This summer we decided not to book the usual 2-weeks-by-the-sea package tour via TUI, ITAKA or whoever and to try something different. We’re not great beach-lovers anyway. Last year we were right on a good beach and we probably stepped on it all of three times in two weeks. We prefer seeing the sights, reading in the bar/cafe or playing in the pool. We’re also a little tired of the whole package tour experience, the sheep-like travel, the iffy hotels. So it was that we decided to take three weeks instead of two and just jump in the car, head south and see what happens.
This was all well and good until we started to get a little nervous about whether we would find decent places to stay given the fact that we’re going in August, the height of the season. We talked of buying a tent, just in case, or sleeping in the car. We started to convince ourselves that sleazy roadside motels have a certain attraction and not all of them are run by the family, Bates. We even went as far as searching Amazon.co.uk for a book called “Great places to stay in various countries south of Poland that won’t be fully booked in August and cost between €100-150 per night”. No luck with that one.
It was at this point that I took to the internet (where would we be without it?) and started trying to organize the trip a little. My best friend was the site TripAdvisor.com, which may have its faults but I have found to be pretty reliable at pointing me in the right direction as regards places to stay. The other tools used were Google maps to plan the route and ViaMichellin to give me an idea of how long it would take to get from A to B. These three combined with trips to numerous hotel websites and plenty of emails inquiring about availability of rooms have allowed me, only one month before we leave, to have confirmed reservations for 17 nights. I’ve been surprised actually that every one of our first choices have been available apart from Milan because the hotel is closed in August. In fact Milan hotels generally are pants at responding to mails. They obviously don’t need the business. Milan may end up as one of those “mystery nights” at this rate, along with the two nights on the way home which I’m leaving open as I’m not sure how fast we will want to do the return trip.
So, on the off-chance that a dear reader may have some tips to pass on, here is the list of places we’ll be staying in and visiting sometime next month:
- Bad Aussee (Grundlsee), Austria
- San Gimignano
- Bratislava (perhaps on the way home)
- Großglockner alpine road
- Lake Como generally (Clooney’s place for tea, of course)
- Other Italian sounding places in Tuscany
It could be fun. I think there’s enough interest for Zosia and we’ve kept the horrid driving days down to perhaps 3 in the whole holiday. Going to be a terrible lot of photos and videos to process when we get back!