Travel Reflections and Inspiration for 2013

International Travel: Get Inspired!

Christmas in Rome
In the mist of planning my travels for 2013 I have been tasked to help friends with their current travels. My best friend decided to go on a 3-week journey to Tanzania and Dubai with a law school program and it was my job to see what was the appropriate club attire for Dubai (lol this is very important btw…). The other friend before she moves back to the States from London, I helped her finalize last minute decisions to take on her first Personal Reflection Trip to Morocco, nothing like a little “me time” in a foreign country. I thought I will be living vicariously through them at the moment since I am currently not traveling over the holidays. However, I feel extremely satisfied knowing that I had the ability to travel through out Western Europe this same time last year for 3 weeks. I believe it’s important to make decisions in life that will make me happy, and not live in regret. Once I achieve one goal or experience, I never forget to plan for the next one, That’s What Living is about!

My BFF and her mom in the market
THE BFFs in the Colosseum
Day Trip!!!

I am going to share with you a summary of my adventures and some lessons learned during my BFF TRIP, as we refer to it, or our EURO TOUR. She purchased round tickets to meeting me at my house in Rome, Italy in September for her trip in December. When she arrived we immediately planned her days in Rome, and a day trip to Florence and a wine tour right outside the city at Chianti.

Stop 1: Florence, Italy my favorite city in Italy due to its rich history, architecture, historical political scandals (got to love a little drama), museums, food, and perfect city views, was our first stop. A day here feels like you are trapped in a storybook, the preservation of the city is perfection! I cannot dismiss my favorite part of every visit I make to Florence THE LEATHER MARKET! I cannot spend anytime in this city without buying something at the market. I am a huge fan of quality over brand names and/or retail price, and this area is a dream for shopaholics like me, my addiction is handbags. We basically wondered around the city, and since this was my 4th visit there I was the tour guide. I would definitely consider owning a 2nd/3rd home here.

Do track flights 6 months in advance. This might sound obvious but, there are great deals during off seasons the price for Western Europe flights are volatile. Use kayak tracker to see what is best price flight time frame and then check if your availability can match, if price is a concern for you.
Do wear Flats for your trip, Florence is a walking city, give the stilettos a break. All of the major attractions are in one center and its worth the walk, though cabs and bus are accessible throughout the city.
Do check the weather before arriving, this is a 4 seasons city.
Don’t buy every piece of leather you see. There are faux leather products mixed in there to try trick “stupid tourist” don’t be easily fooled. Check out the higher price items and compare to the dirt-cheap products, if you can’t tell on your own this may be a good start for items. See if they do the fire trick, they apply flame to the leather to show you it won’t melt.
Do take the city bus up to the top of the hills to have the entire city as your backdrop
Do take the train, Trenitalia, to other areas of Italy. Florence is in a great central location and accessible trains going as far east as Venice or back down south to Rome is quick and inexpensive.

Stop 1.5: Chianti, which is a small town outside of Florence. We arrived by bus via a tour through Viator tours (my favorite). It was a group of 4 of us 2 of my 3 BFF’s and one of their mom’s where part of my group, with our tour group of about 25 who took this large tour bus outside the city walls into the suburbs of a small town. There we visited large beautiful vineyard and had the best Chianti and Chianti Rosè that you could imagine. We enjoyed every minute of it. Great wine, with great company, with a great view what more can you ask for in life. A key that I learned while living La Dolce Vita in Italy is to simply cherish the moments; now that I am back in the States I try my best to never forget my Italian values.

My BFF at the Wine Vineyard

Do look into tour guided trips, if you find a good price it may be worth it to break up
your time in 1 city that do not have much attractions to occupy your time. And as
we did in Florence, it can be easy means of transportation, a way to get out the city
and return while still learning from a local (typically) and simply sightseeing with
out all the walking during harsh weather moments.
Do purchase local wine to bring home, if packed correctly you can make it back to
the US for little to no cost.

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