How I Packed For a 2-Week Europe Trip (Carry-on and backpack only!)

Hello everyone!

Today I am going to be going through everything I packed for my recent trip to France and Italy. I was there for fourteen full days but technically sixteen because of the two travel/flying days. I waited to write this post until after the trip so I could see how effective my packing strategies were and evaluate what I could have done better, which hopefully you guys can learn from! I am by no means an expert packer though; I’m generally an organized person and pack very far in advance, but for this trip I literally packed most things a few hours before I left. As always, there were a few things I ended up not needing and a few things I wish I had brought, but I actually think I did a pretty good job overall. Here is an itemized list of what I brought, with how much I used it and explanations for certain items:

  • 2 skirts (they were more on the dressier side, I planned to wear them in Paris but it ended up raining so I didn’t wear either at all)
  • 2 rompers (one was worn once, one I wore twice or three times)
  • 1 sundress (worn once, I preferred my rompers just because of the convenience of not worrying about them flying up)
  • 2 pairs of jean shorts (one was worn around four times I believe, the other not at all because they were less comfortable so I always chose the other pair instead)
  • 1 pair of patterned, flowy material shorts (worn once)
  • 1 pair of flowy pants that had a tie-around belt (worn twice, once in Paris because it was unexpectedly very cold, once in Rome for when we toured the Vatican)
  • 1 pair of jeans (worn twice in Paris; it was cold)
  • 1 pair of leggings (worn three times; technically I didn’t pack them because I wore them on the plane, and I wore them on the plane to Italy and the plane coming home)
  • plain black t-shirt (worn twice or three times)
  • plain red t-shirt (never worn, planned to wear with the skirts but didn’t match much else except jean shorts and I preferred to wear tank tops)
  • pink graphic tee (worn once, on the plane ride there so technically not packed)
  • plain black tank top (worn around 4 times)
  • one-shoulder black tank top (never worn, I always chose the normal black tank top over it)
  • black cropped off-the-shoulder long sleeve shirt (never worn, too hot in Italy and too cold in Paris)
  • pink tank top (worn once)
  • black belt (worn four times, worn with the jean shorts each time I wore them)
  • black Patagonia light waterproof windbreaker (worn six times, each day in Paris and on both the flights there and home)
  • Birkenstocks (worn three times, only in Sorrento so each day I was there)
  • white Nike Air Force 1s (worn everyday besides when I was in Sorrento)
  • toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, rubber bands and special floss for my braces, acne cream, deodorant, shampoo (when it ran out I used shampoo from the hotel and I always used the hotel conditioner), face wash, perfume rollerball, nail file, wipes, mouthwash, hairbrush and hair ties, Tide stain remover pen, chapstick etc. (all used every day)
  • 4 sets of pajamas- 4 t-shirts and 4 pairs of cotton shorts (each worn 3-4 times)
  • around 20 pairs of underwear (each worn 1-2 times)
  • 5 bras (each worn 2-4 times)
  • 6 pairs of socks (each worn 2-3 times)
  • black fanny pack (worn 4 times, each day in Paris)
  • electronics (phone, iPad, phone charger, iPad charger, portable charger, charging cord for portable charger, plug converter, earbuds)

I know it sounds like a lot, but I used almost everything multiple times and there were only a few things I didn’t use that I shouldn’t have brought. I also went shopping in Rome and got a shirt, two skirts, and a romper. I also got a souvenir sweatshirt at the Sorbonne in Paris and I got a t-shirt and sweatshirt in Florence, so I had more clothes to bring back (don’t worry, they all fit perfectly fine in my suitcase!). I even wore the Sorbonne sweatshirt as soon as I got it in Paris since I didn’t have anything else that was clean and warm our last day when it was raining there.

That brings me to my biggest mistake- I should have brought more cold weather clothes to Paris. This isn’t necessarily due to a lack of proper planning though; I knew it was going to be a bit chilly but the weather forecast changed once I was there, and it ended up being a lot colder than I thought. It even rained! Luckily my Patagonia jacket was waterproof, but it definitely wasn’t a proper warm jacket for actual rain. If the forecast for your trip is similar (a bit chilly but could go either way once you’re there) I would mix and match what types of clothes you bring- bring layers! That’s what I should’ve done; I should’ve brought another jacket and a long sleeve instead of the extra t-shirt and one shoulder top. This situation was also difficult for me to pack for since it was going to be so hot everywhere we went in Italy (and we were going to be in Italy for a majority of the time), so most of the clothes I brought were suited for warm weather.

Side note- I also brought way too much underwear but frankly, I always do that on trips. I especially brought too much of it because we ended up doing laundry three times on the trip: once in Paris because no one in my family packed enough cold weather clothes, once in Sorrento because it was so humid there that we kept changing and soaking our clothes with sweat, and once in Florence because by that point we were towards the end of our trip and it just made sense. It was hard to reuse clothes without actually washing them just because of the extremely warm weather in all the Italian cities we visited because we would get so sweaty that it felt gross. If this is the case for your destination, I highly recommend making the time to do laundry at a local laundromat sometime in your trip.

I usually fit all my electronic stuff and some toiletries to freshen up within the day in my backpack, plus my Patagonia jacket and whatever snacks I had on hand at the time. I also stashed my fanny pack at the bottom of my backpack when I wasn’t using it just because there wasn’t really anywhere else to put it. Other than that, everything fit in my suitcase with the tiniest bit of room to spare. I did pretty well with that- physically, I didn’t overpack since everything always fit in my bags.

The main thing I did well was picking out some good basics to bring. I brought a lot of versatile pieces that I ended up wearing a lot, like the black tank top and jean shorts. Bringing a dress and two rompers also helped because they didn’t take up much space and they were easy outfits that I could repeat. I didn’t end up wearing most of the pieces that were weren’t versatile or on the plainer side, so I would definitely recommend bringing mostly basics.

For reference, I was using a normal size Jansport backpack, and my carry-on suitcase is by the brand Lucas (I got it as a gift but I think it was from Marshalls). I ended up having to check my suitcase on the flight to Paris because it was an inch too tall but for some reason on my flight back home with the same airline (Norwegian Air) I wasn’t required to check it. I checked it on our flight to Italy (I wasn’t required to but our tickets came with free checked bags so we just did it) and our easyJet connecting flight to London (they have a rule where you can only bring one bag on the plane and purses/backpacks count so I had to check the carry-on to bring my backpack on the plane) though. All of my toiletries were travel size except for a few like deodorant that I put in my dad’s bag that he checked each time, and I kept them in a toiletry case by Victoria’s Secret that I use for every trip.

