Europe is Tempting Me

American Airlines’ off-peak saver awards are a bargain. For just 40,000 miles round trip you can fly to pretty much anywhere in Europe. This is about the same number of miles it takes to fly from the West Coast to Maui, which is something I considered for the holidays. However, the Hyatt Regency is sold out on my preferred dates and I kind of want to save my trip to Maui for when the new Andaz Maui opens in mid 2013. With the great saver fares and my birthday coming up, Europe is a tempting option.

I love Istanbul and with 200,000 AAdvantage miles and 490,000 Club Carlson points, I can easily cover the flight for my family, stay at the beautiful Radisson Blu Bosphorous, and pay just taxes and fees. I’ve been looking at the forecast and it’s looking to be about 50 degrees through most of December and some rainy days. I’ve already seen the major tourist attractions, so I don’t plan on walking through any open air markets, standing in long lines outside Hagia Sophia, or doing a bosphorous cruise again. Staying on the Bosphorous, eating good food, and being mostly indoors sounds just fine to me.  I’m just wondering if this will get boring. Has anyone been to Istanbul in December? Any thoughts, suggestions?

Radisson Blue Bosphorous (Source: Tripadvisor)

I’ve also been meaning to go back to Switzerland. As a kid, we’d often visit my dad’s friend in Geneva, who was like an uncle to me. In the summer we’d head to Geneva and his family would take us camping or rent a house in the Swiss Alps. There’s a photo of me at the age of 8, shivering on a pool raft in a house we rented, adamant about swimming despite the winter cold. I haven’t seen him in 15 years and I’d love to go back for a visit. And I figure winter is as good a time as ever to visit Switzerland, right? Decisions, decisions.

Where are you headed for the holidays? Are you going to take advantage of the Saver Award fares this season?

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  1. Hey! so funny you mention Istanbul! I went last month, in early November and the weather was perfect. I also stayed at the Radisson Blue Bosphorus, as I got 485,000 from that last Club Carlson go round too. It is in a great area of town and right on the river with a great free breakfast. We got upgraded to an apartment, which was perfect.

    • PointChaser

      I know, I loved your report! I’m glad the breakfast is good. I stayed mostly at the Doubletree Old Town and their breakfast was pretty bland. What status do you have with Club Carlson? I’d love to get an upgrade during my stay.

  2. Unless you’re big on skiing, I’d do Istanbul. We were there in April…and it rained the WHOLE time. But we went out to eat, went shopping, tried the dolmus, minibuses and ferries, and had a truly fabulous time. We did an unbelievable cooking course with Selin at Turkish Flavors and even went people watching in Bebek (Selin’s suggestions). I can’t imagine ever being bored in Istanbul!

    • PointChaser

      Thanks for the feedback! Definitely not big on skiing, but I figured its beautiful this time of year and I could visit an old family friend. My concern is that heavy rain will make it unpleasant to get around. That cooking course sounds like a great activity – My mom and sister love to cook, I’m terrible at it, and people are raving about Turkish Flavors. Leaning more towards Istanbul…

  3. I stayed at a Best Western 3 mins away from Hagia Sophia. NEVER again:-)

    • PointChaser

      I stayed right across the street. Lesson learned. If you’re a first-timer, stay at a quaint boutique hotel in Sultanahmet. You’ll be closer to the sights, you get more of the “local” experience, it’s cheaper, and the service is better. Even though the folks servicing chain hotel are locals too, in my experience they tend to have a bit of a superiority complex because they work at a “fancy” western hotel.

  4. Can’t go wrong with the island beat in Kauai. Plus the fresh poke is excellent!

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