– July and August 2015
So after months of talking and planning, Innes and I went travelling around Europe for 4 weeks with our backpacks, Inter rail Global train passes and Google maps. It was the best, busiest and most tiring trip I have been on and we had such a good time!
We had planned a route and booked hostels for each city before we set off and pretty much stuck to it the whole time. Our plan was to spend 4/5 days in Brussels, Cologne, Prague, Lido de Jesolo, Venice, Milan and Geneva and on the way we added a day trip to Pisa and another to Trieste whilst in Italy so we ended up visiting 9 cities!
This blog is way overdue but I needed to set aside time to write about the trip as there is so much to say and so many pictures of the most random things.
BRUSSELS (21st – 25th July)
We flew to Brussels from Manchester and arrived on one of the busiest days of the year – National Belgium day. We went to a firework show in the city park on the first night of the trip and explored when we arrived. We soon found Grand Place Square which was so pretty and full of people, it became our go to place while we were in the city.
Over the 4 days we were in Brussels we visited Delirium Café, a bar which had more than 2000 types of beer, ate at Fritland, the city’s most famous fast food bar, went on a New Europe walking tour, came across Tomorrowland Global journey street party, toured the musical instrument museum, ate out in the squares and parks, visited Atomiun, a huge atom structured monument, and were drawn to Belgian chocolate waffles. We enjoyed the city way more than we had expected and managed to fit a lot in each day.
COLOGNE (25th – 29th July)
After our first train journey of many to come we arrived in Cologne and it didn’t feel much different to what we were used to seeing at home, weather and building wise. We spent a lot of time around the Cathedral and walking up and down the River Rhine and went on another New Europe Walking tour.
Each day we did something different, we rented bikes and rode around the city, we spent a day at Cologne zoo and aquarium after a 3 hour walk to get there, we spent hours in the interactive Lindt chocolate museum/ factory which was so much fun and walked by the love lock on the Hohenzollern bridge before watching the sun go down over the bridge and Cathedral. The weather wasn’t great and we needed our rain coats as there was a few storms but it was nice to visit somewhere new. When leaving Cologne we realised that there was in fact two train stations in the city so nearly missed our train to Nuremberg where we then got a coach to Prague but we just made it in time.
PRAGUE (29th –3rd August)
Prague was by far my most favourite city of the trip, it was so pretty, so old fashioned and there was lots to see and do. The city was like something out of a fairy-tale and had an old and new town. The old town was home to the astronomical clock, old fashioned restaurants and bars, street performers and a jazz festival, we spent a lot of our time in and around the old town as our hostel was really close. The city was full of cobbled streets which all looked very similar and busy with horse and carriages and segways it was surreal at some points.
Over the 5 days we were in the city the weather was really nice so we were able to do loads. We went on another walking tour, walked across Charles bridge, visited the John Lennon Peace wall, walked up to Letna Park, took a trip to the ice bar, walked to the castles and vineyards, visited the Jewish quarter, spent an afternoon on a pedal boat on the river, explored the Dyzajn markets, went shopping and spent afternoons on the island on the river.
The currency was hard to understand at first as it was so different to the pound and euro but it worked out that all food, alcohol and shops were really cheap so we hardly spent much while we were there.
We left our hostel in the middle of the night to catch the 5am train at the crack of dawn to Venice via Munich and almost missed it as it was literally to the minute, it was probably the longest travel day of the whole trip and was so tiring.
LIDO DE JESOLO (4th – 7th August)
We spent one evening in Venice as we knew that midway through the trip we would be tired and want a break from being super tourists so we spent 3 days at a beach town an hour away from Venice. We spent each day sunbathing, swimming and reading at the beach and each night eating pizza and drinking cocktails. We were glad of our own room with air con as it made a change to sharing in a hostel plus it was 40 degrees so was boiling. We attempted to play crazy golf one night and got eaten alive by mosquito’s and were roasting because it was still 30+ degrees at night but the sunsets were really colourful and pretty because the weather was so nice during the day time.
VENICE (7th – 11th August)
We then went back to Venice by coach and spent a few more days there. It was the hottest place by far on the whole trip and was unbearable at points. A lot of our time was spent eating chocolate ice cream, finding shade and getting lost in all the side streets trying to find our way to St Mark’s Square. The whole city looks just like what it does on postcards, all the canals and old fashioned hotels and buildings were really pretty but it was just too hot for us and the canal water attracted mosquitos so it became hard to move around.
Gondolas were really expensive but we couldn’t not go on one so we shared with 3 others and went along the canals, I felt like I was so close to tipping into the water the whole time but it was an experience. It was a romantic city and we saw a few weddings and a lot of couples, Innes even bought me a rose. The food was really nice and we love pizza and pasta so were in our element.
TRIESTE (9th August)
We took a day trip whilst from Venice to Malfalcone to meet Innes friend from uni and it was a fun and scorching day. We explored two castles by the sea, one old ruins and another more modern one with huge gardens called Mieramora castle and sat by the beach for lunch. We then drove to Trieste city and explored, in the evening we went to Port Picalo in Sistiana which was really fancy and tucked away in a valley with beautiful beaches and lots of boats and yachts. By the time we got back to Venice we were definitely ready for the air con and sleep.
MILAN (11th – 15th August)
Our time in Milan was not what we expected. The hostel we stayed in was at least one hour away from the city centre and was pretty disgusting to say the least and at least one hour away from the train station. We still tried to make the most of it but ended up doing hours of walking and not much touristy stuff. We found the cathedral which was really pretty and wandered through the designer shopping malls. There were pigeons everywhere and we ate a lot of fast food and supermarket food while we were in the city. We were going to go to Expo but never ended up going, my experience of the city put me off going back again.
PISA (14th August)
From Milan we took a day trip to Pisa and had an early rise for a metro and a 4 hour train journey as we wanted to get there and back in a day as we researched and found there was not a lot to do there. We wandered around the area and followed the map to the main sights which lead us to the square of miracles. The leaning tower of Pisa wasn’t actually leaning that much but we still tried and failed to take photos of us looking as if we were pushing it over. When we were in Pisa we realised we had made a mistake on our Interrail passes and would have to leave Milan the next day in order for us to be able to get to Geneva, once we got back to the hostel it was a bit of a rush but we were glad to get out of the hostel.
GENEVA (15th – 20th August)
Everything got so much better from the minute we got on the train to Geneva, the scenery was so pretty and we were there in no time. Our hostel was more like a hotel and we got given free transport cards for the whole city which we were really glad for as we had walked so much already on the trip.
The hostel was close to Lake Geneva and all of the shops and the pavements even had sparkles in.
We found a burger bar called Holy Cow which was really nice and was one of the only things we could afford by the time the end of the trip came and Switzerland being so expensive. We spent 5 days in Geneva and did a lot each day which was made easy by the travel cards.
We visited Jet d’eau a few times which was really impressive especially at night, went to the UN building, walked to the old town, played a giant checkers game in Parc de Bastions, found the outdoor lakeside cinema, went on the lake boats, took a cable car up Mount Saleve and spent the afternoon up there watching people paraglide, spent afternoons at baby plage beach, had picnics by the lake and made trips to some Swiss chocolate shops. It was a fab end to a fab trip!
The trip was such a good way to spend a month of the summer and was full of walking, eating out, traditional foods, tours, hostels, photographs, pizza, cheap beer, thousands of steps, revision, sightseeing, long train journeys, street performers and watching the world go by, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.