Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Kyle and I are both planners. When it comes to trips though, Kyle definitely has the lead and plans our itinerary which results in me often not knowing where exactly we're going. I didn't know much about the Lake Taupo area and thus didn't know what to expect. But just like the rest of New Zealand, it completely took my breath away with its lush rolling hills and crystal blue waters.

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

We arrived in Taupo very late the night before, driving from Napier after a night of wine tasting and dinner (in this order!) and checked in at the Hilton Lake Taupo. Read about the geothermal wonderland and wine tasting here. Due to Kyle's Hilton Honors status, we were promised complimentary breakfast and decided to get up early and take advantage of their offer and their spa facilities. Half asleep still, we stumbled out of our room to make our way to the breakfast hall only to be greeted by the most amazing views!

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

It was a cool and brisk morning so we chose to have breakfast right by the fireplace.

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

It was heaven on earth, followed by more blissfulness as we headed to the sauna.

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Hilton Lake Taupo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Our entire stay at the Hilton Lake Taupo exceeded all our expectations and we highly recommend them should you find yourself in the Lake Taupo area.

Before running for the hills (well driving in our case, see our driving route here), we explored the area around Taupo and had to stop at Huka Falls which were a short 10 minute drive away from the hotel...

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Shop My Look

... and went for a stroll on the beach where we met up with some locals who were extraordinarily friendly.

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

The area around Lake Taupo impressed us with lush, rolling hills, crystal blue waters, and snow-covered mountains in the far distance. It reminded both of us very much of our respective home countries, Switzerland and Canada, and it immediately felt like home.

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

One destination you can't miss when you're on the North Island in New Zealand is seeing the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo. Everyone we met along the way was raving about the caves so we decided to take a tour. Right at the beginning of the tour, we were told that the cave was recently flooded due to heavy rainfalls and that over half of the glowworm population was killed. And to add on top of that, picture taking was limited to protect the animals. That being said,  taking pictures without flash of tiny blue dots is really quite difficult!

Slightly disappointed about the prospects, we entered the cave which by itself was already very impressive! After a brief introduction to the cave,we got on a motorless boat and were immersed in total darkness.

 

Glowworm Cave Waitomo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Once our eyes had adjusted to the dark environment, the rocks above us started to light up with millions of little blue lights. It was one of the most magical things I have ever seen!  This picture doesn't even come close to doing it any justice as it was taken with an iphone camera from a moving boat, but it gives you an idea. Check out this video by Stoked for Saturday Lifestyle which really captures the magic.

 

Glowworm Cave Waitomo - Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

We can't recommend doing the Glowworm Cave tour enough!

 

Breakfast at Lake Taupo, Dinner at the Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

 

Under the light of the full moon, we drove to our last destination on this trip - Auckland. Have you been to a glowworm cave? If not, is it on your list? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

Rotorua is widely regarded as the geothermal wonderland of New Zealand.  Rightly so, as from our hotel room, we could see steaming geothermal activity and awoke to an unfortunately strong smell of sulfur in the air. It was definitely a surprise as we had arrived late at night under the cover of darkness and didn’t know what to expect the next day (read about our first day in NZ here)!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We had a bit of a late start to our day, which seems to be a common theme when we travel, but managed to stop at the impeccably maintained Government Gardens and the Kuirau Park Mud Pools before once again grabbing a lot of coffee, stocking up on some road trip provisions, and setting out for the day.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

For the uninitiated (us, in this case) we had assumed that the geothermal wonderland activity and parks around Rotorua were primarily free and open to the public to explore, similar to our experiences at Yellowstone National Park and throughout Iceland.  While Rotorua does have a number of geothermal areas around the city and free areas nearby, there are a number of privately held thermal parks where you pay admission. We decided to visit the geothermal wonderland called Wai-O-Tapu and the headlining Lady Knox geyser. (Thank you @jmk.travels for your travel tips!)

