Travel

Italian Summer Vacation Series: A Gondola Ride in Venice

Venice has made its way to the top of my list for most romantic city in Europe. Its not hard to see why. Getting lost for an evening walking聽along the canals with Chris was the most romantic time we’ve ever had. When most people think of Venice, the iconic and most romantic thing to do there is to hop on a gondola and be chauffeured through the narrow canals while you sit back and relax.
However, gondola rides have now become one of the most popular tourist activity to do there and therefore have become quite costly. So the question a lot of people ask is, “is it worth it?” Is it really that memorable or is it just a hype and now a way to get tourist’s money?
A thirty minute ride will cost you 80 euros. So yes, that can seem like a pretty penny for only a half hour especially for everyone trying to travel on a budget. However, many people are only lucky enough to go to Venice once or maaaaaybe twice in a lifetime. That being said, maybe just a stroll along the canals are memorable enough but, for us, a gondola ride was a once in a lifetime experience and totally worth every cent!Venice Canal
Venice GondolaVenice gondolaIt poured rain for about an hour before we wanted to go and just as we saw the sun peeking out, we saw our perfect gondola waiting right in front of us.
My best suggestion for the full experience, grab a bottle of peach bellini (or whatever sparkling drink you prefer) at a corner store and take it with for the ride. 馃檪 Most of the rides start in the narrower canals and go through the quiet areas first, then move out onto the grand canal for a bigger and better view.聽Venice Grand Canal
venice gondolaVenice canalI was so relaxed by the end of the ride and the coolest part is we had seen Venice from a whole new perspective.
So if you have been wondering if you should hop aboard a gondola on your trip to Venice, I say do it! It When in Venice, right?

Share your gondola ride story below!

Check back聽Monday to find out how to spend an afternoon on Venice’s islands Murano and Burano!

 

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Top Sights to see in Venice

Last summer, I fell in love with Venice.聽Its not hard to while getting lost in the beautiful narrow streets and being awed by the old buildings built right up to the waters edge. Plus, the聽over indulgence in gelato and bellini’s didn’t hurt :). This romantic city has so much to offer any traveler and started off our trip through Italy聽with one of the most memorable weekends ever!
One way to go about getting the most out of your trip is to ditch the map and just go! Take a day or evening to forget about making a schedule and just wander along the canals. Follow your nose for somewhere聽to eat, take the perfect photo, and give yourself permission to slow down and take it all in.
But after all that, there still are a few amazing sights you’ll want to make sure you see. I’ve listed my top 9 sights that are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime when in Venice.

1. Grand Canal

The grand canal will be your first encounter with Venice after coming over the bridge either with a train or bus from the airport. The Vaporettos (public transport boats) are easy to find and buy tickets for at聽Piazzale Roma or Ferrovia stop and will take you all the way along the grand canal.
In the first moments already, I felt like I was in a painting, everything felt so surreal. The turquoise blue water splashed around the other boats cruising along next to us, and the red rooftops covered the horizon. My favorites were the shiny wooden boats and of course, the intricate gondolas that lined the edges all along the canal.聽Vencice Grand CanalVenice Canal

2. Rialto Bridge
Rialto bridge venice

Halfway along your grand canal Vaporetto ride, you’ll come to the famous Rialto bridge. Unfortunately while we were there it was a bit under construction so large billboards covered it up but, it is still a beautiful sight to see.

3. St. Marks Square

To end your first Vaporetto ride, you can get off at St. Marks square and start to explore from there. This is where most of the major sights are located and its a beautiful place to take a few photos.

4. Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower)

Right inside the square, the first major sight we came to was the clock tower. Talk about your stunning Italian architecture. 馃檪

5. St. Marks BasilicaVenice BasilicaSt Marks Cathedral Venice

Anywhere in St. Marks Square is the perfect place to take a Venice selfie but,聽my favorite sight there is St.聽Mark’s Basilica. This gorgeous building has so much detail and history. It is also worth it to take a walk through the inside and really experience this amazing sight.

