Look Out Italy, Here I Come!

About a month ago I asked for your thoughts and advice on the many questions I had regarding taking a vacation overseas. Today I’ve been reading back through all your comments again, taking lots and lots of notes. You left so many great suggestions and advice on that post and I appreciate those so much! If you missed that post, you’ll find it here: Wanderlust

I’ve taken the next big step and I’ve officially booked my first ever trip to Europe! I’ll be traveling there this fall. I got what I think is a great deal on the trip so I’m sharing the details in case you are interested in an overseas vacation this year. The deal I found requires the trip be booked by May 18th, but you can go anytime between September and December 31st.

The trip I chose is one for Tuscany and the Amalfi coast. I’ve dreamed about visiting Italy forever and apparently, I’m not alone in that wish. The Conde Nast Traveler website shows Italy as the most desired vacation destination, four years straight!

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast (Picture from Grand Circle Travel)


The Deal I Found

I’m super excited about the deal I found with Grand Circle Travel. It’s a 17 day trip where I’ll be going on 11 guided tours to include: Chianciano & Radicofani • Florence • Pienza & the Orcia Valley • Assisi • Etruscan Museum • Cortona • Sorrento • Amalfi Coast • Pompeii • Montecassino Abbey and a panoramic tour of Rome. On three of the four “free” days built into the schedule, I’ll be taking “optional tours” to Positano, the Isle of Capri, and to a Sorrento Farmhouse to participate in a hands on cooking class.

The tour includes 32 meals: 16 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 11 dinners. You can read more about what it includes below.

The special they have running is $1,000 off per couple or $500 off for individuals with the code: TAAU 265. Plus, they gave me another $100 off, more on that in a sec.



So my total cost for the trip (not counting airfare) is: $3,395 – $500 – $100 = $2,795.  That cost includes all tips and gratuities, not too bad for a 17 day trip to Europe! I think it would cost that much if I took a vaca in Florida for 17 days, especially when you consider the cost of meals.

One of our meals will actually be a home-hosted meal. Love the idea of visiting and dining in a real home in Italy! 🙂 You can watch a short video about the trip here: Trip Experience

Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast


The other thing I love about GCT is they don’t charge extra if you want a room to yourself, notice how the single room supplement below says, “Waived.” I haven’t found another tour company that does that. All the others I looked at (including Rick Steves) charge a hefty fee if you are traveling alone without a roommate/spouse and desire a single room.

GCT does charge a single supplement if it’s a cruise since those spaces are more limited, but for land tours, which is what I’m taking, they don’t charge extra to give you a room of your own. I noticed the single supplement on their cruises is also cheaper than other companies, too. Their single rooms go pretty quickly though, so it’s good to book ahead for a trip if you’ll be traveling alone.

Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast



For airfare, you can handle that on your own or they will book it for you. I let them book it for me because the pricing they gave was better than what I could find on my own. Plus, it included all taxes, fees and transfers. GCT has a representative meet you at the airport and they take you back to the airport once the tour is over. So when you calculate buying your own airfare, be sure and take all that into consideration.

That’s one of the things I love about this company, they do it all! With Rick Steves, you have to figure out your own airfare, something I was dreading. GCT took my Delta frequent flyer number since I requested they book me on Delta, so I’ll get my points when I go.

$100 Discount When You Mention My Name or My Referral Number: 2634289

Besides the special they have running now, if you tell them the name of the person who referred you, they will give you an extra $100 off. Plus, the person who referred you will get $100 off their next trip. That’s not a special they are just having right now. They always give $100 when booking a trip if you give them the name or the referral number of the person who referred you.

The guy who helped book my trip was being nice and gave me $100 off since I read about them on another site. I don’t think he was supposed to do that though because when I received my email receipt, the $100 wasn’t showing. I called GCT and the person I spoke with said the $100 hadn’t been deducted because the representative I had talked with didn’t put the name of the referral person into their system. I told her that I had read about GCT on another site so I didn’t have a name to give him. She said they are supposed to have a name or referral number but she went ahead and honored it since he had offered it. I’ve been so impressed with GCT, their employees are really nice.

