Long awaited update


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June 29th 2018
Published: June 29th 2018
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Well it's been some time since I've added an update to this blog! Time has flown by and we are currently less than 90 days from starting our epic adventure. In the time since our last post we have managed to book just about everything save for the small Big Bus Tours and Museum entries, but these will be done in the next 3 - 4 weeks.

So as an update I've been very fortunate to be able to book our return flights from Europe using Qantas Points yet again. This time however we have upped the game and Gretta and I have been able to secure 1st Class tickets aboard Emirates, but more on that later.

On my last entry I had just given a basic outline of our trip as we had no way of determining when or more importantly where we would be leaving Europe from as this date and location really sets in place our whole trip. We were able to secure fares leaving Frankfurt in Germany which as a major hub in Europe allowed easy connects to here from virtually anywhere.

This is going to be long description of the whole trip with the exception of daily sightseeing locations as we will do most of this on an ad-hoc basis depending on weather and more importantly how we feel.

Before we depart Sydney we are staying overnight at the Stamford Plaza Sydney as our flight leaves at 6:30 and as we live in Western Sydney we'd need to leave somewhere around 4:00am, and well, Gretta just doesn't do 4:00am. During our 24hr stopover in Singapore we are going to try and book tickets to have breakfast with the Orang-utans at Singapore Zoo. Hopefully we can secure tickets to this, if not, its over to Sentosa Island and Orchard Road for some sightseeing.

London

We have 3 nights in London at the Park Grand Lancaster Gate Hotel. We plan to spend the first day in London on the Big Red Bus Tour and see what catches our eyes for further investigation in the next few days. Gretta has booked the Fawlty Towers Dining Experience Dinner for our first night and this looks like an absolute blast. Of course whilst here we will do all the usual tourist spots of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Harrods etc, etc.

From London we head to Paris on the Eurostar. Thankfully we leave at a respectful time of 10:24am.

Paris

We have 3 night in Paris at Hotel Le Walt. Upon or arrival into Paris at 1:37pm I have booked a Chauffeur Transfer to our Hotel as navigating it by Public Transport was going to take nearly an hour with 2 different bus route. No thanks! I'm sure for some that's part of the adventure but not for us. Hotel Le Walt which is a 15 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower, and it was chosen for its location to the Eiffel Tower. We plan to spend a day on the Big Red Bus here getting on and off as required to see what we would like. Top of the list of things to do for me is to go see the Mona Lisa. This alone is my main reason for the visit to Paris. Otherwise we just plan to free style it in Paris and see where the breeze takes us for our time here. On our last night in Paris I am going to collect a Hire Car for the next days travel into Belgium. Our drive to Ypres in Belgium will be spent visiting the some World War 1 Battle Fronts that Australian was involved in. Of note is the newly opened Sir John Monash Centre which is near Villiers Bretonneux. We also plan (time permitting) to visit such other historical sites such as Amiens, Albert, Pozières, Thipval and Bapaume.

Ypres - Belguim

We have 3 nights at the Hotel Ambrosia where we visited back in 2008 on our first trip to Ypres. We just loved this old school type Hotel and jumped at the chance to stay here again. Whisly based out of here we will visit some other war graves sites and Museums as well as attending the nightly commemoration held at the Menin Gate night at 6pm with the Last Post being played. This is such a moving tribute that is done every night in remembrance of the Great War. We will also visit the site where Gretta's Great Grandfather was killed in action at the Hooge Crater just outside of Ypres. This time we have vowed to visit the Cloth Hall at Ypres as this is truly a beautiful structure. If time permits we are also looking to head up to Dunkirk and see for ourselves this area for the first time. From Ypres we drive back to Charles De Gaulle Airport and hop on a flight to Hamburg on Air France. We have an early departure from Ypres by no later than 6:00 to be at the Airport by 9:00am for a 12:15pm departure.

Hamburg

We have 4 nights at the NH Hotel Hamburg Altona. To get here we will travel by Train and Bus from the Airport. Over the next few days we will catch up with family and friends and maybe some tourist sight but the main plan of the visit here is to see family. From Hamburg we jump onto the ICE Train and and head to Berlin. which departs at 11:38am.

Berlin

We have 3 night at the Mövenpick Hotel in Berlin which, is the same Hotel we stayed in back in 2008 as well. Once again this was a great Hotel at the time and we hope will also be again. This time we are armed with some knowledge after our previous bus tour of the City. We plan on visiting the Jewish Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, Checkpoint Charlie and hopefully Templehof Airport as the architecture here is just so strong and brutal. It would have to be may favourite building I have ever seen, the shear scale is also impressive. We plan on sampling many of the finest Currywursts we can find as well. On our last day in Berlin I'll once again collect a hire car for the next days drive all the way to Ingoldingen which is South of Stuttgart.

