Europe (Paris, Germany, Austria, Switzerland)


 July 7-17 2013

Our big Summer vacation in 2013 was a trip to Europe. I picked the destination for an odd reason, I had a couple of hotels that I wanted to stay at and could stay for free using points.

Sunday, July 7, 2103
We flew on AA the whole way. Sunday morning, we flew to Chicago and had 7 hours before our next flight. We couldn’t just sit in the airport, so we took the train in to town. First stop was some deep dish at Giordano’s Pizza. After that, we walked around Millineum Park and then walked around the city. Of course we bought a big bag of Garrett’s Popcorn before we went to the airport. Our next flight left at 6 pm and landed in Paris at 9 am. We were in Main Cabin Extra. Susan and Natalie had an empty seat in between them so they got lots of sleep.

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Monday, July 8
We arrived at CDG in the morning and took a train to Versailles. We would be staying at the Trianon Palace Versailles Waldorf. I was able to use points for this room. The interesting thing about this hotel is that it overlooks the Versailles Palace and grounds. In WWII, the US Military used this hotel as its command center. We got to the hotel early and had to kill time before our room was ready. When we finally got to the room, around noon, we were so tired that we layed down and took a nap. When we got up, went to a small grocery store and bought baguettes and cheese and cookies. Then we walked around the Versailles grounds and found a good spot to picnic, one of our favorite things to do in Paris. Back at the hotel, we went swimming in the large indoor pool.

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Tuesday, July 9
We woke up early the next day and found a street cafe that made crepes. After breakfast we toured the Versailles Palace. When finished with the tour, we checked out of the hotel and took the Metro into Paris. We checked in to the Park Hyatt Vendome. This was the main reason for our trip. We had 2 free nights, from a credit card bonus, and because we were Diamond Guests, we were upgraded to a suite. The hotel was amazing and would have cost over $1,000 per night. We explored the hotel and then took another nap. For some reason, we
walked to LaFayette Galleries to do some shopping. Then walked around the Louver and Jardin des Tuileries and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. It was getting dark and lot’s of people were hanging out on the lawn to watch the tower light up. We grabbed a spot on the lawn and got to see it light up.



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Wednesday, July 10
The next morning, Susan and I had breakfast in the restaurant at the hotel. It was amazing. Breakfast was included in our hotel stay, but would have cost over $100 each. After breakfast, we toured more of Paris. We the sights on St. Louis island including, Point Neuf, Notre Dame and Berthillon Ice Cream. We saw a really funny street performer who was riding a tiny bicycle. That evening, we had more crepes and baguettes and hung out at Luxembourg Gardens. We returned to the hotel and Susan and I spent some time in the spa. It was pretty amazing.




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Thursday, July 11
Our last morning at the Park Hyatt, we ordered room service, as it was also included in our rate. It was a large, fancy breakfast. We walked up the champs elysees, then we caught a train to Munich Germany. The train ride was 6 hours long. I paid for First Class seats. We had our own little seating area with a table. We brought plenty of snack and movies to watch. We arrived in Munich at 9:30 and took a cab to our hotel. We were staying at the Hilton Munich on points. It was my birthday, so they gave me a cake at check in. Our room overlooked the Olympic Park. It was late, but we left the hotel to see a Biergarten. The walk was dark, but we eventually found our way.

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Friday, July 12
We got up early and had our complementary breakfast at the buffet. We walked through Munich. First we saw the river surfers, then we walked through the old town and to the main square with the Glockenspiel. We then shopped in the stores and outdoor market. We got some lunch at the outdoor food stalls and then went to get our rental car. We would have a souped up Peugeot Station Wagon to drive around for the rest of our trip. We drove to Auschwitz and did a tour of the former concentration camp. I think it scared Trey. We then left and drove to Berchtesgaden We would be staying at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden on points. This is a beautiful hotel on a mountain. You can see Hitlers Eagles Nest from the hotel. We had time to explore the grounds and swim in the indoor/outdoor heated pool. It is one of the best pools I’ve ever been in and probably had the best view. The town of Berchtesgaden is small and beautiful. We explored the town and had a German meal at an outdoor cafe.

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Saturday, July 13
Breakfast was not included in our rate, but we were able to by a “to go” breakfast. Basically, they gave us a bag and let us add whatever we wanted from the buffet. We then took the bus up to the Eagles Nest. It is such a beautiful place with the best view ever. It was also interesting that it played such a big part in history. After our tour, we drove towards Salzburg, Austria. We made a stop on the way to take a tour of a salt mine. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel using points. The hotel was really old, but was in a fantastic location. We had some time to explore the city and we walked to the big park, where the Sound of Music was filmed. Salzburg is beautiful and was one of my favorite cities. There are lots of small streets that are closed to cars and have old buildings and shops everywhere.

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Sunday, July 14
We didn’t get breakfast at this hotel either, so I got out early and found a bakery. I bought an assortment of pastries. We then explored the town some more. We went up to the old castle which had gorgeous views of the town. Trey wanted a German alpine hat for his souvenir, so we bought him one. He looked a like a cross between Tom Landry and Peter Pan. We loaded up our car and drove to Fussen, Germany. The drive was beautiful as we passed lakes, mountains, forests and small towns. We stopped at one of Mad King Ludwig’s castles, Linderhof. We were staying at a bed and breakfast type place called the Hotel Maximilian. There weren’t a lot of hotel choices in this area. The hotel room had bunk beds for the kids, so the were excited. We went into Fussen and had weiner schnitzel and other German fare at an outdoor cafe. Then we found an ice cream place. Susan ordered the ice cream that looked like a plate of spaghetti, but was really ice cream.







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Monday, July 15
The next morning we toured another of Ludwig’s castles, Neuschwanstein. This castle is the one that Disney used to model Cinderella castle. It was set high up on a hill and we walked instead of waiting a long time for a bus. After our tour, we drove to Lucerne and checked into the Radisson Blu Hotel. We were given an upgrade and had an awesome suite overlooking Lake Lucerne. We walked the town and walked across Capel Bridge. We had fondue for dinner at a street cafe.

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Tuesday, July 16
The next morning, we took a gondola to the top of Mount Titlis. There was lots of snow on the mountain. We went tubing, played in the snow, walked over a suspension bridge, went in an ice cave, and enjoyed the gorgeous views. On the way up and down, we could see the Swiss cows and hear their bells. After we got down, we drove on to Zurich. We were staying at the airport Radisson Blu. I also returned the car at the airport. We took the train in to Zurich and walked around. Zurich is beautiful even though it is a very expensive city full of expensive shops. We ate at McDonalds and paid over $50 for 3 meals.

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Wednesday, July 17

We started our journey home on Wednesday. We’d fly into JFK and fly out of Laguardia. We took this opportunity to do some things in New York. We went to the Westin Times Square and checked our bags with the bell boys. We walked around New York and ate for a few hours, then returned to get our bags and go to the airport.

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