So, if you do book a trip with GCT, appreciate so much if you’ll mention my name or give them this number for the referral:  2634289.  You’ll get $100 off your trip (in addition to the special they have going) and they’ll put a $100 credit on my account for my next trip with them. I will definitely be using Grand Circle Travel in the future; they have so many tours I’d love to take! 

Trip Insurance:

I did not buy my trip insurance with Grand Circle Travel; the quote they gave me for that seemed too high. I ended up buying my trip insurance with USAA, my insurance company. The coverage was excellent and the medical portion was better than any of the other trip insurance companies I checked.

If you want to compare trip insurance between all the companies that offer it, go to this website: InsureMyTrip.com. We have a great consumer advocate here in Atlanta named Clark Howard and “Insure My Trip dot com” is the site he recommends using to compare trip insurance rates. Again, check out the rates elsewhere before buying trip insurance with Grand Circle Travel. Their tours are priced competitively but I found much better rates for trip insurance elsewhere.

Another trip I hope to take with them one day is their “Romantic Villages of Alpine Europe.” It’s 15 days long and includes Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. It’s $2,895 – $500 -$100 (when you mention my name or referral number) making it $2295. I seriously would have considered booking it for next fall (fall 2016) but the special is just good on trips taken between September and December.

You can see all the tours they offer (there are tons!) here: Grand Circle Travel and they can be reached at: 1-800-221-2610.

If you book a trip, let me know! I hope we run into each other in Italy! I’ll be the woman stuffing her face with all that amazing Italian food! 🙂

These are some of the other trips I’d love to take one day. I have all these saved in my “Travel Planner” at GCT.

Christmas Markets Along The Rhine…would be so fun in December! (11 days in Switzerland, France, Germany and The Netherlands)

England Scotland & Wales (14 day in London, Cotswolds, Snowdonia, York, Lake District and Edinburgh)

Ireland in Depth (13 days in Galway, Killarney, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin)

Holland & Belgium in Springtime (11 days in Antwerp, Ghent, Veere, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Amsterdam, Keukenhof, Enkhuizen and Hoorn)

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  1. Susan, I am so happy and excited for you, and hope it will be all that you’ve dreamed of. Can’t wait for your “Postings from Italy” travelogue 😀

    • Thanks, Mia! I think I need to buy a small notebook to take with me. I’ll do some posts in advance but it will be fun to share some pictures while away. 🙂

  2. So happy for you! Sounds wonderful. I’ve made one trip to Scotland courtesy of my kids and it has been a wonderful highlight to my life. Enjoy!

  3. Susan, I am so excited and happy for you! I’ve been to almost all the cities/sights you mentioned and I loved them all. Italy is a country that’s easy to fall in love with, that’s for sure. I know you will take zillions of fabulous photos, and I hope you will share them with your BNOTP family. Again, I am so happy for you. You will have the time of your life. :0)

  4. Linda Page says

    Boo hoo, wah wah, boo hoo!!!!! I wish I was going with you. I am getting bored with living my life vicariously through yours!!!! Can’t wait to see all of the pictures you will take. You are a great photographer so I know the pictures will be fantastic. This will be so much fun. I know you will have a wonderful trip.

  5. bobbi duncan says

    Susan, WOW! what a great deal and what a great time you will have. I am so thrilled for you and can’t wait to hear all about the fun places and people you’ll meet. I am part Italian but have never been to Italy…maybe one day. Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. Hugs.

  6. Linda Palmer says

    Hi, Susan. I, too, look forward to your travel reports from/about Italy. I have never traveled abroad, much less alone, so I admire your spunk. Have fun!

    • It will be a mix of folks (singles and couples) and I’ve heard folks are usually very friendly. I’m so excited to go, I don’t even care how friendly folks are.

  7. I really wish I could go with you. Italy is my second favorite place in the world, and I didn’t expect it to be. Rome and Florence are terrific!!

    • I wish you could too! What fun it would be if you guys could join me! There may still be some openings on the one I’m on.

  8. Susan, I have taken Grand Circle’s river cruise (Normandy to Paris) and it was fabulous! We are thinking about taking a cruise with them in 2016. I have never toured with them otherwise, so I will be interested to hear about their land tours. Enjoy Italy – I would go back in a heartbeat.

  9. Iris McCloud says

    Good for you!!!

