Porcupyn's Blog

January 31, 2017

Paris and Berlin – a Thanksgiving Saga (Part 2)

Filed under: Travel — Porcupyn @ 3:50 pm

Counting down to our departure, with about three weeks or so left, Baab came home from school saying that one of his fingers was hurting. Apparently he had been playing throw-and-catch (American) football in school and one of the balls he was supposed to be catching had glanced off his fingertip. It’s been a while so I don’t remember whether it was the same day or the next day, but off went Mrs. Porcupyn and Baab to the local urgent care (maybe it was the same day, as I remember the urgent care). Diagnosis: Broken finger. They next went to the orthopedic doctors, who fashioned a splint for him to wear for the next four weeks.

As if that was not enough, within a week or so, Baab was rough-housing with friends at a friend’s house when his toes realized that a cylindrical pillar is as hard – if not harder – than an interior wall. After he came home in pain, a trip to the urgent care facility followed. Diagnosis: two broken toes. Unlike the fingers, for toes, there is not really any treatment – they are supposed to heal on their own. But the folks at the facility did give him an open-toed shoe (only one) so he could better accommodate his toes, which were bandaged together in “buddy wrap” as they referred to it, to facilitate their quicker healing and to prevent further mishaps.

And so it was that come flight time, Baab was digitally challenged in one hand and one foot. During the time leading up from when we decided to go on a trip, I had researched and found out the an open jaw itinerary starting landing in Paris and leaving from a few other candidate European cities would be about the same as a round-trip to Paris. Not having a good idea of how much we might like Paris, we decided to have an open jaw itinerary of MCO-OSL-ORY on the outbound leg and SXF-OSL-MCO on the inbound leg.

And yes, that meant a few things:

  • we would be spending two days (and three nights) apiece in Paris and (gasp) Berlin
  • we would be taking the TGV (first time for anyone in the family to go over 100 mph over land)
  • half the time would be used in travel, given the layovers (up and down) at Gardermoen Airport, Oslo and the day long train ride with two train changes.

But we were looking forward to all of those, for sure.

January 27, 2017

Paris and Berlin – a Thanksgiving Saga (Part 1)

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 4:09 pm

Though we’ve been living in the USA quite a while now and visit India (our motherland) on a regular basis – once every year or two – which more often than not involved a transit via Europe (London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Zurich being the most favoured jumping points), we had never visited the Continent on vacation. One of the reasons was that the cost of an independent round-trip ticket from the closest airport (Orlando) to any European destination rivaled that of a similar ticket to India. We could not justify the (air ticket) expense of an India trip without visiting India. I put forth the suggestion that, every other India trip, we go on an intermediate Europe trip. Here is what I was suggesting:

All of us would fly to the Europe destination; after a week in Europe, one parent would return to the USA and the other would proceed with the kids to India, returning a couple of weeks later. That way, one parent would need to just take a week off work (though pay a premium airfare for the Europe trip) and the other parent (and both kids) would be on a three week vacation and the Europe stopover would be a relatively minor jump in fare. However, there was a lot of opposition to that plan because we would be taking our “India luggage” with us to Europe, schlepping which from one point to the other in Europe would supposedly require some doing. And with that, I had reluctantly resigned myself with not being able to do so until retired.

But I had not given up hope. So we (OK, I, the reigning travelnerd of the family) were scouting around for travel deals just to Europe when suddenly, into my mailbox plopped an email from Norwegian Airlines. They were offering what to me appeared to be outrageously inexpensive tickets to the continent. Specifically, tickets to Paris or London could be had for just around $600 per person. Never having heard of this airline before, I was a bit apprehensive. A little googling revealed that, though there were issues ever so often with a flight being cancelled or delayed atrociously, for the most part, they were a trusted budget airline. Yes, you’d have to pay for anything you got on the flight, water included! Air was free, though, thankfully!

Upon learning of the deal, Baab (our resident aviation expert, aka, planefan) was immediately elated.”Why?”, you might ask, like Mrs. Porcupyn and I did. Turns out that the TransAtlantic flights on both the outbound and inbound legs would be on Boeing’s new Dreamliner, a plance – incidentally – none of us had ever flown before. Baab went on a monologue of the plane’s design features and points of excellence. Mrs. Porcupyn was, albeit a bit reluctantly, sold on the idea.

And so it was that one fine Tuesday night, we were at Orlando International Airport (MCO). Though kids had the entire Thanksgiving week off, we were having the Annual Orlando Kannada Sangha Rajyothsava the Sunday of Thanksgiving week. As a result, though Norwegian flew from MCO to Gardermoen Airport, Oslo (OSL) twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays, the latter otherwise having been very convenient), we were able to leave only on the Tuesday flight.

[photos to appear here]

Next post: Charting out the itinerary and Baab’s digital handicaps!!

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