It’s official. We have the VISAs and so these crazy kids are about to set off on our very first international trip to Italy.
I think if you could bottle excitement, I’d be the perfect person to drain it from. I’m so excited that I keep making Seth take lame photo’s with me on every part of the journey. That picture up there was us waiting to go and apply for our Schengen VISAs.
Look how happy we are?!
Anyway, a lot of you lovely people have been asking me what about the process, our itinerary etc, so I thought I’d share that with you today. Well, that and I just want to write about it because I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED!
When are we going?
We are leaving the Autumny rainy (hopefully) Cape Town on 18 May and arriving in a Spring-filled Italy on 19 May. Then we’re getting back to our lives on 28 May. Which means that with our two over night flights there and back, we will be in Italy for 9 days but only 8 nights.
Passports and VISAs
So up until last month I didn’t have a passport because, well, I didn’t need one. But after 4 hours of my life in the line at Home Affairs and R400, I now am the proud owner of a passport!
For the VISA you have to apply through Capago. They do VISAs for Italy and France. You can apparently only book for your VISA about 3 months in advance and not before that. Also for two people including passport photos and sms notifications, the VISA set us back R2950.
But guys, I have my very first VISA! Hooray!
Are the kids coming with us?
Um. So, the reason that we’re finally doing this whole International Travel thing is because it’s our 10 year wedding anniversary. And I love my kids and all, but money doesn’t grow on trees. Also we wanted a romantic getaway so my in-laws and Mom have graciously offered to look after them while we are away.
I need to tell you how freaking weird it’s been planning the daily itinerary without our day ending at like 6pm. We can go out at NIGHT people. AT NIGHT! What even is this life of luxury? Granted we’ll probably be totally and completely exhausted at 6pm, but YOLO and all that.
How are you getting there?
We used Skyscanner to keep a look out for the cheapest flights while we were waiting to book. It’s great because they compare all the flights across the board and find the best deals. We also messed with the leaving and arriving day to find the absolute cheapest option which is leaving on a Thursday and arriving back on a Sunday. The Ethiopian Airways tickets that we bought were the cheapest and also the least layover time. WIN- WIN!! We only spend something like 15 hours travelling as opposed to 36 with some other airlines!
You’re only taking a BACKPACK each? Say what?!
Yes, you read that right. You will not find us lugging big roller bags over cobblestones for 9 days. Instead we’re going to try and fit everything we need for 9 days into two back packs that we plan to take on as our carry on luggage.
I know this sounds crazy. And maybe it is. But we don’t want to waste money on taxis just so that we can get our luggage from one side of Rome to the other. Our plan is to walk everywhere while visiting new places on the way. I realise that I am going to be completely and totally freaking exhausted at the end of it, but we would have seen all the things so I say it’s totally worth it!
Where are you staying?
We booked all our accommodation through AirBnB. It SO much more affordable that the hotel options and some of them even provide breakfast! The most expensive of the places that we are going to stay is Venice and the cheapest is Florence. I set aside a budget of R8000 (R1000 per night) and we managed to spend only R156 over that. I know it’s crass to talk about money, but I want to do it for this because it’ll just show you that it might not be as expensive to do this as you might have thought.
Our 9 Day Italian itinerary
19 May – Rome
We arrive in Rome at around 7am and we will be heading straight from there to the Colosseum and surrounding sights to knock that off the checklist. Our AirBnB is around the corner from the Colosseum so we’ll probably hang around this area a lot and just take in the fact that we are finally here.
20 May – Pompeii
I haven’t booked it yet, but the plan is to spend the whole of this day in a guided tour of Pompeii. At least that might be the plan. I’m worried that an entire day there might be a waste, but can you really say that you have visited Italy if you haven’t been to Pompeii? And maybe walked up Mount Vesuvius? I don’t know. Either way, we’ll be back in Rome for the night life around 7pm.
21 May – Trastevere
When I was intently researching the places that I wanted to stay in, Trastevere kept coming up and I fell in love with it. It’s got that old school Italian vibe about it – cobble stone streets, little alleys and flowers adorned doorways. I cannot wait to stay here. In fact I am sad that we will only be spending one night here.
The idea is to leave the Colosseum side of Rome, walk through the city (visit the Pantheon etc) on our way to this Air BnB. Then either go to the Vatican City that day or the following morning.
22 May – Hop on a train to Florence
It will be Monday when we get into Florence and depending on what we’ve done in the morning, we might get there fairly late (the train ride from Rome to Florence is about an hour and a half). So the idea will be to see the markets and soak in the ambience at our sweet little AirBnB – it’s a little house all on it’s own. I’m quite excited to have our own space for this part of the stay. Also it has a washing machine which is perfect as our midway point to wash all our clothing.
23 May – Florence must sees
We’ll be hitting all the must see sights on this day – the big Cathedral thingy, the David Statue and all.
24 May – Day trip to Pisa
So this is quite an iconic sight to see but apparently the town itself is rather boring. We might go there early then head to another smaller town on the way back to Florence. But no trip to Italy would be complete without the picture of you trying to hold up the tower now would it?!
25 May – Head off to Venice
It’s a two and a half hour train trip into Venice. But from what I hear, it’s going to be worth it.
The plan is to do a guided walking tour there that includes the gondola ride because, even though it may be a rip off, I’m going on that freaking Gondola if I have to jump on a moving one or not! In fact , I’m going to wear a stripy top and eat pasta and gelato while on the gondola to really complete the experience. Just joking. Or am I?!
26 May – More Venice
I want to get lost in the streets. Wonder aimlessly and just enjoy our last day without any rushing or anything. A real “holiday” in a beautiful city.
27 May – Head back to Roma
We’re still debating whether or not to stop in another town on the way back to Rome (because our flight is only at 11pm!). I think it will depend on how we’re feeling, how much money we have left and all that kind of thing. Otherwise we’ll head back to Rome on the four and a half hour trip and then arb around there till we have to check in at the airport.
28 May – Arrive in Cape Town
I will probably be running through the airport to reach my kids and swaddle them in the biggest hugs EVER! They are nervous but excited for us to leave and I keep the motivation happy with the promise of lots of presents Eeek!!
And that my friends, is that.
Did I mention that I’m excited?