Saturday, January 5, 2013

Travel Planning

Life in the Foreign Service enables me to do a lot of one of my favorite activities: planning trips! Of course, taking the trip is also fun but for some reason I enjoy planning the trip almost as much as I enjoy being on the trip itself. There is something about the anticipation and excitement that come with making travel plans that is extremely addicting. Fortunately, I have a number of great vacations coming up in the next couple of months and have spent many pleasurable hours poking around on Fodor's, Trip Advisor, WikiTravel, Conde Nast and more for ideas on what to do while traveling the world in the next couple of months!

Lobby of the St. Regis Hotel.
January: Rome & Florence: My next trip will be in a couple of weeks to Rome, Italy, where Scott and I will be attending my twin brother's wife's sister's (sister-in-law's?) wedding at a beautiful, elegant Roman Catholic church! I'm particularly excited about this trip, not only because of the fabulous opportunity to go to Rome, but also because I will be spending a whole week there with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law's family. It's pretty cool to be able to say that. The wedding will be held at Santa Susanna Chapel and the reception is right down the street at the St. Regis Hotel.

The ceremony is at Santa Susanna Chapel.
Judging from the pictures, both venues will be absolutely amazing. My sister-in-law's family have been to Rome several times, and they've got some great activities planned for us including a high tea at our hotel, Mass at St. Peter's, a Vatican tour, and plenty of group dinners and walking tours. I'll also be taking a two hour train ride up to Florence to spend the day there with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Counting down the days until it's time to go! 

March/ April: Cape Town: I haven't looked into this one quite so much yet, because I've been busy planning our Rome trip and because lots of our work colleagues have been there recently so it'll be easy to ask for travel tips. Air Botswana just started direct flights a few times a week from Gaborone to Cape Town, and we plan to take advantage of this newly convenient option by spending a few days in Cape Town and the beaches and wine country of the Western Cape during Botswana's Easter holiday. I have heard only rave reviews from friends who've been to Cape Town and can't wait to see it for myself! 
May/June: R&R in Europe: This is another fun one to contemplate. R&R travel is a wonderful phenomenon where the State Department will purchase round trip airfare for employees and their family members once in a two year tour (a few posts don't get an R&R but most do) either to go home to the U.S. or to travel to a designated R&R point. Shanghai's R&R point was Sydney, Australia and in 2011 we used the ticket to spend 10 days in New Zealand. This year, we will again choose the designated R&R point option
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand (April 2011)
to fly to London and from there will spend a few weeks traveling around Eastern Europe. The best route from Gaborone to London connects in Dubai, so we figure we may as well spend a night or two there to check out the United Arab Emirates and visit that region of the world for the first time. The trip is still a ways away, but I've worked out a potential itinerary and will be spending many more enjoyable hours exploring options. I change my mind on the details just about every day, but so far this is what I have (fingers crossed I can get all this time off work):

Fly from Gaborone to Dubai (via Johannesburg)
Dubai: two days
Fly to London
London: three days
Fly to Croatia
Croatia: six days (Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zagreb)
Train to Budapest
Budapest: three days
Train to Vienna
Vienna: three days
Train to Prague
Prague: four days
Fly from Prague back home to Gaborone (via Dubai and Johannesburg)

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