Euro trip: days 9-17

Day 9:

All day was spent in transit. We started in the morning with a train from Certaldo to Siena. When we got to Siena we had some time to walk around the city which was nice. Then we grabbed some yummy pizza with surprisingly thick crust for lunch and caught a bus from Siena to the Rome airport. We hung in the airport for a few hours before getting on our flight to Nice. We were flying right as the sun was setting and it was a truly awe inspiring sight.  
   In Nice we took some extra crowded public transport and met our air BnB hosts and then relaxed for what was left of the night. 

Day 10: 

We slept in a bit and then woke up, got ready and went to the laundry mat that is across the street from our air BnB in Nice. We did our laundry with the help of a friendly French woman who kept saying voilĆ . While we were waiting for that, we went to the grocery store Carrefour and picked up some food for breakfast lunch and dinner. We both agreed we were getting a bit tired of eating out so we decided to take advantage of the nice kitchen in our air BnB. 

After all the laundry and shopping was done we went out to check out the city of nice. We walked down to the water which was about at 25 minute walk from our air BnB. The city is probably the nicest I’ve ever seen.   

 It is so clean with very nice architecture in the French style. Right in the city center there is a fountain water park for kids to cool down in. The street leading up to the beach has lots of shops.   

  

 We walked along the beach for a bit and put our feet in the water, finished exploring the area and then went back to our air BnB and had some lunch. After a quick siesta, we caught a train to Monaco another country that only took 20 minutes to get to!   

   It is a very wealthy place and I was surprised and how entertaining it was to gawk at all of the yachts and cars and dream about the type of people that were inside. We walked around the harbor and then went to the casino- the same one from James Bond!  

  We went into the slot casino and Jordan played 5 euros on some roulette. He almost doubled his money at one point, but then lost it all in the end šŸ˜‰ 

We headed back to Nice and made some dinner. 

Day 11:

Today we took a day trip to Antibes. It was very similar to Nice except for the fact that we took at walk on the le sentier du littorale which is a 2 hour hike along the coast.   

  

  

  It has beautiful scenery the whole time and we stopped to go swimming in one of the alcoves. Then we took a bus back to Antibes city center and walked around for a bit before heading back to Nice. 

We got back to nice and headed straight to the beach again to go swimming since we hadn’t had a chance to swim here yet. The beaches are pebbled which makes it very different to walk in than sand! But the water was so clear and clean it seemed like swimming in glass. I could have swam in there forever. 

Next we headed to Fenocchio, an ice cream parlor that caught our attention because of their crazy flavors like cactus and beer. I tried ginger bread, black licorice, and m&m. It was so hard to decide on a flavor! They had about 90! 

Afterwards, we walked along the bumpin Boardwalk for a bit and then decided to go into one of the casinos. I played roulette and lost 1ā‚¬. I was really unlucky at first, but then I made all my money back except for that 1ā‚¬. Then we headed back to our air BnB for the night!!

Day 12:

We were both pretty tired after all of our adventures so far so we started the day off kind of slow and lazily. We took another trip to the grocery store to buy some dinner food and then we relaxed in the apartment for the morning. When we finally got ready, we walked down to the water and rented some bikes. There is a great bike lane along the beach so we road until the beach ended, stopped and took a nice swim, and then road back. The beach that far down was much less crowded; it was very relaxing. We brought some wine with us so we had a bit of wine before riding back. We returned the bikes and then sat on the beach and finished drying off while the sun went down. We headed back to the apartment and made some dinner. 

Day 13:

Today we woke up and packed up everything that we had strewn around our air BnB and got ready to leave. We had to leave the apartment by noon so we had a leisurely morning and left. We found out about a service called left luggage where you can leave your bags so we did that, happy to be rid of our heavy backpacks. Next we did a little shopping along the main boulevard in Nice and then ended up at the beach. We had a really relaxing day just laying on the beach, tanning, and a bit of swimming. We also had some lunch on the beach and more wine šŸ™‚ We had to pick up our luggage at 6, so when we did we started making our journey towards the airport. We started at a mall where Jordan could change out of his bathing suit in the bathroom. After that was sorted, we started walking in the direction of the airport. We decided to walk all the way from the city center to the airport because it was only 5 miles and the bus was quite a rip off. It wasn’t a bad walk, but with our packs it got a bit tiring. We took a couple of stops one was for Jordan to get a huge hamburger called a “Mexican” that had two beef patties, French fries, and sautĆ©ed onions wrapped inside a pita. It was good! Then we carried on and finally ended up in the airport. Next stop: Barcelona!

