It’s All About The Details

Judging from the trip report below, Mia and Matt clearly loved their Italian honeymoon! But here’s what jumps out at me the most  —  the things that they’ll remember forever (the things that make or break the overall experience) are NOT the hotels.  Even though that’s what most clients want to focus on when we’re planning the trip. Instead, it’s the finer details. The fabulous tour guide in Rome, whom they invited to have drinks with them afterwards. The private water taxi that whisked them to the airport on their way home from Venice. The food tour in Bologna that she’s been raving about to anyone who will listen. All of that clearly overshadowed the Rome hotel that she thought was “shady”, and I’ll bet she will have forgotten the name of that hotel before her first anniversary — unless she looks back and re-reads this blog post ūüôā

ROME

The hotel {Hotel Cecil} was a little shady. The location, yes, is great, but the hotel itself is weird and they were not very helpful or even nice at this hotel.  As for the breakfast in the morning – I spit up the first thing I tried into my napkin… it was disgusting! Thankfully we were not in our room long…..

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Now….. as for the guided tour…

honeymoon couple and their guide in rome italy

OH My Goodness – our guide was AMAZING. yes it was a long day touring everything in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity but wow was it worth it. Matt and I lost at least 5 pounds walking around in all that heat! But she made everything fun and exciting and boy did she know her stuff… We even invited her to drinks after, she was that great we had to take a picture with her!

The train was easy to get to and our car service was waiting for us in Naples and was the nicest guy!

SORRENTO

This was the most amazing part of our trip. From the crazy city and walking around we did in Rome, what a relaxing time we had here. And OUR ROOM!!! my god, I couldn’t believe that was ours! it was unreal. It was like I was in a dream. It was the most picturesque place I have ever been to. We even did a day trip to Positano and Amalfi and omg I can’t say enough about this place, the hotel {Hotel Minerva}, the view, the people we met…. Unbelievable
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FLORENCE

Ok, not going to lie, we were a little depressed to leave Sorrento for a city but what a lovely place Florence was. Our hotel {Hotel Kraft} was in a great location (right near the American Embassy and walking distance to lots of places) we did some shopping at the Mercato Centrale and had wonderful dinners every night. Our tour to Siena and Chianti was like being in a postcard. Our tour guide was amazing once again and so knowledgeable. Our wine tasting and lunch were delish and it was a memorable excursion.

As for the cooking class – MY FAVORITE!!! I already made a dish we made in Florence at home! I loved loved loved it! and Matt loved it just as much! Check out pics!

new groom learning to make pasta on his honeymoon in italy

BOLOGNA

Our hotel room was HUGE and perfectly located {Al Cappello Rosso}. I loved everything about this city, the people, the food, I would recommend bologna to everyone I meet. That is because we went on the tour of our lives to the prosciutto, cheese and balsamic factories. WHAT A DAY!!! unreal. I’m still telling people about how amazing that tour was. It was one of the many highlights of our trip!

VENICE

Our hotel {Hotel Ala} was very tiny but easy to get to and accessible to everything. I loved Venice. Again, our tour at night was awesome. The lady was a sweetheart and we learned so much about the so-called floating city. And to top it off… our water taxi to the airport was the best way to end our beautiful honeymoon.

I can’t thank you enough and have been giving your praises to everyone I see. You planned the best honeymoon for Matt and myself and every place was better than the next.

If I could suggest two things:

1 – we did an AIRBNB experience in Rome and it was amazing their company is RomaEat

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187791-d6728912-Reviews-Roma_Eat_Food_Experience-Rome_Lazio.html

what a great way to try local roman food

2 – Teatro De Sale – a dinner theater that I would go back to Florence just to go to again. worth looking into!!!!

Also – go on netflix and watch “somebody feed phil” and he does a segment on florence and venice and we went to both those restaurants! and they were amazing!!!

AGAIN…. I can’t thank you enough.

How Do We Top This?

Is there anything more gratifying for a travel planner than to have a client come back from an anniversary trip and say “we have no idea how we’ll possibly top this next year“?? Dana and Kevin clearly loved their anniversary “escape” to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, and I better start thinking NOW about what to suggest next ūüôā

Thanks, Ann! We had the most INCREDIBLE trip and definitely feel like we’re having Italy withdrawals now that we’re back at home. We absolutely loved the country, the culture and the scenery, and our itinerary was amazing. All of our transfers, trains, hotel check-ins, etc, went perfectly to plan and helped to make our trip care-free.

