April 26, 2012

Travel Junkies

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Now that I have come off my huge kitchen project, well just the beginning parts at least, I've taken a step back from house stuff.  Not a lot of projects have been happening around here!  I've been busy being a wife and stepmom over the past few weeks.  Dave has been working non-stop, God love him, to get a huge paycheck next week to pay off the rest of our Europe trip.  So, I have been the solo adult around here lately with a teenager half of the week.  We keep busy on those days!

Another reason why Dave has been working his (cute, sorry) butt off is that we have actually decided to attempt taking 2 huge trips this summer.  Europe and then somewhere with Ashley.  We actually gave her the choice, between Disney, the Caribbean, a cruise and Key West, FL.  She decided on Key West!!  We are excited to be going somewhere that none of us have been and can go together, and it's also one of the cheapest choices, and it doesn't involve leaving the country which I kinda like.  We still need to punch out the numbers and make sure we can take two trips and still...oh you know...live life and pay our mortgage and save, etc...all the important stuff;)  But our initial thoughts are to rent a place down there, fly to Miami or somewhere by there, rent a care for the week and drive down to the Keys.  We love the idea of having place to ourselves, with the leisure of a car to come and go and explore. 

Who knows if we can make it happen, but we will try!  We figured if we can't make it work for mid August before school starts up again, then we will go over Thanksgiving.  We love to travel and are excited to venture into the world together and see new things!

Our Europe trip is shaping up nicely.  We got an AMAZING deal on airfare.  No, seriously...you don't even know!!  In my research for tickets from BWI or Washington they were running around $1200 a piece.  I was in agony over paying $2400+ before even arriving in Europe.  Then, I hit the sweet spot.  I just kept switching and plugging in different airports that would be ok for us to fly out of, and fly into, I entered Newark for our departure, which is about 2 hours from us and also happens to be close by my aunt and uncles house in NJ.  Dave is dying to see Germany so I tried all the airports in the country until I hit Dusseldorf...BAM!!  Tickets were $630 per person?!?!  Wait, that has to be wrong...exit the page, reload it, type in the info again....hmmm...that really is the price!  YAY!!  BOOK IT!!!  So for less than the cost of both of our original researched tickets, we are flying to Germany!  I am excited to get such a good deal.  Plus, the cost of getting up to NJ and getting from and back to Germany doesn't even put a dent in how much we saved by setting the trip up that way.  On top of that, we get to see Germany a little bit - which Dave wants to do so we added on.

The bulk of our trip will be split between Paris (of course!  My 3rd time, can you believe it!?!) and Italy.  5 days in each place, with travels days all between and possible stops in and around France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.  We are traveling by train all over, the tickets are pricey but we think it'll be worth it to not have to drive ourselves and it will be such a cool way to see Europe. 

Italy is going to be awesome.  We aren't doing any of the "touristy" parts.  No Rome, no Venice, nothing like that.  We are actually staying in an apartment (found on Homeaway.com) in a little Tuscan town called Lucca.  It's right near Pisa, but its also close to the Italian Riviera, and the hilltop towns of Tuscany, which I am so excited to see.  When I think of Italy I think of rolling hills of poppies and grape vines and olive groves and weathered old couples that have lived on lands that their families have owned for centuries...it's seems divine.  That is the Italy I want to see!  Plus the stacked up high sleepy little Riviera towns with the Mediterranean expanding beneath them, totally majestic.  I can't wait to experience it with Dave!!

Now that we have our locations nailed down, I am busy trying to plan what we are going to do each day we are in Europe.  Mom keeps reminding me to take a day "just to sit and watch the world go by" so there is one day in Paris and in Italy where, hopefully, we will just sit and sip wine and watch people.  Paris is a little easier to plan out because I have been there and know what Dave would like to see, as well as see stuff that I havent yet...there are parts that are completely new to me and I have to see it!  Maybe not all of it, but a good bit of it;)  We are only in Germany for 2 days, but as long as Dave gets to drink German beer at a German bar and eat German food, he will be happy!

As we plan it all more I'll share our itinerary - I'm a dork like that.  I'll have everything planned out and put into a binder with reservations and confirmations and everything we will need to make our trip fun, safe, and easy!  Here are some pics that are getting us pumped:

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Cinque Terre, Italy found here

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Disneyland Paris, found here

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A Paris side street, found here

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Dusseldorf, found here

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Oh my, Tuscany heaven, found here

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Lucca, found here

Don't those inspire you to hop on a plane right now?  I can't contain my excitement!!!! 

Trip planning has been taking up a lot of my time.  This week, as well, was Ashley's 13th birthday and we've been busy with planning and celebrating with her.  She is having a small party here on Saturday - it's her first official party here since we've been in this house, since we've been married actually!  We only allowed her to invite 5, because we are going to be going to the mall (Towson) and we have to be able to fit everyone in one car, plus Dave and I don't know if we can handle more than 5 in our townhouse! 

Anyone else planning a cool vacay?