Without further ado, I bring you the final instalment of our Euro 2012 summer travel plans! We don’t have everything booked and planned yet but some tickets are bought and everyone is getting excited! Let us know if there are any places we have to visit or things we have to do – all suggestions are greatly appreciated! If you missed them, check out parts one and two first.
With match tickets secured, all that was left was to plan an itinerary. As mentioned in part one, the original intention was to drive all the way to Poland from Chester via the channel tunnel. It quickly became apparent, however, that this had the potential to be a recipe for disaster. A selection of troubling images flashed before me…trying to overtake a huge truck in a right hand drive car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road… a smoking Honda Civic engine somewhere in the wilds of Poland… traffic jams… Gas, brake, honk. Gas, brake, honk. Honk, honk, punch. Gas, gas gas (copyright H. J. Simpson)! With at least 35 hours of return driving required, it was decided that we would attempt to travel a little more stress-free via planes and trains, but leaving the automobile at home.
As soon as the draw was made, flights to Poland became the hottest ticket in town, regardless of which town that was! Flights with budget airlines suddenly took on decidedly premium prices and I wasn’t prepared to fly cattle- class for the price of a first-class ticket to anywhere else in the world. Similarly, accommodation in the Polish host cities was being advertised at ten or fifteen times the normal rate during the championships – frustrating, but not entirely unexpected. Through adversity comes opportunity, however, and knowing your Summer holiday destination 6 months in advance is actually an advantage if you are able to be flexible with your dates, flights and, to an extent, your destination. The @acraftytraveler is happy to go travelling almost anywhere (bless her cotton socks) so it was decided that we would make a trip of the whole endeavour by finding a route that would be within our budget, but also took in a few new sights along the way.
Having travelled through Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria during the 2008 championship, it was time to visit northern Europe. I have always wanted to visit Bruges while my good lady has always wanted to visit Amsterdam (for the sex shops and drugs I assume…I jest) so those two were definites. As we had to get to Poland eventually, it made sense to visit Berlin which is just across the border from Poznan (where Ireland will play Croatia) and Krakow has come highly recommended by friends, so that is also on the list. It would have been nice to spend some time in Poznan but due to the aforementioned accommodation price-hike, this proved prohibitively expensive.
After a thorough search of flights using my favourite price comparison flight for airlines, Skyscanner, it became apparent that it would actually be cheaper to fly into Amsterdam, work our way to Poland, then fly back to the UK via Brussels, and so our itinerary was decided. (One tip for using Skyscanner, if you just want to get away anywhere for as cheaply as possible, put in ‘everywhere’ as your destination and see where the cheapest flight might take you!). The intention is to catch the train from Amsterdam to Berlin, and we were able to get some great fares in advance thanks to the Deutsche Bahn website. From there we will catch the train onto Poznan, drink until the wee hours with the boys in green after the Ireland match, then catch a late train to sleep it off on the way to Krakow. This was a great compromise for saving money on Poznan accommodation, but not missing out on the post-football craic! After a few days in Krakow, it’s off to Bruges via Brussels Airport before returning home. A whirlwind trip around Europe and, frankly, I can’t wait! No doubt more will be written in due course, but any suggestions for sights, money-saving tips or excursions will be happily considered! Bring on Euro 2012!