Our Complete Europe Itinerary

So here it is. Our holy grail. Our complete itinerary from our UK & Europe adventure which lists our cities, time spent in each place, and most importantly (and let’s be honest, what I think most people really want!) .. the links to all the accommodation for the whole trip. I’ll also be listing all the websites that we used to get all the information we needed to help you in your own scheming and planning. Hooray!

Our trip included visiting 48 cities in 20 countries. Wowee I had never counted that before until just then…god I miss being in each and every one of those 20 countries. 
An important disclosure before I share allll of our info however. I am, in no way shape or form sharing this for you to take the trip and do it exactly the same. There is no way you could ever replicate a trip from doing so. Our itinerary worked perfectly for us as it was exactly what we wanted but every single person is different and you really need to find your own travel groove. Take a little or take a lot but just use this as a good inspiration and guiding light to get started. 
Are you ready?
Our Europe Itinerary for 4 & a half months

London for 4 nights & we stayed here 

Cardiff for 1 night & we stayed here
Dublin for 4 nights & we stayed here
Belfast for 2 nights & we stayed here
Inverness for 2 nights & we stayed here
Portree for 2 nights & we stayed here*
Elgin for 2 nights & we stayed here
Edinburgh for 4 nights & we stayed here
Amsterdam for 3 nights & we stayed here
Brussels for 2 nights & we stayed here
Athens for 2 nights & we stayed here
Santorini for 7 nights & we stayed here & here
Mykonos for 3 nights & we stayed here
Split for 3 nights & we stayed here
We then Sailed Croatia for 7 nights (highlight of our trip) & used this company
Budapest for 3 nights & we stayed here
Kirchburg for 5 nights & we stayed here
Vienna for 3 nights & we stayed here
Prague for 4 nights & we stayed here
Rome for 4 nights & we stayed here
Naples for 2 nights & we stayed here
Positano for 2 nights & we stayed here
Amalfi for 2 nights & we stayed here
Florence for 3 nights & we stayed here
Venice for 3 nights & we stayed here
Milan for 2 nights & we stayed here
Vernazza (Cinque Terre) for 2 nights & we stayed here
Monte Carlo for 2 nights & we stayed here
Nice for 2 nights & we stayed here
Cannes for 2 nights & we stayed here
St Tropez for 2 nights & we stayed here
Toulon for 2 nights & we stayed here
Nimes for 2 nights & we stayed here
Barcelona for 4 nights & we stayed here
Valencia for 4 nights & we stayed here
Mallorca for 2 nights & we stayed here
Madrid for 2 nights & we stayed here
San Sebastian for 3 nights & we stayed here
Paris for 4 nights & we stayed here
Luxembourg for 2 nights & we stayed here
Berlin for 3 nights & we stayed here
Frankfurt for 2 nights & we stayed here
Heidelberg for 2 nights & we stayed here
Munich for 2 nights & we stayed here
Interlaken for 5 nights & we stayed here
Dubai for 6 nights & we stayed here
Websites that we used to book all of the above – & spent a million hours researching on…
Skyscanner – to book all of our flights internally & across countries
Airbnb – an ah-ma-zing website that we adored. This is how we stayed in luxurious apartments for so cheap.
Hostelbookers – you can’t backpack through Europe without staying in hostels & this was the best website.
Hostelworld – also good for booking hostels but less variety than hostelbookers & a little more expensive.
Booking – great to find hotels & hostels when the other websites can’t find you many options.
TripAdvisor – we didn’t use this to book, but great to read honest reviews of hotels from previous guests.
Also, the only iPhone Apps that we couldn’t live without over there was the following.
AroundMe – SO helpful in any and every city we went too when we needed to find an ATM, restaurant, toilet, the list goes on! It would pick up on where you were and then point you to the closest everything. It saved our butts many times.
TripAdvisor CityGuides – TridAdvisor is obviously every travelers best friend so this app shouldn’t surprise you! Before reaching each new city we would download it to the app so once there could look up all the top attractions, tours, restaurants and activities. It would map you there from wherever your starting point was as well so if the mood called to use it we could just get the app up and map ourselves to the tourist thing we wanted to do at that moment. Fan-tastic!

[Left; Budapest      Right; Cinque Terre ] _________________________________________________________________________________

So there you go. 4 & a half months of trip of a lifetime travel condensed here, for you, with love, in just 3 paragraphs. This is the thing though, I am trying to encourage as much as humanly possible for you to just book that trip. Just go. Stop telling yourself that you never have the right timing, or money or circumstance because let me assure you, if you keep telling yourself that, then you never will. I had told myself, that no matter what, when I finished uni, I’d go to Europe. I spoke it aloud, I wrote it down, I shared the dream, and last year I did just that. I would love to see 2013, or the years to come manifest in to the year you took a trip to the place you’ve always dreamed of but never deemed possible. I truly believe, with the right belief, planning, research, saving & tools you will be able to do it. And this is exactly what I hope my 2 Europe posts will do for you.

Your turn.

If you have any cities that aren’t on there that you think people would love or should know about then I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also share any other websites or Apps that you have found amazing when traveling, let’s help people grow their travel dreams together.

