As some of you are aware, I have recently returned from an amazing holiday in Europe (partly why it has been so quiet on the blogging front) but I am back now and ready to share some more articles and recipes with you all. I might even get around to posting all the recipes that have been sitting in my drafts folder for way too long.
But for now I want to share with you some highlights of our travels
As Europe is a long way from Australia and albeit not cheap to get there we wanted to make the most of our first time there by seeing as many of our ‘to see’ places as possible. Our travels took us to the beautiful countries of Spain, Italy, Greece (plus a day in Montenegro on the way back), Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and France.
With so many places to see, our stay in some places were quite brief but I feel that it has given us a good idea of where we would love to spend more time when we return.
Of the places that we visited, I have listed below our top 7 (I was trying to keep it to 5) highlights.
- Sightseeing in Barcelona – Barcelona was our first stop in Europe and it has made me so keen to go back to Spain and see more of the beautiful country. It felt like around every corner was another beautiful building with so much character. We visited a few of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces and wow.. if you go to Barcelona I would definitely recommend visiting Sagrada Familia. Sure it looks impressive from the outside but walk inside and that is where the true magic happens. The size, magnitude and detail is incredible (he took a lot of his inspiration from nature) and the stain glass windows throw the most amazing light through the whole building.
- Hiking in Cinque Terre – Cinque Terre was a place that had been recommended to me by a number of friends and when I saw photos I instantly fell in love and had to go there. We stayed at La Spazia, a short train ride from the 5 villages and for 2 days we caught the train in and hiked between the villages. We did a mix of hiking along the coast and inland and the views were all amazing. Despite the fact that around 3 million (I think) people hike the trails each year, the tracks still felt so rugged and untouched. Hands down one of the best places I have ever hiked. Oh yea and it was also home to the best dairy free dark chocolate sorbet I’ve ever had.
- Lake Garda – this location was one of the places my husband really wanted to go to and that was manly due to the mountain biking recommendations. We stayed near Riva Del Garda which is at the north of the lake and the location definitely didn’t disappoint. We ended up staying for 5 nights (our longest stay in one place) and the days were filled with things to do and see. Most days involved catching a bus or walking into Riva, hiring bikes and riding some of the many tracks. Other days we went hiking with friends and were rewarded with incredible views over the town.
- Sightseeing and snowboarding in Austria – Austria was a place that we decided before we went that we probably wouldn’t have time to go to as we wanted to go to Switzerland however on the morning that we were leaving Italy we made the decision to go to Austria instead. We stayed at a little village outside of Innsbruck surrounded by picturesque mountains and green fields dotted with chateaus and hiking huts. We stayed at an awesome hostel (shout out to Doug’s mountain getaway) and used it as a base to visit Innsbruck, go hiking in the mountains and even had a day trip to the glaciers where we went snowboarding for the day. Having only been to the snow a few times in Australia, it was awesome to experience true European Alps.
- Ancient Rome – I wont lie, Rome wasn’t our favourite place (we much preferred the countryside to the big cities) however we loved experiencing the culture and history of Ancient Rome. We took part in a tour that including the Colosseum (including 3rd level and the underground), Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and definitely recommend it. Our tour guide was great and really painted the picture of what these sights would have looked like in their grand days.
- Spending time with family in Italy – Some of my husbands extended family live in Italy and it was great to spend a few days with them. We were blown away by the hospitality shown to us by people we had never before met. They welcomed us into their home, gave us a place to sleep, insisted on feeding us (manga manga) and were very informative local guides when we went sightseeing.
- And finally (because I cant list them all), our time spent in Paris. We only had a few nights in Paris and would have loved to have spent a couple more days there but despite the short visit felt like we saw a lot. We briefly visited some of the typically touristy sites, the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomph, Palace of Versaille, The Lourve and more but our favourite moments were at night when we relaxed in front of the Eiffel tower at night watching the light show on the hour, catching up with friends at a local wine bar, and eating traditional French food (Escargot aka snails and frogs legs cooked in so much butter).
There you have it, some of our many highlights. Have you been to Europe? If so, I would love to hear what your highlights were/are so just leave me a comment below. Perhaps you’ll give me some ideas for our next visit whenever that may be :-).