Expat Travels: Eurotrip Highlights

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Doing a Euro trip of sorts has long been a goal of mine, and I achieved that goal this past June when I traversed through France, Italy and Portugal to commemorate a (belated) milestone, turning 35.

I spent 11 days in France, 11 days in Italy and 8 days in Portugal. I think it was time well spent and I'm glad I didn't try to cram several cities and countries into 30 days. I began my trip in Paris, France:

Scenery and culinary wise, Paris was everything I thought it'd be and some. I was expecting the worst based on what I'd heard from others who'd visited, but I found the French to be warm and friendly. There were many great moments in Paris but the highlight of my trip was my photoshoot at Trocadero. Paris is absolutely stunning and worthy of all of its accolades.

One of many wonderful pics from my Paris photoshoot.

...and of course :)

Arc de Triomphe

You see it 😉

Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmarte!
No I did not hike those stairs

At The Louvre
And I had no idea that The Carters would be there that same day/evening to shoot "Apesh*t"!

I spent five days in Paris and that was barely enough to get my feet wet. I followed the advice of other travelers and didn't try to do too much in one visit. My itinerary included a wonderful lunch cruise on the Seine River, visits to main attractions such as the Louvre (the day that The Carters filmed "Apeshit"! 😫) and day trips to Brussels and Versailles, respectively. 

Outside the glorious Palace of Versailles

Enjoying Belgian beer in Brussels!

Belgian waffles with all the fixuns!

Brussels architecture

At Atomium in Brussels

After Paris, I went south to spend time in Nice and Marseille. Nice was GLORIOUS, probably my favorite stop on the trip. While in Nice, I hopped over to Monaco, and was thoroughly impressed by their penchant for luxury, despite it literally raining on my parade all day. 

Nice was so stunning, even in rain 💜

Nice beaches, literally

Monte Carlo, after the storm
This was a great day trip

Marseille was also beautiful but much more laid back. I took the high speed train between each city, and I highly recommend train travel throughout any European country. Do be aware of current events in this region; I had to reschedule my day trip to Brussels due to the regional airline and train strike. By the grace it worked out fine.
France completely exceeded my expectations.

Rooftop fun

Nice meal in Marseille

Les Calanques de Cassis!

From the French Riviera, I flew into Rome for what I thought would be a trip highlight; from a sites and scenery perspective, it absolutely was. Rome is one of the most photogenic cities I've seen in all of my travels. And of course absorbing past and present Roman history was dynamic. But the people left a lot to be desired. Basically, everything I thought France would be (crass and condescending) is what all of Italy was in my experience. Just rudeness at damn near every encounter. But the landscape sure is pretty.

The illustrious Colosseum!
Even more gorgeous at night

Rome(Italy) wins the culinary battle, hands down

I visited Vatican City during my time in Rome, and I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and architecture in this sovereign city-state. Since I took day trips to Brussels and Monaco, The Vatican was technically my 50th "country" visited. But it just didn't feel right to count it as such. 

Inside the Vatican
You could spend a day here and still not cover everything

graven images

Vatican City

After Rome I ventured up to Florence, excited by the prospect of finally seeing Tuscany. Florence absolutely delivered! This was my favorite stop in Italy, and the people were somewhat nicer here. My Florence highlights included visits to the countryside for a wine tasting, and day trips to Pisa and the Cinque Terra villages, respectively.

Duomo in the distance!

Under the Tuscan sun 😌

Wine tasting event

The hills of Fiesole

Day trip to Pisa
It was hot as hell there!

Read more about how to visit the Cinque Terra villages without a tour guide here!

Riomaggiore village in Cinque Terra

From Florence, I rode first class on the Frecciarossa train to Naples. It was a few extra Euro that I didn't mind spending since this ride would be over three hours long. All of my tickets were purchased in advance on the Trenitalia website.

Frecciarossa train

Naples is gritty compared to Rome and Florence, and I'd been forewarned about this. It reminded me a lot of NYC, from the concrete jungle to the insanely rude inhabitants. Naples is where I thought I would end up on "Locked Up Abroad". My patience was truly tested here. Obviously, I prevailed without incident, and took in some pretty amazing sights. 

At the National Archaeological Museum in Naples
This is one of the most fabulous museums I've visited
Shirt is serious, and was necessary while in Napoli chile 😒

I'd absolutely visit southern Italy again; instead, I'd head straight for Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, and stay there. This part was absolutely the highlight of my Italian itinerary.

Positano, Italy
MUCH better vibes here

Amalfi Coast

I'm grateful to have seen southern Europe despite some very unpleasant encounters. Europe hasn't really been on my radar as a whole, and it probably won't be in the future, save for returns to Paris and a visit to London (surprisingly I've never been!). I will make an exception for France, for now (congrats on the World Cup win, btw). France was my fav and Nice is bae. 

As mentioned, I also went to Portugal on this trip. Read more about my journey through my 50th country visited here!

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  1. Ohhhh the memories!! I love France 🇫🇷 and Italy! I went to Italy for the first time in 2005 and visited a few cities. Florence was my favorite city on that trip. I went to Sourthetn Italy 4 years ago and loved it! I love the French Riviera also esp since we got engaged in Monaco. And I’m glad you enjoyed Paris. I have been twice and it is stunning! Oh yes and Belgian waffles. Yum!

    1. Thanks for reading as always. I plan to visit southern France again for sure.