Love, light & big wishes,

Anna xx

[ Madrid ]

[ Croatia ]
[ Nimes ]
[ Kirchburg ]
[ Vernazza ] 

[ Munich – Oktoberfest ]

Finding Love & Magic in Interlaken

If there were 5 words to sum up just how truly amazing, beautiful and memorable our time in Interlaken was they would be…
It can’t be summed up. 
It truly can’t. 
How can you honestly put in to words one of the most incredible, exciting times of your life? WE SAW SNOW. Cue fireworks and band music now. But not only did we see snow, we saw some remarkably heavy heavy snow that covered the whole town in white and allowed us to frolic like we were 12 year olds, do snow angels and have snow fights all whilst the snow was still falling. It was un-real. 

Here is the clincher though – Morgs & I had put Interlaken on the list (Switzerland in general) for 2 reasons … 
1. To go Skydiving over the Swiss Alps.
2. To go skiing for the first time for us both ever
And guess what? Both of these amazing events couldn’t or didn’t end up happening because it was snowing so heavily. Initially I was pretty sad that two of the big to do’s on our trip list couldn’t end up happening – in fact to say I was gutted about not being able to skydive would be an understatement. But here’s the beautiful thing, remember me first sharing how much I’d let go on this holiday? Well that came in to play hugely, but alongside that, I had Morgs who without skipping a beat shrugged the whole thing off like it wasn’t no’thang’, immediately said it was for the best as there were obviously better plans for us – have I mentioned how much I adore this man? and dragged me back out in to the snow for some more laughs & incredible awe inspiring moments.
I don’t think either of us can really explain what it was about Interlaken that was so so amazing for us – it’s just snow after all (right? wrong!), but being two snow virgins being out in falling heavy snow was one of the most magical moments of our life. 
The awesome thing that happened as well is that because we couldn’t go skiing or skydiving it opened up two whole days for us to explore the surrounding mountains which ended up being some of our favourite memories from Switzerland. Being able to train up to Lauterbrunnen and Grindewald to have big lunches, play in even more heavy snow and laugh till our cheeks hurt from the fun are moments and memories we get to now cherish forever. 
The other cool thing that happened was we declared to the universe obviously Switzerland wasn’t meant to give us all of our experiences and falling snow and being in snow was what we were to take away from Interlaken. We are now exploring the option of booking a ski holiday in Queenstown New Zealand and exploring different sky diving options at home (jumping over the ocean is high up our list as is doing it when we get over to Melbourne this year), both things we never would have gotten to experience otherwise which we are totally claiming as beautiful blessings in disguise. 
With all of this love talk about Interlaken here are just a few other incredible lessons we took away from our time in this magical white winterland…
  • To live, laugh and love with carefree abandon. I really mean it.
  • That acting like a child again was some of the most freeing and hysterical fun we had.
  • That when plans fall through, plans we had your heart set on, it was for the best and the universe has so much more in store for us.
  • To truly be in the moment and show up for ourselves. 
  • To find peace in the quiet moments. And I really mean Peace.
  • To do exactly what I felt like doing when moments called for it (like spinning till I fell over, screaming from excitement and running out in the cold with barely any clothes on to feel what its like) was some of the most fulfilling fun moments of our travel trip. 

Even sitting here quietly now, back in my beautiful sunny home town Perth writing about our Interlaken experience actually makes me tear up, it was truly just that fun and memorable. Like the whole rest of our trip though it just worked, everything that was meant to be happened for us and it couldn’t have been a more perfect town to end our huge 4 and a half month adventure in. Leaving Interlaken bound for the Zurich airport to start our trip home I felt relaxed, fulfilled and truly blessed for 5 days of pure magic. 

Can you believe this is it though? Interlaken was our final destination in Europe and although I have a post to do on Dubai – oh myyy god did we love Dubai! – our big adventure is over. I will be sharing a few more posts to do with Travel before it’s back to business around here and I have some exciting & huge plans for the blog in 2013. 

Thank you to all you gorgeous souls though for following along on Morgs & I’s crazy adventure – we felt connected through all of your comments on the blog, tweets and instagram comments….a big thank you post is on it’s way but for now, just know having you all ‘along for the ride’ made our trip that much more special and memorable.
I hope you’ve loved sharing our experiences as much as we loved living them and writing about them. 
SO much love + gratitude,
Anna (& Morgs) x x

We heart Heidelberg

It’s hard to put in to words just how beautifully surprised we were when we first arrived on Heidelberg’s doorstop. Our biggest no-no when travelling was from the very get go to never go in to a country or city with expectations from ourselves, and especially from others so Heidelberg was of course no different. We arrived with no expectations just a little knowledge of this old town full of character and our heavy backpacks. Can I just say here though, if we did have any expectations, they would have been exceeded, exceeded so much that to use metaphors, the ball of expectation would have been smashed way out of the ball park, down the road and around the corner, we were that surprised and that immediately in love.
It’s like with any new city or town or country that we went to and fell in love with though. You can’t put your finger on exactly what it is about that place you love so much. I mean, after all, it’s just a new city, with similar shops elsewhere in the world, an old castle that most other old cities had, and friendly locals willing to help out if need be. But you don’t love it any less. 
Heidelberg for us was it’s Baroque old town, its gorgeous cobblestone streets, it’s incredible Christmas markets scattered all over the city and it’s beautiful old, rich rich history. The town had originally been slapped on our travel map as when looking in to Germany we discovered it was one of the only towns that escaped bombing during WW2 which meant that the town stood originally as it did many moons ago, which was a huge attraction to us. Once there though we both fast said it was one of our favourite places visited in Germany and we loved how we could be surprised with new things to see or do each and every day. 
We walked for hours everyday getting lost in it’s old town streets, we wandered up to the medieval castle high a top the hill, we found hole in wall cafes to drink hot cups of coffee out of the snow and we went for food and fun every night in the Christmas markets alongside all the other locals and tourists searching for the same thing as us – memorable times with loved ones. 
When we spoke of going to Germany, everybody gave us fantastic recommendations on where to go like Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and all the normal places you would expect to go….but if I can give you our own recommendation put Heidelberg high on your priority list (and make sure you stay in old town, it’s the heart of this beautiful city). 
Your turn…
Have you ever been to a city you’d never heard of before and it been one of the most magical times ever? I’d love to hear about it and get inspired for our next trip.

