Our flight arrived at Heathrow early in the evening on the 17th. Brooke wanted to join us at the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel, but the would not add her to the reservation as it was not booked directly with Marriott.
Traffic from the airport to the hotel was very bad resulting in approximately 1 1/2 hours before we were able to check-in. By the time we checked-in, the hotel was 100% booked and the great Marriott staff had to upgrade both Lanie families to extremely nice rooms. Vicki and I were upgraded to THE ROYAL SUITE and Randy & Kathy were given a very upscale MINI SUITE. THE ROYAL SUITE normally cost $2,300/night!! Check out our SMugMug website for photos of the trip including the hotel rooms:
Brooke joined us after work on the afternoon of the 18th and we boarded another train for Cambridge and then a short car ride to her home in Newmarket. After a good night of sleep we are ready to visit Cambridge on the 19th and spend the weekend in Newmarket before heading to London on the 21st.
While in Newmarket we spent one day touring Cambridge and the highlight of the visit was High Tea at the rooftop restaurant/bar of the Varsity Club. We did not have time to experience “Punting” due to the massive holiday weekend crowds.
The last full day in Newmarket was spent in Bury St Edmonds, the town that Brooke & Aaron first called home when they were in England. The town has a large section of ruins that date to at least the 9th Century and its history includes critical support of the Magna Carta by the leaders (“Lords”) of the region.
On Easter Sunday we headed to London via train to spend until Wednesday before flying back to the U.S. We have dinner reservations at “Burger & Lobster”, a unique London establishment.
We boarded a train on the 8th for the trip rot Vienna with our tour leader, Brooke! We checked into a very nice Marriott that was located in a central location in the city. We had purchased a Vienna Pass, so we spent the two full days seeing the various sights including palaces, museums and historical places. Included in our activities was a lot of consumption of the local food and beverages.
On the 11th we left Vienna on the train and headed to Budapest and Brooke caught a flight to London as she had to go back to work on Monday. The train was very old and their PA system did not work in the car we were on! As a result we got off the train at the first Budapest station, which was in the country, requiring a long/expensive cab ride!
Consistent with the previous cities we visited, Budapest was a beautiful city. While in Budapest we heard about the fire at Notre Dame, which we had visited the previous week in Paris-What a shame.
One of the lessons we learned in Budapest was to do some research on hop-on-hop-off bus/cart companies. We booked on a cart to see a Castle with a company that only had 2 carts and as a result wasted a lot of time waiting for the next cart. We had to redo the trip the next day to see the site!
On Sunday, April 14th, our Budapest visit concluded as we boarded a Plane for London.
The San Antonio Lanie’s arrived in London on the 4th and the Okie-Lanie’s arrived the next day. Brooke joined us on the 4th. On the 5th we ventured to see Buckingham Palace before boarding the train to Paris at 5:01 PM.
The 2 1/2 hour train ride to Paris was easy and comfortable (we booked 1st Class). We did not know what to expect in Paris and were pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant, clean city with minimal evidence of the impact of the infusion of immigrants in the city.
We spent three nights in Paris at a small hotel located in the Montmartre area, which was filled with quaint shops and artistic locals. While in Paris we took in the typical sites including the Louvre, Eiffel tower and great Parisian restrauants. We tracked our walking while in Paris and we ranged between 5-9 miles each day!
On the 8th, we checked our of our hotel and boarded an Air France flight to Prague. Our hotel was located close to Old Town, so we spent a lot of time wakling again to the various historical sites including the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle.
On the 2nd day we rented a car with a driver and went to the small Czech town of Hodemysle, which was the town where our grandparents were born. The Old Cemetary used by the villages was quite a site with many names of those in our family tree.
When we have a resonable internet connection we will update the photo website with photos of the first week of our trip. We are on the train to Vienna where we will continue our European journey!