Summer is definitely a time for exploration-whether trying out a new hobby, sampling a new cuisine, or checking out a new part of town, the long days allow for more time to dedicate to exploring.
This summer, we were fortunate enough to experience several new cities, attend multiple sporting events and enjoy cuisine from other countries, all while saving several thousand dollars! Thanks to credit card points, we took a 15 day time-out from our regular day to day and visited New York, Florence, Rome, Malta, Comino, Gozo and Chicago.
Our trip started with two days in New York staying at the Waldorf Astoria (for free, but more on that later) on Park Avenue. We spent our weekend eating delicious pizza in Brooklyn, attending a Yankees vs Red Sox game, visiting Wall Street and staring in awe and remembrance at the Freedom Tower. (full NY post)
From New York we flew into Florence, Italy and enjoyed riding bikes and scooters with friends, eating delicious heart-shaped pizza (you will see there is a pizza theme coming), visiting mind-blowing museums, gazing at the city from the Plaza de Michelangelo and walking up to the top of the Duomo. (full Florence post)
We took the train from Florence to Rome where we – surprise! – ate more pizza and explored museums and churches. The main reason for visiting Rome was to attend our first ever international sporting event-the Italian Open! This was such an amazing experience-from the lucky blue skies after a day of pouring rain, to nail biting tie breaker to complete the semi-finals match between Djokovic and Nishikori. (full Rome post)
From Rome we hopped a quick flight to the islands of Malta to meet up with friends and explore what this small country south of Sicily had to offer. Malta was quite possibly the most naturally beautiful place we have seen in person. One of the islands that make up Malta, named Comino, was surrounded by water so blue and so clear that it didn’t look real; it appeared man-made, as if someone had placed a teal colored dye in the water. Unbelievable. In Malta we visited the capital city of Valletta, the Blue Lagoon on Comino, the Azure Window on Gozo, cliff jumped at the local watering hole just outside of Marsaxlokk, saw the oldest known megalithic temples in the world, and tried octopus in the silent city of Mdina. Oh yeah, we also ate delicious pizza. (full Malta post)
To break up the trip home, we stopped for two days in Chicago and were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather! In our short time in Chicago we were able to squeeze in Millennium Park and take photos by Cloud Gate, aka the “bean”, go to the top of Willis Tower and eat traditional Chicago style pizza at Gino’s East. (complete details coming soon!)
This trip would not have been possible for us if we had to pay full price for it out of pocket. In total, by using credit card rewards points, we saved over $10,000 on this trip. We booked our flights to and from Europe for free. We stayed at luxurious properties like the Waldorf Astoria, Palmer House, and Hilton Malta for free. By utilizing credit card reward offers from American Airlines and Hilton, we were fortunate enough to have the 15 day (international) experience of a lifetime. Most anyone can do exactly what we do to earn free travel and everyone should at least take a look at how it all works.
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