If you didn't know, I love planning things and get a tad stressed when jumping into big things without doing a bit of research and advance planning. My mom says after the wedding I just "have to be planning something"...maybe she is right, but I find joy in it.
Anyways, ever since we decided not to go to Europe for our honeymoon, we have been planning on going right around our one year anniversary (give or take a few months). This is one of those things on our must-do list before we expand our family. So, we have started saving and planning our Europe trip for the summer of 2012! We have general ideas on where we absolutely have to go, but the more I research, the more amazing side trips I find. Mike is an artist and his favorite style of artwork is from the Renaissance era, so this trip is somewhat based on that. We really wanted to fit Barcelona in there (I love Barthelona!), but that will probably just have to wait for later in life.
Right now, the general plan is to fly into Paris. I've been here before, so I have a basic idea of the city and sights we definitely need to see. We will definitely be going to the Louvre and Musee D'Orsay. Possibly Versailles, but I could do without it on this trip. My favorite part about Paris (other than hanging out in the Champ de Mars) is sitting at a street-side cafe and people watching.
After Paris, I'm thinking we would take an inexpensive one-way flight (Ryan Air?) to Pisa. I originally thought we'd fly into Florence, but the airline I'm looking at goes into Pisa and not Florence. Here is where I need to do a lot more research. We have never been to Italy and there is SO much to see, we want to be sure we can fit in all the things we really would like to see and do. In Pisa, we would be sure to see....duh, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But I'm not really sure if the town offers much more beyond that. Pisa may just act as a transportation hub for this leg of the trip.
From Pisa, I've found that you can take a boat or train to the area Cinque Terre. This area consists of five beautiful towns and I hear you can easily hike through all of them in a few hours. The towns are located right on the coastline and look absolutely stunning! I'm hoping this could be a day trip and we'd be able to get back to Pisa...or even on to Florence that same day. But would we want to? Starting to look into places to stay in Cinque Terre...mostly bed and breakfast places.
Next stop would be Florence, the art capital of Italy. Mike's favorite piece of artwork is David by Michelangelo, so this stop is a must! I need to research what else is a must-do in Florence. We will definitely want to see Botticelli's artwork as well.
My thought is to travel from Florence to Rome by train and I would love to be able to see the countryside of Tuscany on the way. I have read that some of the trains go through quite a few tunnels which makes it difficult to see a whole lot. We definitely need to research more on this because I would love to see the countryside for a few hours.
The last stop would be Rome. This is probably the most intimidating city to me. I have heard that there is so much to do and hard to fit everything into one trip. I also don't know a ton about Rome, but we definitely need to visit the Sistine Chapel and the ancient Rome ruins. Much more research will need to be done about this city.
So have you visited any or all of these places? We'd love to hear your thoughts and advice on places to see and transporation/hotel advice! We are definitely looking to stay at hotels, not hostels regardless of the price difference and will have suitcases, not backpacks. Maybe I'm a bit of a high-maintenance traveler? My past trips have definitely spoiled me. Seeing all these amazing pictures makes me wish I was a better photographer and had a better camera. But the experiences will be amazing and completely unforgettable. I can't wait!
Images: Paris / Pisa / Cinque Terre / Florence / Tuscany / Rome