I hope this run-down on what I packed helped you out and gave you some pointers for what to do and what not to do. I’ll be posting again soon with my trip reflection, it’s just taking me a while to think about everything I want to say!

-Brooke

Europe 2019 Trip Reflection

Hello everyone!

As you all know, I have returned home from Europe so sadly the daily updates of the trip are over. However, I still have a lot to say about the experience and how amazing it was, so today I’m just going to “review” the trip and discuss all of the things I learned along the way. I will do it first by (and I will give a reference to my hotel and the food overall in each city) and then my experience as a whole.

First up: Paris, France.

I think Paris was my favorite city, which I definitely expected; it’s been my dream destination since I was a little girl. Sadly it was gloomy and rainy the whole time we were there, but I still really enjoyed the vibes and everything that we saw. It was a little dirty but much cleaner than Rome, and I always felt relatively safe walking down the streets. There was so much to see on every street corner, and we could walk to it all within 15-20 minutes. The street vendors weren’t as in-your-face as they were in Italy, which I came to appreciate later on. I was just more interested in all the historic sites and monuments in Paris since it was all so grand and I had previous knowledge on most of it. Seeing the Eiffel Tower was definitely my favorite part, as it lived up to all my expectations and was probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. The city looked different than I expected but that may also be partly because of the weather; I always envisioned sitting out in the sun by little cafés and people watching, but people were usually inside since it was cold and drizzling while we were there. The pickpocketing incident on the Metro (read about in my Europe day 5 post) scared me off from it a little bit, but we left shortly after that anyways. My least favorite part was either experiencing that incident, or the day tour to Versailles since our tour was overall a negative experience and we didn’t get to see the actual gardens. Walking through the city just gave me such an amazing vibe and I would love to return and see better weather.

Hotel: Hotel d’Espagne- 6.5/10, good breakfast and friendly staff, location was pretty good but it was still usually a 20-30 minute walk to get to most places, room and bathroom were clean but very small and no toiletries were provided

Food: 6/10- mostly attributed to me being a picky eater and not being the biggest fan of French food, we mostly ate sandwiches and burgers so it was just alright but desserts/pastries and bread were AMAZING

Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento and the entire Amalfi coast is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I wasn’t even expecting to fall in love with it. After the craziness of going everywhere in Paris I was glad to have a couple relaxing days in a beach town, but I didn’t realize how cute and entertaining it would be to stay here. The main square was always bustling with life and there were so many streets to walk down and shop for local goods at. There were also tons of amazing restaurants, and everything was close to the shore of course. Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea was probably the highlight of our stay here; it was so warm and the water was a beautiful shade of green. I didn’t want to leave after a day of soaking up the sun there, it was just too scenic and relaxing. We didn’t end up doing a tour of Capri or the other towns along the coast, but that just gives me an excuse to come back someday! The weather was very hot and humid, but it was a nice change from the June gloom of Paris, and it helped me get a little tan at the beach. Walking down the Sorrento streets and looking at the ocean from the cliffs above while devouring some delicious gelato as the sun set will forever be a wonderful memory.

Hotel: Hotel Villa di Sorrento- 9.5/10, bigger breakfast selection but actual quality of food wasn’t as great, VERY friendly staff, rooms were very nice and much larger (especially bathroom), plenty of toiletries provided, great location- right near the main piazza in town and the main beach access, a little outdated though and lots of stairs to get up (elevator was very small so we didn’t take it often)

Food: 10/10- all of the local restaurants were amazing, everything was around the same price and you couldn’t go wrong with a pizza anywhere (the restaurant right next to our hotel had AMAZING pizza); Italian food is my favorite so don’t be surprised by this high of a rating, but it was also really good here and there was such good gelaterias as well.

Rome, Italy

I’m just going to be straight up here- Rome was my least favorite city we visited. There were definitely some things I loved about it and it’s still another beautiful city with a rich history, but it just seemed dirty and overcrowded to me. When we first got there and started walking around the streets were empty, but as soon as we got near the Trevi Fountain (or any tourist attraction) it was suddenly so packed we could barely move. Seeing the Colosseum at sunset was definitely my favorite thing we did during our time here; the day tours of the Vatican and Colosseum were not the most positive experiences and they were both quite exhausting. I think how good a tour is depends on your pace in comparison to your group/guide’s, and how entertaining your guide is, and our guides were not the best. I was paranoid most of the time we were there as the street vendors/scammers/rose guys?? (not sure what to call them) were EVERYWHERE in your face and the train station was especially sketchy. I know it can be like this in any big tourist destination, but I just didn’t feel as comfortable as I did in Paris. However, we had some great weather there (HOT!) and it definitely had its charm; the piazzas were beautiful to hang out in, and there were more cute cafés and greenery. Even though I knew a lot of the historic background of the city and the places we went, I just wasn’t as intrigued as I was with Paris and everything there.

Hotel: Hotel Mascagni- 10/10, we got upgraded to a bigger suite for free (the only downside was we were in a separate building from the main one which meant we needed to use two elevators to get to our room) and it was VERY nice and VERY clean, spacious and all toiletries were provided, breakfast was the best out of everywhere we went and the staff (especially the breakfast cooks) were extremely nice!! The location was also good, it wasn’t the most popular area at night but it was close to the Colosseum in one direction and the Trevi Fountain in the other.

Food: 8/10- food was very expensive here and there were lots of tourist trap restaurants. We tried our best to go to more authentic Italian places but when wandering around and hungry we definitely ended up in some mediocre places (our bad!). It was never bad because it was still Italian food/pizza and pasta which they couldn’t mess up, but it wasn’t the best or as good as I hoped. The gelato was decent but I liked it better in Sorrento.

Florence, Italy

I enjoyed Florence, but it wasn’t the most interesting city. It was much, much cleaner than Rome and very beautifully maintained, reflecting the wealth we saw there. Passing by the Duomo everytime we walked somewhere was incredible (I was in awe everytime I looked up at it), and I enjoyed going to the museum to see David and other famous works, but other than that we kind of just wandered around. There was lots of shopping everywhere but the only other main place we went was the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Again, it was a place with more shopping and expensive goods; however, there was also a beautiful view of the river which made it a lovely place to just go and walk around while enjoying the views. This was also a safe city and I felt comfortable walking around, but after exploring there wasn’t too much to do besides go to a few other museums we weren’t interested in. It’s a very small city so I wouldn’t plan on staying here for long, but I would still definitely recommend coming for a couple days.

Hotel: The Glance Hotel- 9.5/10, this hotel was very modern and clean, the staff weren’t the most friendly but they were helpful and they had an activities hospitality desk person at all times that outlined plans and good restaurants to us, the rooms were fairly small but overall clean and nice, there was a rooftop pool which was beautiful, breakfast was pretty good but not as good as in Rome, and the location was decently close to everything we wanted to see and a lot of the shopping.