  10. Margaret says

    Hi — Congrats on your picking a trip – it sounds wonderful! If you really want some travel tips about the Amalfi Coast, et al. Marsha @ Splenderosa may have some just for you. She’s got some gorgeous photos from that area too. MMR

  11. Jill Brewster says

    My grandson’s other grandparents are doing a England, Scotland & Wales trip this year. I’ll have to ask her what tour she is taking. Your trip sounds wonderful and very affordable. Time to start saving my pennies.

  12. What fun, so happy for you.

  13. Such AWESOME news to hear ! I admire your courage! Always wanted to go to Europe but feared I’d end up at the wrong airport or take the wrong bus so its great to know there are guides that will meet you and take you to the correct places ! Looking forward to hearing about all your discoveries on your trip!

    • I know what you mean, Alison…the unknown is kind of scary. I’m so glad they take care of everything at GCT…big relief to know someone will be there waiting and I don’t have to figure out how to get to my hotel.

  14. Marlene Stephenson says

    There are still a few places i want to see right here in the USA, then i will be ready and i need to get a visa. But thanks for all the info ,i travel by myself and did not know about other travel groups. I guess i am just stupid but i didn’t and it is scary to travel alone these days,not that anyone would want an old lady.So take lots of info and pics,thanks Susan.

  15. Hey Susie,

    After the year you’ve had. . . I hope you have a wonderful — a trip full of wonder — time!!

    You made my move to GA so much easier. I felt like I knew someone. Of course, I didn’t but you did a recommend a great pest company. 🙂

    Take care,


  16. How exciting! My dream is to go to Ireland someday with my boys. I see they do trips there too. Hope you have a great time and can’t wait to see your post about your trip.

    • Ann, I was thinking how much I’d love to do to Europe with my son and dil but they have a little one now so we’ll need to wait until he and future children are a lot bigger. I wish I had thought to take a trip before they had children, would be hard to travel overseas with them now.

  17. Florence says

    Susan, You will absolutely love Italy. Having just returned in October, I can tell you that Rome, Florence, the regions of Tuscany you will visit will be beyond what you imagine. BNOTP is nothing short of fabulous!

  18. Susan, I am so excited for you! I want to go to Italy, too, but now I can “visit” via your blog. Yay!

    When my husband & I were dating, he took an overseas job for several months & when it came time for his vacation, we met in Germany. We traveled through Bavaria & Austria & I kept a notebook, too. You think you’ll remember the little details, but you don’t & it’s fun after a few years have gone by to pull it out & reminisce. I do have a tip that helped me match my pictures with the scenery. (I know yours is a guided tour, but you might find this useful.) I copied the pages from the guidebooks I’d bought before the trip so I wouldn’t have to lug the books through train stations, metros & taxis. Then when we visited those places that I’d wanted to see, I wrote the date (which will be on your pictures) & notes of interest or what we ate or any funny anecdotes of our time. It helped me pull all of the pictures, postcards, etc. together weeks after I retuned home.

    OH!! And for reasonably priced souvenirs that are easy to pack…look for tea towels! They will have pictures of the local attraction & you’ll enjoy pulling them out afterwards or giving as gifts.

    I hope you have a wonderful time!!


    • Alicia, thanks so much for those tips! Excellent tips! I hadn’t even thought about keeping a notebook/diary…I must do that! I was wondering how I’d keep my pictures straight in my head, so appreciate sharing how you did it. You won’t believe what I saw Rick Steves do in a video on YouTube. When he travels, he takes his tour guide and he literally rips the pages for that part of the tour right out of the guide. He actually demonstrated it in that video, bending the spine of the book way back and ripping the pages out. It was painful to watch! lol But he says that way you don’t have to haul the whole book with you. I like your idea of photographing them better than destroying my book!

      • ARGH for ripping pages out of a book! lol

      • Pre Rick Steves I got that idea of ripping pages out as you go from travelers way back when I first went to Europe (backpacking was the thing back then) in the early 70’s! I didn’t want to lug around Europe on $5 a Day! LOL! Wonder if the book now is titled Europe on $500 a Day?! So glad I did all those big 3 month adventures in my young life! Would now consider a great tour like you are taking!

