20 February 2008

Up, up and away!

Our journey begins...after a little head ache.

I finally bought tickets to visit my brother and his family in Geneva.

After looking for airfare on just about every airline, with combinations of flights to just about every city in Western Europe, I finally found flights for my son and me...to Paris. Somehow we have to get ourselves from Paris to Geneva, but that is far less worrisome than getting the tickets from the US to Europe were.

Originally, I had hoped to fly to Amsterdam, rent a car and drive to the very small town in Northern Germany that my dad's family was from. But, that seemed a bit sporty to attempt with a four year-old. I could've gotten a flight to Amsterdam and then flown on Easy Jet to Geneva, but the coordinating of all this in terms of time, finances and stamina, were more than I really wanted to undertake.

Then came the airlines. I hate, hate, hate trying to find airfare. When I first started looking, the flights were right around $1000 each. Too much for my blood. I visited every airline that flew from the US to England, Germany, France and Switzerland. I checked endless combinations of flights on different days, times and with multitudes of connections to different cities.

Northwest and Delta decided to merge during all my efforts and I was very sheepish about going with the hometown carrier because of its recent reputation of cancelling flights and the uncertainty of the impact the merger might have. Plus, Northwest was not really any cheaper than the rest and the flight times were fairly undesirable, especially considering I'll be flying with my son.

So, I went with the airline I have flown before and one that had the cheapest airfare and best flight times: Icelandair. The tickets cost around $1200 combined, which isn't bad considering when I started that was the cost for just one ticket.

We fly from Minneapolis to Reykjavik and have a very brief layover there before we head to Paris. There are a few sites I want to see in and around Paris and my brother and his family might want to join us, so I haven’t figured out how we are getting from Paris to Geneva yet. There are daily trains and even Easy Jet, so I’m not to concerned about that. Once my brother and I solidify some plans, I’ll make some arrangements.

I’m thrilled to be going! Right now, however, I’m a bit disappointed at the things I had to cut out of my itinerary. Cutting out the trip to the town in Germany where my father’s family was from is a bummer, along with not visiting Mont St. Michel, which was to be one of the highlights of the trip. I still have Lisieux and Chartres on the list, along with some sites in Paris. I have two day-trips planned from my base in Geneva. One to the south to the monastery, La Grande Chartreuse, and the shrine at La Salette. Another trip to the west to Ars (St. John Vianney), Paray-le-Monail (Sacred Heart/St. Margaret Mary Alacoque) which is on the way to Nevers for the shrine of St. Bernadette Soubirous where her incorrupt body lies in the chapel.

I would love to go to Chur to go some genealogy research on my Swiss branches, but it seems more of a hassle than it’s worth at this point. My brother wants to take me to all the touristy sites, like Geneva (?), the Jura, Interlaken, and Lucern. I mentioned taking the kids (my nephews and son) to Disneyland and was summarily chastised for coming all the way to Europe to go to Disneyland. I thought it would be a welcome break for the kids and them from all the shrines/religious sites I planned to visit (even though I planned to do the day trips on my own with my son). I don’t know what there is to see in Geneva, but Interlaken would be nice. Parts of the Italian areas of Switzerland would be nice, like Lugano and Bellinzona. And then there's the Ch√Ęteau de Chillon on the northern shores of Lake Geneva and...


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Then, you can really be Swissmiss! :-)

Marilena said...

that mountain looks cold and forbidding, but majestic looking!

gemoftheocean said...

M'dear, take the train It's a beautiful ride!!!! I'm SO glad you are doing Lisieux. If I could pick 4 days of my life to relive, the day my mom and I sojourned to Lisieux would be one of them.

European trains are a treat for Americans. They are built for it. I know you're a bit disappointed but given your son is only 4 he wouldn't have as much fun as if he were older and you were doing a little of the genealogy digging. There will be other trips.

I QUITE agree that DL Paris is an excellent idea. Trust me, after "X" churches they all start to look alike. Do some, but seriously more than one every other day and they will all start to blur and you won't remember a one of them. And you don't want that. While the adults might be interested in the churches etc. it's best to give the kids a break too. Besides this is the "mouse" with a twist. I mean how cool would it be to be somewhere in France where the women MUST shave their armpits and be nice to people?! I'd pay to see that.

[1 guess on which european country has residents most likely to irritate Karen....]

swissmiss said...

I believe there is a bullet train from Paris to Geneva and am very partial to trains. My father was a railroad engineer for 40+ years.

I'm basically doing NO genealogy on the trip. It's like being an alcoholic standing outside a liqour store though. We will be there two weeks and I only have churches/religious sites planned for four days (Lisieux, Chartres and the two days trips). Of course, in Paris I will want to see a few churches. I've been to Notre Dame and all the other sites in Paris, but would like to go to the Louvre. My brother is a fallen away Catholic and my SIL is a fallen away Calvinist (I guess you can say that) so the day trips I have planned will bore the pants off them. But, I can do them by myself and that's what I planned. My son may even be able to stay with his cousins, who have a live-in nanny. My SIL is very wealthy and has a housekeeper and nanny. We will be staying with them and also able to use one of their cars.

I kinda do want to see DL!! I don't live in CA or FL to go very often so it would be a treat for me too. My brother mentioned there is a Europa Park in Freiborg, so we might do that.

You mean I have to shave my pits if I go to DL?? Cross that off the list :)

Vincenzo said...

"that mountain looks cold and forbidding, but majestic looking!"

I've seen that mountain before! LOL!
*Vincenzo digs through DVD collection

swissmiss said...

In truth, I picked the Eiger just because of the Eiger movie you mentioned a few posts ago! This pic had a chalet in it, so that's more my speed :)