When we arrived in Rome the first morning, we were excited but exhausted. Neither of us can really sleep on planes, so we had tried to wake up really early the day of our flight so we’d be tired on the plane. Turns out, we still couldn’t sleep no matter how tired we were. So now we know when we take our next trip to Europe that we’ll just get as good a night of sleep before we leave as possible! We took your advice, though, and powered through / caffeinated ourselves so we could stay up and get on the time zone. We were very happy to not have any specific tours or plans that day so we could just explore and get a feel for the city.

The River Palace was such a great hotel! The rooms and elevators were very small, but we were prepared for that. Everything was beautifully appointed, classy and comfortable. We really liked that our hotel felt like a Roman hotel, and not just any hotel we’d find at home. The complimentary breakfast put those we’re used to at American hotels to shame! It was delicious. They had all sorts of pastries, cheeses, meats, eggs and fruits, made us delicious cappuccinos, and even had a juice bar with complimentary make-your-own mimosas. Definitely a great way to start the day! We found the breakfast at our other hotels to be equally as impressive.

the Trevi fountain in Rome

We did TONS of walking and exploring in Rome. We explored the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza del Popolo, shops, side streets, countless churches and monuments, and of course ate as often as we possibly could. The food and wine were beyond amazing – definitely lived up to and surpassed the hype. I was just in disbelief that we were actually experiencing such a beautiful city that I’d only seen in pictures before. The only downside to Rome were the flower guys who were overly aggressive in trying to get you to take a flower and popping up from everywhere. But we learned to deal with them and certainly didn’t let them put a damper on our fun ūüôā

couple standing in front of Roman ruins

The Colosseum and Roman Forum tour we took was so amazing! Before the tour, we sat at a little cafe overlooking the Colosseum to enjoy cheese and wine. It was unreal! Our tour guide was interesting, entertaining and funny, and the 3 hours flew by. Going in through the Gladiator Gate was a really cool experience, and I would definitely recommend it! The Vatican and Sistine Chapel tour we took the following morning wasn’t our favorite, although the city, museums and churches were absolutely breathtaking! We found the 3 hour tour here to be longer than we would have preferred, just because there was such an overwhelming number of people at the Vatican, and the tour dove more into Art History than we were really interested in. That said, we are still really glad we got to experience it! If we did it again, we would probably want to do either fully private (so we could customize the tour more), or self-guided.

After the Vatican tour, we headed for the train station to begin the Amalfi Coast portion of our trip. We completely fell in love with the region; so much so that we started looking up real estate! The Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento was the perfect hotel, and the sea view room was 100% worth it. The hotel itself was gorgeous, the staff was the best I’ve ever seen, and the room¬†was amazing. We had panoramic views of the sea without even having to get out of bed! We really enjoyed the pool, hot tub and pool bar, and the Vesuvio Roof Restaurant was delicious and absolutely perfect for dinner on our anniversary evening. While in Sorrento, we explored the downtown area, which was probably the most charming city I’ve ever seen. The shopping, restaurants and cafes kept us entertained for hours. Our third day there, we took the Circumvesviano Train to Pompeii, where we did a self-guided tour. The city was incredible, and we really enjoyed the self-guided aspect here as everything was really well labeled, so we got to go at our own pace & avoid the largest crowds of the tours while not feeling like we missed out on information.