  19. Donnamae says

    Good for You! I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time…bet you can’t wait! 😉

  20. Susan, I am going to Italy, too, this summer! This is my second trip to Italy, and of all the trips to Europe I’ve been on, Italy is my favorite country! This time, we are going to the Amalfi coast! We’ll be in Sorrento, Positano and Capri. Maybe I’ll bump into you there! I’m so excited for you AND me!

    • Amy, the spam filter dumped your comment into the spam folder…wonder how many times it’s done that and I didn’t see it. So glad I saw this! I’m actually going in October. When do you go? I wasn’t sure how hot it would be this summer, hope I didn’t goof by scheduling it for October.

      • Glad you found me in spam – I’ve been in worse places, lol! You are going the most perfect time of year (May and October are the best- not as crowded, and not hot)! The first time I went was in October, but my son was young then, and we could take him out of school. Now, we have no choice but to go in summer when it is hot and crowded! We’re going in July. I’ll be melting!

    • Amy, how was your tour? Did you have a blast?

  21. How exciting Susan! If only I could that time off from work I would join you! It really sounds like a great trip!

  22. Exciting, Susan! You are going to love Italy, and the deal on the trip sounds fantastic. We spent three weeks in Italy some years ago, but did not get to the Amalfi Coast. That part of Italy is on my list. I know you will share all the details about your trip, and I look forward to that! Happy Travels!

  23. This sounds fabulous! Can’t wait to hear all about it! Would love to go with my daughter, she has been once and loved it. Thank, you’ve done all the work for me, if you love it, I’ll just have to book it in 2.5 years for her college graduation . Smiles

    • I’ve gotten several emails today from folks saying they have done tours with Grand Circle Travel and they were great, so that’s encouraging to hear. I’ll be sure and share my experience. What a great graduation gift that would be!

  24. Susan…congrats on your trip…it sounds so fabulous!!!…My hubby’s mother was from Italy and that is a trip he would love to take in the future. I can just hear the excitement in your “voice” about how much you are looking forward to this magnificent trip…You always do your homework well and find the best of the best in every situation!….again, so excited for you!

  25. That’s fabulous Susan! I just knew you would take the plunge. One thing I’ve noticed about you is you’re a ‘do’er’…you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk.

    I’ve been to Italy twice, but never the Amalfi coast, although my daughter was there and loved it. This trip sounds like a dream, and it’s definitely a great deal! You’re going to have a blast :).

  26. Susan you are going to have a ball. Glad you got trip insurance. I highly recommend it. We went for our Anniversary several years ago. Unfortunately my husband got sick and ended up having heart surgery in Rome! The trip insurance paid for everything including phone calls back to the states. And they sent us home first class. We had to stay an extra 3 weeks because of his surgery. In the long run after I got my husband situated it was the best trip ever. I got to see Rome as a Roman. We did have to cancel our side trips because the docs at the Policlinico Umberto Emergency room and ICU would not let him travel after his surgery. But I made lots of friends at the hotel we were staying and all turned out good. I want to go back as soon as we can afford another trip.

    • Wow, Dee…that must have been so scary to have to go through that in a another country…it’s scary enough at home. So glad it turned out well in the end! You really did get an extended stay. I hope you got to see a bit more of Rome. So glad the insurance kicked in. I purchased the best plan I could find and added in some extra things that hopefully will never be needed.

  27. Oh Susan, I am so excited for you. You are in for the time of your life. You are visiting some of my favorite places. Enjoy every moment and take lots of photo’s.

  28. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    Susan, I am so proud of you! This is awesome news and I’m sure you’ll love Italy. I have never been, but without exception, every person I have ever spoken to about European trips has always said Italy was by far the most beautiful and their favorite. Wow! 17 days. That’s a nice, long, stay. I am very excited for you! Can’t wait to see your pictures and hear your adventures. Maybe some handsome Italian man will pinch your bum and who knows where that may lead. 😉

  29. OK, lady, this is just awesome. You go, girl!! Trailblazin’!

  30. Yayyyyyy! I can’t wait to read about your adventures! (I hope you are deducting this as a business expense because it will be providing a lot of blogging material for you!!)