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We read online that Lady Knox erupts at 10:15am every day, and with our slow start in the morning we were rushing to arrive in time, rolling up to the parking lot at 10:10am.  We were hoping Lady Knox was having the same kind of morning that we were that day.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

A guide explained some history of the area and Lady Knox which was actually quite interesting. Lady Knox was discovered in 1901 by a group of prisoners from the newly opened nearby ‘open prison’. This prisoners came across the hot thermal water of Lady Knox and began to wash their clothes in the water with soap. The soap created a chemical reaction and Lady Knox erupted with a jet of water, nearly 20 meters high! Turns out, that this is still how Lady Knox erupts. We were a bit disappointed to see that the guide places a surfactant into the opening of the vent to initiate the eruption of Lady Knox each day. Certainly, Lady Knox was no Old Faithful!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

After the slight disappointment of Lady Knox, we made our way around the rest of the geothermal wonderland and were pleasantly surprised at how large it was.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We easily spent a couple hours here, walking the trails and seeing the diverse thermal activity.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From bubbling mud pits, to hissing steam vents, boiling hot waterfalls and strikingly lime green pools – there really was something for even the most discerning geothermal observer.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We also made friends with the locals...

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

The geothermal wonderland was only our first stop that day. With limited time in New Zealand, we were aiming to see as much of the North Island as possible and were headed to Napier (I mapped out our drive for the day here.). Our drive this day took us through the Waikato region to Hawke’s Bay over the hills and through the valleys via State Highway 5. I really enjoyed driving through all the windy roads in this fairly remote area.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

Unfortunately, as we arrived in Napier it began to rain pretty hard.  This was not the weather we had in mind for our afternoon of touring vineyards and wineries. That being said, good wine is good wine whether it is sunny or pouring rain.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

This area has no shortage of world famous vineyards. With this being the low season, a number of the tasting rooms were closed or had limited hours, so make sure you do some research in advance rather than assume they are all open! Our first stop was at Elephant Hill Wine Estate. The pictures of this winery and it’s vineyards set along the ocean looked breathtaking online, however it was raining so hard when we arrived we could hardly see the rows of grapes from inside the tasting room.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We enjoyed our first tasting and were eager to try some more, so we continued to Black Barn Vineyards. We enjoyed all the wines, but were blown away by the Pinot Gris here. Pinot Gris is not what we would call one of our favourite wines, but the vintage by Black Barn Vineyards was amazing and we bought a bottle to take with us!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

Heading into downtown Napier, we took in the Art Deco architecture that is highly concentrated within the city. We enjoyed a dinner of fish and chips and New Zealand lamb at the Emporium Eatery & Bar, which transported us back in time with its interior décor. We didn't take any pictures so you have to believe us when we say it was really well decorated!

Have you heard of New Zealand's great wines before? What is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

Fly To New Zealand On A Budget

Our trip to New Zealand in late May was somewhat surprisingly the first time that we had traveled to the Southern hemisphere! Obviously, New Zealand is a long way away from Chicago and most people certainly thought we were crazy travelling that far for just four full days on the ground (they are not wrong!). Once again, how we booked this trip has a bit of a story, not unlike how we booked our Easter trip earlier in the year (read about our Easter trip here).

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

How We Booked Our Flights to New Zealand

 

Back in late November we were enjoying a relaxing morning in our hotel room in Kuala Lumpur (read about our Malaysia experience here), and as I was scrolling my news feed on my phone, I came across a great flight deal from @TheFlightDeal that had just been posted for Air New Zealand economy class from San Francisco to Auckland for just under $400USD per person round trip. Economy class flights from North America to Australia or New Zealand are generally well over $1,000USD. So this deal was more than 50% off and too good to pass up!

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

I jumped for my laptop and began searching for fares and dates that we could work into our schedule. We already had our week-long trip for Easter planned in late March and weren’t able to easily take another week or two off a few months later to travel to New Zealand, so we settled for a four day trip over Memorial Day in late May. We decided to book the flight from San Francisco to Auckland before the fare disappeared shortly after. Fun fact, we already had Southwest flights booked for the May long Weekend but cancelled them in order to take this opportunity.

