I finally got around to finishing the second half of our vacation to Europe. Enjoy!
We spent two days in Venice. We decided to get around by taking the ferrys. We bought the day pass and it worked out perfectly for us! We had all downloaded Rick Steves’ Tour Guide of Venice and listened to that for the first little bit of our trip. It was interesting to hear the history behind some of the buildings. There’s things I never would’ve known just by looking at them. It was mostly fun to imagine how it used to look and how people used to live. So different than it is now!
We went inside St. Mark’s Cathedral and it was beautiful. One thing I will never forget is having to put on this hideous itchy wool thing to cover my shorts. It was pretty much impossible to make it look good but I did my best.
We spent a lot of our time exploring and looking at gelato…and by looking, I mean eating. My favorite flavors were pistachio, dark chocolate and coconut. Not necessarily eaten together but I’d take anything looking back at it now.
My favorite was when we basically tried to get lost and find our way back. We got to see how some of the locals shop and spend their days. I loved seeing the little boys playing soccer on the bricks outside. We, of course, had to stop at a small grocery store for some snacks. There is definitely something they put (or don’t put?) in the Fanta there. I could not get enough.
We took one of the ferrys out to Murano to see some of the glass blowing. There wasn’t too much to see besides that so we didn’t spend too much time there, but it’s always fun to watch how they work.
On our second morning, we went to the top of a small bell tower because the one in St. Mark’s square had too long of a wait. It ended up being perfect because we had a great view of Venice and it wasn’t crowded at all. I could have stayed up there all day.
We had plans in the afternoon to go kayaking through the canals. We found a small little company called BV Kayak and they were great to work with. To be honest, I was terrible at first and our guide took me under his wing to teach me how to paddle so I didn’t run into anyone. I felt kinda lame but figured it out quick. It was nice to be able to see things that we wouldn’t have made it to on foot. There isn’t quite a rush like trying to cross the Grand Canal and not get taken out by a gondola…
I didn’t know too much about Florence before we visited so I wasn’t sure what we wanted to see. We decided to do a segway tour! This way we could see a lot more in a shorter amount of time and still hear a lot of the history. I’d never stepped foot on one before and was so nervous in the beginning. I knew my mom had done it so I could figure it out (no offense mommy ) you’re probably the only one reading this anyway). Once I got the hang of it I just wanted to zoom around like a little kid. I loved stopping in the Uffizi courtyard and looking at all the statues of the Renaissance. It overlooks the Arno river and that was pretty too! At the end of the tour we got…GELATO! I want to go back just for that.
We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. We knew this was the best place to get the leather. I ended up getting a couple purses and Connor bought everything else (shoes, belt, ties, etc.)
Oh, the leaning tower of pizza. At least that’s what I always called it as a kid. We got there in the afternoon and our original plan was to go to the top, but then we’d have to wait about 5 hours for our turn. There wasn’t much to do around there so we took some pictures like everyone else and headed out to La Spezia.
I know I’ve said a lot of my ‘favorite’ things but this place was truly incredible. I could make a whole trip out of visiting these villages! We were staying in La Spezia and took the ferry the first afternoon we were there. It was a pretty long ride but it was so beautiful. The villages were all very colorful and nestled right into all the cliffy mountains. The five villages were Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We headed to Manarola first because we knew there was some cliff jumping there. I am such a scaredy cat until I try something first. When we first got there we saw quite a few people swimming and diving off the rocks. It took me a good 20 minutes of standing there before I got up the courage to even stand at the edge. I ended up jumping holding the hand of a 10 year old boy that didn’t speak a bit of English. It might’ve been a little embarrassing that people were cheering for us for jumping off a 10 foot rock. We high fived and parted ways but he’ll be in my heart forever! We headed back that night with plans to come back in the morning.
The next morning, we wanted to take the train because it would be 10x quicker to get there. What we didn’t know was that Europe frequently has train strikes. Luckily they were still open in the morning and the evening so we had to plan times to be there. Our plans that day involved hiking between two of the villages and lounging on the beach. We took the train to Vernazza and hiked to Monterosso. It was humid but the view was amazing!
Once we were in Monterosso, we found some beach chairs and started our ‘chill’ day. We ended up renting some stand-up paddle boards for a couple hours. I’d never been on one of those and I give props to those people I’ve seen doing yoga on them. At least I got comfortable enough to stand and paddle myself around without falling over. We wanted to make sure we were going to catch a train so we headed to the train station after that. We didn’t have to wait too long until one came our way.
We made the drive back to Zurich the next day. My plans once we got there included the hotel room and nothing else. A couple hours after we were there, Connor’s dad Bruce called us up and said he saw some people jumping off a bridge into a lake. Would we want to go? Well, what the heck. I’d done so many things this trip that I didn’t think I’d ever do, so I might as well add on more to the list. We changed into our swimming suits and headed to the river. Now that I look back at it, I’m a little embarrassed (again) that it took me so long to jump the first time. I guess the important thing is that I did it. The water was freezing but so worth it.
Sadly, this is the end of my story because no one wants to read about the airport and I honestly don’t remember that much of it anyway. If you made it this far, thank you! I now have major travel bug after writing this and if you’re going anywhere exciting and need a buddy, let me know.
Questions for you:
- What is something you’ve done that you were scared of?
- Would you invite me on your vacation? 🙂