We booked our tickets for Europe via AirTreks which I learned about via the Rolf Potts podcast.
We all flew out San Diego direct to Frankfurt on Lufthansa. Carson flew back from Paris to Washington, DC (IAD) to San Diego via United a week earlier than Conrad and I. Our return flight was a direct Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to San Diego. I thought all the flights ended up being affordable, and having AirTreks do all the coordination was wonderful.
We bought all our train tickets in Germany using the German Train App (Bahn). The app was very helpful and useful.
We bought our local Belgium train tickets at the stations using their kiosks (the English interfaces on all the kiosks we used were easy to use & understand). Some kiosks took my standard Visa and others required me to use the Debt Visa. In the end, one or the other ending up working.
I used the Internet to buy our train from Brussels to Paris via Thayls. This was a great option because the travel time between Brussels and Paris was less than 2 hours.
Once in Paris we used the kiosks to buy local subway tickets within Paris. Again we had the same issue with credit card vs. debt cards. Sometimes one would work and in another situation it wouldn't. In the end, one of them worked.
I used the French Train App (SNCF) to buy our train tickets from Paris to Normandy, and the the kiosk at the train station in Normandy to get back to Paris. This SNCF app also had a copy of our tickets so that was nice not to have another set of paper tickets.
We did use the Paris subway system a couple of times on the 2nd day. It was very handy. Tickets were purchased at the local kiosks in the subway station. Also we bought our tickets to Charles de Gaul using the kiosk at the main subway station near our hotel. They were more expensive then some other options but the ride was a direct ride without subway line changes.
Carson flew home from Paris via United on Monday, June 17th. After she left, Conrad and I flew from Paris to Rome using via Vueling Airlines. These tickets were purchased via CheapOAir, but I did our seat upgrades directly using the Vueling Airlines app. The flight on Vueling was good. Conrad and I both had luggage that would have been OK for their overhead, but when we checked in they had us check the bags. This slowed us down in Rome by about 30 minutes in waiting for our luggage.
Once in Rome, our AirBNB host setup for us a car service to pick us up at the airport and take us to our AirBNB. This worked out great because we had the least amount of time in Rome and we weren't so sure about our public transportation options. The trip from the airport was great and the trip back to the airport, which was early in the morning, also worked out great. It was money worth spending.
We ended up flying on EasyJet from Rome to Amsterdam. We carried our luggage on without a problem.
The flight from Amsterdam to Berlin (TXL) was on KLM. I really liked the KLM experience. We got to carry our luggage on and they had cool snacks!
We left Berlin to Frankfurt on the night before we were flying back to San Diego. This flight was on Lufthansa and we had to turn in our luggage at the gate because of our ticket class. There was definitely room for them. That was kind of a bummer. It took like 40 minutes to get our bags which made us late for trying to get into the hotel that is in the "secure" part of the airport. So we had to go outside of security and stay at the Sheraton that is attached to the airport.
In summary ....
- [PART 1] All the flights worked out without any major issues. We didn't get to carry on our luggage a couple of times. Which mostly only caused us delays in waiting for our bags. All the airports worked great. Moving around, getting through queues, shopping, services, etc. were great. I think I liked the Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports the most. But Paris, Berlin, and Rome were not bad. I have been to worse in the U.S.
- [PART 2] A lot of what we did at the front of the trip was take trains. This worked great for three people. I think that is why in PART 1 -- it worked great because it was just two people flying vs. three people flying. The train experience was also overall very seamless and a good time. Having the right mobile app was key so I definitely recommend using them.
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