Destination, Europe

Now is as good a time as any to travel to Europe.  Exchange rates are good, the summer peak season is ending, and the weather is still mild enough for tropical island-dwellers (read : not freezing).

My trip across Europe started in Venice and ended in Madrid, before flying back to London.  It lasted 21 days, and I managed to hit 4 countries and 11 cities on that blitzkrieg of a holiday.  It was a reward for finishing my post-graduate studies, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Venice - Lucca - Florence - Cinque Terre - Nice - Monaco - Avignon - Paris - Barcelona - Madrid - Toledo

Looking at it now, it seems pretty insane.  I promise you, it will all make sense in the end.

This being my first trip as a solo traveller (companions from Intrepid Travel notwithstanding), I think I’ve done pretty well for myself.  Just enumerating the number of stops made me realize that I will need more than one post – and probably a few Panadols – to catalog this adventure.  I’ve started the process with my previous post on Venice, and will continue by country as I go along.

Here’s my quick take and tips on the different cities I’ve visited –

Venice – love the little shops selling leather, glass art, and handmade trinkets.  Explore local neighbourhood cafes

Lucca – a well-preserved medieval city, complete with the fortress or city walls.

Florence – the Firenze Duomo closes at 4pm, so be there early!  I actually missed this due to an oversized gelato cone.  I’ll explain later.

Cinque Terre – if you love the mountains and the sea, you’ll love these quaint towns.  Oh, and the vineyards.  You’ll love the vineyards.

Nice – seaside town that is neither too quiet nor too rowdy.  Not the best beach I’ve been, but I guess that’s what you get in Europe.

Monaco – prepare to have your ears assaulted; the track has small races going on throughout the year.

Avignon – the heart of Provence and the seat of Christendom in the middle ages. Enjoy views of the Rhone River.

Paris – enchanting.  This was my longest stop in my trip, and I still didn’t want to leave when time was up.

Barcelona – vibrant.  This is where you will understand why Gaudi is a genius.

Madrid – dull in comparison to Barcelona.  But it has its own industrial charms.

Toledo – quiet historic town, with the old fort still intact.  Wear sunscreen.

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