6. Doge’s PalaceDoges Palace Venice

While we didn’t have time to go inside, Doge’s Palace makes for some amazing photos, especially at sunrise!

7. Campanile Bell TowerVenice square

To get the best view, make your way to the Campanile tower across from St. Marks Basillica. You can take an elevator up to the top and have a 360 degree view over Venice.
Venice ViewVenice Viewvenice cathedral

8. Santa Maria della Salute Basilica

This beautiful building was the setting for many Venice street painters sitting across the canal, sketching the incredible shape. I loved this building and tried to take as many photos of it as I could 馃檪

9.The Church of San Mois猫Venice Church

When strolling through the narrow alleys, tucked away you may come across this astonishing church. Just another example of how amazing the Italian architecture is.

Share your favorite Venice sight below!

Stay tuned Wednesday for a look into a gondola ride!

Italian Summer Vacation Series: Perfect Packing List

Welcome to the first week of the Italian Summer Vacation Series! I can already see us walking through the colorful streets of Burano, eating gelato in Rome, and relaxing sea side in Positano. But, first things first. What do we need to pack!? If you are planning your first trip to Italy, this is a great checklist to have (Plus I just love the little things that help keep me organized).

We decided to travel through Italy Backpacker style. It was really convenient not to have to haul big luggages around when trying to catch a train or bus to the next destination.
DCIM112GOPRO
Download the checklist below, print it out, and get excited for your trip! The weather ranges a bit from northern to southern Italy, so even when planning for summer, you’ll still have to pack a few things for cooler and possibly rainy weather in the north and also beach dresses and bikinis for when you head south towards the Amalfi coast.

Perfect Packing List Italy

Monday we’ll be starting off our trip with a visit to Venice! Check back then to find out where all the best sights are 馃檪

Ciao!
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Italian Summer Vacation Series: Intro

Buongiorno!! I am so excited to share this next series with you as traveling through Italy was my favorite summer trip last year. It was so amazing, that we are going back this year for double the time and road tripping through all new cities! But to start off, over the next eight weeks I’m going to get you all ready for your own Italian vacation. From planning and prepping, to destinations, delicious dishes, sightseeing and adventure activities, we’ve got it all! Italy is perfect for a summer destination, a place to show off a bit of your beach bikini style as well as fashion city style! It is also a very relaxed country in general which makes travel easy to enjoy.

Here is a preview of whats to come in the next weeks:

Venice
veniceBurano, Murano
burano italianMilan
Milan Italian adventureAmalfi Coast
Amalfi coast italian adventurePositano
Positano italian adventureCapri
Capri Italian adventuresPompeii
pompeii italian adventureRome
Rome italian adventure

So get excited! We’ll also be sharing favorite summer travel accessories, must have items for your Italian trip, plus amazing photos to inspire some serious wanderlust 馃檪 And as a bonus we have created a Perfect Packing List specifically for Italy for you to download and use. Look for it in the travel prep article coming out Wednesday. But the best part, at the end of the series, we’ll be doing a GIVEAWAY that will include the Italian Summer Vacation Series: Part 1 Ebook! Then later this summer we’ll be jetting off (or rather driving the German Autobahn) towards that next Italian Roadtrip to create Italian Vacation Series Part 2 just for you!!

Stay tuned on Mondays and Wednesdays! The adventure is about to begin 馃檪

And don’t forget to share this article to get your girls or man in on a summer vacay to Italy!

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Best of Germany

Welcome to the first Wanderlust Wednesday! The first Wednesday of every month, I am going to be posting a Wanderlust Wednesday article to inspire you to travel somewhere new and as a way for us all to grow our travel bucket lists. 馃檪
This week, I’m starting off with an easy one for me. I have been living in Germany for the past year and a half now, and have discovered so many wonderful places! While I still feel like I have so many more to visit, here are the “best of” photos from each city or event in Germany that you won’t want to miss when planning that next Euro Trip!

