I have to apologize over my lack of posts over the past few days, but I have been completely immersed in planning a last-minute trip to Turkey and Italy. My husband and I leave on Friday for two-and-a-half weeks and we can't wait. I have been glued to my computer and guidebooks and I think that the only communication I have had with people lately is to ask their opinions on various destinations and itineraries.
At first we were going to go to China, but then the Swine Flu quarantines made us change our minds. They're not just quarantining you if you have the illness, but if you sat near someone on the plane whom they suspect does. While this may be a good way to contain the germs, it isn't good news for travelers. There are so many things I worry about when traveling that I just couldn't add fear of a seven-day quarantine to my list. Luckily, Continental.com will let you cancel your flights penalty-free within 24 hours of when you make them. I really want to visit China one day in the not-so-distant future, but now didn't seem like the best time for us to go — not to mention that the weather is extremely hot and humid there now. The biggest downside is that I wasted two valuable days of trip planning!
So, how did we choose Turkey and Italy? Well, who doesn't want to run off to these beautiful countries… It was partly the weather, although both will be plenty hot. (If we wanted cool weather we could have chosen Australia or Argentina, but we don't.) And it was partly because my husband has never been to Italy and the one and only time I was there was in high school. Friends of mine who have been to Italy recently have raved about their experiences. We chose because last summer's trip to Greece really whet our appetites for Turkey (pun intended), a country which neither of us have ever visited. Also, a well-traveled friend of mine spent a week in Istanbul a few months ago and she told me it was absolutely amazing.
Devising an itinerary that includes Italy and Turkey has been more difficult than I thought it would be. For starters, I didn't know all that much about Turkey before last week, and I have found TurkeyTravelPlanner.com to be an invaluable resource. Created by travel writer Tom Brosnahan, the site delivers the winning combination of being informative, comprehensive and user-friendly.
The biggest challenge however has been figuring out the most convenient and least expensive way to get from Turkey to Italy. I figured that with all of those budget airlines I would have my choice of flights between various cities in the two countries. Well I don't — unless I want to take a 1,000-mile detour. Most of the budget airlines seem to be connecting the northern countries of Europe to the southern destinations so their denizens can get some sun. Since I didn't want a connecting flight through Germany, Holland or the UK, my choices were somewhat limited. Add that to the fact that my preferred method of searching for flights, Kayak.com, doesn't seem to include these smaller airlines. I have found AttitudeTravel.com to be a terrific resource. It explains which airlines go to which countries, including many I had never heard of before (I mean the airlines, not the countries). To make an already long story a little shorter, we are stopping in Vienna on the way to Italy and are quite happy about it.
So, where will we be in Turkey and Italy? We're flying from NYC to Istanbul. Then after a few days, we're flying to Cappodocia, in the middle of the country. Then, we're flying to Vienna. From there, we are most likely taking the train to Venice, and then to Florence and then to Rome, from where we'll fly back to NYC. Now that I have all of the flights set, I can relax and concentrate on hotels.
Do you have any advice for me? Which hotels I should choose? Which sights I shouldn't miss? Which restaurants I have to try? If so, please leave them in the comments below…