Day 11 – Milan – Venice

This morning we got up around 5:30am and went for a run around the city of Milan. Man, did I struggle. It’s been nearly 2 weeks since I’ve done any sort of fitness and I was feeling it this morning. The city was still asleep and there was only a few people up and about exercising.

We came back to the room to change and get some breakfast. All Italians seem to eat for breakfast is pastries. So our run felt like nothing after eating another croissant. How do Italian’s look so slim since they eat pastries, pasta, pizza and drink wine? What is their secret? If you find out, please let me know!

Our trip was short and sweet in Milan. We wonder around for a little bit and looked into some shops before heading back to the Milano Centrale station.

The next destination was Venice. The train trip was only just over 2 1/2 hours. We arrived into the station and straight away some porter services tried to take our luggage with them and we said no and walked away. Beware! We forgot to do research on getting to our B&B, oops. We went over to the private taxi lane and waited in the line which seem to take forever.  Something didn’t feel right about this ‘private’ service as alot of people were going on the water taxi’s. We asked the staff member how much it was going to cost us and he said it will be 70 euro! This was ridiculous as the water taxi drops you off at the same location. So we decided to line up in water taxi lane to get tickets for them instead. A couple walked passed us as we waited in the line and gave us their day tickets as they were heading back to the train station. We were stoked! So off we went.

We arrived at our port, disembarked and then tried to navigate our way through the narrow alleyways filled with tourist. This was not fun with our suitcases and Google was getting a little bit disoriented as we had it on the offline system.

FINALLY we found our B&B hotel. A man greeted us at the front door and helped us with our luggage to the room as there was a few stairs to climb.

Our room really did have that Venetian feeling.

Refreshed and ready to do one the most touristy things in Venice. A gondola ride. We had pre-purchased our ticket for a 7:30pm ride. We managed to navigate our way to where they were located. (Note: There is loads of companies! so if you pre-book make sure you look where your company is!)

Our trip was with another 4 people as the private ride was more expensive and we weren’t to fussed.  It was nice to cruise down the small alleyways as they serenade to us. The guys are strong! steering the small boats with six people on the trying to not hit walls and other boats. I was impressed! The sun was setting as we were finishing off our gondola ride.

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After our ride we headed out for dinner to a local place that was recommended to us for a cheaper price then the more touristy restaurants. The place was super busy and we were lucky to get a sit. It was a good price and the food was good! After dinner we headed to main area, San Marco to check out some of the live action. Full of tourist everywhere. We didn’t stick around for long as we had a long day travelling.

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Day 10 – Nice – Milan

Our stay in Nice was short and sweet but we pretty much did everything on our list. Next time we would like to explore the wineries in France. I would like to say the French were extremely nice people.  🙂

The next destination – Milan. This trip required two trains. Our changeover was in the middle of no where and we had to wait an hour at this small station. There was no aircon and it was a hot day. The joys of travelling.

Our next train arrived and unlucky for us, the aircon was not working for the first hour on our train! Nice and sweaty for the first hour.

We arrived at the main station in Milano (Milano Centrale) and well.. there is no escalators so be prepared to carry your luggage up and down the stairs. Nice little work out for us.

We were staying in a bed and breakfast on the other side of Milan, so we jumped into a taxi as we already suffered enough inside the station with the stairs. The taxi driver pulled up in front of a small street which only had pedestrian and tram access. He pointed in a general direction and said ‘only 2 min walk that way!’. We followed his directions and there was a massive door with a little engraved sign saying ‘My bed’ which was our place.

I went to ring the doorbell but a young man opened the door for some other men, so we just followed them. Inside it was a block of units, so we stood there confused, also watching alot of young males walking in and out the door and upstairs waiting in lines which made us even more confused.

I decided to turn on my roaming data for a second and called the B&B, a lady answered and walked out the front to find us. Yay! Turns out the group of men were models lining up for a photoshoot next door to our B&B.