Ingoldingen

We only have a short time to spend (overnight) here so we need to leave Berlin very early for the 6 - 7 hour drive. Here we spend the night with my Cousin Marina and her Husband Bernd. Once we leave here we head off Rothenburg ob der Tauber on the Romantic Road.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We have 3 nights at Country Partner Hotel Goldener Hirsch. Once we have left Ingoldingen our first stop will be Ingolstadt for the Audi Factory Tour at 11:30am. I mean as an Audi owner how could I not stop here and have a Tour and grab some merchandise. During our time here we may travel to Nuremberg to have a look in the area and some of the War History. Otherwise it should just be a nice and relaxing few days at a slower place. Rothenburg on der Tauber has one of the most picturesque photos spots for me in Germany at Plönlein. I seem to remember going here as a young boy in 1981! From our time in Rothenburg we drive across to Munich. We need to leave by 6:00am to make the drive to Munich in time for our flight at 11:25 to Athens. I'm being torn on which route to take. The they are all roughly the same time wise but one can take me on the unrestricted Autobahn and the other doesn't. We shall just have to see on the day and how freaked out Gretta is by fast driving. Hopefully we will have an E Class Mercedes for this and it will be perfect to handle the high speed runs.

Athens

We have 4 nights in Athens at Brasil Suites Hotel Athens. To get her from Airport we are very much still unsure as we believe that the Hotel can offer a Transfer Service and Gretta is yet to confirm this. Failing this we can get on the X86 bus to a stop near the Hotel. Athens is still very much up in the air for things to do other than the main tourist destinations of the Parthenon etc. One of the first things we have to do when we arrive in Greece is visit a local Police Station to verify Gretta's identity for her Greek Passport. We also need to pay a visit to the Ticket Office of the Ferry Company to collect our tickets for our next leg to Santorini. I'm sure as we get closer to leaving Gretta will start to get some ideas of exactly we are going to do here. OUr final morning in Athens will a very early morning as we need to be at Piraeus Port to board our Ferry at 6:00am. Sorry Gretta but you chose this, just remember this when you wake up! Our Ferry si scheduled to take around 7 - 8hrs to get to Santorini.

Santorini

We have 5 nights booked at Absolute Bliss Imerovigli Suites. Gretta will check on transfers soon as there is quite a steep trip up to the main Santorini area on the cliff tops. Our trip here will be to wind down and just enjoy a slower paced life for a few days and to indulge in some good food and local shopping. Other than the usual tourist things of watching the sunset over the Caldera it's all about rest and relaxation. I've been given strict instructions to be relaxed and enjoy the slower pace. It's going to be hard that's for sure. Our last morning will see us off and travelling to Frankfurt. We need to leave the Hotel at 6:00am for our flights to Frankfurt via Vienna. Our first flight departs Santorini Airport at 9:30am on Vienna Airllines and then onto to Frankfurt.

Frankfurt

We have 2 nights at the Mövenpick Hotel Frankfurt City. From the Airport arrival at 1:40pm we'll catch a train to Frankfurt Hbf and have a 1km walk to the Hotel. Not too much is planned for Frankfurt at this point but we'll see if there's a Big Bus Tour of sorts we can hop on for bit and see some of the sights.

Now onto the flights back home. When I was home on my break in October last year I had been looking at all major Airports in Europe for flights back home over a few weeks and I knew that Frankfurt held the best opportunity to get back to Australia. This proved to be the case late in the afternoon when I just jumped onto to Qantas for a look to see what was available. As per my many hours of research I knew when the flights to Australia come on line. I was talking to Gretta as I was booking the flights and confirming the dates and times to make sure she was all good with this. Once I had confirmed the dates and times with Gretta and had it all paid in points and $1500 in fees and had a ticket that I could send her did she realise that I had been able to secure First Class Flights on Emirates. I was so chuffed to say the least. Sean was with us at the time I was booking the flights and lets just say his lost it when he found out how we were travelling. Our Flight leaves Frankfurt to Dubai at 11:00am. Our next flight to Sydney was on an A380 but has since been changed to a Boeing 777. We have a 2hr layover Dubai where we will just sit in the lounge and enjoy the experience. The bonus of flying with Emirates is that we get collected by a a Chauffeur in Frankfurt and when we land in Sydney at 5:20pm. It's better that we have someone take us through the tail end of peak our that Brad or Sean getting us.

All in all we are so excited for this trip. We depart on 24 August and arrive back home on 26 September

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