In short: travel hacking did not come in handy pretty much at ALL when we booked our honeymoon. At all. We searched and searched and searched, did a lot of earnest research, and in the end bought everything at face value with no air miles or weird points or vouchers or anything. Also we don’t have any cool layovers, like I had previously hoped. That’s pretty much the only thing negative about this because…
WE ARE OFFICIALLY GOING TO ITALY FOR OUR HONEYMOOON.
16 WEEKS FROM TODAY.
I’m so flippin’ excited I can’t contain myself. All of our flights and accommodations were finalized last week. Can I share? Because I’m sharing.
3 Nights in Rome
We’re staying at one of the top rated bed and breakfasts in Rome, located only a handful of blocks from the Vatican. I’m not kidding, here’s how close they are:
After looking into a lot of B&Bs in the area, as well as many reviews of said B&Bs, I picked up a few tips that someone might be able to utilize in their future planning.
- The second B in “B&B,” that all important breakfast? In Rome that usually means a pastry and a coffee. Paltry fare, and for us who will attempt to stay as paleo as possible while vacationing (within reason, obviously! It IS Italy.), that’s a waste and a shitty way to start our day. The one we found offers, and I quote: “tea, coffee, fruit juice, milk, jam, nutella, chocolate, french toasts, toasted bread, butter, cornetti, honey, cake, cereals, yogurt, ham, salami, cheese.” YES! Selection! They even offer complimentary mineral water, which seems simple, but from the reviews everywhere else that is almost a luxury. Apparently they have their own cappuccino machine too, and will show you how to make a quality Italian brew.
- Almost all the top traveler-rated B&Bs in Rome are the kind you can’t book with a few clicks online. You have to contact them, inquire whether or not your proposed dates are available, and actually correspond with human beings. I initially balked at this, but after weighing the Pros and Cons of all the other B&B options (acquired from reviews and their websites), and finding that each had a decent number of Cons, I bucked up and sent out a batch of emails, all of which had informative, friendly replies within 12 hours.
- TripAdvisor.com is invaluable for reviews.
- Some of those reviews are ridiculous and should be taken with a grain of salt. My favorite was the complaint, “All the TV channels are in Italian!”
- Responsive, helpful and informative hosts are wonderful. I paid more attention to reviews that glowed about the B&B’s host(s), as I want Sean to experience that Italian hospitality and getting to know the locals and their tourist tips is always a good idea. The couple that run (but don’t live in) ours have gotten rave reviews and the wife, Francesca, has already been absolutely darling through her emails.
I’m really looking forward to touring the Colosseum and Roman Forum again, especially with Sean. We’ve both studied ancient Roman history and seeing where these incredible things happened in person is incomparable. The last time I was there the Colosseum was under repair and much of the area was inaccessible. This time I think we’ll take a tour of not only the main levels but also upper and the dungeons. I’m also looking forward to Sean experiencing some of the things I loved about Italy and miss terribly: the divine cappuccinos, pizza, hot chocolate, and gelati, the flowers blooming in the ancient ruins, zigzagging through Rome side streets and stumbling across some historic wonder, the city at night… the list goes on for ages.
8 Nights in Sardinia
An hour’s flight west from Rome finds us on the island of Sardinia. We’re staying at a cute and modern hotel right on the beach, within the small town of Cala Gonone and walking distance to many local attractions, including the marina. The town is on the Gulf of Orosei, one of the most picturesque coastlines possible. Seriously, click that link and see the photos. Drool-worthy white sand beaches, many of which you can only access by boat. Craggy limestone mountains jut out of the sea, offering some of Europe’s best rock climbing and spectacular hikes. We’ll be there right after the European holiday month of August ends, so we’ll still have the great weather but without the crowds.
Our excitement for this portion of the trip peaked this past weekend when we finally saw the oft-mentioned Anthony Bourdain episode where he travels to Sardinia, home of his wife’s family and, as we found, a rich (gastronomical) history. Check out the first portion of that episode here (start at 3:18):
Our jaws dropped open multiple times during the show, and our delusions that we’re continuing to skip grains for the entire honeymoon were left behind. If it’s high quality, regional deliciousness, proceed! If it’s gross, pre-packaged crap (Italian or not), avoid!
Rough list of verbs we’re planning for our time on the island: swimming, eating, hiking, rock climbing, boating, kayaking, visiting (other villages, most likely via rental car), touring (the many archeological sites like multiple nuraghi), eating, drinking, sleeping, jiu jitsuing (Sean’s looking at visiting one of the island’s gyms for some cross cultural sweat exchange), snorkeling, relaxing, photographing, cave exploring, and eating.
16 weeks seems like forever.