Food: 8.5/10- Everywhere we ate was decent, but it was extremely expensive at most restaurants (it was a very expensive city) and nothing stood out to me too much. Again, there was good gelato and a couple meals that were excellent, but my favorite pizza was still in Sorrento.

Venice, Italy

Venice was absolutely beautiful! It felt even smaller than Florence (it probably is but I’m not sure, the reason it may have felt so small could also be because we mainly stayed on one side of it), but there were always more streets to walk down and everything was so picturesque that it made it worthwhile even if we didn’t know where we were going. Our gondola ride on the water wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be just because it was short and we mainly stayed in one area, but it was still amazing just to be on the water. I loved how the lack of roads made everything just feel more walkable, but it was also kind of a struggle since it was very crowded and all the streets were very narrow. Sitting in St. Mark’s Square (or any other square there, for that matter) and just taking in all the beautiful buildings was so calming and I could’ve easily sat there all day. Similar to Florence, once we walked around for a while there wasn’t much to see; there was tons of shopping and places to just kind of explore and look at, but not much else to actually do. We went to the Rialto bridge a couple times just to look out over the water, but you’ll honestly catch glimpses of the canals from almost every point in the town. I loved it there, but I wouldn’t have wanted to stay too much longer just because I feel like we had tired out most of the must-see attractions.

Hotel: Hotel Antico Panada- 4/10, there were barely any breakfast options, the hotel staff were not the most friendly, the room was tiny and very outdated compared to all our other rooms (to be fair, most buildings in Venice seemed outdated besides the VERY high end ones), the location was decent though; very close to St. Mark’s Square.

Food: 9/10- We weren’t there for very long but most of the meals we had there were excellent, there were tiny little restaurants all around that were delicious, and we had the best gelato ever at a place called Suso (I think?). Stay away from the cafés and gelaterias near St. Mark’s Square or touristy places- not only are they insanely expensive, but they’re also not as good.

Now that I’ve given you the rundown on each city and my opinion, I’ll tell you what I actually gained from the trip. This was my first time ever traveling out of the country, so it was definitely a culture shock going all the way to Europe and into a couple of its biggest and most famous cities. I learned a lot about myself as a traveler (my traveling style- I’m an early bird and I always like to be moving, but I need my rest at night) and how I’m a very different type of traveler than my parents. Paris has always been my main bucket list destination so it was just incredible to start off my first international trip there and I’m so glad I did. It was also interesting to see how different European/French/Italian culture is, from the difference in bathrooms (size and different toilets!) to dining habits to just daily life and interactions. There were tons of things I never realized would be so different in other parts of the world, and it just took me by surprise every time I discovered something new. In a way, the trip also made me grateful to live in such a wonderful country and state where our cities are relatively clean and I always feel safe (not that I didn’t feel safe in Europe) and at home. I’m so thankful to my parents for giving me (and my brother!) the opportunity to go on a trip like this and explore a new part of the world; I look forward to seeing even more of it in the future on my own and this trip made me hungry to do so. Europe, this won’t be the last you’ll see of me by any means: I know I’ll see you again in the near future, thank you for the memories you’ve already given me.

I hope this gave you a more complete overview of what going to France and Italy was like for me! If you would like to read about the details of my trip, check out any of my daily posts from when I was there under the Europe 2019 category. I have one or two more posts related to travel/the trip and then I will be shifting gears into various other types of content covering the rest of my summer, so stay tuned!

-Brooke

Europe Day 16: Traveling Home – Flights from Venice to London & London to LA

Hello from home/the United States/California everyone! Today was a LONG day and an early day too; we woke up at 3am to get ready and leave our hotel. We left our hotel at 3:30 since we had to walk a little bit to the meeting point for our water taxi that was meeting us at 3:45. Our flight was at Venice Marco Polo airport at 6:50am, so we got driven there and arrived around 4:15. It was a longer boat ride than we thought, but it was pretty cool to see the city in the dark- some people were even still outside sipping drinks when we walked through St. Mark’s Square to get to the taxi dock!

We got to the airport and checked in; it was somewhat confusing because the airport was laid out kind of weirdly, but we checked our bags and went through security successfully. For our flight from Venice to London Gatwick we flew on easyJet (our travel agent booked it before we read the airline reviews..) so we were nervous, but everything seemed fine besides some underwhelming service at the bag drop. There was a little café for breakfast and we were all starving so we grabbed croissants and waters there. The croissant was the sweetest one I’ve had (a little too sweet for this early in the morning) but it did the job. We waited at our gate for a while and got shuttled over by bus to the plane.

We took off late and the flight was 2 hours so we ended up landing in London at about 9:40am. However, England is on a different time zone an hour behind Italy and France so it was actually 8:40. I just listened to music and watched Pitch Perfect on the flight (I noticed it was on Netflix when I was looking for things to download on the app!) so it went by quickly even though I didn’t manage to fall asleep. We were nervous about flying easyJet because of the negative reviews but it ended up being completely fine and all of our baggage came through quickly, since we somehow got the option to upgrade to priority boarding and luggage retrieval (for 18 euros total!) when we checked in.

After arriving and collecting our baggage we had to take a shuttle to the other terminal of Gatwick Airport and check-in for our Norwegian flight to LA. We checked our bags again and went through security which actually took a decent amount of time; the airport was bigger than I thought and it was pretty crowded, especially in comparison to the Venice airport. We immediately went to eat once we got to the gates and shopping area since we were all starving. Most of the places were still serving breakfast (it was 10:30 by this point) including the restaurant we went to- I got scrambled eggs on toast with bacon and it was definitely the best and most filling breakfast I’ve had in a while.

We waited around for over an hour because our flight was at 2:10pm, but boarding actually started pretty early at around 12:50. We flew Norwegian Air again just like on our flight to Paris, and everything went smoothly. It was a VERY long flight and I didn’t sleep much (a couple hour-long naps at various times), but they provided two small meals and there was lots of free entertainment on the built-in touchscreens. I also watched a documentary on Netflix called The Secret that I really enjoyed- it’s about the Law of Attraction and I would highly recommend it. We landed around 5:10pm at LAX and it was such a relief after the long day.

Before getting our bags and leaving the airport, we actually did our interviews for Global Entry. We did the first part of the application a while ago and it was available to finish when arriving from international flights; it’s a service that puts you in shorter lines for security/customs at the airport. It didn’t take too long (we all had to answer a few questions individually, take our pictures, and scan our fingerprints) but my brother wasn’t feeling well and we had to wait a while for my dad’s friend to pick us up since there was so much traffic so we ended up leaving around 6:30pm. We stopped at In N Out (oh, how I missed it!!!) since we were all starving and arrived home by 8:30pm.

