Local preparation well underway, satisfying ticks galore. Original 3 week holiday well taken care of thanks to a years worth of planning with travel mate Jenny. Additional six month sabbatical with a writer’s retreat thrown in? Less than 10 weeks!

Friend sounding boards, research, long lists, endless packing, one of the busiest work periods since the Global Financial Crisis and just a tad of angst and I’m breathing easier…wine to combat ‘whine’ supplied by work colleagues at day’s end. Have I told you how much I love my colleagues?

Looking to add a few travel and accom hints ‘n tips to your repertoire? Rejoice with me as we continue the list ticking…

Pay for Writer’s Retreat: No turning back now. The lovely Lisa collecting those participating from Florence then returning us, brimming with inspiration and enthusiasm 7 days later.
Hint – Part payments within the bank’s daily maximum international transfer limit attracted hefty transfer fees per transaction on top of poor exchange rate. If transferring funds higher than your bank’s maximum transfer limit, apply to increase the limit.

Book Paris to Florence flight: Late evening flights much cheaper than train. Promise myself I’ll take time to view the scenery via train on return journey.
Hint – If wandering Europe and have the time, a Eurail pass will naturally provide unparalleled scenic viewing, overnight journeys with a sleeper saving accommodation costs. The trains are always punctual too!

Book Florence accommodation: Booked via travel agent whereas Jenny, now joining me for a few extra days, booked direct. She saved €25 per night. Lovely travel agent let me cancel and do same. Lesson learnt.
Hint – Do a little sleuthing and book direct with the hotel, a travel agent booking will likely be at the more expensive ‘on the day’ rack rate.

Book post retreat Pied-a-Terre: A fabulous yet economical 2 month rental with stunning ocean view…tick! While busily congratulating myself, the owner was busy double booking over the leasing agent…disaster!

European getaways now approaching peak season, endless research and many wines (and whines) later, things were looking grim, park benches gaining appeal. Then..voila! Lucette, my wonderful leasing agent and new best friend (we’ve bonded over 42 emails to date) received a new listing. Same region, away from the holidaying great unwashed, a view, a balcony, a garden, two whole months. I’ll take it! No photos yet? Don’t care. Infested with cockroaches? Don’t care. Bet you can’t wait to hear outcomes?
Very handy hint – If looking to take one’s self off to a quiet longer term retreat in peak season to live like the locals or simply to recharge, book at least 12 months in advance.

June, July, August sorted…Sept to Nov?…stay tuned!

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