For the day of our actual anniversary, we decided to have the hotel book us on a semi-private day trip to Capri. This ended up being one of our favorite days on our trip (which is saying something!). We were on a gorgeous, mid-sized boat with 8 people and a captain. We went to the Blue Grotto first which, even though the cost was steep (28 euro for the 2 of us for about 10 minutes total), we are so happy we got to experience it! We got off our boat and into a small rowboat which held 4 of us and a captain. The entrance into the grotto is only about a meter high, so we had to lay in the bottom of the boat while the captain guided us safely into the grotto. Once inside, the height and characteristics of the rocks and the unreal, glowing blue of the water was absolutely breathtaking. Once back on our boat, we were taken on a tour of Capri, which included the Green Grotto, White Grotto, sailing under the Faraglioni arch, and the most amazing coastline we’ve ever seen. We had about 4 hours to explore Capri, which involved a LOT of stairs and a workout, but the views were beyond worth it. The island itself is beautiful, but also unassuming in its own way while being mega glamorous. On the designer shop-lined streets, it felt like we were on a more exclusive Rodeo Drive that, at the same time, managed to be more welcoming and down to earth. Back on the boat, we enjoyed wine and limoncello while we got a tour of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and got back to port around 6:15 pm – just in time to enjoy happy hour and dinner at our hotel. I’m not sure how we’re going to out-do that day for our 5th anniversary!

famous arches and rocks on a blue ocean in Capri, Italy

Back in Rome for our last day, it was fun staying in a different part of town than our first stint in Rome. The Hotel Britannia was lovely and very charming, and was located super close to the train station. The room itself unfortunately didn’t have very good A/C, but the windows opened so it worked out. The room was tiny, but the bathroom was HUGE, so it balanced out and we had all the space we needed for just a one night stay. We spent the last day seeing some more sites, doing some great shopping, and eating as much as possible before we would have to leave the delicious Italian food behind.

All in all, it felt like we were living a dream on our trip. It’s always been #1 on my travel bucket list, and it didn’t disappoint! We can’t wait to go back and explore more of this incredible country. Thank you so much for planning our dream trip! Can’t wait to see what you help us with next!

Dana

Strangest. Souvenir. Ever.

Andrea definitely wins the prize for the most unusual “souvenir” from her Italian honeymoon!! And I absolutely love all the details she remembered to report back to me. My clients truly are the best ūüôā

Hi Ann,

Eric and I got back last night and had a GREAT time in Italy! We really appreciate all of your help planning and throughout the actual trip.¬† Wanted to share a few highlights with you to let you know how everything went ūüôā

Our United flight to Rome was really smooth and comfortable.¬† We paid extra to get the premium economy seats to get the extra leg space and some other perks.¬† We got a row with just two seats in it.¬† So Eric got his window and I had my aisle ūüôā ¬†It was a pretty comfortable flight.¬† When we landed we found our driver easily and got settled in the hotel.¬† The hotel (Giulio Cesare) was very nice and comfortable.¬† The first day we just walked around and explored Rome.¬† We found Piazza del Popolo and enjoyed the space and shops.¬† We had dinner at Su e Giu Cucina Romana, which ended up being one of the best Italian meals we had on the trip.

Our Vatican and Colosseum tours were great!  The hotel was also close to a lot.  If not walking distance, we figured out how to use the metro and used it quite a bit the rest of the time in Rome.

For our next stop, we took a¬†taxi to the Rome train station.¬† When we arrived at the Rome train station we were those confused American tourists, but figured it out.¬† There was a ‚Äúhelpful‚ÄĚ stranger or two, but just ignored them.¬† Our train ride to Naples was smooth and comfortable.¬† Our driver in Naples picked us up and we found him easily.¬† There was a car accident near Sorrento, so our car ride to the hotel was about 2 and a half hours.¬† We didn‚Äôt mind since we weren‚Äôt in a rush anywhere and just enjoyed the view, but to be cautious we bumped up our pick up time when leaving Sorrento just to be sure.

The Sorrento hotel (Grand Hotel Cesare Augusto) was nice, nothing fancy but did the trick! We were a 5 to 10 min walk from shops and the water.  The first night we had dinner at Star Pub to get a break from Italian food (the burger there was REALLY good!).  For our full day in Sorrento we took the ferry to Capri.  The ferry was a little pricey, maybe 80 Euros in total for the both of us, and it was kind of hectic too, since it was so crowded with tourists and the ferry filled up fast.  Nonetheless we made it to Capri, and planned on walking around and spending a few hours there.  Well, when we got to the island we kind of wished we had planned ahead and booked a day tour because it’s a little confusing to book something once you’re on the island.  But we just pulled up Google and read that Villa San Michele/Anacapri

