Oct 2017 Prague, Monaco, Nice, Athens, Sofia, Plovdiv
October 4-18, 2017
San Jose SJC – London LHR – Prague PRG –Warsaw WAW – Nice NCE (train to Monaco) – Athens ATH – Sofia SOF (train to Plovdiv) – Athens ATH – Prague PRG.
15 day trip flying British Airways from San Jose, California to Prague.
I stayed in Prague 4 nights, Warsaw 1 night, France and Monaco 4 nights and Bulgaria 4 nights.
LOT Polish Prague to Warsaw for 20 hours and Nice, France. After a few days in Monaco and Nice, I flew four flights on Aegean Airlines as a fast-track strategy to Star Alliance Gold elite with travel from Nice to Athens to Sofia to Athens to Prague. The second week of my trip included an afternoon in Athens, four nights in Sofia and Plovdiv, then back to Prague for the last two nights from October 4-18, 2017.
Cost for my October 2-week Prague trip
Airfare cost: $601
$367 British Airways San Jose, California to Prague (AARP discount ticket).
$101 LOT Polish Prague – Warsaw (overnight) – Nice, France NCE.
$77 Aegean Airlines Nice NCE – Athens ATH – Sofia, Bulgaria SOF.
$56 Aegean Airlines Sofia SOF – Athens ATH – Prague PRG.
Hotels cost: My cost was $405 + 69,000 hotel points and free night in 6 programs for 11 reward nights and 2 paid nights for 13 nights on my 15 day trip.
11 reward nights
- Best Western Nice So’Co – 8,000 points for 1 night in Nice, France
- Clarion Prague City – Choice Privileges 24,000 points for 3 nights in Prague.
- Radisson Alcron Prague – Club Carlson Free Friday night for 1 night.
- InterContinental Warsaw – IHG Rewards Club Points & Cash stay 30,000 points + $30 for 1 night. Points & Cash reward night qualified for 1 of 3 Accelerate Fall 2017 tasks for 30,000 bonus points. I will complete the other two tasks on a hotel stay in London in December 2017 with one paid $80 night.
- Riviera Marriott La Porte de Monaco, Cap d’Ail, France – Marriott auction win at $115 in Nov 2016 for 2 nights in Deluxe Sea View room.
- Sofia Hotel Balkan, Bulgaria – Starwood Preferred Guest 4,000 points for 2 nights at SPG category 2 hotel for two weekday Cash & Points nights at 2,000 points + $35 per night.
- Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium Hotel, Plovdiv, Bulgaria – Wyndham Rewards redeemed for 1 GoFast reward night at 3,000 points + 24 EUR/$28 USD.
2 Paid Nights for $160 at Wyndham brand hotels earned 15,000 bonus points with Masterpass promotion.
- Days Inn Nice Centre 67.50 EUR /$80 USD for 1 night earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points.
- Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium Hotel 67.50 EUR/$80 USD for 1 night earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points.
Total cost would be about $700 if no hotel points and needed to buy them.
Total cost based on published room rates would have been $1,500+ for 13 nights.
Since I balance earning and burning points on my trips, my actual out-of-pocket expense for 13 nights was about $290. My costs for hotel points and Marriott auction had been paid for many months and years ago.
Daily expenses: Averaged about $20 per day in CZK, PLN, EUR, BGN for food, drink and ground transportation.
Prague-French Riviera-Bulgaria Trip Report
Aug 20, 2017 date of $367 SJC-PRG round trip ticket purchase for 15 day Europe trip October 4-18, 2017.
British Airways flight, Cathay Pacific LHR Terminal 3 lounge, Prague Airport bus and Metro to Vinohrady district. Stayed at Clarion Prague City.
Photo walk on brisk October afternoon through Prague’s Vinohrady and Zizkov districts to TV Tower and city’s largest cemeteries.
Hotel stay in junior suite using Club Carlson Free Friday earned in July’s promotion.
Wandering streets of Prague took me to a true nightlife party street in the middle of a mostly residential area of Nove Mesto on a Friday evening. Perhaps best of all is a Best Western hotel is located right in the middle of the pub/club street.
Warsaw is a city where I could have a good time in the right circumstances. Unfortunately, I mostly didn’t have a good time this trip.
