Travelling to Europe
We recently returned from a trip to Europe, Italy specifically. It was Jeff’s first trip off of North American soil and Tara’s second (but the first in a long time). Overall we had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed a number of things.
Our schedule for the trip included a number of stops along the way and we visited some fantastic cities. We left Vancouver and flew 9.5 hours to Amsterdam on KLM (fantastic airline in our opinion) then caught an Air Italia connector for another 2.5 hour flight to Rome (Roma). Combined with the travel time it was a jump forward of 9 hours in time change. It was a long day.
Cities We Visited
Our trip begin the day after arrival with a 7-day Mediterranean Cruise. We visited the following ports on the cruise including (in order of the stops):
- Livorno, Italy
- Cannes, France
- Majorca, France
- Barcelona, Spain
- Naples, Italy
Once the cruise was over we spent the next 21 days travelling to a variety of cities in Italy and finished the trip in Spain. This cities (in the order we went to them) included:
- Rome, Italy
- Siena, Italy
- Lucca, Italy
- Florence, Italy
- Venice, Italy
- Paris, France
After Paris the trip was over and we made the trip home from there. There were a lot of positives and we thought we would share our top 10 things about Italy here:
1. Early Check-In
- This was important to us as most of our travel plans included an early arrival at our next destination to have most of the first day to do some exploring in our new city. We checked into to one of our hotel’s as early as 10:00am with full access to our room. The latest we checked in was 1:00pm. It was great to be able to drop the bags in the room, un-pack and lock some items in the safe before heading out for the day.
- All the cities we listed above were very walkable. While we did a couple of hop on hop off bus tours that helped us get around a bit, we did not have a need to use a taxi other then a couple of trips from the train station to the hotel.
3. Business Class Trains
- Sometimes it wasn’t possible to purchase business class trains (normally when we had a short haul ride, under 90 minutes on a Regional train). Business class tickets were usually about $5 euro’s more, gave you assigned seating, nicer chairs and beverage and snack service during the ride. The also had power outlets so we could charge our devices while moving locations. Well worth it!
- We didn’t know how good or much access we would have to WIFI on our travels (although we only booked hotels that had it for the evenings). For the most part WIFI access was available at a large majority of the restaurants we visited and yes it was free. We didn’t actually pay for internet access at any point on our trip.
- There were large selections of many flavours of Gelato available almost on every corner while we walked each city. And it was excellent everywhere we had it! The hardest part was kicking the 2:00pm daily Gelato habit we had developed when we got home.
6. Harry’s Bar – Florence
- Harry’s Bar in Florence was one of those places that people tell you to go. And for good reason it is a fantastic place to enjoy a cocktail, chat with the bartender and nibble on some snacks they provide with your drinks. See the video below of Jeff’s (stirred not shaken) Martini. View the video here… Harrys IMG_4536
7. Local Wine
- Every restaurant we dined at had a great selection of local wines that represented the region we were in at the time. They were typically available by the glass or in 375ml or 750ml bottles or the house wine in 1 litre crafts. We weren’t always sure what we were ordering (as we had never heard of the wineries) but enjoyed every last drop.
- I’m pretty sure we ate pasta or pizza for almost every meal while we were in Italy. While some of the dishes may have been slightly better then others, we never had a bad meal. The selections of the local cheese platters (mainly Pecorino) was also a great way to start our dinners. The food is excellent in Italy!
9. Ease of Communication
- It was not difficult to communicate in hotel’s, shops or restaurants as most people we encountered spoke a little bit of English. If not you could always revert to pointing to an item. However, Tara was quick to pick up enough Italian to help us. The restaurant staff were happy to assist in teaching some basic words.
10. The History
- The History period. So much to see and do. We were really impressed with the Coliseum in Rome and the statue of David in Florence (it did help that we had a guide explain the significance of what we were seeing). The Vatican was also impressive and the fact that you could even touch some of the artifacts what were 1,000 or more years old was a pretty neat experience. The history could be a whole blog but this will have to do for now.
You can view our photo albums from the trip here.
Stay tuned for our next blog… The Top 10 Worst Things about Italy.
We, Jeff & Tara Ciecko of CK Golf Solutions write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other a Biz Blog where we comment on business best practices and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf Solutions for 7 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries. We DO NOT get paid for ANY of the blogs on our website. These are the places we visit and the things we do because we want to. When we say that we like or dislike something or have a good or bad experience this is our opinion and the truth as we see it. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us anytime.