    • I’m glad you mentioned that because it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I’ve just been focused on the planning. lol That would be awesome if I could, will have to run that by my tax guy. Thanks for mentioning that, Pat! I can’t wait to share the trip with you! I’ll try not to forty eleven billion posts on Italy. 😉

  31. I’m sure you’re going to have an amAZing time and can’t wait to hear ALL ABOUT IT!
    My dad was stationed in France and I was born there–we were there 4 years, and have made trips back several times! France and England hit my hot spots-interest, but Italy would be incredible to see also!
    Did I miss when you’re traveling–?? Have FuN–be safe–bon voyage!!!

    • Thanks, Catherine! It will in October. I couldn’t quite get everything organized enough to do it this month and I’ve heard it gets really hot there in the summer. I like hot though, kind of wish I had scheduled for June instead of October.

  32. Oh Susan – how wonderful! I’m sooo happy for you!

  33. We’ve been on 5 trips with GCT, Amalfi Coast was one of them. Land tours can be hectic, but you get to see more of the country that way,it’s fun to travel with a guide who will be able to share so much about his/her country. GCT offered the home visit on all the trips we took. They are very informative and give you great insight into how people live. If you can go to a school also, we also enjoyed that as well. Children are delightful no matter where. Don’t over look Ireland trip, we also enjoyed it,as well. Enjoy yourself, above all.

    • Mary, the mentioned how their trips normally include a school but told me this trip doesn’t. Not sure why. I would love to do the Ireland tour, for sure.

  34. Yay!…you’re booked to visit some of my most favorite places!
    The Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri portion is glorious
    Rome was incredible, but my favorite city of all was Florence!
    I did get to visit Assisi and had a great meal there for lunch at a small local trattoria…cannot remember the name now – and I bought several beautiful hand painted plates for my kitchen wall there…
    I know you’re going to love the whole experience…

  35. I am so excited for you! You will love Italy! I have been on several trips to Europe and Italy is by far my favorite. I am leaving in a couple days for a mediterranean cruise and will be going to the Amalfi coast and Capri. This will be the first time in that region of Italy and I am really looking forward to it. Glad you purchased insurance because I had to cancel a trip one time and we got back most of our money. Guided tours are wonderful and you don’t have to worry about transfers and getting lost. I know you will take lots of pictures. Will look forward to seeing them!

    • Yeah, it’s good peace of mind for sure. Mary, please email me and let me know how you like the cruise and Amalfi/Capri. I hope it isn’t too cold when I’m there in October.

  36. Susan,

    So happy you are going on this trip. I pray it will be all y ou dreamed it will be. We will look forward to pictures and commentary.

  37. Susan DO IT you will never regret it and you will have the time and experience of your life. don’t put restrictions or rules on yourself just enjoy and take it all in. Give yourself the best gift of all the gift to be adventurous I know I did this in Seattle so much that I am moving there in one month .please take fab photos so we can all see and share with you. I would give anything to travel to Switzerland so if you need a travel companion give me call. Enjoy and so glad you made this decision.Susie

  38. So happy for you, you are going to love that trip, of all the countries I have visited Italy is my absolute favorite. I love Assisi and Capri, but i loved it all, so full full of beauty and a simple way of life. Enjoy.

  39. Oh Susan……..I am so excited for you…….good for you for taking the plunge into travel!!! I’m proud of you!! Glad you are going to Italy, and glad its not in the summer, it can be brutal…… It will be more than you ever imagined and will change you forever. Florence is by far my favorite city, the art is overwhelming and the streets charming. Rome is second, the art goes on forever!! My parents are from Italy, so I was lucky to have a lot of cousins to take me around to special places……Naples and Gaeta also have much to offer….. Buy gold jewelry in Florence and every where else, buy linens, the shops are amazing!!! And learn a few words in Italian, they love it when you try!!

    And the food, nothing like what you have here…….you will learn so much……Ciao……..xoxoxo

  40. Hi, Susan. Congratulations on your upcoming trip! You’ll never regret it. Be sure and budget for souvenirs in Florence: the gold and cameos are exquisite and the painted pottery is irresistible! There is a movie called “Only You” starring Marisa Tomei (sp.?)and Robert Downey, Jr. She travels to Positano and eats in a restaurant ON the beach: I have always said I want to go there and find it! It looks wonderful!! Of course, it was probably a Hollywood set, but I’d love the adventure of looking for it. The movie really lets you see what the road is like traveling along the coast. You might want to check it out. What a fun adventure to look forward to!

