Monday, June 30, 2014

Nice was Nice

Nice was a short trip. We only spent a day and a half there.

Day 21

The trip from Florence to nice was a long one that included three trains, but all of which were free with our eurail pass. 

Bored train pictures.

Beautiful views while on the train.

We stayed at a hostel/hotel and were upgraded upon arrival to a real hotel room with air conditioning. You can imagine our excitement! 

We found a kabob place that was near the hotel and ate a meal outside while talking for hours, it was very nice. 

Day 22

We went to the train station to get train tickets for Barcelona (ended up being about 39 euro). We then got breakfast from the grocery store and headed to a park to eat it. It was really nice walking around and looking at the architecture. It was quite different from Florence's. It had more colors and more of a beachy feel. 

After we found a travelex and got some money. Around that time I realized I forgot my water bottle and so K was gracious enough to go back to the park and find it for me (which he did). We then headed towards the direction of the beach. When we came upon the beach, the view was absolutely gorgeous.

 We walked down to a public access part and sat down near the water. We had not brought our bathing suits and did not really want to go back to do so. We did get our feet wet, which was nice. The only problem with the beach was the fact that instead of sand there was rocks, which was kind of hurtful to sit upon. 

We then walked along the beach walk and just took in the sights. We then came upon this cliff that we could climb stairs to get to the top, so we did it. The view from the lookout part was breathtaking.

 We found that there was a park located at the top. We walked around exploring the different views that we could experience. 

At one end of the park we found that there was an active excavation of an old church occurring. 

It was really interesting to watch something like that in real life, when I feel I only see that kind of stuff in the movies. 

We explored more of what the summit had to offer, like ruins of an old fort. On our way down we found a waterfall which we took pictures of. 

We then searched for some of the important sites like the opera house, D'Adam et Eve Maison, looked at two churches and explored a square that had interactive water fountains that people could play or walk through (K and I both enjoyed doing so). We then started back to our hostel. On the way back, we browsed through some stores and also picked up dinner. We made dinner in the hostel kitchen and then just hung out until it was night. We walked back to the square with the water fountains and looked at the lit up statues that are famous to Nice. 

We then had a midnight snack and headed back to the hostel to sleep. 

Day 23

Our train to Barcelona was at 1:55pm and so we took our time getting ready in the morning. We hung out until we needed to get lunch and get on the train. We got into Barcelona at around 10pm. 

I don't know when the next Europe post will get up, but it might be interspersed with other posts, sorry for the confusion if there is any! Until next time.

Much Love,

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Falling in Love with Tuscany

Where we ended up staying for Florence ended up being about an hour away, so we decided to stay in the Tuscany area where our hostel was located and explore the area and boy was that the right choice.

Day 19

We let outselves be lazy this morning. We took our time getting out of bed and going to get breakfast from the grocery store. When we were finished eating we said goodbye to Maggie and Kelsey as they were going to be leaving that day and we would not see them go. We then headed out on the open road. We walked along a path for a while figuring that we would see the wine tasting place in about a half hour, that was not the case we came upon it in about 5 mins. It was about 11:30 in the morning and we did not want to taste wine that early, so we continued on our way with the intention of stopping in later when we were walking back. We walked along this path for a while just taking in the breathtaking views of rolling hills and vineyards. About 30mins later we came upon a town and we walked through it. There was not much to see until we came upon a a steep inclined cobblestone street. We walked through it and did not realize that at the time it was the medieval village that we were going through. We walked through it and admired the streets and how ancient it looked. 

We found a church and went inside because we heard organ music, no one was there though. Spooky. We did see that there was a a corpse enshrined that was from 1200. Whoa that is an old body. The view from outside the church was magnificent.

 After we walked into a square

 and just sat under the shade and appreciated the view. 

We walked down some and came across a grocery store, but opted not to get lunch just yet. We instead continued walking down a path, just to see where it led. We came across a field of wheat and had a little of a "Gladiator" moment when we tried to walk along the field while touching the wheat. It did not go as perfectly as the movie scene, but it was still pretty cool. We then found that the road just stopped, so we turned around and headed back. By the time we got back to the grocery store it had closed for fiesta. We went back to the square to rest as most of the path that we had just walked had been in the sun and we had done it during the midday heat. I ended up falling asleep on the bench for about 45 mins. We then realized that the town with the steep cobblestoned streets had in fact been the medieval village and so we walked through again making sure that we didn't miss anything. 

