals with cars or hotels...

Diane Mandy said...

Monica- Funny you should mention Africa. A friend who also turned 40 this year is trying to talk me into sleeping in a tent in ome wilderness park. Me in a tent. Still trying to wrap my brain around that!

M- the Euros do know how to live, this is for sure. Sounds like you are quite the world traveler!

Jenn - I think you are right about the Budget hotel idea. It's not as if we'd be spending much time there. And I wonder if I would have better luck bringing Charlie along this way?

Princess Ex- Thank you for the kind words. Online travel sites certinly make it easier, don't they. My fingers are rpactically nubs since I've spent so much time looking.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Sounds exciting! Sorry to say I've never been across the "pond!" I do enjoy my summers off, however...

kenju said...

We were in Rome, Florence, Zurich, Paris and Versailles in Oct. 2006, but our daughter planned the trip and got all the flights. You will LOVE Rome, and I recommend anywhere in Italy!

Diane Mandy said...

Kiss' times- You have your summers off? Are youa teacher? Thank you for dropping by!

kenju- I remember your European trip from your site. Your pictures partly inspired our decision to go to Rome!

Anonymous said...

I've been to all except Cairo and love each in its own way -- wander the city and get a guide book and you'll hit the highlights. I also recommend Croatia, Bosnia and Poland (Krakova is amazing, and Warsawa). They're off the beaten path and in many ways so much better than the other cities that swarm with tourists.

Don't limit yourself to the US travel discounters -- with so many dirt cheap airlines in Europe, you should check lots of individual airline sights too. We often fly from Rome to Lamezia Terme in Italy and often book through Orbitz, paying about $150 each for a flight that costs about $60 each if you know what airlines to check that aren't on the discount sights. Live and learn... At least we won't make the same mistake when we head back in a couple months.

patches said...

Nice looking short list.

I've went to Paris ten years ago. I believe Andrea covered the high points.

Rositta said...

Anywhere but Athens would be my vote. My son's been to Budapest and love it. I shouldn't talk badly about Athens since I have to spend 6 weeks there every year, but I don't love it...ciao