Sunday, September 18, 2011

TRAVEL PLANS

Yes I know I've been MIA, but really, I've been busy! We just got back from a trip to Vancouver and Seattle, a two week trip done on a budget, visiting friends we met while living in Italy. I swear, it's so nice to talk with people who really, truly, 'get it' - people who understand that while you might find a great pizza here in the states, or even some good gelato, without the accompanying ambiance of Italy itself, somehow it just doesn't taste as good. We talked of food and wine and wondered why it is that no one's adding porchetta trucks to the movement. We talked about the good and bad parts of living in Italy, and just like with family, it's okay to bitch amongst ourselves, but please, don't let anyone else talk trash about our adopted country!

So, that trip's over, time to start planning the next one, and the one after that, and then the one after that. I LOVE planning trips! Deciding where were want to go, how long we should stay, should we head north first, or maybe it makes more sense to go south? Should we rent a car or take the train? New unexplored areas always compete with old favorites anytime we're planning a trip, so maybe we can squeeze in a few days in Rome, or a quick trip to Florence.....
Up next on our horizon is a quick visit to the Grand Canyon, six days for sightseeing doesn't sound like nearly enough for the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area, and it's not, but it's all we can afford, and we just decided it's better to see a few things than nothing at all, so we'll head to Arizona, hope for good weather, and see as much as we can in our allotted time. In my next life I'm going to start traveling MUCH sooner and not save everything for my old age!

2011 has been the first year since 1999 that we have not been to Italy, so obviously that's high on our list. And next summer my son and his family will be moving to Frankfurt German for a two year stay, so that sort of mixes things up. My head is swimming with possibilities: fly into Frankfurt then train or drive south to Italy, passing through Bavaria and Tyrol - gorgeous scenery, but pricey. Maybe we could fly into Frankfurt then take a budget airline to England for a week - at least we'd be able to leave all but the necessities in Frankfort; it just wouldn't be possible to fly into London and take a budget flight to Germany - those cheapie European airlines don't let you travel with much more than a purse these days.

We also saw a Rick Steves' show about Slovenia that really, really piqued our interest - it seems to combine the best of the Alps, Germany, Austria AND Italy into one compact country that's not (yet!) over-run with tourists!



So here's the rough plan, at least for today:

Spring 2012: Italy, with a side of Slovenia. We're still working out the details and checking various options, and I'd LOVE to be able to fly open-jaw without a huge surcharge, but that might not be possible. We want to spend some time in Umbria, of course, but I wouldn't mind a few days in Florence, then we thought we could do a driving trip, Venice to Venice, traveling through northeastern Italy and Slovenia. OR - we could fly into Vienna and drive down to Slovenia and back to Vienna - or fly out of Venice - but then we'd still have to get down to Umbria.....as I said, still a work in progress....

Fall 2012: Frankfurt, then a quick trip to London and southern England. Yes, the exchange rate IS even worse than the euro, but England is my first love and it's been a long, long time since we were there. I'm thinking this also might be the time to visit Belgium.

2013:  Ireland?  I'd love to see Ireland but the thought of driving on the 'other' side of the road just terrifies me!  Yes, we drove in Scotland, but really, it was scary.  Art does NOT share my fears and is happy to drive.

At some point I'll need another bite of the Big Apple, but who knows when that might happen. Oh, and we'll have to plan for a quick trip to North Carolina next May for our granddaughter's First Communion. What else? We still haven't visited Sicily, I still need to visit Carcassonne (France), and we'd both love to make another visit to Turkey.... 

My advice to you? Start traveling NOW! I wish I'd started traveling at a much younger age when I could sling on a backpack and walk to the nearest hostel without needing an Aleve (or two)for my aching joints, and I wished I'd started putting money aside for travel on a regular basis. Yes, I might have spent it as fast as I'd saved it, but in the end I would have travelled more, and really, that's what I love to do!

9 Comments :

At 9/19/2011 02:15:00 PM , Anonymous Linda @ Ice Tea For Me said...

Hi Barb

May I be the first to welcome you to Sunny Arizona. When were you planning on heading this way?

There are several Slow Travel people that reside in AZ, maybe a GTG is in order?

Linda

 
At 9/19/2011 02:35:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Linda it'll be quick trip, Oct 25-31, but we'd love to meet up if possible!