My family members all got ready for bed and crashed as soon as they could (we’d been awake for over 24 hours and they didn’t sleep at all on the plane!) but I suddenly caught a second wind of energy. I unpacked my suitcase and backpack and ended up putting everything except food items away, so that made me feel productive. I also took an hour in bed to decompress and catch up with my friends and social media. I wanted to make a to-do list since I have LOTS to do now that I’m home, but it got too late once I showered and got ready for bed, so I just went to sleep with Netflix in the background.

I’m posting this from the comfort of my bed and my own personal space (aka no more cramped hotel rooms), and I’ve never felt cleaner or better. This trip was really the trip of a lifetime but it was also very draining by the end so I’m happy to be home now. More content about the trip will be coming soon (packing related, a reflection, etc.) so don’t fret if you’re looking for more travel posts- just stay tuned! This trip began at the very beginning of my summer (we left the first day of summer) so there is lots more in store for the next couple months ahead, and there will definitely be different types of content on here to reflect that as well. I’ll update you as always!

-Brooke

(Sadly, I have no pictures from the day as it was just a travel day; I also didn’t get a window seat on either of the flights to get some shots of the views. We flew over the Alps again which was beautiful though.)

I inserted this picture of St. Mark’s Square since technically this was the last scenic place we were in throughout Italy/Europe when we saw it in the dark today… I forgot to take a picture of it then but it was all lit up.

Europe Day 15: Last Full Day in Italy, Exploring Venice

Welcome back everyone! Today was the last official day of our trip as we depart from Venice to return home tomorrow, and it was a full day of exploring the city. We didn’t have tours or excursions previously booked for the day, so we got up a little later. My dad got up earlier and went to scope out this hotel’s breakfast by himself; he texted us that it wasn’t very good but he would meet us down there for coffee and figuring out where to go instead. We got ready and went downstairs so my mom could get some coffee but after that we immediately headed out into town.

It was 8am so I was surprised that no one was really out and awake, but we were able to walk down to a supermarket and get some turkey to eat for protein. One thing I miss from home is turkey is usually my choice of lunch meat/snack, whereas here in Europe there’s usually only ham in sandwiches and such. I also wanted some fruit (I hadn’t had genuinely fresh fruit in what felt like forever) so we bought some from a little cart. It was like a fresh bite of heaven when I ate my first strawberry in two weeks, and I devoured the rest of the fruit quickly. There seems to be way more little vendors selling fresh fruit here than in some of the other cities we visited, but that’s just my opinion based on what we’ve seen.

It was actually pretty chilly outside and the forecast said it would rain later, so we ran back to the hotel room to grab light jackets. I also changed into shorts just because the breeze was a tad bit too strong for my flowy skirt I wore originally. We headed back outside and walked around with my dad guiding us. He was using maps on his phone to try and find some areas we hadn’t explored. We passed through some streets with local apartment buildings and came to a huge open square. More people were starting to come out, but it seemed like this area was more actual residents of the town so it was still fairly empty. We sat and relaxed for a while enjoying the peace and quiet until we began to hear thunder in the distance. It was only a matter of time until it started raining and my dad wanted to see a basilica nearby, so we decided to head there and then go back to the hotel before we got caught in a storm.

We got to the basilica and it was next to the Leonardo da Vinci museum so we observed those from the outside before turning back. On our way back to the hotel we stopped in a glass shop and my parents bought a couple things, such as a really cool picture frame. It was drizzling the rest of our way to the hotel, but we made back inside just as the rain really started. We stayed in our room just unwinding for a while as we waited out the rain until finally going out again at lunchtime.

We walked to a restaurant my dad found online- I got my last margherita pizza of the trip and it was great!! My favorite pizzas I had were still in Sorrento though. After eating we were looking for a gelato place and we stumbled upon one with a super long line; we figured we could try it so we waited for about 15 minutes to get our gelato. The place was called Suso and it was the BEST gelato I’ve had, I highly recommend it. Again, sadly the last gelato of the trip. 😦 I got mint chocolate chip and it was delicious, plus the cone was warm and fresh. It started to rain again so we headed back to the hotel room and rested for a while, getting a head start on packing up our stuff for the early flight tomorrow. It was actually quite entertaining because we were watching some Italian TV and my brother was having a spaz attack- just good old crazy family bonding.

We stayed inside again until dinner, when we went back to the same restaurant we ate at for dinner last night. I ordered the same thing as before (steak) and it was even juicier and better than last night! I also really enjoyed their rolls, I’m not sure if I mentioned that last night. We enjoyed our last dinner in Italy/Europe together and there was lots of laughter at the table. By this point it was around 7pm and we have an extremely early flight tomorrow (6:50am, we have to get up at 3 and leave our hotel at 3:30 because our water taxi driver is coming at 3:45!) so we just went straight back to the hotel and got ready for bed. There were still a few more things to pack up and figure out for tomorrow so we got ourselves sorted and did our best to go to bed early.

Venice was a beautiful city with a lot of charm; I’m glad it was our last stop since the main activity here is just walking around and it has a pretty low-key vibe. The only downside was our hotel wasn’t the nicest (our hotels in all the other cities were much better and had more breakfast options) and the weather wasn’t too great today, but those things can happen anywhere. There were tons of cute shops to look at (mainly glass) and there were lots of little hole-in-the-wall restaurants on every street. It was pretty packed just because of how small it is and how many people come to visit, but as soon as you find your way into an open square you can easily relax and have some space. And how could I forget to mention the canals again? Overlooking the water from any of the numerous waterfront areas or bridges is beautiful, especially with all of the picturesque buildings in the background. I can’t say I would spend a ton of time here since there’s not too much to see, but it’s definitely worth stopping here for a few days if you’re already traveling to another Italian city.

Tomorrow will be a very long day of travel for us, as we don’t have a direct flight back to California. We depart from Venice’s airport with a 6 hour layover in London at the Gatwick airport, and from there it’s a direct flight home. The first flight will be about 2 hours and the second will be about 11 and a half so we are kind of dreading it (all the more reason to just stay here!) but we are also ready to come home. A huge thank you to Europe, specifically France and Italy, for putting up with me and my family for the past two weeks and showing us their history. Even with our trip’s ups and downs, it was definitely the best and most eventful vacation I’ve ever been on, and I got to explore places I’ve always dreamed of seeing in real life. I hope you all enjoyed reading about this trip- there will be one more post tomorrow just covering the travel day since it’s still technically part of the whole experience. The next time I post, I will be back in the USA!