  41. Hi Susan, how wonderful for you! My husband and I are expats living in London and have visited Italy several times. This company is picking the best parts of Italy: The Amalfi Coast (OMG!); Pienza (stayed here a week and loved it – a beautiful little village and near the Val d’Orcia – Kodak moments!); Rome – what can you say; Florence – ditto; Pompeii – an amazing site! My one suggestion is that you don’t get caught up in packing too much. For 17 days you can get along with 5-6 outfits tops that will mix and match – trust me! You want room for goodies!

    You will LOVE it all, and I hope this trip will have you wanting to travel more in the future! My favorite quote from Auntie Mame: “Live, Live, Live, Life is a banquet… Bon Voyage, Mandy

  42. Hi Susan, how wonderful for you! This company picked the best parts of Italy. We are expats living in London and have been to Italy several times. The Amalfi Coast is divine with beautiful views; Pienza and the Val d’Orcia – stayed here a week, beautiful little village with Kodak moments; Rome and Florence – what can you say; Pompeii – an amazing site. But my most favs are the small villages (like Pienza) with the markets and cafes. One suggestion for you: don’t over pack! For 17 days you can get away with 5-6 outfits that will mix and match – trust me! You want room for goodies! And remember Auntie Mame’s quote: “Live, Live, Live, Life is a banquet…!” Have a fantastic time! Mandy

  43. Susan, Congrats on booking your trip; I am so happy for you! Italy is on my bucket list (amongst other places! lol!). You would be the perfect traveling companion as you seem like such a fun person to be with! Maybe you should get a bunch of your blog followers and we could all take a trip together! That would make for a grand trip! Can’t wait to see all your pictures!


    • That would be so much fun! Can you imagine if we had our own GCT ship for cruise in Europe! 🙂

      • Now that would be a fun trip! Since we are all friends through your blog, getting together for a trip would be out.of.this.world!!!


  44. Buon viaggio Susan! You will have a wonderful time in Italy!! One of the best vacations I ever had was in Italy. I see from your post that you will be visiting two of my favorite places – Assisi and the Isle of Capri. Assisi is remarkable. I tasted my first ever coconut macaroon there many years ago and it was the best! Made by a tour member’s Italian relative which he so kindly shared with the rest of the tour members. I just relived that day a couple of weeks ago – wrote about it on my blog and included some recent pics from Assisi that my sister kindly shared. Also be sure to check out the thornless rose bush in Assisi! Legend has it that St. Francis was once tempted by a woman. He was so distraught by his unchaste thoughts that he threw himself into a thorn bush. The thorns immediately disappeared and every thorn that had some of St. Francis’ blood turned into a rose. Scientists have taken cuttings from that thornless bush and transplanted them in ground elsewhere. Guess what? The transplanted cuttings grew with thorns!! That still gives me chills. When you go to Capri, be sure to visit the Blue Grotto! I can’t wait to read your posts about your trip. You will have a marvelous time.

  45. Susan it sounds like a wonderful trip! I’ve wanted to take some European trips but was concerned about how, what and all that. But I think GCT will be a wonderful way to go. Thank you!

  46. Hello Susan, We will be in Italy in early October. We have visited central Europe more than forty times. Of all the places Italy always wins out when choosing the next itinerary. Do not miss the Etruscan Museum. Not many people have heard of it but it is rated second in the world, the first being the Cairo Museum in Egypt.
    You will have a fabulous time.

  47. Katherine G says

    Hi Susan,
    How wonderful – it sounds like an incredible trip (and deal)! The waves can be strong when you are ferried to Capri from Naples, so be prepared with Dramamine – repeating above comment on Blue Grotto, but also hope you have enough time there to go through the walking paths/streets – it’s such a photographer’s paradise (well so is all of Italy) – I’m so looking forward to reading of your adventures!

  48. Susan, so happy for you. You’re going to have a wonderful time, the food is “out of this world”, I gained 7 pounds in two weeks. 🙁 There is so much to see and do, a trip you will remember for always. I’ve been to Italy twice and LOVED both trips. Have a great time on your trip and take many pictures so we can enjoy it when you return.

