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Report 1247: A Not-So-Slow First Trip to Italy and Budapest

By andasamo from Nova Scotia, Canada, Spring 2006

Trip Description: My sister is invited to a conference in Budapest. Mom and I quickly muscle in on her trip and madness ensues - travel madness, that is!

Destinations: Countries - Italy, Other Countries; Regions/Cities - Amalfi Coast, Campania, Florence, Rome, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Art Trip; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people; Adult Children w/ Parents

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Page 1 of 14: Opportunity Knocks ...

photo by Fellow passenger

Over the hills and far away...

It all started when my sister (L) was invited to speak at three-day conference in Budapest (she is a researcher specializing in prostate cancer research.) Mom and I thought we would join her because she was not able to take her husband or daughter, plus how often does a trip to Budapest come along? We began planning a week long trip to Budapest, but the trip quickly took on a life of its own ... next thing we knew, we had built a trip from March 6 to 23 (2006), with Budapest sandwiched between destinations in Italy. It was the first visit to Europe for all three of us, and there was so much we wanted to see that we couldn’t narrow our base destinations down any further than Venice, Budapest, Rome, Sorrento and Florence. But spread over two and a half weeks, we managed a reasonably leisurely pace (most of the time!)

We immediately applied for passports and checked what, if any, medical precautions were necessary. Budapest was in the yellow zone for hepatitis, so off to the doctor we went for our Twinrix shots. We pored over maps and through books trying to decide exactly where to stay. I spent hours and days researching hotels, transportation, museum reservations. We waited and waited for L's travel agent to get her ticket booked so we had a starting point on our dates. Finally everything fell into place and we finalized our plans. The excitement continued to build day by day. My hubby and daughters constantly teased me about being on the computer looking at yet another travel site!

Our packing efforts are a tale unto themselves. I researched packing tips online and my list of necessities grew. Mom and I agonized and compared notes for weeks trying to decide what to wear, what to bring, what to buy ... in the end, however, we just opted for whatever was comfortable and to be honest, mainly wore the same couple of outfits day after day, washing them in the hotel as necessary. The only dressy outfit we took was for the ballet in Budapest. (L’s wardrobe was a tad more upscale but only because of her conference.) My hubby was convinced I needed to take more clothes and a larger suitcase, but I stuck to my decision and took only a small wheelie (21” maybe?) and a backpack. And thank goodness for that – I can’t imagine lugging a larger suitcase on/off vaporetto, the Circumvesuviana, the trains, the sidewalks of Florence, etc...

The big day arrived and with bags packed and repacked, it was off to the airport for our first European adventure! Mom and I flew from Halifax (to JFK) to Venice. (L couldn’t get away before her conference, so we would meet her in Budapest.) The flight from Halifax to JFK went off without a hitch, although we nearly missed our flight out of JFK to Italy. We heard no boarding calls for our flight until we were in line to use the washroom and I heard a faint “last call for boarding flight xxx” so we abandoned the call of nature and raced off to the gate. We made it, boarded without difficulty and proceeded to sit on the ground for an hour. But once underway, the transatlantic flight was decent, considering that we were seated in the middle section hence a bit squished. There were two couples (plus one son, I think) behind us, who reminded us of the parents from Seinfeld. They spent the whole flight fussing over how to work the earphones (thought the channel change buttons were for volume), accidentally buzzing the flight attendant (not twice, but thrice!) and arguing over meal choices. It was a real comedy of errors and kept us entertained for the duration of the long transatlantic flight.

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