 
At 9/19/2011 03:38:00 PM , Blogger Melissa Keith said...

Barb - wish I had known you were in the Seattle/Vancouver area. We live in Bellingham and would love to have hosted you for a couple of days!

re: Slovenia. We too were inspired to go to Slovenia by Rick Steves. He raved about Ljubljiana so we scheduled a couple of days there during our one week stay in Slovenia. (We were in Italy/Slovenia/Croatia/Montenegro in July). We didn't think too much of it and left a day early. Lake Bled on the other hand exceeded our expectations and we extended our stay there! We stayed at Garni Penzion Berc and loved it. Miha, the owner was great and the room was clean. The only room he had left was a small one that he considered a single but it had a double bed and was perfect! The price was unbeatable!

If at all possible, I highly recommend a trip to Plitvice National park in Croatia - about a 3 hour drive from Ljubljiana. It is an amazing place! Google it to see pics (or friend me on FB). It really is a don't miss if you can manage the time somehow. I'd cut a couple of days from Slovenia to go to Plitvice!

Flights: We ended up flying round trip to Rome after I spent hours searching various options. I was certain that I would be able to find a better option flying open jaws from a more convenient location, but alas, found nothing that wasn't considerably more expensive.

Grand Canyon: You'll be able to see a LOT in 6 days! No worries. We love to stay at the Bright Angel Lodge. It is an old hotel with lots of character, close to the rim of the canyon and a relatively low in price (for a national park). Cheapest if you choose a bath down the hall option. I drove there once with my daughter (a long drive that resulted in a sore back). She found a lovely, old style bathtub in a little cubby down the hall and ran me a wonderful warm bath and brought me a book to enjoy while I soaked. Great memories!

Sounds like lots of fun trips coming up and lots of fun planning!

I tend to do the same thing. I'm currently considering China, Bali, and Hungary - besides visiting our friends in Cortona, which, of course, is a must! Hoping I can fit in 3 of those destinations next year.

 
At 9/19/2011 03:58:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

thanks Melissa for the feedback and tips on Slovenia. I'm really looking forward to researching this trip!

As for the Seattle/Vancouver trip, we stayed with friends in Redmond, and found a great place thru Air B&B, but thanks for the offer! I'm sorry we missed having a mini gtg!

 
At 9/20/2011 10:10:00 AM , Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Hi Barb! Re: open jaw flights. Find a good travel agent and ask for what you want with an idea of how much you would like to pay. They have watch software and special arrangements that make it a lot more likely than if you look. There are a couple of fai de te sites that allow for open jaw requests, and a couple that will notify you if your requested flights reach the price point you want, but they aren't the same sites. Of course.

 
At 9/20/2011 07:01:00 PM , Blogger glenda said...

HI Barb
Its do nice to have you back,we have been planning a trip back to Italy some time next summer,our 5 trip and Im so ready

 
At 9/22/2011 10:13:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barb,

We spent a week on a side trip, from a long stay in Hungary to Slovenia, three years ago.

En route from the check - free border to the capital, we drove on good secondary roads, and passed numerous small villages and small farms, which were beautifully maintained and charming, with bright planters and gardens full of blooms. All is enhanced by a little fairy tale atmosphere and many roadside shrines

Ljubljana itself is an attractive city, with busy but hassle - free pedestrian areas, and numerous outdoor cafes by the river. We enjoyed excellent food, service and the stores with high quality goods.

As Melissa noted, Lake Bled is everything one reads and hears, and our B & B stay, at a villa on the lake, offered quiet relaxation and a wonderful outdoor deck, as well as a wide choice of outdoor activities and walks. A visit to the castle is not to be missed! and there are numerous hiking trails within easy reach.

It is quite expensive, but delivers good value for the money. For those who are not adventurous with language, English is taught in schools and everyone seemed happy and comfortable with its use.

Acknowledging the attractions and wonders of Croatia, two days is not long enough for a fair sampling of the city!

 
At 9/24/2011 02:11:00 AM , Blogger Gil said...

Good to hear from you! In fact, I was a bit worried about you two after all of the bad weather we have been having and was going to leave a comment on your last post.

 
At 2/07/2012 06:11:00 AM , Anonymous Flights to Abuja said...

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.

 

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