  49. Mandy lloyd says

    I’m so excited for you! How fun! That’s on my bucket list too.

  50. The best thing you will ever do in your life! My Husband and I said if we ever get the chance to go again, it will be with one way tickets!! LOL We did a 12 day Celebrity Summit Cruise, France, Italy, Greece and Croatia it included stops to Nice and Cannes France, Isle of Capri, Sorrento, Rome, Piza, Pompeii and Venice Italy, Athens and Santorini Greece and Dubrovnik Croatia. Stunning All!! We had a personal driver for Athens, best thing we ever did, he took us to the Acropolis all around Athens, then we told him we wanted to eat lunch at a seaside restaurant, he drove us to this gorgeous marina to a restaurant right on the water, we ordered Sea Bass, he said we would have to follow him, we all got up from the table and followed him across the street to what looked like a warehouse, he pointed to a row of drawers and said to select what we wanted, you pulled open the drawers and on ice were still moving Bass! They cooked him whole on a grill, brought to tableside and cut open, exposing the most deelish white, perfectly cooked fish , it cost us $150.00 but we were in Greece, on the water…pinch me!!

  51. Happy to see you’d decided now Susan… exciting to go out and see the world.

    I am a globetrotter and have travelled 5 continents and the most important advices is chill and follow the flow, i.e. culture. Don’t hassle them back. Just say “No, thank you or I am just looking”, be kind and friendly. I promise, you will never get into trouble. Just keep alert. There are idiots all over.

    Italy is cool and great place to visit. You don’t need to speak Italian, some words is enough for them to giggle.

    How about a detour to Stockholm? Ha ha…

    Njoy your weekend.

  52. Cyndi Raines says

    Susan, I am so happy for you!! When I was 14, our high school band was picked to compete with other high schools bands to play for the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in Munich, Germany in 1972. We went to Holland, a boat trip down the Rhine River, Frankfurt, West Berlin and also had a side trip behind the Iron Curtain, East Berlin. What an experience! That started my wanderlust. Since then I have visited Jamaica, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and many states in the U.S., including Alaska. I agree with the other bloggers to be sure to keep a diary so you can reference it years later, along with the photos. Wish I could go back to Europe, but budget constraints keep me state-side. (Although I think you have a wonderful price for a 17 day trip- great job on that!) Can’t wait to travel with you through the blog!

  53. SO excited and happy for you ! You are going to LOVE it ! We loved Capri…and ate at a little place called Giorgio’s …open shutters, view of the sea…when I ordered the waiter paused and said, why don’t you let me bring you what it good today….it was amazing. All the places you are going are great…ENJOY !

  54. Cat Walker says

    I read your blog but have never commented. I have been on this trip with GCT and it is one of my very favorites. You see so much and it is all so beautiful. I also loved their river cruise on the Seine from Paris to Normandy. They are a good company.

  55. Susan, I am so pleased you are going to Europe. You will love it and it is good you are with a guided tour group. Oh what fun you will have. My neighbours always go this route and she said, it is lovely not having to carry your suitcases around or guess where you will be going. Especially with you travelling alone.
    I know you will make some friends in your tour group. You are going to love Italy, we passed through the other part of Italy many years ago, when we were young and camped across Europe.
    Definitely take a notebook to correspond with your photos, it is easy to forget places. Also, a language translation book, Rick Steves sells these, the locals appreciate it if you can speak even a couple of words of their language.
    Wish I was going along too, I still have room on my bucket list.

  56. How exciting!!! Have a fabulous time….can’t wait to see Italy vicariously through your blog! :))

  57. How exciting! I loved Italy My favorites were Venice & Rome….and Capri. I hope you see St. Peter’s in Rome and the Vatican museums. Just awesome. Break in your shoes before you go! And try to learn a little bit of Italian. The locals all seemed to appreciate your trying to communicate in their language, and they all seemed to want to practice their English. Win Win. oh yeah, and Gelato on every corner!

