I am finally back from my 2 week european extravaganza and I can’t wait to fill you in on the incredible sights we saw and the amazing adventure these 2 weeks have been! 😀
I have been procrastinating a lot when it comes to blogging, but you know how it is… until you are in the mood, the creative juices just won’t flow! 😛 But here I am, finally geared up to shoot out blog posts left, right and center! 😀
So many of you have asked me for an itinerary and tips for a Europe trip, some of you just wanted to read about our experiences and adventures… so here we go! 🙂
This trip has to be one of the most tiring, yet mind-blowing vacations I’ve been on till date! 😛 I cannot believe how many cities and countries we squeezed into our itinerary. 😀 Both my husband and I had some ‘must squeeze into itinerary’ bucket list items that we did not want to miss and after a lot of planning we finally squeezed everything in and made it work! *victory* 😀
We started off our journey from Atlanta on a Friday evening, and after what seemed like an eternity and a million layovers (Charlotte, London & Paris :|), we finally reached our end destination – Milan.
The reason we started our trip from Milan, even when Paris was our flight’s final destination was because we wanted to end our trip in Paris and not come back to it in the end to just catch our flight back to Atlanta. Landing there the night before & catching a long transatlantic flight back to America seemed too tiring and a lot of hassle. Plus what better way to end your trip than spending a few days in the city of love! 🙂 ❤
We made our itinerary as per our interest and it worked for us. Since it’s not every day that you get to land in a new continent and get to see so many new countries and cities, we wanted to make the best of the time we had there and see and experience as many places as we possibly could.
We had 2 plans in mind – 1st plan was to see only a few cities in each country and take it easy and see everything at leisure. 2nd was to see and visit as many amazing destinations as possible within the 2 week frame and have the trip of a lifetime! 😀 We obviously chose the 2nd option! 😛
It’s not everyday that you get to visit Italy, so we wanted to see EVERYTHING! I know, it’s impossible to squeeze every amazing city into a 6 day plan for Italy, but squeeze we did. Our initial plan for Italy was for 8 days and 13 cities, but that would have cut short other remaining countries and cities on our itinerary. So we finally narrowed everything down and decided to stay in Italy for 6 days and visit 8 cities in detail.
Some of these cities deserve a separate post since there’s so much to talk about and squeezing everything into a tiny paragraph would not do them justice. They deserve a blog post by themselves. So look out for those upcoming posts. Until then, I will only talk briefly about our itinerary and a little about every Italian city we visited. 🙂
It was raining cats and dogs when we landed in Milan. We picked up our luggage and headed straight to the rental car service. Picking up a rental car should normally be an easy task, but not here! Nothing here is as easy as it normally is in the United States. It made me realize how easy and well managed everything is in America!
After what seemed like an eternity and a lot of failed conversations and directions from the rental car service, we finally picked up our car and drove to the hotel (Doubletree by Hilton) and settled in for the night. Phew!
I really admire my husband in this matter, he kept his cool and worked everything out in an easy manner. Plus, driving in a new country is not easy, especially when it’s completely different from what you are normally used to. Every road sign was in Italian and the roads were not as easy to maneuver around as they are in America or even India for that matter. But maneuver we did, thanks to apple and google maps and my husband’s calm demeanour! 🙂
On our first morning in Milan, we went to the city center and grabbed a quick Italian breakfast. Delicious & fragrant olive bread with some strong italian coffee. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to our day and trip! 🙂
We started off exploring the city soon after. I still can’t believe how much we managed to see in Milan in just a day. It’s absolutely unbelievable. 😀 The key to seeing any new city is to start early. You will be able to see so much more in summer since the days are a lot longer.
We explored most of the city by foot since most of the popular landmarks are traffic free or ZTL zones! Exploring by foot was probably the best thing we did. We absolutely loved the culture and bustling vibe of Milan.
Some of the places we visited were Sforza Castle, Porta & Parco Sempione, Leonardo Da Vinci’s statue, Scala theatre, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Santa Maria Della Grazie, Last Supper, Duomo Milano and a few other places. We probably saw more in 1 day than most people would have seen in a couple of days! 😀 But I will talk in depth about Milan in a separate blog post.
After an exhausting day and walking a million miles, we cooled off in the evening by just lazing around the city center, shopping for souvenirs and grabbing some delicious slices of pizza from Spontini’s. 😛
Varenna (Lake Como)
We drove from Milan to Varenna the next morning. The drive to Varenna is incredible with the Italian dolomites on one side and lake como on the other. We could not get enough of this place! 🙂 It is on the Italian and Swiss border, so if you want to drive to Switzerland from here, it would only take an hour or so! We however did not have Switzerland on our itinerary this time so that plan is probably for another trip. 😀
Varenna is a tiny Italian fishing village situated on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It has stunning panoramas everywhere you look! 🙂 Thanks to Instagram, I had seen so many pictures of Lake Como that I was dying to see it in person. It is just an hour’s drive from Milan but is so different from most Italian cities.
The lake is unbelievably beautiful. I wish we could have spent a few more days here but there’s always next time. Our hotel was perched on top of a hill and had a view of the beautiful lake and mountains all around. This was mine and my husband’s favorite place in Italy perhaps! 🙂 We decided to come back to this place another time for sure! 🙂
There are quite a few cities and villages along the shore of lake como but as per my research, Varenna is the best. You can explore the village by foot since its not too big. For unobstructed views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, I would suggest you visit Villa Monastero or hike up to Castello di Vezio. You can even go on a boat ride on the lake! 🙂
After spending some wonderfully relaxing time in Varenna, we headed towards the floating city of Venice! 🙂 ❤
Ah, Venice! 🙂 Such a beautiful place! Cannot believe I have been lucky enough to strike off so many places from my bucket list this year. Feel truly blessed! 🙂
The first thing we did in Venice was of course, take a gondola ride! 🙂 There are multiple options here as well, but we took a private gondola. We sailed under so many beautiful venetian bridges and buildings. We even sailed past Marco Polo’s house! :O It was absolutely unforgettable! 🙂
After we got off the gondola, we just walked around the narrow alleys and bridges to just admire the beauty and architecture of Venice! 🙂 We could have taken a water taxi to get to San Marco square, but we just walked.
We saw everything from Rialto bridge to the bridge of sighs, St. Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco in the end. I really couldn’t get enough of this place! 🙂
We were so familiar with the stops and places in Venice that I’m sure we’ll easily know our way around if ever we go back there another time! 😀 There are so many places around the world that people feature as bucket list items but most of those places hardly ever live up to the hype. But Venice did for me! The only issue we had was how very crowded it was. 😐 Gosh! But what else can you expect from a world heritage site like Venice! 🙂
It is an absolute must visit and I highly, highly recommend you to add it to your bucket list if it isn’t already on it! 🙂
So there you have it… I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the first 3 cities we visited in Italy. I don’t want any of you to snooze off so will continue this in the next post. Keep watching this space and come back to read Part 2 of our Italian Rendezvous! 🙂