Venice

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Venetian lagoon

Dreamy vibes, magical views and spectacular architecture, Venice is a poetic location.

Venice is the capital city of the veneto region in Italy’s north. The city is built on more than 118 islands, in a lagoon located in the Adriatic sea. This enclosed bay lies between the mouths of the Po and Piave rivers.  These islands are separated by canal’s and are linked via bridges. Venice looks like a city out of a fairytale. It is no wonder that the lagoon and part of the city is listed as a world heritage site.

From the romantic canals, the renaissance,  gothic palaces and dreamy vibes Venice is a very unique and breathtaking place to visit.

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An island city

We had just spent a week exploring the charming Rome and found a cheap domestic flight to Venice. This was my second visit to this magical city (I came here once before, as a teenager on a school tour). The second time around was just as charming. We stayed at a hotel in the San Marco neighborhood. The central and the most popular district on the Venice island.

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Highlights and must sees

  • Saint Mark’s Basilica: A beautiful church, with a mixture of eastern and western architecture. It sits on the very popular pizza San Marco.
  • Torre dell’ Orologio – The gorgeous clock tower that was built between 1496 and 1506! Which also sits on the popular piazza San Marco.
  • Doge’s palace: With stunning gothic architecture, this place was once the political and judicial hub of Venice.
  • Grand canal: This 2 mile long canal is considered to be the main ‘street’ of venice.
  • Rialto bridge: Described as the heart of Venice, this beautiful bridge was once the only way to cross the grand canal!
  • Campanile di San Marco: The tallest structure in venice. Note this is the reconstructed version, as the original collapsed in 1902.
  • Bridge of Sighs: An iconic bridge connecting the Prigioni to Doge’s palace.
  • Basilica di Santa Maria: Another beautiful church, with stunning architecture.
  • Murano Island: Take a trip to the Murano island to view an impressive glass-blowing demonstration!
  • Rialto Market: This one is for the foodies! A market rich in culture and food.

 

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Get lost

My favorite thing to do in any location that I visit is to get lost, by just wandering around and taking in all the sights. I find this the best way to absorb the place! And venice, is one of my favorites cities to get lost in, wandering the beautiful streets and viewing the canals is so beautiful. For a couple of days on our trip, the city was covered in dense fog, this added an extra charm to the city!

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Two day trip from Venice

While we were in Venice, we took the opportunity to explore a small village located in a mountain region located 70 km northwest of Venice. You can read about our adventures to Seren del Grappa  here.

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Wanderlust

With it’s charming atmosphere, gothic architecture and dreamy canals Venice is one of the most beautiful cities that I have explored. It is definitely wanderlust material.

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Seren del Grappa

Panoramic mountain views

Seren del Grappa is a gorgeous Italian village located in the province of Belluno, in the Italian region of Veneto. The small village is located near the sacred mountain, the Monte Grappa. Three battles were fought here during world war one.

A visit to this pretty village, will provide you with an authentic local Italian experience. The locals are very friendly and helpful. The homemade food is amazingly delicious – I had the best Italian meal of my life here. Seren del Grappa is a great place to explore  history and the natural reserves by hiking the many trails, either by foot or by bike. The views are just gorgeous.

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Two days in Seren del Grappa

My boyfriends grandfather  was born and grew up in Seren del Grappa. We were visiting Venice, which is located 70 km away and his mother asked if we could visit this small village. So we decided to go. We took a train from Venice to Feltre a hill town located 7.4 km from Seren Del Grappa. The train journey was really nice and quite picturesque, with the ice, snow and mountain views. From the Feltre train station we took a local bus into the small village of Seren Del Grappa.

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So now we had arrived, with no plan! His mother had given us the name of the bed and breakfast that her cousin owned. So we walked around the village until we found it. We walked in, and started to talk to the man and women at the desk. Luckily there was a man who could speak both Italian and English who was able to translate between the two parties. Next thing, they were greeting us with big hugs and kisses, as his grandfather was a well know and respected man. The family put us up for night, and made us the biggest and most delicious authentic meal. The warm welcome and generosity was a true indication of the people in this village.

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We spent our time in Seren Del Grappa, connecting with the family and friends and then exploring the gorgeous mountains. The mountains are just so pretty here! The hiking trails are very enjoyable. Other points of interest include the thirteenth century church of San Siro and scenes from the world war one battles that occurred at Monte Grappa.

The trip to Seren del Grappa, was really enriching as it provided an insight into the small village life of Italy. I have visited some of the big cities in Italy which are gorgeous, but this was a nice change, and we didn’t run into any other tourist! A very memorable trip.

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Rome

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Roma

Vibrant in art and culture, and showcasing a creative imagery into the past, Rome is an intriguing and breathtaking city to explore.