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

Now obviously, we don’t live in San Francisco, so we needed a way to get there. That is where our Southwest Companion Pass once again came in handy (you can read about the Companion Pass here) and we booked an early morning flight from Chicago to San Francisco to catch our 9:45PM flight from San Francisco. We booked our return flight to give us a few hours buffer between arriving in San Francisco, clearing customs and immigration, switching terminals, going back through a security checkpoint, and catching our final flight home.

 

This is what we ended up flying:

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

The Flight Experience with Air New Zealand

 

Our grand plan of spending the Friday working from the lounge in San Francisco was slightly foiled by poor weather conditions that day, which caused our Chicago to San Francisco flight to be delayed by over two and half hours. We were really glad that we had booked a very long connection, given that it would be unprotected and we didn’t have any wiggle room in our New Zealand itinerary if we missed our flight. Once we did arrive in San Francisco, our lounge plan was further put to waste as we were too early for Air New Zealand to check us into our flight. We needed to check our bags and get our boarding passes, so we had to sit and work land-side for a few hours.

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

The prospect of flying 12 hours in economy class is generally not appealing to anyone, and we were a bit apprehensive of how we’d feel when arriving in Auckland at 5:30AM, two days later. Our worries were unnecessary though, as Air New Zealand long-haul economy is actually a fairly pleasant place to spend some serious time. First of all, the onboard IFE (Inflight Entertainment system) was one of the best we have ever seen. The selection of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and music was extremely comprehensive. While we didn’t partake in a movie marathon, Air New Zealand conveniently had the full series of movies for Harry Potter, Star Wars, and of course, Lord of the Rings. Just as good as the movie selection was the bottomless New Zealand wines available!

 

Introduction: New Zealand 2018

 

(Full disclosure: Because Bettina was feeling under the weather, we didn't end up taking any pictures of our flight experience. You will just need to trust us when we say it was pretty great!)

 

We were very pleasantly surprised by our flight there, and we arrived fairly well-rested as we were both able to get about 6-8 hours of sleep (Advil PM always does the trick!). Even though we each watched over 3 movies, there were so many more that we wanted to watch, we were already looking forward to the flight home!

Have you flown Air New Zealand before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

Wandering in the Dolomites

Having spent a wonderful day in Venice (read about it here and see our full itinerary here), we were heading north - to the Dolomites. We rented a Fiat 500 to drive from Venice to the Dolomites (I linked the route here) which made me particularly happy as I love these cute cars and I haven't driven a stick-shift in a long time.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

After the short 2-hour drive, we arrived and were greeted with sunshine and amazing views of little Italian villages, sparkling alpine lakes, and majestic mountain peaks.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

We stayed in Padola at the Hotel La Torre which was modern and offered the most amazing views of the ski slopes and the surrounding mountain ranges. The entire area felt like one big ski resort and we would love to come back once, equipped to hit the slopes.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Even better than the views though were the hotel staff. They were extremely friendly and warm, attending to our every need, and they made us feel like we're staying with a family rather than in a hotel. If you ever plan a trip to the Dolomites, I can highly recommend staying there.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

The Dolomites are a mountain range in the north of Italy which reminds me very much of Switzerland. Also, it's where part of my family originates from. Going back there over Easter, to spend a few days relaxing with my family was very special to me. I don't get to see my family very often, but when I do, it's a blast! We do what families are supposed to do: eat, talk, have some wine, and eat some more. Our Easter weekend in the Dolomites was no different. After the Sunday dinner (it was a full 7-course meal and each course was good sized!), I didn't think I could ever eat again.

To walk off the meals of the past couple of days, Kyle and I decided to explore the area a bit more. Hotel Spa La Torre lent us their snowshoes and we were off on our adventure with the little Fiat 500 rental.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Initially, my family joined us but as the hills got steeper, we were soon alone. With the only goal of enjoying the views, we wandered off into the woods, snowshoes in hand for when the going got tough.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

We couldn't get enough of these views of snow-covered mountains, old Italian villages, and blue skies.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

As we were walking and enjoying the surroundings, we were surprised by how much at home both of us felt. Growing up in Canada and Switzerland, respectively, Kyle and I are used to mountains and we often miss seeing peaks on the horizon.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Who knows, we might move somewhere more remote than Chicago someday, with lots of mountains and snow. But for now, we're enjoying the big city life to the fullest.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Would you rather live in the mountains or in a big city? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

Snowy New England Road Trip

Bettina had been dreaming about a New England road trip for quite some time, excited to see the quaint villages and picturesque houses dotting the countryside. When dreaming of vacations though we typically always picture blue skies and warm summer days. This was generally not the case for this trip. We ran into some snow, a fair amount of rain, a lot more snow, and a bit more rain, with patches of blue skies and sunshine (which is when we tried to take all the pictures!).