-Brooke

I thought this pink building was really cute, we saw it on one of the many streets of apartments.

This was an art museum located near the basilica we visited, across from the da Vinci museum as well- I thought the architecture was amazing.

(I don’t have many pictures for today since we saw most of the sights yesterday and today the weather was bad, I apologize 😦 As much as I wish the trip went out with a more exciting bang, it was nice to just have a relaxing day to reflect. Speaking of that, a trip reflection post will be coming once I’m home!)

Europe Day 14: Travel Day and Sightseeing- Train from Florence to Venice

Hello from Venice everyone! Another new day, another new city to explore. Today was another travel day for us with an early morning train ride from Florence to Venice. We woke up early and got ready so we could get breakfast as soon as they started serving it (7am), then packed up our stuff and checked out of our hotel. Our train departed at 9:50am so we got to the Florence train station around . The ride was about 2 hours so I just relaxed and watched some more Netflix. We arrived in Venice at noon and were ready to eat lunch.

Our hotel isn’t on the water so we had to take a water taxi from the train station to the area closest to it and walk through the streets until we finally found it. It was interesting though because we got a nice view of the water and the city; it was just like a leisurely boat ride. We’re staying in Hotel Antico Panada and our room is nice enough but it seems very outdated; however, based on looks most places here are older as well. It’s very pretty here especially when on the water, there’s a lot of charm within the town. After settling in we found a restaurant to eat at near our hotel- I got a margherita pizza per usual and it was decent but not the best.

My mom wanted gelato so we walked to St. Mark’s Square and stopped at a gelato place there. I got mint chocolate chip and it tasted more like ice cream than gelato but it wasn’t bad. The square was bustling with people and it was huge (very open unlike the crowded and tiny streets) so we stayed for a while and just looked around. A nice breeze was blowing by and there were birds everywhere which was a peaceful scene. There were a lot of luxury shops and more unique shops like all the local glass vendors nearby. We looked at the church that was there which was enormous and very beautiful with the multitude of colors used in its architecture. My brother had to go to the bathroom so we made our way back to the hotel and took a rest for a while while unpacking our stuff a bit more.

We left the room again around 4pm and went more towards the water. I took some pictures on various bridges that had scenic waterfront views and we stopped into more of the local shops. My dad tried a pistachio cannoli from a bakery that he really enjoyed, and we bought some sweet treats for our family members back home. We made our way through the city and ended up back in St. Mark’s Square, so we sat and people-watched with views of the canals and the church/other buildings.

Once we started getting hungry again, we headed back towards the hotel to find a restaurant for dinner near there. There was a place that looked good right across the street so we ate there- I got a steak and it was juicy and delicious, plus I needed my daily protein fill. We stopped back at our rooms to get ready and then left for a gondola ride we had booked for 7:30.

My brother didn’t come since he gets seasick, but it was a 30 minute ride and it was a great experience. My mom, my dad and I were in a gondola with another couple as someone rowed us down the canals of Venice. We got to go under the bridges that we walked on earlier and just get a better view of the entire city while actually being on the water. It was also cool because we ran into a family that we sat next to at breakfast in our hotel in Rome, and we talked to them for a while before starting the actual ride.

After we got off, we walked back to the hotel to check on my brother and then went back to St. Mark’s square to watch the sunset and just relax outside. I had to catch up on some forms and emails for school but other than that it was just a nice time sitting and people watching. We headed back to the hotel around 9:30pm and got ready for bed. It was a successful day and we were all tired by the end.

I’m a little sad we’ll only be here in Venice for one more full day, but I think we’ll still be able to see everything we wanted to. It’s a very small city but because of the canals and lack of “normal” transportation it’s still somewhat hard to navigate. I think for this city the location of your hotel is very important to your experience here, since the streets are very narrow and crowded and the best views are obviously on the water. Tomorrow we have the full day to explore (no tours!) and it’s our last day in Europe, so I’ll make sure to update you guys with all the details on the bittersweet culmination of our trip.

-Brooke

The church in St. Mark’s Square from both close up and far away angles.

There are so many examples of wonderful architecture here, as seen in and around St. Mark’s Square.

A view of both the buildings and water.

A cute little side street we passed by while walking through town.

A picture I took of our surroundings before boarding our gondola.

Europe Day 13: Exploring Florence

Welcome back everyone! Today was a busy day for us and it started very early in the morning. We woke up at 6:30am and got ready for the day so we could be at the breakfast room promptly at 7am. Breakfast in this hotel was good- they had a really cool self-service pancake maker that popped out pancakes in 60 seconds. After we finished eating, we met our tour guide in the lobby to begin our walking tour of Florence.

Our first stop was the museum that held David and other Michelangelo works, Gallery of the Academy of Florence. David was much larger than I originally imagined, and it was so detailed. It was amazing to see it in person since I’ve always heard about it and have previously studied it and Michelangelo in general in school. We then walked past the Duomo and stopped to admire it and the surrounding area. Our guide led us through the city bringing us to some of the places we briefly saw while walking around yesterday like the Ponte Vecchio bridge area, and she pointed out some shopping and restaurant recommendations. We finished the walking tour around 11am, and we were all hungry so we set out to find a restaurant.

We didn’t feel like walking anywhere far away, so we stopped at a restaurant on the way back to the hotel. I got a margherita pizza (surprise!) but it actually wasn’t the best- it just didn’t seem as fresh as the other ones I’ve had. They gave us a lot of bread with our meal but it was kind of rough so I didn’t eat much of that either. Side note- the bread in France was much better than the bread in Italy based off of my experience so far, the rolls and bread given at restaurants here is much rougher.

Yesterday we dropped off our laundry at a nearby laundromat so on our way back to the hotel we picked it up there. It was actually really nice since the place folded everything and packed it up for us; going there was a great decision even if it was a little late in the trip, and it felt so nice to have all of our clothes clean again. We carried the clothes back to our hotel and put everything back in our suitcases, then took a break in the rooms. Noon to 4 is an extremely hot part of the day here and since we didn’t have any other plans or main things we wanted to see, we decided to relax and save our energy for when we went out walking later in the day.

My mom, my brother and I went back out around 4pm after a few hours of rest and stopped for gelato. I got chocolate chip in a huge cone (I normally get one scoop and I got 3) and it resulted in a delicious sugar coma! My mom wanted to walk back down to Ponte Vecchio and look at the rings again so we wandered around there and took more pictures. My dad met us around 6:30 for dinner at a restaurant close by the bridge. I got grilled chicken for some much-needed protein and I throughly enjoyed it. We walked back through town after dinner to get back to our hotel and relaxed for a bit, then went up to the roof to enjoy the view of Florence on our last night. It was relaxing and we had a wonderful view of the Duomo and other big buildings. Once it got dark we headed back inside and got ready for bed, packing up our stuff for our fairly early train tomorrow.

