It has been a few years since we visited Amsterdam, Holland. I was young, just 16. We had studied world history in the 10th grade. Which is bad, because I wasn't as interested in history until after we went to Europe! Seeing history alive and all of the places we had read about made it really jump off the pages of the history books!
Our first stop on our European tour that summer was Amsterdam. Like I mentioned, I was 16 and traveling with my parents, my grandmother, my aunt, uncle and 2 young cousins, so it wasn't a fun teenager kind of trip. But boy was I wrong! Being with my family was an absolute blast and we look back fondly to those memories often. We visited all the typical tourist sites, including the Tulip factory and fields, took a boat ride down the canal, the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam and of course the Dam Square. But my absolute favorite was visiting the Anne Frank House. The secret annex her family and others hid during WWII.
The building is normal-looking, it looks like all of the other buildings on the canals. You enter the building without a lot of ornaments or decor. The illusion is to take you back to the 1940s to understand the isolation and condition of where the family lived. It’s hard to imagine living in such tight corners. Never to be allowed to go outside. Having read the book the year before in school made it a much more chilling experience. One, I highly recommend you experience. If you do plan a trip to Amsterdam, read the book before you go. Even if you’ve read it in the past.
The museum itself is very sparse. Otto, Anne’s father, didn’t want a lot of things taken into the annex. He wanted the experience to be chilling not realistic. Most of the annex part of the museum is empty except for display cases holding things that the families kept with them while hiding. Chilling is the room Anne shared with Fritz. You see her posters hung up, the posters that showed she was in touch with Hollywood and all things teenagers love to follow. Reminders of a life she had and a life she dreamt of.
Walking through the annex as a 16 year old with a car sitting at home, all the luxuries of the late 1980s (far different than today), air conditioning, cable television, cordless telephones, malls to shop in, extra curricular activities for school and so on, was humbling. I can’t tell you how moving it was because it was just that intense. Knowing that what you were looking at was their hope of a new life after the war. The hope of long lived life that would not be. The hope that they would escape the horrors they had only heard of. Knowing that they didn’t survive. That their annex was found, they were taken to camps and ultimately all but Otto were killed. It’s a chilling experience at any age, but especially young.
This is why I love travel. Why I love to introduce new and different things and places to as many people as possible. To see history come alive that I had just read was inspiring. We read about Europe, other countries, other states and sometimes we get a glimpse into these worlds through television and movies. But at a time when news wasn’t 24 hours and the internet didn’t exist, seeing history alive and in person was truly an amazing experience.
I get asked a lot of times about Park Hoppers. When should you get Park Hoppers and when you shouldn't. It is completely up to you when you get them. You can get them every time or you can never get them. We play it by ear based on what kind of trip we're going to be taking.
You see on a short trip where we may only have four days so I wouldn't spend the money on Park Hoppers. Because you need to get as much done as you can and spending time hopping from one park to another (usually an hour at least!) isn’t a good use of park time. Instead of going from one park to another go back to the room and rest or find somewhere in the first park and take a little quiet rest.
On longer trips when you're going to be doing two and three days in a single Park, it might be worth having Park Hoppers especially for dining! We used to do dining every night at Epcot. But now that all of the Parks have nice restaurants and the resorts have even gotten some good choices, it's rare that we change parks for the evening.
Another instance where park hoppers were necessary was when Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios had very little stuff to do and you spent literally a morning in each Park. Then you would spend your afternoon and evening over at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. That's how we've gotten to try so many good restaurants at Epcot. But both parks are really getting full and have become full day parks, so hopping to another park isn’t as necessary as it used to be.
Now another theory is if you start at the early morning hours Park and then end your evening at a different Park then you will have less crowds. The early morning Park always becomes busy in the afternoon. People see that it's the early morning park and yet they don't get there when the gates open. Making the afternoon and lunchtime crowds swell pretty good. That makes it convenient to be able to change to a different park for the afternoon and evening.