InterContinental Warsaw convenient for WAW airport train great room view of central Warsaw. Strange receptionist interaction when she demanded I return my room key card at check-out.
Free walking tour showed me most of Old Town’s sights in 90 minutes. Rainy and gloomy day.
Nice airport bus to city train station for an 8,000 points reward night at nearby Best Western So’Co. Good ‘shabby chic’ deal and 15 minutes walk to beach. Nice Airport is currently constructing the tram line.
French Riviera sunshine created a real change of scene from Central Europe. After 3 days of cold autumn October in Prague and Warsaw, the remaining days of my trip in France, Greece, Bulgaria and Prague were nearly all clear skies with daytime temperatures in low 20s C/low 70s F.
Tip: If going to Marriott La Porte de Monaco Cap d’Ail by train, do not get off at Cap d’Ail train station unless you have arranged for transportation. Rural stop and over 2 miles to Marriott. Marriott has a free shuttle service to Monaco train station.
Hotel is basically in Monaco city across the street from the country border in a mostly residential area of Fontvieille with a shopping center supermarket ten minutes walk. Great location. I stayed 2 nights in a Deluxe Sea View (yacht parking lot view) with a $115 bid in a Marriott charity auction I won in 2016.
Le Rocher is both a cool small town on the same rock of Monaco where the royal palace is located. Small lanes between low rise buildings creates crowded streets in the day when loads of tourists are around. This is a cruise ship tour favorite for the city.
Le Rocher felt very cool as I was one of the few visitors walking around at sunset on an October Monday evening.
Monaco is about 4 km from France west to France east along the coast. I spent about six hours walking and checking out the coastline from Marriott La Porte de Monaco to Le Meridien Beach Plaza near the eastern border of Monaco.
11 EUR beer check-in to check out the beach and hotel on my walk across Monaco.
67.50 EUR for one night paid with Masterpass earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points. Even received an upgrade room with a balcony. Good deal as solo traveler.
I had forgotten the Promenade along the beach in Nice was the location of the Bastille Day 2016 terror attack as I enjoyed the vibe of people around me in the city. Terrorism never crossed my mind in Nice.
Loved the window seat view flying over Italy to Corfu and the landscape and sea views to Athens. My regret was not taking a window seat for the Athens to Prague flight the following week when our aircraft flew over Albania and Montenegro mountain scenery and island views off Croatia’s coast.
First ever trip into Athens on a 4-hour layover at ATH before my flight to Sofia, Bulgaria. Takes 45 minutes for Metro from airport to Monastiraki on 18EUR round trip ticket. Monastiraki is a major square with neighborhood ancient ruins, flea market stalls, shops, restaurants and bars.
Feeling marble is a reference to the grand staircase of this 1950s Soviet architectural classic hotel in the focal point center of Sofia. SPG category 2 reward nights are the real deal here.
Bookstores, parks, churches, cheap pubs and restaurants are some aspects of the Sofia experience. I like laid back vibes and I feel Sofia is a pretty laid back and safe place to hang out in the center of the city.
Fell in love with Plovdiv immediately. Great place to chill out among Roman ruins, long pedestrian street, parks and Old Town.
Second 67.50 EUR paid hotel night for Masterpass payment 7,500 bonus points + 1,000 stay points. Second night of 2-night stay on GoFast 23EUR + 3,000 points.
Plovdiv has lots of street cats. Old Town on a day with abundant sunshine provides an architectural delight.
Kapana district of Plovdiv is known for art, music and pubs.
Rooftop bar for a beer, music and great views of Sofia.
Stayed three nights at Clarion Prague City at the beginning and end of my trip for 8,000 Choice Privileges points per night. One of best loyalty program deals in Prague.
Over tourism in Old Town Prague and Mala Strana castle district prompts tourism officials to encourage visitors to Prague to visit other districts of the city. This gorgeous day was spent walking from Vinohrady and across Zizkov to Vitkov Hill with its tremendous views of the city. Karlin is a former industrial area of Prague undergoing urban gentrification. Restaurants, pubs and Karlin Forum for rock concerts are reasons to visit Karlin.
Clarion Prague City walk to Metro to airport bus to Prague Airport Terminal 1. Prague Terminal 1 MasterCard Lounge before British Airways LHR flight.