As time passed, we furthered our research on where, exactly, we would go. We knew we had to work around being in Rome on the 15th of September and back on the 25th, but that was about it. Our cruise would cover Greece and Naples for us, and even make a stop in Turkey!
Booking the flights was our next step. From a past experience, flying to Europe from Canada is drawn-out and dreadful. Especially from the West to Eastern Europe. Our trip to Ukraine in 2008 had two layovers and one fourteen hour flight in between: spent behind an exasperated man with cabin fever. Knowing that first class was not a possibility, flying straight to Italy was something we chose not to do. I had heard rumours of budget flights to both Iceland and the U.K., so I started my search there.
Google has an excellent flight search engine that enables you to quickly look through all flights to a destination from all airlines, allowing you to find the best possible deals. You can follow through to the airlines website and book a flight directly through them. I’ve used this on two trips to Disney World in 2011 and 2014 and on a trip to Costa Rica in 2013. If you keep your eye out, you can find impressive prices on dates you want. Baba was originally going to grab the flights with her glorious Air Miles, but using this I found a better deal.
We finally settled on a roundtrip to London with direct eight and a half hour flights both ways (Yay!). London was a place both my sister and I wanted to see; my Baba was just excited that our flights were finally taken care of. We booked these flights with the knowledge (and hope) that you could fly relatively inexpensively around Europe. Spending a few days in London would be a lovely layover before we reached our final destination: Italy.
Venice, Florence, and Rome were the cities we chose. Geographically nearby, I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to travel from city to city. Based on our Pinterest boards and what sites we wanted to see, I started budgeting our time for each place. I found many websites and blogs promising you could see Rome in three days. Venice, being smaller, would only take one or two days. Florence was centrally located and in the heart of Tuscany (a place my Baba was dying to see); we would spend three or four days there.
Given that our time allotted for the trip was three weeks, and we had ten days on the cruise ship, two days for traveling (so far), and it was cheaper to fly out generally on a weekday, I started scheduling. We would see Rome for three days after the cruise and fly back to London from there on a small and reasonably inexpensive plane. That would get us in and out during the month of September. We would spend a day in London before returning home to rest, and two days on the way there. With five days left, we designated two days for Venice and three for Florence. Done. It was official. London then Venice then Florence then Rome to get on the cruise ship then back to Rome and then off to London again.