Not As Stressful As Air Traffic Control, But Close
August 10, 2017 11:14 AM   Subscribe

My Irish BFF and I have been trying to take a co-vacation for two years and it's finally happening. Yay! But the first half of my own part of the itinerary is tricky - for both airline scheduling AND personal reasons. Help! Details inside.

The proposal was that we would meet up in the same place - someplace we've never been before -and explore together, then each go to our respective homes. She picked Berlin, for the first 4 days of November. Fine with me - but I've decided to fly somewhere a couple days early, to adjust time zones and also have more than just a 4-day trip. I'm just trying to figure out where.

She's offered her place - but I'm actually not sure that's a good idea, because:

* She lives in County Cork. But the cheaper flights from NYC to Ireland and from Ireland to Berlin are all in and out of Dublin. So I'd have to either pay through the nose for a flight into Cork, or somehow get myself from Dublin to Cork while suffering jet lag. And then just have to get from Cork back to Dublin only a couple days later anyway.

* She would turn herself inside out for those first few days trying to entertain me, and I'd feel guilty. I love her to death, but she bends over backwards when she is a host. That's part of the reason why we're doing the "different country" thing, so that NEITHER one of us would feel like we were putting the other out. But somehow I also feel guilty for thinking of turning her offer down for those first couple days.

* The thought of going to Paris for a few days again also is appealing, but I was already considering a trip in May. Also, Ireland may be a little cheaper.

I HAVE found a couple of nice AirbnBs in Dublin, and could issue the offer that she crash with me the night before our flight to Berlin. Might that be the best solution? I'd have a couple days to ease into the time zone, we'd have girl bonding the night before Berlin, and then hit the road.

Or am I overthinking this? I'm probably overthinking this. Perspectives welcome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I HAVE found a couple of nice AirbnBs in Dublin, and could issue the offer that she crash with me the night before our flight to Berlin. Might that be the best solution? I'd have a couple days to ease into the time zone, we'd have girl bonding the night before Berlin, and then hit the road.

This sounds like a really wonderful idea.
posted by phunniemee at 11:22 AM on August 10 [10 favorites]


I think it would fine to ask her to stay with you in Dublin. If you think she'll wonder why you'd rather not stay with her and it's too much to explain why her hosting makes you feel guilty, look up something awesome happening in Dublin during that time frame and say you'd like to catch it. Or just point out the expense of flying into Cork.

I'd be tempted to look at other cities besides Paris, too. You could fly in to Warsaw, Prague, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen and take the train to Berlin.

I am covered with jealousy and excited for your trip.
posted by bunderful at 11:27 AM on August 10


I was coming in to suggest Copenhagen also. That would be a great place to chill by yourself for a few days before an easy flight or train ride to Berlin.

London, Amsterdam, or Stockholm could all be great too.
posted by snaw at 11:30 AM on August 10


In case you decide to go to her place in Cork, check flights into Shannon, as they have expanded that airport and have pre-clearance for US customs from there back to the US now. Shannon airport is only 1hr 45min drive to Cork.
posted by Grither at 11:31 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I'd fly to Rome and eat pizza and look at art by myself for a few days, then fly to Berlin to meet your friend. I'm sure the Dublin thing would be fine too but I don't think you should feel obligated to fly to Ireland instead of elsewhere if you'd rather go elsewhere.
posted by hazyjane at 11:31 AM on August 10


In case you decide to go to her place in Cork, check flights into Shannon, as they have expanded that airport and have pre-clearance for US customs from there back to the US now. Shannon airport is only 1hr 45min drive to Cork.

yeah, that's still a $300 difference in cost unfortunately. If I'm hitting up Ireland as the pre-trip, Dublin is the best idea.

Actually, tangential question - is there any way to find out what midway location in Europe would be cheapest to fly to? I've been using the Kayak-type sites but it looks like I have to plug a location in rather than having it just tell me "what's cheapest in this continent".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on August 10


Skyscanner has that function from the UK where I live, not sure whether it works from the US?
posted by hazyjane at 11:45 AM on August 10


What about somewhere else in Germany? Fly straight to Berlin, then head off to Koln or something.

is there any way to find out what midway location in Europe would be cheapest to fly to?
You can use the Explore function (hidden under "more") on Kayak to do approximately what you're thinking of.
posted by mskyle at 11:47 AM on August 10


