So, obviously this post is super late......two years late. Whoops! But, while trying to make some room on my computer I came across them and decided I had to re-edit them and make a post. Cinque De Terre is my absolute favorite place that I have been - and I only got to go for one and a half days and see only two of the five cities! Our trip here would have been disastrous for most people. We had a euro pass for the two months we were gone, and although we definitely should have planned out our trips ahead of time, we basically just winged it everyday.
Lets start by explaining the morning of this trip - we lost track of the time in Rome and had to sprint to the train station - mind you it was the middle of summer and like 500 degrees with 500% humidity haha aaaaand we were pulling all of our lugggage. (We packed wayyyy too much for the kind of trip we took) My brother was being annoyingly stubborn and pouting that we decided to go to Cinque De Terre, because he HAD to go to the Almafi Coast, but we didn’t have enough time to go that south. So we arrive in La Spezia - the train station for Cinque De Terre - and he is being SO rotten. We sat in Mc Donalds stealing their wifi for like an hour trying to figure out where to go next because he refused to go explore. Now La Spezia is not the hills and colorful buildings on the water, you have to take a short train ride to get to it, so it does throw you off a bit.....I give him that. Still no excue though haha. Finally, after some convincing, he agrees to explore for like “an hour or two” haha so we store our luggage in the train storage place and hop on the train.
As we come around the corner, his exact words were “wow lets stay here”. And I was like seriously, you are the worst, we just wasted so much time with your stubbornness where we could have been here exploring haha. We just had our swimsuits on and some coverups and his backpack and spent the entire day swimming, tanning and snorkeling. It was the best! (Aside from us not seeing the sign that sewage had been dumped in the water accidentally two weeks prior) haha disgusting, but at least it had been two weeks prior and the water looked fine - regardless, we had already been swimming all day before we even saw the sign hahaha.
We found the cutest little dinner spot, and start walking around to find a hostel or hotel to stay for the night. NOT one had vacancy. It is a super small town, so it made sense. We just figured we’d find somewhere to stay in La Spezia and then just take the train back the next day. So, we hop on the train to head back to get our luggage from storage before they close and find a cheap hostel or hotel - and of course we get stuck on the tracks for like twenty minutes and the storage place closes with our luggage 5 minutes prior to us arriving. Then of course the only hotel that has vacancy is this hundred euro a night hotel right by the station. (Side note: we found some pretty awesome and clean hostels throughout our trip for under $20 - so $100 was A LOT for us to spend on a crappy hotel. Every dollar counts when you are traveling for two months straight!) It was by far the worst hotel I have ever been in haha it had no ac, bathrooms and showers all the way down the hall, the bed was a rock, and it was just gross and kinda dirty on the inside. We had nothing but our swimsuits - my brother had an extra t-shirt in his backpack and his tooth brush and tooth paste and soap, so at least I washed my face and finger brushed my teeth, but we had to wait until the next day to get our stuff and shower off all the swimming from that day.
So the next day we were a little more organized and got to see and do a little more. The whole thing was a circus, and anything that went wrong did, but it didn’t matter! We crack up laughing at the experience now. Some of those bad experiences seriously make for the best stories later on haha. (trust me, we have a ton of them after two months of traveling together hahaha) And regardless of all the craziness, it was the most beautiful place......like i said, my most favorite place I have been. We had so much fun cliff jumping and snorkeling. The colorful buildings were my favorite, and the water was the most incredible color blue! And at least I was with my brother, where even as annoying as he was being, we just laughed it off when we saw the views.
P.s - look at how red my hair was below!
P.P.S. - I always recommend Cinque De Terre to anyone traveling around Italy. It was a short train ride from Rome, and totally worth it. We only got to explore Manerola and Riomaggiore. And if you learned anything from our experience above - plan a little bit ahead of time, that way they have vacancy and you can have a place to store your luggage! We didn’t get to do any hikes, but I heard they are incredible!