So like I said if you're going for a short trip and you're going to do one Park per day I don't recommend having Park Hoppers. I also don't recommend it unless you've been for 5-10 times and know the Park's very well. Because you'll spend quite a bit of time navigating out of the first park and into the second park and lose valuable touring time at both parks.
I have clients that love them and will not go without them. And I have clients that go quite often that never ever get Park Hoppers. So it is completely up to you how you want to spend your vacation. I can give you guidance, I can tell you the benefits and I can tell you all sides but I can't make that decision. Next time you take a trip to Disney, make sure you book with Mia so that you know you're getting the best advice possible!
I have been to Hawaii before, so I knew what the flight was like. The last time I flew to Hawaii I decided to have a layover. Well the price of the flight decided it for me! My flight took off from Atlanta and landed in San Francisco I was to have about an hour delay and then I would be on my way to Honolulu. We landed in Atlanta with no problem, but as our flight was scheduled to take off we all noticed we weren't preparing to board the plane. That's when it started!
I'm not sure if you have been to Hawaii. Most of the flights that go across the Pacific are in a jumbo jet. That means you have two seats on each side and six seats in the middle. It's a very large plane! Probably four exits on each side I don't even know how many people it can hold. It's a very big plane.
Our flight from Atlanta was on a normal plane, not very large so we had to change planes. As everyone started getting into the gate you can tell just how big this plane was. The first gate agent tells us that the plane hasn't arrived yet so are boarding would be delayed by a few minutes. 30 minutes later the same agent comes on and says the plane hasn't arrived yet and we're going to need time to service the plane so we're going to be an hour behind schedule.
Now, this would not be a problem normally but I need to be in Honolulu at my Resort for a 6:30 welcome dinner. Where I would be introduced to the other agents and to the people who would be showing us the resort over the next three days. I decided to go ahead and get to the other gate, because our gate had already changed once. When I got to the next gate we were told sorry, wrong gate! Go back across the airport do this third gate. At this point I was not very happy that I had a carry on.
We get to the gate that would finally be our departure Gates, and we're giving the news that the plane that arrived had some engine issues so they were waiting on a new plane to come in. It should only be 30 minutes, they said. After 30 minutes they came back on and said our flight crew that was supposed to go with us to Honolulu, has now gone over the FAA legal hours that they could work so we would have to wait on a new crew. At this point all 350 people in the gate we're not happy! They brought out snacks and Beverages and gave them out to everyone to try to calm people down. I'm not sure what the angry people thought they could do, I personally don't want to go on the plane with engine trouble.
After a two and a half hour delay for our departure we start boarding the plane. Because of our delay they had already announced the entire plane would have free internet and they were sure to stop at full of plenty to eat and drink. With the free internet, would be free movies. On the seat back in front of you there was an individual screen that we would be able to watch movies for the six and a half hours it would take to fly from San Francisco.
After getting in the air, people started trying to go in to the internet and watch movies. The flight attendants discovered that people were not able to get the movies to come up. So the pilot decided to make an announcement that after being in the air about an hour, they should be able to pull up the satellite and the movies would be able to start. An hour after his announcement, he comes back on and says I'm afraid our internet is not going to work. Now, we are in a very large plane oh, did I mention that? We have just been told that the internet is not working. My immediate thought was what else is not working? How are the pilots communicating with people? It was a very long flight!
I will tell you on a flight to Honolulu generally you fly during the day you may arrive late in the evening but remember it's five hours behind our time zone. So it's likely that you will land while it's still daylight. We did on this day, but by the time I got to the resort it was dark. By the time we landed that plane every single person had been to the bathroom 12 times and drunk at least four bottles of water. The air is extremely dry for some reason going over the Pacific. If you ever fly to Hawaii, make sure you stand up and walk around, and make sure you drink a lot of water. I also suggest taking socks to put on your feet to walk around in the cabin and a lot of lotion. My skin felt like I needed to drink the lotion it was so dry.
Also remember, when you're making plans for your first day, the day you arrived, remember anything can happen and sometimes it does.