Florence has been such a beautiful city and I wish we had more time here; the past day and a half flew by and I’m sad to leave. Tomorrow we take a train to Venice at 9am and I’m very excited, especially because the early start will mean we have a little more time there then we had here in Florence even though it’s the same amount of days/nights there (we planned 1 full day in each, but 2 nights because of the half-day where we arrive). I can’t believe the trip is coming to an end but I guess it’s not really if we still have one more city to see, so I’ll hold my feelings and reflections in for now. I’ll update you guys tomorrow from Venice, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the content from my trip and this blog so far!

-Brooke

The statue of David in the museum, much taller than I originally thought.

More angles of the Duomo, such a beautiful and large cathedral.

I just took this because our tour guide pointed it out in passing by- the water-feature looking thing on the wall is actually a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN.

The view of the river from a different section of the bridge.

Europe Day 12: Travel Day and Sightseeing – Train from Rome to Florence

Happy travel day everyone! Today we left Rome and took a train to Florence, our next city destination and our second to last on our trip. We woke up around 7am and wandered down to breakfast at 8 since we weren’t in a rush; our train was at 12:15pm and we didn’t have to do anything else except finish getting our stuff together beforehand. I had a mini chocolate donut-type thing that was a good start to my day, along with the other protein items like eggs that I’ve had every morning. We went back to our room and packed everything back up before check-out at 11am.

After check-out, we got some snacks for the ride at the supermarket and hauled our bags to the train station. The train ride was about an hour and a half and it was very relaxing, I just watched more Riverdale and ate some snacks to tide me over since we were waiting to eat until we arrived in Florence. We also had pretty views since we got to see more of the countryside of Italy. We arrived in Florence around 1:45pm and checked into our hotel, the Glance Hotel, which seems really nice so far and even has a swimming pool!

As soon as we dropped off our stuff in our rooms (in this hotel we have two rooms instead of one because their rooms are smaller), the guide for our day tour tomorrow met with us in the hotel to give us our information/schedule and a map with other places to see in our free time. After meeting with her, we ventured out into the city. Our first stop was to drop off all our dirty laundry at a laundromat since we were all running out of clean underwear and such. We didn’t eat a real lunch since the train ride was right around our normal mealtime, so we ate at a restaurant around the corner- I got a margherita pizza, of course! It was really good and I ate the whole thing for once since I was starving.

We wandered through the streets and saw the Duomo, which is even more grand and beautiful than I imagined. We didn’t go inside since we weren’t wearing appropriate clothing but it was just unbelievably stunning from the outside. However, we did stop for gelato- I got Oreo flavor (my go-to when there’s no mint chocolate chip) and it was the perfect treat especially with the heat today. I knew summer in Italy is hot and I figured I would be used to it from California summers, but the humidity is another element thrown into the mix that I was not prepared for. The town square type area adjacent to the Duomo and near the gelato place was bustling with life, and we continued walking towards more of the shopping area (but there’s honestly adorable shops on every street here!). There was another Brandy Melville that we popped into and I purchased a shirt that said Firenze on it for a souvenir (Florence in Italian). All of the typical high-end and middle-end shops we see in America were there plus more I hadn’t heard of that must be exclusive to Europe.

Eventually we came to the Ponte Vecchio bridge and began making our way down that area. My mom was looking at all the different jewelry vendors in search of a ring, and all of the options were so beautiful! There’s definitely unique pieces I’ve never seen anything like back home. We took some pictures of the river and the view from the bridge which was nice, but we eventually started to overheat so we made our way back to the hotel. We relaxed for a little bit and my parents went to sit outside by the rooftop pool while my brother and I chilled out in the rooms on our beds. I joined my parents just to see the view but I didn’t go in the water, it seemed warm though.

We continued resting for a bit and set out for dinner around 8pm. Originally we planned on going to the Hard Rock Cafe for hamburgers but we ended up at a nicer restaurant around the corner that had burgers as well as normal Italian foods for the sake of my brother. It was in a piazza that had a carousel and a nice view of the city nightlife. I got a plain hamburger with fries and it was exactly the protein I needed- I love Italian food but I miss certain foods from home! My brother got dessert and my mom got coffee after the meal so it took a while and we stayed at the restaurant for over 2 hours total. We headed straight back to our hotel after eating while observing the beautiful streets lit up at night and then got ready for bed around 11, ready to wake up bright and early for our guided tour tomorrow.

Florence is definitely a beautiful city and I already like it better than Rome. Even though I’m exhausted and starting to lose stamina for this leg of the trip, I’m trying my best to pull it together. Florence seems to have the charm, unique shopping, and smaller-town vibes of Sorrento while at the same time having the city atmosphere, architecture, and beauty of Rome. Not as many people speak English here and while it’s definitely still a huge tourist destination, it still is way less overcrowded than Rome at least in the streets. It’s definitely still the best of both worlds compared to our visits of Sorrento and Rome and I look forward to exploring it more tomorrow. I’ll update you all as always!

-Brooke

A few angles of different portions of the Duomo from the outside- we were too close up to fit the whole thing in a picture.

The street/bridge of Ponte Vecchio and all the jewelry vendors.

The view of the river from Ponte Vecchio.

The rooftop pool and view of Florence from the roof.

Europe Day 11: Last Day in Rome – Day Tours to Vatican City and the Colosseum

Good evening everyone! Today was our last full day in Rome (we leave by train for Florence tomorrow) and it was the day we saw a couple of the major sites that people (like us!) travel all the way here to see. We had a day tour of Vatican City scheduled at 9am and one of the Colosseum/Forum at 2:30pm, so we got up early to prepare for the day and get over there. Our alarm was set for 6:30am, and we quickly got ready to make it to the breakfast room by 7. Breakfast was fresh-tasting and great; I had scrambled eggs, bacon, a slice of berry pie, and some plain slices of turkey for extra protein. We had to get to Vatican City by ourselves since the tour meeting spot was there, so we took a taxi from our hotel there.