Kayak Explore will show you the best round trip flights for your exact dates. I put in 10/27 - 10/31 and it looks like Paris is the cheapest, but also Oslo, London and Munich. Then I realized you won't be returning until 11/4 and Zurich and Prague both look good for those dates. Now, I assume you don't want to go back to the first city on your way home, so you'll want a multi city ticket and not the actual flights that Explore is suggesting, but I would check prices on those 5 cities.
posted by soelo at 11:50 AM on August 10


Not necessarily saying you should take her up on her offer to host you in Cork in light of your other considerations, but if you do, it looks like Irish Rail is about a 2.5-hour trip between Dublin and Cork and costs about €20 each way on the lowest fare class. (I have no personal experience with Irish Rail.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:52 AM on August 10


somehow get myself from Dublin to Cork while suffering jet lag.

Aircoach.ie like €10, leaves Dublin airport very regularly, takes under 3 hours, has WiFi, is very comfortable, and drops you in town in Cork. It literally could not be easier or less stressful. Same for return trip to the airport.

If you've done Dublin, I don't know that I would go there again, although November at least has far fewer tourists so it's much more comfortable.

But I think the 3rd city option sounds best, to be honest. I'd look into where is cheapest to fly to that has train service to Berlin and start there!
posted by DarlingBri at 11:53 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Why don't you go straight to Berlin a day early, with the plan of just vegetating and adjusting by yourself that first day, have the four days with your friend as planned, and then go somewhere else afterwards? Unless you've been dying to go to Dublin, I'd just rule out Ireland entirely for this trip and avoid the interpersonal aspects and since it's not particularly cheap or convenient.

If you're just looking for something convenient, I'd check out the major air hubs. I imagine it's pretty easy to get cheap flights from NYC to Amsterdam or Frankfurt. Google Flights is my go-to for easy to browse pricing information, and you can put in destinations as vague as "Europe" in the "Where to?" field.

Also unless you already know jetlag hits you particularly hard, I think you're overthinking the time change. For me at least, excitement and adrenaline usually counters that pretty well, and it's really when I get home and try to get back into the usual humdrum that it becomes a problem.
posted by yeahlikethat at 11:55 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I've actually been playing with Skyscanner for the past several minutes; so far Copenhagen is actually the most cost-effective option (it's easily $300 less for a three-city ticket if Copenhagen is the interim city!). but I'll continue to play and give it a think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


The Cork Jazz Festival is on from Friday 27th October to Monday 30th October this year (the Monday is the Halloween Bank Holiday here in Ireland). I've never been myself but lots of people love it.

November is probably going to be cold, wet and dark both in Cork and Berlin - I'd be inclined, if the price could be worked out, to got to Greece or some other Mediterranean country.
posted by Azara at 11:59 AM on August 10


Google Flights is my go-to for easy to browse pricing information, and you can put in destinations as vague as "Europe" in the "Where to?" field.

....It's not letting me just put "Europe", when I type that in it's reading it as some random airport in France. Typing "any" gives me a place called "Anthony" that I've never heard of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on August 10


Do these links work for you?
Europe map
Explore Europe results
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:05 PM on August 10


They do, but they also don't take into account that the bit involving Berlin is a requirement. What I'm trying to do is:

New York to X on 10/28
X to Berlin on 10/31
Berlin to NYC on 11/4

I need to find the cheapest way to solve for X.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on August 10


Google Flights also lets you search by "Europe." (on preview, only in the round-trip and one-way options, not the multi-city search). You can fly roundtrip to the third city and add in a cheaper ticket to and from Berlin. The nested roundtrip is usually waaaaay cheaper than a real multi-city ticket.

As an exercise, flying October 26th and returning November 5th non-stop from NYC, you can get to Paris non-stop on United for $445, Zurich on Delta for the astonishing price of $350, or Rome on American for $473. If you're willing to fly Norwegian, a low-cost carrier, you could also fly to Stockholm for $320, or with one stop, Copenhagen for $409.

Once you have some interesting cities you might want to stop off for a few days in, see where has low-cost service to Berlin. My pro-tip - look at the Wikipedia pages of the Berlin airports to see what lower-cost carriers offer service to Berlin from what destinations to triangulate where is cheap to get to NYC from that will also be cheap to continue on to Berlin from. e.g. easyJet flies from Copenhagen to Berlin Schoenefeld, and Ryanair from Rome to Berlin Schoenfeld. Eurowings flies between Tegel and Copenhagen and Rome, and Air Berlin from Stockholm to Tegel.
posted by foodmapper at 12:13 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


(Final threadsit and then I'm sitting on my hands)

I also considered doing just Berlin myself and going a few days early, but....I honestly wouldn't have picked Berlin myself, and I think 4 days with her is going to do me fine. I'd have gone with another place if it were wholly up to me.

