Pisa Italy

After our adventure in Cinque Terra we headed to Pisa for a quick trip – we stayed just one night and left by noon the next day. Even though it was such a short stop in Pisa it was enough time to see the city and of course check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We arrived at our hotel early evening the first night. About two thirds of the group walked to a nearby pizza restaurant to grab a bite while the rest of us decided to head into the city to explore and have a quick dinner. We were only staying about a 10 minute taxi ride out of the city. That taxi ride was my first experience with Italian drivers – lets just say it was a crazy ride and just the beginning! The little I saw of Pisa was quite pretty. There was a river that seemed to run right through town and added to the beauty of the city. Once we were dropped off, the group, about 10 of us, started to wander through the town in search of a restaurant for dinner. We ended up in a little square that had a few different restaurants with tons of outdoor seating. Even though it was close to 10 pm the square was so lively and filled with people. The restaurant we ended up at only had a few outdoor seats available so the group had to split up – half went inside to eat and the other half stayed outside. I stayed with the group outside which made for some fun people watching.

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Welcome to Italia

After a full couple days in Nice it was time to head to Italy…first stop Cinque Terre! The road from Nice to Cinque Terre was very windy but had beautiful views of the green mountains. We were dropped off near Cinque Terre and had to take a short train ride the rest of the way to the first village, Monterosso. Cinque Terre means five lands in Italian and is a cluster of five villages along the rugged, mountainous coastline of Italy. The area is pretty remote and is still not easily accessible by car. They are also well known for their beautiful colorful buildings – when I was at the town the houses and stores didn’t seem as brightly colored as I was expecting but when I saw them from a boat it was more obvious.

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Nice France

I know it’s been a little while but I do want to finish sharing about my trip to Europe. After Avignon, we headed to Nice. Nice was definitely one of my favorite cities of the trip! It was just so beautiful and I had such a great time there!

We had a pretty full day before arriving in Nice with stopping in Aix-en-Provence and at the Fragonard Parfumeur so we didn’t arrive until late afternoon. Driving into Nice we drove right along the coastline – I immediately fell in love with the city- the beaches were gorgeous with beautiful blue water and the mountains along the coastline. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to check out the beach on the first day. We headed straight for the hotel to get ready to head to Monaco. The hotel in Nice was seriously the smallest hotel room I’ve ever seen! Of the whole trip it was probably the least nice of all my accommodations; it was clean just very small!

First view of Nice

First view of Nice

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Avignon

After having a blast in Spain it was time to head to France! From Barcelona we headed to Avignon for the night.  Driving in we passed by the Pont Saint-Benezet, which is the famous arched bridge of the city. The bridge was originally built with 22 arches but now only has 4 arches because it was destroyed several times, primarily due to flooding of the Rhone. We then went directly to the ancient town center which is still surrounded by a large wall which was used to protect the city in the past. The city center was beautiful with all of the brick buildings and the massive cathedral in the town center.

Cathedral in the town center in Avignon

Cathedral in the town center

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BarceLOCA

Well Barcelona really lived up to its nickname of BarceLOCA. We only had a day and a half there so we tried to make the most of it. The first evening was spent seeing some of the sites such as the 1932 Olympic Stadium and the Sagrada Familia (a huge church that was been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed around 2026!). It was incredible! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go inside but the outside was amazing. Following the Segrada Familia, we went to have dinner at the top of one of the former bull fighting arenas. Barcelona banned bull fighting so they converted one of the old arenas into a mall with several restaurants at the rooftop terrace. Once at the top you get a 360-degree view of the city. The view was incredible! Barcelona seemed much much bigger than Madrid even though Madrid is actually bigger. Barcelona seems more spread out whereas Madrid seemed compact and concentrated in the city center. After the dinner we had a chill night to recover and relax for the next night out in Barcelona.

The second day in Barcelona, we went on a short walking tour around one of the cathedrals. The tour was followed by churros and hot chocolate! A traditional Barcelona treat! The churros were on my bucket list for Barcelona so I was glad we were able to try them. The chocolate was surprisingly not that sweet which was perfect to counter the sweetness of the churros. I also had a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice which was some of the best orange juice I’ve had.

Churros in Barcelona

Churros in Barcelona

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Lucy, I’m Home

I’m finally back from Europe! I had such a great time traveling through Spain, France, and Italy. Now that I’m back and have time I can finally share the rest of the details of my trip! The majority of my trip was spent on a Contiki tour. Two weeks were spent on the tour followed by a week of road tripping through Italy and then 3 days in Paris! I first heard about Contiki about a year ago while I was in Rhode Island for work. It seemed like a pretty cool concept to me – Contiki offers tours for 18-35 year olds. I started researching Contiki and it seemed like a great way to travel to Europe for the first time. After I had started researching, Neli, one of the girls I work with, mentioned that her and a friend were going on a Contiki tour to Europe and invited me to join. I wasn’t totally convinced at first but then in May I made the decision to join their European adventure – it was seriously one of the best decisions ever!

Stacie and her friends on their Contiki tour Read more

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