/Scala Fenicia had the best views on the island.¬† Google Maps told us it was a 25 minute walk.¬† No problem.¬† Well, we walked about a 10th of a mile and then there were steps… lots of steps.¬† We realized that Google Maps doesn‚Äôt clearly indicate altitude lol.¬† The entire rest of our walk was steep cobblestone steps!¬† Unknowingly, we walked up the famous Phoenician Steps.¬† After our exhausting stair climbing journey we made it to the top of Anacapri, where we unexpectedly found plenty of caf√©s, shops, and tourists on a walking main street.¬† The people walking around did not appear to have just climbed a thousand steps, so we were baffled on how all of these people got here and why no one was acknowledging that we just climbed these steps! Lol.¬† We later found a plethora of taxis at the end of the main street and realized that this beautiful place was reachable by car lol. While there we enjoyed the view, did some shopping, and refueled with some pizza.¬† The idea of facing the steps again, even though easier to go down, was daunting.¬† So we paid 25 Euros for a cab ride back to the port to catch the ferry back to Sorrento.¬† It was overall a pretty great day at Capri and one of the highlights of our trip.

climb the Phoenician Steps for stunning views in Anacapri Italy

That night we ate dinner by reservation at Ritorante Fuoro.  This was probably our other best Italian dinner in Italy!

The next morning, we headed back to the Naples train station by the driver.¬† The driver was great! We just caught our train in time since we‚Äôve been unlucky with Sorrento traffic and of course it was a rainy morning causing traffic.¬† Our train ride was comfortable, smooth, and pretty easy since we were now experienced Italian train riders ūüôā

When we arrived in Florence it was easy to take a taxi to our hotel (River Hotel).¬† We checked in‚Ķ well then you know the rest from there about check in. lol.¬† After some back and forth with the hotel, the third room was a charm, and we were quite comfortable the rest of the trip, but highly recommend only the renovated modern rooms that you booked for us.¬† The second room they put us in was an unrenovated room (what they call to be ‚Äúclassic‚ÄĚ) and was really out of shape and bathroom was beyond outdated.¬† None of the rooms have controllable air so were still advised to use the breaker panel to turn off the air if we got cold.¬† But there‚Äôs not too much you can do if you‚Äôre hot since there‚Äôs no way to lower the temperature.

We did quite a bit of walking in Florence. The hotel was tucked away in a more quiet area, and about 1.5 to 2.0 km from the central restaurants and shops we visited.  Bus and taxi didn’t seem very viable since the streets are flooded with tourists, so walking was our mode of transportation (which was our rationale on why we could get extra gelato, lol). The Dan Brown Inferno Walking Tour was really good.  Our tour guide was great and we had a small group of only five people.  I never saw the movie, but I definitely want to now.  The tour only spent about 10% of the time on the movie, the rest was history and was very interesting.

After the tour we had the day to explore ‚Äď well, we ended up exploring a dentist office.¬† I had an old filling that ended up falling out of my tooth (lovely, I know) and had an urgent dental matter.¬† This was quite an anxious search for a dentist because foreign country dentistry is a world of unknown. We found an English speaking dentist (who had high Google reviews ‚Äď because what else do I go by for an emergency!) and he ended up being fantastic.¬† The office is Studio Odontoiatrico Firenze Guasti e Massai if you ever need to give a client a dental recommendation, lol.¬† The dentist office was a general dentistry and the doctor spoke well enough English to get me through.¬† The receptionist also spoke decent English.¬† Comfortingly, everything about my dentist visit was comparable to a trip to an American dentist, minus the fluent English speaking.¬† 440 euros later I had a new filling and it‚Äôs actually really good!¬† My Florence souvenir was a new filling I‚Äôll cherish forever.

The next day we had nothing officially planned and decided we wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa.  We didn’t book a tour, and just took the train as you recommended.  It was only 16 Euros round trip per person and we got to see the tower in person and get photos.

a honeymooning couple in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

The next morning we took a 15 euro taxi ride to the  Florence train station to head to Venice. The train ride was easy and comfortable. Once we got out of the train station and ready to head to the hotel we assessed our options. The water bus was about 14 Euros total, while a private water taxi was asking for 70 euros.  So the water bus it was.  The ferry system from the train station to the island is a bit confusing, but your instructions and map were clear.  We didn’t end up taking the water bus number 2 to San Zaccaria, by our own fault.  We took bus number 5.1 which also had a stop to San Zaccaria, so it worked out.

