Lessons learned for a healthy and warm fall/winter vacation

During our trip to Europe, we’ve made a few observations on what we should have packed and how we should have improved.
Our packing list after the jump Read the rest of this entry »

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Rick Steve's Rome 2010 – Night Walk Across Rome


Rick Steves is one of my heroes.  He seems like the nicest person on earth and he’s traveled to so many great places in Europe.  I’ve basically read Rick Steves’ Rome 2010 twice within the past 2 weeks and now I’m finally taking notes.  Follow along with me as I jot down his popular walks and tips.

Campo de’ Fiori

Start at the Giordano Bruno statue.

What to see: Theater of Pompey where Julius Caeser was assassinated.

What to eat: Forno – hot Pizza.

Piazza Navona

What to see: The Four Rivers Fountain – Statues of four river gods support an Egyptian obelisk.

What to eat: Tre Scalini – Famous for their rich chocolate ice cream

The Pantheon

What to see: The Pantheon – It will be beautifully flood lit.

From the Pantheon to Piazza Colonna

What to eat: Tazza d’Oro Casa del Caffe – granita di caffe con panna (coffee slush with ice cream)

What to see: Egyptian obelisk – Taken by Augustus after his victory against Mark Antony and Cleopatra

What to eat: Giolitti’s – Rome’s most famous gelateria.

The Trevi Fountain

What to see: The Trevi Fountain – This was built to show off the abundance of water brought to the city from the great aqueducts.  The statue depicts the figure of Ocean at random areas of his watery Kingdom.

The Spanish Steps

What to see: The Spanish Steps – Named for the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican which has been around for the last 300 years.

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Planning For Our Trip to Europe

Let’s begin planning for our trip, these are the main topics we are focused on right now:

  1. What is our budget?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. When are we going?


moneySince S and I do not want to use up all of our vacation at once, we decided to take a 2-week vacation.  So, we now know the length.  Next we asked some of our friends how much a typical 2-week trip to Europe was. Most people mentioned around $5000 a person if we are staying in hotels and $4000 if we were staying in Hostels.  Since I’m traveling with S, I want to make sure she’s safe throughout the trip, so Hostels (cue the movie) are out of the question.  I don’t want to have to worry about someone creeping up on her in the middle of the night, or having our luggage stolen from us when we’re in the bathroom (this may happen, but European backpacking is usually safe for men and women).  Therefore, we decided to stay within a $5000 budget range per person.  That’s $10,000, which I hope we do not completely spend.  Here is our proposed budget:

Flight 2 x $1000 $2000
Accomodations 14 x $150 $2100
Food 14 x $75 $1050
Transit (Trains, Buses, Taxis) 14 x $50 $700
Shopping 14 x $50 $700
Attractions 14 x $30 $420
Leftover for everything else   $3030

I highly doubt we would spend this much, but it’s always good to plan a little extra just in case.


So, knowing how much we wanted to spend, now it’s time to figure out where we want to go.  Since this is my first time going to Europe, I wanted to go to the more touristy areas.  When Western Europe comes to mind, I think of London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Paris.  S has already been to Amsterdam, and London seems too much like many American cities. So, the logical choice was Paris and Rome.  S also mentioned that she really wanted to go to Barcelona in Spain.  Looking at the map of Europe, it doesn’t look like any of these cities were really that accessible to each other.  My imagination of traveling through Europe was through trains thanks to the great game of “Ticket to Ride”.  With further research, though, we’ve found that flying is another economical and efficient manner of traveling between cities.

Here’s our list of cities we would like to go to: Barcelona, Paris, and Rome.

Date of Travel

Timing this trip can make or break our budget.  If we decide to fly out in High Season for any of the countries, we’d be paying a pretty high premium for flights and lodging.  Plus, we’d miss people-watching many of the locals (that would be no fun).  We decided to choose our dates based on weather, middle to low season, and work schedules.  The best time for us is October.  Fall weather should not be too bad, and a majority of the tourists are long gone.  Plus we should be saving almost half on airfare and lodgings.  We also decided to maximize our savings by flying out on weekdays so we’re selecting dates on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

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We're heading to Europe!

Guess what interwebs! Sam and I are planning a trip to Europe. After some major motivation and begging from her, and tons of reluctance to spend money from me in this economy we have decided that we’re going to take a nice vacation to a faraway land. The current plan is to fly to Rome and spend a few days there, fly to Barcelona for a few days, then end the vacation in Paris.   Even though I’m more of the Asia traveler being most comfortable in Hong Kong and Tokyo, I’m looking forward to immersing myself into the European food, history and culture.

We’ll update you guys on the planning phase of our trip, as this is often the most exciting and important part of any vacation.

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American Airlines now charging $8 for blankets

This is crazy! Airlines will do anything to anything to make extra $$$ these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if they begin charging you to breathe. JK.

Starting May 1st, AA will charge passengers $8 for a fleece blanket and an inflatable pillow set that they can keep for future use. Passengers on international flights or in premium class cabin will still receive these items complementary.

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