When planning my trip to Europe, I wanted to save on financial transaction costs and get a fair conversion rate on exchanging into Euro’s and Swiss Franc. When I did my research for which credit cards are the best for travel, the Stack Mastercard came up in the results. I poked around some more and found another card called the KOHO Visa Card. Both had an app, so I signed up for the two free cards. My Daughter also signed up for them to use for all our purchases on our trip.
Here is the information on both cards below. (open to view)
I arrived in Ajax the night before to meet up with the kids and talk about the trip and stress that we are packing light and using backpacks for this trip. I brought my tent and camped “stealth” in Ajax and the “Mom” brought them to the Go Train with their passports. Noah broke his arm a couple of weeks before the trip. Days before the trip he got a new swimmable cast. So with that and some travel insurance we were off to the Airport with our 3 backpacks.
Day 1: July 28th Plan
Get ourselves to the airport in time so we are not rushed for our flights
Fit the 3 of us on one of two different flight options
Try and get some “real” sleep on the flight
Arrive in Prague the next morning and book somewhere to stay the night
We took off on the GO Train from Ajax to Union Station in Toronto. We got out of Union and walked across the road to Movenpick Marche at Brookfield Place for some lunch. $50 later we were on our way on the UP Express that runs from Union Station to Toronto Pearson Airport that is always a reliable 25min trip. Kids are excited and so am I to finally be able to take them to Europe. On our way to the airport, I started to shoot some video on my iPhone to make a little travel vlog of the trip, since I’m sure it will give me something to do on the flight and late at night not sleeping due to the JetLag that was coming.
With my flight benefits at work, I decided to book us on Air Canada since the direct flight with Air Canada Rouge leaves Toronto close to 5PM. As a back-up, we booked on a credit card the 8:20PM Toronto to Munich flight with Lufthansa. I’ve been checking the flight load all week leading up to departure and LH471 to Frankfurt was at capacity and it looked like LH495 to Munich would fill up also. The space on AC1922 with Air Canada looked good all week. A night before the Air Canada app will show you how many people are on the plane for those who are flying “Standby” and it had about 80 open spots… so I knew we would be leaving on the direct flight at 5PM. Once we land, I would refund the Lufthansa ticket.
The configuration of the flight is a 2-3-2 for economy and we were put in the middle 3 seats with Noah riding in the middle. With the early departure of 5pm and us landing in Prague at 7AM local time… I knew it would be tough on the kids since it was only 1AM Toronto time and we had our whole day ahead of us so trying to get some sleep on the flight was important so after dinner I would force them to use the eye-mask and ear plugs I packed to try and get some sleep. At the airport we went through security with no issues. A bit of juggling since we took some stuff out of our main packs and had little bags for our personal items to distribute the weight. They didn’t weigh or measure any of our bags. We also asked the gate if we could get on first with Noah’s arm and that helped secure space in the overhead bin for our backpacks all together.
Below is the first episode of our travel vlog:
I’ve never flown Air Canada Rouge before. I’ve heard stories that the cabin in economy is tight. I also heard that there are no screens on the back of the seat and you have to download the AC App and you can stream movies on your device. I knew were would get food. I was hoping to fly with Lufthansa so the kids could experience our airline on a long haul flight. Maybe on the way back we will fly Lufty.
On the flight, I was really pleased with the food and the room. My legs fit… so I was happy. I just couldn’t enjoy a cold beer on the flight like LH471. The boarding and gate staff were great. Noah and Chantal tried to sleep and I think they drifted off for about two hours.
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.
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.
I started to make videos again. Below is all the videos from the trip I just got back from.
The 8 films are a total of 45 minutes of viewing.
I will make a blog post and post photos from the trip. I had difficulty flying out and you see that in the first two videos. If you click the link below they will all play in a row. You can skip over videos also. Don’t laugh at them…. they are cheesy and I made them using my iPhone and using iMovie inside my phone to edit and publish them to Facebook and YouTube while traveling.</p
You can open the menu in YouTube and go to any selected video to view.
A small village is a 21 minute walk from the conference centre. There is a shuttle service to Frankfurt Airport for guests and you can jump on the train from the small village of Seeheim to get to Frankfurt for 5Euros from Darmstadt-Ebestadt Station which is 12min away from the Hotel.
The rooms are simple. The Hotel has a pool, spa, sauna and a small gym.
All the meals are included and the food is really nice. Lots of places to mingle and connect after the daily schedule. With the time of year over there… I don’t think there will be lots of hanging out on the decks. The conference kicks off Monday March 11th and wraps up March 13th on the Wednesday. Over 200 people will come from around the world from Lufthansa In Touch and Lufthansa. Our office will send 14-15 people who will try and fly out on the Friday evening before, but with March Break travelers we might not fit on the planes. I’m looking at moving my two weekends to either side of the conference so I can possibly fly out on the 5th or 6th so I have a chance to have a couple of days before and after to visit Frankfurt and some other city that I can travel by train or fly to.
Once I get my dates confirmed and my Duty Travel Flights booked by work… I will try and figure out where I want to go and the logistics of moving around Europe. I might be able to stretch this from March 5th to the 16th.
Ry X is touring during that time period so it would be neat to attend his concert since he has shows close by throughout the week.
I will document the trip using video from my phone and will probably bring my DSLR to capture some photos of the city and conference as well as my little travels before and after the conference before returning to Canada.