Honeycomb (11)

Oh Beans Goes to New Z… Italy!

Ever since a couple of days after Peter and I returned from an extremely chilly week in Vienna last February, we’ve pretty much been planning our next trip. As was the case for Vienna, this trip looked a lot different to the one we actually embarked on.. that’s because we were seriously considering, and beginning to plan, a three week ‘tour’ of New Zealand.

We’d been looking into the best time to book flights, which gave us the window of October / November this year and that to keep costs down, we’d hire a car/van to get us around and which would double up as a mini-home and get us to campsites. But just like Vienna (which had started out as a proposed week in Venice), we came to the conclusion that perhaps it wasn’t quite the right time to visit NZ and that ultimately we really should try to save some pennies. We’d worked out that a trip to the other side of the world would probably set us back roughly £3k each, money we didn’t really have.

Well.. I couldn’t just abandon the idea of an exciting trip.

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We might have discounted NZ, but my mind couldn’t stop thinking about seeing new places. Occasionally it would wander and I would start thinking of different places we could go to, how we’d get there and how affordable it might be. Peter and I love travelling by train, so I went with that idea, rather than getting stuck on places we could fly to (I’m not an overly keen flyer… but I’d ‘man-up’ to overcome my jitters for a flight to NZ). That’s when I married our wish to go to Italy with train travel…. Could we instead do a tour of Italy? Could we get there by train? How far could we go? How much would it cost? Where would we stay? How many places and how many days in each?!

As with planning any holiday or trip, I get so excited and can’t concentrate on anything else until a few parameters in my mind are set. After getting Peter onboard with the idea (which didn’t take long), we started to come up with potential cities we’d like to visit and a rough idea of how we’d get there. In the end, we settled with a night in Paris (to avoid the sleeper train from Paris to Venice…which in hindsight, would have been a lot of fun), and three nights in: Venice (yes! we made it in the end!), Rome, Florence and back to Paris for three nights. We travelled by fast-train to each city, which was such a great way to see the country and to really feel like we were travelling more like an Italian / European.

It was a no brainer that we’d stay in self-catered apartments, apart from the one-night stopover in Paris (where we opted for a 3* hotel near Gare de Lyon station) and so it was just a case of finding the right place on Trip Advisor. Using this website meant we could set a budget for accommodation, especially as we weren’t certain on how costly the trains would be – tickets aren’t available until 3 months in advance.

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Anyway! I’m getting carried away!! This is just the introduction, if I went into all the details here, I’d go on for pages and pages and pages! So over the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to post a number of blogs which (fingers crossed) will inspire you to tailor your own trip abroad and might give you ideas on where to visit, how to get there, where to stay, how to eat local, how much to spend and how to organise such a beast!

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Watch this [_] space for next week’s blog post which will be the first day of our mini adventure, starting in Oxford, travelling to Paris and squeezing into a tiny pub with lots of jubilant French supporters to watch the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter final between France and …. I’m not making this stuff up!!… New Zealand!