These are a few of my favorite things..

Mother/daughter getaways….Surprises….Italy…The Sound of Music….need I go on?  When Katrina contacted me to help put together a fabulous Italian adventure, and told me she wanted to surprise her mom Lori (a lifelong Sound of Music fan) with a stop in Salzburg at the end, I was all in!  We managed to keep the secret until the very end, and the girls had an amazing and — as Katrina describes it — “life-changing” experience.  I will be smiling for weeks 🙂

Hey Ann,

We had an absolutely phenomenal trip!! I feel like the order of things was perfect as we were thrown into the craziness right away in Rome and it only “lightened up” from there. All the hotels were great and very helpful in helping us get our bearings.

Rome was wonderful and we loved the history of everything. It truly made everything back home seem so inferior. The hotel (River Palace) was cozy and nice. The HOHO bus stop was a little further than expected, but once we figured it out we were all good. I did like that it was so close to the Piazza del Popolo which made it very easy to tell the (sometimes scary) taxi drivers where to take us. I also think the extra walking there sort of broke us both in. We could not believe the drivers there and how there were not more accidents. Also made me realize how bad our drivers here actually are 🙂

exploring rome on a mother-daughter getaway

Florence was my mom’s favorite in Italy. The Bernini Palace hotel was absolutely perfect and we really didn’t want to leave. We had figured out the city and felt sort of at home by the end. I mentioned previously that the only hiccup in the itinerary was the thunderstorms, along with my mom being in some pain, kept us from taking the Pisa excursion. That ended up being a good rejuvenation day, so we don’t feel like we lost out on much. One complaint is the guide that we had for the Accademia. While he was knowledgeable and obviously passionate about art, he came off as extremely bitter and patronizing towards tourists. He belittled people for taking photos of a “naked man’s ass” after going on a rather lengthy rant about how this wasn’t a naked man. His name was Angelo, so I don’t know if you want to avoid that tour company or just him in the future, but definitely wanted to mention that. Our Vatican breakfast was such a cool experience and we truly felt like VIPs since we were in before the doors opened and got to eat out on this beautiful rooftop Plaza. We LOVED our guide, Gio.

mother and daughter ona hill overlooking Florence Italy

Venice was my favorite as I love its charm and uniqueness. It was a challenge to find anything twice because there were many similar street names, but we had a blast getting lost in the streets. I would say fair warning that people should be careful of the porters at that train station. That was the first time they seemed a little aggressive and wanted to charge 10 Euros for carrying out bag down the stairs. The water taxi was very nice and was like a tour in itself. Perfect for arrival and dropped us off steps away from our hotel entrance (Hotel Bisanzio). It was pricey, so we took the water bus back to train station on the way out and it was pretty easy to navigate. Loved learning all of that! We preferred getting lost on the “back roads” and alleyways to the main thoroughfare to avoid the large crowds. It was always easy to find our way back to either San Marco or Rialto Bridge. The Murano/Burano trip was wonderful and I wish we could spend more time in either of those places.

Salzburg. Let’s start at the very beginning… (see what I did there?) I surprised my mom by sneaking in the bathroom while she was in the shower and playing the prelude to the Sound of Music. She jumped out and nearly ran out naked exclaiming “We’re going to Salzburg??” She was ecstatic. The train ride was absolutely breathtaking and you picked us the perfect seats. We sat next to a crazy man who refused to admit that he was in my mom’s seat. There were other empty seats so it was not a problem and we ended up going and sitting in the restaurant car for a while anyway. The only challenge ended up being a great learning experience. The train that we had booked only had about 10 minutes to catch the connection in Rosenheim, which would have been totally fine, but of course the train arrived 10 minutes late and by the time we got a few stops down it was saying 25 minutes delayed. I looked up other connecting trains in Rosenheim and was comforted knowing there were other options, however when we made it to Rosenheim we didn’t have time to get our luggage and get to the door before the train started moving again. We now know that one of us should have gone ahead and hit the button on the door (lesson learned). We ended up riding all the way into Munich and then getting a day ticket on their metro train (only 26 Euros for both) and it got us back to Salzburg. It was sort of like the Amazing Race 🙂 The Sound of Music tour was really great for fans of the movie and really the scenery would have been enjoyable to anyone. I have attached a photo that we took only from memory and only when we got back to the hotel/wifi did we look it up and see how close we got. Freaky!

woman posing as Maria from the Sound of Music on a surprise trip to Salzburg

Munich was great and it was wonderful to see our friends. The hotel (Pullman Munich) was very nice and in a perfect location. Also, two days at Oktoberfest was plenty 🙂

We seriously cannot thank you enough. While I mentioned the few challenges, I want you to know it was a perfect and frankly life-changing trip. Could not have been better.

Thanks so much for your help! I would recommend you to anyone planning a European adventure and now that we have the travel bug, I might reach out to you down the road for our next adventure.

I hope this helps!



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 – 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’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t 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’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)