From a dream to a plan in just 7 days. Start planning your trip now! 


RTW 4 1/2 – The Europe Edition

Missing Munich

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Missing Munich

Last Updated on

Well, folks, it appears we are off to an in-auspicious start for this European adventure.

But before I dive into the gory details of our extended stay at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport yesterday, I should mention that I am joined on this trip by my good friend Dena Everman. Followers of my travels may remember Dena from our trip to Greece last summer. That trip was so much fun that we decided to repeat it again this year, including a stop in Rome on the way over.

With not much going on in the month of August this year, I thought, “why not stick around for a while and see more of Europe?” So, I made plans to stay on for another few weeks after Dena goes home and travel through Central Europe and Scandinavia.

Our original schedule had us departing Atlanta at 4:20pm on Wednesday on a direct flight to Munich arriving at 7:50am Thursday morning. We had planned on a full day of sightseeing in Munich before departing Friday morning for Rome.

Sounds almost too easy, right? Well, here’s how the day actually unfolded…

Read More

Rome in 48 Hours

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Rome in 48 Hours

Last Updated on

While it’s true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, I’m a firm believer that its best sights can be seen in a day. So Rome in 48 hours? Piece of cake.

Of course, if you have the time, Rome is a wonderful city in which to linger over exquisite meals, wander amidst ancient ruins and while away the day people-watching in a piazza. However, Dena and I are girls on a tight schedule and there is much to be seen during our brief two nights in the Eternal City.

We arrived in Rome after our first stop in Munich late Friday afternoon and joined the masses on a hot and mostly miserable train ride into the city (welcome to Europe in August).

We arrived at the charming Parlamento Boutique Hotel around 6pm and were pleased to find the room clean and spacious – by European standards – and the staff very friendly. The location between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps was ideal and, once again, the Trip Advisor reviews were spot on. A great find at 100 euro/night in high season.

Read More

Mykonos Greece, Glorious Greece

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 1 comment

Mykonos Greece, Glorious Greece

Last Updated on

After a less than glamorous night in the Athens airport on the way from Rome, we landed on the beautiful island of Mykonos Greece a little after 7am. We were greeted at the airport by Marietta, owner of the same building where we rented a room last year.

Unfortunately, our room was occupied the night before so we’d have to wait until 10:30am to get in and finally get a little rest. So, we decided to put on our “photographer hats” and make the most of the time by getting some early morning shots at the harbor (I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna be up this early again while we’re here).

Now, Mykonos Greece is known for its high-octane nightlife and, not surprisingly, lots of people were still out and about wandering the streets from the night before. I don’t understand these people. It’s 8am for goodness sake. I’ve been known to stay out dancing until the wee hours but I draw the line at sunrise. If the sun is coming up…it’s time for bed – I don’t care what time zone you’re in.

Read More

The Truth about Traveling with Jenny – a guest post by Dena

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

The Truth about Traveling with Jenny – a guest post by Dena

Last Updated on

Over the years, many of you said to me, “I would love to know what it’s like to travel with you on one of your crazy, whirlwind trips.” Well, folks, it’s not easy…but it sure can be fun! To give you an inside look at what it’s really like to travel with me, I thought it might be fun to have my traveling buddy, Dena, write a “guest post” for the website to give her side of the story.

In the past year, Dena has been on two international trips with me visiting 5 different countries along the way. This past week, I subjected her to a “Week in the Life” of one of my month-long trips by creating an itinerary for HER vacation time that involved 4 countries in 10 days. Though I suspect she was secretly hoping for a relaxing week on the beach in Greece, she was – as always – a trooper and gamely tagged along for an itinerary that included crazy ideas like purposely spending a night in the Athens airport (who knew we would also spend most of a night in the Atlanta airport?).

Read More

Zurich Switzerland with the Girls

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Zurich Switzerland with the Girls

Last Updated on

Upon leaving Mykonos Thursday evening, we had an Easy Jet flight to Berlin for an overnight (i.e. 6 hour) layover until our Friday morning flight to Zurich. Instead of sleeping in the airport this time, we opted for a reasonably-priced hotel near the airport. It was definitely a good call if for no other reason than being able to start our morning with showers and fresh clothes.

