Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Planning for Eastern Europe

Ever since we returned from Seattle, we have spent most of our spare time planning our next adventure(s). As usual, everything is fairly last minute, even if we’ve discussed the options over the course of several months. Greg is actually taking two weeks of vacation (working remotely in New York & Seattle is NOT vacation!) and we’re leaving for Eastern Europe next week. Since his time is limited, he opted to pay for a confirmed ticket from Nashville, via NY, to Berlin and then from Budapest, via NY, to Nashville. The best price and most direct flights were on Delta. Since I have much more flexibility, I decided to chance it and fly standby, also on Delta. I can still travel on my mom’s passes and just pay the yield fare, which is less than half the cost of Greg‘s coach ticket. I also get to travel first class if seats are available. Both of the international flights that Greg is booked on are oversold in coach. It would be way too risky for me to try to travel with him and potentially miss the first few days of our vacation if there truly were no seats available on his flights. I have multiple options; the biggest limitation is that many flights to that part of Europe do not operate on a daily basis at this time of year. I could just go to Berlin a few days early, but I don’t want to kill time alone in a city where he and I are spending three full days together. Delta does not fly to many airports in the vicinity of Berlin plus I’ve already seen the better part of Germany during previous trips and I’d rather go somewhere “new.” So the only viable option is Copenhagen. If all goes well, I will depart Nashville this Sunday and arrive in Denmark on Monday morning. Because there’s always a possibility that something could happen and the flight could fill up, my backup plan is to fly to any European city which operates as a transit hub (e.g. Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris) and to make my way by rail to Berlin. Also, for the same reason, I cannot book advance accommodations or my overnight train ticket from Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden to Berlin as I would be charged a cancellation fee by the hostel/hotel and the train ticket is not refundable. So I’m going to resort to the tried & true vagabond’s method of choice: couch surfing. I can only hope I’ll find someone with a couch available prior to Sunday! But my backup plan is to carry the contact info for my first choice hostel and hope that they have a bed if nothing else works out. Greg & I are planning to meet at our hotel in Berlin next Thursday morning. As I’m carrying my ultra-portable Acer Aspire One netbook with me, I’ll be able to keep an eye on his flight’s progress and potentially even meet him at the airport (my train from Malmo gets in several hours before his flight is scheduled to arrive). We’re going to spend 3 nights in Berlin, then take an afternoon train to Prague; 3 nights in Prague, then take an overnight train to Krakow; 3 nights in Krakow with day trip to Auschwitz, then take an overnight train to Budapest; and 3 nights in Budapest. Despite Greg’s return flight already being oversold in coach, there are still seats available in first class. So I will at least plan to go to the airport with him on the 7th and hope that I can get on his flight so we can come home together. Otherwise there’s not another flight (on Delta) out of Budapest until the 10th, so I would have to take a train to a major transit hub and try to get home from there. I am not one to stress about these things, especially since I don’t have to be anywhere until the 16th. Everywhere we’re staying has free Wifi so I’ll make every effort to post on a daily basis while we’re traveling. Until then…

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