We've made lots of progress on our Europe plans! We thought it would be hard to make decisions on where to stay and go this far in advance, but in reality this trip will be here before we know it. The more research that Jer and I do, the more excited we're getting! We've picked our hotel in London, and it's the Plaza on the River Club and Residence. It's a 5-star hotel located on the River Thames, from which we'll get great views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It looks pretty neat! We still haven't figured out how we're going to get tickets to Wimbledon, but I'm working on that....
Originally I thought Rome would be our second destination, but we are opting for Monte Carlo instead! We'll fly into Nice, Paris, and then take the rail over to Monte Carlo, Monaco. The entire country of Monaco is only .7 square miles, which is hard to believe. It lies in the French Riviera, on the Mediterranean Sea. It's known for its glitz, glamour, and gambling! We're especially excited about this leg of our trip because it's the one we are splurging on the most, as far as accommodations are concerned. We picked a spectacular hotel with its own private beach, Le Meridien Beach Plaza. Our room will have a seaview from its private balcony. Hopefully I'll be spending more time on the beach than in the famous casinos, but I make no promises.
From there, we'll head to a little-known city, I'm not sure if you've ever heard of it - PARIS. haha. I'm a tad bit excited. I've heard so many wonderful things about this city, and I can't believe I'm actually going to visit it. My friend, Iris, is having an amazing time there, as I speak. For our stay there, we picked a hotel very close to the Eiffel Tower, called Hotel Eiffel Seine. It looks to be designed and decorated in a really funky motif, which I think I'll really like. I don't think we'll have a fancy schmancy view from this room, but that's okay. I don't plan on spending much time at the hotel anyway! It's not far from the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, whose name I've heard about a million times since Jer is a Tour de France enthusiast. (The last stage of the Tour is the Champs-Elysees stage, and the awards ceremony takes place there). It's semi-sad that we won't actually get to see a Tour stage, but just being in France while it's going on should be exciting.
After Paris, we'll head to Amsterdam and then Maastricht. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be able to see my father's hometown. I actually feel rather guilty that it's taken me 27 years to get there. I'm getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about going. My family's history in Holland, and their journey to America, is truly an incredible story. I wrote a little about it back in 2008, here. Our exchange student Kim's aunt and her family live in Geleen, which is not far from Maastricht, so we'll meet up with them at this point. Then we'll make our way to Bergheim, outside of Cologne, Germany, to visit Kim and her family! I feel like we've already met them for as much as we've corresponded and conversed, but this will be the first time in person. Kim has a wonderful family and I look forward to staying with them for a couple days. After that, it's back to America. :(
Throughout this planning, there are a few questions that have popped up that are kind of irking me!
1. What the heck do I do with 3 dogs for 18 days?
2. How do I pack for a trip this long?
3. Am I prepared to visit a topless/nude beach?
4. Will two memory cards be enough for my camera?
5. Is it going to be super awkward going through the full-body scanners at Heathrow?
6. Will I decide to stay in Europe indefinitely after seeing its awesomeness?
7. Will I have any money left after this trip?