Idar-Oberstein

Idar Oberstein Germany

In the very west of Germany is Idar Oberstein, a lesser known and smaller German 聽town but, with so much charm and character. It is not very touristy which makes a visit there quite relaxing. The best sight of all, the church built into the rocks. 聽The legend goes that there were once two brothers who lived in the castle above the rock. They both fell for the same girl but she only loved one of them. The other learned of this and threw his brother out the window where he plummeted to his death on the rocks below. Immediately filled with remorse, he confessed聽what he had done, and to have this forgiven, he was to build a church at the site of where his brother had died.
Today, you can still visit the church and the castle above. The聽castle is well worth it if you want to get the best view over the city.
Idar Oberstein is also known for its gemstones. If you are looking for something to take back with you, a gemstone souvenir would be just the thing.聽Idar Oberstein Germany

Heidelberg

HeidelbergHeidelberg lies in the southwest side of Germany and is known for its unique and very large Renaissance era castle that stands up on the hilltop and looks down over the colorful buildings within the city.
Heidelberg GermanyHeidelberg Germany

Bremen
Bremen germany

Towards the north is the city of Bremen. Last year we visited for a fall聽festival. In Germany, that means lots of grilled meat, sweets and treats, and festival rides galore!
Bremen germany

Hamburg
Hamburg Germany

Right on the North Sea coast is Hamburg, a thriving and large city full of tourism. The Town Hall (Rathaus) is the most spectacular looking building in my opinion and the best thing to do on a sunny day is take a boat tour to see the whole city from the water!

Hamburg

L眉beck
Lubeck Germany

Also in the north but over on the East Sea coast, is the beautiful city of聽L眉beck. This is the perfect summer vacation spot. White sand beaches spread far and wide with the iconic wicker beach chairs all along the way only 15 minutes from the city center. Even in August the water tends to be a bit chilly but, if the weather is warm enough, its perfect for a quick dip and then relaxing on shore. The biggest and best sight in the city is the Holstentor which is a large gate that marked the city border after it was built in 1464.
Lubeck Germany

Berlin
Berlin Germany

To the east we have Berlin, the largest and capital city of Germany. Berlin has some amazing sights such as the world clock (above) and the Brandenburg Gate (below). It is also the best place to learn about the history of Germany with so many museums, monuments, and memorials throughout the city.

See my full Berlin Itinerary here:聽Berlin Complete Travel Guide
Berlin GermanyBerlin Germany

Christmas Markets
Braunschweig Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets are found all throughout Germany from the end of November until Christmas. It is worth booking your trip during this time just to see them! Drink some hot chocolate with amaretto or hot mulled wine and walk through all of the pretty lights and stands!

See more sparkly photos here: Germany’s Christmas Markets

Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Germany

The Neuschwanstein castle is about an hour outside of Munich and makes for a great day trip. This is the real castle that the Disney castle was designed after!! So its like being a real disney princess when visiting ;).

Read more here: Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle

Munich
Munich Germany

In the heart of Bavaria is Munich. Good beer, meat, and tradition is everywhere here. The best sight is in Marienplatz in the city center. At 11am, as well as 12pm and 5pm in summer,聽the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, or Town Hall Clock performance, occurs while the bells ring聽and the puppets come out to perform. This is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Munich.

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest Germany

The very top attraction in Munich in September and October however, is Oktoberfest. Three weeks of drinking liters of beer, consuming a lifetimes worth of soft pretzels, and dancing around in Lederhosen or a Dirndl is what Oktoberfest is all about.

Read more about Oktoberfest in my other article here: Cheers to Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest pretzel OktoberfestOktoberfest GermanyOktoberfest Germany

Already been to Germany?? Where was your favorite place? Share below!

Don’t forget to pin this post for later and follow along on Pinterest!

