We’re flying out today. After 71 days away from home, we need a bit of a break from this vacationing thing. We’ve effectively been gone for 20% of the year, so it’s time to water the plants and check the mail.
How does one do such a trip? You may ask…how can I do that? How much planning is involved for such an epic journey? All good questions…and the first thing is to not have a plan. It was circumstance that seemed to lead us into this whirlwind journey. Years of promising each other that when the time was right, we would look at going away for a month. Life seems to just get in the way though with work commitments, family, business, kids…we just had to set the few things we had aside and go for it. There were no kids involved if anyone that doesn’t know us was wondering. As for the planning, we had about 4 weeks notice. More planning likely could have been done if we had aimed to accomplish such a venture as part of a resolution or bucket-list item, but no…give us a few weeks and internet along the way to figure things out, and we’ll book that return ticket when we’re ready…or out of money.
Accommodation. We stayed in 12 different cities & towns over that 71 day span, ranging in size from not on the map (Pogerola) to Paris. Visited another 11 towns on day trips, seeing over-hyped castles and medieval villages. We likely could have done more…but damn it’s tiring being on the go every day. We rented 8 different apartments, and only had to bail on one of them. 5 different hotels over that span, nothing worse than an Italian 3-star…nothing better than an Italian 4-star (really there doesn’t seem to be any difference, other than maybe the number of panes of glass in the windows). Not once did we get caught having to resort to overnight train sleeping, or getting stuck in a bus station in the wee hours of the morning.
24 train trips, involving 27 different trains. Only 2 planes thus far. With another 2 for the trip home. If I had only thought ahead, I could have burned up a few more of those credit card travel points on travelling in style…first class. If you’re looking for us, I think those booking on points are likely positioned next to the most commonly used toilets, in the seats with no legroom and a broken entertainment unit. Only about a dozen buses. When in Pogerola, other than walking the 1000 steps into town, the only other way was via bus…and these were almost daily. Plus the number of connections was uncountable. The Cannes to Nice run was by far the most terrible of all for duration, making up for the lack of quantity. Oh yeah, one more bus to the airport. No taxi for this budget twosome.
Dinner in house…well the last two weeks of the trip almost religiously. Before that…almost every night out with the goal to eat at a different restaurant each time. We did well up until Florence…then just gave in to familiarity. Pizza and pasta is pretty much the same from restaurant to restaurant, and when ordering a half litre of wine every night we were beginning to wonder if we needed the wine to enjoy each other’s company. Of course we didn’t…it’s our 11th anniversary today, and we’re celebrating with a plane trip home. In the past we skimped and called the company Christmas party our anniversary, this year British Airways is picking up the dinner and drinks.
And with this goal of creating a blog a day of more than 500 words, well it appears to be close to achieved. This makes 76 published posts, a few of those being all pictures, and aarly posts are a little weak on words and format. Still 4 posts sitting in the ‘draft’ state, with one behemoth on the ‘history of the pizza cutter’ that will likely never see the light of day due to exhaustive research to ensure the facts discussed are in fact accurate. Of course this is the internet and fact seems to be less frequent than opinion.
The ‘post-a-day’ goal wasn’t set until a week or two in when it appeared I might be able to do it. To accomplish such a feat, a dedicated machine was required…both portable and fun to use. We went with an 11inch Macbook Air, and find now that an external hard drive might also be required for the 50GB of photos we have this thing now loaded up with. If you don’t have the tools to enable you, then however are you supposed to come up with the motivation? It now seems we each need one of these machines to maintain peace in the household. Melanie to work on her pictures, and me to continue writing to appeal to new blog followers in the US, India and Russia.
And how much has this whole escapade cost? We’ll save that conversation for over a beer or two. We did have a target in mind to keep accommodation to less than $100CDN per day…and we did that with margin to spare. Transportation costs averaged out to less than $50 per day…but could have been less without paying cancellation fees for changed train and flights. Food and entertainment spend…we had a hard cap of $100 per day on that and fell well below that once we started cooking for ourselves. We’ll say less than a new compact car, more than a large jar of Nutella. In the end, the dollar amount is irrelevant as this really is an experience that could have been saved for retirement. Instead we’re spending those retirement dollars now, and why not?
What could possibly be next as a follow up to this trip? If I knew, I might be able to offer up some hints. Very little planning involved with this trip. I can’t say the timing worked out either, or that the funds were there burning a hole in our pockets.
Maybe Australia. I also wouldn’t mind renting a van and driving through North America though.