We then headed back and on our way saw where the free wine tasting was. We went inside to inquire whether we could come on Sunday as today we were hot sweaty and had not had lunch (not a good combination). We were told to come the next day at 4. We went back to the hostel and had a hodge podge of a meal while I wrote and read and K looked things for Nice and Barcelona. 

We than had dinner in the common room while watching the game and got to talking to some of the people. I had a really good conversation with a girl named Chelsea and we probably talked for two or three hours straight, which was just really nice. I even had someone to geek out about Game of Thrones to (the book not the tv show). We hung out in the common room and just talked to different people until we were ready to go to bed. 

Then I had a 45 minute conversation with an older Austrailian lady, Jane, that was staying in the dorms. We just talked and talked until late and then we realized we should probably finish up getting ready and go to bed. But it was a really nice conversation. 

Day 20

We woke up and went and bought breakfast for today and Monday and got dinner for tonight.  Then just had a relaxing day, K read and watched tv. I worked on my Venice blog. We went it to lunch at a restaurant in the square. 

My pasta was amazing.

We wanted to go to the gelato place that was really good, but it was closed. Oh well. We got gelato from a different place in the square and then walked back to the hostel. 

On the way we went back to the bluff we saw the first night and saw it during the day. It was nice, but it was really hot so we went back to the hostel. I worked on my blog some more and then Jane came by and I had a conversation with her. We then just hung out with other hostel mates, until I realized that I needed to get ready to go to the wine tasting. 

We ended up going with a group from the hostel and having a really good time. The man that did our tasting was very engaging and charismatic. We tried foods, sauces, and different wines. It was quite an experience. K and I ended up buying a bottle of white wine to have with our dinner. 

We went back to the hostel and packed up our stuff. We then hung out with the people there. We had some good discussions and then K and I decided to had dinner and hang out some more.

Then we went to bed kind of early as we had to get up early the next day to get to Florence and start our 9 hour travel to make it to Nice. 

Well, I will let you know how Nice was in a different post. Until next time.

Much Love, 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I am writing this from our our third and final train into Barcelona. I have not been as diligent with my blog writing as earlier on in this trip. I find myself wanting to read my book more during these long train rides. I'm hoping that this one does not take as long and I can continue reading Game of Thrones (I'm at a really good part now)

Day 16

We got to the station in Venice with plenty of time and got on the right train heading to Florence. We did not, however, choose the right seats. We needed to switch abut halfway through our ride, oh well. We got to Florence around 3:30, but after waiting to talk to the ticket office we did not get out of the train station until around 4:45 or so. The ticket office basically said that we would need to either spend the night somewhere to get to Montpellier or start our journey at 12:40am and not get to Montpellier until 7pm. We opted to go to Nice instead, only 2 transfers and 9 hours of traveling. We then had a hell of a time trying to find the bus station, after a frustrating 45mins we finally found it and got on our bus. Our hostel was about an hour outside of the city of Florence and so as soon as we left the city, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the rolling Tuscan hills. 

When we finally reached our stop (it was never announced, K knew from google maps), we had a difficult time finding the hostel as well. We eventually found it. Due to our long travel day and the frustrations with finding places, we decided to treat ourselves to a restaurant meal. Before we left though, we got settled into our separate rooms (yep you read that right, for the first night we had to sleep in all female and male because they were sold out otherwise). I met my fellow roommates and they were very nice and we had some good girl time. Kelsey and Maggie backpacking through Greece and Italy for a month. 

When I came back down K and I went out. There was only one place that we could see as open and so we chose that. 

We had a really good meal. 

First taste of local Tuscany wine. 

Later we walked a little and came upon gelato place (that we believe has had the best gelato in all that we have tried in Italy).

 We then walked around the neighborhood for a bit. We saw some stray cats, and just observed the residential streets of the place we were staying. When we did head back to the hostel we turned down a street that was a deadens with a bluff that looked out over the valley.