Our B&B was super cute and we had our own bathroom which was a bonus. We checked in and had a shower since we had been sweating all day during train trips and lugging our suitcases on stairs. What a mission.

After our showers, we went out and headed towards the centre of Milan where the famous Duomo was located. It was only a 10 minute walk from our place. Be prepared to take loads of photos of this beauty.

 

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Magnificent isn’t it?

The famous shopping centre is right next door. Piazza Della Scala. There was a rooftop bar inside which had a great view of the Milan Duomo. So we decided to have a few cocktails and enjoy it from the bar away from the tourist crowd.

A few drinks down and we decided to check out some of the shops. Most of the shops are high designer brands which we definitely couldn’t afford, but they’re nice to look at.

Down the road from the shops there is a Castle and water fountain. Our feet were sore so we rested in front of the castle for a while. It was nice to rest the feet.

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Day 9 – Nice

Bonjour!

A tiny bit tired from yesterday’s travel but ready to explore the small town of Nice as we only had limited time. We wondered down the main street and found a place for breakfast called Mama’s. The lady greeted us with a friendly smile and gave us English menus and she spoke fluent English. The breakfast was cheap and big.

Nice is easy to navigate around and we found ourselves at the famous Promenade. We walked all the way to the end where you had a view of the town and the hashtag sign #ilovenice.

From here, you can make your way up to the Cascade Hill where there is a waterfall and you can get a higher view of the city.

The walk is great and you can take your time.

It was starting to get really hot so we decided to head back to the hotel room, grab our gear and go for a swim with the locals.

Well the water is amazing, so clear but still a bit cold. The pebbles are no fun to lay on and can get really hot during summer. This is why locals have comfy sandals and wooden towels, smart idea!

After our quick dip in the water we decided to get some lunch. There is lots of options and we decided to go to a place in the Old town.  There is a few shops and markets in this area which is worth checking out. Once finishing our lunch we walked around the Old town and found a small macaroon shop. The ladies were so kind when we walked in to order some. I’ve never had a macaroon and damn did these exceed my expectations. Wow. we decided we would go back and get some more! MMMM so yum!!

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Monaco is only a short 25 min train trip from Nice so we decided to go there for the afternoon/night. The train tickets were about 13 euro return for two adults.

We arrived in Monaco and followed a lady, turns out we walked the wrong way to where we wanted to go. The area is small so we just jumped onto a local bus and told him we wanted to head towards the marina area.  Be prepared to see some fancy looking cars, houses and yachts.

The afternoon was perfect just strolling around the area and then down to a bar for a few drinks before heading back to the station to Nice.

Suggestion: We grabbed a gelato from the gelato shop in front of the train station entrance and it was the best gelato we have ever had!

 

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Day 8 – Barcelona – Nice

Finally! We had a sleep in after a few hectic days exploring. Today is our last day in Barcelona so we checked out and left our luggage with the reception.

We walked towards the Gothic quarter for breakfast as I did some research the night before on a few coffee places. We finally tracked down a little coffee shop called Satan’s coffee co. It was busy and had to wait to be seated.  The coffees were worth the wait which was good.

Today we took it easy and just went shopping around the main part of Barcelona as our train was later this afternoon. Barcelona has some great department stores which are 9 or so levels. Alex managed to pick up a few bargains.

The train departed at 4:45pm and we had a changeover in the AIX EN Provence to get to our destination, Nice. The trip was beautiful as we watched the sunset over the country side of France. I wish we had more time as I would of like to stayed in the area where we changed our trains over. The overall trip took us about 8 hours so we arrived around midnight.

Our hotel was walking distance but we were disorientated so jumped in one the cabs which took them only 5mins. The check in was easy and we jumped straight into bed!

Goodnight x

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Day 7- Barcelona

Up early and ready to go! We did some research and found out there was also a Federal cafe in Barcelona located in the Gothic Quarter. Perfect for us since we were planning to visit the area.

