Looking around for the best airfare to the States often results in a stopover in Europe. If the stopover is more than 5 hours you can “Do Europe” (or at least one city). This is aimed at families – business people should stay in the airport and polish up the PPT and couples might get more out of Paris by spending a whole weekend. Four basic rules:
- Check bags all the way (and get boarding passes)
- Take almost no carryons
- Figure out in advance (down to the level of the train schedule and stops) how you will get in and out of the airport
- Bring Euros
If you tried this in the past and it didn’t work, try again. Because:
- Airport Transportation is really good in many European cities (but expensive)
- Europe is too expensive for a real trip
- Kids will remember 3 hours in Paris as if they were there for a week
- Not enough time to buy gifts for everyone – a four hour trip might yield as much as a 4 day trip with shopping
- Its really not much fun waiting in the airport for 6 hours
- What used to be considered a primitive American style of “Doing” Europe is now quite cool.
I have tested two of these trips on my own family in the past year. We Did Paris (6 hr) and Rome (3 hr).
We arrived in Paris at midnight and grabbed a rented car (no good late night public transport). Took a nighttime tour of the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Sienne. The highlight was Ice Cream at McDonalds on the Champs Elysees. Everything else was closed (saved loads on admission). Back to the airport and after a short nap – ready for the 7am flight.
Rome was public transport. 30 minute train to the city followed by a walk past the Coliseum, Forum, the Synagogue and lots of monuments. Highlight was Ice Cream at the Trevi Fountain. We had planned on hitting a second country in the 4 allotted hours – but there was a train strike which caused us to lose some time – so we cut the Vatican.
Anyone interested in the detailed plans, contact me. Or tell me some of your “4 hour Europe” experiences. And by the way, Google now has walking directions. Here is how one might walk from Rome to Paris.
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