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We only had a short stop in Berlin - about 5 hours to explore, sleep, and then wake up early the next day to go to Copenhagen. I was a little bummed we didn’t get in earlier because I would have loved to see the concentration camp located right outside of the city. If we had another day on our Eurail pass, I absolutely would have taken a trip to Poland to see Aushwitz. We did get to see the main square in Berlin and a could of different pieces of the Berlin wall. How crazy is it that that was up for thirty years, and anyone who tried to cross would get shot? I couldn’t even imagine living like that, and to think it wasn’t that long ago. The city itself was pretty easy to get around - we walked everywhere. They have a ginormous mall, a beautiful park, and a couple of pretty cool memorials. One of the memorials was hundreds of different sized blocks everywhere! We didn’t realize it was a memorial for the all of the Jewish citizens who were killed in the war until afterwards. Germany has a ton of history - most of it not so good, but extremely interesting - so I recommend getting in earlier in the day so you can go to all the museums. Mikey was a little mad at me because I slept in a little bit and made us miss our train in the morning. Butttt we only had to wait an hour and a half for the next one, so it wasn’t too bad.
Barcelona has always been one of my favorites. It is such a young and lively city. This might sound a little funny, but one of the best parts is how affordable the food is, especially the fruit! We spent 3.50 for the same amount of fruit that we would spend 20 on in America. When you are going out to eat everyday, food is a huge expense so it’s nice when it is affordable. We stayed at a really nice hostel there, right across from the La Segreda Familia church. The staff was beyond helpful, it was filled with people my age, and it had a super fun pub crawl at night. When you are you and traveling, hostels might be a little crowded, and you don’t get much space to yourself, but there is always an opportunity to meet some pretty cool people. Of course if you can afford it a luxury hotel would be nice, but if you are on a lengthy trip like we are, than big cities have super affordable and fun hostels. They even let you store your luggage for the whole day, even after you check out.
We went to the beach majority of the first day, which by the way, all of their beaches are topless and have a ton of butt naked babies running around. The second day we just kind of wondered around the city checking out the markets, back streets, and a couple of the big attractions. You can pretty much walk anywhere or they have an easy public transportation system. Even the taxis are affordable! They were the cheapest out of anywhere we have been.
We were going to take a train to Rome from Barcelona, which would have had a ton of stops, and been super long, but instead we saw that our Eurail gave us a discount on ferries, so we decided to take that instead.The ferry was like a mini cruise ship, with music, a bar, and a pool deck. So much nicer than sitting on a crowded train for 20 hours lugging our bags around from stop to stop. We pretty much laid by the pool and got our tan on the entire ride, well more sunburn than tan for me. the only thing I do recommend is spending a little extra money for a room, otherwise you will be sleeping on a windy pool deck or inside on the couches surrounded by a ton of people doing the same. Mikey and Emily discovered that there was a shower in the handicap bathroom, so that was a plus! But again, I recommend reserving a room.
Our first European stop was Paris. Both my mom and my brother’s girlfriend Emily met us there the same day we arrived. And just like every tourist, our first stop was the Eiffel Tower and the Arch Di Triumph, I was the only one who had been before. I am pretty sure we walked about thirty plus miles the four days that we were there. I made the awful mistake of wearing sandals that had a little heel on them and my feet HATED me. In fact, they hated me so much that I had blisters on the bottoms of my heels so I couldn’t avoid them whatsoever. Of course that happened to be the day we walked the most. And also my first full day in Paris, so I had the joy of hating my feet for the rest of the time. And the thing is that my shoes were perfectly comfortable, and I didn’t really feel them until evening, after a full day of walking. So of course the next day was absolutely miserable. When I woke up i felt like i couldn’t walk whatsoever! I had to soak them in the bath for 15 minutes before I could even stand. So I recommend not wearing any type of heel, no matter how much it goes with your outfit! haha it is so not worth it.
