Travel Tuesdays 16: Italia

My friend Laura and I always seem to go on crazy holidays involving multiple locations…  

In July 2014 we went on a lovely holiday in Italy, where we travelled to Pisa, Florence, Sienna, Rome, Amalfi and Pompeii all in two weeks! 

We had a wonderful time sightseeing and here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip. Here I am with the leaning tower of Pisa, I was amused at just how slanted it really is!

Next is a photo of the beautiful cathedral in Florence. Many hours were spent exploring this beautiful building, climbing the tower to see the view, and soaking up the Italian atmosphere on the cathedral’s piazza in the evenings. 

Now we look at a photo of the Colosseum in Rome. This is also a very interesting building, where we wandered around and learned more about the gladiator battles. (I think I may have lost my friend here, that often happens on holiday, we loose each other in the crowds, wander around and somehow find each other again an hour or so later…)

My final photo is from the beautiful Amalfi coast. I felt like I was in some kind of dream while there, it was so beautiful and everywhere had a faint smell of lemons -perhaps I should move there to be a lemon farmer? It is such a pretty place!

A Crazy Holiday to Here, There and Everywhere 

I’m writing this post back in England, after a very busy two week holiday to France, Italy and Switzerland! We started off by getting the Eurostar from London to Paris on 31st July. Our hotel was in Montmarte, ideally situated for lovely walks around Sacre Coeur to admire the sunset. 

Day two involved a lot of walking around the sights of Paris. We began with Notre Dame, then walked along the river to the Louvre, had lunch in the Jardain de Tuilleries, before walking up the Champs Elysee to climb the Arc de Triumph. We had great views of Paris from there, but of course our day would not have been complete without next climbing the Eiffel Tower! We chose to walk part way, as there was a shorter queue for that… Although we did have to wait a while for the lifts all the way to the top! But it was worth it, the views were spectacular! We even got to see the tower lit up at night and waited for it to “sparkle”!

sparkly Eiffel Tower

On Day 3 we went to the Palace of Versailles. The queue to get into the actual palace was monstrous (I’m sure it would have taken three hours!) so we contented ourselves with a lovely walk around the gardens. Then in the evening we caught an overnight train to Nice. We were in a lovely soft “couchette”. It was very comfortable, but difficult to sleep during the rather jerky journey! The train kept stopping, starting again, driving slowly then suddenly speeding up! I don’t know why it didn’t just maintain a regular speed, that would have been much nicer.
We arrived in Nice on Day 4, found somewhere to leave our baggage, then hastily travelled on the train to Cannes, for a lovely day at the beach. 

On Day 5 we travelled over to Monaco for a lovely day of sightseeing. I had been to Monaco around ten years ago, but didn’t really see much of the city. This time we walked up to the Palace, enjoyed looking around inside (especially as there was no queue!) we ambled around the port admiring all the lovely yachts, then walked all the way up to the casino at Monte Carlo. It was a wonderful day in a beautiful place!


Day 6 was another beach day at Antibes this time. Although we were staying in Nice, we preferred to travel to the beaches at Cannes and Antibes as theirs are sandy -the Nice beaches are rocky, which would be no fun for lying on! We had a good few hours on the beach at Antibes, before it really became too windy! 

On Day 7 we looked around Nice itself and paddled in the sea. We looked at the memorials from 16th July, and remembered those that sadly lost their lives that day. Then we went in a lift up to the castle on the hill for stunning views of the surrounding scenery, before returning to the centre of town for an ice cream at a shop with over 100 flavours! Sadly we weren’t able to try each one! We then embarked on a rather long train journey to Milan for the next stage of our holiday.

nice view of Nice

We stayed in Milan for one night, then got a train to Stresa on Day 8. Once in Stresa, we checked into a lovely hotel overlooking a bustling piazza, then went to look around the town. It’s not as busy or touristy as Nice or Paris, but very beautiful! The town is situated on the edge of Lake Maggiore, so from there we enjoyed taking a few boat trips on the lake to the Borromean Islands and to Saint Caterina monastery. We also had fun looking around a zoological park, with lots of exotic birds, animals and flowers called Villa Pallavicino.
On Day 9 we went to three islands: Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori. The first two islands were the lovely palaces and gardens of the Borromean family, while Isola Pescatori (fishermens’ island) had a lovely collection of little houses, souvenir shops and restaurants. These islands are tiny but very popular with tourists in the summer -as we found out when we queued for one hour to get a ticket for the first palace. It was worth it though, as the palaces were stunning!

view of Lake Maggiore

On Day 10, we had wanted to go on a cable car up a mountain, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance, so we instead chose to go on a lovely trip to Saint Caterina monastery across the lake. The place was very peaceful and tranquil, except for the thunderstorm that arrived on the boat ride back to Stresa! After getting very wet in the rain, we got a train to Interlaken in Switzerland, for the next part of our adventure!
Day 11 I was feeling rather tired today for some reason, so my travel buddies Laura and Caroline went off without me today, while I had a more relaxing day wandering around the lake near our hotel and souvenir shopping in Interlaken. We had been having really hot sunny weather in France and Italy (around 26 to 32 degrees C, I think) so we were really struck by the drop in temperature, when we arrived in Switzerland and it was raining and around 12 degrees C. Just like England! 

Day 12. Luckily it was sunnier today, perfect weather for going up a mountain! We went up to Jungfraujoch by train -it’s Europe’s highest train station, which is great as it allows tourists to go to the top of a mountain, without having to walk! The views from there really were incredible! It was such a great experience, although we did suffer a lot with the altitude… On the way up the mountain we stopped to look around Grindlewald (such a beautiful town!) and on the way down we visited Lauterbrunnen to see some waterfalls, before grabbing a train to Lucerne.

On top of the world!

On Day 13 we had quite a relaxing day walking around Lucerne, climbing the city towers, admiring the view, taking a boat tour of the lake and eating a cheese fondue! We enjoyed some sunny weather too!

We tried to have an equally lovely day walking around Zurich on Day 14 of our holiday, but there was some kind of street party, so the town was full of noisy partygoers dressed in crazy outfits, drinking beer (wine etc…) and dancing to loud techno music… We gave up on sightseeing and checked into our hotel early, which was nice and near to the airport ready for our early morning plane on Sunday.

Smurfs in Zurich

On Day 15 we woke up at 5am to get our plane to London. We had a few hours wandering around London before getting the train back home. Phew! What a trip! 

Journey map