The Venice hotel, Hotel Bisanzio, was great.¬† This was our favorite hotel for location, staff, room, etc. from our trip. (Our next favorite hotel was Rome).¬† For our first day in Venice we decided that we needed a break from hotel breakfast (all the hotels‚Äô breakfasts were pretty similar), but there really weren‚Äôt many place in Venice for breakfast or brunch.¬† We found a cute caf√© called the Florian.¬† It‚Äôs pretty fancy and pricey, but you get what you paid for.¬† They have a cover charge of 6 Euros per person which they call their ‚Äúmusic charge‚ÄĚ.¬† There‚Äôs a live music group with piano, violin, singing, etc. while you eat.¬† Kind of reminded me of high tea in London.¬† There‚Äôs lots of little sandwiches, specialty coffees, hot chocolates, teas, etc. while you relax and enjoy the music. After Florian we headed to our tour and gondola ride.¬† There was rain in the forecast so they had us do the gondola ride before the walking tour.¬† It was pretty awesome!¬† The tour afterwards was just about an hour and was nice to hear some history and other information about the city.

For our final meal in Italy, we spent it at the Hard Rock Café of Venice lol. We needed a change from gnocchi and lasagna.  Our last night we debated between the Alilaguna Ferry and private water taxi to get back to the airport the next morning. The ferry was cheap (17 Euros per person), while the private water taxi was 120 euros.  The ferry would take 1.5 hrs because of all the stops, while the private water taxi takes only 25 minutes.  We knew we had a long day ahead of us with flights and a connection, so we splurged and did the private water taxi.  They picked us up at the water way right behind our hotel and took us directly to the airport. In my opinion, it was well worth the money… Eric needed a little convincing but I think he’s glad we did it. We had a long day of flying and got to our house by 10:30 pm EST Saturday and went straight to bed.

We had an absolutely fantastic honeymoon! Everything went SO smoothly.¬† We even said multiple times ‚Äď thank god Ann planned this all out because there is no way we would have figured out any of this! We are both so happy with our trip and will forever remember it for our lifetime!

THANK YOU!

Andrea & Eric

From the Eiffel Tower to the Blue Grotto, and everything in between!

When an adventurous young bride and groom (one of whom is an art teacher) set their honeymoon sights on an ambitious (and independent) exploration of France and Italy, you just KNOW they’ll come back with stories to tell. Naturally, with a little help from an experienced travel professional, the stories are mostly of the “this was a trip of a lifetime” variety:

Hi Ann,

It feels great to be back!  I would be happy to tell you everything!  First, I want to thank you for all of your time and effort in planning this amazing honeymoon!  During the busy time of planning our wedding, it was great to know that this was one less thing to worry about and that we were in good hands!

Our wedding was absolutely beautiful and better than I could have ever imagined!  Our honeymoon was just as memorable!  We saw so many great cities, monuments, and museums, and experienced so much together!  We felt that we truly got to take the trip of a lifetime!  This trip was one that we will never forget!

Le Royal, Paris:¬† Awesome hotel!¬† Excellent location, great service, good breakfast.¬† The room was tiny, but super clean and we had a cool view of the street below.¬†¬†One of the concierges even recommended to¬†Shane and I that we take the dinner cruise on the Seine one evening, and¬†although expensive, it was one of the¬†most memorable¬†things we did on the trip!¬†¬†We watched the sun set and the city light up while dining on a delicious five-course meal.¬†¬†Perhaps that’s¬†something that you can recommend to future travelers!

Westminster Hotel, Nice:  What a location!  We had a room overlooking the Promenade de Anglais and the French Riviera.  By far the best view!  The service at the Restaurant and Bar out front was also great.  The room itself was okay Рthe safe, the toilet, the A/C, and a trash bin in our room were all broken.  The A/C would have been nice since it was 97 degrees!  Shane and I chalked it up to the fact that we were on a budget and kept in mind that we were overlooking the water.  We would recommend it, but warn that it is a bit old.

We also rented a car one day and got to drive up to the coast to Villefranche-sur-Mer, where we originally had wanted to stay, and I am so happy we were in Nice! It was beautiful, but much smaller and did not have easy access to the beach.  We also saw Monte Carlo on our drive, and the winding cliff road along the water that we took was unbelievable!

