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See-it-All-Touring or Destination Vacation?

Too many great places to visit

Have you ever began a vacation search for an unfamiliar destination? Tried to understand a new geography, a new culture and how to get around not knowing the language? Ever been torn to decide if you take a wider overview vacation or a deep dive into a definitive destination? How to begin? Where to start?

Before you throw in the towel, take a deep breath. Even the GoGirlfriend team has been there. A while back, we decided to take a last minute vacation to Cuba – never having been to Cuba to know where to start and second, never having traveled last minute.

what part of the Mediterranean to visit??Not that long ago, the GoGirlfriend team decided to pursue a vacation to the Mediterranean. Good heavens, how do you begin? What are the best places to visit? What do we not want to miss? How do we get a flavor of the larger picture to know where we may want to re-visit in more depth next time?

We began our adventure with great excitement – we were going to see the Mediterranean, after all. Then we began talking to friends and travel agents. Comments like, “you have to visit Rome,” “the Greek Isles are exquisite,” “Istanbul, oh the culture and history,” “don’t forget Spain and the beautiful seaside.” So many choices – history, grapes, wines, olives, cultures, seascapes.

We began our search frustrated and overwhelmed.

Choosing a vacation style

so much history to exploreAs the frustration set in, we took our excitement and our passion and added a healthy dose of rational, logical problem-solving to define what would make this vacation a success for us. We ran through a series of questions to better understand what would span almost 1,000,000 sq miles and deliver a successful vacation.

  • What destinations and sights do we want to visit?
  • What are the must-haves and what are the negotiables?
  • How much do we want to spend?
  • Do we want an active vacation or a beach and relax vacation?
  • Do we want to visit one destination to explore in great detail, or do we want to see an overview of the larger area?

This list was only the first step and we decided we would cruise to get a sampling of it all. Have you seen how many cruises and spectacular shore excursions are available? After visiting a few Mediterranean cruise specialists and reverting back to our lists of the must-see’s and the negotiables, we took the time to pour over the options and narrowed the itineraries to three that we began pricing out.

Our tour with Princess' Island PrincessAs we sifted through our needs and wants (and added a healthy dose of give and take negotiation), we decided on a cruise overview of the larger Mediterranean with stops in Venice, Istanbul, Greece, Rome, Italy, France and Spain to explore regional interests. Knowing that this was our chance for seeing a lot, allowing us to pinpoint a destination to return and explore in greater detail, we decided a cruise would give us a base of operations (our floating resort) while daytime we could spend hours ashore exploring, eating and drinking great local fare.

Add a little here, add a little there …

Knowing we had the core of the vacation worked out that would satisfy most of the “must-see’s” on our list, we still felt we had room for a little more. What was initially going to be an overnight flight into Venice, a 12-day cruise and a return flight from Barcelona, has grown to add a few days added onto the start, removing another item or two off the bucket list.

  • Keeping to the core cruise plan, we reviewed the original flight options as preferred one-stop ventures, a red-eye being an acceptable option to fit more into the vacation.
  • We looked at the starting and ending stops and explored how to expand these areas in a little more detail (Venice and Barcelona)
  • Of the must-sees that were sacrificed, we began to look at ways to pull them into the itinerary.
  • crossing Italy hi-speed ~ courtesy piueconomia.itWe chose to add an extra day to the start of the trip and divert our initial flight, explore Rome, add a cross-country high speed train adventure across the mountains of Tuscany and still be in time to board our ship in Venice.
  • We researched and chose excursions for 75% of the stops where we had must-see stops, and added free days to explore in other locations.
  • Oh, and don’t forget about the spa on-board the ship to help relax through the jetlag of the trans-Atlantic flight!

Our adventure later this year will be, by our choice, absolutely insanely, spectacularly exhausting and will highlight an amazing overview of Mediterranean culture that will certainly entice us to return. Whether we return to the ancient historic sights, the relaxed beauty of the Greek Isles, lush Italian olive plantations, bounteous French wineries, sexy clothing-optional beaches, romantic oceanside cliff villages, or the allure to explore the vast range of cultures, we’ll delight in our taste of the Mediterranean to help us decide our next adventure.

What was your top “must-see” in touring the Mediterranean? What held such epic allure to qualify as a bucket-list criteria? We’d love to hear. Drop a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to tell us your reason.

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Amazing places to go ... hope to visit sometime soon!!

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