The Zurich plan was to meet up with my friend and travel buddy for Week #2, Shannon, at the airport. Dena and I were scheduled to land at 7:40am; Shannon was coming in on a Delta flight from Atlanta landing 10 minutes later. Since none of us had ever been to the Zurich airport before, we had no idea whether it would be difficult to find each other.

It turned out to be super easy. Our flights both landed a little early and we easily found Shannon at baggage claim…hooray!

Read More

A Struggle to Salzburg Austria

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

A Struggle to Salzburg Austria

Last Updated on

After saying goodbye to Dena at the airport in Zurich early this morning, Shannon and I boarded our flight for Vienna. The plan was to rent a car at the airport and drive to Salzburg Austria for Saturday night before returning to Vienna to spend Sunday night. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t work out quite like you planned.

When we landed in Vienna around 10am, every rental car place was sold out and the airport was a madhouse. So, we went to Plan B – take the airport train into Vienna and try to find an available rental car there. (Plan C was just take the darn train to Salzburg.)

We had hoped to rent a car because between the two of us, round trip train tickets would be about $200 and we knew we could split the cost of a car for half that. We never thought availability would be such an issue, who knew?

Read More

The Vienna Film Festival

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

The Vienna Film Festival

Last Updated on

Just shy of 3 hours after leaving Salzburg on the train, we arrived in Vienna. Things started off on the right note with a good upgrade at our beautiful hotel, the Le Meridien Vienna. Finally, a real suite – no more of this “junior suite” nonsense. Now, we’re talking.

After settling in at the hotel for a bit, we charged out into the afternoon to explore Vienna.

We started with a walk down the pedestrian plaza Kartner Strasse, past stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral and toward the Danube River. The plan was to buy tickets on the 9:45am Danube Hydrofoil to Bratislava for the next day and then take the train from Bratislava to Budapest. And it’s a good thing we did go buy tickets early because the 9:45 was already sold out, we had to settle for the 8:30am – more sleep gone.

Read More

Cruising the Danube to Bratislava Slovakia

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 1 comment

Cruising the Danube to Bratislava Slovakia

Last Updated on

After a delightful stay in Austria, we got up early this morning for our Danube cruise to Bratislava Slovakia (called the “Twin City” of Vienna). I’d decided to visit Bratislava on the way to Budapest because I’d heard good things about the city’s historic castle and quaint Old Town area and it was an easy stopover between Austria and Hungary.

From Vienna, you can take the train or the hydrofoil to Budapest – each makes a stop in Bratislava. We chose the cruise for the first hop (it was more expensive than the train) and then the train for the longer distance on to Budapest.

The cruise was a terrific way to see the Danube and very scenic the entire way. The hydrofoil boats do go at warp speed so it’s a little uncomfortable to pass the time on the deck with all of the wind. We spent some time on the deck but most of the 90 minutes in the comfort of the glass-enclosed main cabin.

Read More

Backpackers and Budapest

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Backpackers and Budapest

Last Updated on

So, it turns out the train route from Bratislava to Budapest is hugely popular with the “backpacker” set. (There was a gigantic music festival going on just outside Budapest this week that may have had something to do with it.)

Now, most of you who are familiar with my travels understand that I do not usually travel in the same circles as the backpackers. I never tried the “backpacking through Europe” thing as a college student but judging from the looks of these folks, I would have hated it. Think dreadlocks, dirty clothes, obscure body piercings, large heavy packs and – apparently – very few opportunities for showers. Ick.

(Simple Disclaimer: If you, yourself, are a backpacker or have family, friends, business associates, Twitter followers, etc who are backpackers, I am sure you are all lovely people and I mean no offense. Perhaps I am just jealous that they are spending their 20’s traveling the world while I spent mine broke, working 80-hour weeks, getting a masters degree and starting a business.)

Read More

Krazy about Krakow

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Krazy about Krakow

Last Updated on

After another flawless flight from Budapest, we landed in Krakow at 4pm local time. It was a very tourist-friendly airport and we had no trouble catching the free shuttle to the train station and then the very quick and efficient train into the center of town.

When we got off the train, it was easy to get our bearings thanks to plenty of large “you are here” type maps on every corner. (It is my personal belief that all cities should do this…sure would make my life a lot easier!)

