We are driving from Monaco to Venice, and were planning to spend a night in somewhere like Padua or Verona. But rather than trying to book something, I think we're just going to try to find something along the way.
Venice had been a problem because we really wanted to stay in the old city itself, and all the hotels there are crazy expensive. (You can get cheaper ones if you don't mind being a boat or train-ride away from all the cool stuff, but that wasn't ideal.) After looking at a number of options, we decided to try the Hotel Riva, a great-sounding hotel with almost no footprint on the Internet. I called them a few minutes ago, and luckily managed to speak to someone who spoke better English then I speak Italian. I'm pretty sure I reserved a double room with a bath for 110 Euros, which is a steal by the astronomical standards of Venice.
In Florence, we had a fallback plan of a McHotel out near the airport. But I really wanted to get something a little more adventurous and closer to the action. So I think we're going to stay at the Instituto Oblate dell'Assunzione, a convent in the old city that rents out rooms. I've been coordinating this by fax, and they speak very little English. Hopefully I worked it out right in advance. If not, there seem to be many options there, so hopefully we can find something on the fly.
So that's most of the big trip planning out of the way. My friend is actually leaving for Monaco tomorrow, and I'm going to catch up next week.
Now I've just got to figure out how I'm packing. Since we're going to be schlepping our stuff everywhere, I've decided that my rolling mega-suitcase is too big. So I'm looking for something smaller but still big enough to hold a week's worth of clothes. I've seem a few examples of rolling bags that convert into backpacks, including zip-off day packs. This seems like a really good solution, so I'll probably be searching for one of those this week.
I also have to try to get ahead in my online class so that no one notices when I more-or-less drop off the planet for the better part of two weeks. (I'm planning to check in a few times, but I doubt I'm going to feel like spending much time on Knowledge Management when there's a new city to explore.)
Not to mention dealing with all the loose ends at work and finishing a pro bono website for a nonprofit I help out. It's going to be a busy week!