 

Views on the New England road trip

 

Arriving in Boston late at night, you can find our full itinerary here, we quickly picked up our rental car and headed off to Nashua, New Hampshire, our first overnight.

 

View flying out of Chicago with Southwest - the start of the New England Road Trip

 

There was nothing we really wanted to see here, but were just trying to get outside of Boston while there was little traffic late at night. We spent the next two days traversing New England (not actually a state, but a region comprised of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut). Early the next morning, after a mandatory coffee stop, we started heading east, with an aim to pick up Vermont State Route 100, supposedly one of the more picturesque routes in the state. The ground was mostly covered in snow, but that didn’t hamper the beauty of some of the small towns we found along the way.

 

 

Church on our New England Road Trip

 

New England Style House on our New England Road Trip

 

We stopped in Woodstock, VT, for a caffeine injection and wandered around the cute little town...

 

 

Exploring Woodstock on our New England Road Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Travel Look

 

White Zara Coat

 

without missing out on the main attraction - the Woodstock covered bridge.

 

Woodstock Covered Bridge - on our New England Road Trip

 

If you ever find yourself in Woodstock, maybe also on a New England road trip, we can highly recommend Mon Vert Café. Their coffee and treats are delicious and made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Even in winter, this place was bustling. I can imagine it would be very busy in the summer!

 

Mon Vert Cafe in Woodstock - on our New England Road Trip

 

Treats and Coffee at Mon Vert Cafe - on our New England Road Trip

 

Treats and Coffee at Mon Vert Cafe - on our New England Road Trip

 

We made it to Burlington, VT, just in time for sunset. It's the most populous city in the state, famous as the birthplace of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! The city is small, and more of a college town, with impressive fraternity and sorority houses.

 

 

The downtown area was just as pretty as we had hoped. After a long drive, we enjoyed walking up and down Church Street, even though it was really cold.

 

Church Street in Burlington - on our New England Road Trip

 

 

After a long day on the road, we hit the pillows. The next morning, we awoke to sun and blue skies and stopped by the waterfront of Lake Champlain for a quick stroll before making our run for the coast.

 

Harbor of Burlington - on our New England Road Trip

 

Our first stop for a few quick pictures was Montpelier, VT, the state capital. There was no a lot going on here on a Sunday morning and with a tight driving schedule, Bettina's working schedule (she ended up getting work requests and managed to work on the road using a phone hotspot while Kyle was driving), we kept going.

 

State Capital in Montpelier - on our New England Road Trip

 

We met some locals on the way and made a mandatory stop at a local maple syrup farm.

 

 

 

 

Being Canadian, there is no substitute to pure Canadian maple syrup, however, I must admit that the Vermont maple syrup is pretty tasty as well. We sampled all the grades maple syrup at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks and couldn’t resist some maple syrup flavoured ice cream!

 

Maple Syrup at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Delicious Maple Syrup Ice Cream at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Delicious Maple Syrup Ice Cream at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Running on a sugar high we drove all the way through Vermont and into Maine. We came across some beautiful cabins and were surprised by the legitimate-looking ski hills through the White Mountains.

 

 

Before we knew it we were in Portland, Maine, half-way through our New England road trip hungry and ready for seafood!


 

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Easter 2018: Introduction

This year we spent Easter going back to familial roots, and enjoying entirely too much wine and food along the way. How we planned this trip is a pretty good example of the unconventional way we go about our travelling. I would like to say that we were making our life-long dreams come true with a romantic weekend in Venice (which is partially true), though in reality this trip was a spur of the moment booking - seven months in advance.

