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Backpacking Europe

Backpacking Europe

The Floating City Of Venice

Venezia, the Floating city, is made up of 118 islands within a lagoon linked by canals and bridges. When you visit you can see why it’s often called the city of bridges.
It’s Sarah here. I thought I’d write a wee blog about this incredible city which far exceeded my expectations.
Venezia is impossible to describe. It’s amazing. From the architecture to the atmosphere it’s romantic and beautiful.
We were yet again blessed with amazing weather both sunny and warm the two days we spent there.
Accommodation that is central is expensive however you can find some good bargains on ratestogo.com which is what we did and we were lucky enough to get a cute and central hotel for a reasonable price.

Venice is easily walkable and surprisingly not to hard to navigate.
We enjoyed a cruise on the canal which is a must do in Venice. Sitting in Piazza San Marco is lovely and great for people watching but be warned there is a service charge which is often hefty as they pay for the band that play in many bars. This is well worth the money for a great experience especially in the afternoon sun enjoying a glass of Chianti.

For those wanting to visit St marks basilica they are very strict on entry so don’t take backpacks in with you. It’s a unique church that is currently being restored. Also watch your footing it’s very uneven.
The food in Venezia is great . We ate very well and they cater to all budgets. Trattoria da Rino was a highlight. We ate their twice and both times we enjoyed our food. It was expensive but the risotto we had was amazing.
Overall Venice was great. I’d recommend visiting to anyone. It’s a world of its own and has to be seen to be believed. Especially as in fifty years time it probably won’t exist anymore. I think it’s safe to say we enjoyed our fair share of tiramisu in Italy and Venice also did not disappoint there! Italy was amazing but onto Austria it is!

Backpacking Europe

Florence, Firenze

My first impression after arriving on Florence (or Firenze as they say here) is the space. There are many people walking around and it’s busy but it feels spacious. No one bumps into you nor are we walking shoulder to shoulder like we did in some cities.

Our hostel, Plus hostel Florence, is very easy to find from the train station and it’s big and brand new. The rooms are clean and pretty spacious for a hostel and although breakfast is not included they do offer an all you can eat buffet breakfast for €6 every morning.

I have I admit I love Florence, it’s a cute city with not too many tourist attractions but it’s a perfect city to walk around in, see some things like the garden of Boboli and Il Duomo, eat good food and do some shopping.

The only thing I noticed here more then elsewhere are the beggars, especially women. Luckily the police are on it pretty good and sent them on their way as soon as they are spotted.

I felt good walking around in Florence, I didn’t feel hassled into buying things or bothered to come and eat in so and so restaurant, so yes to me Florence was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Il Duomo

Me eating shrimp risotto

ceiling of Il Duomo

view of Florence

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Boboli garden

Backpacking Europe

Sorrento Area

Both me and Sarah needed to get away from all the big city hustle and bustle and find our calm near the ocean. So we went down to Sorrento, an hour away from Naples, to get away from it all and enjoy some down time.

That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything at all. We’ve done quiet a lot in the day and a half we were there. But all to find some relaxation near the ocean.

After arriving at our hotel (yes no hostel this time!) we took the bus to Positano. A very small town located in the Sorrento peninsula, the bus takes you up to the main road of the town and you have to walk all the way down to the little shops, restaurants and the ocean.
We enjoyed a good few hours in Positano before heading back to Sorrento, with a bus ride I’ll never forget. Seeing Italian driving is one thing; experiencing it is a whole different ball game! Who should have thought you could negotiate a drop off point that’s off the route and drivers changing shifts while stopped in the middle of a very busy intersection in a small town! At least it was another authentic Italian experience πŸ˜‰

The next day we went on a boat cruise to Capri, we got to go on a small boat with only 4 other people on it and sailed all around the island of Capri. We stopped at all the grottos and even went swimming and snorkelling in the beautiful clear waters of the green grotto. We swam all the way through the green grotto were Mario our captain picked us up again to sail further along the Capri Coast before dropping us on land to explore the island ourselves.

We headed up to Capri and from there to Anacapri and back again looking around the small little towns while eating the lovely lunch Mario’s mum prepared for us.

We met Mario back at the docks fro here he sailed us back to Sorrento. We spend a whole day on the ocean and it was absolutely amazing and relaxing. If you’re in Sorrento and want to go to Capri, I really recommend Mamma Mia cruises, the do cruises to other islands too and I’m sure they’re just as good!

These two days away from it all was just what we needed. Feeling all relaxed and recharged we are currently on our way to Florence to see the old town centre and all it has to offer.