The taxi ride was about 30 minutes so we were a bit early. We waited for our tour by the steps across from the Vatican museum, and our tour started promptly at 9am (it was 3 hours overall so it ended at 12). Our guide gave us some information on what we would be seeing and showed us some interesting landmarks outside, then led us through the museums. We passed through an Egyptian museum, a museum of maps, and some apartments belonging to former popes. Everything was very impressive and learning about all of the immaculate art was interesting. After finishing at the other museums, we walked through the Sistine Chapel. It was smaller than I had always thought and I was disappointed we couldn’t take pictures, but it was still beautiful. I tried counting how many detailed people were painted and I lost count around 80 just looking at one portion of the ceiling. We had 30 minutes admiring the Sistine Chapel and then as a tour group we went through Saint Peter’s Basilica. I loved the architecture in there, and it was amazing to see all of the people praying and getting holy water- there was so much activity in there. After seeing the basilica our tour was over, so we went to eat lunch.

We exited Vatican City and found a pizza place called PizzaZizza across the street from the exit. It was actually hilarious as there were two pizza places right next to each other and the owners were fighting about stealing customers as we walked in- they were so animated when they spoke and watching them was so entertaining. The staff were very friendly and the pizza was very good plus their restaurant was different than most: there isn’t a menu, they just bring out mixed plates of individual slices of different kinds of pizza. We also got a plain margherita plate, but I tried a bit of everything. In Vatican City we all had to wear pants (knees and shoulders must be covered for entry) but it was extremely hot, so we changed into shorts in the restaurant’s bathroom. After we were ready to go, we called a taxi to take us to the Colosseum for our next day tour. It was only a 20 minute ride, but it still was a distance too far to walk in the heat.

We arrived at the Colosseum an hour before our tour began so we walked around a bit beforehand. Our tour was 3 hours again and unfortunately we didn’t cover much ground. Our tour guide had a lot of technical difficulties with his microphone and just trouble guiding us in general so we spent the first 2 hours just trying to get through one floor of the Colosseum, then we had to leave to make it to Palentine Hill. It was very tiring and draining overall since we were basically just standing in the heat and not moving that much for the first couple hours. Our guide led us up a bunch of stairs leading to Palentine Hill and we looked at the ruins of the buildings. It was quite pretty once we got up there but he didn’t give us much background information and I was unfamiliar with the site so I only really saw it for it’s surface-level beauty. It took us an hour to get situated and walk through there, so the tour ended before getting to the Forum. We had the option to walk around there by ourselves, but my family was so exhausted that we only took a quick look and snapped some pictures before leaving for dinner.

We walked back in the direction of our hotel while looking for a place to eat dinner, and we found a nice little (air conditioned!!) restaurant off a side street on the way. I got a steak just because it sounded good and I really needed the protein for energy, and it ended up being very nice and juicy. We didn’t have any other plans for the rest of the day/night and we knew we probably wouldn’t do anything else since we were so tired and sore from the day of tours and walking in the heat, so we relaxed and took our time while eating. After dinner, we continued walking back to our hotel and stopped for gelato. I got an Oreo flavor and it was delicious as always, and then we finally got back to our room. Tomorrow we leave by train for Florence, so we had to pack up our belongings again and just rest up to gain energy for the travel day.

In case any of you are wondering, our tours were both booked with the company CityWonders. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them after today’s experiences, but a lot of it also had to do with our own personal fatigue and dealing with the heat. However, I also found the tour guides a little boring and stiff (not sure how else to describe them), and even though we were aware of it at the time of booking, it was a bummer they didn’t offer any forms of transportation each way. I’m sure there are people that have great experiences with them on different tours but it really depends on your guide and their style of tour-giving. For example, our guides went through very slowly by standing around at each spot which got us behind schedule, and we didn’t do as much walking around. Either way, today was very draining and a bit disappointing as we didn’t get to see as much as we thought we would; however, I’m still glad we had the experience and that we at least hit the main sites of Rome before leaving. The city is definitely beautiful and I’m sad to leave before getting to know it a bit better, but it hasn’t been my favorite so I’m looking forward to moving on and seeing Florence! I will update you all tomorrow with our latest adventures.

-Brooke

The ceiling in the museum of maps.

Different angles of St. Peter’s Basilica and its wonderful architecture.

Our view as we exited the basilica.

The building we had a view of as we exited Vatican City.

The view of the first floor from the second floor of the Colosseum.

Another angle of the first floor from the second.

Some of the ruins we saw on Palentine Hill, lots of pretty grass here.

Some views as we got closer to the Forum.

Europe Day 10: Exploring Rome

Hello from Rome everyone! Today was our first full day in Rome and even though we got off to a late start, we were able to do and see so much. We woke up at 7:30am and went to eat breakfast in the main building of the hotel which was amazing! There were so many options with both hot and cold foods (scrambled and hard boiled eggs, many meats and cheeses, a variety of pastries, fresh!!!! fruits, breads, cereal and other dishes). We previously booked tickets for a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city so after eating we walked to the bus stop and got on the next bus that came at around 9:30am.

Our plan was to just stay on the whole time so we could get a view of the city and an idea of what we wanted to come back to and actually walk around. It took about an hour to go around the whole route so we really got to see everything, from various piazzas to Vatican City in addition to the Colosseum, basilicas, and other historic monuments. There was a nice breeze and I actually took a nap for a little while when we stopped. After getting off the bus, we walked to the Pantheon so we could go inside. The architecture was insanely impressive (especially the dome and rounded hole in the ceiling) and each wall had something different to look at.

It was time to grab lunch so we walked towards the area of the city that had all of the shopping since there were lots of cute cafés as well. Before we found a place to eat, we noticed there was a Brandy Melville right nearby. I went in, tried on some clothes, and ended up purchasing a few things that were unique to this particular location. After shopping, we stopped at a restaurant that had a shaded area near some trees since it was such a tranquil spot. I got a margherita pizza (noticing a theme here?) and it was delicious as always.

We considered doing a hop-on hop-off river cruise down the Tiber River, but the reviews on all of them were bad so we ultimately decided against it. Instead, we walked back up the Spanish steps and even went into the church above it. Once we walked past that area, we eventually found ourselves in another piazza with an area covered in white pebbles. It had an amazing view of all the city’s buildings so we stopped and sat there in the shade. After we got up, we went to buy some cold waters at a supermarket and decided to take a break at our hotel since it was so hot. We had seen most of the sites between last night, the hop-on hop-off bus, and our walking around today, and the main ones we didn’t visit in depth (Colosseum, Vatican, Forum) we will see on a day tour we have tomorrow anyways.

After relaxing for a while (I watched some Netflix), we set back out for dinner. My dad wanted to see the Colosseum lit up at night even though we have our tour tomorrow, so we walked in that direction. We found a restaurant right across from it with a view so we ate there. I got spaghetti and it was pretty good, but you could tell the restaurant was mainly frequented by tourists for the view. When it started to get dark, we walked across to the Colosseum to see it lit up and took some pictures. There were people playing music and it was very lively; it was a good scene and probably my favorite memory from Rome so far. Around 9:30pm we walked back to our hotel and got ready for bed, tired but ready for our tours tomorrow!!

