Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Don’t Tell Mom Summer Europe Trip 2019 | #shesaidyes #timetoplan

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Time to plan.  She said yes.  She has said no to Europe in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

I’ve lost deposits on things when she said caved in 2016 and 2017 with a simple trip to Lisbon.  That didn’t work… so we were listed as a “no show” in 2017 at a pretty wicked Waterpark in Germany that has been on our bucket-list.  Who would not want to sleep over inside a Waterpark!!

Will this summer be different and it all happens?  Will we finally fly to Europe from Canada and visit some neat cities & Tropical Islands just south of Berlin?

(below: Chantal asking since she never replied to my email asking…)

(Above: Chantal telling me it’s a go!  Karen also emailed me the next day with a “Yes”.)

So time to plan.  I work at Lufthansa, and that provides me and the kids with flight benefits.  There is so many great websites and apps for your phone to help you plan a trip to get away.  All our trip information is going into Evernote now that my Daughter also has access to.

 

Time to use Evernote, Google Earth, Trip Advisor, Couchsurfing, Hostelworld and see what our options are.  I have 16 days to plan out since the kids are at a cottage till the evening of July 28th.  We are using Google Sheets to track and plan how much money we need.  We are creating a google cal that will track some of the basics of the general timelines to show the kids the blocks of time.

I really wish the Canadian dollar was strong against the Euro.

When you start to look at the logistics on how to travel to hop from city to city… it’s kind of nuts and also equally hard to plan out.

Here are the basic details of the trip:

Right now, we have decided to fly Air Canada into Prague in the Czech Republic since it’s a little east of Munich and South of Berlin.  We are flying standby so if we don’t fit on Air Canada Monday night, we will have a backup ticket towards Munich, Germany so we can easily catch up and get to Prague.

AC1922 departs Toronto (YYZ) at 4:50pm on July 29th and arrives next day into Prague (PRG) at 6:55AM on July 30th.  We will have two full days in Prague before moving north.

After the two days in Prague we will get on a Train and head north to Krausnick, Germany that is about a hour south of Berlin.  We will be staying inside Tropical Islands Theme Park in a little tent.  We will have access to the water park for a crazy amount of time so I’m sure we will be pale Canadian prunes by the end of it.

After checking out of the park we will jump on a train north to Berlin Germany… where the next day we will have a full day exploring the really interesting city.

The next morning we will make our way to the airport and jump on Lufthansa to zip southwest to Lisbon Portugal by the ocean for four days.  The city of 7 hills and we can get lost in the streets of Lisbon and also hop on a train and hit two beaches along the coast.  Will update this blog post soon with more information since we are looking at places to explore to roughly block off some time to do and explore.

After Portugal, it’s on a plane North East towards Zurich and into the mountains of Switzerland and Austria as we make our way back to Prague.  TAP Portugal will fly us to Zurich since it’s a gateway into the Alps.  This will be a short stay and we will have the second part of the day to taste some food and hopefully jump into the river for a swim and a late night to try and see a bit of the city before bed.

The next morning it’s on a train through the mountains to Innsbruck to spend 3 days in this small city in the valley of the mountains.  The reason we wanted to go here is the huge steep mountain coasters and do some hiking in the mountains with the help of the gondola to get up there.  😉  Below is two of the rides that we hopefully not hit the breaks on.

After the the days of going hard… it’s rest day on a train as we travel from Innsbruck to Vienna to stop for lunch for a couple of hours before getting on another train to hop back to Prague for a last night of spending any money we have left on some food we can’t spell.  I’m sure I will be editing videos on the train.

The next day it’s off to the Airport in Prague to hop on a plane and fly back with Air Canada back to Toronto where we will be back in the same day and the kids should be home by about 8pm local time and off to bed to sleep for 4 days.

 

More info to follow.  Please don’t share with the Mom if you know her.

 

Couchsurfing in Innsbruck, Austria | Can We Tent In Your Backyard?

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

I’ve been a member of couchsurfing since splitting up with my wife in 2012.  I hosted Ben from England who was staring out with his trip all across North America.

I’m in the process of planning a 16 day trip around a little bit of Europe and we have 3.5 days in Innsbruck Austria.  Some of the details on the trip is here.

We are excited about Innsbruck with the mountains and the many alpine coasters.  We will be coming from Lisbon, Portugal and we will fly into Zurich and spend a half day there.  The morning of Aug 9th we will take a train to Innsbruck.  I’m shocked by the cost of hotels in Innsbruck and the surrounding areas.  Some are $250-$350CAD per night.  I found one on Hotels.com that is about 2km from the city for nights 2 and 3.  Don’t have something for night 1 yet.

We are thinking of getting a tent in Lisbon to camp in.  I’m sure we can do some stealth camping and find the edge of a forest and set up a tent at 11pm when it’s dark and wake up in the morning to pack up.