Day 14:

Today was our first day in Barcelona. We started off with a tour of la guardia familiaia and went up in the tower.  GaudĆ­’s masterpiece was really impressive. It seemed like everywhere you looked there was more to see in the architectural design. The tower have is a good view of the city and we got to walk down a really windy staircase.  

  

 Then I had a coffee cream. We stopped at a restaurant. Jordan had a sandwich and I had sangria. We walked down to the beach area and hung around there for most of the rest of the day.  

  

 There was a fun Spanish band playing on the beach. 

For dinner we had tapas at a restaurant near the boardwalk we tried gazpacho, chicken croquettes, patatas tortillas, nachos with guacamole and got a big pitcher of sangria.   

 Day 15: 

We took the walking tour in Barcelona today and learned a lot about the country’s history and some other interesting facts. 

   Catalian style architecture with a flat roof. 

 This is a tower to represent the world record for Catalian human towers, a popular activity that is held at a festival every year. 

When that was over we walked around a bit and checked out the barcoletta area.  

 We had a huge dinner which was a paella meal. It started with tapas, then Paella then dessert.

   Patatas(soo good), croquette, squid, garlic peppers, fried anchovies

  Chicken paella

  

  After dinner we got some drinks and had them on the beach. We had a free drink in the casino and won some money. We watched the Barcelona soccer game on tv while we had our drinks and it was very enjoyable. Then we cashed out and headed home. 

Day 16:

It was our last day in Barcelona and although we started out wanting to have a day at the beach, the day broke a bit too cold and rainy for that, so instead we started off at la rambla, a street with lots of different vendor stalls. As we wandered around, we found the at Josep mercat.  

  

  

  

  It was a huge market with every type of imaginable fresh food. We really enjoyed walking down the super crowded alleyways and trying a few of the delicacies they had to offer. We both tried fresh juice and some Mexican inspired food from one stand. 

  

I got fresh kiwi juice. 

After the market, we wandered by the sea before hiring some bikes and riding the entire length of the beach.  

 It turned into a beautiful day and it was fun to explore. We finished with the bikes, headed back to our hostel, and then went to find some dinner. We ended up at an interesting place outside of the tourist sections and got one last Spanish meal. One of the best foods we tried was patatas bravas.  

  Sangria is of course another Spanish favorite. 

Cheese plate and patatas bravas.

After dinner, we walked to the placa de espania and got a nice view of the city at night.  

 

Day 17:

Today we woke up at 5am, checked out of our hostel and caught a bus from Barcelona to Paris. It was a 14 hour ride so we didn’t get to do much else today except for nap, listen to music, and read. We finally made it to our air BnB in Paris around 11pm. Time to get some sleep!

Day 8: Pisa and Lucca

Today we took another day trip to Pisa and Lucca. Before catching our train, we went to the supermarket Coop again and I got some amazing food. A nectarine, waffles, and focaccia for lunch. It was all so perfect, I literally can’t say a bad word about any of it. We caught the train and got started in Pisa which was about 45 minutes away. It was a bit rainy when we first got there but after lunch it cleared up and we got to do some sight seeing. 

  
The city itself was very cool, too. There were lots of small windy streets, but all of the buildings showed a bit more wear than in Florence and gave it a pretty rustic feel. 

  
Next we headed to Lucca, a walled city about 20 minutes from Pisa. It was featured on an episode of top gear because it was impossible to get out of there in a car! And we found that to be true. The street plan is so convoluted, it took us almost 2 hours just to find the center of the city. But it was so beautiful.

   
 
After some exploring, we got a pasta dinner. I had lasagne! So good!

