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Thursday, January 31, 2013

This is All I Need... (Grand Tour, Part 2)

My new passport arrived yesterday, so I now have all I need (except new clothes, which I am working on) for my trip in April.

Round trip plane ticket: Austin to Heathrow; Cologne to Austin (neither flight is direct. As they like to say around here, "You can't get there from here.")

Heathrow express ticket (15 min to central London from airport rather than 1+ hour via cab. Yes, please. Oh, and I LOVE traveling by train)

Studio apartment in Chelsea -- very close to the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Oyster Card for the tube (4.50 GBP each way without, 2.10 GBP with--seemed like a no-brainer)

Ticket to "Treasures of the Royal Courts" at the Victoria & Albert Museum
I'll be meeting up with a sewing friend and her husband

EuroStar ticket to Paris (I splurged for first class :)  Did I say I love trains?)

One bedroom apartment in Montmartre --A friend and fellow seamstress quickly figured out that this apartment is only a couple of blocks from some of the best fabric shopping in Paris. If you've seen the movie "Amelie", this is the neighborhood.

5 day Paris Visite pass -- for trains, metro, buses in and around Paris

4 day Paris museum pass --gets you into most Paris museums and monuments and lets you bypass the lines (that alone is worth the price for me)

Thalys ticket to Cologne -- Paris, France to Cologne, Germany in 3 hours 14 minutes. (trains, hooray!)

Oh, just remembered one thing I am still waiting for: Chip-and-PIN credit card. This is a newer security measure that is being used in Europe. Not many banks offer them here, but according to my manager, life is much easier if you have one of these.

I hope this helps my friends who want to experience this trip vicariously. :)


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Grand Tour, part 1

After having a nasty flu that hit me New Year's Eve day, I'm finally back to feeling normal and back in my studio. Baby Owen (due in March) has a complete crib bedding set, baby Michaela has a fancy and colorful new dress, and I've got some serious wardrobe sewing to do.

I work for a company here in Austin, TX called HomeAway. HomeAway provides websites and services to match owners of vacation homes with travelers. It is a great company with offices all over the world.

This April I am taking advantage of 2 of the benefits offered to US employees:

1. DeskAway: we can work up to 2 weeks in any office in the world, without taking vacation time. I pay for all travel expenses*, but when it is time for lunch or dinner or a short coffee break, I'm in Paris or London! Oh, and there are the weekends!

2. BearStay(*): US employees can arrange with an owner to stay in a rental in exchange for a review from the perspective of the VRBO mascot (a teddy bear). We pay for cleaning fees and deposit.

I work regularly with folks in both offices that I am visiting, so I am really looking forward to meeting them in person!

Here's my itinerary:

5 Apr--depart Austin, TX
6 Apr--arrive London Heathrow
8 - 12 Apr --meet with my colleagues in London office, staying in Chelsea
13 Apr--explore London, V&A museum
14 Apr--head to Paris via EuroStar
15 - 19 Apr -- meet with my colleagues in Paris office, staying in Montmartre
20 - 23 Apr -- Vacation! roam around Paris, shop for fabric, hit all the museums I can, meet up with some EU friends
24 Apr -- head to Cologne, Germany via Thalys
24 - 28 Apr -- Hang with the Schwalfenbergs (good friends we met here in Texas who now live there)
29 Apr--Depart Cologne, Germany to head back home

I plan to blog while on my trips, so check back in early April if you're interested. I'll be posting photos of food (mostly to torture my husband), people, places, who knows? I may even need help choosing fabric!


here's a peek at the 2 places I'm staying while in Europe: