Europe and the Girl... And the Husband

Spending 70 days backpacking Europe was something I will never forget. My husband and I traversed through 9 different countries, hopping on trains and staying in airbnb's for our honeymoon. It wasn't the typical backpacking journey where we stayed in tents and lugged around a bar supported backpack. We savored the authentic food of each region, sipped the oldest vine wines of wine country, and immersed ourselves into the heart of each culture and experience their differences. We were able to go through some of our photos on our Nikon and wanted to show some pictures from some of the most romantic spots. 

We can't thank Wanderable enough to help make this trip even possible. They provide an excellent platform for a different kind of registry focusing on memories, experiences, and adventure. I loved their different templates and how their site is so easy to use! No matter how many pictures you see, or blog posts you read, or stories you hear from people, it still doesn't even come close to the real experience of getting out there and seeing the world
and experiencing each unique culture. 

Despite the many similarities of Europe compared to the States, there were also a vast amount of differences that made the experience truly unique. Not only was the food prepared differently (unpastuerized cheeses, many ingredients used in the states are banned), but the people who made up the culture of Europe as a whole seemed to take a different approach on a number of different things. 

Traveling throughout Europe for our honeymoon was truly a once in a lifetime experience we'll never forget. And we are so glad we were able to capture so many memories. Paris was a place everyone says you'll fall in love with. We said, "yeah yeah, maybe." But we fell in love all over again in Paris. The people are a bit more reserved than in Italy, but there's a level of refinement and style that you can't find anywhere else in Europe.

We were able to see the Eiffel tower do its light show right on time, and have dinner on it without reservations. In France, you can find a carousel everywhere. It adds to the charm. We debated before the trip who we thought would take the cake in terms of cuisine. France by far has an edge over Italy in terms of preparation and gastronomy. I had some of the best meals and wines in my life in France.

We were lucky enough to have fantastic weather almost the entire trip. In Nice, France surrounded by endless fountains, my husband and I enjoyed the large pebble beach. Nice was very Nice, I know it's cliché. I can see why everyone vacations here. Cannes was the next level of luxurious. You can find the highest end fashions and often a celebrity siting.

Rosé all day on the French Riviera. I wondered what the pink drink was until I asked for a glass. There isn't much Rosé back in the states, but Europe sells 30% rosé, and 20% white (and 50% red) and its catching on here a bit. Nice has these characteristic chunky rocks. Most people rent a chair from the restaurants lining the beach for the day and lounge around while the waiters bring drinks and snacks.

We stopped and smelled the roses. And sat on the terrace looking out at the Mediterranean and French streets. French architecture is very identifiable, and there is often a statue or monuments on the buildings or beside it. It was interesting to see the changes in the buildings from the trains going from country to country. The sun sets later here, and so people get up later, eat later, and stay out later.

My Husband is undeniably handsome (obviously). He helped plan the trip and make it a reality. He gave me support throughout the trip when I'd have panic attacks at the train stations or when I dropped and cracked my phone screen in the Bavarian alps. Our two month trip made our bond so much stronger.

Dining out was an event. In most parts of Europe dinner doesn't start until 8 or 9 o'clock (20:00 or 21:00 their time) and it is a 2 or 3 hour event. So many people sat on the outdoor patios and drank, ate and people watched all day. The Foie Gras was by far one of the best meals I've ever tasted when we were in the champagne region of France. We also tried frog legs, escargot, rabbit, and turbot. And I would have every dish all over again!

We stayed at a Chateau in the Champagne region of France where we drank champagne on a terrace overlooking the water surrounded by doves and swans. A group of four British racers rolled up in 1920's Bentley's that they were getting ready to race in southern Italy the next day. Many of the guests came out from their rooms to inspect the cars and chat. 

Venice, Italy was a must see. It is a totally different world entirely on the water. The only transportation is by water or on foot. Many people would take water taxi's or get a little bit more romantic on the gondalas. 

The Grand Canal always had boats on it. Italians are a boisterous, expressive people that talk with their hands. We made great friends with a few Italians, some in Munich at a beer hall. Italians are crazy drivers though, (that's why they are such good racers!) We rented a car in three different places, Italy, Germany, and France and the Italians were definitely the most aggressive, (but most fun)!

Music was played on many of the gondola's and the classic Italian singers stood in front while an accordion played along. There were many Italian singers and opera singers that sang in the streets and were really very good.