Dreams coming true in Madrid

I have a confession to make, a confession which, if you are familar with the blog, you will know from previous admissions, but I am a self confessed Control Freak. 

That’s not the confession though. The confession is that somewhere along this big beautiful trip, I let go. I seemed to stop being a control freak. In fact, not only have I relaxed more & given in to whatever goes, well, goes, I have actually loved plans that change or don’t always go according to plan. 
Which is exactly what happened with Madrid.
The booking all along was to fly from Mallorca to Porto in Portugal (then on to San Sebastian), but two weeks out of said flight, we were emailed from the airline saying the flight was cancelled, they could instead get us to some remote part of North Spain (not even in the same country as our original destination!) We said thanks but no thanks & cancelled the booking.

Now. Old Anna would have had a mini break down. Considering how badly I had initially wanted to go to Portugal and were now being told it was impossible from where we had the flight from & time permitting I normally would have been super super upset. Possibly even stewed over it for a day or so. The new me however literally just shrugged my shoulders, and admitted clearly we were just not meant to get there this trip around and the universe has something far greater planned for us…

Cue Madrid. 
For whatever reason, it never got on our original list but with 3 days now available we booked a flight to this unassuming city with a feeling that we were just meant to go there specifically – and as beautiful as hindsight always is – aren’t we glad we did!!
Madrid is truly hard to sum up. Just like I had always imagined San Sebastian to be bigger (post on that to come tomorrow), I had always imagined Madrid to be smaller, but it’s anything but. Not only is it ginormous in size, the city literally has something beautiful to stop & marvel at, or walk through or explore around every single corner, and I truly mean, every single corner. The moment we got there we both knew we just wanted to tread our own path. We stayed away from trip advisor suggestions, tour guides and hotel reccommendations – Madrid was ours and ours alone to explore & take our own incredible memories away from.
We walked, and walked, and walked & walked. We stumbled upon the palace, beautiful botanical gardens, Puerto Del Sole square, humongous shopping streets (la la loved the shopping in Madrid!), and huge squares to sit & drink Sangria in to people watch. There were street markets we got lost in for hours on the Sunday, getting caught up in the hype of shopping among hundreds of spanish people, flicking through old records of 80’s metal – for Morgs of course, and watching old men barter over old basketball cards. 
And then, there was the Flamenco. 
When putting Spain in big bright bold colours as a place we absolutely wanted to see, the way I had always envisioned it was sitting in a small bar, Sangria in hand, with my lover (cue Morgan!) the lights dim with a magnificent Flamenco show going on in front of me, and up until Madrid, a city we weren’t even meant to be in, I hadn’t gotten my Spanish moment. 
For those who aren’t aware, like I wasn’t until we accidently ended up in the city (& Morgans mum who had taught dancing for 30 years telling us) Madrid is actually the heart & soul of Flamenco in Spain…
Let’s just say, I got my Spanish moment. We by beautiful fate found a bar that did shows each night and the night we wanted to go just happened to be the night an award winning Flamenco dancer would be performing. It happened! It really happened just like I always imagined it, without any effort at all. There we were, in a small bar, dimly lit, with Sangria in hand, my lover by my side, and the most incredible performance of Flamenco in front of us and it was in that moment, I cried. I sat there without an embarrassment or care in the world tears streaming down my face. I don’t know if it was gratitude, or the feeling of pure & utter joy from the inside out, or feeling like another dream had just come true, but I didn’t care. I was happy & beautifully living in the moment.
So Madrid, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for being an incredibly beautiful, remarkable city, and not just for the delicious and amazing food on offer, but for giving me my Spanish moment I had always dreamed about. 
But most of all? For solidifying for me once & for all that sometimes when things don’t go exactly to plan, there is always something greater for you waiting.
With a heart of happiness & love,
Anna x
p.s If you ever go to Madrid and want to see a show, this is the one we went to. There are 3 or 4 main ones in Madrid (tonnes more but 3 or 4 main ‘the best’ ones) and Cardamomo is one of them. We chose this one as it wasn’t so commercial and offered a more intimate traditional experience…and obviously I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Heaven in Mallorca

