Euro2019 Trip | Leg Four | Off To Lisbon, Portugal

Since we didn’t know if we would make the flights to Lisbon, we decided to book once we hit the ground in Portugal.  Upon landing, we booked the Lisbon Chillout Hostel (shown above) & grabbed a Uber and checked in close to 2AM. Great price and the breakfast the next morning was great in the self-serve kitchen shown above.  We decided to walk downhill towards the water and check out the Rue Augusta that is lined with shops and patios.  This pedestrian friendly road leads you down to the water and into Praca do Comercio square, which is where we headed to sample the city and let the kids get their sense of direction.

I also wanted to take them on top of on a hill to get a good view of the city at sunset.  Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is an excellent place for this. (shown below) Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine and some food and sit and hang out with the locals also doing the same.  It’s best lookout since you can see the castle, city, river and the bridge in the background.

 

The next day we moved over to The New Hub Lisbon Hostel, which I booked in advance using HostelWorld.  Excellent place with great amenities and excellent location.  They even have a ball pit room.  I had the top bunk, so after two pitchers of Sangria… it was hard to climb the wooden ladder to get into bed.

In the video above you will see us take a Tuk Tuk, which is also recommended after you negotiate a great price.  We also tour the city on the famous Tram 28 that takes you east across the city towards Belem.  We loved this tram and it was included in our 24hr city metro pass that is good on the subway, buses, tram and also ferry if you add that extension to the ticket.  Advice for the Tram is go early in the morning to make sure you get a seat with a open window.

A great place to eat is the TimeOut Market shown below with so many food vendors surrounding the many tables that allows you to taste many little yummy things.  It’s down by the water and easy to get to from the city square by the river.

 

 

 

 

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Five | Zurich, Switzerland & Innsbruck, Austria

On our last night in Lisbon, we were going to have dinner at midnight and chill on a patio and taxi to the airport for a 6AM TAP flight and maximize our Lisbon time and save some money by not getting a room for a couple of hours.  But when looking at flight options, we found it was better to try and leave on TAP in the evening.  Why?…  If we ended up not getting on the plane we would be “airside” and through security making it easier to sleep in the airport overnight and we would then be going for the 6AM flight to Zurich.  Also, if we make the flight, we will land at 11:30pm and our goal is to sleep “airside” in the Zurich Airport and leave in the morning.  This keeps 200CAD in my pocket since places in Zurich are quite expensive with last minute accommodation options.  Plus, who wants to book a room if you don’t know if you will make it on the flight.  So, by doing this, it will give us the full day tomorrow in Zurich and I found a place by the water for 131CAD for the night when planning the trip.

Zurich was just used as a gateway to the mountains.  Our goal was to take a train to Innsbruck to spend three nights in the mountains and the famous mountain coasters.  Video above shows us landing in Zurich and sleeping in the airport.  My daughter had no idea who “Bernie” was 😉

Zurich tip: Don’t buy anything from Starbucks or even pop which is crazy expensive.  TripAdvisor recommended eating at Manora which is a rooftop restaurant which had excellent food at a great price.  Also, we picked up the 24hr transit pass that allowed us to get into the city from the airport by train and all the trams and also the water shuttle that we used as a free river cruise.  Zurich was a quick stop for us and we had just the one full day.

 

 

The video above covers our train from Zurich to Innsbruck, Austria (23CAD pp).  We would spend three nights in a cool little AirBnB apartment for $62CAD per night.  Kids loved taking a train through the mountains.  Noah slept.  We had a little compartment all to ourselves, so Drizzy made it 4 of us.  After arriving in Innsbruck, we decided to get the Innsbruck Card that you can buy for 1, 2 or 3 days.  We decided to get the two day pass (65CAD pp) that gave us all trains and buses in the city and also the gondola for about 8 mountains to go up and a whack of museums and a free 3 hour bike rental.  You can google what the card will give you and show you what the normal price is.  To go up the mountain you see in the video above.  The cost of that alone would have been more than the cost of the Innsbruck card.

My Son was scared to go up the mountain.  We told him it was like winter up there and I packed him a jacket and long pants to change at the top to scare him.  I made him pack his sleeping bag in case we get stuck up there and would have to sleep overnight hugging the side of the mountain.  My Daughter was in on it with me.

Innsbruck is sweet.  It’s about a hour south of Munich by train.  The mountains are incredible.  In the video below you can see us going down the Mieders Alpine Slide (14CAD per ride) and the ride itself takes about 7 minutes to go down.  We bought 15 trips.  This trip was built around going to Austria to ride on these coasters.  My kids loved it and worth the money.  If you watch the video below… you will see that I almost was not allowed to ride it.

After three nights in Innsbruck, we had “train day” back to Prague to fly home.  We took a train to Vienna (4hrs + 30CAD pp) to stop and have a short 3hr layover for lunch.  Then we took another train (4hrs + 19CAD pp) to Prague to spend a night at the same hostel we stayed previously to start the trip.  We were sad to head back to Canada with our backpacks.  Our phones were full of photos and videos.  We went over “our story” of what we would tell the “Mom”.  She wouldn’t like us sleeping in airports.  40 open spots on Air Canada Rouge and they upgraded us to a row with more room.

We also talked about our next trip next year to Thailand and Vietnam to rent motorcycles and ride the countryside.

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

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?

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

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

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…