Rome is located in the central Italian peninsula on the Tiber river, 24km inland from the Tyrrhenian sea. Rome is the capital city of Italy, and also the capital of the Lazio region. Rome is also the most populated comune in Italy. With twenty eight centuries of history, and as one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe, Rome showcases a rich history in amongst the now cosmopolitan and happening city. Rome is truly, a magnificent city to explore and to absorb the dreamy atmosphere.

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The city of love

This was my second visit to this charming city, and I would come back again! As we were based in Dundee   Scotland, we found cheap flights from Edinburgh (around $20 USD)! Only a three hour flight. So took the opportunity to travel to Italy and explore.

We found a cheap(ish) backpackers hostel to stay in, which was located in the city center. An ideal location so we could just walk around and explore. We were here for six days and five nights before flying to Venice.

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The eternal city

Walking through Rome provides a glimpse into ancient times. I was truly in awe walking around and visiting the ancient ruins. Rome is a very special place where you can feel and view history. Here is a list of the best ancient landmarks to visit when in Rome!

  • Pantheon: An ancient pagan temple, that has since been converted into a church. This is one of Rome’s best preserved monuments.
  • Janiculum walk: A beautiful walk through the hills, and when you reach the top an impressive view overlooking the Roman skyline.
  • Circus Maximus: An open field with ruins. This was once, one of the largest sporting arenas in the world!
  • Roman forum: A true glimpse into ancient rome. With ancient ruins linked to the former emperors. These ruins illustrate 900 years of history!
  • Piazza Navona: A breathtaking piazza containing three gorgeous fountains.

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Roman Colosseum

In addition to the ancient landmarks highlighted above, a trip to Rome would not be complete without a visit to the impressive Colosseum! A well preserved piece of history, and a major tourist attraction in Rome.

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian amphitheater, is a huge stone amphitheater built between AD 70-72 by the Vespasian emperor. The Colosseum was used for four centuries! As the site of gladiator combats between men and other animals. The largest amphitheater in the Roman world, the colosseum could seat more than 50,000 spectators! The preservation of this ancient site began in the 19th century. kinsideold

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Highlights and must sees

In addition to the ancient sites must sees, here are recommendations of other points of interest that we enjoyed.

  • Trevi fountain: A well know landmark. A gorgeous 18th century sculpted fountain.
  • Spanish steps: 135 steps which are located between the Piazza di Spagna (at the bottom) and the Pizza Trinita dei Monti at the top.
  • Capitoline museums: A complex of art and archeological museums.
  • Pincian hill: Wander around the pretty gardens.
  • Visit the Vatican city:  The headquarters of the Holy Roman church and one of the world’s smallest sovereign states. The Vatican city became independent from Rome in 1929. Inside you can visit St.Peters Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
  • Get lost. Just rome around Rome and explore your surroundings.
  • Indulge in Italian food, coffee and wine!

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Rome

Rome is a very special city. Rich in history and culture. A beautiful city to explore and a great highlight of a trip to Europe.

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Cappochino rome

Oktoberfest

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Volksfeast

This sixteen day festival is the world’s largest Volksfeast – a beer festival and traveling fun fair. The festival is located in the city of  Munich, in the state of Bavaria, Germany.

History of oktoberfest

The origins of this festival goes back to 1810! When the then, Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony- Hildurghausen. The people of Munich were invited to celebrate the festivities in the fields in front the city gates. The festival occurred the next year and has continued on ever since! This year will mark the 185th year of the festival, very impressive. Today, oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world, bringing in an average of six million visitors each year, from all over the world.

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Celebrating Oktoberfest

I had always wanted to visit the famous oktoberfest, and we were able to go..by accident! We had found cheap flights to Munich and just brought them without realizing that the festival would be occurring at this time! Our cheap tickets to Munich allowed us to enjoy the vibrant and spectacular festival. We were based in the city center of Munich and attended the festival on most of the days of our trip, in amongst exploring the sights and beauty of Munich.

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Munich

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The capital of Bavaria

A modern cosmopolitan city with a touch of traditions, and home to the most famous beer festival!

The pretty city, Munich is the third largest city in Germany and is the capital city of Bavaria. Bavaria is the largest (land) state and is located in the southeastern section of Germany. Often described as a fairytale city, with the numerous castles, views of the Alps and strong traditions still present. Munich is located on the banks of the river Isar, north of the gorgeous Bavarian alps.

 The city is absolutely stunning, rich in history with ties to royal Bavarian heritage. Munich showcases stunning architecture, beautiful galleries and museums, fine dinning and breathtaking views of the alps. Munich is a cosmopolitan city, however the traditions are still very present  and with a touch of medieval vibes. A great place to explore history (both good and bad), and to absorb German culture.