There are certain things in life, experiences we’ll say, that never will be forgotten – it could be the birth of your first child, marrying the love of your life, or whatever it is that makes your world spin just that little bit faster. I have discovered that the same thing applies for when you travel. Of course, every moment over here is surreal, from waking up knowing there’s a new city to explore, finding new amazing historical things to see, and hey, even not having worked for 3.5 months now. BUT..there are those extra special moments, those ‘pinch me’ / goosebump / call it whatever you will moments that go right up in the special experiences of life. I have had a few, but a huge one happened to Morgs & I the other night in Mallorca. It was extra special as it caught us so off guard and it’s one of our favourite things to see normally. 
What was it?? 
A sunset. 
This was no ordinary sunset though. No. This was the most amazing, spectacular, extraordinary  beautifulll sunset I’ve ever seen in my life. 
It had been an incredibly stormy day and Morgs & I were defiant to not sit around in the hotel so had hired a car to get around Mallorca and explore some of the coast & mountains on offer on the North side of the island. We drove wherever roads took us and stopped whenever we felt like it. Getting back to the hotel early evening, the storm had cleared & we felt compelled to take a walk in the cold before dinner and that’s when the magic occurred  Making our way along the coastline we had the pinkest of pink and redest of red clouds all around us and bursts of sunshine peeking out from the ominous clouds still threatening to give way to rain at any moment. We sat and took in what was almost too surreal to witness. 
It was a moment I’ll remember forever and was so grateful I got to witness. 
I felt like it was Mother Natures way of reminding us that of all our adventures we seek & pay for on the holiday, the best things in life really are free – & for me, that was seeing the sunset of my life with my soulmate by my side. 
Do you have a favourite travel story? Have you had any moments that you’ll never forget that happened when you least expected it? I’d love to hear them!
Love & Light,
Anna x
p.s I’m sorry the blog was so quiet last week! Our apartment in San Sebastian didn’t have any wifi but this week you’ll hear all about the end of our adventures in Spain – from Madrid to San Seb. 

Finding our groove in Valencia

There is this quiet internal struggle each time I try to write about Spain. How can you put on paper and choose words to express how we’re feeling, how much fun we’re having, and how much we truly love this country when we love it so much. Because we do. Alot. 
Spain just has this vibe about it. I couldn’t tell you what it is, or much other than every morning when I wake up, I’m smiling excited to hit the streets or country to explore, and I literally have an overflowing of joy from the inside out wherever I am in Spain. Spain & us just gel. 
Having 4 days in Valencia was heaven as not only did we get to go back to nature, but we managed to settle in to our b&b a little bit after having just spent almost two weeks in the south of france doing 2 nights, 2 nights, 2 nights..you get the picture.
The thing about sharing experiences when it comes to capital city after capital city though is this. A lot of our ‘things we want to do’ or do happen to ‘do’ are much of the muchness which when it comes to sharing said experiences, we don’t always have something ‘unique’ to share. Hitting smaller out of the way towns might throw some different adventures in the mix (which we’ve done plenty of), but our first trip overseas we really wanted to see everything we’d always read & dreamed about which all fell mainly to capital cities. 
Valencia was no different in the stakes of big ole cities. Lots of cathedrals, tours, parks, pubs & general city sight seeing. 
What I can tell you is this. Every new city we get to, it’s always mainly explored by foot, by boat if there’s a great canal, river or ocean to see, by a double decker tour bus, by train if there is something justttt a bit too far for foot and you will find us constantly being pulled without meaning to be to the highest point of a city to take in all it’s beauty. We get lost, everytime, re found, find amazing hole in the wall bars & restaurants, eat traditional food a lot of it, our growing bellys would say too much – we go out, we stay in, we people watch …. we just find our own groove
Valencia was all the above but so much more because it was all done on our terms, when we wanted and how we wanted. A highlight of course was catching a Premiership game at the Valencia stadium (they won!!) & soaking up the amazing atmosphere the game dished up. If you’re ever in Spain, even if you don’t watch soccer – you could call it football where you’re from – get to a game. The crowds are electric and seeing the players in real life truly is a remarkable experience. 
I could sit here and tell you to ride a bike around Valencia (very fun indeed), to visit the park that used to be a river, to hit the beach and eat some delicious paella, to get out to the country & see the real Spanish beauty, to get lost in their old town, spend hours wandering the markets eating all the tapas & foods on offer and to people watch to your hearts content in all the small cafes on the busy side streets. 
But I won’t. That’s what we did and it might not necessarily be for you – and you will find your own travel groove. 
That’s the important thing though. To find it. To listen to your gut, to not do something for the sake of doing it because somebody else has done it before you, or you think you should because you’re travelling. 
The best times Morgs & I have on this holiday – which is every single day of the trip so far – are the ones where we do exactly what our hearts and bodies tell us to do. If we feel like a huge sleep in at the hotel and a leisurely walk around the city vs getting up to go go go because we only have 2 days. Then we do just that. If we feel like watching a movie instead of going out drinking. We stay in, and have the best most relaxing nights in ever. If we don’t feel like going to see a museum or statue or cathedral just because its the cities top attraction. Then we don’t. Doing it this way, listening to our guts, our hearts & our bodies, has provided us with what has truly been & continues to be a trip of a lifetime.
When you let your days take you wherever your heart or instinct is telling you instead of booking things in as it’s the ‘done thing’, you will find much richer experiences & meant to be moments throughout your trip.
Travel really is about finding your own groove, dancing the beat to your own distinct drum, treading your own path & having the time of your lives…..
We did just that in Valencia, with no really crazy out there things to share necessarily – apart from the Premiership soccer game which was seriously seriously amazing .. but what was solidified for us was that trusting our gut and finding our own groove is the best way to see cities for us.
We have in a few days only 4 weeks left. FOUR WEEKS. I cannot believe, at all, that our huge trip is almost coming to an end, and can say although I don’t feel like it went fast at all, knowing when we’re home in just 4 weeks, it strangely feels like it flew by. 
With that in mind, I’m off to explore Madrid – hello more Sangria – are there anonomyous help groups for Sangria addiction? & tapas, but I hope your Monday is filled with something you love mixed with a whole lotta heart. 

