95 miles on foot
Day 1: 4/30/16 4mi
Day 2: 5/1/16 11mi
We were served dinner at 12:30am. They served us salmon with mixed vegetables, Caesar salad, spinach salad, bread, and a brownie. I had hoped to sleep most of the night, but I couldn’t. Instead, I watched the Martian. By the time it ended around 2am I still could not fall asleep. I decided to write. I wrote until 4:30 in the morning. Apparently I had a lot on my mind and what better time to address it then when you are trapped in a seat for 9 hours?
We landed in Istanbul at 1:30 (TK time). We had a six hour layover there where we ate, slept, walked around, and waited until ten minutes before boarding until they announced the platform. We boarded and off we went.
Day 3: 5/2/16 9mi
We woke up around 7:30am and the hosts provided us with little cakes, tea, and fruit for breakfast. The hosts drive us to the train station where we set off on a two hour train ride for Firenze. We had to catch a bus to our new host. The bus system was confusing and it took us extra time to figure it out. We ended up missing our stop and had to walk back two stops. Then, we got lost trying to find the house. Eventually, we found it and our host rang us in. She was a sweet older lady who owned a two bedroom flat in Firenze. She showed us around and told us we had access to the kitchen.
We then left and made our way to town Centrale. We explored Duo
mo Firenze, Galleria del’Accademia, and more. We climbed to an overlook and had a spectacular view of the entire city. Around sunset, we made our way back to the flat. We stopped at a grocery store and bought food to make pasta and asparagus. We called it an early night.
Day 4: 5/3/16 9mi
In the morning we packed up around 8:30 and caught a train to Bologna. We wandered around with all of our luggage on our backs. We explored the university, the city market, and the monastery. At the market we picked up fresh salami and cheese that we enjoyed for lunch. We laughed as we ended up with 1/2 a pound of salami simply due to not knowing how to ask for less. We also explored a medieval museum just because they had lockers where we could store our luggage to give our backs sweet relief after hours of lugging it around.
In the evening, we took a train over to Mestre where we checked in to our next airBnB. Afterwards we found a little restaurant that serves amazing ravioli. We order a glass of Merlot but neither of us cared for it too much so we left it half full.
Day 5: 5/4/16 8mi
We allowed ourselves to sleep in this morning. It was wonderful and then we took our time getting ready. Afterwards we heads back to the train station, took a train to Venezia and
then a boat to Murano. Murano was incredible. The moment I stepped foot on the island, I was in love. The island is known for its glass making. Every store we passed sold some form of glass. Earrings, necklaces, plates, clocks, lamps, knick knacks. You name it. We got to watch a bowl get made. We ate at a restaurant where I had my first Italian pizza.
It was absolutely incredible. We explored the island for hours. The canals, the houses, the glass, it was all amazing. After several hours we decided to make our way to Burano. Burano is know for its lace. I didn’t think I would be as into the lace as I was, but I couldn’t get enough. Burano was beautiful with its canals and brightly colored houses.
It’s no wonder Venezia is known for being the most expensive island, it was difficult not to buy everything. The bridges and canals just make it a stunning city.
When we got tired, we took the ferry and train back to Mestre where we bought a suitcase and then realized that we were out of euro. We searched until we found an ATM machine and got more euro.
We then showered and finished the salami and cheese.
Day 6: 5/5/16 9mi
We got up at 6:30 so that we could catch the train by 7:30. We had limited time but wanted to still go to Sam Marco and see Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica. Doge’s Palace opened at 8:30 so we got there fifteen minutes before. The line filled up fast. We made it in by 8:45 and walked through. We got to cross the Bridge of Sighs and walk down to the
dungeon. The rooms in the palace were incredible with ornate murals and gold engravings.
Saint Mark’s Basilica was incredible in the outside. The detail in the architecture was breathtaking. The index was beautiful, but it was too crowded to thoroughly enjoy it. We still had time before we had to catch our next train so we walked over to Rialto Bridge and plaza.
Unfortunately the bridge was under construction and wasn’t much of a sight. We wandered around until we caught our boat back.
We bought a second suitcase, a bunch of groceries, and checked out of our airBnB and got on the train. We had a three hour train to Roma, then caught another train to Napoli.
We arrived in Napoli around 6:30pm. The moment we stepped out of the train station we could tell that this part of our trip would be different from the rest. We had to catch the metro to get to our next airBnB. We figured out the system and made our way.
We got off the metro and walked into the city center. There was trash everywhere, the air was different, and the people were different. We timidly wandered around trying to follow the directions the host has sent me. We could not figure it out and by the time I got my phone out to call the host, he found us on the street. He asked who we were and then he led us to the building where we entered a tiny metal door into what felt like a dungeon. We followed him to the apartment where he presented the key, opened the door, and began to spit all kinds of information at us. He told us which switches not to touch and all of the rules and then left. Every other place had just been a room in someone’s apartment, this places was its on studio apartment with a bed, mini kitchen, and a bathroom. He left us and we just laughed. We felt so lost and out of place and unsure of what to do next. We tried logging into the wifi and with great difficulty, we eventually did.