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Seven days in Munich

Our first visit to Germany, was to visit this beautiful city! Again, we found really cheap flights. From London to Munich the cost of the flight was around $15 usd), so perfect. We brought the tickets and then went to search for a cheap hostel to stay in……we did not realize that we were arriving when the world’s largest Volksfeast would be  happening. We could not find any accommodation! All that was left was a bed in a dorm room going for thousands of dollars, ah no thanks. We had nearly given up on looking for accommodation and had decided to just camp, however I stumbled across a local website where people rented out their apartment (this was not airbnb). So we were able to book a great one bedroom apartment located in the city center, we couldn’t believe our luck. This worked out perfectly, we could cook in the apartment (saving money on eating out), we were able to walk  nearly everywhere in the city and now we could even enjoy the Volksfest, you can read about our time at Oktoberfest here. 

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Highlights and must sees

  • Nymphenburg Palace: We spent a good portion of the day visiting this beautiful regal 18th century palace. Wandering around the well kept gardens is so dreamy.
  • Englishcher garden: A large and lush garden, with its own beer garden!
  • Marienplatz: Described as the heart of the city. This square is very popular and has a range of restaurants, shops and street performances.
  • Viktualiemarkt: A vibrant farmers market and is the cities oldest market.
  • St. Peter’s church: A stunning church and Munich’s oldest place of worship.
  • Residenzmuseum:  This hall is one of the most important palace museums in Europe.
  • Hofbrauhaus Muchen: This well known beer hall was founded in the 16th century!
  • Linderhof Palace: Stunning palace and is the smallest of the palaces built by king Ludwig the second second of Bavaria.

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Dachau concentration camp

One of the first concentration camps to open in Nazi Germany. It is now a memorial site, a place to reflect on the past and to mourn the victims.

Located 10 miles north of Munich, we took the train for a day trip to visit the Dachau concentration camp. Walking through the site was very confronting, eerie and heartbreaking. However it is important to step out of our comfort zones to acknowledge what happened, we cannot ignore the ugly past. If visiting Munich, I do recommend a visit to this memorial site to pay  respect to the victims.

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Munchen

Rich in history, Bavarian culture, stunning architecture, beautiful green scenery, fairy tale palaces and alp views, Munich has something for everyone. Our trip was very enjoyable and insightful. We learnt a lot about the location and experienced some great German culture. I would return, and I would also love to explore more of the state of Bavaria and the surrounding countries.

 

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Me in munich

Malmo and Lund

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Sweden

Malmo

Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden and the capital and largest city of the Swedish county of Scania. Malmo is located near the southwestern tip of Sweden, and is connected to Copenhagen, Denmark by the Oresund bridge. This small and vibrant city, is rich in history, culture and art and with its friendly people, pretty sights and sandy beaches, Malmo is a great city to explore.

Lund

Located in the southern tip of Sweden in the Skane province. Lund is the second oldest city in Sweden! The city was founded in AD 990 and still maintains its medieval charm and low key vibes. Lund holds great traditions within education, the Lund university was established in 1660, and today it is one of the largest institutions for education and research in Scandinavia. It is no surprise that the university and its buildings dominate much of the city.

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Southern Sweden

We have a friend who lives in Lund (who we had met in Townsville, Australia) who had invited us to stay with him. So from Copenhagen, Denmark we took the train across the Oresund bridge for 40 minutes until we reached Malmo. We arrived early and spent the day exploring the picturesque city before our friend picked us up and took us to his home in Lund.

We spent four days exploring Malmo and Lund, our friend was a great host and tour guide, who not only showed us the highlights but also took us to some hidden gems, and show us around the local night life scene. The weather was also so beautiful, sunny and mild. It also just happened to be the time of year that the Malmo festival was on, so we were able to experience and enjoy this annual festival.

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Highlights and must sees

  • Oresund bridge: The bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden.
  • Turning torso: Impressive architecture, a twisted and sculptured tower block.
  • Malmo castle: A 16th century castle which was built by the Danish.
  • Kungsparken: A pretty park to wander around, and also the oldest park in the city
  • Science and Maritime museum: 
  • The Stortorget: Malmo’s city center square. This square was built in 1536! And surrounds the old town.
  • Lund University and the historical museum: Visit the impressive buildings and explore the rich history.
  • Botaniska tradgarden: The beautiful botanical garden in Lund.
  • Lomma: The nearest beach to Lund

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Our time in Malmo and Lund was so enjoyable, and I think it was made even better as we had someone to show us around! I would love to return to Sweden, the next hopefully to visit the North!

Next stop, Munich, Germany, to experience the famous Oktoberfest

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Copenhagen

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Kobenhavn

Charming waterfront, colorful buildings, stunning decor and a cosmopolitian atmosphere, Copenhagen (Kobenhavn in Danish) is a great introduction to Denmark and an insight into Scandinavia.

