Europe Recap Part 1 – Lisbon, Madrid and Venice

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to best recap my vacation. It was too long (and awesome) for me to recap in one post so I’m going to break it down so that I can give each place the attention it deserves.

I’ll start off with the beginning because that seems logical.

Lisbon, Portugal:

Tom and I headed out on May 5 with our destination of Lisbon, Portugal. We flew with British Airways. At first we were super impressed with their service. I mean, they gave us a travel sized toothbrush on the plane! However once we hit Lisbon our love of British Airways went south quickly. We stood at that luggage belt waiting and waiting for our luggage until the belt shut down and we realized it wasn’t coming. So we went and waited in the lost luggage line up FOREVER to report our lost luggage. Tom was sooo not impressed.

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Okay, he looks pretty happy in this picture but believe me, he wasn’t. I mean I wasn’t psyched about it either but I tried to look on the bright side and considered this a start of our great adventure. Luckily the airline had another flight coming in from London (where they had left out luggage) that night and they would deliver our bag to our hostel the next morning. Of course this happened to be the one time in history that I didn’t pack an extra pair of clothes in my carry on as a “just in case”. Lesson learnt!

Once we finally cleared up our luggage, we went in search of our hostel. The directions seemed fairly simple however it took us about half an hour of wandering around Lisbon before we found it. The adventure continued! I told Tom we were actually lucky we didn’t have our backpacks with us. After checking in we headed out in search of food and drink. We found this cute little restaurant that had about 5 tables in it and we ordered some Espetadas, which are essentially large Shish Kabobs that they hang up at your table. They were sooo yummy!

espetadas

We were originally hoping to head out and check out some of Lisbon’s nightlife but by this time we were just too exhausted and we didn’t have a change of clothes so we decided to just call it a night.

The next day we got in a full day of sightseeing. We stared off by taking Lisbon’s famous Tram 28. These trams started in 1873 and there are still 5 lines used despite their bus and metro system network. Tram 28 takes you down to the old area of Lisbon and winding through some of the tiniest and narrow roads. Cars are parked within a hair of the tram line. It was definitely a fun experience.

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The city of Lisbon was really beautiful. I loved the red clay roofs and the architecture. The city was vibrant and has a lot going on and lots to see yet never felt touristy. I liked that alot!

Lisbon, Portugal

 

The next day, we had to get up at 4 a.m in order to make our flight to Madrid, Spain.

Madrid, Spain:

We got to our hostel about 9 a.m. and they were having a free walking tour at 10 a.m. so we decided to join that.

royal palace madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid

The walking tour was great to see the sights and we got a chance to meet some fellow travellers. We met a great couple who were from Vancouver, Canada.

That night Tom and I decided to try out Spain’s specialty, tapas. We went to a place recommended by the hostel as a cheap place. And cheap it was! For 10 euros we got 2 sangrias and 2 huge platefuls of food. It was quite the experience. You didn’t get to choose what you wanted, you just said tapas and they handed you platefuls of food. We ended up with cheese croquettes, potatoes, omelette and bread. Works for me!

spanish tapas

Later that night we went on a pub crawl where we met up with the couple from Vancouver. Madrid is well-known for its night life that lasts into the next morning. We didn’t end up leaving the bar until after 4 a.m.

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We probably would have lasted even later but had decided to meet up again with the Vancouver couple the next morning at 8:30 to take a bus to Segovia. This plan was made at about 4:30 in the morning over some after-bar pizza. Seemed like a good idea at the time but I was hating my life when my alarm went off about 3 hours after we went to bed!

Segovia was a really cool city that is a world heritage sight. It has alot of remnants of old segovia mixed with a whole new metropolis. You feel like you’re walking through time as you go from one era to another. It has one of the most well-preserved Roman aqueduct’s.

segovia aqueduct

It has a beautiful cathedral.

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And it has a castle which Walt Disney modelled Disneyland’s Castle after.

segovia castle

After Segovia, the four of us headed to check out a bull-fight. I wasn’t too sure about going to this but Tom wanted to check it out. A friend of ours had went to a bullfight in Madrid recently so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. I enjoyed the beginning, where the bull is just chasing after the matadors. After that, the rest of it was a bit hard to watch. Though, it wasn’t quite as gruesome as I had imagined it would be. In total there were 8 bulls! We left after 5. We knew there would be a huge rush of people to the metro at the end and really seeing 5 was plenty! Overall, it’s something I can say that I’ve done but not something that I would ever do again.

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Tom and I called it a pretty early night considering we were running on nosleep and had another 4 a.m. wake up call to catch our flight to Bologna and then train to Venice, Italy.

Venice, Italy:

By the time we got to Venice the lack of sleep caught up to me and I was a raging B. It took a stop for food and 2 espresso before I felt like I could function. Once I did, I looked around and realized that I was in the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Venice is honestly magical. It’s so quiet because there is no traffic and it’s so incredibly beautiful I felt like I was taking a picture every 2 seconds but I couldn’t help it! Between the canals, the gondolas and the architecture there was always something beautiful to look at.

venice

venice

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one looking like a tourist Tom had a GIANT map to lead the way.

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We spent our first day wandering through the streets and getting lost (for fear of pulling out the giant map). Luckily there were tiny signs along the walls that led us to Piazza San Marco. San Marco was BUSY. We stood in line to get inside St. Mark’s Basilica. I felt that we didn’t really appreciate it though because we were being shuffled along due to the large volume of tourists and then this big tourist group in front of us kept stopping and blocking the way. While this area is something to see, it definitely wasn’t my favourite part of Venice.

Afterwards, it was time to head to the Rialto market. I loved all the fresh produce and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a basket of strawberries!! Living in Canada, our strawberries are often white in the middle and sour. They are nothing like strawberries are meant to taste. We sat down and ate an entire carton of strawberries as we watched tourists go by in Gondolas.

venice strawberries

The next day we booked a tour to see some of the other islands in the lagoon. First stop, Murano which is famous for its glass blowing. Venice was always a home of glass making but they decided they were worried about fires, considering the whole city is built on wood stilts, and ousted glass blowing to the island of Murano. We got to see a demonstration and then spend some time walking around the quaint town on the island.

Next stop was Burano. I loved this island with the brightly coloured buildings. The buildings follow a specific system for colours and cannot be changed. The island is also known for lace making.

burano

 

burano

We also made a stop in Lido which is where Venetians head to go to the beach. The weather that day was pretty overcast and too early for locals to be at the beach but we took a look at them. We rented a double seated bicycle to tour around the island in style (or like completely dorky tourists).

lido

Once we returned to Venice we sucked up the cost and went for a Gondola ride. I mean, when would we get the chance again! The cost was worth it, there is no better way to see Venice than to be on the water and in a gondola, even better!

venice gondola ride

We even kissed under the Rialto bridge!

venice rialto bridge kiss

Whew! There’s our first week in a tiny nutshell!

Up next….Florence, Pisa & Cinque Terre!

 

 

 

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