Three Weeks on a European Vacation

Hello America, we have returned! Three weeks was a long, but perfect amount of time for our first vacation through Europe. We were able to visit six total countries and get a good feel for each of them (technically, we drove through Austria- but it still counts), and by the end of it all, we were ready to come home.

After traveling so far for the first time, we came back home with a new perspective of the world! We were amazed at how nice people are, I was in awe at the way food is prepared, consumed and shared in each country, I experienced so many new things and let my eyes soak in so many old things…. it was absolutely amazing.

We took so many pictures! Check out some of the highlights of our trip below:

Germany

Germany is a beautiful country – full of so much greenery. The cities are clean and the transportation systems in each city are the most efficient thing I have ever seen in my life.  Driving is easy too. Not to mention every route seemed to be the “scenic route.” This was taken on the way to the Neuschwanstein Castle:

Driving in Germany

I have never been happier to drive in my life than on the Autobahn. The way people drive and the flow of traffic just WORKS so nicely. I loathe California drivers.

neuschwanstein castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

They say the the Neuschwanstein Castle is what Walt Disney got his inspiration for the Cinderella Castle. Do you see it?

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Disneyland Castle

Disneyland Castle

We were lucky enough to plan our trip around the real Oktoberfest in Munich! We attended the first day and got the see the opening parade where all of the breweries take their kegs down to the tents. The parade was complete with many “Prosts!” and beer chugging. This was 9:00 a.m. by the way…

Oktoberfest Parade, Munich

Oktoberfest Parade, Munich

We waited about two hours to get into the first tent but once inside, the energy was unbelievable! These people sure love their beer! I bought a Dirndl to go along with our huge pints of Hofbrau!

Oktoberfest in Munich

Just look at how excited we are!

By mid-day, the grass hills started to fill up with people who decided to take a nap!

Oktoberfest, Munich

Oktoberfest, Munich

Italy

Our next stop was Italy. There’s an entire part of my family in Trieste that we were able to meet for the first time! They were so kind and welcoming and gave us a whole new perspective on the word “familia.” Trieste is located in North Italy, right next to Slovenia.  It is a BEAUTIFUL city, situated on the coast and filled with so much history and spectacular views. This is the main Piazza at night:

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy

We toured the Castello di Miramare that was located right on the crystal clear sea.

castello di Miramare

Castello di Miramare

The views are stunning:

Trieste, Italy

Three happy travelers

We took a day trip to Venice – the city of beautiful canals and tons of stairs. Every place we looked was so beautiful, it was very hard to pick just a few favorite pictures.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

The canals in Venice

The canals in Venice

We even went on a Gondola Ride! It was sooooo amazing. This was one of the happiest moments of my life- just being on the Gondola in Venice with my family. It was the moment when I thought, “After all this planning and anticipation, I did it.” It felt good.

Gondola Ride

Gondola Ride

After Trieste, we spent one day in Milan. If you ignore the mass amount of panhandlers, the city was beautiful. Especially the amazing Duomo. We climbed all the way to the top – spectacular!

Duomo, Milan

Just LOOK at this thing!

Paris

I’m not going to lie – Paris is hands down the best place ever. Everywhere we looked was beautiful and everything we ate was so delicious. For someone who had never been to Paris, I expected the city tp have endless amount of Creperies, wine and cheese shops around and be full of people smoking cigarettes and eating baguettes… well it’s true!

We stayed in an apartment in the Latin Quarter which was a great area to be in. Our street had so many shops and cafes and the nightlife scene was pretty cool. We weren’t too far from Notre Dam, which is where this amazing photo was taken:

A view of Paris from Notre Dam

A view of Paris from Notre Dam

We began our Paris adventure on a private Vespa tour. This was an awesome way to see the whole city up close!

Vespa Tour in Paris

Vespa Tour in Paris

We visited the Louvre, we climbed the Arc De  Triomphe, we relaxed by the river and had a dinner picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower (where we just happened to get ENGAGED! weee!!).  We even left a love lock on the bridge ❤

Love Locks in Paris

LOVE!!

I can go on about Paris for days, but I won’t (I’ll save that for another post).

Amsterdam

Amsterdam was nice. Maybe we were burnt out at the end of our trip, maybe the bus system stressed us out, or maybe we just missed Paris, but it didn’t live up to the other countries we visited. Either way, the city was very pretty and there were a bunch of unusual experiences to be had.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

We walked around the canals, visited the Anne Frank House, ate lunch in Dam Square and even saw some interesting people and places in the Red Light District.

Check out these leaning buildings!

Amsterdam

 

This trip was the best thing we’ve ever done. It only took us about a week to get back into the groove of things and back on a decent sleep schedule… more time to plan the next trip!

Stay tuned for more posts that go into detail about each city I visited, along with things I learned and insider tips on the best places to go.

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Trains in Europe

Transportation has been the bane of my existence these past couple of months. Why the heck is it so difficult to get this figured out?

Figure out the European Train system

There are so many options: Eurail passes, one-way tickets, global passes, 2 country passes, 3 country passes, 5-day passes, 3-day passes…. *bangs head against the wall*  We are on a budget and we need to save as much money as possible so my job is to figure out if a multi-county pass is really worth it or if it is cheaper to book single rides.

I feel like one of those crazy people on that TV show “Extreme Couponing” who spends hours of their day researching every single option, making lists and comparisons, just to save some money. I wish there was a travel agency that just booked transportation for me (oh I looked).

After all this research and frustration, I think I may have it figured out. Keep reading to see how I finally regained my sanity and see the resources that helped me. If you’re roaming around multiple countries in Europe  like I am, maybe this can help you too.

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