The planning for this trip was as unexpected as travel plans come. So I started to put together our Italy travel itinerary. I had deeply immersed myself into planning a return trip to Greece, to visit my dearest friend Melissa.
We were planning an official romp through the Greek Isles starting with a stopover in Athens, as we missed that the first time through! Then heading to Samos and then off to Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Tinos. It was quite a trip in the making.
After countless hours of planning and research I smugly realized that there was no way we were going to be able to do the itinerary that I wanted to do in the number of days that we had available. Oh at this moment how I wished I was a free traveler.
In the same thought and at that same moment, came the realization that without the job, there wouldn’t be much travel. Sigh, back to the drawing board. Melissa was already enjoying her summer on Samos, so off went an email to begin the division of a new plan.
We contemplated for some time exactly what we wanted to do. Several ideas came to the floor, all of which are itineraries I hope to complete in the future. Perhaps we would meet in Istanbul, Turkey and make our way down the coast stopping at Troy and the various cities in between on our way to Izmir?
Or maybe, we would meet in Athens and fly to Egypt? Then the concept of ‘maybe we should just pick a European city we have always wanted to see and meet there!’ came to light. Melissa immediately suggested Rome.
I wasn’t too keen on the idea, as I was still somewhat jolted from the disappointment of changing the plans of our Greek rendezvous around the islands. In my shadowed light I casually looked up Rome one day.
I was intrigued. I mean, I always knew that Rome was on the list, but it wasn’t on the top as like some of the other adventures.
Later that day, while on Trip Advisor, I came across a person that had just completed a backpacking adventure throughout the county of Italy. Now you have my attention!
I began pouring over the resources on Italy and pricing our plane tickets. I tripped upon a deal of a lifetime and decided that if I was going to do Italy, this was how I was going to do it, open jaw flight into Venice and out of Rome.
Riding the train and staying in hostels all along the way. Lightning fast, I had an email of my new found idea off to Melissa. While waiting to hear back, I gave a call to Kady, my sister, to let her know of the new plans.
She was enthralled. The only thing that didn’t appeal to her were the dates. She was getting ready to start the first semester of her senior year in college and wasn’t looking forward to possibly having to miss some crucial hours of EMT class.
I told her I was waiting to hear back from Melissa and that she was to talk to her professors immediately and let them know what she was planning.
The days went by, no answer. So for good measure, I sent another email to Melissa. Just in case she didn’t receive the first one. Much to my luck, I received a response that evening. She was in!
Now all we had to do was decide which dates worked for us, all of us, and book our tickets. This was a process that I can’t seem to forget. It felt like months, although really was only the culmination of 2 weeks of hashing out dates, before we came to a consensus on when we would go.
Once our dates were decided, without hesitation, I booked our trip to Italy, flying into Venice and then out of Rome. As Kady and I started the planning process from Wisconsin, Melissa began her planning. She was able to find a budget airline to fly from Athens to Venice via Budapest.
We were amazed to realize how difficult it really is to get from Athens to Venice. When you did find a good flight, it was insanely overpriced in comparison to what the budget airline through Budapest was costing.
This would be the second time I would become frustrated with European flight schedules. Who can forget the task of flying from London to Samos without breaking the bank just two years prior! In all common sense, you would think that flying from Athens to Venice would be one of the shortest, cheapest and easiest flights in all of Europe.
Literally, you cross only the narrow Adriatic Sea. You can get there by boat, but you can’t fly there direct. One word… dumb. But I suppose, no one promised that planning such excursions would be easy or short.
Although, I do think it is time for the European Union to consider such a motto. It would be a relief to those on a budget both in the pocket and on the watch.
The days flew by as I scoured the internet putting together our path for the country. Where we would be and were we would stay. What we would see and how we would get there. After several days and hours of deliberation, several nights of restless ‘computer eyes’ and cramps in my hand from searching and searching the web, I came to a solution. And so was born our Italian Itinerary.
Wed Aug 26 – Leave MSP
Thurs Aug 27 – Arrive Venice
Fri Aug 28 – Venice
Sat Aug 29 – Florence
Sun Aug 30 – Florence
Mon Aug 31 – Florence
Tues Sept 1 – Assisi
Wed Sept 2 – Rome
Thurs Sept 3 – Rome
Fri Sept 4 – Rome
Sat Sept 5 – Rome
Sun Sept 6 – Rome
Mon Sept 7 – FCO to MSP
Obviously to anyone that has done hardcore backpacking, and by that I mean, taken a year to travel the world, or a two month hiatus to travel Europe, would tell me that this was a whirlwind schedule.
That each city we were visiting deserved a week a piece. I am not going to argue or disagree, as I would love to spend months in Italy but my resources told me otherwise, and we weren’t going to Italy to lay around.
We were going to Italy to see. And so I stuck to my guns and what you see above, is what we did. It was a lot, but I wouldn’t for the life of me, change it in any way.
Fast forward about a week prior to our departure and it came to mind that we might change our flight times. After we had booked our tickets, Melissa was unable to find corresponding flights that arrived in Venice within a reasonable time of each other.
No surprise with the wonders of budget travel in Europe. I spent countless hours on the phone with the airline in an attempt to take an earlier flight that would get us in within an hour of our friend.
I figured that this would be no problem as they had 3 flights from MSP to AMS that day and we should be able to get on either the 3:10 of the 7:30 without a problem, since we were scheduled on the 9:30 already.
Much to no avail, I could not get this done. I cannot describe the frustration that I have with the airlines these days. It took about 5 different operators before I finally reached someone that was able to explain to me why it was that we couldn’t change our flight.
Simple reason, we had gotten such a good rate because we had purchased promo tickets. They are non-refundable and cannot be changed or altered in any way. Altering or changing of the original ticket, including flight times, would lead to the ticket becoming null and void.
Thus leaving us with no other option than to take the originally planned flight time of 9:30 and arrive in Venice 6 hours after our dear friend. In the midst of all of this I was up till about 1am the day before departure trying to figure this out.
Not exactly what you should be doing the night before you hop a trans-Atlantic flight to a different country that is 7 hours ahead of you. Slightly disappointed, but with eager anticipation, I hopped into bed for a couple hours of shut-eye before getting up at 6am to spend the day at work before heading to Minneapolis for our 9:30pm departure.