Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Toussaints: The Plan...the Crazy, Crazy Plan

Toussaints: there was a lot of coffee, an equal amount of exhaustion, lots of early mornings, way too many cookies, pasta sandwiches and pizza, soup and canned beans, exhaustion, coffee, crawling through caves, lots of walking, meeting random awesome strangers, beautiful places, baths, churches, castles, and I think I may have forgotten to mention these: exhaustion and coffee. And more coffee (both as a result of the previously mentioned exhaustion and also the fantastic quality of Italian coffee, had to fill up to make up for the crappy stuff you get in France).

I returned from our two-week vacation a couple days ago, and it feels so so so good to be home, I never want to leave my bed again. (And yes, if you were doing the math in your head, I did have a two-week vacation after working for two weeks. This is life as a French fonctionnaire, my friend). 

I've had a couple nights back home to recover, but I'm still catching up on many, many hours of lost sleep, so forgive the inevitable typos, awkward phrases, and just anything that might indicate I've forgotten English.

I traveled with one other girl, another assistant from Australia named Chelsea. Originally we were going to go to Croatia, which was (and still is) the number one place I want to visit while in Europe. But alas, it was not to be. We had two weeks to plan a vacation, we spent nearly half of it planning Croatia, only to come to a dead end: getting back home. It broke my heart, we had it all figured out and we were so excited, but it was impossible to get out of the country (for a reasonable price). I was so desperate that I had even started looking for ferries that would take us to southern Italy, but in the end it became too much. With a heavy heart I suggested that we just go to Italy and Budapest, which I thought would be much more manageable. She agreed, we shifted gears, and we planned Italy. Oh boy did we plan Italy.

The plan:

As you can see, we are clearly crazy. This year for Toussaints the approach was less "let's have fun and stay sane" and more "aaahhh we must see allllll the things!" On the one hand I'm glad we got to see so much, a lot of the places we went to were fabulous. But I'm not going to lie, we were dead tired nearly every second of it, half of the photos on my camera are of Chelsea sleeping in a corner or on a bus, and if she was as much of a creeper as me, I'm sure there are as many photos of me dozing off.

Before we even left I had a mini panic attack a couple days before we left when I looked at our (5-page) itinerary and my mountain of printed off tickets, confirmations, etc. I was sure we would miss at least one connecting flights/cars/trains/buses somewhere, there were just so many. And even if we did manage to stay organized, in the best case scenario we would barely be crawling by the end of the trip.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. To give you a more details idea of our madness, I present to you a very condensed overview of our two-week trip:

Day 1:
Wake up at 4:00 am, catch the tram to the train station, train from Grenoble to Lyon. Meet covoiturage man #1 (covoiturage = basically carpooling with strangers you meet on, drive from Lyon to Genoa, Italy, and then find our AirBnB.

Total travel time: about 7 hours.

Day 2:
Spend the day walking around Genoa

Day 3:
Wake up at 5:00 am to catch a bus downtown to meet covoiturage man #2, drive to Milan, find AirBnB #2, spend the rest of the day walking around Milan.

Total travel time: about 2 hours.

Day 4:
Wake up at 6:00 am to catch a shuttle bus to the Milan airport, fly from Milan to Budapest, take a shuttle into the city and then a tram, find our hostel.

Total travel time: about 3.5 hours

Day 5:
Day in Budapest (i.e. finally a day we could sleep...sort of. More details later)

Day 6:
Wake up at 5:45 am to catch a bus for our day trip to Vienna, Austria, take the same bus back that evening.

Total travel time: about 6.5 hours.

Day 7: Day in Budapest

Day 8:
Catch an afternoon flight to Venice, bus into the city, then take a bus to our "campsite" (more

Total travel time: 3.5 hours.

Day 9:
Wake up at 5:00 am to catch an early bus to Venice spend all day there, find covoiturage man #3 at 7:30 pm and drive to Florence.

Total travel time: about 4.5 hours.

Day 10:
Day in Florence

Day 11:
Day trip to Fiesole

Day 12:
Meet covoiturage man #4, drive to Rome and tram to our hostel.

Total travel time: about 3.5 hours.

Day 13:
Day in Rome

Day 14
(i.e. Hell Day) was our return home, but I'm going to make that a separate post, you'll see why. I'll give you a hint: it started at 3:30 am and travel time: about 22 hours.

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