We then headed out to find a pizza place that had reportedly the best gluten free pizza ever. We sat down and ate the best pizza we had ever had followed by some delicious gelato. When we got back to the apartment we laughed more and expressed our concern about staying in this city. We looked into changing our train ticket so that we would only spend one full day here instead of two, but did not have much success.
Day 7: 5/6/16 13mi
We woke up with some of the hesitation from the night before. We were still unsure about staying until we reached Pompeii. The scenery and the history behind the city helped ease our fears.
We spent a few hours wandering around there (where I got pizza for breakfast)
and then headed to Sorrento. Sorrento was next in line to Venice. It was absolutely breath taking. We wandered around the streets and found food. We ate at a restaurant where we got prosciutto and melon to share and I got the best Gnocchi with tomato sauce and cheese. We got Panna Cotta for dessert with Lemoncello. We thoroughly enjoyed the Panna Cotta, but struggled to drink the Lemoncello. We laughed at ourselves as we drank the shot in multiple sips.
We spent the afternoon walking around and exploring the streets of Sorrento. Eventually we stumbled upon the view of the coast. We found beach access and walked down the side of the mountain to get to it. The water was as blue as could be and was beautiful with the sky line holding mountains and boasts of villages.
I decided I wanted to go swimming. So we made the trek back up the mountain so that I could buy a bathing suit. After, we made our way back down where I got to run into the Gulf di Napoli on the coast of Sorrento.
Then we spent a few more hours walking around, buying all things lemon, and eating gelato. Twice in one sitting.
We ended the day in Naples by getting a gluten free pizza and eating it back at our flat.
Day 8: 5/7/16 12.5mi
Today woke keep around 7:30 and gathered our belongings. We walked to the hotel that our host worked at. We had been told that we could leave our luggage there for the day since we had to check out of the flat.
We got lost trying to find the hotel and wandered around for a while. Eventually we asked for help and were directed in the right direction. We found the hotel and fit our selves, two backpacks, and two suitcases in an elevator designed for three really small people. We found the place and deposited our luggage. We got lost trying to find the train station, but a woman who spoke English stopped and asked us if we needed help. She pointed us in the right direction and said she was headed that way as well. We got to the station and to Mt. Vesuvius we went.
We got to Ercolana here we purchased bus tickets, found an ATM, and got the last seat on the bus. The last seat as in we had to share the single front seat up the side of the mountain that overlooked the entire city. It was insane and incredible.
The bus dropped us off at the end of the road and we had to hike the rest of the way. We hiked straight up the side of the mountain until we reached the crater. It was so vast and much larger than I had expected. There were even vents producing smoke and the smell of sulfur was strong. After lots of pictures, we hiked back down, caught our bus, and made it back to Ercolana where we grabbed a quick lunch.
After, we headed back to Napoli to pick up our luggage and catch a train. We got lost trying to find the hotel. Again. We found it and got our luggage. We made it to the train station with an hour to spare so we enjoyed some gelato and piano music. There was a piano in the middle of the station up against the elevator wall. People took turns playing and it sounded lovely.
We made our way to Roma and checked into our last AirBnB for the trip. It was a quaint little apartment. The host did not live in the apartment, but made sure she was there to greet us and was incredibly helpful. We enjoyed a great nights sleep that night.
Day 9: 5/8/16 11mi
We decided to allow ourselves to get some extra sleep and started our day a little later than we had been. After sleeping in, we made our way into the city where we spent hours walking around.
Our first stop was an indoor farmer’s market. Upon walking in, we were stopped by a camera lady who asked if we were tourists. She continued to ask questions such as, “Why did you decide to stop at the farmer’s market.” My friend answered most of the questions and when we walked away we just laughed at how bland our answers had been. The market was full of vendors selling different things such as meat, cheese, jams, pasta made on the spot, and more. We found our way to a vendor that was selling fresh homemade gelato. We both chose to get the largest size which normally consisted of two scoops of gelato.
We chose our two flavors and then he continued asking, “What about this one? One more?” Until we each had four large scoops of differing flavors. It was by far the richest gelato I have ever had. It was so rich that even I, ice cream/gelato fanatic, could not finish it.
After leaving the farmer’s market, we continued on and bought tickets to see pantheon and the colosseum. The architecture was incredible and it was amazing to think of what it had looked like centuries ago. We also walked to the Trevi Fountain which was absolutely breath taking, but also intensely crowded.
We called it an early night and made our way back to the AirBnB where we made a dinner of gnocchi and sauce. Since we had pushed ourselves to do so much in the days prior to getting to Rome, it was nice to finally have some time to just relax. It was worth it to push ourselves to do everything in the other cities, but it was also absolutely necessary to slow down at the end of the trip.