Love & Light,

Anna x

An open letter home about Barcelona

{ High above Barcelona at Guell Park – amazing view, almost officially over my fear of heights ma! }
Dear Mum,
Where do I even begin about this amazing, amazing, amaz-inggg country? Firstly, you need to know, if Morgs & I didn’t have a ticket booked to return I honestly don’t know if we would come home after having visited Spain. Sure…we fell hard for Amsterdam, and Santorini? Well, that is still too beautiful to put in to words, but there is just something about Spain that speaks to my soul. 
You guys all made jokes about making sure we came home. That we didn’t get tooo caught up in it all that we never returned and I always just thought, no way, not us…our home is Perth. And then…Barcelona came along & stole my heart & soul. I get it now. I get why people book one way tickets & end up finding new places to call home – & Spain would be mine.
It’s ok though – I promise on 12th December, when you are waiting at Arrivals in Perth…Morgs & I will walk through those gates. 
Honestly though mum this place is amazing. I had never quite understood or lived the saying people constantly say “Time flies when you’re having fun” until now. Even though we lived in every second of our experience and were out up to 17 hours a day before returning to collapse at our hostel, time just went too quick. Our last day we even set an alarm to get up as early as possible to spend the full day exploring some more, and soaking up the final sights & sounds that Barcelona had to offer. We were both sad to be boarding the train at 5pm leaving for Valencia, even after 4 full days, which is crazy considering we were still going to be in Spain. 
You’d love it though. I figure this connection I have to this place has to come from somewhere and it’s got to be genetics through you right? The people here as so gorgeous and friendly and I don’t even get laughed or looked sideways at when I literally sing and skip & dance down the street – which has happened every single day. 
We did as much as we could in Barcelona whilst trying to listen to our guts instinctively trying to get exactly what we wanted out of the time there. We did all the main attractions that we wanted to see like Guell Park (Gaudi’s amazingly designed park high above Barca). We also got to see Gaudi’s houses (well before his time mum, an architect from the late 1800’s who’s work was inspired by nature) and visited La Sagrada Familia … Nanna would have LOVED it. 2 guesses for what it was? A church of course. But it is incomplete – work is still being done to finish it to Gaudis’ design & vision and it’s truly remarkable. Every single tiny inch of it has been well thought out & designed (right down to the plaster above the choir section so the sound is optimum when 1000 people sing). It was the most modern vs old piece of architecture I’ve seen on the whole trip & it was amazing to witness and share in the rich experience that is La Sagrada Familia. We walked La Rambla too many times to count (I couldn’t stay away from the buzzing street!), strolled in awe along the beach front & spent hours in the La Boqueria Markets which would make me live in Spain for them alone. Just think rows & rows & rows of stores full of meat, wine, cheese, tapas & fresh fruit & vegetables everywhere you look. We even had a boozy night out with the crazy Spainards watching the Barcelona game (they won!!), and the atmosphere in the pubs is something I’ll remember for a long time. 
Naturally we delved right in to the food & drink Barca had to offer – like every other town on the trip. Pretty sure I have grown a slight addiction to Sangria, Tapas & Paella, but hey we only live once right?
To be honest ma, I am going to have the hardest time in the world leaving but we have promised this beautiful country we will return. We have another 2 weeks in Spain so I just have to remember to soak it all in and be grateful I’m here now not regretful we don’t have more time. 
Only 5 more weeks until I’m home & I see you and the fam again & I am bursting at the seams with excitement for that! This second half of the trip feels as though it’s going much faster than the first half but the good news is Morgs & I have already planned our next trip – 2014 we’ll be hitting U.S & South America for 3 months (you know once the goal is set it’s happening so we are already excited for that!) 
I heard Perth weather has been amazing so be sure to soak up some rays of sun the beach for me. Give the boys & b hellos & bear hugs and delilah the biggest Auntie smooch possible. 
Love you millions & miss you more.
Your wanderlust daughter,
Anna xx
{ Guell Park }
{ La Sagrada Familia – The Sacred Family Church .. this was the nativity facade }
{ Running through the pigeons like a big kid }
{ Just a typical lunch – Tapas & Sangria }

South of France adventure

What is it that they say about a person’s character? It can be judged on how they handle 3 things…

  • Tangled Christmas lights
  • A Rainy Day
  • Lost Luggage 

Well I would like to officially throw some other suggestions in the mix ..
  • Getting stuck in torrential downpours with sopping feet 
  • Knowing you have to pack damp clothes in to a backpack when you were promised by the laundromat your clothes would be dry.

