A door was shut on us in April of this year. We refused to be imprisoned in the darkness; we opened a window. As wide as we could.
My husband and I decided to pursue one of our (1000) greatest dreams – to travel to Europe. And today, we are only 16 hours and 2,575 miles away from realizing the dream.
Choosing our main destination was (almost) a no-brainer. We both love the Italian cuisine and are amazed on Italian architecture. I wanted to see the vineyards of Tuscany and my husband has long been wanting to check out the ‘gladiator arena’ (he is referring to the Colosseum in Rome). So Italy it is. We will experience its romantic ambiance, have a pilgrimage to the Vatican City and the Italian churches, take time to appreciate the Italian artistry, have a harmony with nature, learn history, and last but not the least, indulge ourselves with the gastronomic delights that the country has to offer.
We will check out Paris’ Disneyland to enliven the child in us and experience love in a city where it’s famous for. Then we will explore the windmills of Netherlands, feel what it is like to live in a boat and expose ourselves to the world of ‘adulthood’.
There were three conditions, though, that we had to manage to push through with our plans:
- We had to plan the vacation in such a way that it won’t consume much of our vacation leaves as we plan to spend Christmas in the Philippines.
- Our expenses estimate should fall within a budget that we have set.
- We had to pass our Schengen visa application.
We figured out that number one was quite easy. We wanted an autumn holiday to experience the fall foliage. An autumn holiday also means lesser number of tourists than a summer holiday, and therefore cheaper prices and shorter queues, if there are any (this we still have to prove). Eid Al Adha, a Muslim holiday here in Qatar, coincides with the autumn season and that meant 3 vacation days in addition to our 4 days off from work from 2 consecutive weekends.
Number two was a bit difficult as this comprised tons of research – on transportation means and cheap fares, on budget-friendly, comfortable and accessible accommodations, on food costs, on city passes and on free things to do and must-dos in the cities. It involved reading a lot of maps, websites and forums. It involved a lot of guidance from Frommer, Rick Steeves and Fodor. It entailed a lot of currency conversion calculations. 😉
Number three was the most demanding part. It meant preparing a rough itinerary so we would know which dates to fly in and out of Doha and how long we are staying in each city to be able to reserve our rooms. It meant a lot of joint effort, ticket bookings for presentation to the embassy, getting all our documents in order and devoting time for the application. It meant awkward bloopers at the Italian embassy and displaying grace under pressure. (Click Autumn in Europe, The Making Part 2 to check out the details of our Schengen visa application at the Italian Embassy in Doha.)
My husband and I managed to cross out the three conditions above.
There was a closed door.
There were three conditions.
There are two defiant souls who are en route to an autumn in Europe. 🙂