Travel Europe Without Breaking the Bank

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I just returned from the most amazing vacation (or "holiday" as they say in Europe) and it was the vacation of a life time. We took three weeks and cruised the Mediterranean - what a great way to travel!  We booked a trip out of Barcelona Spain, spending four days in Barcelona and then on to Toulon, France, Italy (Florence, Pisa, Italy, Rome, Naples) and Greece (Athens and Mykonos) and then Turkey, stopping in both Izmir and Istanbul. We finished this amazing trip with four days in Venice. It was like a dream!

Spain
Image: somma1977 via Flickr

 
I love to have everything planned and plotted out so I feel like we didn't miss anything - not only see the sights but actually know what it is we are looking at and learning something along the way. I started planning this trip in January  2012 and we left on July 6th 2012, so I literally spent six months planning every inch of this trip.  I researched all the tours and side trips because that is why we are cruising, to see all the ports and cities each day.
 
After looking up the trips on the cruise ship website for excursions .... I started to get a little stressed out about the prices - HOLY COW - I could not believe the prices of the tours and the buses just to get into the cities from the ports. We are traveling with four - me, husband and kids - and at $300.00 a person per excursion in 10 different ports - that really adds up.
 
As a professional basketball family, we have a pretty nice life but we are by no means millionaires and my husband is what some would call ....ummm, Extremely Frugal. The thought of me having to tell him that after he paid for this awesome  trip - that the tours and trips into each port would add up to more than the trip itself  - did not excite me in the least. I decided I had to find another way.
 
So I spent hours and hours researching how to travel each city, how to get from the port to the city, how to see the most important sights in each city, and how to do it for 1/4 of the cost of the prices from the cruise tours or travel agents  and huge tour buses - ect! Now if you are a gazilionaire and have no problem paying this kind of money in all 10 ports, then go for it. I am definitely not knocking the guided tours but for us, the cost was just too much.
 
After compiling all this research, we went our cruise and I am proud to say it went off without a hitch. Okay, almost without a hitch (for my European readers 'hitch' is slang for 'problem').
 
I decided maybe I should share all this useful money-saving research with others. I think  adventurous travelers would enjoy this trip, if they just knew how to get around all these amazing cities!  I really think sometimes fear of the unknown limits people from traveling, but also people think it's too expensive.
 
So I have a series of 11 blog posts - one for each city - that I have complied for travelers who want to explore Europe on a budget. Each post will walk you through each and every city - from airport to the trains, plus taxis, pedestrian routes, ports (if cruising) and visiting the most important sites in two or three days. Also, how to get your kids involved in the trip and how to NOT break the bank while doing so. 
 
Here is my account of each city and how to get around - from start to finish - how much fun we had while doing it and things we learned along the way!  If you have any comments or questions please feel free to ask or send them to me. 
 
The first post is all about Barcelona Spain - how to get there, get around and see the sights! Booking things in advance - train travel, airport, cruise terminal - walking the city, the beach and the sites .... It will all be here ! There will be a series of Blogs- all numbered in sequence - example Blog 2 of 11 - so you can track them and not  miss a thing!  I will also have a section on how we got the kids involved, learning and understanding what they saw along the way without pulling teeth.
 
My website will have these blogs with photos on the page tagged "Travel  like a local", Our Facebook Page, Baskets Life will have all of our photos.
 
Come join in the journey!
 
~Stacey 
 
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