Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Trip of a Lifetime

In May of this year I had the time of my life traveling to Europe with my older brother, Nate. Over the previous few months we had planned on what countries to visit, reserved accomodations, researched rental cars vs trains vs Ubers and booked excursions.

We decided upon Barcelona, the South of France, Monaco, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome. Over 15 glorious days we explored Monserrat, stayed in a French medieval village, caught snippets of the Grand Prix, roamed the streets of Positano, and stood in awe of the Colosseum.



To kick off the trip, we arrived in Barcelona and had the best time just exploring the city, eating delicious food, and soaking in all the beautiful sights. We saw the amazing Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, which began it's construction in 1882 and is still going on today. It is magnificent and a must-see if you are in the city. One of my only regrets about the trip is that we didn't tour the inside. I would suggest purchasing tickets beforehand as the queue can be quite long. We only had a couple of days in Barcelona so we decided on some other things to fill our time.

Nate and I headed to the Mercat Els Encants Market, which is basically a huge antique market with lots of vendors where you can haggle for the best prices. I picked up a couple of souvenirs, an antique framed original drawing of a young girl and an antique dagger for Josh. I could have spent hours there and I saw so many treasures. Would definitely visit again if I return to Barcelona.

The next day Nate and I traveled to Monserrat, about an hour outside of Barcelona. Monserrat houses a gorgeous monastery on top of a mountain with breathtaking views and wonderful hiking spots. After touring the incredible architecture of the Monastery, we then hiked the mountain trails. It was a foggy day making it difficult to see some of views but also made for some pretty cool photos too.

That evening Nate and I toured the Old Town, enjoyed a Tapas Tour (basically appetizers) with a group of people that soon became friends, and finished the night off with a Flamenco Show.

We had a great time in such a colorful, exciting city, and would definitely love to go back someday.

The French Riviera

The next day we traveled to Nice. Having both been to Paris before, experiencing the laidbackness of Nice was a refreshing change. We made the happiest mistake in booking our stay in the medieval village of Tourrettes-sur-Loop. I say "mistake" because it was a good hour outside of Nice and is very remote. At times it was very difficult to find an uber willing to travel and pick us up that far but it became our favorite part of the trip.

 Tourrettes-sur-Loop is a medieval village perched on a rocky outcrop surrounded by superb landscapes where prickly pears grow naturally, with it's tall houses built along its ramparts. This "City of Violets" has cobblestoned, winding streets that form a "loop" around the village. Nate and I loved exploring the charming village with all of it's local restaurants, artisan shops, and historic beauty. We frequented the local bakery for breakfast and I picked up the loveliest Violet tea and handmade pottery from local makers.

We loved touring Nice, especially eating at the amazing Le Plongeoir on the water. The food was once of the best meals we had on our trip.

Included in our itinerary for our trip was exploring the beautiful Village of Eze. This charming village dates back to the middle ages and clings impressively to the mountainside above the Mediterranean Sea, between St Jean Cap Ferrat and Monaco. Panoramic views, ancient façades, and an unbelievable attention to detail are some of the most memorable features of this lovely village.

The Le Jardin Exotique d'Eze was lovely and the views from the top of the village were absolutely breathtaking.



One day we took the train into Monaco. Although the country was lovely, and exuded wealth and beauty, the streets were super crowded with the Grand Prix happening during our visit. It was pretty cool to see glimpses of the race from up high and take in the beauty of the yachts on the water.

My favorite day of the trip included a second trip to Monaco. One morning I took a taxi into Nice from Tourrettes-sur-Loop. I browsed the Marché à la Brocante, an antique market open on Mondays, and set up in the Cours Saleya. I had the best time sourcing some antique pieces for my home, including a gold framed original drawing, an original floral painting, a tiny copper pot, a wooden mortar and pestle, and an antique French Navy lock and key. 


I then ordered some pizza at a sidewalk cafe while taking in the sights around me. Next, I trekked to a local tattoo shop and over broken English, the sweetest French girl drew me up a thistle by my request. I then spent the next couple of hours sitting while she gave me my first tattoo, hand poke style (by hand without a machine). I love it so much and it will forever remind me of the sweetest trip. 


I hailed a taxi that took me back to Monaco so I could explore the Prince's Palace. I am a huge fan of Grace Kelly so I just had to tour it and see where the iconic movie star and her Prince reigned. It certainly did not dissapoint

We enjoyed our laid back days and evenings in Tourrettes-sur-Loop so much. The village was a nice retreat away from the hustle and bustle of Monaco and Nice. Pictured is our last delicious dinner we enjoyed there. 

The filming location of To Catch a Thief
this quaint little village will always have a piece of my heart. 

The Amalfi Coast 

Nate and I flew from Nice to Naples and then took a ferry to Amalfi. We then took a taxi to our little b&b on the Coast, which happened to be another pretty remote spot. :) Our hotel had the most incredible views of the coastline and Roberto, the b&b owner, made the loveliest lemon loaf with homemade jams and jellies. 

Here are a few snapshots of our little b&b and the amazing views we had each morning while eating breakfast. 

While on the Amalfi Coast we toured Amalfi, Positano, Ravello (our favorite) and took a boat tour to Capri. The coastline was absolutely gorgeous and the food was equally amazing. 



The Amalfi Coast by boat 

Ravello was unlike any other spot we visited. It is such a quaint town nestled at the top of some mountains with an amazing view of the water below. If you are able to visit, you must see the Villa Rufolo. The gardens are exqusite and scenery is unmatched

We enjoyed lunch at the Villa Maria and I tried the famous limoncello. Such a lovely day! 

With our b&b being so remote, we hiked to one local restarant just about every evening and it became our favorite little spot. The food was sooo good and the view from our table was stunning


We finished off our trip with a few days in Rome. Unfortunately, Nate got sick near the end of the trip so I toured Rome mostly by myself. Nate and I found a local grocery store and we loaded up on some Italian goodies. Btw, I highly recommend visiting local grocery stores/restaurants/bakeries when visiting other countries. The more remote, the better, as I find the food is more authentic and usually cheaper.

Here are some of the snapshots of our time in Rome. 

One of the days I ventured off to visit Vatican City, The Sistine Chapel, the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Trevi Fountain. As you can imagine, all of it was incredible but the Colosseum was my favorite. It was so surreal standing in the middle of a place filled with such rich history

Here are some snapshots of my visit to Vatican City. Unfortunately I couldn't capture the beauty of the Sistine Chapel since no photos were allowed.

Nate and I took a cooking class one evening and it was so much fun! We made homemade ravioli and fettucine and we both thought it was one of our favorite meals of the entire trip.

One little bookshop that I thought was definitely worth a mention is the Almost Corner Bookshop. I found me a little book and a tote bag. Such a cute and tiny little bookshop but worth a visit!

This is a trip I'll carry with me always. Hope you enjoyed reading about it! Let me know if you visit any of these spots or need further recommendations! 

No comments:

Post a Comment