How Much Did This Cost?
- STN-DTM (Dortmund) in business class with Ryan Air
- $50.05 x 2= $114.10 ($83.96 after using my Citi Prestige card)
- Uber ride to airport
- £56.73 or ~$73
- Train tickets from DTM→ Emsdetten
- €39.9 ~$45 for 2 ($0 using Citi Prestige)
- 1 night at Ems In in Emsdetten
- 5,400 Thank You Points (TYP)
- 1 night at friend’s wedding venue
- $250 ($22 after using $228 redemption from Capital One card)
- Train tickets from Emsdetten → DUS
- $0, complimentary of my friend’s parents
- 2 nights at Novum Hotel in DUS
- 8,600 TYP
- DUS-ORD in economy with AA
- 27,000 miles, taxes and fees $89.86 (0 after using my Citi Prestige card)
- DUS-SFO in economy with United
- 30,000 miles, taxes and fees $85 ($0 after using my Citi Prestige card)
- AF for Citi Prestige
Total cost for multiple flights and a 4 night trip to Germany: $628.96 or $314.48 per person
How Did I Do It?
- Citi Prestige: I applied for this card in Feb 2016. At that time, the sign-up bonus was 50,000 TYP after $3k spend, $250 air travel credit each calendar year, $100 in Global Entry/TSA fee, access to Admirals Clubs when flying with AA, 4th night free at any hotel for annual fee of $450. It was probably the best credit card before it got dethroned by Chase Reserve.
- Capital One Venture: Received 20,000 miles after 1k spend, no annual fee.
Since my mom and I walked often in London, our legs were worn out by the last day. Therefore, for the sake of convenience and saving time, we decided to take Uber to STN, a smaller airport outside of London for $73.
We flew out of London to Dortmund via Ryan Air. It is the ultra low cost European airline, similar to our Spirit Airlines, where passengers have to pay for everything, including checked bags, choosing seats, and printing out boarding pass at the airport. I had a good experience with this airline when I backpacked through Europe back in college. As long as you don’t have any checked bags (£30) and are able to print a boarding pass at hotel (£15 to print at airport) then the tickets are unbeatable within Europe. My mom and I had two carry ons that would exceed the weight and size limit and didn’t have access to a printer so decided to buy the business plus seats, which were only about $20 more per person. It allowed us the exemption of all the ridiculous fees and to use the fast track security line. Their “business seats” are basically the first two and exit rows, with slightly more leg room. It was a short flight so it didn’t bother us. Besides, we are two petite Asian women so don’t really need a lot of leg room.
After arriving in Dortmund, we took the train to Emsdetten, where S, my pen-pal, whom I met back in 2002 on Penpal International, was waiting. She dropped us off at Ems In, a homestay located in central Emsdetten to freshen up. After a quick nap, we went to her gorgeous house to have dinner with her parents, close friends, and husband to be. We had pizza for dinner. It was interesting to see how Germans eat. They clean their plates and don’t waste any food. For those who know me, I don’t consume tomato sauce or cheese so there was a lot of scraps on my plate.
Once back at Ems In, we walked around the town center.
Germany is one of the cleanest countries that I’ve been to. Most of the shops and stores were closed, something very different compared to the US, where everything is conveniently open 24/7.
After our dinner was digested, we walked back to our room and had a good night’s rest. The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast prepared by our host.
We spent some time at my friend’s parents’ house where she was getting ready. After several hours, we were driven to another town for the wedding festivities. Apparently, many German weddings are very simple as they’re usually hosted at restaurants. My friend did hers at a resort, similar to an “American style wedding.” Each room at this resort has a distinct theme.
Ours had a Native American theme. Look at this fun teepee.
After we freshened up, we went outside for the ceremony. Obviously, it was conducted entirely in German. Though I could only pick up a few basic words, I could feel the emotion, mutual love, and respect.
Cocktail hour was interesting. I basically hung out with my mom since many of the German guests were not comfortable speaking English. For the reception, we were seated with the couple’s college friends and some of them could speak English quite well. It’s sort of cute how German guys are so shy. As the night went on, they started to open up to us.
Once dinner was finished, the party really began. Oh my god, dancing was so fun. The awesome DJ played mostly American music so I felt like I was at an American club. My mom and I especially loved the couple’s friends’ performance of “YMCA.” It amazes me how American music is so influential throughout the world.
The following day, after we bid my friend and her family farewell, we boarded the train to Düsseldorf.
With 2 days in Düsseldorf, we were able to hit some of the major attractions. We wandered around in Old town (Altstadt). It is home of “Altbier”, a top-fermented, dark beer. Unfortunately, being allergic to alcohol, I didn’t try it.
Next to the old town is the Rhine River with its nice promenade.
The following day, we explored the Königsallee, which is a famous shopping district known for its plethora of high level fashion stores. It is consisted of two streets divided by a canal.
Mom and I bid farewell at the airport. I flew back to Chicago while she flew to San Francisco. I was a bit worried about her traveling alone in a foreign country but she made it back to the States safely.
Our first trip together was quite interesting. We are already close but still learned so much about each other. I usually am the carefree traveler when traveling with Tran, but with Mom, I become protective and take charge. It’s like our roles are reversed.
Overall, it cost about $1,000 for multi-city flights and 8 nights accommodation in Europe for two people. Not too shabby, right? People usually pay this much for flights only, maybe even more in the middle of summer. I was just starting the hobby and this trip solidified the reason to continue pursuing it.
Let me know in the comments if you have questions about the trip or how you can piece together something similar with points!