  
After dinner we stopped for dessert and I had a one of a kind experience. It was an ice cream sandwich made with gelato and topped with any kind of syrups or fruit toppings you wanted, and it’s made right in front of you! 

  
I’m pretty exhausted after all of our Tuscan adventures. Tomorrow will basically be a travel day as we head to the south of France!

Day 7: Florence

Wow, it’s been a whole week of eurotrip so far, and I can’t believe how much fun I’m having and how amazing each of our stops has been. I feel like I hope this trip never ends!! 

We woke up today and took a train into Florence from Certaldo. It took about an hour to get there. Before we left, we went to the grocery store in town and got some amazing food. I got some of the best grapes I’ve had in my life and Jordan got some focaccia which was to die for. I couldn’t believe how amazing the food was. Then we headed to Florence. 

The big thing to see in Florence is the Doma, which we were surprised isn’t more famous. The amount of detail is incredible! The pictures don’t do it justice but each time we walked by it we were equally amazed. 

  
Next we just enjoyed wandering around the streets. They seemed so ‘classic italy’ to us that we wanted to snap a photo at every corner. They were small and windy with colorful shutters, with lots of Vespas and bikes everywhere. 

  
We saw the David statue and some of the other famous landmarks. 

  
The David.  

 Ponte Vecchio was a beautiful bridge with some vendors. A great place to take photos.  

 Palazzo Piti. 

  
The great view across from Piti. 

After wandering around and enjoying ourselves for most of the day, we decided to get a Classic Italian meal before heading home.

  
Red house wine and water to drink.  

 Tuscan ham and cheese for an appetizer. The ham was shaved so thin and the hard cheese was really delicious. 

For the first course I got pici pasta with cheese and pepper. The pasta was so fresh. 

  
For my second course I got salmon grilled with citrus and mixed green salad. It was a ton of food but we left feeling great because of the high quality and deliciousness of all of the food. 

  
We love Italy!! It’s so interesting here. I still can’t get over the popularity of the siesta. Everything definitely moves slower here, but for the most part, it’s not frustrating. The scenery has been so beautiful. The bit we have seen of a Tuscan sunset was amazing. The whole sky was lit up. We have even seen some sunflower fields. šŸ™‚ 

Day 6: lots of travel and CertaldoĀ 

We traveled for 12 hours to get to this crazy town in Tuscany. Including sleeping in the airport. We went from Santorini to Athens by plane, slept for a few hours in the airport, and then went from Athens to Rome by plane. Next Rome to Florence by train. Then Florence to Certaldo by train. We left Santorini around 10.  We finally made it around 4 the next day. Our hostel is in the small, quiet town of Certaldo, out in the boonies. It is a guest house with a pool and a communal food supply in the kitchen. There is an herb garden by the house. It’s really a different experience than anything we’ve had so far. I met some really interesting people in the pool earlier!

     
So after a quick swim we decided to go into town to get some pizza and see the castle. I got prosciutto pizza and Jordan got a calzone and it was great! We were so happy to be eating Italian food in Italy again!!

   
 
Next we headed into town and to the castle. Most of the things in town were pretty quiet or closed, but they have a funicular rail car that takes you up to the castle and once you get up there the city comes alive. The castle used to be the entire city of Certaldo. Now it’s just a small part with restaurants, gelato stops, and good views of the city. We had some gelato and I thought I was in an Italian movie. It was really magical. I got green apple and Italian cookie gelato and it was by far the best that either Jordan or I had ever had before. As we are, elderly Italians were sitting out on patios drinking wine with some light trumpet music playing in the background as the sun was setting and the lights in the town were just coming on.  

        
Then we headed back to the hostel and we’re going to get some sleep. Tomorrow we will be visiting Florence for a day trip!

Day 5: Santorini part 2

I did so much today! Never did I think that in one day I would ride an ATV and a donkey and a boat, swim in a hot spring, take a mud bath, climb an active volcano, and climb 101 flights of stairs. 

We started the day by taking the ATV to Fira which was about an hour drive on our 50cc powered whip. We arrived and then booked a tour to the volcano and hot springs. 

