As soon as Neal and I got home from our honeymoon I was already thinking about our next vacation. Europe was the destination and the only question was how soon we could go. June 2017 worked out (sooner than I ever imagined) and I will cherish my memory (and photos) of this trip forever.
I’m the kind of traveler that needs to have every detail figured out and I want to know exactly what’s coming; the anticipation is half the fun. On the other hand, Neal is the kind of traveler who will test his shellfish allergy in another country and run through Florence to catch a train if it means another 10 minutes to ride a scooter. But what’s important is that we can both pack for 2 weeks in a carry-on backpack. Together we had the best time traveling through 5 countries.
Our trip consisted of 16 days visiting an assortment of Eastern European cities by plane and train. Our selection is eclectic but mostly based on an algorithm of cheapest transportation and highest appeal. I really wanted to visit Croatia. Neal really wanted to pass through Brussels. Everything else fell together from there.
Here are our tried and tested travel tips (so many T-s!):
Pack in a carry on. This wasn’t easy and I had to forfeit 90% of the clothes that I wanted to bring along, but it made traveling a breeze. My basic motto: if I can live without it for two weeks, it doesn't get packed.
Don’t test your allergies in a foreign country. Neal did not abide by this rule and spent a night in Venice paying for his risk. Yes, he is allergic to mussels. Thankfully not in a deadly way.
Even though travel is easy in Europe, give yourself MORE than 45 minutes to catch connecting flights in the United States. We missed our final flight and send out a huge thank you for Sara's willingness to drive us home.
Take the recommendations of locals. In our case, this was our Air BnB hosts. By the end of our trip we had realized that we could find good restaurants and locations, but our hosts could recommend the absolute BEST! Better than Google, Yelp, or Pinterest. Yes, better than Google.
The best experience was photographing the beautiful cities we visited. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Four days in Brussels exploring Grand Place and finding the best breweries:
You won't see many food pictures because we simply ate WAY too much good food. Yum, yum, yum! Instead we put together a little video montage to commemorate this highlight.
A half day stop in Amsterdam to have brunch with a dear friend:
Four days in Croatia to hike Krka National Park, lay on the beach, and explore Diocletian's Palace:
Two days to explore the ancient wonders of Rome:
Trevi Fountain is even more beautiful in person than I imagined; my favorite sight of the city.
The woman was making the pasta (literally) right behind me. And it was the absolute best bowl of pasta I have ever eaten!
An afternoon in Tuscany to ride a scooter through the countryside:
Two days in Venice to visit the islands of Murano and Burano:
Three days to relax in Prague and see the Old Town:
Finally, our trip would not be complete without mention of the food:
It was an incredible trip and expanded my world view in more ways than I expected. By the end of our two weeks, it felt really good to get home. I needed to wash my clothes and brush my hair (16 days of negligence). Here's to hoping the pictures will forever remind me of the joy of this exciting trip.
...and now...planning our next trip.