Venice was our last city in Italy and the last stop of the trip for M and N! We arrived in Venice in the late afternoon after driving from Montefollonico. It was a nice end to our road trip getting to drive all the way to Venice. After dropping the car off we took a taxi to the water shuttles, and then a water shuttle to our hotel. The water shuttle was quite the adventure. Our hotel was located on the far end of the island so we got to see quite a bit of the city on the way. Venice was beautiful – besides Nice it was the prettiest city of my trip. The architecture was incredible and the water made everything that much more beautiful. I practically grew up on a boat so I definitely enjoyed the boat aspect of the city. It’s still a little crazy to me that there are no cars in the city but after spending a couple days there I’ve seen how impossible it would be to have cars there – the city just isn’t designed for it. After getting dropped off by the water shuttle it was quite the adventure trying to find our hotel. We ended up taking the long way which included dragging out luggage over four extra bridges (luckily people saw us struggling and offered help) before we found our hotel.
I know it’s been awhile but I would like to finish sharing about my Europe adventure (only a few more cities left)!
My time in Florence was jam packed! After a full first day (see my post here), we had an even busier second day. The day started out with a leather demonstration at Leonardo’s Leather Shop. One of the sales girl’s explained how leather is preserved and then she showed us how they make their signature jewelry box. It was pretty cool to see the process and just how much work goes into making their jewelry boxes (kinda helps explain why leather goods are so expensive!). The presentation was only about 30 minutes and then we had some time to browse in the store before going on a mini walking tour of the city. They had some very nice leather products including purses but it was all pretty expensive and not really my style. I did buy a couple thin purple and blue leather bracelets though.
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.
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.
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.
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.