Thursday, June 20, 2013

Planning your own excursion

Recently I've done a lot of research into Day Trips and Excursions for my upcoming trip to Italy. These are a great way to see more of a country without have to live out of a suitcase (not that I mind that at all!) However, sometimes it is better economically or personally (like if you're traveling with kids) to find a central location and explore the areas one day at a time.
Now you can buy day trips and tours if you're in a popular destination and visiting another popular area. These can vary in price and quality. The more a company tries to squeeze into a day, the less enjoyable the experience will likely be. Take my advice and never try for more than 4 stops in a tour.
After you decide that you want to plan you excursion on your own, the next most important thing is to identify what are your main attractions for the day. This is entirely dependent on the type of traveler you are. I recommend take the quiz I previously posted on this blog. It will help you pinpoint sites that you may want to research more.
No matter what kind of person you are, I would stick with this formula: 3 sites+1 dining option= successful Day Trip. It doesn't matter which meal of the day your choose, but it tends to usually be lunch. I know my tastes on attractions tends to lean towards 1 Historical Site, 1 Local Experience, and 1 Natural Site. I love Museums, but I often have them as a rainy day back up plan. I don't like to spend too long in one place during an excursion and sometimes you can really get lost in those museums.
So let me give you an few examples from my up-coming trip~

Rome in a day-
       Historical Site-  Of course it's going to be the Colosseum! It's only a 20minute walk from the train station!
        Natural Site- Well, we'll be walking through Parco del Colle Oppio to the train station from the Colosseum. I also really want to see the Trevi Fountain- I know it's not natural, but it is a water feature.
        Local Experience- Holly would like to see the Vatican City, so we most likely will try for that. I personally would like to find a street market. I've read so many good things about Campo dei Fiori Market and it's on the way back from Vatican City to the Colossuem.
        Dining- I'm a wander at heart, so I like to let the city tell me. I may ask a local around lunch time it there is a good place in my path. The locals always know.
So there it is. Via walking the whole circut takes less than 2 hours. If I get a metro pass for the day I can make the connections in half that time! Check out that route: Here
See how simple that was?! Now the hard part- budgetting. The train ticket from Pisa is 65EU rt., Colossuem entry is 15.50EU, and Vatican City is free to enter with a musuem fee of up to 16EU depending on the access you're interested. Add in lunch and a little shopping we're looking at 120EU each. Not bad for such a BIG location.

Let's try this again.

This one is harder, because the sites are less known- yet easier, because of a beautiful tool called City Spy Maps! You can print one out or just use the online view for planning. I like to pick one up when I get to a city because they're usually bigger and easier to read.
       Dining- We're going to have a longer day on this excursion because it's closer to Pisa, so chances are we'll eat twice on this trip. I'm big about breakfast in the apartment which means lunch and dinner in town. The Spy map has several listings and I like the look of the Sunday Brunch at Meykadeh!
       Natural Site- Piazza Michelangelo is said to have the most beautiful view of the Florance Skyline, so we're going to try that hike.
       Local Experience- Verabis Vintage is this hidden maze of rugs, pottery, and mirrors. This market will be a place to get lost in.
       Historical Site- Baptistry of St. John displays these huge bronzed doors- The Gates of Paradise that took over 21years to complete. We also might take some time to visit a musuem- Pitti Palace, but we probably won't get through it all!
Budget: Rail tickets estimated at 30EU rt, dining at about 30EU total, and the musuem is only 8.50EU. So less than 70EU!

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