Wednesday, April 13, 2011

having fun planning my coming trip to Europe

I love trip planning. To me it is half of the fun of traveling. And every time I learn something new.

Europe is my favorite destination. I never pass any opportunity to visit.

Last year, I picked out two among many offers for home exchange with families in Europe. One is a beautiful villa overlooking lake (Lago Trasimeno) in Umbria (bordered with Tuscany). I couldn't resist the temptation and accepted the offer. The other one is from Stockholm: Beautiful apartment in the city center and a country house one hour away.

So I envisioned our first RTW trip (round the world), North America-Hawaii-New Zealand/Australia-Asia (China/Thailand/Singapore/India)-Europe (Italy/Sweden and add-on).

We headed to Hawaii in mid February and headed back to Texas in the end of March. One main reason was that I spotted a great deal: 11-day transatlantic cruise from Miami to Barcelona. I grabbed it right away.

Now our trip is taking new shape every day. I am getting more and more excited with our coming trip.

Itinerary:
May 5 Fly to Miami
May 7 Board Norwegian Epic
May 18 Arrive in Barcelona
May 18-May 28 Barcelona
May 28 Fly from Barcelona to Rome
May 28 Pick up rental car in Rome and drive to Umbria
May 28-June 11 Two weeks in Umbria (based out here and do day trips exploring Umbria and Tuscany)
June 11 Drive to Venice and drop off the rental car there
June 11-June 13 Two nights in Venice, one of my favorite cities
June 13 Take train to Milan and overnight in Milan
June 14 Fly from Milan to Stockholm
June 14-24 Stockholm
June 24 or 25 Fly back to North America

I have found some incredible travel deals: Euro34 fly from Milan to Stockholm. Euro 35 fly from Barcelona to Rome. Euro 76/night/room for a 5* hotel in Milan (taxes and fees included). Still look for an apartment in Barcelona. Google map helps a lot! Rental car has been challenging. A 7-seat vehicle for two weeks in Italy runs for $2700. Today I was able to get one for $1800. Keep looking!

Time for countdown:
travel insurance
International Driver's permit
Apartment in Barcelona
Flight back to North America
Airport transfer
Cell phone in Europe
GPS options
......




Friday, April 8, 2011

Digging fun

One of O's interests is rocks, crystals and minerals.

I still remember what led him to this. Astroboy cartoon, astro boy in a cave--->>his interest in cave---->>we did our first cave exploration in Vancouver island, he was exposed to crystal in the cave---->>interest in crystals, rocks and minerals, we got some books and got some crystals and also grew our own salt crystals---->> I found this three days ago when M and I hang out at a toy store.

GeoCentral Excavation Dig Kit - Treasures Of The Earth.

And O has been digging since last night. We have uncovered four kinds of rocks: Obsidian, Granite, Conglomerate and Pumice. We looked them up in our big book of rocks, crystals and minerals. I showed O how to use index in the book. He spelled out the name of the rocks and I looked it up.