 It was breathtaking. Unfortunately, there was a stray dog near by and I think we were disturbing it's way back home so we left shortly after. We returned to the hostel and just hung out and watched the cup. 

Day 17

We tried to get up early, but due to the fact that K and I were in separate rooms it was difficult for K to get up without his Taylor alarm clock. ;) Anyways, we had breakfast at the hostel and then walked down to the bus stop to wait for the bus into Florence. We ended up sitting with Kelsey and Maggie on our way in and stayed with them to find Piazza Della Signoria in the city where we could check our reservations for seeing the David the next day. On our way there we passed through Piazza del Duomo. We took some pictures and marveled at the sights.After we got to Piazza Della Signoria we left them and continued on our way. We went in search of a grocery store, as some searching we found one and stocked up. We then turned our heads to the river and began to head in that direction. We wanted to find a park to sit and have our lunch, but the one we found you had to pay for and I did not want to do that. We walked along the river until we found a free park. 

After eating and resting we began walking to Piazzale Michelangeo. This place apparently has one of the best views of the city and so we hiked to the top, was a tad steep but we did it. We stayed at the top for a time, just taking in the breathtaking view. 

We took pictures and then began our descent. We then went on a quest for gelato that we had heard was good from a fellow hostel ate. On our way we walked through the bridge of gold, which was really an astounding site. Did not realize so many different jewelry stores could be located on one little bridge. We found it, but it was ok. We did have a fun time sitting on the bridge and people watching as we ate our gelato. We then decided we were tired and that we would head back to the hostel. When we got back we went to the grocery store and stocked up for dinner and future breakfasts. We then hung out with other backpackers, got invited to a pasta dinner one of the backpackers had made and just talked. 

It was really fun. We decided to go into the city early the next day with Kelsey and Maggie. We all figured we should go to bed kind of early. 

Day 18

We got up early and made it on the bus, barely but we did it. We walked with Maggie and Kelsey for a bit, but then parted planning on seeing each other at 4pm to see the David. K and I walked to Piazza Della Signoria and had a better look around as we had not the day before. We went to a free outdoor museum. After looking at the sculptures we found a place to sit and planned out the rest of our day. First, we went in search of daily chalk creations and without realizing it we had found them. 

We stayed there for a while and watched the artist at his work. The colors that he used were unbelievable and I would have never have believed could make the end result. 

We then headed in the direction of where an outdoor market was supposed to be and ended up stumbling upon Fontana del Porcellino. In this center it is lucky to touch the pigs nose because it brings you luck and so of course we did. We continued on our way eventually finding the outdoor market. We walked through it for a bit and then realized that there was a building in the center. We headed inside to see and noticed that it was here that people were selling fresh food. 

Upstairs was where people prepared fresh food in front of you. It was around lunchtime so you can imagine that we decided to stay here and get some food. K chose pizza and I pasta. 

Everything was absolutely to die for. We were going to do gelato for dessert, but it didn't look good. 

We then decided to look for where the David was located, we found it and got our tickets. We had a little to it, but we found a park and wrote postcards. When we were finished it was time to go. We got there found Kelsey and Maggie and headed in. The David was completely magnificent. 

So much better in real life. The rest of the museum was insightful as well. Afterwards we walked to the bus station we bought our tickets and waited. Apparently, the platform number that we were given was not correct and so we ended up in Poggibonsi instead of our stop. The bus driver told us that the next bus to where we were going would be an hour. Kelsey and I walked around looking for a grocery store but to no avail. Close to the time when the bus was due to arrive we stood up near where previous buses had been picking other people up. All of a sudden a older man came riding up on his moped. He started speaking to us in Italian, but of course none of us understood him. He asks where we are from and then proceeds to focus on K's LA. Talking about movies and making imitations. Then he asked where we were heading and as a bus is driving away yells after the bus driver where he is going, where we needed to go. Luckily, we got on the bus! Everything happens for a reason right?

