Travel

Those of us who are travelers, we want nothing more than to experience the world and its people — even if we have some problems along the way. The benefits of examining and sharing the way others live, think, eat, work, and…believe broadens our understanding of the world, brings us closer together, and makes us more human.

Beautiful Tuscany!

Solo to Italy…..kinda! ~ August 2015

Solo to Italy…..kinda!

Dropping off my travel-loving, study abroad girl in Florence Italy August 2015. Enjoyed a few days with her but the rest were on my own. Traveling solo has its advantages; dine when and where you want to, stay up late and its a lot cheaper. Disadvantages; it can be lonely and a little scary some times. But there are many solo travelers who love it and do it all of the time. If you are a solo traveler and a woman, check out Nomadic Matt tips.

Lucca ~ Our first experience and My favorite place!

It is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls. I loved the history and the people!

The Eats: Vecchia Trattoria Buralli

 

This trip’s budget tips:

1 -Great time of year to use airline miles. Mine were with United Airlines and I was able to book a round trip ticket to Florence Italy for 60,000 miles. I find August and May have the best deals.

2 – Accommodations I used a combination of Airbnb and VRBO. I prefer Airbnb and my biggest tip when booking with them is to really read the reviews, making sure they are current. They could have an excellent rating but the review could be from months back even though the calendar shows that it has been rented recently. For the most part I have always gotten into great places, (only in Rome did I have a bad experience, more on that later).

3 – Because I book with Airbnb‘s I have kitchen facilities, so I am able to prepare or at least reheat leftovers. This is a big money saving tip. Easy meal ideas: Pasta, Soup, Cheese and Meat plates. Cheers, beverages are always cheaper; coffee, Prosecco, juice, beer & wine.

I still enjoy going out and enjoying the wonderful food of the region. There are a lot of great restaurants around the Florence area. Here are a few of my favorites:

All Antico Vinaio – great sandwich for 5Euro~  The wait is normal, but do wait, it’s worth it!!!

Gusta Pizza Always good! Again 5-7Euro for a good size pizza

La Carraia di via De’Benci  The best gelato spot in Florence and it made a great dinner one night….see what I mean about eating where you want to:)

 

Tours are good for solo travelers! You are seeing things and meeting other people as you go.

Cooking Class & Tuscan Farmhouse Lunch

Sienna, San Gimignano (it now includes Monteriggioni & Chianti) Make sure you try the Gelato World Champion ~ Gelateria Dondoli, it is phenomenal! San Gimignano is the second largest grower of Saffron. Saffron gelato did not diasappoint!

On my own I visited the Uffizi & The Galleria dell’ Accademia with the famous Michelangelo’s sculpture David!

Shopping: Leather goods San Lorenzo Market. It is rumored that they are shutting down this market. I am not sure if these are actually real leather goods from Italy. They are inexpensive and the people I bought for loved them. There are other places, like Santa Croce Leather School, in Florence where you can certainly get the real deal, yet you will pay a lot more.

I love buying weird things on vacation! I found a lot of fun stuff at the Flying Tiger Store, (they sell cheap umbrellas also). Love my napkins! Easy and light to pack!

My number one packing tip, besides packing light, is take along some bubble wrap. It’s light and comes in handy when you buy breakable items.

Side trip on our own to Cinque Terre, bought the bus/train pass at our first stop in Monterosso al Mare and from there we hiked a part of it, (don’t forget your water and wear good shoes) and took the train to the other towns. Cinque Terre is beautiful seaside villages along the Italian Riviera.

We did have a short trip to Pisa, maybe 2 hours. I guess I can say I saw the Leaning Tower, but if someone told me to skip it it wasn’t worth it, they would be correct. It wasn’t too exciting, fortunately we did waste money on a tour. But I can say I saw it and have a cheese picture to prove it!

 

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