How to win three free nights at a Hilton anywhere in the world

Tonight I’m thinking about the trip I took to Europe two years ago in November.  (Patience, patience!  We’ll get to the tip about winning free nights at a Hilton soon.  Let’s just stroll down memory lane for a while first, shall we?)

Kiah and I pretend we're "Arm Trees" in the Netherlands. Don't ask. We were just trying to imitate the trees.

It was one of those improbable trips.  Here’s why.  My daughter Kiah and I had traveled to Italy, Switzerland and southern France in 2007 after she graduated from college.  It was a trip-in-a-lifetime.  We stayed in hostels and bed ‘n breakfasts and tiny hotel rooms.  We rode trains from Rome to Venice, up through the Alps to Switzerland, stayed with old friends (with whom I’d lived as an exchange student through the Experiment in International Living in the summer of 1975), down to Nice, France, over to Florence and back to Rome.  It was an exquisite trip.  Click here to see some photos of that adventure.  It was also an expensive trip…and there seemed no abundance of funds to re-visit Europe any time in the next decade.

Kiah and I pose in a giant Dutch wooden shoe

Fast forward a year and a half later.  Kiah is volunteering through an organization called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), working on an organic farm in Belgium and a quinta (a country villa) in Portugal.  After a six-week stint of manual labor, she opts to travel back to Belgium through Spain and France.

Lots and lots of wooden shoes

That’s where I come in.  We’re Skyping away about her fantastic experiences when suddenly–one of us–comes up with the brilliant idea that I should join her.

What?  But we don’t have enough money for another European adventure.  But…it sounds too enticing to miss…maybe I could figure a way?

Windmill in Belgium

No sooner had the idea birthed when many amazing synchronicities came together.  I won three free night stays at the Hilton Hotels anywhere around the world.  No kidding. (See, I told you we’d get around to the free nights at a Hilton!)   I won them playing a game over at the Northwest Airlines website where you drove little baggage carts around like a Pac-man game.  I don’t remember the specifics, except it was a little frenetic and I was a little addicted.

We stayed in the same Hilton in Amsterdam where Yoko Ono and John Lennon stayed on their honeymoon. Honest. Same floor, too.

I had also made friends on the original Gaia.com (a social community no longer on-line in its original form)–one from Belgium and the other from the Netherlands.  Kiah had already visited Victoria during her Belgium farm stay–and liked her very much.  I told Victoria about the possible upcoming trip and she immediately invited us to stay with her in Antwerp.  Lucienne in the Netherlands couldn’t wait for our arrival.

Me and Lucienne (friend from Gaia) in Amsterdam. I had to wear Kiah's scarves to look fashionable enough for Europe.

We also planned to visit Suzanne, my Swiss “sister” from the 1975 summer stay, who now lived at the tip of the Netherlands in Den Helder. 

The trip fit together so effortlessly it felt like it was “meant to be”.  It proved to be probably one of the most inexpensive European trips one could ever take. 

Kiah in Belgium

Victoria and me...and shining bicycle...in the beauty of an Antwerp evening.

Ahhh…memories!  It has felt so good to re-visit that lovely trip this evening. 

The answer to the headline “How to win free nights at a Hilton anywhere in the world” is this:  play all the game contests the airline and hotel chains offer.  Play them fanatically, every day.  Drive around miniature baggage carts until you know that you’re–perhaps–a little bit strange.

You, too, may win three free nights in a Hilton hotel! 

(Unfortunately, I’ve never run across one of these contests since.  Darn it.  Otherwise you can be sure I would be obsessively playing!)

P.S.  Most of these photo credits go to Kiah.  I didn’t even know how to use a camera way back two years ago.  🙂

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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28 Responses to How to win three free nights at a Hilton anywhere in the world

  1. Carol says:

    It is just so neat when things come together like that. What a wonderful trip. I’d love to train it around Western Europe. It’s good to have dreams.

    • Kathy says:

      It’s very good to have dreams. It’s very good to train around Europe. A little stressful, trying to figure out all the particulars. OK, it could be a big stress at times. I remember once near Rotterdam where they made an announcement and everyone got off the train–except us. I am stressing and carrying on while Kiah is sitting there oh-so-calmly. I am about ready to have a heart attack.

      Finally a porter comes and nicely says to us in English, “This train isn’t going anywhere. Your train is the next car ahead of us–you must get on now or it will be leaving.”

      Did we scurry! I was panting and we were carrying all our luggage and running and the heart was pounding…and we finally secured our seats and the train pulled away. Kiah was just calm and composed. “I knew it would work out OK.” Arghghghghhg!! But of course, it always did work out OK.

