My mom is flying over to Paris for two weeks in May and I couldn’t be more excited. She’ll get here right as I’m running out of my last Euros haha! And in hopes of curing my travel bug I have completely thrown myself into planning our Eurotrip! Forget about school, and definitely forget about that paper due next week… My head is in Italy already.
So the idea is that we will travel around the Mediterranean. There are hopes of a cruise, a trek over to the Croatian coast (ahhh, I’m dying to see Dubrovnik!), Italian food, and some Greek island-hopping! Can we do it all? Haha, who knows, but the idea of it all is making me dance around my apartment for the time being.
|Greek isles – Photo credit.|
Since this is all that’s on my mind I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve found while planning:
The Eurail pass looks complicated but it may be worth looking into. First make sure it’s worthwhile to add a certain country to your deal. We were looking at getting a Eurail pass that included 4 countries (France, Italy, Greece, and Croatia), but upon looking at the eligible trains and ferries, there were none going to the cities we were interested in visiting in Croatia. I’ve also heard from a few people that the reservation system makes the pass a hassle. For example, many modern trains (aka the ones you’ll want to be taking) require you reserve a seat. If you don’t do this you could end up stranded at a station without a seat on the train you needed to take. There’s more than I could ever explain about the Eurail pass but here are some links I found helpful. Also, there are so many eligible local trains that they are not all listed on the site. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth it, but if we get the pass I’ll be sure to share my experience with it.
How to Use a Eurail Pass
List of Eurail Trains and Ferries
How I found out Croatia shouldn’t be on our Eurail Pass
Eurail Travel Guide
There are tons of companies boasting cruises through the Mediterranean. There are cruises that hit Portugal, Spain, the south of France, Italy, Croatia, the Greek isles, and even a few that float on over to Africa. If you want it, they’ve got it. But one thing I noticed was that the cruise lines (Carnival, CruiseCompete, etc) that come up on searches are quite expensive. The other options for going island-hopping around the Mediterranean is taking ferries. Well with the Eurail pass previously mentioned you can take these “ferries” for free or a discounted price (example). With a little research you will find that the ferry rides are actually anywhere from a short ride to 24-hour trips, and the ferries are in fact mini cruise-type ships equipped with cabins, showers, pools, bars and all! And the Eurail pass entitles you to a free cabin or inexpensive “upgrade fee” for a cabin (you just have to check each site). For more go here.
In Your Pocket. Their site is awesome! They offer online travel guides that are downloadable as PDFs for free. I have two Paris travel guides (here and here – thanks, Jenna for the 1990 version haha), and it was a travel guide that got us through Munich. When you are planning on hitting quite a few cities, though, it’s nice to be able to save the money and download a PDF version!
To try to fit more places into our itinerary I’m looking at overnight trains. With the Eurail pass you usually count either the departure day or the arrival day as the “travel day,” your choice, so you only use up one of your travel days. However, beware, you have to make reservations for overnight trips with your Eurail pass and many of the companies make you call (aka they are dumb and don’t offer a website for making reservations…).
|Rome, Vatican City – Photo credit.|
Some of the cities and towns along the Mediterranean are hard to get to. Dubrovnik would require us to catch a train to Ancona (a town on the eastern coast of the Italian peninsula) then ride a 12-hour overnight ferry to Split, Croatia from where we would have to take a 4-6 hour bus ride down the coast to Dubrovnik. I actually found a port, Bari, that goes straight from Italy to Dubrovnik, but it’s still a hike. It’s also quite a trip getting into Greece. A 21-hour ferry ride from Ancona to Patras, Greece from where we’d have to take a 4-hour train ride to Athens. I’m okay with the long ferry rides because I can sleep and get the experience of a cruise, and quite honestly don’t let the challenge of planning how to get to an out-of-the-way place discourage you because I found all this out simply by typing “Italy to Greece” or “How to get from Italy to Dubrovnik” in Google. Tons of people have made these trips before and share their advice online.
Eventually we will probably have to slim down our itinerary so we can enjoy the places we visit and have enough time to really see them. If there is one thing I can say for sure now, it’s that my travel to-do list will never be complete. The more research I do the longer the list of destinations gets!
Need help planning your own trip? Follow these 5 easy steps for building a travel itinerary.
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