So 3 months ago, my husband and I realized we had leave for 2 weeks and we hadn’t planned anything. So we began thinking. Where did we really want to go? What was manageable? So I began the research. It was to be the longest vacation we would ever have taken together and I needed it to be perfect. So I began the research on visas and locations that would be ideal in May and we decided upon Greece and Italy. This decision was based on the following facts:
1. The visa to Greece was easier to obtain
2. Italy is nicest in May. Less tourists (I would later find this to a complete fallacy)
3. We felt like 15 days was too long for one country so we broke it up into two (This theory proved to be mostly correct)
So now that the countries were decided on, we had to decide on which cities to visit. Athens and Rome were a no-brainer. But upon consulting, everyone began putting in their two cents. We received recommendations to check out the Amalfi Coast (which upon careful consideration seemed too much of a trek), Positano, Milan and Tuscany in Italy. Then for Greece, we were told to check out Santorini, Mykonos and some of the smaller islands. The decision was tough.
Finally however, we came to a conclusion. The itinerary would be Athens, Santorini, Rome, Florence, Chianti, Florence (again) and then Venice. It seemed a daunting task, but I was adamant to make it happen.
We then had to book the hotels and transport and I want to share some learnings:
1. Use Bookings.com, expedia.com to book the hotels. However, never book unless you run it by Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet. I find the reviews on these two to be much more relevant and conclusive.
2. When booking hotels, please check the room square foot area, availability of safe, free breakfast, proximity to train station or main area (whichever you prefer) and of course how secure the location is. We ended up with a room which had no windows (well a window with a wall in front of it, which doesn’t really qualify as a window) and was very claustrophobic. It also didn’t have a safe which is not feasible if you’re looking to leave your passport and money in the hotel.
3. Book all your travel in advance (before the hotels) but make sure you shop around for good deals. Since we were booking the transport after finding the hotels we were in a bind and ended up paying a lot more in flights and ferries because of the timing/day issues.
4. Ferries in Greece are a very good option because they are half the price of a flight. However, you have assigned seats and no free food. (I was imagining something like a yacht, which is isn’t!).
5. Try and travel light. I say try because its almost impossible to travel for 2 weeks with a carry on. But try and eliminate stuff you can easily buy at your destination (example face wash, t-shirts, cheap flip-flops).
6. Make an excel sheet to keep track of all the travel because its very easy to get confused with so many hotels and travel options.
7. Also, a point that I hold close to my heart. If you crave spicy food, carry some spices or spicy chips with you. The food is pretty non-spicy so you may find yourself craving something chat-pata by the end of 15 days.
8. A watch out: 15 days is a long time. It could end up being expensive, a bit too hectic and you may end up feeling disconnected (from electronics/work) for too long. So get your mind frame right because if you are able switch off and cut the apron strings from life for this long, it can be a heavenly trip.
9. Six cities in 15 days is very do-able. You can eliminate one if you really need to, but its manageable and not too hectic.