Copenhagen is located on the eastern coast of the island Zealand, and a smaller section of the city is located on Amager. Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark, and also the cultural and geographic link between Scandinavia and mainland Europe. The city was founded in the 10th century and was once a small viking fishing village. Now the city represents a strong  urban and cultural modern city. Copenhagen has the buzz of a city and is still small enough to give you an intimate atmosphere. You can easily explore the city by foot or bicycle.

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A weekend in Denmark

As were based in the UK we were always on the lookout for cheap deals to travel more of Europe. We found a cheap flight (around $15 usd) to Copenhagen. So we jumped at the chance to visit the capital of Denmark.

The flight was only two hours from London. We arrived around 6pm and checked into our hostel. Generator hostel is located in the city center, just steps away from the Kongen’s Nytrov square. This hostel was so comfortable and the decor was gorgeous, the on site bar made is easier to meet other travelers. This was a standout backpackers hostel from all of my travels. We had two full days and a half day to explore this beautiful city.

 

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Highlights and must sees

  • Nyhavn: A beautiful neighborhood to walk around. Colorful buildings line the canal of this 17th century waterfront. A great place for a meal and drinks, with many options for bars, cafes and restaurants.
  • Frederiksberg Palace: A pretty palace that is located on Frederiksberg hill and overlooks the stunning Frederiksberg garden.
  • The Little Mermaid: A statue of the little mermaid is located on the Langelinje pier. The statue is over 100 years old!
  • Kronborg castle: A beautiful 16th century castle.
  • Amalienborg palace: The home of the Danish royal family.
  • Stroget: One of Europes longest pedestrian streets and the largest shopping district in Copenhagen.
  • The national museum: A look into Danish history, from the stone age, viking age, middle age to modern day Denmark.
  • Glyptoteket: A beautiful art museum.
  • Botanical garden: Walk around the gorgeous gardens located in the city center.

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From seeing the major sights of the city, wandering the streets and experiencing the Danish nightlife, our time in Copenhagen was well spent and very enjoyable. I would love to visit Denmark again to explore more of the country.

Our next stop is Malmo, Sweden, only a 40 minute train ride away!

 

 

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Amsterdam

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Beautiful canals, stunning architecture and an impressive art scene.

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, located in the southeastern section of the  providence of north Holland. The official language is Dutch, although the majority of residents do speak English. The Euro is the currency. Peak tourist season is during July and August (Summer). The name Amsterdam comes from the cities origins, as Dam of river “Amstel”. It is  easy to get around Amsterdam, the city is walkable and it is very easy to rent a bike and explore the city this way. The Public transport system is great and includes, the metro, buses, trams and ferries. Amsterdam, a city full of life, culture and a rich history. Beautiful buildings, picturesque scenery and a stunning canal.

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A visit to the Netherlands

I have visited this wonderful city, twice. Both times I stayed in a backpackers located near the center of the city. Once in the autumn (fall) and again during the winter period. Both times were very fulfilling and an enriching backpacking experience.  Autumn provided us with nice weather, enabling us to make the most of the parks and outdoor scenery, even renting a bike to experience the craze of the bicycle capital! A must do! Heineken beer, cheese tasting, exploring the red light district  and experiencing the famous coffee shops I would definitely return to this wonderful city for a third time!

 

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Highlights and must-sees of Amsterdam

  • Walking tour of the city: It is free and great way to get your bearings whilst learning about the history of the city.
  • Anne Frank house: The house where Anne Frank hid during world war two and wrote her diary. A very rewarding visit.
  • Oldest pub: Cafe Karpershoek claims to be the oldest pub in the city. Opening in 1606! So why not enjoy a drink whilst sitting in history!
  • Coffee shops: In the Netherlands, coffee shops are defined as alcohol free, but where cannabis is sold and consumed. There are approximately 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam.
  • Van Gogh Museum: The worlds largest collection of beautiful artwork from Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Vondelpark: I love the outdoors, and this urban park is a great way to spend a day outdoors.
  • Jordaan: A beautiful neighbourhood to walk around and immerse yourself into the Dutch lifestyle.
  • Rembrandt House Museum: Historic house and art museum.
  • Dam square: The heart of the city. Located in the historical center of Amsterdam.
  • Royal Palace of Amsterdam: Still used by the royal family. Rich in history and stunning architecture.
  • Science center NEMO: I love science and this is a great interactive museum to explore and discover science and technology.
  • Leidseplein: Great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the city.
  • Venustemple sex museum: Worlds first and oldest sex museum.
  • Red light district: Window parlours, sex shops, brothels and even museums, the infamous attraction of Amsterdam is worth the visit.

 

 

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