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Friday, April 4, 2014


Heading for Spain with adult sons for Dad's birthday
Exploring Madrid
BIRTHDAYS ABROAD--As a travel writer early in my career, I’ve enjoyed group and solo travel from the New Hebrides to a breakfast Concorde flight from London to lunch in Bahrain and back in England time for tea the same day.  But even with all those years of travel under my belt, the most satisfying travel adventure began a year ago when my wife asked if I had any ideas for my birthday.

I replied it would be nice to get our two (adult) sons together and make a guys day out of it.

Three blind mice in front of the King's Palace
in Madrid
A few days later, she came back with a plan.   She had crunched the family fiscal books and decided a mega trip was in order.  Two weeks in Europe with Zac and Mike. The kicker was she had to go along for the ride and we would spend a third week in England—just the two of us. 

With six months of pre-planning, we were able to take advantage of a lot of travel bargains.   And, to make sure I had everyone in attendance, we footed the bill for the trip.  Zac could only spare eight days and Mike hung in there for two weeks.

We found a no interest credit card that was good in Europe and we paid it off in a year (this month).

We traveled from San Diego to Madrid and then hopped trains to Barcelona, Paris, Brussels and to London, where we caught British Airways home.   I’ve always wanted to land in San Diego aboard the Brit 777 and we did. 

Zac's heading into his compartment to get ready for his birthday
dinner aboard the Elipsos Tren 
One high light of the trip was taking the Elipsos overnight train from Barcelona to Paris.  One year ago today, we celebrated, Zac’s birthday.  Toasting our son’s birthday on the rails in Europe will always be remembered.   The Elipsos stopped running soon after our trip as the venerable train gave way to the high-speed version.  No more white gloved dinner service and the clacking of the rails while you fell asleep in the small compartment.

Time spent with the boys was a terrific way to bond.  The investment was in family joy and being able to share an extended time together beyond a couple of days at Christmas.  And, we’re still talking about it.

The next trip will be with our two grandson’s.  We’re probably going back to Spain, Southern France then to Italy and Germany.  It’ll be an adventure and why not—that’s what birthdays are for.
Dinner aboard the late great Elipsos Tren Hotel on April 4. somewhere
between Barcelona and Paris

Breakfast along Rue Cler in Paris

Dad and sons had dinner at Les Deux Magots restaurant in Paris

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