After two days spent traipsing around a massive city like Budapest, the quaint, small town of Krakow was a welcome change of pace. It was an easy walk to our hotel, the Sheraton Grand Krakow, and we were delighted to discover another well-stocked club lounge – more free food and drinks (and another great use of points)!

Read More

Awed by Auschwitz

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Awed by Auschwitz

Last Updated on

The next morning we woke up early in Krakow, had breakfast in the lounge and headed down to the lobby to meet our tour bus at 9am. Now, I’m not sure I’ve addressed this subject before on these pages but, in general, I despise group tours. I never, ever do them. I think it’s just my independent streak – I mean, it certainly can’t be that I’m antisocial, right?

In previous travels, I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid taking a group tour or even being in the vicinity of one. In China, I hired a car to go to the Great Wall at 7am knowing that tour groups didn’t get there until 9am – I had it all to myself for an hour.

In Egypt, I hired an Egyptologist to take me around the pyramids, again avoiding the mass of tour groups and getting some quality alone time with another ancient wonder of the world.

Read More

Pilsners in Prague

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Pilsners in Prague

Last Updated on

To get to Prague from Krakow, we decided to take an overnight train – hotel and transportation in one! Since we are cheap, but not that cheap, we elected to splurge on a 2-person sleeping compartment so at least we could get a little rest without worrying about our belongings (something that is apparently an issue on trains in this area).

And since we both enjoy an evening cocktail, we decided to buy a bottle of wine for the ride. The train departed Krakow at 10:15pm and was scheduled to arrive in Prague at 6:54am. Plenty of time for sleep, we thought! We had no idea what to expect from our sleeping compartment – the last time I slept on a train was in Vietnam and that was a mostly unpleasant experience so I had low expectations.

But we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our little cabin had two bunk beds each with soft pillows and duvet, a little closet and a small vanity with a sink. The bathroom was just next door in the hall. All in all, not bad. Not fancy, but comfortable and certainly very functional.

Read More

Helsinki in 24 Hours

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Helsinki in 24 Hours

Last Updated on

Getting from Prague to Helsinki was an all-day affair. When I originally planned this adventure, I had a nice, neat direct flight from Prague on Czech Airlines that would have taken 2 hours and gotten me into Helsinki with the better part of the day left to sightsee.

Unfortunately, by the time I got around to booking it, the flight had gone up to more then $600! So, I had to get creative with my flights which involved a train ride from Prague and then a connecting flight into Helsinki. It save me more than $450 but it meant I didn’t arrive in Helsinki until late that night.

After a long travel day, I finally landed in Helsinki at 11pm. At this time of the night, I don’t generally fool with public transportation so I grabbed a cab outside the terminal and was at the swanky Hotel Kamp before midnight.

Read More

Taken with Tallinn

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Taken with Tallinn

Last Updated on

The 90 minute high-speed (hydrofoil) ferry ride from Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland was smooth and very pleasant. As we neared the coastline of Estonia, I could easily make out the cathedral spires of Old Town.

Situated just 50 miles south of Helsinki, Tallinn seems a world away. A former member of the Soviet Eastern Block, Estonians regained their independence in 1991. Since becoming a member of the European Union in 2004, the capital city of Tallinn has boomed. In fact, for the 3rd straight year, Tallinn has been ranked as one of the Top 7 most intelligent communities in the world.

Dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the Baltic Sea” by the New York Times, Tallinn boasts free WiFi throughout its city streets, paid parking via SMS and numerous other technological innovations. The country is also home to the founders of SKYPE.

Read More

Simply Swedish: 24 Hours in Stockholm Sweden

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 | 0 comments

Simply Swedish: 24 Hours in Stockholm Sweden

Last Updated on

My transportation choice from Tallinn to Stockholm was a cruise ship across the Baltic Sea.

It was described as a “ferry” so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the ocean-view cabin I had booked. At $235 for the cabin, it was a little bit of a splurge but since the trip was 17 hours long, comfort won out over frugality. The check-in and boarding process were extremely easy, it took me less than a minute to check in at the window in the terminal and receive my cabin key.

I’ve only been on a cruise ship once before and it was a long time ago (senior cruise after high school) so I really had no idea what the cabins would look like. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to my cabin. It was clean, comfortable and nicely-decorated. The bathroom was, of course, small but definitely sufficient.

Read More