Summer vacation in Europe, something my family and I have enjoyed several times through the years. Due to various factors, not the least of which included a global pandemic, it has been since 2018 since we last visited the continent.
I feel fortunate that we were able to make this trip. We were planning on a trip to Ireland this summer, thanks to a very cheap fare, and some upgrade space to use Systemwide Upgrades on American. That wasn’t meant to be, both because the flights between Chicago and Dublin were not operated, and that Ireland was not opened to tourism, or any foreigners without quarantine. So we changed our plans to go to places that would allow us to visit. Croatia has been open for vaccinated (or those with a negative test) travelers for some time, and Spain announced they would open to vaccinated Americans in early June. So we had a plan.
I was able to secure upgrades on the long flights using some old SWUs. For us, there was lots of upgrade space on various flight from Europe, but the eastbound flights were more difficult. Now our flights weren’t as cheap as they once were. But after adding some rather last minute changes, I am happy with the value we got out of this. No longer cheap, but buying business class tickets would have cost us many multiples more than what we paid.
The American Airlines Boeing 787-9 is a nice experience in business class, and I was glad to finally enjoy this on some long flights. Reviews to come.
Finally, we were off to Madrid and Dubrovnik.
I’ve enjoyed past visits to Madrid, both for work and leisure trips, but it has been a while. As a hub for Iberia, there are a lot of available flights, even now. We took advantage with our American ticket. We spent a few days here, then flew nonstop to Croatia. Then on the way home, we spent one more night in Madrid. When possible, I usually prefer Hyatt hotels, but in Madrid (and many other places in Europe), the footprint is limited. There are new a few Hyatt hotels in Madrid, but neither really worked for us. The Hyatt Centric has small rooms (and no option for a 3rd person, even only a 6 year old). The Hyatt Regency isn’t very centrally located, so we didn’t really consider it. Instead, we opted for a classic hotel, the Westin Palace. I’ve enjoyed past stays there, and after returning this trip, we weren’t disappointed.
In and around Dubrovnik
Croatia has been on on my list of a place to go for a while. I visited Piran, Slovenia a few years back, and intentionally ‘saved’ Croatia for a future trip. Dubrovnik has become a bit overrun with tourism in recent years, but I looked at this as an opportunity to visit when there are no cruise ships, and no where near peak tourism. This worked out very well. Dubrovnik is beautiful, and we were lucky to avoid any sort of crowds. We spend a few days near the old city, and a few a bit further out. I found some beauty in both places. Not exactly as I expected.
Final thoughts on our somewhat last minute summer vacation
I’ll post more detailed reviews of various parts of our trip soon, but for now I wanted to share a brief preview of our summer vacation. If you can get to Europe, now is the time, travel is picking up, but it is no where near peak tourism numbers. Testing rules can be difficult, and change a lot, but to us it was well worth the minor hassle to get out and explore again after a long layoff.