This July I will be bouncing around northern, western and central Europe with flights to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Prague and London before flying back to California.
Some of my hotel plans were in place more than six months ago, then changed last month. Kelley wanted time in Amsterdam.
We were in Amsterdam in February 2017, but Storm Doris hit and the weather sucked all week, until our last day. I hardly snapped any photos during the last trip. Summertime is fun in Amsterdam.
That itinerary change to Amsterdam knocked out my last two Club Carlson 4-for-2 reservations in Riga, Latvia and Berlin, Germany. Club Carlson ended Europe 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 Gold elite rates late January 2017. No getting 75 EUR per night July deals like those again in Berlin.
I know Kelley will love Riga, if she ever gets there. Riga shows off cats.
Berlin gave me hesitance as a destination for Kelley in summer. The city can feel a bit gritty, especially on a hot day on city streets walking through blocks of buildings, away from one the city’s many green spaces.
I opted for more time in Prague and Czechia, knocking Berlin off this trip.
Radisson Blu Berlin is a great location for the city near Alexanderplatz and many major museums. The largest cylindrical aquarium in the world located in the hotel lobby is a unique focal point for the hotel.
Amsterdam has a great deal at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam for Wyndham Rewards points. Most chain hotels in Amsterdam run $200+ on weekends. Ramada Apollo is 3,000 points + 65.10EUR per night after tax. Wyndham Rewards points drops the cost of the hotel room from $210 to $74 per night. That kind of savings is worth the 20 minute tram ride into the city center each day.
Ramada Apollo Amsterdam and Ramada Vilnius are the two best hotels I have found for Wyndham Rewards points redemption value in the past year.
Club Carlson canceled reservations and new reservations
Club Carlson’s Free Fridays promotion launched last week motivated me to rearrange some hotel stays this month. I had planned to stay at the new category 4 Hyatt Regency Amsterdam. I changed that hotel stay to a Club Carlson property to earn one stay toward a Free Friday.
In the final decision, I changed two hotel nights in Amsterdam and Prague to Club Carlson to earn one free Friday night. I plan to be back in Europe in October and I am fairly certain I will be able to redeem one free night in either Dublin or London.
Hotel rates in Dublin blow me away. The Radisson Blu Dublin is frequently over $300 per night. In London, I would probably stay at The May Fair again. The location is convenient to Green Park Underground and Sainsbury’s market across the street from the hotel means easily accessible cheap eats and drink. (Yeah, that’s me walking through the Mayfair lobby among the suits and nylons, clinking six 660ml bottles of Stella Artois to the elevator.)
How much is too much tourism?
There have been several European cities complaining in 2017 about too many tourists. These cities feel ‘overtouristed’ to locals and many travelers.
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague and Venice are cities where so many tourists converge in the concentrated tourist areas that local government councils are seeking ways to limit tourism. The main effort seems to be convincing tourists to visit outlying areas.
Kelley and I have tried several times getting out of Amsterdam and exploring other parts of the Netherlands. Honestly, while we have enjoyed seeing other parts of the country, Amsterdam is where it is at for us. The city has an energy and vibe that we have not experienced in other cities around the country.
Prague was crowded in January when I was there for three days. Not sure what to expect this month in the city?
We will be in Czechia more than a week checking out a few cities and traveling from one end of the country to the other on our way from Pilsen, Czechia to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Trip reports and photos of tourists probably blocking the sights will be forthcoming.
Maximizing Europe flights for more city travel
Over the past few days amid the quiet days of Fourth of July long weekend, I have been playing around with the potential of long layover transit stops on international airline tickets.
Too bad my flights are all ticketed for this summer trip around Europe. Kelley did not want to bounce around too much and I made the travel relatively easy for planes, trains and buses. In October 2017, I want to get wild and pack in some extra stops as I fly to a few cities around Europe.
I have played around with trip planning to Ireland/France or Portugal/France. One of the interesting aspects of ticketing intra-Europe flights is the potential to pick up an intermediate airport long transit layover of near 24 hours in a city like Amsterdam, Athens, London, Milan, Paris, Prague or Warsaw.
Cheap tickets at $425 to Scandinavian airports from San Jose and San Francisco have me thinking it is a good time to buy my next trip ticket.
But then, on second thought, I want to wait and see which IHG hotels make the next PointBreaks list for 5,000 points reward nights. The new list should post in three weeks, probably the last week of July for hotels available for August-October IHG PointBreaks reward night bookings.
Free Club Carlson Fridays, IHG PointBreaks and long layover cities
My travel objective is plan to fly on dates in October where I can be in a city like Dublin, London or Paris on Friday night on a near 24-hour transit layover to maximize Club Carlson Free Friday reward nights. I will earn two Free Friday nights with four Club Carlson stays on this July trip to Europe.
I also want to plan destinations within Europe to travel to cities with the best IHG PointBreaks reward value. This means finding cheap airline tickets to cities with IHG PointBreaks hotels, where there is easy public transportation access. I don’t rent cars in Europe.
A routing where I can visit two or three PointBreaks cities for 2 to 4 night stays on a two-week trip seems reasonable to achieve.
For flights between IHG hotel cities, the plan is find cheap one way tickets that maximize long layovers at intermediate airports on one stop hops between cities in Europe.
There are plenty of potential long layover cities across Europe. My recent searches this past week and more in the weeks to come are showing many of the potential routes with good layover opportunities on low fare $100 one way tickets.
Like Madrid to Stockholm on Air France with 23 hours in Paris for $77 on Friday, October 13.
Yeah, I’ll be the guy clinking the big bottles of Stella Artois across the Radisson Blu Paris lobby late on a Friday night.