It was around 8:00am and there was no body around. The town was pretty much ours to snap some pictures. Timing was even more perfect as the skies were a gloomy look which set the tone for ‘Gothic’.

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The mood made it more fun to capture the Gothic style buildings.

 

After refueling after some breakfast, we jumped on the bus to head back up to the hill to jump onto the Teleferico. We decided just do a one way trip up to the castle.

The view is great. You get a 360 degree view of Barcelona and it really shows you how populated the city is..

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When reaching the top of the hill, there is a castle. Unfortunately you have to pay to go inside, we just decided to get a few photos from the outside.

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After a few photos here and there, we headed back down to the bus stop to make our way down to the Port Vell for some lunch. We were keen to have some Paella for lunch! Too many options to choose from we decided to go for one of the waterfront options which was a slight mistake, as expected, it was very expensive. But, we were super full after it.

The day had gone past quick, already 4pm. Time to head back to the hotel to freshen up for the night tours we’d booked the night before.

First up, Saragarda Familla. We left early incase there was bad traffic delays.  The traffic was pretty bad, nearly took us 30 mins to get around the corner.  The entrance was still pretty busy but not as bad as we had seen early in the day. Our ticket included the entrance, an audio guide each and a guide through one of the towers. The audio guide explains the history and why Gaudi created this piece of artwork. I would recommend the audio guide for anyone interested in understanding the building.

We took an elevator up to one of the towers and then you would make your way down the windy, narrow staircase whilst stopping on the way to look outside of the building.

 

The building closes at 8pm and the tourist start to clear out.  Lucky for us, we managed to get photos without other people in it.  Our next stop was Park Guell, we got on the bus and headed towards the direction. Unfortunately, we weren’t paying attention and missed our stop. The next stop after was no where near Park Guell. We knew we would be rushing if we got off and we would properly get lost. Ooops.

So, we decided to stay on the bus and just miss it, lucky we only paid $20 so we weren’t to bothered and we were super tired anyways.

 

Day 6 – Valencia to Barcelona Part 2

The train trip was smooth and we arrived into the main station of Barcelona around mid-morning.  We jumped straight into a taxi as I didn’t want to hang around the station for too long and be an easy target for pick pocketing.  The hotel was another small boutique style and our reception let us check in early to our room. The hotel even had a rooftop bar. We will be checking that out later tonight.

The hotel gave us a map and some instructions to get to the main tourist area and information desks. We managed to find them and purchased a 2 day hop on and hop off bus ticket. Since a bus had pulled up, we jumped on straight away. The driver provided us with headphones to listen about the main tourist sights we would see or stop at.

There are 3 tourist routes you can take as Barcelona is quite a large city full of tourist sights to visit.

The next line we took was the red line. This was the largest line as it went to alot of tourist attractions. The bus was heading into the direction of a really nice building, so we decided to get off.

The building was called the Grand Royal Palace. Inside, it was a museum which was history on Palace and the Royal family members that lived inside it. We decided not to go inside as the building was magnificent to view from the outside.

Near the entrance, there was a view looking towards Barcelona City. You could take the stairs or escalators!? down and there was a waterfall and then the next level was the water fountain.

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Picture: The Imperial Royal Palace, Barcelona

The next bus stop is the Olympic Village and Stadium which hosted the Olympics back in 1992.  We decided to get off and check it out. There was hardly any tourist around which made it feel like we were visiting an abandoned city.

After wondering around the area we went back to the bus stop to travel onto the next destinations. The bus goes up the hill towards a Teleferico and then back down towards Port Vell, La Rambles and Gothic Quarter. There was so many places we wanted to visit so we wrote them all down hoping we could cram them into the next day.

Once we got back to the hotel we decided to do research on a couple of places we were interested in, hoping we could get to them all. A quick decision was made and we bought tickets to the Saragarda Familla and Park Guell. There was only the last sessions available for both places which was 6:30pm and 8:30pm.  We knew it would be quieter so decided to book both of the tickets for tomorrow.