Frankly, Rome is beautiful and sprawling with tons of marvelous architecture and sites to see; however, it has not been my favorite city. The weather has been lovely in the morning and at night but scorching hot in the afternoon (as expected, typical of Italy in the summer). The city is kind of dirty as I mentioned before, and feels sketchy in many areas farther from the tourist sites, but there’s also many sketchy people and solicitors near the tourist sites. However, the streets are wider so it’s easier to walk and there’s a lot more grassy areas and greenery around.

Even though there are endless amounts of things to see here, after this trip and viewing the main attractions of the city I’m not sure I would ever come back to visit again. That being said, our time here is not over yet and our main excursion/tour is tomorrow so my mind could always change! I might be swayed by my anxiety towards pickpockets since the Paris incident, and my cold has continued to get worse which doesn’t help either. Beyond the heat and sickness, Rome still has a lot to offer and I’m trying to stay positive and enjoy it while I’m here. I will update you all with the details of our day in Vatican City and at the Colosseum/Forum tomorrow.

-Brooke

An up-close view of the Pantheon- there’s also a little statue/monument in front of it not pictured.

The inside of the Pantheon, including the bottom of the beautiful dome.

A view of the Tiber River (this shot was taken as we decided not to take the cruise!).

An adorable carousel with a castle we saw on the bus in the background.

The view of the city from the piazza.

The church above the Spanish steps- it was beautiful on the inside.

A church we passed on our way to the Colosseum.

The Colosseum as seen from the restaurant we ate at.

The Colosseum at sunset as we walked closer.

The arch of Constantine adjacent to the Colosseum.

More angles of the Colosseum as the night went on.

Europe Day 9: Pompeii Tour and Train to Rome

Hello from Italy again everyone! Today we departed from Sorrento to take a short tour of the Pompeii ruins and then head to Rome by train. We woke up and ate our last breakfast at this hotel’s delicious buffet and then repacked all of the stuff floating in our room into our suitcases. My mom and I made a quick run to the local supermarket as soon as it opened to buy cold waters for the day. We came back and checked out of our hotel, waiting for our driver to pick us up and take us to Pompeii. Side note- I’m really going to miss Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. The weather was beautiful today as we were walking to the supermarket, and this town has been such a wonderful place to visit and relax in.

The drive to Pompeii was about 45 minutes and once we got there we immediately started walking around. It was blazing hot and we were kind of confused (maybe we’re just dumb but it was difficult for us to figure out the maps. We saw some of the main sites/house areas and then went to go see the plaster bodies. It was crazy to think how old everything was and how it must have been to discover this buried town, but I have to admit we weren’t the most interested in this particular site. It was extremely crowded and hot, and we kept getting lost. From certain points there was also a very pretty view since it was so sunny out. We only stayed in the site for about an hour and 20 minutes because we had to eat lunch and we only had 2 hours for the excursion total before our driver picked us back up and took us to the train station.

We ate at a restaurant just outside the entrance- I got a hamburger because I needed to eat something with protein but I also had a slice of my mom’s pizza. It was decent but nothing great (which we expected in such a tourist spot). From there we got picked up and went straight to the Naples train station. I was pretty nervous since I’d heard it was a sketchy area with pickpocketing and such and we had a long wait (about 2 hours) for our train, but it ended up being fine. It was a very boring wait and we did see some suspicious characters walking around but we were careful and everything was fine. Our train boarded at 3:50pm and surprisingly it was actually really nice inside- there was wifi, small tables in front of each seat, and fairly comfortable leather seats. The train ride to Rome was about an hour and 10 minutes.

We arrived in Rome and walked about 10 minutes to our hotel, Hotel Mascagni. It was hot and seemed like a lot since I was wary of pickpockets and all the stuff everyone has warned me about near the train station, but it’s actually a very central location which would be considered a plus. The staff was very welcoming and showed us to our room, which was somehow upgraded for free to a suite. The odd thing about it is that our room was actually in a separate building we had to walk to that needs to have us buzzed in. We have to take an elevator and use our card to get into a hall of rooms, then take another elevator to get to the next floor of rooms (our floor) and use our card to get into the room.

Our room is pretty spacious and modern-styled with one actual bedroom with a TV, a nice bathroom, a closet that actually opens up with a safe, and a living area that has another bed that could be folded into a couch and a desk, coffeemaker, and TV. We freshened up and got settled before leaving to find a place for dinner.

After leaving the hotel we began to walk and immediately we could see Rome’s rich history reflected in every building. We wanted to see the Trevi fountain so we walked in that direction while trying to find a place for dinner. It was extremely crowded but it was SO BEAUTIFUL and it looked very clean/well-kept as well. My dad found this modern underground restaurant with decent ratings so we went there and I got some spaghetti. It honestly wasn’t the best and the service wasn’t great, but it was still better than most pasta back in the US.

We then walked and got some gelato in the direction of the Spanish steps, our next destination. I got mint chocolate chip and I can confidently say it was the best gelato I’ve had on this trip so far. The Spanish steps were in a more central part of town so they were even more crowded, located in this huge open square area. There were also tons of shops; mainly luxury stores. We walked up the stairs and took some pictures as the sun set, listening to locals play music and just observing the busy town. The weather was perfect as it had cooled down, and we finally trekked back to our hotel around 9:30pm and got ready for bed.

Rome is definitely dirtier than Paris (cigarettes littering the streets, dustier buildings) and in the main tourist destinations much busier (with a lot more concern for pickpocketing), but in other areas and just on random streets it actually seemed quite empty. It may be because it was a Sunday but the city felt very open for the most part besides the few stuffy and crowded areas. It also seems more spread out than Paris (lots to see!), but a lot of the buildings are less tall so it makes sense. Tomorrow we are exploring the city by a hop-on, hop-off bus tour as well as any other walking around we may do, so I will report back with more about this lovely city!

-Brooke

A grassy area of Pompeii with some wildflowers sprouting near the ruins.

One of the more open areas- look at the pillars!

I took this shot because I particularly liked the horse statue.

Some of the plastered over people behind a glass case- this was such a crazy sight but honestly made me a little sad.

My view from the train window.

A building we walked past right outside our hotel.

The wonderful Trevi fountain- we made sure to throw a coin in.

One of Rome’s many town squares showcasing these lovely buildings.

The Spanish steps in addition to the fountain in front and the buildings behind.

The view of the street after climbing up the first two levels of steps.