Northern Europe 2020 — Cancelled!

UPDATE: March 9, 2020: Planning for our replacement European trip lasted a mere two weeks before it, too, was overwhelmed by the advancing COVID-19 (corona virus) onslaught. A mere four days before we were scheduled to fly away, our cruise line announced the opportunity to cancel our currently scheduled (but already abandoned by us) prepaid cruise, and apply the money to a future booking. If the future booking is prior to October 15, this cruise also will have built-in reschedule protection. With that assurance, and the increasing prospect of being stranded in quarantine on our currently scheduled trip, and at the urging of several family members, we abandoned plan 2.0 below and moved on to plan 3.0, a 2020 trip deferred from spring to fall. See next blog entry.

What do we do when the spread of the corona virus wipes out the tour that we spent a year planning? How do we salvage non-refundable reservations? Or do we? Where will we spend our spring once our schedule has been trashed?

The answer is that we made a new vision, pieced what pieces we could use from the old one into it, and became excited about new directions, all the while knowing that this plan, too, is a race against the corona virus clock. In other words, it is like the rest of life: “do what you can, when you can, with what you have.”

The map below is our new vision for our 2020 European adventure. Eleven weeks became four. Nine countries, mostly in southern Europe, became four countries in the north. Carefully researched air B&B’s planned over months were replaced with hastily booked hotels, selected in minutes.

Our original trip called for a flight to London and two days there to recover a bit from jet lag, then a week in Paris, seeing the sights we missed when we were there for our anniversary five years ago. This portion had already been paid and was non-refundable. So we we kept that portion, junked the other 90% of the trip, and asked ourselves what things we might want to see nearby. Having abandoned Venice, we both agreed our first addition would be Bruges (pronounced more like Broojh, with a soft j), a picturesque canal town called Venice of the north. Some of you may have seen the recent Hallmark movie set there. Ellen got excited about the possibility of seeing Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey, and Windsor Castle. I suggested the spring flower gardens of Amsterdam and a ferry ride across the English channel from Calais to the cliffs of Dover. These were all integrated into the plan. In about 72 hours we cancelled the rest of the old trip and pieced together this new one.

So that, in a nutshell, is our new adventure. We have a couple of reservations still to nail down, and are adding details like windmills trips and Ann Frank tours, but are almost set. We still leave Phoenix on March 10. A month later we head back (assuming we are not quarantined somewhere in the interim), with details for how to fill in the other two months of the spring still a work in progress.

As always, stay tuned to the blog. We hope to be posting real time updates as the trip progresses. Enjoy the journey!