It would be great to use Couchsurfing to find a backyard to pitch a tent for 3 nights just to crash each night around 11pm quietly.  Then we will cancel our hotel and use that money for adventures in Innsbruck more.

3 nice Canadians below.  My Daughter Chantal is 18 and will be off to post secondary school this fall.  My Son, Noah is 12 and all three of us are super excited to travel by plane, train and explore some cities.  We are looking forward to meeting new people, eating new food and learning different european cultures and exploring cities!

The three of us have a blast together.  Just don’t tell the “Mom”  😉

We are arriving in the afternoon on the 9th of August and we are departing just after 7am on the 12th by train to Vienna, then Prague to fly home.  This would be a huge help for us.

Reach out via couchsurfing or via email

dan@jsdoit.ca

https://www.couchsurfing.com/people/jsdoit

The Trip | The Details | Pics | Leaving Toronto For Germany

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

All packed using travel cubes to help pack clothes.  I was going to bring my big camera, but decided to upgrade to the 64GB iPhone8 to give me more room to capture video and take not to bad pictures of the trip.  Therefore, didn’t bring too much.  Small backpack I got from work as my personal item on the plane and daypack when I would travel to Italy after the work part of the trip.  My weekender bag I would use to bring some work clothes and leave in Frankfurt when I sneak off to Italy and use as a checked bag to transport my bottle of Lufthansa Cocktail back to Toronto.

Was excited to fly on the Boeing 747-400, since it would be my first time on this plane.  After getting checked in and boarded in the two seaters at the back that gives you a gap between the wall and the seat to tuck you legs seen above and also your personal item.  A work peep was also on the flight and she was sitting in front of me on the flight.  After pushback we were waiting for a while.  The captain came on the intercom and announced that when starting the engines they were getting a error message in one of the engines and they were going to move the plane around to the side of the airport and see if they can fix it by changing a fuse.  After doing that they didn’t get success so they decided to pull out all the fuses and wash them and dry them to see if that would help.  Still no luck.  The captain said they would replace a control board to see if that would fix the error message.  On the third hour being on the plane they had no choice but to cancel it.  We boarded around 6pm and this was about 9pm.  We waited for a bus to come to the plane so we can take a bus back to the terminal and go through customs and states we really didn’t leave the country.  After that we were told to go down to the area at Pearson where you get shuttles to hotels and we would be sent to a hotel with hotel vouchers and food vouchers.

 

Video 1 while documenting the trip:

Day two of the trip was in TorontoFURT.  Kind of sucked but you take the time and shift it into a positive so I used the time to edit the vlog I was capturing with my phone and I also did some trip planning.  My work peep was downstairs and we had $20CAD food voucher for breakfast and one for lunch to use so I went downstairs to the hotel’s Fiona McCools and noticed breakfast was $8.95… so I used my voucher to order two of them and made it into a 4 egg + 4 links breakfast.  Why not.  Madeline was my new best friend now and both our goals was to get to Germany early to goof around before the conference starts on the Monday.  Today was Thursday and we both had confirmed space for Friday… so after having lunch together at the Hotel Pub (Lamb Burger which was really sweet) we headed back to the airport to see if we both would squeeze onto the plane.  With the flight cancellation the night before some passengers were put on this plane so it was full and over by 7 people.  We took the free hotel shuttle anyways and went to try.  We didn’t fit so we called our contact at the company that helped us the night before and they set us up in a different hotel and we took a free shuttle to meet them there and they checked us in and gave us some more food vouchers for dinner and lunch the next day since breakfast was free at the hotel.  The video below is us giving it another try.

 

Picked up my two bottles below 😉

After a good nights rest in a hotel bed we knew we would fit on the plane and would fly out Friday and arrive in Frankfurt around 8am the next day.  At the airport we had some more work peeps that had their normal scheduled flights.  Some were on Austrian.  I was on Lufthansa and I had a nice seat at the window just after the wing ended on the Boeing.  I ordered a beer to enjoy before dinner.  I picked the beef stir-fry from the two choices and it was really good.  I just wish I had two of them. 🙂

After touching down in Frankfurt… I checked into my hotel and decided to head down to the old city center square and grab a bite to eat and learn my directions around the city centre.  A little 4 hour walk around… I was ready for a nap since I was up for more than 24 hours straight.  I went back to shower and have a little two hour nap and about 9pm… I ventured out again till about 11:30pm and puttered editing a video before going to bed.  The next morning, I had to make my  way to Seeheim and check out the Conference Hotel and settle in a day early before the conference started.

 

After having breakfast with a little sleep-in… I went to the airport to catch the company bus to the Lufthansa Seeheim Hotel & Conference Center.  As you can see in the video… I missed that bus by minutes and then took a train to the hotel where I checked and ventured around the property checking it out.  My Canadian work peeps were there and some were arriving later in the day.