BUT - Paris was just as beautiful as I remembered. The best part is that everywhere you go is extravagant. The sun doesn’t set until close to ten - that gives you so much daylight to see all the attractions. Like i said above, the first night we just walked around the arch and the eiffel tower, and the second day we walked everywhereeeee! We met some friends that spent the day exploring with us as well. We went to the Louve, Notre Dame cathedral, and Sacre - which I definitely recommend if you ever make it to Paris. It is the most beautiful view on top of the hill overlooking the entire city. and the church is the prettiest one in Paris, and that is saying a lot. I couldn’t even imagine that being my home Parish. Europeans really lucked out - they get to celebrate mass every Sunday in some of the most extravagant churches in the world. They also had live music playing on the steps where everyone sat while looking at the view - we even saw a proposal happen right in front of us!
We attempted to go out that night but got a bit lost, and the trains stopped running pretty early, so we got stranded and had to walk - right through the moulin Rouge! Which sounds cool, but what people don’t realize is that at 2 am it is a bit dirty and filled with strip clubs. Mikey kept yelling at people catcalling us. The next day I had such at the Peninsula Paris - see my review here! Then we went back up to Sacre again and explored all around there. We probably ate salami, cheese, baguettes, and fruit for every meal - and gelato.
Aside from my blisters, Paris was absolutely amazing! I even got to put into practice the little bit of french I learned before I left. My ultimate goal is to be able to attend Paris Fashion week one time - hopefully one day!
I can only give the Gold Coast the highest of reviews, and if you are traveling to Australia it is a must. I love that it has everything - beaches, restaurants, dancing, theme parks, shopping. You can tell that it is a very tourist place, but that is part of the fun is meeting people from everywhere. Again it was pretty chilly, the chilliest it had been there in a while as well. BUT it wasn’t freezing- just cold for a beach town. The sun decided to come out the day we left though. Just our luck! If you can’t tell, being from Arizona spoiled me with warm weather. I am just not a fan of cold weather at all! We stayed downtown, only about a half mile from the center of everything. It is very easy to get everywhere by foot or by renting a bike.
One of the days we were there it wasn’t too cold, so we ended up laying out at the beach - even if everyone around us was in big jackets haha. The water was so clear and actually probably the same temperature as the weather. We also did a club crawl and had so much fun! We bargained the price down a little bit and got it for $60 of the three of us, rather than $50 for each of us. It included food, drinks, and admission to any of the night clubs. It’s funny because I am not a big fan of drinking at all, in fact the only times i’ve really actually drank even a little bit were anytime I leave the country haha. My sister rarely drinks, and my brother has never had a sip of alcohol in his life. BUT I love to dance, and I don’t need alcohol to have fun. The clubs there were like a mini version of vegas. So if you like to dance and have fun, the crawl is definitely worth doing. Transportation to and from the airport is pretty easy - we just to the tram to the bus. Between Byron Bay and The gold Coast I would have stayed just a little bit longer in the Gold Coast because there is more to see and do!
We flew home on TigerAir and it was kind of a nightmare. We had a 4 hour delay in a tiny, super crowded airport. My sister actually missed her practice because of the delay. Tiger air is definitely the cheapest way to go, but I have been told that they always have delays. I’m usually asleep before planes even take off, it’s quite the blessing. I slept majority of the flight luckily, but my brother and sister didn’t and both of them said we have 5 crying babies surrounding us. Not that there is a problem with crying babies, but of course that would happen after a four hour delay!
Where we stayed : Vibe.
We stayed at Vibe Hotel. We winged it just like we did in Byron Bay. It was a decent hotel for a pretty affordable price. The design was cute, the rooms were pretty spacious, and the balcony views were beautiful! We had both a view of the water and downtown. It was pretty central to everything, so it made walking places very easy. The negatives were definitely that you only had access to internet for 30 minutes within a 24 hour period - and they kept track. So, if you used your internet at 11 p.m. than you couldn’t use it again until 11 p.m. the next night. Obviously it is refreshing to be away from the internet and just enjoy your vacation, but when you are traveling oversees if you don’t want a crazy phone bill than the only way of communicating with people is from iPhone to iPhone whenever you have wifi. The shower was also a shower for midgets! I am 5’8” and I felt like the shower was too short for me, I can’t even imagine how crammed my over 6’ brother and sister were.