  58. Oh, I forgot to mention, a friend of mine always travels with OAT (Overseas Adventure Tours) they are associated with Grand Circle and have smaller groups (17?) and have slightly more active excursions. My hubby and I are considering booking with them for an Australia and New Zealand trip to celebrate our 40th anniversary.

  59. Susan, You willl go and come back a changed person! You will never look at anything the same again. My mother grew up in Florence and my parents were married there in 1952. We’ve been several times and always fall in love (again) with Italy each time we go.

  60. Sandy W. says

    Hands down, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii are the BEST!! You will find Pompeii so interesting. Best tip: Comfortable shoes…honestly, forget fashion!

  61. So excited for you!! Can’t wait to see the amazing pics!

  62. Hi Susan,
    Sounds like a lot of fun! I highly recommend the Christmas Market Cruise. I went with Viking and it was wonderful! There is nothing like being there it was very cold and snowing but the different cities were all decorated with lights and little booths and it was amazing!

  63. Really happy for you ! I’ve visited Italy twice and left a part of my soul there. I love Florence and Tuscany and Rome and everywhere so I know your trip will be fantastic.

  64. Susan, I am thrilled to hear about your trip to Italy. So exciting and 17 days is a fabulous trip. We loved our trip to Italy. You can read about Rome, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Assisi, Venice, Positano and Pompeii on the Italy button on my sidebar. I didn’t get around to posting about the other places we went and I should finish.
    Can’t wait to follow your trip. Love to travel.

  65. Looks and sounds amazing Susan! Very happy for you!! The Christmas on the Rhine is a dream of mine

  66. Susan, I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time!’When I travel I’ve found it really helpful to take a picture of the itinerary each day before we head out sight seeing. When I got home my pictures were organized starting each day with the itinerary. I uploaded them and made a scrapbook online. I chose to do the hard cover book with all my travel pictures labeled with fun graphics. It’s a great “coffee table” book. I find myself picking it up and reliving my trip and all the great memories.

  67. Honestly!!! How did I MISS this post?!?!?! The trip to Italy (Amalfi Coast the BEST!!) will be THRILLING…”that” was my “most favorite” Med trip ever!! You GO girl!! franki

  68. Susan,
    I love reading your blog. I never comment on a blog, but thought your trip to Italy is so exciting, that I wanted to pass on a couple of things that I have found by traveling there and other places in Europe. You will never be sorry you visited such a beautiful country. I have been there three times, and would go every year if I was rich. The people in Europe are warm and friendly, and don’t care what kind of shoes you wear. They know as soon as we speak, we are tourists. If my feet are happy, my trip is perfect. I always take three pair of shoes on my trips. One pair of Keens, which I highly recommend. You can walk for miles and they have really good support. The elastic ties can be loosened if your feet swell, as the day goes on and they are still comfortable. The other pair are sketchers memory foam sneakers, and the third pair are Merrill sandals, which are good walking sandals as well as being dressy, for going out to dinner.
    While you are on your tour bus, you can always leave a bag on the bus, with extra shoes, snacks, jacket, or what ever you need for the day. I have never had a problem leaving things. I would not leave any thing valuable, but the driver stays with the bus and it is locked while he/she is away from it. That way, if your feet get tired, you can change between stops. I usually always change shoes mid day, but that is just because my feet get tired of the same shoes after a few miles.
    The hotels I have been in in Italy, and all over Europe do not have wash cloths like we do here. They are more like our cloth napkins, or antique cloth hand towels. I would take about three light weight wash cloths from home, that you can throw away later, as well as some small zip lock bags to put them in in case they don’t completely dry out before you move to the next hotel. The small zip lock bags are good to have for carrying snacks to have while you are on the bus too.
    I always take the travel size packets of toilet seat covers! I have never seen toilet seat covers in Italy, some places don’t have toilet seats!
    We always drink bottled water in Italy!

    Have a wonderful trip.

    • Thanks for all these awesome tips, Sharon! I’m taking notes! I like the idea of three pairs of shoes. I was trying to figure out how to pack/dress since it may be hot during the day and cool at night. Someone told me recently that they don’t have toilet seats in some places! lol I had no idea! Good idea about the travel size seat covers. I’ll check on Amazon for those. So many great tips…thanks so much for those!

  69. good! Fabulous post… regards from Italy!!

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