The above two require a whole other level of ‘woosaaaas’ and “I will not take this out on the person I love, I will not take this out on the person I love” mantras to get through 
with character un tarnished and bad moods avoided. 

But here we are!!! The above situations both occurred in our latest adventure through the South of France, a magical place that if you believe in heaven on earth, it could come close. Everything about the towns we visited (maybeeee minus Toulon) were so remarkable and it took a lot of will power to actually leave today & head on to our next awaiting adventure in Spain. 

We chose Monte Carlo*, Nice, Cannes, St Tropez, Toulon & Nimes as the cities to explore and each dished us up something unique & different.

Monte Carlo we got to have a bet at the famous Casino – & a win!! We also were wowed by the bay – no surprises there & got some GREAT inspiration for when we own our boat one day (what do they say? If your goals don’t scare you they’re not big enough?)

Nice we strolled leisurely down their gorgeous boardwalk area along the ocean every opportunity we got. We lounged at the beach (something we had been craving!) and got lost in their ‘old town’ area – this city is perfect to eat, drink, relax & explore in and I really mean that!

Cannes we walked the stairs that the movie stars do each year at the film festival & then decided to actually go & see a film (the mood compelled us to do so). The sentence “we should put ‘see a film in cannes’ on our bucket list just to tick it off may or may not have been uttered. We also fell in love with all the streets full of tiny restaurants & bars with amazing decor – each one as different from the next. Very very cool, vibin’ happenin’ city they’ve got there.

St Tropez we got to see how the ‘other side’ live, like paying $8 euro for a cappuccino ( wa heyy nooooo thank you!), did some shopping, and were inspired to return in the peak of Summer to really soak up the atmosphere that is that picturesque town. St Tropez was actually really reallyyy nice as we relaxed at our gorgeous hotel majority of the time, something we haven’t done much of this trip. We had longggg, late, lazy breakfasts, I read by the pool & we napped in the afternoon – it was bliss. 

Toulon we realised we should have stayed an extra night in Nice (LOVED that city) and an extra night in St Tropez…not that it’s a bad thing against Toulon it just was nothing tooo spectacular staked up against the other towns, so if you are going to do South of France just remember this lil piece of honesty from me.

Nimes we soaked up all the beautiful sunshine on every park bench & gorgeous outdoor alfresco area at any restaurant we could find. This city was a huge surprise…it has the biggest roman feel to it (it could be the replica like Colosseum & the other roman like buildings spotted around the town), not to mention the tonnes of great shopping, cafes, bars, parks available for you to get lost in and really was just a really clean & beautiful lil ole city. The words ‘wow we could live here’ even might have come out of our mouths in this wee town which surprised us both!

So where does the torrential downpours & damp clothes come in to it? Well, it would seem we are starting to hit the cold weather now that was always inevitable & we got a taste of that in France (ergo the wet feet, torrential downpours & damp clothes for packing) but luckily the weather goddess was giving us very ‘clockwork’ weather with one beautiful warm sunny day then rain the next then sunshine, then rain so we still managed tonnes on our warm sunny days & some much needed R&R in our hotels the rainy days – it was actually perfect. 

We are Spain bound at this very second (I write this post as we speed along on a train at 200km/h) and I honestly could not be more excited. I swear I have some special connection to Spain – it’s been beckoning to me since I was little. The food, the music, the language, the culture..I’m excited about it all and can’t wait to drink my first sangria, taste my first paella, watch my first flamenco IN spain & just soak up every milli second that we’re there. I am looking forward to sharing our experiences with you from this beautiful country. 

Until then, I hope your own adventures, whatever they may be are keeping you feeling excited & fulfilled.

Love & Light,
Anna x

*I knowwwww Monte Carlo isn’t technically South of France but as far as I’m concerned, they are. The country is IN France, speaks French & has croissants – so for the purposes of detailing our South of France adventure, Monte Carlo got a look in as part of that. Kapeesh?

12 Tips on traveling Italy

When most people plan their European holidays, much like us, Italy is without a doubt, right on up there with one of the ‘must get to countries’. Morgan & I hadn’t realised until we were filling in our travel insurance forms & answering ‘country which spending the most time in’ – something we had to go away & work out! – was in fact Italy. We ended up spending a little over 3 weeks there and although not even a year would be enough to see all that this beautiful country has to offer, we feel, from one backpacker to another, we learnt a lot in our short time that might help you when planning your own Italian adventure. 
So here are the 12 tips in all their glory – the good, the bad, and the ugly that may – or may not – help you when it’s your turn traveling Italy.


No.1. If backpacking 3 weeks is long enough. I wouldn’t do any longer, but I wouldn’t have done any less. After 3 weeks of really only having pizza & pasta as the option and getting itchy travel feet you will generally feel ready to move on.

No.2. Be prepared to put on weight – no amount of stair climbing or planking will disguise the fact that living on pasta, gelare, pizza, free bread at EVERY meal, wine and croissants is going to pack on a few kg’s around the ole’ waistline. In the same breathe, don’t let that stop you ordering and enjoying Italian food – it was the best we’ve ever eaten.

