Category Archives: Planning new adventures

A slow intro to Iceland

I love making lists. I love being able to tick things off those lists even more, especially when those things are places and experiences from the bucket list.

In December 2014, we spent a week in Iceland. A land of jagged edges and rough landscapes, sprawling countrysides of softly snow-covered lava fields, freezing winds and blissfully warm hot springs. A land of gorgeous contradictions.

We joined a very well structured tour from Authentic Scandinavia, starting in Reykjavik. The tour follows the southeastern coast of the island over the course of a week. The local guide is very knowledgeable and as South Africa doesn’t offer many opportunities for driving in ice, this was the best way for us to travel.

Summarising the experience in one post will result in an essay of epic proportions, so I plan on sharing the tour and our solo day in Reykjavik bit by bit. More to come soon 🙂

The area of Iceland this tour covers.

The area of Iceland this tour covers.

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Budgeting for Europe

In April 2012, we spent 22 days in Italy, France and the Netherlands. One of the toughest things to budget for was the average amount of spending money we’ll need per day. Bookings flights, hotels and car rentals before-hand meant that these costs were already accounted for. We also managed to book a great number of attractions online. What we were left with, are general day-to-day, cost of living expenses.

We are currently in the preparation phase for our next trip, and it seems that we’re again down to the cost of living expenses. This time we are however armed with the knowledge learned from our previous trip, and I would like to share some of it here. As a traveler, I know how hard it is to find accurate information on this.

When we arrived in Italy last year, our biggest shocks were how much things cost when converted to South African Rand. We quickly learned that this is the wrong way to approach purchases. Instead we took the spending money  we had, and worked out a daily allowance for the duration of our trip. To check ourserlves, we took notes of every single item we bought each day, and made sure that the average spend throughout our trip did not exceed the initial daily budget we had set.

Here is a short breakdown of what our average daily costs were, with a brief description of typical items bought. I’ve broken these down into two sections: costs with and without a rental car. The cost for the rental car is not included here, but associated costs like tolls, petrol and parking have been factored in.

In total, our average came to €74.83 per day for two people.

A summary of our expenses in Italy, France and the Netherlands in April 2012. Click the image for a bigger version.

A summary of our expenses in Italy, France and the Netherlands in April 2012. Click the image for a bigger version.

WITHOUT A RENTAL CAR

Eight days in Venice, Assisi and Rome | €78.74 per day for two people
Water taxis in Venice, souvenirs, groceries (bread, cheese, salami or other cold meats, fresh fruit and veggies, pasta, canned goods, butter and other spreads, yoghurt and breakfast cereals, some beer and/or wine, snacks like chips and cookies), entrance to museums and basilicas, Pompeii entrance fee and maps for Pompeii and Assisi, guided tour of the Vatican with audio-guides, bus and metro guidebooks in Rome, five-day metro passes in Rome, eating out for dinner at reasonably priced restaurants, coffee at cafés.

Six days in Lyon, Paris and Amsterdam | 74.64 per day for two people
Metro passes for Paris and Amsterdam, groceries (bread, cheese, salami or other cold meats, fresh fruit and veggies, some beer and/or wine, snacks like chips and cookies), artwork and souvenirs, entrance to museums and the Eiffel tower, dinner out in Paris, coffee at cafés.

WITH A RENTAL CAR

Five days driving from Rome to Florence via Pisa, Florence to Genoa, and Genoa to Turin (Italy) | €94.30 per day for two people
Single use bus tickets, groceries (bread, cheese, salami or other cold meats, fresh fruit and veggies, some beer and/or wine, snacks like chips and cookies), toll for use of all highways, diesel to refuel the rental before returning it, guidebook to the Ufizzi gallery, entrance to Medici chapel, cold & flu medicine, lunch and occasional coffee at cafés.
Note: These costs also include a dinner out for my birthday, as well as two birthday presents for me: a leather jacket and a pair of leather gloves.

Three days driving from Chambery to Chamonix, Chamonix to Bourg-en-Bresse, Bourg-en-Bresse to Lyon | 36.66 per day for two people
A taxi between train stations in Turin, a small amount of groceries, entrance to monasteries and cathedrals, two bundles of washing at a laundromat 🙂

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