NH Jolly, La Spezia:¬† Great location, but that’s it.¬† The hotel had a nice lobby, but the rest of the hotel was old and smelled bad, unfortunately.¬† The carpets in the room were really dirty, also.¬† BUT we hardly spent any time there due to our late arrival, and spent the entire next day at the Cinque Terre.¬† I would not recommend that hotel to anyone else.

The Cinque Terre was by far my favorite part of the trip!  We started in Riomaggiore, and hiked between four of the five cities (one route was closed due to a landslide).  The hike itself was quite difficult, but the scenery made it all worth it!  Hiking up and down the cliffside through vineyards, with breathtaking views of the water and the towns below.  The last town, Monterosso, might be another city to consider if booking for anyone else visiting the Cinque Terre.  Each town had authentic Italian charm, with lovely homes lining narrow alleyways, and great shops and restaurants.

Silla Hotel, Florence:¬† Another favorite!¬† Great location surrounded by awesome restaurants.¬† The breakfast was good and offered the¬†best cappuccinos we had on the whole trip!¬† It didn’t have the view of the Arno River like we were expecting because there are trees that have grown in, but that was no big deal.¬† Very old decor, but up to date bathroom and amenities.¬† We really enjoyed it!

We had the opportunity to visit the Accademia della Arte and the Uffizi Museum.  They were incredible, packed with so many works of art!  Reservations were definitely required if you did not want to stand in line all day, so were able to have our concierges do that for us.

Serena Hotel, Rome:¬† Good hotel, convenient location, clean.¬† We were able to walk all the main sites of the city from our hotel (The Colloseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, several main Piazzas).¬† My only warning would be that, while the hotel was surrounded by great restaurants, one of which we went to all three nights we were there, it was also right next door to an “Adult” Store that often had some characters hanging out front.¬† It did not bother Shane and I, but I would keep that in mind when booking for future travelers who might be a bit more conservative.

Michelangelo Hotel, Sorrento:¬† Biggest disappointment!¬† This was supposed to be our splurge and we were looking¬†forward to this hotel the entire trip!¬† To just hang¬†out on the balcony,¬†enjoying wine and a beautiful view…¬† And we were in a room on the second level overlooking train tracks and the back of apartment buildings!¬† We complained to the concierges and they insisted there was nothing to do.¬† After overhearing another man complain shortly after about the same thing, we knew¬†we were stuck there.¬† The room itself was okay, so to anyone who just wants a nice room this would be fine.¬† But we were so disappointed to not have a view, even if just overlooking the busy street.¬† Needless to say, we didn’t use the balcony, and we feel that we really missed out by staying at this hotel.

We spend our first day traveling to Pompeii which was very exciting!  The second day we took the packed ferry to Capri to visit the Blue Grotto, only to find out that it was closed because of choppy weather!  We ended up taking a cab to Anacapri and taking a chair lift to the top of Mount Solero.  It was awesome!  Best views from the top!

Bus Tours:¬† All of the tours in each of the cities were awesome!¬† We were so pleased to have the opportunity to see the city the way we did!¬† It also often acted as our public transportation and saved us that expense!¬† This was especially the case in Paris because it ran so frequently.¬† Rome was a slower route, and had many stops that lasted more than 15 minutes, so it didn’t work quite the same way there.¬† Overall, we loved it!

Vatican Tour:¬† One of the highlights of our trip!¬† Our tour guide was informative and funny, the museum was beautiful, and the Sistine Chapel was unreal!¬† I’m proud to say, as an art teacher, that I have now visited one of the most famous works of art ever made (as well as the Mona Lisa, the David, and many others throughout our trip).¬† We also toured St. Peter’s Basilica, which was breathtaking!¬† You were absolutely right¬†to say¬†that it would not have been a trip to Rome without a tour!

Trains: Unfortunately, the trains were an absolute nightmare.  In many cases, it was completely unavoidable, but I would absolutely recommend that in the future you book as many of the trains as possible.

