European Tour Paperwork
Just got my first parcel of paper from RickSteeves.com. Looks like I'm in for quite a trip. They've got a two-sided waiver, one for medical issues, another for accidents, force majeure, acts of God (or the devil), terrorism, and bad hair days. The expectations are:, carrying your own luggage up to 15 minutes from the bus to the hotel, then haulting it up an average of three flights of stairs to get to one's room (no big whup), long museum tours (2-3 hours--no problem), and up to 5-10 miles per day of walking (yow!). It's not exactly "adventure travel"--no skydiving, skateboarding, or extreme sports--but it's not for slackers, either.
The other interesting part was that, while my deposit could be paid by American Hexpress, the rest of the tour must be paid for by check or money order. On the plus side, I have until July 7 to pay it off--that's more time for my money to work for me. Also, because they have my deposit, I've locked in my tour price. Huzzah! That only leaves the tumbling dollar to worry about. I plan on saving as much for incidentals as possible. Rick Steeves' tours offer travel insurance, but I guess I should check with Amex to see if I'm already covered or they already offer it. No sense double-paying for stuff, even if it is necessary.
The part that annoys me a bit is that I was hoping for a slightly more detailed itinerary. I know that my hotel in Amsterdam (Haarlem?) isn't available until 3 p.m. Fine. That means an overnight flight from the States, more or less. The trick is, when do I schedule my flight home? They recommend taking in Versailles on the last day--and I'm likely to take up that suggestion, it was on my "top five"--but then I still have to figure out my itinerary home. Some friends offered to put me up in their place in the English countryside for a couple days on the tail end of the trip, and I got another offer to check up on a particular pub or two in the UK from a friend of a friend, but that'd mean more time/money, and I'm pretty close to the limit as it is. Guess I have a little time to make up my mind. The air fares for September 2009 aren't available until a year out anyway (345 days, according to the friend with the English cottage).
And I still need to pick up a couple of foreign-language DVDs, CDs, or other resources so I can learn how to pronounce things correctly. 14 months SEEMS like a long time until you realize what-all is involved in the process. It'll keep me out of trouble, anyway.
I got out of work early for a MD appointment, so I'm trying to decide what to do with the rest of it: buy CDs and walking shoes until the temperature drops below 90, or head for the gym and start beating the hell out of the gym shoes I have now. Decisions, decisions.