My room was simple and sweet and I had a nice view out the window.  Each night… I poured myself a glass of Lufthansa Cocktail that they used to serve in the 50’s in first class.  I was a bit of a night owl making coffee at 3am while doing laundry and logging into the computers you can use to check email, etc.

As you can see from the videos the work part of the trip was jammed pack with seminars & workshops.  Sitting down over breakfast, lunch and dinner with peeps from work was nice to get to know them better and it was also fun to get to know more people from other parts of the world like Innsbruck, Cape Town and Bruno.  Some mingling activities with drinks was nice in the evening.  It was exciting to see all the things behinds the scenes about making the LH Group of Airlines as one in terms of Customer Service and the work involved to streamline processes as well make it easier experience to fly with us for passengers and how we deal with them throughout the entire process from start to during to post travel.

 

The next post will shift with moving along to visiting Naples as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and into Italy before returning to back to Canada.

The Trip | The Details | Moving Over Into Italy Before Flying Home

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

On the last night of the conference after it wrapped up and peeps traveled back to Cape
Town, Manilla and other parts of Europe… the my fellow Canadian peeps stayed at hotel just south of Seeheim and we all took the 35min train north and into Frankfurt for a group dinner and a little bit of shopping.  Thursday morning we all departed and most people went back to Canada.  I decided to use my weekend and 3 vacation days to zip over to Italy since this summer I plan to return with the kids.  A work peep who was heading to Italy too joined me on the flight to Naples.  We took a taxi to the Frankfurt airport to catch our flight.  I only brought a small backpack for this trip and I stored my Lufthansa Weekender Bag at the Airport with my work clothes for 8 euros a day to pack light.

Flying into Naples felt like flying into Mexico looking at all the houses built up and packed close together.  Palm trees when you walk out of the airport to grab a easy bus downtown to get to the main train station to grab a subway to my hostel I picked up on Hostelworld for $30CAD which was lovely.

My hostel was a 100 meter walk from Salvator Rosa subway station.  My hostel was La Controra.  After checking in walked down to the old part of the city to walk around and soak in the city a little and grab a bite to eat.  Along the way I stumbled into a great little italian pastry shop and picked up a selection of treats to try.  So yummy!  In the skinny streets packed with tourists and locals it’s neat how you can hear the vibrancy of the city.  I love just soaking it all in and my eyes are just always moving watching people with the hustle of the mopeds flying around with 2 people zig-zagging around.   They say you have to have pizza in Naples since that’s where it was born… so found a little place and ordered two little ones to enjoy.  After that headed back to the Hostel and had some beers with some people staying there.  The next day… I would take a train heading to the Amalfi Coast and my work peep friend would make her way to Rome.

The next morning it was back to Garibaldi Station to take a train to the Amalfi Coast.  Jump to the next post for that…

The Trip | Off To Visit The Amalfi Coast in Italy

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

After taking a train from Naples to Salerno, Italy which was a high speed 32min ride… I took some money out of the bank machine from the national bank since that gives you a fair rate… it was off to find the Sita Bus for 2 euros that would take me along the coast to Atraini where I was staying three nights at a Hostel for about 50CAD per night.  Above and the two collages below is Atrani and the little village where I stayed and enjoyed breakfast each morning.   After Easter the waves of tourists come and the beaches are lined with little umbrellas.  It was pretty quiet at this time of the year and the weather was pleasant.  I didn’t bring a jacket on the trip and just used my reversible Tommy Bahamas sweater.  Kinda neat to have one sweater in two colours 😉

Walking along the side of the road as cars zip past you was interesting since the roads are so narrow.  Walking to the town of Amalfi from Atrani is under 10min but you find yourself stopping and looking at the water and the hills rolling along the coastline.  Amalfi is where you would take another Sita Bus to Positano and the small towns along the way for 2.40 euro’s.  I loved the bus rides as you look at all the little houses and hotels stuck on the side of cliffs wondering if they ever will fall down and into the sea.  I’m sure they have been there for about a 100 years and will continue to do so for another 100.

As soon as you get off the bus you are just looking at all the little houses sitting on top of each other in the distance and everyone is snapping photos on their phone.  3 minutes getting off the bus I see some tables across the street from a little bar/restaurant.  Why not sit and have a coffee and get something to nibble on and shoot some time-lapses and just listen to the “quiet” of waves and birds in the background playing in the wind as they float over the beach in the last rays of sunshine for the day.  The sun will be setting soon.

I didn’t venture down to the beach.  I will save that for tomorrow.  When I walked into Amalfi the bus was going to leave and there was spots along the water side… so I thought I would sneak into Positano a day early.  So I walked around the top part and took the bus back to then really visit the town of Amalfi.