Although I looked into the price of NYC-Berlin round trip, and it is nearly the same as NYC-Copenhagen-Berlin, both of which are about $250 less than NYC-anywhere-else-Berlin. that's seeming like a strong contender!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Alternate: Where can you go from Berlin by train for a few days before she gets there? That might be a cheaper solution.

I just did the pre-trip visit to Paris. Going to a place that's somewhat familiar first is a really good thing.
posted by Dashy at 12:57 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Have you looked for one of those Iceland Air deals where you get a free stopover in Reykyavik? Not quite the same time zone - an hour off of Berlin, but same as Ireland.
posted by aimedwander at 1:00 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


There's cheap flights from Providence to Cork on Norwegian, so that's a possibility. I don't know how comfy the flights are: they're on 737s, but Norwegian's prices are keen. $234 round trip on those dates, in fact.
posted by ambrosen at 1:14 PM on August 10


Or, on better reading comprehension: Norwegian sell cheap single tickets across the Atlantic from New York to lots of destinations in Scandinavia and the UK & Ireland, so you can mix and match those as you please, and add on the Berlin part as you wish.

If you get the train from Copenhagen to Germany, it goes on a ferry, so that's one cool bonus
posted by ambrosen at 1:23 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Have you looked for one of those Iceland Air deals where you get a free stopover in Reykyavik?

That was the first thing I checked; the dates I wanted didn't work out. :-(

I've actually already let her know that I'm having trouble finding a cheap flight that would let me stop over in Ireland anyway. We're both on tight budgets, so she would totally respect that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on August 10


I would fly into Berlin a few days early and train to some cool place(s) nearby.
posted by delight at 1:25 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


You can fly from New York to Belfast for cheap at the minute with Norwegian Air ($109 one way before add-ons) and from Belfast to Berlin for about £50 with Ryanair. Your friend can travel up to Belfast, stay a night or two with you and go to Berlin together, or meet you there. It's a cool little city and relatively cheap compared to lots of other European cities. Hit me up for a meetup if you head this way :)
posted by billiebee at 5:26 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I was in Berlin for about 6 days a few years ago, and it's a huge city. I felt like I could have been there for another few weeks tbh. I also had the. Worst. Jet. Lag. I was coming from the west coast but I was cannot stay awake except with torture passing out at 7pm their time for a couple days. Berlin is also reasonably cheap to be in food and accommodation wise, you might want to check that in Copenhagen.
posted by grapesaresour at 7:14 PM on August 10


It's much more fun and civilized to get around Europe by train. Find the cheapest flight into continental Europe you can, then take a slow or fast train to Berlin at your leisure. (Amsterdam was cheapest last time I went.)
posted by monotreme at 8:33 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Monotreme - wouldn't I need to fly in and out of the same city, though? I'd kind of prefer flying into Berlin for end-of-trip timing reasons. I could also do two train trips, yes (fly into Berlin, train to somewhere else for a few days, then train back to Berlin for our leg), but I'd like to minimize inter-city schlepping so I don't lose too much time in "getting from one place ot another" and have as much as possible for "explore new territory". ...that's honestly why the Copenhagen option was so surprising, because a multi-city ticket with an interim flight from copenhagen to Berlin was coming up at almost the same price as a direct to berlin flight. And it's only an hour in between.

And delight: I actually just plain don't know Germany all that well, and don't know what's around there. So I'm not sure what cool places would be nearby.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on August 11


NYC-Zurich and then Berlin-NYC, 10/28 to 11/4 is coming up on Kayak at $600-700. There are lots of trains that will get you to Berlin, both daytime and sleepers.

I would focus on finding the cheapest open jaw ticket (without the flight from X to Berlin) where the cost of your 3 nights in X is not going to blow your budget. Copenhagen is pretty expensive and so is Zurich. From there, you can explore flights and trains from X to Berlin. The train ride between Prague and Berlin is beautiful and won't make you feel as if you are schlepping.
posted by soelo at 8:06 AM on August 11


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