It was amazing to see each building literally on the water, with their stairs stepping into the canal. This place is such a treasure to see now, because due to rising sea levels, who knows how much longer Venice will be around.

It rained much of the time we were there, so we took advantage of the beautiful reflections.

Spain was warm and welcoming. A vibe of fun and long nights full of sangria and flamenco dancing. The tapas were really amazing here. We had the famous "Patatas Bravas" and "Chicken Croquettes." Spain was also the least expensive of the trip. You can get a pitcher of Sangria for the price of a beer (around $7-$8)!

The pictures don't do this backdrop justice. The line to see Antoni Gaudi's architecture work was extremely long, so we walked around the beautiful grounds with a couple of friends that were also vacationing.

 We went on the busy La Rambla, one of the main streets off the Gothic district. There were some weird things on La Rambla. Endless restaurants and shops. It seems like the nightlife never ends in Barcelona.

There were many people dressed like statues that you could tip and take a photo with. Along with other people figuring out creative ways to make a buck, like contortionists, singers, and dancers, etc.

Bavarian lunch in Germany complete with wurst (sausage), meatballs, and a pretzel (and beer of course)! We rented an Audi TT and drove on the Autobahn where in most spots there isn't a speed limit. We were able to reach top speeds of 212 km/hr or 132 mph. The car was built to go as fast as 150 mph! We had the top down so this may have slowed us down, but my hair was whipping around and a bug squashed on my arm. I could care less because it was the fastest I've ever gone in a car and it was so exhilarating. 

It was Mike's birthday while we were in the Chianti region of Italy. We went horseback riding through the vineyards. Our instructor was Swedish and she spoke about four different languages including German (almost everyone in Europe is multi-lingual). Her and her husband owned a vineyard in the Chianti region and we were able to see where they grew their grapes. Not a bad gig!

We were surrounded by cypress trees and the smell of summer wildflowers. Our horses names were Felicia and Pedro. Felicia had a spunky personality and loved to snack. The instructor told me to pull the reins a little bit to show her who was boss, but after a while (and each hill we climbed where her head was closer to the ground) I figured she was working hard enough! Pedro, the black horse, liked to take the lead so he was often in front. The view of the iconic rolling hills of Italy is a sight to see on horseback.

These are the perfectly manicured gardens of Villa Vignamaggio, where the movie "Much to do about Nothing" (from the 90's) was filmed with Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton, and Emma Thompson were a few names.

This spot was believed to be where Mona Lisa frequented and the backdrop scene for the Mona Lisa painting. They even have a wine named after her.

There's a specific region in Italy that Chianti Classico grows and can have the special label. It runs from the bottom of Florence to right above Siena. Mike and I decided to ship a 2010 bottle back home, the year we met, to open for our 5th year anniversary in 2020.

Cinque Terre was another place that was out of this world. The five villages on the Italian riviera each had their own feel. Monterosso was one of our favorites because it was not only one of the bigger towns, but it had a beach in which we stayed in a hotel and where I had the best sleep of my life waking up to the crashing waves of the ocean view. 

Vernazza was one of the most charming but also the busiest. Corniglia was the most remote because the boats can't get to it since it sits on a hill top. There are about 387 stairs to get up to reach it if you dare. There is also a shuttle the drives up to the center of town where a church bell goes off on the hour. Monarola is a spot we climbed to from Corneglia. It is small and has one main street but many delicious restaurants and ice cream shops. Riomaggiore was the smallest of them all but had the most water activities like scuba diving or stand up paddle boarding.

This was Vernazza. One of the most scenic of the five towns. We had dinner reservations at the raved "Belforte tower". We dined on curry prawns and enjoyed the beautiful sunset.

We hiked from Corneglia to Monorola, and saw stunning views of the vineyards where they produce their very own wine for the towns. There's Monarola in the distance.

Monterosso is the biggest beach. You are able to see a few of the towns from here, all of which are hikeable to get to. The water is warmer than we are used to back at home in the Northeast.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. So pristine and so full of history.

We got a Firenze pass (and we're very glad we did!) and we were able to skip the line and go inside the famous Duomo church. As well as many, many other museums (it's good for 72 hours)

This place is architectural heaven.

Our families and Wanderable truly made this whole trip possible. We were able to save for the trip of our lifetime and create the best moments of our lives, eat the best food, and talk with the people who lead completely different lifestyles. We would go back in a heartbeat.

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