Finally.......here's the start of my trip report!!!!
Italy Trip Report…. or …
“Is it cheaper than a Roman Coke?”
Who – (1) DH - 50+; enjoys food, wine, history, art; hates the hassles of traveling; looks the other way when I pay the hotel bills but never hesitates to splurge on a good bottle of wine; (2) me - age withheld to protect my ego; official travel planner; enjoys any holiday during which I don’t have to cook or clean or do laundry; (3) DS#1 – almost 16; the mellow one who never complains and can’t make a decision to save his soul; loves pasta; hates shopping; does whatever he can to annoy DS#2; (4) DS#2 – 14; the opinionated one who always has a comment (some good, some bad, some confusing) about everything; loves seafood; loves to shop; middle name “Dad – can I get……….”
What – family vacation
Where – Rome and Venice
When – late December 2007
Why – because (1) I didn’t get my act together enough to finalize our planned trip to Thailand, (2) we haven’t been to Italy, (3) we love Italian food, (4) there wasn’t much of a time difference so minimal jet lag, (5) we needed to get out of Azerbaijan, (6) there is wine in Italy, and (7) I could get to Italy on a direct flight. (Did I mention there was wine in Italy?????)
Just a note - After 7 years of living overseas and planning family trips, I have developed a good sense of what works for us.
(1)We like to stay in the center of the city (or near the main sights) to avoid having to take a lot of buses, metros, and taxis. The extra cost is worth it for us. We don’t need a 5* hotel, but we like to be comfortable – preferably with breakfast, mini-bar, internet connection, lounge/bar area, and cable TV (okay – the boys want that – I don’t really care). Of course – I would LIKE to stay in 5* places but since we need 2 rooms – the price gets nasty!
(2) Food is a big part of our travel adventures. We live in the middle of nowhere, so when we travel - being able to get good food/wine is a real treat for us. Our general philosophy – if we have enjoyed the meal – the price is worth it. We are occasionally disappointed – but not too often. I tend to only order appetizers (in a pointless attempt to watch my weight when traveling), so that helps balance out the cost. We seldom have dessert but almost always have a nice bottle of wine (which the boys now insist on tasting!).
(3) We don’t try to see everything. We have a “must see” list and a “would be nice” list. As long as we get through the “must sees” – we’re happy.
(4) We don’t generally do tours, preferring to do things on our own and at our own pace.
(5) We take lots of breaks – for coffee, cokes, wine, snacks. We learned long ago not to go at a break-neck speed. We also tend to go back to the hotel in the late afternoon for a rest before heading out for dinner.
Travel - For a change, our flight out of Baku didn’t leave until 10 am, which meant leaving our house at 7 am. Much better than the 1 am pickups we are used to for the 4 am flights to the US! Our flight to Milan on AZAL (Azerbaijan Airlines) was uneventful (always a good thing!). We had several hours in Milan before our connecting flight to Rome, during which DS#2 window shopped (he particularly liked the Ferrari clothing store). We finally arrived in Rome, collected our luggage, and easily located our driver. The hotel had arranged the airport transfer for us, and the cost was 65€ for the 4 of us. We arrived at the hotel around 6:30 pm.
Hotel - I looked at a lot of hotels, checked out comments on Fodors and TripAdvisor, and finally settled on the Albergo Cesari (www.albergocesari.it). It is located on a small square (Piazza di Pietra), just off Via Del Corso. It is a great location – just a 2 minute walk to the Pantheon, 2 minutes to Trevi Fountain, and maybe 15+ minutes to the Roman Forum (depending on traffic). There are a ton of restaurants in the area and some great shops. We had 2 double rooms (185€ each, including breakfast) and while the furnishings were simple, I was surprised at the size of the rooms – quite large for Europe. Even the bathroom was spacious and well-equipped. The breakfast was basic, but quite good – cereals, meats (great salami), breads, pastries, and cheeses. There is a computer near the lobby, and there is a small bar area. But that is probably the only real “negative” I have – the bar was not well stocked and the wines weren’t really stored properly.
Dinner - By the time we got settled in our rooms, it was about 7 and we were tired and hungry. So, on the desk clerk’s recommendation (seeing 2 American teenagers and immediately thinking of pizza), we went to a small pizzeria about 2 blocks away. Can’t remember the name, but it was something like “La Cava _____” and it was located in Piazza St. Ignazio. The food was okay, but not a place I would really recommend. We headed back to the hotel and crashed.
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Italy Trip Report - Rome/Venice - late December
Finally.......here's the start of my trip report!!!!