Italy · 14 Days · 8 Moments · October 2016

Bhairavi Rangarajan

Bhairavi's voyage in Italy

7 days ago

Airbnb - Should I or shouldn't I?! Well, you definitely should. Apart from the cost savings, it has other benefits too. If you are on a long trip, you can pick options with laundry facility, the owners are pretty helpful and provide assistance with local travel and sightseeing. However, if you opt for an apartment with shared bathroom with other housemates, no guarantee that the others will be as inclined as you to keep it neat for others, unless perhaps, its shared with the owner. Also, locating the place or travel time on foot from the nearest bus station or metro might be a bit difficult, especially if you have luggage. Unlike hotels, not all homes have a landmark and while owners do their best to give good directions and there is a map option in the app, it can get a bit tiring. For instance, in Italy, some cities have cobbled footpaths while some are up steep roads, which can get tiring with your luggage to carry around.
Mobile Sim You get prepaid sims with calling and internet facility at TIM stores. There is always one in the vicinity of the main station. Apart from these, they are also available in central market areas. Based on the country you will make international calls to, you get certain mins worth of calls included and you can choose the internet plan of your choice - 20, 30€. Found this more than sufficient for a two week stay in Italy. You can always top it up at the next store or online (though believe their site is in italian). You need to carry your passport with you for them to take a copy.

12 October 2016

My take on Italy Found quite a few similar points of similarities 1. Crossing the roads - while vehicles here are more disciplined than in India, even here, as a pedestrian, you need to start walking across to get the car to stop at the zebra crossing. A point emphasised by the guide on the Tuscany day trip 😄 Felt a sense of deja vu. 2. Just as in India, people here dry their clothes by hanging them out. My response when hosts would explain this - no worries, its the same back at home. 3. Beggars - Yes, they are here as well though a number of times you won't even realise them to be one. Well dressed & some will even strike a conversation with you before asking you for money. Many streets come to life due to street artists - painters, musicians, dancers and others whose performance liven up the atmosphere. Some are too talented to be wasting away with just street performance. If you like their act, you tip them.
Choosing between Naples and Sorrento A very common point of contention is whether to set base at Naples or Sorrento to visit Pompeii, Ercolano and Mt. Vesuvio. My pick is Sorrento. Though I stayed at Naples, felt that Sorrento would be a better option. Maybe just got tired of all the museums and wanted a scenic break. There is a train line that runs between Naples and Sorrento which stops at Ercolano and Pompei. One can take a bus from either Pompei or Ercolano to visit Mt. Vesuvio, even do a day trip to Naples to see the place. If you do go from Naples to Sorrento, one tip is to take the train from Porta Nolano instead of Garibaldi station. Its where the train starts its journey and you are guaranteed a seat and space for luggage. Its 5 mins walking distance from Garibaldi stop. Since there is a 20-30 min time gap between successive trains from Naples to Sorrento and since this line covers Ercolano and Pompeii, there is a lot of rush at Garibaldi station especially at peak hours

3 October 2016

Some useful references: Best option for inter city traveling is Flixbus. Good network and is the cheapest. There is a separate luggage storage area and wifi access on board. Train - best option i found in terms of my research was to use Italotreno. This was cheaper than Trenitalia and comfortable. In some cases, using the train makes sense where travel time by bus is longer and the ticket price is more or less the same.
Part 2 Step 1: Refer to the map of the country. This lets you understand how you should city hop. Step 2: Google 'x weeks in italy' (based on your timeline) 😜 to get an idea of popular travel spots. Make your list & modify it. Step 3:Check out individual cities and places to see. You should definitely check the Viator site as you get ideas on possible day trip combinations. Step 4: Hotel/Airbnb bookings - based on cost and your preference. Since we wanted to pack light and save on hotel stay, airbnb gave great options at many places. After step 2 & 3 combined, this is the part that will take up a lot of your time. Voila - The difficult part is done 😃 Flight bookings felt like watching the stock market. One moment, flights for a month would be cheap and then high, then low again. Then the shortlisted airline gets expensive or available flight timing is not convenient. Repeat story with some variations. Best is to book 2-2.5 months in advance.
Part 1 - Planning a three week holiday to Italy and Greece by yourself is no mean feat. I now fully appreciate why people turn to travel agencies for taking care of all the nitty gritty tasks. All I did during any personal time I got during weekends and after office hours was spend time researching endlessly on these two countries. In today's online world, you get tons of reading material and sites to check, so what's the issue you ask? I tell you, this is exactly the issue - too much reading material, travel aggregator sites, contradictory information 😕 Phew! After all, you need to shortlist the cities you will finally visit, get an idea of places to see, time needed at each place, know best options for intercity travel and finally how much money you are going to need. Having said this, personal research gives you lot of insights, helps you understand the place and gives you a Plan B career option as a successful trip planner 😉 Here's how to get started.