 

Day 6 – Valencia to Barcelona Part 1

This morning was an early wake up to catch a train to the next destination, Barcelona. The hotel reception was closed so we left our keys in our apartment.  We did some research the night before about walking to save some cash on taxis. As we left the hotel, we started walking and followed our offline map on Google. Something did feel right as the map started to get confused and the direction did not feel right.

Alex decided to run up and check the way while I started to panic a little as it was getting closer and closer to our trains departure time. Finally, he came back huffing and puffing saying there wasn’t a way to get through via foot, only car on a main road.  We quickly walked back to the hotel and stood out the front to get Wi-Fi signal to download a taxi app. As the app was slowly downloading, Alex ran up and down the street trying to hail taxis. Unfortunately for us our street was right next to main road and it was hard to hail them down. The app downloaded finally and then it wasn’t working. We decided to walk across to the otherside of the main road hoping to signal a taxi over there. As we walked, we notice one just waiting. Alex and I ran with our suitcases and it turns out it was a taxi rank. Hallelujah! In the cab and off we went. Only 15 minutes to spare and it only took the taxi 5 mins to get there. We made it. Phew.

 

 

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Day 5 – Valencia

The best option to get around Valencia is by bike or foot. The city is much smaller then Madrid and easier to navigate. The hotel had bicycles available for us to rent.

We rode the bicycles through the park and made a few stops on the way. We made it to the City of Arts and Science. This is a must go to in Valencia! The area is full of futuristic buildings which host famous events and some buildings are the museums.  We decided not to go inside the buildings and just admire them from the outside.

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After checking out the City of Arts and Science we started to make our way back to the main part of Valencia. The city centre of Valencia is great for cyclists as the bike lanes have their own area and traffic lights. I thought this was a great system, something we could use back home!

The weather was beautiful and there was no better way then to end the ride with a nice cold cervenza (beer and tequila surprisingly doesn’t taste that bad)

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Photo: Riding through the park

Day 4 Madrid – Valencia

I had been doing some research on cafes around Madrid to see if we could find a nice western style breakfast. One popped up on Google called Federal and it was open from 8am which was perfect for us! The cafe was only a short 10 minute walk from our apartment and wasn’t too hard to find. The food was exactly what we get in Australia, it turned out the cafe was named after an Australian suburb in NSW, Federal. This is probably why we enjoyed our breakfast so much.

After breakfast, we wondered back through the city and checked out of the apartment. The receptionist assisted us with booking our train tickets from Madrid to Valencia and showed us how to get to the main station by using the metro.

We wonder through the metro like  lost tourist, lukcy the staff were friendly and assisted us to get our metro tickets.  When you go through the gate with your ticket, make sure you grab it as I accidentally didn’t and it was too late, oops! There was a random ticket on the ground that I grabbed incase an inspector was around.

We arrived to and went to exit – unlucky for me as the ticket I grabbed was expired. Ooops, I just went to the desk and acted dumb, the lady gave me a newbie! We managed to get through the exit and off to the next train. The train was a high speed and we were booked in the Business Class as this was recommended through many blogs.

The ride was on time, peaceful and great to see the countryside, I really enjoyed the view. It took about 3 hours to arrive to Valencia. We got a little lost navigating through the city to find our hotel, but we got there. The hotel was just on the outskirts of the made part. It was a small boutique style called the SoHotel.

On arrival, the receptionist was friendly and helped us up to our rooms. She gave us tourist maps and other ideas for our short stay in Valencia.

As it was already 5pm, we decided to go for a wonder because we were a little hungry. We managed to agree on a place for late lunch/early dinner. That definitely hit the spot.

This city was a bit easier to navigate through the alleyways as they were bigger and it wasn’t as busy. There was heaps of trendy cafes and bars around which just made us like Valencia even more. The vibe of the city felt more relax and definitely trendier!

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