A whole lotta travel planning going on in the Amerson household (at least when *I* am home...)
We are hoping to go to Europe in late April/early May. I checked out our frequent flier miles.....and they have halved the amount of miles it takes to fly to Europe!! Which means we have enough for FOUR tickets (or two tickets to Europe, and enough for one of our tickets to Australia). So we must go.
Shopping around (and I *DO* shop around....), I found us flights where we fly into Frankfurt, Germany, then fly home from Rome. Here is our itinerary so far...
We fly into Frankfurt (leaving here ~11am on a Friday), arriving early Saturday morning. Either we hang out in Frankfurt and spend a night, or we catch a train directly to Bacharach, on the Rhein river.
We will stay in a B&B or small hotel here. From this base, we will take a train north and across the Rhein to a town called Moselkern on the Mosel river, where we will disembark, then hike for a bit to get to this:
This is Burg Eltz, a BEAUTIFUL castle that is over 800 years old and was never destroyed/bombed, etc. Rick Steves' favorite castle. After this, we catch another train back to Koblenz (also on the Rhein river), then take a KD river cruise back down to Bacharach (another Rick Steves recommendation). More relaxing and exploring the area until Tuesday with a local rail pass.
On Tuesday, we will take a train out of Germany and into Amsterdam. Ethan really wants to go back. Hopefully, our trip will coincide with Queen's day, which is a nationwide celebration of the Queen's (official) birthday--parties and festivals everywhere, and it is also the ONE day when ANYONE can sell things. No yard sales the rest of the year--just this day!! So they have tons of little second-hand markets set up, and performances of local dance groups and music and all sorts of excitement.
We stay in Amsterdam for four nights, exploring the canals and houseboats and doing at least one bike tour.
On Saturday, we will take a train to Paris. May or may not work in a stop in Brussels. Rick Steves recommends that we get off the train for a few hours here, explore the Grand Place and have a nice lunch, then reboard and head on to Paris. However, then just completed the upgrades for the super high speed Thalys trains, so we may just go straight through. Still deciding.....
We are in Paris for 3 nights, exploring the architecture and history; we will be there for the free day at the Louvre and many other museums (along with a few thousand of our closest friends...), but we will not stress out (WE-WILL-NOT-STRESS-OUT...repeat....), and just enjoy what we can, taking in the ambiance. Definitely going up the Eiffel tower at sunset, and climbing all the steps up Notre Dame and the Arc du Triumph for their views...
We leave Paris on Tuesday, taking a cheap flight to Rome, where we will spend our last three nights. Lots of ruins and architecture and great food and dodging cars and wonderfulness....then we fly back home.
I am sure I will tweak this a bunch as I go, but this is the basic plan so far.