No.3. Get to the Amalfi Coast – even if it means you have to save a little more, it’s worth it. We only did 4 nights & that wasn’t enough. The best towns to stay in are Ravello & Positano. Both Morgs & I didn’t rate the town Amalfi as that amazing but adored Positano. If you are going, have it as your rest week and stay 6 nights ..

No.4. Put Bologna on your ‘to visit’ list! We had two nights in Florence and did the whole town (we felt) in a day so decided to day trip out to Bologna which ended up being one of our most fun, most delicious days in Italy! It has amazing shopping, fantastic food & is the home town of Spaghetti Bolognese, do I need to say anymore?

No.5. If you are going to Naples there are only 2 things you need to know. 1) Don’t have ANY expectations of the place. You will either like it or not. We didn’t, but it might turn in to your favourite town. I was just shocked at how much litter and graffiti was everywhere. 2) You HAVE to eat Pizza in the birth place of Pizza and if you do, eat it here…best & most popular place in Naples we found by mistake which was the best mistake we could have ever made…& lastly…3) Use it as a base to visit the isle of Capri..  Getting to Capri was a must for us and we’re so glad we did it. The island boasts some of the most magnificant scenery & views we’ve seen the whole trip & the day trip across was well, well, well worth it if even for the Blue Grotto experience.

No.6. Give yourself 4 nights in Venice. We had 3 and I would have given anything for one more. This place really truly is magical and rain, hail or beautiful sunshine is a joy to explore and get lost in. It has SO much to offer either if you do tourist things or just wander and get lost in. 3 nights was just one night short for me and I think you will find that too!

No.7. Don’t do any less than 4 nights in Rome. That’s what we did and we found it the perfect amount of time (as backpackers with a timeframe). We could have easily spent weeks there, or even a few more days but certainly managed to cram everything your average tourist does in this beautiful city plus a little bit more. Any less than 4 nights I believe you’ll rush through it and not really get to experience all of Rome’s magic.

No.8. Walk the Cinque Terre – I had planned my WHOLE trip and it wasn’t until lunch with a friend that she mentioned this strange sounding ‘Cinque Terre’ town. After some quick googling I immediatley fell in love, but obviously nothing can prepare you for the real thing. I’m SURE many if not most have heard of it, but I hadn’t so if you were like me then slap this on your travel to do (& stay in either Monterosso or Vernazza).

No.9. If you are actually there for an extended period of time like us (3 weeks), then BUY A EURAIL pass. Morgs & I had researched this extensively before we left in general. I.e to get one for Europe and worked out it wasn’t worth it. For Italy specifically though? Its VERY worth it. Trains are not cheap in Italy and it will save you hundreds (I mean that) of euro’s if you do it eurail not as you go. To give you an example, traveling the same distance in France, costs us between $4 – $6 euro….that in Italy was costing us $25 – $50 euro. Ca-ra-zy. Eurail is worth it people. Write that down.

No.10. In Venice, if you’re going to drink coffee, drink it standing! As soon as you sit in a cafe, they tack on a less than desirable service charge…plus standing for coffee is such a fun experience & makes you feel like a local.

No.11. If you’re in Italy for more than a week, buy a sim card. We did this & it was the best thing we ever could have done (we just went to the local phone shop – “Tim” over there – & it cost us $15 euro for the sim plus wayyy too much data which was plenty). It helps you navigate your way around every city without paper maps, and you have much quicker access to places you might want to see or where to eat.

But most importantly? (Because I always have a most important)…

No.12. Ignore all of these tips & find your own groove, path, vibe, whatever you call it…find it. I think one thing Morgs and I have learnt best is that everybody can experience cities differently. Places people told us we’d LOVE & were their favourite, we didn’t like at all, and places people said they hated and we should miss all together were our favourite. The same will happen for you no doubt, so take any advice always with a grain of salt…we found the above worked for us perfectly & hoped it would just give you a general guidance….but hey –

treading your own path & finding your own adventure is what it’s all about.