  2. This was soooooo fun! I love the colorful wooden shoes! Kathy, I just never (!) ever (!) know what to expect from your blogs …

    … except one thing is guaranteed — they’re always wonderful. And tonight I visited Europe. Thank you!

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, I had NO IDEA I would be writing a blog last night. I am trying to pay attention to whether the spirit-of-the-day wants to write a blog or be silent. All day–nothing, nothing. Suddenly, in the early evening, after nothing presented itself, a full-blown blog idea appeared in shining insistency. I was nervous, though, because it had to be a somewhat factual blog. Had to call Kiah and get her to read it and see if it was True. She only found two mistakes–nicely fixed by now. So, what I am trying to say is–I never know what to expect from these blogs either!!!

  3. K Odell says:

    What a fabulous experience and definitly meant to be. I hope to travel like that someday with my mom.

    • Kathy says:

      K, I wish for you–sitting here scrunching up my forehead and wishing hard–that you will be able to travel like that with your mom. Soon. You two will have a wonderful (if sometimes stressful when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going) adventure.

  4. Susan D says:

    Each photo has its own rich story. I love them all.

    This mind of mine is more random than usual tonight. I keep thinking that if everyone who has access to a computer played the “win 3 free nights at a Hilton anywhere” game, we could make a substantial dent in sheltering the homeless!

    • Kathy says:

      It was SO fun to go through the “Europe 2008” photo album and look at the pictures again. It was SO fun to do that last night. I have to backup those photos because Kiah’s computer crashed and she lost all her photos…

      As for the homeless, YES! I wish we could shelter all those sitting homeless and alone in the cold. I wish the heart of the world was big enough to hold all those who suffer without the gift of a shelter.

  5. Elisa's Spot says:

    oooo ooo oooo googling now ty ty Kathy!!! (this applied and YES it is cryptic)

  6. P.j. grath says:

    Love the shoes. Love the trip. Girls, curl your hands up when you’re imitating the arm trees–which to me look like candalabra (and can that be plural?).

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Pamela, you’re right. We didn’t really curl our hands up. What were we thinking?? I wish I remembered the “real” name of those trees. Suzanne probably told us in Dutch. OK, she probably told us in English, but I can’t remember. They were cool-lookin’ trees.

  7. barb says:

    All I could think of while reading was “serendipity,” but I don’t think that involves driving miniature baggage carts…

  8. Robin says:

    It looks and sounds like it was a wonderful trip. I’m so glad it worked out for you so that you could go.

    I love that first shot. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Robin. It was such a carefree moment. We were so giddy with happiness being there. Wishing everyone could enjoy trips like these! With or without the Hiltons.

  9. Colleen says:

    Kathy, it’s always so delightful when the “effortless” factor is part of the package. Hoping you and Kiah have many more travels together. Have a feeling that it might be part of the bigger plan 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Yes…efforless describes this trip perfectly. It was like we were being guided/helped every step of the way. Kiah and I are already plotting where our next trip might be. However, if Barry can ever take an extended time off work, he’ll be itching to go somewhere, too. Then I’ll have to draw straws, lol!

      • Alluvja says:

        Thank you Kathy for taking us down to Memory Lane, it was great how everything fell together wasn’t it. Can’t believe it’s been 2 years already!
        I miss the old Gai, I’m doing my best at the new one but I dont dont seem to fall in the groove…Anyway, I’m glad we’re still connecting at so many other ways.
        I (Alluvja as some know me) am sending you a big wide grin along with some huggies.

        • Kathy says:

          Lucienne, I am SO glad you stopped by to read and see your lovely picture. Two years goes by so quickly, doesn’t it? I am glad we are still connected. Maybe one day we’ll walk the streets of Amsterdam again–or perhaps meet up at Victoria’s quinta in Portugal? What do you say?

  10. janet says:

    What a sweet trip down memory lane. Great to see Lucienne and Victoria 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Janet. It was fun to reminisce about this trip. What a fun time that was, indeed. Now you are a LOT closer, so maybe one day we’ll have to meet up as well.

  11. victoria says:

    what a wonderful trip down memory lane, kathy ! soooooo thrilled you are someone who always indulges in shinig insistency & this is my favorite photo of us ❤

    now let's play for the portugal prize !

    ONELOVELOVELOVELOVE . . .

    • Kathy says:

      Victoria, that phrase “shining insistency” makes my heart smile. Yes! Yes! I am putting out the desire to win a prize to come to Portugal. Don’t need the Hilton there…a stay at your Quinta sounds wonderful indeed! (I don’t think I would be able to visit without Kiah coming along. Especially during olive harvesting season. Oh wouldn’t that make some wonderful photos and blogs?)

  12. Cindy Lou says:

    What fun! Especially to see all the photos of you and Kiah together being joyous in the moments….truly the stuff of memories!

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