Some of you may remember that I entered a blogging competition a few months ago, where the first place prize was a trip to Europe. When I entered, I had no thoughts of winning because you still would have to purchase your own flights into Europe, and Europe is still really expensive. But then I was listed as a finalist and all of a sudden, I really wanted to go!! We decided that if I did win, we would purchase our flights and extend the trip to 3 months. I started imagining a summer spent in Europe, walking on cobblestone streets and lounging in sidewalk cafes. You guys all tried to send me there (and THANK YOU!!), but alas, I did not win.
So I tucked away my Europe dreams and instead focused on making plans to visit other countries in Southeast Asia.
We knew that we were spending spring in China, but what about afterwards? For the longest time, it was just one huge blank space. Do we go to Bali? Or maybe to Malaysia? Maybe we go back to Vietnam since we loved it so much.
I know, I know… it’s such an unfortunate situation when you can’t decide where to travel to next.
All of these sounded like perfectly good options. However, I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but they didn’t excite me either. Maybe I’ve had enough of Asia and need a change of pace. But we didn’t think we could afford anywhere non-Asia either. Are we going to become one of those travelers who just bum around Southeast Asia for eternity?!
Can we still go to Europe on our own? Why not??
It’s kind of funny how plans come together in the most unexpected way. We spent months debating where to go, and then the perfect plan emerged in practically just one afternoon. So I guess all this to say that we have finally decided on our travel plans for this summer:
We are spending the summer in Europe (AGAIN!!!)
Yes we’re going to Europe on our own!! There are two things that made this possible:
- a COMPLETELY FREE flight (both in and out) by cashing in a large chunk of our Chase Sapphire Preferred points, and
- the dollar being strong again. The euro and the dollar are practically 1:1 right now (it’s actually 1:1.06 to be more precise). Last summer when we were in Europe, it was more like 1:1.34. We’d be stupid not to take advantage of this!
Our plan is as follows:
Warsaw, Poland (6/23 – 6/30)
We are flying from Hong Kong to Warsaw to once again meet up with D’s Polish family. This is when we met last summer!
I had Warsaw as one of my 5 Destinations to Revisit, but I never thought we would get to return so soon! And yep, we will be staying for a week at D’s relative’s mansion again. Not gonna lie, we’re both pretty excited about that!
Wroclaw, Poland (6/30 – 7/7)
Of course, we cannot go to Europe without making a trip back to Wroclaw!
We threw out a lot of options. Should we return to a place we love or go somewhere new? But when I felt more excited by the prospect of re-visiting Wroclaw, than I do by the thought of exploring a new place… the choice was easy!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then it wouldn’t come as a surprise that the driving force behind returning is this:
Oh Pierogarnia, we will be re-united much, much sooner than I imagined!
Krakow, Poland (7/7 – 7/9)
A little explanation first: the main reason we wanted to go to Europe is to go to Lyon (more below!). But how do we get to Lyon from Wroclaw? After a bit of searching, I found cheap flights from Krakow into Lyon. So Krakow again, it is.
We are only making a two-night stop in Krakow. Just enough time to eat at our favorite eatery, Milk Bar, and pay a visit to the local vodka bar.
I never wrote one single word about Krakow last summer. I hope to rectify that this time.
Lyon, France (7/9 – 8/6)
Ever since D watched the Anthony Bourdain episode of Lyon some time back, he’s been dying to visit. Lyon is known as France’s gastronomical capital (again, a destination chosen solely for the food!). Last summer, we were in Paris for 5 nights and sadly, I did not fall in love with the city. We also mainly lived off of baguette sandwiches and street gyros. So this time, I’m looking forward to discover the real France and its cuisine. French food lovers… any must-eat recommendations?
We will base ourselves in Lyon for a month, and from there, we hope to also visit Loire Valley, Marseilles, and Nice. I would really have loved to visit Sara in Paris too, but she will have already moved by the time we get there. :(
Italy: Bologna, Florence, Rome (8/6 – 9/17)
After Lyon, we are headed to Italy! First time for me, and second time for D. When we sat down to make a list of where we wanted to go in Italy, we ended up with SO MANY destinations, from Lake Como to Venice to Florence to the Amalfi Coast to Rome to Sardinia to Sicily. We wanted to see it ALL! We have approximately 6 weeks in Italy and for a brief moment, we considered an epic Italian backpacking trip. But I knew that I just can’t.
Last summer, we blew through 20 cities in 3 months. Places blurred into one another and by the end, we were absolutely exhausted (not to mention that we also spent a ridiculous amount of money). This past year has taught me that slow-travel is a lot more rewarding. I love getting to know a city and finding local gems, something that’s hard to do if we’re just breezing through.
So we decided on just three places: 1 week in Bologna, 2 weeks in Florence, and 3 weeks in Rome.
These places were chosen for… ummm, the food (I want to eat spaghetti bolognese from where it was invented!!). And of course Rome for the history as well.
I’m so super excited about Italy and Rome in particular because I’m going to meet Madaline (from Pretty Thing & Co.). Not only that, we’re actually renting her Airbnb apartment and will be living directly below her! I already have images of summertime picnics and pasta making parties. I can’t wait to meet her and her beautiful family!
Now, I mentioned that we booked our flight out of Europe on points too. So where are we going after Europe??
JAPAN!! This decision was made literally on a whim! We were going to book our return flight back into Hong Kong, but after a couple of quick searches, we found it was much cheaper to fly from Rome into Tokyo! DONE! But this is perhaps, a discussion for another day. :)