Category Europe

Walled villages and Tuscan hills

Finally leaving the city of Florence, we found the rolling, green hills of Tuscany, studded with the famous hill towns. They were all different, yet distinctly Tuscan, their walls and fortresses still preserved after so many centuries, their restaurants serving Chianti drawn from barrels, with big platters of meat, cheese and hunks of bread. We visited the tiny walled village of Monteriggioni where Gladiator was filmed, still fortified after all these years alone

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Food, walks and grand vistas in the Cinque Terra

An impulsive decision to head to the Cinque Terra was definitely a fortuitous one. Faded, colourful buildings ended abruptly in sheer cliffs dropping down to blue, endless sea. The villages were awash with visitors, all hiking, eating, drinking and laughing, but early in the season this added to the festive vibe. 

Rome: The Eternal City

Rome was a remarkable city, layered with the remnants of so many past ages. It was busy and noisy, full of people, scooters and pollution. Throngs of tourists surged through the narrow streets and wound their way around the Colosseum and the Vatican. And in their midst, down so many streets, were more and more of the ancient ruins.

Northern Italy: From the peaks of the Dolomites to the canals of Venice

The path through Northern Italy took us to the South Tyrol and the impressive Dolomites, through beautiful Trentino countryside and the old city of Trent, past Verona where those famous lovers met, and all the way to strange, surreal Venice. Milan was our first introduction to Europe. The fashion capital of Italy was vibrant and busy, with only the impressive Duomo to attract the tourist crowds. Just around the corner was

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Those famous islands

Having seen only a few of the charms of mainland Greece, we headed back to the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the famous islands which make up so much of Greece. There is so much hype around the Greek Islands, that we almost didn’t know what to expect before we got there, but put together an itinerary set around the ancient site of Delos and leading to

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The wonders of mainland Greece

Mainland Greece was wonderfully diverse. Our first stop was Thessaloniki, a fun, vibrant cities full of restaurants and cafes, shops and friendly people. We found bits of culture as we walked around, visited a museum or two, and enjoyed wandering around at night, seeing everybody out, with children playing and dogs running around. All too soon, we ran out of time and had to head down to Athens (with views of

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Two Catalan cities

We first realised that we were in Catalonia when we were sitting at our hotel in Lleida, and couldn’t read the menu (our Spanish was good enough to order food by then). Matt was incredibly confused and it took us a little while to figure out this was because the menu was in Catalan, not Spanish. Luckily this wasn’t a major problem as our next stop was Barcelona, where everything

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Northern Spain road trip

Our roadtrip through Northern Spain began and ended in Catalonia, following the general direction of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  On day one, however, the goal was to find our first stop: a farmhouse in a little town just outside Zaragoza. First though, we had to find our way out of Barcelona in our “Spanish Ferrari” a little red diesel Seat. It had been a few months since either of

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Beergardens and castles in Bavaria

We only had a week in Germany, staying in Munich with my cousin. Staying with family was different from renting an apartment in the city centre. Being in a house again was wonderful, and we were surrounded by residential streets with houses and lawns. There was no traffic all through the day, no street cleaners in the early mornings, and no church bells ringing through the night. It was peaceful

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Two visits to Austria

We actually went to Austria twice: first Vienna, then Salzburg, a couple of months later. Vienna was the big surprise of our trip so far. We went there after Slovakia and before Slovenia, having just spent over two months in the barely organised chaos of Italy, Prague and Bratislava. We thought Vienna would be a welcome change – beautiful, but orderly and efficient. It was definitely all of those things, but

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