As mentioned in part 1, Sean and I have been traveling and without work for 24-months, a full 2 years. For 5-weeks, we steadily toured Europe with two goals in mind: 1) end our tour in Germany (where we’re studying Deutsch) and 2) find a beach home for the summer. In part 1 you can read about our travels in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Monaco. And here, in part 2 we cover our travels in Italy, Vatican City, and Germany.
After having spent a week on the beach in Nice, France, we were both excited to spend some time getting to know the eternal city of Rome. We stayed in two different AirBnb’s because we decided to extend our trip once there. The first was Roberto’s Airbnb and the second apartment was a TripAdvisor apartment. Generally in the same neighborhood and managed by the same fantastic local – Roberto! When possible we try to stay out of tourist-dense areas but remain close enough to hit the sights on foot or with a short metro ride. We visited the famous Trevi Fountain, Roman Colosseum, the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and we ate pizza, pasta (Try this restaurant!), and of course gelato! We are not fans of big metroplex style cities due to the large masses of people, constant noise and lack of open space. But, as with Paris, we both really enjoyed our time in Rome and have put it on our list of places to revisit some day. Here are a few photos of Rome.
Vatican City is officially the smallest country in the world. For those that don’t know, Vatican City sits within the city of Rome. Our Roman apartment was quite close, so we were able to visit the Vatican several times! We toured the Vatican’s museums which display enormous collections that were built up by the Popes. They include some the most world-renowned classical sculptures and Renaissance art. Oddly enough not even half of the Vatican collection is actually on display.
Before we quit our jobs to travel, I didn’t realize how much I love sculptures. I find their ability to convey emotions awe-inspiring. Emotions are difficult enough to convey vocally, so being able to express them with a static display is astounding! But the real gem of Vatican City is, of course, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter. Beyond the fact that it is the largest church in the world, it is also regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. The grandiose nature of the basilica literally took my breath away and seeing so many devout worshipers come to this place is moving.
Overall I highly recommend a visit to the Vatican regardless of your religious affiliation! We are anything but religious, and yet we still appreciated the history and power that it holds. Here are few photos from the Vatican.
Venice is a very unique set of islands that boast — zero car traffic. That’s right no cars whatsoever! Everything that makes it onto any of the islands comes by boat. That means people, dogs, food, liquor, wine, even dirt (which is very little) is delivered by boat. But this by no means translates to the streets being straightforward to navigate. In fact, part of the charm of Venice is getting lost and wandering around the maze of cobbled streets and crisscrossed water passages, or traveling around by boat, either Vaporetti (taxi), water bus, gondola, or some other floating vehicle.
We visited the “must-see” things in Venice, the Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Basilica, the clock tower, Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, Piazza San Marco and the cathedral tower, and the Rialto Bridge. These are actually really close in proximity to each other and easy to walk to in an afternoon and are a delight to visit. But my favorite part of our trip to Venice was going to the opera. We visited the ‘I Music Veneziani’ Scuola Grande de San Teodoro and saw the Baroque and Opera performance. It’s a small venue and the tenor stole the show… he was amazing!!! The orchestra was a small 9 piece ensemble and only 3 singers, a baritone, a soprano, and the tenor. They performed for an hour and a half with an intermission half-way through. They wore traditional 18th-century regalia and performed ‘… the most enchanting aria of the baroque period.’ I was enchanted all the way through the encore!
I’m glad that we visited Venice especially since it is sinking a little bit every day but I don’t see myself ever going back. But I can see how some might visit several times to shop because Venice has everything, from the exquisitely expensive to the cheapest of tourist trinkets. They also host a bi-annual art exhibit that draws people back. So I can never say, I’ll never go back but … Here are a few pictures from our visit to Venice and the review of our hotel.
Milano Marittima, Italy
Since we were searching for a beach home it only made sense to visit another beach or two! And having spent the previous week in the tightly packed cities of Venice and Rome we were ready for some more space. We took our budget and held it up to as many Mediterranean resorts as we could find, from Greece to Croatia, to Turkey, and to Spain. The goal was to stay somewhere for an entire week; a nice way to unwind from the busy previous week.
We had planned to visit Sardinia, Italy, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, known for its amazing rock climbing but when it came down to actually getting there, it was more expensive than we budgeted for. So we ended up in the smallish resort town of Milano Marittima, Italy.
It lies on the Adriatic coast, well off the beaten path, known for its elegant, charming, and glamorous resorts which are surrounded by an ancient pinewood forest. When we visited the beaches were mostly sandy but some days the beaches were covered in tiny shells! They were easy to walk on and didn’t really interfere with any beach activities.
This is very much a regional destination, so much so that we never encountered another native English speaker. The majority of the visitors hail from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Russia. As it is a summer draw, most of the resorts and restaurants just opened for the season the week we arrived. This allowed us to enjoy no crowds on the beach or in restaurants; a lovely treasure.
I learned some interesting lessons here, you can read more about that here. We spent our days lazing on the beach and generally soaking up all the relaxation we could handle. The water was much warmer than in Nice, France. With the tan lines redrawn it was time to make our way north as our language school was only a week off. Here are few photos from the beach!
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the largest city with 6 million people in the metro area. It is also the most visited city in Germany! The city is huge but has an extensive rail and metro system, so it’s quite reasonable to navigate using public transportation. The city is very international but not as many people spoke English there as I had guessed. We visited the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Parliament building, Altstadt (old town), and the Berlin Cathedral. Our visit was rather short, as it was primarily a good gateway to northern Germany for us, but we enjoyed our time in the capital. With the clock running out on us we hopped a flight to Cologne Germany as our school started four days later. Here are few photos from Berlin.
So after 5-weeks of sightseeing and touring some of the classic European cities, we’ve decided on a beach home! The beach we’ve chosen has the softest white sand and richest emerald-green water — Destin, Florida. We’re excited to have nailed down the other half of our equation. It really was a “no-brainer” choice for us. Half of our family lives there now and we’ve been visiting there every year for the past three years and love being there. So now we just have to figure out seasonal jobs and seasonal housing there.
With the goal of summers in Florida and winters in Switzerland, we can now focus on making both of those goals happen. There are lots more adventures between now and then…. As always, thanks for following our adventures, we hope you have and continue to enjoy it! More to come soon!