Positano

Positano

Positano

Positano

Having a drink with a view in Positano

Positano

Capri

Beautiful waters of Capri

Famous Rocks of Capri

Sarah and I at famous rocks of Capri

lighthouse of Capri

ready to get my swim on in Capri

Sunset over Sorrento

Backpacking Europe

When in Rome

Don’t just assume a green light will get you across the street safely!! The driving is crazy here. People run red lights left and right, stop on a pedestrian crossing when it’s green to walk and there’s a whole concert of car horns on every intersection. You better think twice about just stepping onto the road, it might end up a bit different than you expected.

Apart from the erratic driving Rome is amazing. The city had 2 metro lines, A and B, which will get you pretty much anywhere, but the city is very walkable too. It’s contained enough to walk to all the places of interest without seeming too small and passing the same area twice.

We’ve walked a lot these past days and seen parts of the city we normally wouldn’t have (which means we took some wrong turns πŸ˜‰ ) and came across sights we would have missed otherwise.

If you have a chance, go see Rome, the history of the place still feels alive within the city and it’s fantastic to be able to stand in the same spot gladiators stood. On the floor of the colosseum.

And in case you’re wondering from my last post, we did make it to Rome that night, barely! It required a whole lot of running to get from one train station to another via metro and buying tickets as we went along, we made the very last train to Rome that night with minutes to spare..

For all my entries I have lots more photos to show you but they’re on my camera so for now the iPhone photos will have to do.

Dirty Rome River and pretty bridge

St. Peter basilica

Me at Trevi fountain

The Colosseum

Me at the colosseum

Backpacking Europe

Oui Oui Paris

I’m writing this post on a train somewhere between Paris and Milan. I’m not sure where I am at the moment but I can say so far this train ride has been far from uneventful, more on that later though πŸ˜‰

Me and Sarah have spend the past 3 days in Paris. We’ve seen most of Paris’ iconic landmarks and famous places. Starting off with the Eiffel Tower on day one. After dropping our backpacks off at Gare de l’Est we had lunch in the park underneath the Eiffel Tower (French baguettes of course and tartelettes framboise for dessert!) before burning those calories walking up all the stairs on the Eiffel Tower. The view of Paris from the Eiffel tower is amazing and I can really recommend anyone visiting it and enjoying the view. You don’t have to worry, there are elevators too for anyone. Of willing to walk the stairs, you can even go up higher than taking the stairs if you’d want to.

Eiffel Tower

We’ve spend our first day wandering around the city before heading to our hostel. OOPS Hostel is not in the centre but it’s very close to all the main things to see and is easily accessible by metro. It’s small but clean with a friendly staff and a good breakfast to start your day. I’m not to keen on the mattress but that might just be personal preference. I would definitely recommend the hostel if anyone asked.

Over the past few days we didn’t only see the Eiffel Tower, we visited the Louvre (take a whole day for your visit, it’s huge and very, very busy!!) Sacre Coeur, the Pantheon and Got our shopping on in Galleries de La Fayette.
If you love shopping La Fayette is the place to be, make sure to bring lots of money I you plan to buy things, because apart from the Paris souvenirs it’s all designers and very pricey. With that said I did splurge a bit of money on some beautiful stuff I’ll get a lot of use out of and are of fantastic quality πŸ˜‰

Apart from the sights and the shopping we indulged in good food and wine and if you ever decide to stay in Oops Hostel be sure to eat next door at Pizza Cesar. It might not be French but it’s delicious and freshly made Italian food, for a very good price. It’s even worth heading out of the city centre for to eat there, and it’s packed every single night.

As amazing as Paris was, I don’t think I’ll be back any time soon, it hasn’t stolen my heart like Iceland has and for me it surely has nothing on London, my home away from home. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful city, I had a wonderful time, but it’s just not for me.

Now that we have left Paris we are on our way to Rome, via Milan. As I mentioned earlier, the train ride so far hasn’t been uneventful. Getting onto the train in Paris was easy, but the train broke down a few hours in and left us stranded for an hour and a half. Which means we’ll probably miss our connection from Milan to Rome (already booked and paid for) and we just have to hope there’s space on the next trains out as we booked our hostel in Rome as well. And to top it off, customs boarded the train right after we got on our replacement train, frisking a few people and it seemed like they even had to pee in a cup…

Oh well, nothing like a few unexpected changes and adjusting, it’s all in going with the flow. I’m sure it will work out!

Louvre

Pont Neuf

Sacre Coeur

Us at the Eiffel Tower

Sacre Coeur

Sarah and I with Paris in the background