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Introduction to this year's travels....

I have just finished booking my accommodation through Airbnb for the twelve cities I will be visiting on this year's European trip. I regret now that I only booked flights that returned to New Zealand in 3 months, instead of 4 or 5 months as I did last year. This has meant that in order to see as many places as I could in Europe, it is not logistically possible for me to travel over to England and spend some quality time with my extended family ( which was for me the highlight of last year's trip).

I picked up a return flight on Southern China Airlines from Auckland to Amsterdam for less than $1500 which is about $700 cheaper than last years flights. The flight goes from Auckland to Guangzhou (Canton) which takes about 12 hours, and then there is an 18 hour layover before the next 12 hour flight to Amsterdam. Luckily the airline arranges a free sleepover, shower and breakfast in a cheap motel in the city for those who spend more than 8 hours on a layover. It might only be backpacker type accommodation, but it should allow me to have a good sleep and break between long flights.

I have booked a week on the outskirts of Amsterdam, at a place called Zaandam. (This should give me a chance to see the sights and get some good photos of windmills and tulips)

From there I will be flying to Seville in Spain (which looks like a long distance, from one side of Europe to the other on the map, but in reality it is about 300km less than the distance from Auckland to Sydney). Seville makes a golden triangle with the towns of Granada and Cordoba which are reputed to be stunning historic cities that I didn't get a chance to visit last year. It just so happens that Seville is also about 70km away from the town of Utrera, where my eldest daughter Linda has been living and working for the last few months. (which is by far the best of reasons for me to visit Seville)

After 10 days in Seville I fly straight to Rome for another 10 days of seeing the sights and giving my camera a workout. I follow this with 4 days in Florence, and then 4 days staying on a canal in the heart of Venice. I then got a week in Bologna ( which I hope to treat as a rest up city) From Bologna I train it 200km to Pisa where I should find something to take a photo of in the afternoon before catching a teatime flight to Athens. My week in Athens may or may not include ferry rides to a Greek Island or two, it depends on time and cost. However after a week in Athens I will be flying out to Istanbul in Turkey I decided that Istanbul deserved 10 nights to do it justice (there are so many sights ), but I expect that being there may or may not be challenging. Istanbul is as far away from Amsterdam as I get, and the other towns I am staying in allow me to gradually work my way back to Amsterdam for the return flight to New Zealand. I had to leave out many places in many countries in East Europe but I settled for the ones that appealed the most.

From Istanbul I fly to Belgrade for a week (and probably a rest). Then I travel to Budapest, where i will be staying for 10 nights. From Budapest the next town will be Prague for a week. From Prague I then travel to my last destination Berlin, where I will stay for a week till the day before my flight back from Amsterdam to Auckland.

This year's trip started out with a cheap flight to Europe, but it soon became apparent that there was a potential to blow the budget with expensive accommodation costs in Amsterdam, Rome, and Venice. ( last year I based myself in 3 cities for a month's cheap accommodation at a time, which kept my overall costs to about $30 NZ per night) Luckily I managed to balance the $50 to $60 a night cities this year with nights only costing $20 in the East European cities. In fact my 10 nights in Budapest is only costing me $145. So all in all my 90 nights in Europe is only costing me about $2900 or $33 a night. It will cost slightly more because I need to travel between 12 different cities which will cost between $50 and $150 each time.

Anyway I learned last year that anything is possible to do, providing that the groundwork has been done well. I would disagree with anyone who says that working out the itinerary this way takes away the spontaneity of travel. I have found that spontaneity occurs on a daily basis when travelling, and is best supported by having the time and space to spend exploring places without the worries of somewhere to stay and a way to get from there to somewhere else.

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in New Zealand

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