Due to the fact that we got delivered to the wrong place, we got back to the hostel later then anticipated and the store had closed so we couldn't buy dinner. We decided to go out to eat and the hostel manager gave us a suggestion. It was a bit of a walk, but it was so worth it. The food was probably the best I had ever had. K had pork chops that were so tender and I had baked veal in mozzarella. We celebrated with ordering tiramisu (which was perfection). We got back to the hostel, hung out with some people for a bit and then went to bed. 

Well, the next two days we explored the Tuscany area. That will be in a different post. Until next time. 

Much Love,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Venice: We Got Lost

I know that it has been awhile since I last wrote, but things have been pretty nonstop for a while and today is our relaxing day. I will write more about where we are in a later post but just so you know our anticipated schedule for the next few days here is a brief overview. We have been in the Tuscan area since Wednesday. We spent all day on Thursday and Friday in Florence and yesterday in the Chianti area. Tomorrow we will travel all day to get to Nice, France. We will stay there for two nights one full day and then make our way to Barcelona, Spain. But all that in the next post, let me write about how hopelessly lost we got in Venice. 

Day 12

Our night train was fine, as stated before in my earlier post it was a lot nicer then the night train from Berlin to Vienna. If K and I had had the car to ourselves for the entirety of the ride we could have scooted the seats down across from one another to make a bed type thing, but alas.

The seats were still better then before. Around midnight we we welcomed in two other night train travelers in Salzburg. Cooper and Carlo. We stayed up till about 3am just talking and laughing. Because there were only 4 of us in the compartment, Cooper and Carlo were able to lay out in the way that I described earlier but K and I being across from each other had to make due with the space that was left. It was alright, we had done it before we could do it again. 

Day 13

I woke up around 5 and was greeted to an astonishing view of mountains and Italian countrysides. This was a breathtaking sight and I managed to snap a few pictures along the way. 

K and I got into Venice fine, we went to the train ticket office first as always to figure out how we would get to Florence. We were given two options, we could get there in 2 hours and pay 10 euro or we could get there in 4 hours and make two transfers (we decided to pay for the direct high speed train). We then walked entirely across the city (to the Rialto bridge from the train station) 
and its confusing streets with our backpacks on in order to find a travelex ATM (we had almost no more cash left). 

We stumbled upon a a man playing music, while lost. 

We then walked all the way back across the city towards the bus station to buy our tickets to get to the campsite that we were staying at back on the mainland. We would have liked to stay in the city center but unfortunately everything was really pricey. We got to the campsite without too many problems and it only took us about 25-30min. We were able to get into our rooms right away at 11. 

K is just a tad tired. :) 

We got lunch from the market that they had which was alright but pretty pricey, but there was no other supermarket around the campsite. We were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. 

K and I decided that we were going to use this day as a rest day, do laundry, finish my Vienna blog and just relax. Which we did. Later that day while we were sitting by the wifi spot we saw Carlo (from the grin walk in) we talked with him for a bit. Then the friends that he had met at the campsite earlier that day came by (Robert and Sam). We just talked, joked, and asked for advice from them for the rest of the night which was really nice. Robert was from the Washington state area which was nice to talk about that and maybe I'll have friends over there when I get back :) :) ! They gave us some awesome travel tips, too bad we couldn't explore a city with them, but they were off to Paris the next day. Afterwards, K and I exhausted from our day went to sleep, ready to explore Venice in the morning.

Day 14

Two weeks in! We got up a little late, but still got to the city early. We spent about 2 1/2 hours trying to find a grocery store ( apparently Venice has no grocery stores ). Either way when we did find one, it was 11:30ish and we decided to just continue with our original plan to have breakfast and so we did. Rob and Sam had told us about the grocery store and it having a free bathroom as long as we brought our own toilet paper, so we used that because as we found later throughout the day there we no places to go to the bathroom. I ended up having to pay for my first public bathroom :( .After eating we tried to find our way to San Marco Square, which we did eventually find but not without some navigating difficulties. 

I felt like Nancy Drew and I had hit a dead end ( B hope you get this ;)  )

Does this way work?

When we did find it, the square was jam packed with people. The lines to get into the different places were extremely long, so we opted to just take pictures. 

Rob and Sam had also told us about a gelato place that was supposed to be amazing so we tried our hand at finding it and eventually did. 

