Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Winter's Visit to Europe

Off to Favorite Places

As many of Roadboy follower's know I frequently enjoy traveling in the off season.  I'm more than happy to wear some wool, put on a hat and warm scarf if that is the price to see the Mona Lisa minus the shoves of summer. It is also a time of amazing bargains everywhere in Europe.

I am lucky to be accompanied by someone who will be experiencing Europe for the first time and that will make the trip even nicer!

First stop is Madrid. Why Madrid? Well, because it is one of Europe's most underrated capitals. Spain's largest city is a treasure trove of spectacular art, architecture and one of the most modern and efficient airports in the Europe.  From Madrid anywhere in Europe is close by and pretty inexpensive to fly to!  It is also a bargain to land in since it tacks on some of the lowest airport fees in Europe. With the current economic woes in Spain (Particularly in Madrid) the city offers pretty amazing hotel and restaurant bargains too. A city that seemingly never sleeps can be a perfect place to overcome jet lag too!

Off season in Madrid is mid-winter and August (when it is abandoned by Madridista's for being just too hot!) Of course, for us Phoenicians, the August temp in Madrid? Not so much!

Jet lag relieved we'll board an Air France flight to Paris. Total advance purchase airfare on Air France from Madrid to Paris? $78! 

Paris in winter can be very cold (mainly December and January), but it is warming up in February and starting to show glimmers of spring in March. During our 5 days in the City of Lights we are planning to hit the traditional Parisian highlights (without the crowds) plus a cold 1 mile walk through  its creepy catacombs.  A day trip to Versailles will be thrown in for good measure.

After a week in Paris we'll board a Eurostar from Paris Nord to St. Pancras station London. Advance purchase tickets on the sleek high speed rail ran $78. Sadly just three days in London, but we have tickets to three West End shows. While NY Broadway shows now run close to $200 a ticket, live theater in London is a screaming deal. 

We've also got sights set on London's wonderful museums (most are also still free!! Which may constitute the last two bargains in one of Europe's most expensive cities). The price of hotels in London have hit epic, but London's amazing public rail network makes some wonderful outlying hotels in West Ealing and East Croydon an option (frequently for $100 USD / night). 

The last leg of the visit will be a quick British Air flight to Barcelona's gleaming new airport (advance purchase $83 from Gatwick). Another nice benefit of staying in East Croydon is the ease of transferring to Gatwick.

Beginning and ending the trip in Spain allows for an easy sunny mid-winter introduction to Europe and a sunny departure back home.  Home to wonderful seafood, culture and the architecture of Antoni Gaudi Barcelona is close enough for a perfect day trip to Spain's first National Park Montserrat.

Stay tuned for photos. 

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

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