May 23, 2012

Final Thoughts on Italy

For those keeping score, we visited 14 cities in 12 days. We flew between 6 airports and traveled 41 hours by air and 13 more by train. We got around on various modes of transportation: trams, waterbus, water shuttle, train, bullet train, city bus, tour bus, subway, electric bus, funicular, circumvesuviana, ferry, boat, taxi, and of course, our feet. 2792 photos were taken. Want more? Go here.

Exhausted? Why yes, yes, we were. Jetlag didn't phase me on our flight out, but coming home it seriously kicked my butt.

Italy had been a dream trip for a long time. I'm afraid I romantized it too much. Still, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. And one day, I'd like to return. I'd skip the big cities though and stick to the quaint ones. Siena, Positano and Capri have a special place in my heart.

Restaurants charge a fee just to sit and be waited on, this kept us from trying various places like we usually do in our travels in the states. Paying the premium for a seat is worthwhile. Our feet ached so bad. And meals were such a nice break. The wine helped too. Wine is so cheap in stores and affordable in restaurants.

Ibuprofen was not. The uneven surfaces and cobblestone streets had be popping ibuprofen like candy. I ran out in Rome, it cost €10 for twelve pills at the pharmacy. Crazy.

I read half a dozen guide books before our trip, I thought I was well armed with information, but there was one tidbit that I totally missed. And this being my first visit to Europe I had no idea it is completely common to pay to use the restroom. Best advice when traveling abroad? Use the restroom whenever possible. I learned why espresso is so popular in Italy. Who wants to drink a grande coffee when restrooms are few and far between and can cost as much as few euros to use them? A little shot of espresso perks you up without a need to dash to the potty. We managed to time our breaks with our meals and siestas, until Orvieto, that is. Then I finally had to break down and pay to use the toilet. At only €,40 it was the cheapest we encountered. The cleanest too. The higher the price, ironically, the worse conditions. One of the highlights of returning home was that it was free to pee.

We relied on public transportation completely. Purchasing multi-day passes saved us a ton. Public transit always comes with some hassle, but aside from Rome and the random closures in Sorrento it was pretty decent.

Pack as light as possible. Think you packed light? Pack lighter. That's my second best piece of advice.

And my third is to take time to see the sights away from the tourist attractions. See how others live. Shop in local markets and enjoy neighborhood haunts. Never let the language barrier deter you.

And never. Never. Fly United Air internationally. OK if you are petite and under 5ft - you're good.


Edward said...

As the experts say about taking a cruise. After packing, take half as many clothes and twice as much money.

I also hate flying United to Europe.

Thank you for the wonderful report.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million Kellee - appreciate all the pictures and advice - planning ours for next year - retirement and 35th anniversary - can't wait - keep up the writing - you're AWESOME - thanks again - Mr. Canadian EH!!!