The gelato in K's eyes was pretty good. I didn't really have a benchmark for my gelato tasting, so it was hard for me to determine whether or not it was good or not.

 We walked around with our gelato for a bit and of course took pictures. 

We then began our search for a bookstore that had been mentioned in a Buzzfeed article. Liberia Acqua Alta

 ( [number 5]). The bookstore was very cool and full of weird things, not quite as organized as the bookstore in Amsterdam had been but that was alright, I got my full share of pictures. 

Because why not have a gondolier boat full of books?

Book staircase that you can climb.

The view from one side

The view from another.

It was perfect that we had visited that day because I had finished the book that I got from the bookstore in Amsterdam. I tried to do a book exchange, but the bookstore had a small amount of English books and the ones that I did find were not small enough to travel with me (back to my kindle I guess). The owner did give me my book in exchange for a notebook that I will be needing very soon as my current notebook is getting quite full maybe a another two entries (but probably really only just one). 

After the bookstore we found a place in a piazza to sit down, rest, and eat our fruit as we had been on our feet all day. Not very many parks in this city to rest, so we made due. We looked at our guidebooks to see what else we could do and figured that we would try to find a post office as we needed to despartly send our postcards. We had the hardest time trying to find the post office (I don't think the one we were looking for even exists). We ended up just going into a convienance store that sold stamps and had a mailbox. All of the frustration from walking around in circles trying to find this elusive post office had us sitting at another piazza flipping through our guidebooks for a cheap but good eats for dinner. We found a place, but when we got there it was closed until 6:30pm and it was 5:45pm at this point.  We just wandered around wasting time and trying not to get lost. One of the places that we came upon was a Piazza that was filled with locals at the early evening. It was nice to just watch the children playing, adults lounging, and rambunctious dogs. When we felt the appropriate amount of time had passed we went to the restaurant. 

We sat down and ordered our own pizzas, and had an experience of cutting pizzas ( hard to do with the crust ). I thought that mine was decent but K liked his. 

We were going to try and stay in the city until dark, but we couldn't make it we were both so wiped from our day. We did get to see the sunset and made it back to the campground and 9:30pm and collapsed into bed.

Day 15

We got up earlier this day because K wanted to see San Marco Square without as many tourists. We aimed to get there early. While waiting for the bus we met another traveller, Jack, who is a flight attendant. We talked throughout the entire bus ride which was really cool. He invited us to have lunch with him and other people from the campsite. We booked it to the square and even had a nice Italian woman showing us the way (not really, we were secretly following her). 

We did get to the square, but there was still a lot of tourists and the lines to were still too long. We found a park (the only park, we could find that was open to the public!) we ate breakfast and then found a tourist office. We tented to see if we could get a gondola ride for cheaper. Unfortunately, we could not. We could pay 30 euro each to share a boat with strangers for 35mins or 80 euro for just the two of us for 35 mins. We decided flip a coin to help us decide what to do. Either just buy a boat bus ticket and see the canals that way or get pay the ridiculous price of the gondola ride. The coin landed on buying the bus ticket, which we did later in the day and we had a good time as well. 

Rialto bridge 

At the top.

We did manage to make it to the meeting point to connect with new people. We met Andrew and Sophia and we just wandered around with them for a while. We took pictures, we talked, and we even came upon a famous market. 

We stumbled into a place to get lunch and had some good conversations. They will be heading off to college in the fall, boy are they in for the time of their life.

K and I left them after lunch to find a tickets for the bus boats and then just traveled around for the rest of the day. 

We had an easier time finding the supermarket and getting dinner mixings.

 We also bought for breakfast as we would not have time to get that before leaving the campsite and getting to the train station the next day. We had wanted to eat our dinner on one of the islands, but I was not feeling good. So we headed back and had a campsite dinner. We planned our next couple of days. We had originally flipped a coin between Montpelier and Nice and Montpelier had won, but when we got to Florence the travel between the two would be too difficult. Either way we went to bed and the next day headed to the train station. 

Tomorrow we are traveling 9 hours to Nice and so I am hoping to write my Florence blog there. I am sorry for the delay in Venice, but hey I was enjoying the Tuscan countryside, can you blame me? :) until next time. 

Much love,