The two weeks were wonderful! I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have a Liam Hemsworth encounter, but I guess i’ll live. I think if I would have come in Australia’s summer than I probably wouldn’t have left.Melbourne to me, is more of a city in which i’d live rather than a vacation spot. Aside from the accents and driving on the other side of the road, Melbourne was very similar to America. It reminded me of Chicago a bit. I love how the city is such a mix of young and old - you see modern and sleek buildings right next to a century old one. The walls are all bright and painted, or graffitied, and the city is filled with random architecture and sculptures- with a beach right on the edge. Art lovers would be in heaven!
The first night we got there we went to Flinders Street and it was ideal for people in there 20’s and 30’s. Modern restaurants lined the river walk, and you could tell is was a popular spot for after work dinner and drinks. We spent the most time at Market street. It was filled with shops! I actually love Australian fashion. Everything is relaxed and casual, but unique - my ideal style. I took down the names of a ton of stores so I will be introducing a few of my favorites later!
We stayed with my sister outside of the city and were able to see her play in three games. If you don’t know already, she is a professional basketball player here! I don’t think I would have ever fallen so in love with traveling if it wasn’t for her. My first trip out of the country was to Greece when I went to watch her play three years ago. I fell absolutely in love with the experience and will definitely have a life long affair with it. It’s a unique experience visiting her because you get so much more than a tourist experience, you get the feel for what it is actually like to live there. She is usually just a little outside the city and you get to meet all of the locals. She is also my best friend, so that is also why I love visiting her so much.
Overall, I hope my sister plays one more season before she retires so I can make another trip here when the weather is warm. That way I can enjoy all of the clear water beaches and city walks. Unfortunately, we were unlucky in getting crazy cold weather. It’s crazy how much weather can put a damper on a vacation. Now on to being a tourist around the warm weathered Europe!
“ O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”
So we went to escape the cold weather in Melbourne, Australia and it followed us all the way to Byron Bay! And it was only chilly the days that we were there........of course it would! In fact, everyone was telling us that it was the coldest it had been in a long time. BUT I have to say that it is absolutely stunning! The hike to the lighthouse was long but totally worth it, even if we didn’t seen any dolphins or whales! I recommend wearing workout clothes though if you take the long way - the views are better! The city itself is a very young and relaxed city, filled with shopping, dessert shops, and quaint little restaurants! And everything is within walking distance. So if you are looking to just relax and enjoy the views and the beach than Byron Bay is perfect for you.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. “
- Philippians 4:6
So we just wung it and tried to find a hotel after we landed, and we ended up at this little spot! It was a cute and quaint little motel with a lot of pluses. The rooms were spacious and had all the essentials. It was a ten minute walk to the downtown and a five minute walk from the grocery store. There was also the best little picnic area in the courtyard. There were also a couple negatives though - there was a roach on the door when I was showering and they forgot to tell us that you had to put the key in the fob to get both the tv and ac on! So the first night we were freezing anytime we weren’t under the covers! And lastly, the internet only worked for one device per room, so that was kind of a bummer - especially when you have a rotten brother haha.
When I was 20 - 21 I had the amazing opportunity to travel around Europe for three months. (half of the time I was by myself!) Not only was it the most growing up experience, but it was also the most eye opening. More often then not people never even leave their hometown! Is that not crazy? The world is filled with the most incredible beauty and it is meant to be SEEN! And to say it isn’t possible or that it is too expensive is nonsense. If I could save up my money at 20 while going to school and working full time, then anyone can! The only thing I wish I had known was to invest in a good camera and not ruin all my pictures by using silly filters.....rookie mistake.
Here was a little summary of my trip :
Fast forward three years, now I am 24 and embarking on another HUGE trip this summer- but luckily my brother is coming with! We are heading to Australia, Thailand, France, Spain, Norway, and possibly Ireland, Sweden, and Denmark!
And here are a few of my totally bad quality photos that I ruined with filters below! Good thing I’ll be able to make up for them on my next trip!
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
- Romans 12:15
Travel early and travel often. Live abroad, if you can. Understand cultures other than your own. As your understanding of other cultures increases, your understanding of yourself and your own culture will increase exponentially.