First Time European Hostel Guide

Ever since I moved to Europe, I have found the best way to budget travel is to take advantage of all the amazing hostels every city has to offer. There are so聽many reasons why I now love hostels! Of course there are always a few minuses but overall, if you have been putting off European travel because you think it is too expensive or aren’t sure about staying at a hostel by yourself, let me tell you they are completely worth it! The best place to find a plethora of Hostel options is hostelworld.com.聽The reviews are awesome for helping to choose the right one. It’s easy to get a good idea of what people liked and didn’t like about each place. Here is a list of all the hostels we’ve already tried out in Europe and the pros and cons for each!
Plus BONUS!!! Download our Perfect Packing Checklist at the end of this article so you can be perfectly prepped for your first hostel stay 馃檪

Hostel Brikette, Positanoitaly hostel

PROS:聽That view. Its amazing. It is truly one of those moments that you look down and feel your breath being taken away. The hosts are also super helpful and will even book tours for you. But the best thing was聽they聽sent me a 60 page pdf before our trip with of all sorts of things to do in Positano including hiking tours, restaurants, and beaches! Talk about service. The homemade breakfast is also something to brag about. It only costed a few euros for a delicious cappuccino and the owner’s famous pancakes and jam.
CONS: The only downside, which was relatively small, is the 10 person room is right off the lobby so it was hard to get to sleep when lots of people were still awake socializing in there. Just pick a different smaller room if you want to get to bed a bit earlier. If you plan to go out all night to the clubs, this room will do just fine 馃檪

Downtown Hostel Copenhagencopenhagen hostel

PROS:聽This hostel has one of the most fun atmospheres with a bar which makes it perfect for meeting other travelers. They also have bike rentals, free city walking tours, and pub crawls!
CON: The bathrooms were a bit dirty but thats why I have flip flops on the packing list!!

Check out more on what to do and see in this article:聽A Weekend in Copenhagen

Adam & Eva Hostel Pragueprague hostelprague hostelprague hostel

PROS: Adam & Eva hostel is so relaxed! It looked just like our living room and bedroom at home (they even had the same IKEA bedding as we have!) A聽private room was the perfect choice for quiet evenings. It is also in a nice location by two great brunch restaurants and only a 15 min walk to the city center.

I truly don’t have a con for this hostel!! 馃檪 They don’t offer breakfast but, they do have a kitchen and like I said the best brunch restaurants in all of Prague (in my opinion) are right around the corner.

Read more on聽The Best Sights in Prague and The best Eats in Prague (Those brunch spots)

Hostel Alessandro Palace & Bar Hostel, RomeRome Hostel

PROS: To be honest we didn’t spend much time here because well, we were in Rome. Just there long enough to sleep and shower. But, even in an 8 person room the atmosphere was very easy going. They did offer social events such as cocktail night on the rooftop bar as a way to meet other travelers which if traveling alone or in a small group that can be a great way to meet some friendly people. There is also a nice restaurant right next door if you are hungry when you get back from all that sight seeing.
CONS: The beds are a bit small in the 8 person rooms. If you want a bit more space between you and the person above you, I’d choose a private or 4 person room here.

St. Christophers Inn Gare Du Nord Hostel, ParisParis Hostelparis hostel

PROS: This hostel is great for solo travelers! I met a great friend here and traveled the whole week with her! The beds are also great for a bit of privacy and have their own light and power outlet 馃檪 The best part was the amazing restaurant where we ate every night after traveling and also watched a bit of karaoke. Plus the聽20% all meals because we were hostel guests made eating there totally worth it. It was also great to wind down with a drink at the bar before heading to bed. The free breakfasts made it easy to get a bit of energy too before going out to explore Paris!
CONS: This is more of a general hostel con when staying in an 8 person room, but was experienced here. There is always the chance that others will come back later at night and will be loud or will turn the light on while you are trying to sleep. I tried to ignore it for a while but just quickly and nicely asking to turn the light off again worked out just fine. This is why the ear plugs and sleep mask are on the packing list! 馃檪

Check out my 3 Day Paris Itinerary and 10 Beautiful Photos of Paris at Night.

