A few weeks in Europe, part 1
The name of the tulip from Keukenhof pretty much sums it up...I love the joy of Spring and it is a great time to visit Europe. I did have some chilly weather, but I also had some gorgeous days. I visited 9 countries in just over 3 weeks and the pace was a bit fast, but my mission was mostly to check out new hotels, new guides and new destinations to help me plan better trips for you (my clients).
This was also my chance to check out Delta One for the first time. I flew first class from Phoenix to JFK and Delta One from JFK to Dublin. The cabins are a bit dated, but the seats in Delta One lie flat and you are given a full size pillow and blanket. I can attest to the comfort of Delta One---I fell asleep much easier and stayed asleep during the relatively quick 6 hour or so flight. I also flew Delta One back from Dublin to Atlanta and had a couple of extra hours to appreciate my comfort. The service and food were obviously better, but one of the parts I liked best was being able to board first and get comfortable without anyone disturbing you to get to their seat. I was also allowed to sleep longer as breakfast doesn't take as long to serve---breakfast was served with less than an hour to go before landing. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and will be flying Delta One again. Flying on a route that uses older vs newer planes keeps the pricing lower---while not inexpensive, I think Delta One was a great value. Being first off the plane is also a nice perk---fewer lines at immigration.
My first stop was Dublin---a city I had not visited before. Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells were my main reasons for visiting and I was not disappointed. That library is AMAZING! After my visit, I walked around the city and saw St. Stephens Green, Temple Bar, several of the famous bridges over the river and really enjoyed just wandering. Dublin is a very walkable city. I also did a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny. It was a nice day trip if you only have a day to explore and can't get to some of the more famous areas of Ireland.
Next stop was Berlin. I'd been to Berlin a couple of times before, but it had been about 10 years, so it was time to visit again. I love the feeling of Berlin. It has a smaller town feel than Munich or Frankfurt and I love the architecture and history. I stayed at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Berlin and the location can't be beat. You are walking distance to much of the city and when you need to take public transportation, you are literally right next to Potsdamer Platz and all of the connections you need. The staff at the Ritz Carlton can arrange anything you would like to do and even offer great touches like running groups through the park with some of the staff and personalized check-in for kids (complete with steps so the kids can reach the front desk). Berlin is also a very international city and I had some of the best Syrian food I've ever had here (there are all kinds of great food options in Berlin).
Next stop was Bordeaux, France. I used this as a gateway to check out the Cognac region which is still a bit off the beaten path for most travelers. I loved the drive (about 1.5 hours) and once there I enjoyed the smaller town feel. There are many Cognac houses where you can learn about how Cognac is made and have a taste. The area is also great for exploring as the ocean is only an hour or so away and there are many other under the radar destinations a short journey away. I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Chais Monnet which is located in an old distillery. Parts of the property have retained the history and other parts are very modern. They have a Michelin starred restaurant on-site as well as a bar that has more than 200 cognacs on offer. It is a true 5 star property with an indoor/outdoor pool, wonderful French spa and warm and welcoming staff.
Amsterdam was next on my itinerary. I have been to the city a couple of times, but never during tulip season. I like flowers as much as the next person, but I never quite understood the appeal of going to Europe with Keukenhof as the main attraction. I made my reservation and sort of figured I'd walk around for an hour or so and be done.....well, Keukenhof proved me wrong :) I was there a bit early for peak bloom, but there were still thousands of tulips (and other flowers) in bloom. There are the outdoor gardens as well as some spectacular displays indoors. I left nearly four hours later pleasantly surprised. Back in the city, Amsterdam is a nice city to explore. There is something for everyone---from canal cruises and art museums, to the red light district and the infamous "coffee shops" offering marijuana. Amsterdam is a great place to fly into and spend a few days and then take advantage of the huge train and plane networks to continue your European journey. For me, that meant a non-stop flight to Bucharest, Romania to join a river cruise (more on that to come....)
I will continue on with the rest of the trip in another blog post. Unraveled Travel has exclusive perks to offer, such as complimentary breakfast and a resort credit at both the Ritz Carlton Berlin and Hotel Chais Monnet (along with many other hotels). Please message me when you are ready to start planning your trip!
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Tracey is the owner of Unraveled Travel and has traveled to every continent (thanks to the recent visit to Antarctica!