We found donkey central station and I just HAD to ride one down to the port, which is about a 20 minute walk. It cost 5 euros to do this amazing activity with the greekest of men shouting at the donkeys if they misbehaved. We were tied in a line so the donkeys didn’t stray. 

      
We made it to the port and waited for our ship to arrive. 

 Edit   
Our first stop was the hot springs. The boat pulled up to a section where the water turned from bright blue to brown which signifies the hot springs. It wasn’t overly hot, but you could definitely feel the difference. I jumped off the side of she ship which is something I never thought I would do!  

 
We hopped back on the boat and headed for the volcano- still active and quite an interesting sight! We hiked up to the top, seeing the craters and great views of the island. 

        
Now we headed back to port. We were going to take the cable car back up to Fira, but it was out of order, so we decided to walk up. The heat and hundreds of stairs weren’t easy, but we got our workout in. 

Afterwards we got a couple gyros and headed back on the for by for  after hanging out in the beach for a while, we checked out of our horrl and headed to the airport. Next stop : Certaldo, Italy 

Day 4: Santorini, GreeceĀ 

Two beaches in one day!

   
   
We woke up early and went to Perissa beach which is a 5 minute walk from our hostel. It is a black sand beach with giant cliffs surrounding it. We swam for a while, while the powerful wind and waves pushed us along the coast. Next, we walked along the beach for a bit. With the larger black sand grains, our feet sunk deep into the sand- it was almost like walking through snow. The street is lined with lots of Greek restaurants. While walking, we spotted a sign that advertised ATV rentals so we went to check it out. We found a good deal in an ATV we can both ride so we rented it for two days.  

 
Next we wanted to test our new wheels so we drove to the bottom of the island and stopped off at some good lookout points.  

   
The signs began to point us in the direction of red sand beach so we couldn’t help but steer our ATV in that direction. We found the red sand beach with the clearest water we had ever seen.  

 
A fruit stand on the way to the beach

   
    
 
We enjoined swimming with some little fishies!

Next we had a bit of a wild adventure. We were driving home on the ATV when we ran out of gas! And we had no idea where we were. Luckily for us, there were some kind  shop assistants to point us to the nearest gas station, and one man who even gave us about half a tank of gas to get us to the station. Sure, it was a stressful few minutes, but we are trying to look at it as an adventure. We even had to climb a fence, but that may be a story for another day. 

We got some delish Greek food for dinner: puff pastry with feta and honey, Greek salad, and moussaka. We also tried ouzo the traditional Greek liquor that is served over ice. You drink it slowly. It tastes like black liquorice. 

   
    
 
Our restaurant had sun beds where we stopped to enjoy the crashing waves and digest while the sun went down. 

Day 3: Athens, Greece

In our second day in Athens, we decided to finish up all the things we didn’t get to do yesterday. Today was even hotter- around 95! 

We started out at the Ancient Agora which was the cultural and social hub of ancient Athens. It was so interesting to walk through the ruins and picture everyone who was anyone hanging around the local lecture hall, concert hall, and shopping mall. Aristotle and the disciple Paul are known to have been here. 

   
Stoa of Attalos – ancient shopping mall

 
Probably used as a fence post

   
    
Temple of Hephaistos- one of the best preserved examples of the architecture of the time

    

Church of the Holy Apostles

   
Next, we went to see the original Olympic stadium which is still used today. We didn’t go inside but it was really splendid to see the scale of it all. 

   
   
Time for lunch! We stopped at one of the street stands to try the sesame bread rings that had caught out eye yesterday. They were so yummy. 

   
Next we wandered up to the funicular that goes to the top of lykavittos hill- the highest point in Athens. The funicular was a bit too expensive, but we walked up about half way and saw a pretty good view. 

 
Some turtles in a pond on the way up 

  
Guard was changing and they walked right by us!

   
There are some huge plants on the mountain. It looks like they could come alive and eat you!

 
The view from half way up. It was just too hot to keep walking!!

Next we are going to get some cheep gyros from a restaurant near our Air BnB and head to the airport for our flight to Santorini.