Astor Victoria, Londonhostel london

PROS:聽LONDON LONDON! It is an easy walk from here to Buckingham Palace and pretty much all of the main sights. The breakfast for only 1 euro donation to charity is a delicious start to your day of exploring and the rooms were clean and comfortable.
CONS: There was a shortage of outlets in the rooms so a portable charger will come in handy here. I had also forgotten that in England the outlets are not the same as the rest of western Europe but luckily you could rent one for a 5 pound deposit.

Read more about The 10 Best Experiences to have in聽London.

Shelter City, AmsterdamAmsterdam Hostel

PROS: This hostel has a great little outdoor area to relax in on a bit of down time or to enjoy your breakfast alfresco. Speaking of which, the breakfast here was also quite delicious :). I stayed here as a solo traveler and felt so comfortable there! It turned out to be a great hostel to meet other female travelers and to check out the city with them.
CONS: The location is actually quite great for getting everywhere by foot, however if you have never been to Amsterdam and you show up at 11pm alone as I did, finding out that your hostel is in the middle of the Red Light District can be a bit overwhelming. However, now that you know that and are aware, its really not too bad and is actually quite a fun area (just maybe not so much when you are lost for five minutes).

Read more about Enjoying Solo Travel in Amsterdam.

As promised here is your Perfect Packing checklist for first time Hostel stay! You can download and print it out to use for later.

What were your favorite European hostels and why? Share below!

Next week we’ll have our first ever Wanderlust Wednesday! Check back then for more 馃檪

The Beautiful Sights of Lyon, France

Happy Monday! This week I want to share my favorite photos of the best spots in Lyon, France. Last summer I was there for three days and this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city that was never before on my radar, quickly became one of my top choices for sightseeing in France. It has the perfect combination of old world European charm and modern amenities. The colors, relaxed atmosphere, food, and not to mention great shopping make this city worthy of any European travel bucket list. So, to start your Monday off right, or to give you a reason to procrastinate starting your week, here are some of the amazing sights in Lyon 馃檪

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvi猫re
Lyon CathedralLyon Old Town

Lyon is nestled between two rivers, the聽Sa么ne and the聽Rh么ne. In the middle is the main hub and city center where all the shopping is, and on the opposite side of the聽Sa么ne is where the Old Town UNESCO site is. This is where you’ll find the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. Although with its pristine positioning up atop the hill side, you’ll be able to see it still from the opposite side of the river.

Vieux Lyon (Old Town)
Lyon old townLyon France RestaurantLyon France Goat cheese Salad restaurantmussels lyoncreme br没l茅e lyon

A walk through the Old Town quarters of Lyon, also known as Vieux Lyon, will give you a great feel for just how much character this city truly has. The area dates back to the Renaissance times and is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sights to see here include Saint聽Johns Catherdral, the Exchange Square, and Rue Saint Jean which is the main and most popular street in the old town. Its also the perfect area to sit back and enjoy a drink or a nice dinner. If you love seafood, France is known for its Mussels and fries (Moules et Frites) which was my favorite dinner. An entire pot of mussels in a delicious white wine sauce just for me! And no trip to Lyon or any city in France for that matter is complete without Creme Br没l茅e :).

City Hall聽Lyon town hall

Can we just take a minute to talk about the architecture here!? It is stunning! I don’t know about you but growing up, our city halls were usually ugly square brown brick buildings from the 60’s or 70’s. This is what you get when you come to Lyon. The most intricate of details you’ll find throughout this and every building there. Place de Jacobins (below) is also a great spot to admire the traditional European style buildings and architecture.

Lyon city center fountainNational Opera HouseLyon Theater

Place Bellecour
Place Bellecour Lyon

If you are looking for a great location to stay in while visiting Lyon, Place Bellecour is the perfect central location to get everywhere you would like easily by foot. The shopping district, city center, and Old Town are all only with 15-20 min walking from there.

Have other suggestions for what to see in Lyon or more beautiful photos? Share below!!

Save this post for later when its time to plan that dream trip 馃槈

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