Sunday, March 12, 2006

There Are Worse Problems

I'm giving myself a headache trying to figure out where to stay from April 4–10.

When I planned a stopover in Europe on my way home from Kuwait, I expected to have the book completed and turned in. That, of course, would have been a pipe dream even if my editor hadn't given me an extension to mid-April.

The idea was to celebrate by going somewhere in Europe that I'd never been before. To decompress from the day job and book writing by seeing somewhere new. Like Prague. Or Lisbon. Warsaw. Dubrovnik. Or I could go visit my Finnish host sister, Heidi, who I have not seen since the early 90s. Or I could do the tour of UK babies, or see the elusive eSwede in person.

The plan has changed.

The new plan is to pick somewhere either familiar or dull, where I don't have to spend my time figuring out transit or where to buy coffee. I cannot stay in someone's house with them, because I will be in the work crunch to end all work crunches, frantically writing and rewriting at the last minute. I cannot play tourist or visit with friends. Okay, I could maybe have dinner or coffee a few times with someone, but that's it.

(The old excuse of "you only live once" or "when will you get a chance to do XYZ again" no longer works with me. You get the chance the next time you decide to take it.)

Oh, and it has to be cheap to get there on Ryanair or Easyjet. And it has to be cheap to stay there once I arrive.

The other caveat? I don't want to go somewhere where I will be freezing and won't be able to leave the apartment because everything I have with me is for Kuwait weather.

That cuts out most of Europe, including Berlin, which shocked me anyway once I started seriously looking at it. It's cheap to rent for a month. But there's no deals when you rent for a week. Pity, I was going to meet Ed Ward for the two dinners in which I'd be allowed out of the house.

What's left? Spain. Portugal. The Balkans. Greece. Italy. South of France. I could probably swing Paris if I bought a sweater.

Is Brussels cold in April? Here's a site with some decent-looking and flats on it, and the airfare from London is cheap.

What I'd like to do is just go to Barcelona and stay in my old flat for a week. But–gasp–a stranger is renting my apartment during that time. I've seen this other one before and it's available, although nowhere near as nice as the Sant Pau place, but the flights are not playing well from Barcelona. I need to be at London Gatwick before 10:30 a.m. on Monday. And I don't need to spend $200 on the BCN-LGW flight to do this. I might as well spend that $200 to change my ticket and just go home a few days later instead.

Other possibilities:

210 euros for 6 nights on Spain's Costa Brava. 180 for Costa Blanca.

195 euros for a Croatian resort.

78 euros for a studio resort apartment near supermarket in Portugal.

68 euros for a week in Tunisia. Hard to beat that.

And so on.

I don't like resorts, and I actually don't like the beach either (it's hot and sandy and boring), but if I'm just typing in my room, maybe the best bet is to get one of these hotel deals with half- or full-board. At least then it's someone else's responsibility to feed me.

Basically, I'm baffled by the amount of choices, and the low prices. I'm not sure what to book. But I better book something soon or all the cheap flights will be gone. If someone were to tell me what to do and could back it up with a good reason, I'd probably just follow their instructions at this point. Advice, anyone?


Cyrus said...

How about Turkey? I was there in October and loved it!

Marie said...

Agreed, Turkey is great.

Unfortunately, it's a bit pesky on the airfare front. I can get to Spain for 3.98 pounds one way... but to Turkey it's 282 pounds (return). Yow.

Steve Buccellato said...

How expensive is Romania? Serbia? I bet it's warm in Sicily.

Marie said...

I've always wanted to go to Romania. The airfare's pretty high though, about $250 return. Not as bad as the Turkey fares (which are lower in high season BTW).

Serbia doesn't have discount airlines either. But Croatia does.

Sicily has got to be a possibility... let's see who flies there (I look at

Ah... Ryanair (cheapest of the cheapies) flies to Palermo. Hm, 70 pounds though... not the 3.98 one like Spain. And 300 euros for a hotel. Still, that's not bad all totalled. And the hotel looks nice.

Peter Moore said...

Hey Marie,
Sardinia is nice too - I think Ryanair fly to Alghero.

Sara Kocher said...

Marie, I hear that Brussels is a little cool in early April, but I'm getting the info 3rd hand (J has a friend in Belgium). Weather websites say highs in low 50's and lows in the upper 30's. Not Kuwaiti-clothes weather, I'm guessing, but I don't know your cold tolerance. I'd want more than a sweater for that, but I'm a weather-wimp.

Marie said...

I'm a weather-wimp too so Brussels is not a good idea. I think it's going to be Spain, Portugal, or one of the Italy places mentioned by Steve or Peter.