 

 

Allow me to explain.

It all started when I was groggily waking up one weekend in late August and was mindlessly scrolling through my news feed on my phone. I came across a flight deal on @TheFlightDeal that had just been posted for Air Canada business class from select cities in the US to select cities in Europe starting at around $1,000USD roundtrip. That is business class at near economy prices, and too good of a deal to pass up. I quite literally jumped out of bed to grab my laptop and begin the search to see if the deal was still live (deals like this one disappear very quickly as everyone wants to take advantage of it) and if I could find an itinerary that we could fit into our schedule. Unfortunately, there were no deals out of Chicago, but they were plentiful out of Boston. We weren’t really planning to book any long trips that morning, but the thing is when you find a deal this good you have to book it fast. We settled on booking flights for late March, which would coincide with Easter where we could potentially meet up with Bettina’s family while in Europe. I began my search around those dates and found a few itineraries that might work to Amsterdam, Rome, and a few other cities in Europe. All options were restricted by having to leave on a Tuesday, and with a minimum 7 day stay in Europe. Once we found flights that worked I typed all of our information in as quickly as I could and we were able to successfully book business class from Boston to Amsterdam, return, with a short layover in Toronto both ways. At $1,020 each for a lieflat seat and as much as we could eat and drink, we were not complaining.

It wasn’t until a few months later that we solidified the rest of the trip and coordinated with Bettina’s family. We were going to meet them in Venice for two days before driving to the Dolomite mountain range, which is about 2 hours north, to spend Easter relaxing in the town where Bettina’s mom spent every summer of her childhood. As we were arriving in Europe a few days before they were able to meet us in Italy, we decided to add on a short side-trip to Belgium, which believe it or not, Bettina had never been to. We were able to secure pretty good flight prices this far in advance flying from Brussels to Venice and returning to Amsterdam.

We still had one problem to solve though. How would we possibly get to Boston? Given that it’s a U.S. destination and a major city, it was the perfect use of our Southwest Companion Pass. We again were able to get a reasonable price on flights by booking far in advance. We also planned to head there a few days before our international flights and tagged on a New England road trip for good measure. Here is what our final itinerary looked like:

 

 

Late in January, we received an update from Air Canada. Updates usually mean the flight itinerary changed and we were worried this change would disrupt our complicated trip. The good news was our flights from Toronto to Amsterdam had been updated from an older Airbus A330 to their brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The bad news: Our originally booked flights had been cancelled and the auto-booked itinerary was completely messed up and illogical. With a call to Air Canada to resolve, we learned that our originally scheduled flight from Toronto to Amsterdam was cancelled on Tuesday, but we could alternatively fly the same itinerary, just one day earlier. An extra day in Europe for no charge? Yes please!

What we ended up flying:

 

 

Not for the faint hearted if you don’t enjoy flying – but that’s not a problem for us. As our return connection in Boston was unprotected (i.e. two separate tickets on two separate airlines – if the first flight is delayed and you miss the second, you don’t get reimbursed for your flight or rescheduled, tough luck) we had booked a fairly comfortable 4 hours buffer. However, Southwest decided to add a little fun to the mix in late February by rescheduling their last flight of the day from Boston to Chicago two hours earlier, and giving us just 2 hours to make our unprotected connection, at the mercy of weather delays, normal delays, running time between terminals, and security lines. Despite 45 minutes of weather delays on the actual flight day, we made our connection without issue! If we were travelling with checked luggage, it might have been another story, but we always try to travel with carry-ons only (see Bettina’s post here on making it work).

In March, a few weeks before the trip, when people inevitably began asking us where our next trip was it was a bit difficult to decide how to respond. “Venice” was the go-to answer. Sometimes that’s just easier to say, and also helps to avoid the looks we get when saying “Boston, Burlington, Portland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Venice, and the Dolomites.”

 

 

 

 

 

We felt like we really lucked out being able to book these flights! We were not only looking forward to the destination but the entire journey as well. Bettina usually dreads the flight back home, however she can’t wait to get on the plane if our flight home is in business class.


 

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