Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Coming Together (i.e., Money Has Been Spent)

Thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to convene all the men in one place at one time to discuss dates, those little somethings needed in order to make reservations. I didn't even need to offer food to lure men to the table. I merely noted that the special on Eurail passes was about to expire, so money could be saved by meeting then and there, which we did.

The husband will meet with our travel agent when she's back from her own two-week vacation in South Africa, but he has several dates to work from in the hopes that some flexibility might get us a lower fare. We're shooting to fly to Ho Chi Minh City on March 3, 4, or 5, through either Paris (on Air France) or Amsterdam (on KLM). Amsterdam would be preferable in terms of our European plans, but if the air fare through Paris is cheap enough to offset the passage we'd then need between Paris and Amsterdam on the return leg, we could certainly go the French route. We plan to overcome jet lag and see a bit of Ho Chi Minh City before going to Hue on March 7. The first day of teaching is March 9.

The last day of teaching is April 4, and the husband has been invited to give a talk in Hanoi on April 6, which just happens to be his 58th birthday. After that, we'd like to spend two days on a junk sailing through Halong Bay. If you've seen the Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies, you've seen some of Halong Bay. Then it will be back to Ho Chi Minh City and, from there, on to Siem Reap, Cambodia and Angkor Wat. We've been warned by a friend in the know to keep an eye on the State Department's travel advisory website in case the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute takes a turn for the worse. If it has, and there are advisories against travel to Angkor, we'll see more of Vietnam and then fly to Europe from Ho Chi Minh City on April 13 or 14.

Once we're in Europe, the plan is to get from either Paris or Amsterdam to Oslo to let the younger son binge on Nordic history and culture. We'll also head to Trondheim to visit third and fouth cousins, descendants of the one who stayed in Norway when all his siblings emigrated to Canada and the U.S. Younger son has also requested some hiking in the Norwegian mountains, which I too would love, so we will endeavor to arrange that as well. Once we've done and seen as much as time allows in Norway, we'll head back to the Netherlands to show younger son where we lived when he was born and let older son visit a couple of places he says he vaguely remembers from the year we lived there, when he was two. The two places, Madurodam and Apenheul, are quite distinctive, so I wouldn't discount his memories. Madurodam is a miniature Dutch city, and Apenheul is an open-air primate zoo.

The husband and I will fly back on May 4, 5, or 6, and the young men will follow three weeks later. The Eurail pass special got them month-long passes for the price of three-week passes, so the continent is open to them. Since their passes are good for a month, they can also take a dry run excursion or two on their own while we're still over there with them. I did Europe at the same age younger son will be (19), so they should be fine. Still, as a Mom one of the things I do best is worry.

Loving it when a plan starts to come together!