This is my journal on documenting love, finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!
finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!
As I look back through these photos and reminisce on our trip, I feel it must be said that they only skim the surface of everything we did. We fit a LOT in twenty days. I have found myself thinking though, “oh, I wish I had a picture of that moment, or that meal, or that awful overnight train ride”. However, since B does not share the photographer gene, he would prefer to soak in the environment while we’re there rather than staying stuck behind a camera. So, I tried to keep a good balance of taking photos and just enjoying the trip.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel abroad, I do suggest keeping a journal too. We did, and it helps to remember all the little things and moments that couldn’t be captured in a photo.
Now, back to that overnight train ride…we found that our best option to get from Beaune to Venice was the overnight train. It’s safe to say that we were disillusioned to what this experience was going to be like from watching too many Harry Potter movies. It was late when we boarded the train, and when we opened the door to our bunker and found a pitch black room with 4 of the six beds already occupied with sleeping inhabitants. There was just enough space to walk in and turn around; I can only imagine the looks on our faces at this point! The “beds” are stacked like bunk beds, three on each side. Of course, the top and bottom ones were already taken, so we had to disturb the sleepers to fold down and get into our beds. The other passengers had taken liberty with using all of the available pillows and blankets that the train supplies, so B & I were left to sleep on our backpacks and cover ourselves with coats. We also slept with our shoes on in fear of them being stolen, and I had my camera strap wrapped around my arm and tucked inside my shirt. When we woke up, all the other passengers had left on previous stops, so we had the bunker to ourselves. Thankfully, we made it through the night with all of our belongings and managed to get a few hours sleep in so we could continue our siteseeing in Venice. It was definitely the first and last overnight train we’ll be taking!
The alleys are TINY. There is literally only enough room for one person to walk through at a time.
We spent two nights in Venice and took one day to go out to the the small islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is infamous for glassblowing and Burano for lacemaking.
I adored the houses in Burano. Each one was painted a different color. We read in our guidebooks that the fishermen did this so they could easily distinguish which house was theirs when they came home late at night.
We took the train into Florence that evening, then left the next morning for a day trip to Sienna. Lucky for us, we found that they were holding a chocolate festival that day!
On day two in Florence, we woke up early to beat the crowds and visit Santa Maria del Fiore, the crown jewel of Florence. I studied abroad here in college, and spent a lot of time admiring this architectural beauty. To get the best views of the city, climbing to the top is also a must. You have the option of climbing the belltower also known as the Campanile (seen below on the right) or the Duomo (pictured below on the left). Since I had already done the Campanile during my study abroad trip, we decided to climb the Duomo instead…all 463 steps!
Let me tell you, this climb is not easy. The stairwells are tiny (people were not as large or as tall 600 years ago) and the steps are steep, so if you have any feelings of claustrophobia or maybe not in the best physical shape, I would not advise partaking in this activity.
About halfway through the climb, the passage opens up inside the church and you’re face to face with Vasari’s fresco depicting The Last Judgement. It was amazing to get such a close up view, but the scenes are actually quite scary. The path continues around the circumference of the dome, then back into an interal stairway (see below photo on right). This dark and musty stairwell is nestled between the inside and outside of the dome.
Also note that when we climbed to the top, there was only about 15 other people climbing with us. There is ONE stairwell to go up and come down, so you have to wait your turn. I can only imagine how hot and muggy that passageway becomes in the midst of summer during peak tourist hours. Yikes.
When you finally reach the top, you’ll see that it was totally worth it!
That night we hiked to Piazza de Michelangelo, another great place for vast views of Florence.
We continued our travels over to Cinque Terre, which was my favorite place when I visited Italy in college. The hike between the 5 cities had some of the most breathtaking views I had ever seen, so I definitely wanted B to experience it too. Sadly, Cinque Terre was victim to a terrible mudslide in 2011 and it’s still recovering now. Those trails have been closed indefinitely because it’s just not safe anymore. The owner at our hotel suggested we take the trail from Levanto to Monotorosso instead, so we decided to give it a try.
These red and white markings are what we had to search for to determine we were going the right way. They weren’t always in the most conspicuous places!
Since we couldn’t hike between the five cities, we took our second day in Cinque Terre to ride the train through and make stops.
Seriously, is that real life?!
We left Italy and traveled by train along the coast of the French Riviera. We stopped in Nice for one night, but it was raining so hard that I didn’t bother taking any photos. We continued our journey into Spain for our last stop: Barcelona. I really loved this city, but after taking countless photos for eighteen days straight, I was actually getting tired of taking my camera everywhere.
The Boqueria was fantastic and I wish we had something like this here in Greenville.
La Sagrada Familia is UNREAL. From the outside it looks like a drip sandcastle, the inside has columns that resemble huge palm trees, and the stained-glass windows are unlike anything we saw in the Renaissance cathedrals. It’s amazing that the construction of this cathedral started in 1882 and it’s projected to be finished in 2026. I can only hope that we’ll be able to travel back there one day to see it complete!
Follow along for more of my life, recent work, and everything in between.