Love & Light,

Anna xx

Walking the Cinque Terre

“There it is! Just a litter further!!” – I puffed to Morgs as we climbed the final stairs in the small town Vernazza to our apartment we would call home the next 3 days.  
Cinque Terre, The 5 (cinque) lands(Terre) – we had made it…& it’s 5 towns Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola & Riomaggiore were ours to explore over the next 3 days, a thought that had us in a state of pure happiness & excitement. 
That afternoon, settling in to our accommodation was done in record speed & it wasn’t long before we were sitting quietly on our private balcony perched high above the Ligurian sea staring out across the horizon as far as the eye could see. We had decided to stay put to catch the sunset from this spot, and as the sun was setting on a beautiful day, and I was reflecting on what had been over the past few months and what was still to come on the trip I realised in that moment, we were living a dream. 
Coming to Cinque Terre we had one goal and one goal only, like many tourists do, which was to walk the 5 towns. Hearing on our first afternoon that a landslide had shut the whole coastal walk (the infamous route ‘2’ aka the blue line) certainly caused some disappointment. 
Having spoken with the friendly locals and visited the tourist information (found at all 5 trains stations in each of the 5 towns) we realised that we could take a different route, the red trail, and do the trains in between towns as worst case scenario. 
Being avid exercisers back home (& even throughout the whole trip) we thought the trail wouldn’t be too hard but learnt fast it is certainly not for the faint hearted. We had decided to do the walk from North to South, Monterosso to Riomaggiore which in my opinion and those of most is the best way to do the trail – lots of reasons listed why below. 
After exploring Monterosso and all it had to offer we trained to our ‘home town’ Vernazza for a coffee & cake stop. Once we felt replenished & ready for the 40 minute walk ahead of us to the next town off we went. The views in between towns is truly breathtaking and it is worth your while doubling the time the walk takes just to stop and take in all that surrounds you every few hundred metres. 
Stopping for lunch in Corniglia we were soon happy with our decision as this small town was full of ally ways bursting with shops with delicious smelling food & wine a plenty. It has an amazing viewing platform that we basked in the beautiful sunshine for longer than we probably should has – but hey there are no rules or time restrictions on holidays! 
We walked on to Manarola from Corniglia on the closed path as were told by locals it would be fine – and it was! The views again were unrivalled and the steep cliffs hosting houses & animals are a marvel to look at along the way and keep you wondering how they ever got there in the first place. 
Unfortunatley, even though Morgan & I came prepared with our padlock for the Via Dell’Amore – the way of love – that path was well & truly shut. The torrential rain from a week before had collapsed a rock on the path injuring some Australians, so even though the day we did it it was beautiful clear blue skies, the big padlocked gates weren’t letting anyone through – not even two excited young lovers (ehem, morgs & I) with our padlock at the ready. The Via Dell’Amore, for those playing along at home is the final stretch of pathway connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore. It is known as the pathway of love & one of the most significant areas of the cinque terre where young & old lovers for years have come to seal their love by locking a padlock on to the gates & fence along the pathway. 
Not to be deterred by this, and always wanting to tread our own path & leave our own mark, Morgs & I decided we would instead lock our love away in the very town we stayed – Vernazza amongst other padlocks locked many years before ours on a gorgeous old bed head overlooking the ocean – we found the bed post by luck and it turned in to our meant to be. 
Ending the walk in Riomaggiore was magical however as the sun was setting so we went high a top the cliffs for a drink & chat about our favourite parts of the day. Once dusk had set we wandered down in to the gorgeous quaint bay area of the town and sat on the rocks soaking in the last 24 hours we’d spent in the Italian Riveria. 
Catching a train back to our town Vernazza (for a whole $1.60) we knew this day would always be in our memory banks as the day we lived a dream. With it’s quaint almost historic towns, bustling but welcoming cafe’s and active but relaxing atmosphere, Cinque Terre had it all and is yet another highlight of the trip so far. It now holds pieces of our heart and love that we’ve secured forever … All thanks to a padlock resting high above the sea. 
Pssst when we were trying to find out the best information on the names of the towns, which way to walk them, where we should start etc, there was no concrete information all in one place so here is our snapshot of what we think you should know if you ever want to visit & do it yourself;
Towns to stay in? 
GOOD QUESTION! This took me weeks of research and reading through hundreds of reviews. Let me break this down for you. Monterosso & Vernazza are THE best towns to stay in so look no further than them. Trust. Me. Monterosso is the first & the biggest town and kept us going back there for coffees along it’s gorgeous huge beach front. It has the most amount of restaurants and is by far the biggest of all 5 towns. Vernazza is the ‘infamous’ town of Cinque Terre with that postcard shot. We stayed here & adored the quaintness of it all. There are only a few restaurants with not a huge amount of food options. It has a small bay, and some great cafes but is smaller compared to Monterosso (each town almost gets smaller as you go along). In terms of accommodation options, Monterosso has the most and the best and BOTH towns offer stunning views of the Ligurian sea cliffside. 
Which way should you walk the towns?
North to South without a doubt. That would see you start in Monterosso then go through in this order Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. 
The walk gets harder moving North so it is SO much better to start North & go South. I.e. Start in Monterosso as town number 1, and finish in Riomaggiore. The hardest part of the trail is in between Monterosso & Vernazza so getting that out of the way first in the morning leaves you the day to stroll more leisurely & relax. 
There are over 300 stairs leading up in to the town of Corniglia – yet another reason to go North to South – Once you reach Vernazza and walk on to Corniglia, leaving Corniglia to head towards the fourth town of Manorla you will walk down said 300 steps instead of up them. 
The views are better walking North to South. If you say Cinque Terre, the picture that springs in to mind for most is the postcard of the infamous bay of Vernazaa with all the coloured buildings…that is the view you get walking around the cliff edge walking IN TO Vernazaa from Monterosso. 
Take plenty of water.
Wear enclosed walking shoes – joggers or hiking boots are perfect
Be careful and use common sense 
But most Importantly?
Ensure to stop and enjoy what each town has to offer. As much as they’re all similar they all have their own unique fingerprint & you need to stop and soak in all you see & smell around you. Monterosso has an amazing beach front area full of buzzing restaurants. Vernazza has a gorgeous tiny bay area where you can stop for ice cream & coffee. Corniglia has narrow ally ways full of shops boasting trinkets & great little gifts for loved ones. Manarola has a narrow main street offering great sights & shopping & Riomaggiore is almost all 4 towns combined. Make sure you get to the cliff top to watch the sunset as you finish your walk and down to the bay for a shot looking back at the town. Just magic. 
Towns in snapshot from Left to Right – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore – & our padlock with our initials …