Europe – July 2017

T-93 – pre-departure

Wednesday 26th April

I dug a hole. If you’re Australian, and thus familiar with that Ozzie movie classic, The Castle, you’ll be familiar with that reference. For everyone else, it means…um…well…Sandy was completely thrilled to hear I booked us into Disneyland Paris for a couple of nights. By so doing, and here’s the bit she’s especially happy about, added another couple of grand to the cost of the overall trip. As I stated in my recent Facebook update…retirement is overrated anyway.

So, yes, the holiday timeline is now starting to take more shape with another couple of days’ accommodation now sorted and etched into the schedule. Of course, adding the extra couple of days at Disneyland Paris does mean we have to economise elsewhere. By that I mean that we have two fewer days to spend being somewhere else. Those two days are, by virtue of the way the schedule works, coming out of our time in Holland, so it is actually quite a bit of a sacrifice and I can understand Sandy’s hesitation. However, it does still leaves six days for Holland in total, so I’m sure we’ll find the time to do all those things we want to do…maybe.

To be completely honest, I’m really looking forward to Disneyland Paris. Yes, I know the parks there are smaller than those elsewhere and yes I’m fairly sure they will pale in comparison to what we’re used. However, I’m also pretty sure that the kids will absolutely love it and that’s the main thing. I’m sure their enjoyment will be doubly magical given we’ve decided NOT to tell them we’re going and for it to be a surprise for when we actually turn up at the Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy train station. With the aid of a doctor’s note confirming Joey’s autism diagnosis, I’m expecting we’ll be able to take advantage of the special Easy Access Card to help ease the pain of what will otherwise be endless hours of queuing. This is one of those rare situations where Joey’s autism works to our advantage on the outside world.

The nice thing about our Disney sojourn will be the fact that we are, somewhat uncharacteristically, staying on-resort at one of the Disney hotels. We’re booked for two nights, which includes unlimited access to both theme parks for three days, at Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne, which is a wild western themed ‘budget’ hotel. Why did I quote the word budget there? Well, let’s face it – the words Disney and budget really don’t mingle that well together. Anyway, I digress. The couple of nights we’re staying there will set me back a slither of liver, a spleen and about three fingers…but who’s counting. I’m sure it’ll be a nice experience we’ll cherish forever.

The particular package I signed up for is half board. That’s Disney parlance for a free breakfast inside the parks (no idea what to expect with that) and two seated meals inside the parks – one for each day of the stay. We could have a lunch and a dinner on one day, a dinner each day, a lunch on one day and a dinner on the second day, etc. When the time comes, I’ll have to look closer into this and see if we can’t book our meals ahead of time. The enthusiastic woman on the phone, who took quite a bit of pleasure from separating €1,250 from my creditcard, said it was too far out to book the meals and to call back in a few weeks. I also paid the extra few Euros to have the VIP treatment, which involves being collected at the train station and our luggage taken directly to our rooms, so we can waltz straight into the parks. Similarly, the luggage will be taken to the train station for us on the day of our departure. I figured this might afford us an extra half-day at one of the parks to assist in squeezing in all that Disney magic.

Not content with the size of the aforementioned hole, I’ve today also secured two nights’ accommodation in a castle – in Kerkrade, no less, Sandy’s hometown in the Netherlands. Our two nights at Kasteel Erestein will surely be a fantastic way to relax and unwind from the dizzying time at the Disney parks. Fortunately, my brother-in-law, Frank, was able to secure us a substantial discount, which brought the price down a fair bit. At just €187 per night for a family room with four beds across two levels, I thought it was really quite reasonable. The bonus, of course, is that it’s practically walking distance from where Sandy grew up and lived…until I came along and whisked her away…or at least to a couple of towns over.

So, with things still subject to change, we now have a pretty good idea of how the trip is shaping up with several key sections now booked and [for the most part] paid for.

Day of weekDateMonthDayCountryAccommodation
Thursday27JulyTravelIn flightOn the plane
Friday28JulyJetlagEnglandLeeching off family
Saturday29JulyDay 1EnglandLeeching off family
Sunday30JulyDay 2EnglandLeeching off family
Monday31AugustDay 3EnglandLeeching off family
Tuesday1AugustDay 4EnglandLeeching off family
Wednesday2AugustDay 5EnglandLeeching off family
Thursday3AugustDay 6EnglandLeeching off family
Friday4AugustDay 7Train to ParisAirB&B Paris
Saturday5AugustDay 8ParisAirB&B Paris
Sunday6AugustDay 9ParisAirB&B Paris
Monday7AugustDay 10Train to Disneyland ParisDisney Hotel Cheyenne
Tuesday8AugustDay 11Disneyland ParisDisney Hotel Cheyenne
Wednesday9AugustDay 12Train to MaastrichtKasteel Erestein
Thursday10AugustDay 13HollandKasteel Erestein
Friday11AugustDay 14BelgiumCenter Parcs De Vossemeren
Saturday12AugustDay 15BelgiumCenter Parcs De Vossemeren
Sunday13AugustDay 16BelgiumCenter Parcs De Vossemeren
Monday14AugustDay 17HollandLeeching off family
Tuesday15AugustDay 18HollandLeeching off family
Wednesday16AugustDay 19HollandSomewhere near Amsterdam
Thursday17AugustDay 20HollandSomewhere near Amsterdam
Friday18AugustTravelIn flightOn the plane