When we were leaving Paris to Nice, no one at the ticket counters spoke English.¬† We had to wait while they found someone available to tell us that all the trains were booked up.¬† They finally found us two spots on a train that wouldn’t come for four and a half hours.¬† We were charged additional fees, and forced to stay in the terminal because we had two giant pieces of luggage and had no idea what was around us.¬† We were told that summer is a busy time with many people traveling, so it is absolutely necessary to have reservations.

When we got to Nice, we booked the rest¬†of our trains so we wouldn’t end up waiting for too long in terminals.¬† The trains we booked from Nice to La Spezia would require a transfer in Ventimiglia and again in Genova.¬† The train to Ventimiglia was fine, but the train to Genova suddenly stopped for about 45 minutes.¬† No one in our cabin spoke English once again, so it took us a long time to figure out that there had been “an accident”.¬† We had no idea what kind of accident or how severe, and no one, not even the conductors, could tell us when we would be moving again.¬† We eventually went ahead a couple of stops before they made everyone get off.¬† We waited for two hours before the brought a local train half the size to pick everyone up and take us to Genova.¬† We were packed in like sardines for another hour and a half, while they continued to stop and let¬†people on.¬†¬† By the time we made it to Genova, we were three hours late for our original train, and didn’t make it to La Spezia til 1am.¬†¬† We ended up finding out that a gas¬†line had¬†leaked and they shut down all trains, buses, and highways in the area surrounding Genova until they knew it was safe.¬†¬†It was a terrible¬†experience,¬†mostly just because of the language¬†barrier and watching everyone in a panic but not having any way to find out what was going on.¬† But I guess that’s all part of the adventure!

The next few trains travelled as planned, until the ultimate shocker on our last day!¬† We got up early to catch the 8:30 Circumvesuviana train out of Sorrento to Naples so we could make our connecting train to Rome to catch our flight at 2:50.¬† Apparently, July 22 was the day the only train out of Sorrento decided¬†to GO ON¬†STRIKE!¬†¬†We had no way out of the city.¬† The buses would take too long to¬†catch the¬†connecting train, and¬†so we ended up taking a 180Euro cab ride to Naples!!!!¬† We¬†were¬†so upset!¬† We hadn’t thought of the¬†ferry before¬†we left, but figured it would have been packed with everyone else trying to make it out of the city, anyway.¬† Shane would like to know if the travel insurance can cover such an¬†unexpected expense due to the circumstances.¬† He did not get a receipt¬†from the cab, obviously, but has¬†record from¬†his ATM withdrawal that morning.

In addition to those few¬†set backs, the trains were also very hot¬†because of the summer heat.¬†¬†More often than not, no one even checked our tickets so we only used our¬†Eurail Passes¬†twice.¬† Also, having the¬†two giant bags we had made it very difficult.¬† Because of the fact that many¬†of the stations did not have escalators or lifts, poor Shane had to lug both our 50lb bags up and down the stairs!¬†¬†I will¬†certainly recommend to anyone I know traveling to Europe for a lengthy period of time¬†that they should pack the smallest bag they can, and plan on doing laundry.¬† We didn’t want to have to do laundry, so we packed just enough clothes for the time we were gone, and it was still too much!¬† The lack of lifts would also be significant information for anyone with a physical disability.

I hope our experiences with the trains will help you warn future travelers of the many, many things that can go wrong!¬† We realize that there was nothing we could do to change all of these things, and we certainly would not¬†have opted for any other¬†means of travel,¬†but we also couldn’t¬†have anticipated that it would be this difficult!¬† Speaking with other travelers on our trip, it seems that many people shared the same experiences.¬† Two¬†Australian girls¬†who had been traveling for over a month on their college¬†break through many countries said that Italy was the absolute worst train experience they¬†had.

Hopefully all of this information is helpful to you!  We had such a great time!  The highlights were memories that we will share for the rest of our lives, and the few challenges just helped us to work together!  If we could, we would do it all over again!  Shane and I will take some time to go through our photos and send a few your way soon.  Again, we thank you so much for planning this amazing trip!

Many thanks,

Alexandra & Shane

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise ‚Äď and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren‚Äôt quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what ‚Äúvibe‚ÄĚ we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn‚Äôt like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it‚Äôs safe to say we won‚Äôt be using anyone else for future travel planning ‚Äď Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)