This trip was planned multiple different times, and in multiple different arrangements, constantly being an "almost" but never happening.  We've always had a bunch of reasons to want to travel to Central Europe.  For Crystal, it’s literally in her blood.  Her fraternal Grandfather’s family was from Hungary, and her fraternal Grandmother was born in Austria and was part Austrian and part Slovakian.  They met when Crystal’s Grandfather was in Europe during World War II.  She still has distant relatives in Hungary and Austria, and her maiden name is Hungarian.  For Justin, his favorite country growing up was Czechoslovakia, and his two favorite tennis players were from there.  Between all of this, we had good reasons to want to visit the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.  We had almost done this trip (plus Italy) last year, when for a while it looked like we might not be able to go to Iran because of Iran’s reciprocity for the USA’s absurd travel ban.  But that all worked out (for our travel plans at least), and we put off Central Europe another year.

But this year, we thought we’d go to Central Europe around the holidays, as Central Europe is famous for its Christmas Markets, which are full of food, drink, knick knacks and general Christmas cheer.  We also don’t have to take as many vacation days around the holidays, as many days wouldn’t be work days anyway, and Crystal’s office shuts down for a week.  So we booked our flights with our United points, and booked our hotels with our Starwood points, and for once did everything ourselves without any travel agent or any local guides where we were visiting.  We figured if we could travel anywhere without any assistance, Europe would be the place.

Leaving the country from San Diego is much easier for us than leaving from Los Angeles, as no rental cars, parking garages, or driving on the 405 are necessary.  Also, since we now live just a mile or so from the San Diego airport, things were really easy.  Our flight out was at 7pm, and we spent most of our Saturday doing what we’d normally do.  We watched some TV, hung out with the dogs, grabbed lunch in Little Italy (ramen at Underbelly), and then headed over to the airport around 5pm.  We probably could’ve left even later than that, but we knew we could get free drinks at the United lounge (since we were flying internationally), so we figured we might as well drink their booze than our own.  Had we had a 7pm flight from LAX, we probably would’ve left around 2:30pm.  Instead we took a 5 minute Lyft from our home straight to the terminal.

For the first time on any of our long trips, we didn’t have any checked bags, which made things even easier.  We hung out at the lounge, and there weren’t any patrons there.  Crystal asked the bartender, and she said Saturday nights are always dead at the lounge.  From the lounge we could see the British Airways 747 that we see go by our place every evening. Since we used points, we didn’t have the most convenient routing to Prague.  The simplest would’ve been to take the Lufthansa from San Diego to Frankfurt, and then connect in Frankfurt to Prague.  Instead we had an extra stop, first going to San Francisco, then Munich, and then Prague.  For our flight to San Francisco, we were both upgraded, but on separate reservations, so we weren’t seated together.  That flight was nice and easy.  In San Francisco, we had a relatively short layover, but had enough time to go to the lounge there as well.  Our flight to Munich boarded a little after 9pm, and took a long time to board since we were on an A380.  Between the time, the drinking at the lounges, and some sleep aids, we were both asleep before we even left the gate, let alone took off. 

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