The very first time I got on a plane, I was 20 years old and about to start the journey of our honeymoon in Durban. I was literally shaking with excitement because it was all just so new to me. I distinctly remember trying to navigate though the airport to load our luggage and that feeling of taking off for the first time. And for someone who forgets almost everything, you’ll know how memorable it was if I still think about it.
And I know for many of you lucky few out there, that’s a bizarrely long time to wait to go and explore our World, or well, the rest of the country. But it is what it is.
Air travel (or actually travel in general) is a real luxury.
Having had three kids just after getting married meant that we did the family thing instead of the travel thing. We try and make up for our “lack” of international travel by doing semi regular trips around our own country. Like, why would you want to see the rest of the World when you have one of the most beautiful countries right on your very doorstep?! Exactly. There’s so much to see right here in Cape Town, or even just two hours away. The options are literally endless. We didn’t even feel like we were missing out by not going overseas.
But then we realised that our ten year wedding anniversary was coming up. And ten years? Well, it’s a pretty big one. We decided a year or so ago that no matter what happens, we were going to leave the country and go on our very first international adventure.
Which is why we’ve just booked our first international trip to Italy.
Why am I sharing this here again? Because it’s my freaking blog that’s why! It’s here to preserve the memories and so I thought I’d share what we’ve done so far.
Booked tickets on Ethiopian Airways
We used Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Italy. Originally we were going to land in Rome, then go up to Florence and then Venice before heading to Paris and then flying home from there. But after a lot of back and forth and checking ticket prices every day it just didn’t seem worth it.
Yes, we’d be seeing more but it would be rushed – we only have a total of 10 nights that we can be away. Plus, the tickets to Rome were R4000 pp and then back from Paris was another R6000pp. Which means we would have spent R20k of our limited budget just on the tickets. Getting return tickets for both of us in and out of Rome were only R13k (with the smallest layover time) with Ethiopian Airways. It just made so much sense and so now we’ve booked the tickets.
Which means that I need to get a passport and why I…
Lost 4 and a half hours of my life to Home Affairs
So Seth had the wonderful experience of “popping into Home Affairs” a little while back to get his passport. I think it took him like 30 minutes in total. Not me. Oh no. That kind of thing doesn’t happen to me. I waited in that line for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! Only to find out later that you can do something online then just “pop into your bank” to get them to do the finger prints.
Today I learned that there’s no such thing as “popping into Home Affairs”.
— Cindy Alfino (@CindyAlfino) January 24, 2017
But you live and you learn. Hopefully I’ll get my passport in the next week or so, then we can apply for our VISAs. Which hasn’t stopped us from…
Figuring out our itinerary – well, sort of
After limiting ourselves to Italy only, we wanted to do Rome 2 nights, Naples 1 night, Florence 3 nights and Venice 2 nights before heading home. We wanted to go to Naples because Seth’s great, great grandfather came from there to South Africa. But guys, have you looked at Naples? I think there’s a reason he moved to South Africa. Unless Google just chose to show us the most unflattering pictures they could unearth. I could not bear to waste a day in ITALY in a place that looks like a dirty Woodstock.
So now the itinerary is sort of this:
- Day 1 – Leave Cape Town for an overnight flight to Rome (pit stop in Addis Ababa)
- Day 2 – Arrive very early in Rome. Do the Colosseum and surrounding sights. Find our AirBnB
- Day 3 – Do a day trip to Pompeii that goes through Naples so at least we see it
- Day 4 – Change AirBnB. Explore the other side of Rome (Vatican City etc)
- Day 5 – Head off to Florence on the train. See the markets etc (because Mondays the Museums are closed)
- Day 6 – Do the David thing and see the big Cathedral Dome Thingy.
- Day 7 – Day trip to Pisa on the train
- Day 8 – Go to Venice – settle in, eat all the gelato
- Day 9 – Do a walking tour and gondola ride (apparently this is better because the gondola peeps rip tourists off?).
- Day 10 – Head back to Rome (5 hour train trip) before heading home to squeeze our little people.
We’re “back packing” without actually staying in a back packers. We’ve found some really amazing AirBnB options so we’ll be staying in those. But we will only have back packs for our luggage because we need to be able to walk from place to place without having to get a taxi etc.
Because, you know, we have three kids and so money doesn’t grow on trees and all that.
In fact our budget was so tight that I actually thought that when we took out the flights, the accommodation, the travel and the entrance tickets to all the things we want to see, we’d be left with nothing to use to eat. But I did a few sums the other night and I think we’re all good. But still choosing AirBnB’s with breakfast options because then at least we start the day off really well.
Aaaaaand that just about sums up where we’re at.
I’m really excited and honestly it takes up so much of my mind space that I’m struggling to think of other big events that are happening, like Seths birthday and our actual wedding anniversary. Once I get the VISAs I think I’ll be less anxious and more excited, but you just never really know do you?!