Hi All -
I'm not much of a poster, more of a lurker/reader but I still want to detail my trip report to help new or even seasoned travelers! While I'm sure that some people could find things to criticize in my trip reports, I hope that no one does. Our trip worked for us and it was amazing and that's all that matters. :)
I'll start with logisitcs and later do a Part II breakdown of trip locations in detail.
My husband and I traveled 4/29-5/18. We flew St. Louis to Heathrow via Chicago using British Airways. It was never our intention to fly in/out of London but it's hard to pass up business class for $1600/ticket, espectially when your husband is 6-5 and needs knee room. Three of 4 flights were American Airlines and our flight home was a BA 747 making my husband giddy. I don't know how we are ever going to fly coach again! :) I need to thank the person on this forum that posted last fall about the BA sale for AARP members. It was amazing.
One last thing about our London flight - we left St Louis at 5am, connected in Chicago and landed at 10:30 pm. We passed through immigration, retrieved our luggage and were at our airport hotel by 11 pm. It was amazing how fast we moved! We were pretty tired since we were up at 2:45 am so it wasn't hard to sleep once we settled into our room. I found the jet lag to be better than usual but I had a few nights where I woke up in the middle of the night.
We took one other flight - a non-eventful flight from Heathrow to Munich on Lufthansa.
We rented two rental cars - a Hertz car for the week in Germany and a Sixt car for our time in Normandy. I know there's a great German train system, but part of our trip was visiting my family's small town so it was more convenient for us. No issues with either car or company. Ironically, both cars were pretty nice - a Jaguar and an Alfa Romeo.
Trains: we used trains to get to Bruges, Paris, Normandy and to back to London. we enjoy using the trains for sure, especially since my husband is tall. He's able to get up and stretch his legs often!
Technology and Apps:
We have Sprint cell phone service and enjoyed decent coverage while in Europe. Some places were better than others, but overall it was great. We were connected to home and our kids JUST enough!
Apps and websites we used: Tripit, Mobile Pass, Rome to Rio, and Yelp. The Mobile Pass App from Customs and Border Protection allowed us to breeze right by everyone when we landed in Chicago. We don't have Global Entry and I bet that the day we came home, it was just as fast as Global Entry.
HATED my suitcase. Was hoping it would fall apart at some point. I used a pretty heavy bag even though I didn't pack too many clothes. I realized it a few days into the trip. But, live and learn and I'll be looking for a better bag!
Things I used this time that I thought was awesome - the money belt and my scarf. The money belt meant my husband didn't worry about his wallet and I didn't have to carry a purse! my infinity scarf has a hidden pocket that zips so I was able to carry a few Euros and my phone during the day in Paris and not worry about someone taking off with my phone!
Laundry - washed laundry in Garmisch where we paid the worker who did all the work and even somewhat folded our clothes when dry. It was like 5 Euros/load so it was affordable and we were able to get coffee while it washed. I did wash a few pairs of underwear in the sink using shampoo and drying on the radiator.
We did go to a laundomat in Bruges and it was no problem. It was a rainy day and we both enjoyed a down morning sitting and drinking our coffee while we waited for our laundry.
I can't think of any more odds and ends right now. I'll post again here if I think of something!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!