Day 10: 5/9/16 18mi
Our final day it Italia was spent exploring more of Roma. We made out way to the Vatican museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, the a castle that I cannot remember the name of. The castle provided beautiful views of the city of Roma. After the castle, we made our way to the Vatican Museums. We spent quite some time admiring the intricate walls and ceilings that were decorated with detailed paintings and encrusted in gold. As we continued to walk, we eventually came up to the Sistine Chapel. We were rushed through a entryway, told pictures were not allowed, and continuously commanded to keep moving through a thick crowd of people. We were in and out of the Sistine Chapel so quickly that we had hardly had the chance to admire it. Upon exiting, we looked at each other and then agreed that it had been quite anti-climactic. The entire museum was so intricately designed that the Sistine Chapel did not stand out as much as we had anticipated it to. As we ended our tour of the Vatican, we made it to the gift shop where we saw post cards of the painting of God’s finger reaching down to give life to Adam. It was then that we realized that we had been so overwhelmed by the art work and being told to keep moving, that we completely missed the most iconic painting in the Sistine Chapel. We kicked ourselves a bit but also laughed at the ridiculousness that was our situation.
Our next stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. I had worn a dress that day that did not have full sleeves and did not go to the knee. As we got in line to enter the basilica, we were told that our shoulders and knees had to be covered. So, we made due by wrapping a sweater around my legs to cover my knees and using my scarf to cover my shoulders. It was quite the outfit indeed. We managed to cover eighteen miles on foot even with sleeping in and calling it an early night.
Once we arrived back at the AirBnB we began to pack up and plan how we would get to the airport in the morning. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 7:20am and therefore we wanted to be there by 5:30am. As we were trying to plan, we realized that all of the public transportation shut down and did not open again until 5am. We needed to be at the airport by 5:30 and it was over hour away. We contemplated calling a taxi, but then were informed that there was a train that ran all night. We found out about a night bus that ran every thirty minutes, however the site did not clarify whether it was on the hour, quarter, or what. So, we planned to leave ourselves two and a half hours to get to the airport. We called it a night after eleven and our alarm went off at 2:45 in the morning.
Day 11: 5/10/16
We made it to the bus stop by 3:15, were picked up around 3:45 and made it to the train station by 4:00. Despite everything we had been told and read, the train station did not open until 4:30. We started to stress out a little bit as it was pushing it awfully close.
While waiting outside of the station, we met two young men who spoke very little english, but tried their best to help us. They told us it would be faster to take another bus. We ran around the bus station for a while only to discover that one would not be running for quite some time. The guy assured us that if our flight was not until 7:20, that we would be just fine catching the train. He asked us where in America we were from and if we knew anything about Wyoming. We told him that we did not and asked why. He continued to pull out his camera and show us pictures of his girlfriend from Wyoming that had come to visit Italia. They met in a restaurant where he worked as her server and the rest is history. It was adorable how absolutely enamored he was with her.
The station eventually opened and we ran in to buy our tickets. We were even more disheartened to learn that the first train would not be leaving until 5:30 which would put us at the airport around 6:30. We bought the tickets with no other option and made our way to the terminal. At this point I was stressed to the max and sincerely believing that we were going to miss our flight. I even started looking up the next flight. After a little while we calculated everything out and realized it was not doable. So, we left the station and found a taxi. The driver asked us what time our flight was. He told us he could get us to the airport in thirty-five to forty minutes. The man sped and while it was slightly terrifying, we just sat in the back hoping to not only make it to the airport on time, but to make it there alive. He made it there in just twenty-five minutes. We got lost in the airport for a little bit, but arrived at our terminal just as they were beginning to line up to board.
We had a layover in Istanbul where we got some snacks, including Turkish Delight, and just wandered around the airport. After a few hours we boarded our last plane and began the last ten hour leg of our journey. Landing in the United States is much more time consuming and complicated than in Europe. It took us five minutes to get through customs in Italy, but to reenter our home it took us nearly an hour.
As sad as I was that our trip was over, it felt so good to be home. My friend picked me up from the airport around 7:30pm EST , we drove home, dropped her off, and I turned around and went to a friends hockey game.
I did not go to bed until 3:30 in the morning which meant that with the time change and all, I had not slept in over thirty hours. I slept until about 7:30am at which point I got up, packed my belongings up in my car, went to a meeting and by 2pm finished loading up my car with everything I owned and drove two hours to my parents with my friend. We unloaded my car that evening and stayed the night. The following morning we drove back to DC where I went to another hockey game and then the next day we loaded my car up with my friend’s belongings and began the drive to move her back to Boston.
The drive was supposed to be about eight hours, but due to traffic took us about twelve. I was fine driving for the first six hours, but finally asked my friend to drive halfway through. At some point I realized that I could not keep my eyes open any longer and I passed out for the remainder of the drive. Jet lag at its finest, only hitting three days late.
Our trip to Italia was absolutely incredible and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity. The trip was affordable and if I never make it back to Italia, I feel like I covered enough grounds to hold me over.
Plane Ticket through Turkish Arilines: $608
Lodging through AirBnB: $435 (split between two people=$217)
Train/Bus/Taxi: Approximately $400 (each)
Museum and Attraction Tickets: Approximately $150
Food for the Entire Trip and Souvenirs (and lots of gelato): Approximately $450
Since I don’t remember exact prices of everything, the numbers do not add up exactly, but for a ten day trip to Europe I spent $1840.