- Getting lost is the BEST way to explore
- Try to visit in Spring or Autumn as these are the best seasons to explore.
- It will be weird to not see cars but you won’t realise this till you head back to the airport
- There are 417 bridges in Venice. I dare you to try and cross them all. The Rialto bridge is one you need to both walk over and sail under.
- Factor in the cost for a Vaporetto pass as this will help with your exploring. It will save your achy feet and really you have to see Venice from the canals as much as possible.
- Every corner, bridge and canal is a picture perfect moment so get ready to get snapping.
- Don’t just stay in Venice get out and explore the other islands in the lagoon like Burano, Lido and Murano
- You can hire bikes and ride around Lido (fun fact this is where the Venice Film Festival is held)
- A Gondola ride is going to be pricey but where else can you do this? Surely the experience far outweighs the expense.
- Visit Burano to see the amazing coloured houses and eat the ‘s’ shaped cookies this island is known for
- When in St Mark’s Square ensure you go up the Bell Tower. You get to see a different side of Venice and the lagoon
- As frustrating as wet shoes will be experiencing Acqua alta is soo interesting to witness. Ovs not ideal for the locals though and there is a lot of working being done to minimise it. It has also been said to be one of the reasons people move out of Venice
- You need to buy a carnival mask in Venice even if you aren’t there during carnival
- Try to eat away from the St Mark’s Square as it is pricey in this area. You will have just as beautiful buildings to look at a few streets back
- Get up early or stay up late and visit some of the more touristy sights so you can marvel at the magic of the city on your own.
Of all of the amazing places in Paris the Sacré-Cœur is one of my favourites. If you haven’t been there I almost demand you get on a plane to Paris right now. Seriously get onto the easyjet website and book up your flight.
Whilst it’s known as Sacré-Cœur the official name is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris and your can find it in Montmartre. I have stayed in this area on my last two trips to Paris and have stood and stared for many an hour at this amazing Basilica.
It was built between 1875 and 1914 on the place where Saint Denis (the first ever Bishop of Paris) was decapitated for his faith. Which sounds barbaric now but then again we’ve obviously not learnt from history as you would have thought people would have stopped killing other people for their faith- that’s a post for another day!
The Sacré-Cœur is beautiful inside and out. It is free to go inside and is open from 6am till 10.30 pm every day. There is crypt underneath the basilica however according to the website is currently closed. You are also able to climb the Dome of the Basilica. Entrance is outside to the left (you also can also access the crypt at the same place).
I would thoroughly recommend climbing the 300 stairs to the top of the Dome. The views are spectacular and you see more of Paris then you could imagine. You also have the Eiffel Tower in sight which is certainly high on the list of ways you should see the tower. The walk up isn’t too challenging but it is steep and narrow in some places and you just need to take it at your own pace. Honestly once you see the views you will forget about the steps . After that bit of exercise you also earn yourself a pain au chocolat #winning.
There is an admission charge and the opening times do depend on the season. So do check when planning your visit. One thing to note is there is always a lot of people trying to put thread bracelets on you for money. This is quite off putting but as long as you say no they generally go away but it is quite annoying.
Visiting this beautiful place has to be on your list when visiting this stunning city. If I’ve not convinced you enough with my words then I shall let my pictures do the talking…
Recently while in New York we used the subway ALOT and let me stress it was perfectly fine and more importantly the best and cheapest way round the city. However there was only one time when I felt a little unsafe and that was on a completely empty platform with trains coming very few and far between, 2 slightly creepy characters, not in my native city, no one knew where we were and a little unsure as to if we were even on the right platform. Obviously we were fine but it got me thinking about just how much the world has changed.
In my late teens I went back packing across Italy and Greece with a friend for a month. It was amazing we travelled all over, ate and drank our way through the countries, stayed in hostels and campsites, caught trains/planes/ferries and saw places I had only ever dreamed of seeing. But also we did a lot of things I would never dream of doing now (and also would never dream of letting my parents know what I did- Mum look away now!)
So there we were two young impressionable girls with our luggage off on the trip of a lifetime with only a guide book and the wind in our hair. We only had booked accommodation in Rome for the first night we got there the rest of the trip we were leaving up to chance. Very unlikely I would do that now. I would have researched the accommodation, checked on Tripadivsor and have a least some idea of the route I would be taking.
We turned up in every location found someone who was touting accommodation and picked where we wanted to stay which was usually the cheapest. Some we were lucky with and some we just felt a bit uneasy but it didn’t stop us. We did this morning , noon and night. When we were in the Greek Islands we would just get off the boat in the middle of the night and follow some random tout back to their hotel/bnb/campsite. At the time we had no dramas with this but I often look back and think what the hell were we thinking!! Anything could have happened to us. We could have been taken anywhere.
We never locked any of our belongings up – but I guess we didn’t have iphones, ipads, fancy cameras, huge amounts of money or anything to special like what I would take away now.
We had two dubious train journeys. One which we shared a sleeper carriage with 3 very disturbing and creepy men. So much so that we didn’t sleep or at least tried to sleep with one eye open. The second was another over night train from Florence to Brindis which required a 4 hour stop at a deserted station in Arrezo at 4am in the morning. This was the only part where we at the time felt unsafe. I even called my parents in Australia just to hear their voices. Obviously I didn’t let on the predicament we were in. They didn’t need to know how reckless we had been!
Imagine not only turning up to a hostel in the middle of the night but then to see your friend riding off in the streets (at 1am!) on the back of an Italian hostel workers moped (said workers helmet was covered in MANY girls autographs) to get croissants. Whilst she was off cruising the streets I was waiting back in a very empty hostel.
Whilst I look back on these experiences and think ‘you cray cray’ I also look back and wouldn’t have that trip any other way. The stories, the memories, the adventure. I’m also a bit jealous of my former self. To travel with such a carefree spirit, trusting people, trusting my own judgement, no fear of harm, not planning or researching to the nth degree it’s exactly what travelling should be. The saddest part is with the world the way it is I couldn’t do this now. Others might but I couldn’t.
Being in Times Square the day before New Years Eve it was at the back of my mind this is the busiest place this time of the year. Could there be a terrorist ttack, could the wrong person be there, could someone with a vendetta against the world be there and want to hurt people. I felt reassured that there was an abudence of police presence. I felt safer knowing there were. And I felt upset that I had thought about that when I should be taking in the sights, sounds and magic of being there.
It’s sad that this freeness feeling isn’t what it was years ago (now I sound like my grandparents talking about the good old days) but I would love to be that naïve, carefree, wandering traveller. One thing I will never let go is a desire to go out and see the world. Yes everywhere you need to be aware of your safety but the main point is that you still go and still see what this beautiful world has to offer.