When I ventured back to Positano… I had to find my way down to the beach and just walked anything going down.  Every 40 feet you stop to look at the houses on the cliffside and there are lots of little shops to venture in and look.  At the bottom along the water there are more shops and seaside patios to busy restaurants.  I can’t imagine the amount of people there would be in the summer.

Town of Amalfi at night below.  Always people around and it was nice to wander around and snack on little things before walking back to Atrani along the road between the two towns.

Checked out of my Hostel and took a early Sita bus back to Salerno where I would take a hour train to Naples to fly out.  Since there is one flight at 11am from Naples to Frankfurt… I was scared and I decided to use NAP to Munich at 1pm and then the small 1 hour flight MUC FRA.  We have 3 flights a day from NAP to Munich so there was another plane at 5ish as a backup.  When I was at the conference I purchased tickets to fly to Italy and back to Frankfurt for next to nothing on my discount which is sweet.

Flight to Frankfurt to Munich had a curved wing that you just stare at as you float in the air.  I was sitting alone in the back with the flight attendants.  Nobody sitting with me or on the other side which was nice.  One flight attendant was so sweet.  I kept looking at her.  I stayed and talked to her after we landed and she told me she went to Halifax to look for houses to retire.  Small world to think why would someone from Germany who goes everywhere think of Halifax.  When we landed there was a plane with retro livery which was sweet.  After getting off the plane it was a quick 3 stops on the train to the main train station downtown to check into my Hostel that is such a great place for crashing.  I would fly out the next day with LH.  (but I didn’t… since my space on LH was removed somehow and I was booked on Air Canada at 5pm so I had the next day to take in Frankfurt a little more.

Love maps where people put where they came from.  The Hostel has a little bar and I had a bottle of red before retiring for the night.  Beside it was a little poutine place so I had some pommies.  The next day was a food truck festival outside the hostel so I had a little sample of that.  They even had a wine truck as you can see below bottom left.

 

 

Frankfurt To Toronto | Air Canada Signature Business Class | Coming Home

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Getting in line to board the plane in economy… I was first for my section.  I followed the agent and she swiped my boarding pass and I heard a “beeeeep” and I thought… i’m not going to be on this flight or my seat has changed.  I was scheduled for a window which I always want.  She told me I was moved to 4D and I knew that was up at the front and not in the economy rows.  I asked her if I could change my seat and she helped me get a window and off I was down the tunnel heading to the plane with a business class boarding pass.  The cost to a passenger for that cabin for that direction is $2500-3500CAD.  My Duty travel ticket was under $140CAD in economy.

The Dreamliner is the worlds most advanced commercial jetliner that travels higher, faster and smoother.  This has Air Canada’s newest business pods.  With the window seats now facing the window.  The windows on the Dreamliner are huge with no more plastic shade that slides down.  Button controlled dimming that allows you 5 different settings.  The staff can also control the cabin when it’s time to sleep and dim all the shades to darken the cabin.  Noise canceling headphones are given to plug in.  Seats have USB and plugs to power laptops.  Touch screen remote for the inflight entertainment.  Coming soon in flight messaging with other passengers if you are traveling with peeps.  18 inch screen with great quality for movies and television that remember where you are in the movie if you tap out to check the flight status of your trip.  The table slides towards you and has two folds with locking positions.

The drink menu is full of options.  The amenity kit has the basic things you need or would expect to find.  Hot towels are passed around before the dinner service starts with white linens for the dinner service and light meal before you land.

Seats have built in massage option and you can control the firmness of the seat or mattress.  Many different angles you can adjust your seat to relax, work, rest or watch the entertainment screen.  Adjustable armrests that are extra wide.  Full duvets, mattress and pillow are provided for resting.  Washrooms are sensor and touch free.  Throughout the flight there is a basket of chocolate bars and fruit if you want to help yourself to snack and throughout the flight the staff are always coming around offering drinks, juices and water.

Before getting on the plane i used my last euros to buy the biggest coffee i could find and i actually bought a sandwich to bring on the flight lol… which i kept in my bag for the flight.  Richard the flight director came around and asked me if i wanted a boarding glass of sparkling wine and winenot.  After takeoff he came around to serve drinks and i got him to make me the signature drink with crown royal 😉

Before take off… I ordered my main dish and i just waited for the food trolley to roll up and see what the people in business class eat.  Honestly… each portion was incredible.  I was completely blown away and I felt like I was served in a exceptional restaurant and the food and service was top notch.

After dinner and dessert… i didn’t want to sleep so I watched a movie and I did close my eyes with the lie flat bed for a hour to listen to a concert.  I didn’t want to miss breakfast below to see what’s up with that.

Vlog on the way home is below with my flight on Air Canada in Business Class.  Truly incredible service and flight on the Dreamliner by Air Canada.  Exceptional.