our europe adventure: travel plans

friends, we're adventuring in europe this summer! 

thanks to a generous gift from my dear in-laws & months of saving our pennies, we've finally budgeted just enough to travel throughout europe this summer! after tons of research, we've finalized our travel & i am so excited to share our plans with you today!

our 2015 european adventure
- geneva, switzerland & surrounding areas 
- paris, france
- berlin, germany
- cinque terre, italy & "the five lands"
- florence, italy 
- rome, italy

some tips we've learned along the way:

1. we chose to book mini flights via easy jet instead of purchasing a train pass. this saved us a considerable amount of money & time.

2. we're opting out of hotels. instead we're staying in cozy, centralized apartments & european guest houses booked through airbnb. airbnb is an incredible resource that allowed us to save money while also connecting with locals in the areas. i cannot wait to meet our fun hosts! 

friends, have you been to these areas? are you familiar with switzerland, germany, france & italy? we'd love your recommendations on good food, beautiful sites & more within the places listed above! 



Anna said...

Natalie this sounds like an amazing trip! I hope you and your husband have fantastic summer! I spent 3 months in Florence, Italy for study abroad and I also went to Cinque Terra. My biggest tip or suggestion is to take your time, slow down and experience the everyday life. Take a walk in the morning along the Arno in Florence then head in for a caffe, or have a lazy day on the beach side trattoria in Cinque Terra. There is really no place like Italy. Divertiti (Have Fun!)

Rebecca said...

How exciting! I'm from Paris and I spent a month travelling through Europe by train when I was 18 and to this day it's one of my favorite vacations ever. I put together a little Paris guide on my website, if you wanna go through it. It's mostly food :) Happy adventures!

Natalie @ Being Mrs. Olson said...

GO SEE NOTRE DAME in Paris! Like, up the stairs and everything. The bells chimed while we were on top. It is one of my most memorable moments EVER. Check out guidebooks to find hidden gems, and remember to learn a few phrases for each city you visit. I am SO jealous, have fun!

Valerie said...

In Paris, you have the store "Merci" and of course, Montmartre. You should watch the movie "Amelie" with Audrey Tautou; the film was shot in Montmartre and Paris in general.
I'm from Belgium… also a great country to visit!! One day if you stop by…!

Stacy K. said...

Eat Falafel in Paris. There's a famous place called, L'As Du Fallafel, but I went to one just down the road because of a long line... and it was still the best thing I've ever eaten. It's one of my favorite memories of a summer I spent in France! To be honest, I'd skip montmartre. I really didn't like the vibe there at, it does have a good view of the city if the sky is clear enough. While you're in France, be sure to go to a store called Monoprix. They have these 1 euro re-usable grocery bags that make the best gift for friends when you return! (I was lucky enough to find one with the eiffel tower on it!)

Anonymous said...

Hello Natalie,
I'm Paula and I lived en Paris for a year with my husband, so the first thing I have to tell you is that you will LOVE it!! Seriously!!
Now, what you shouldn't miss there is:
a) walking through the city, anywhere!!!
b)going for a picnic all along the Seine river! In spring and summer you'll see not only the tourists but the Parisians having a beer or some wine with chees and a baguette!! It's so perfect
c)the street markets
d)For more inspiration visit www.mylittleparis.com
It's a great page!! Bon voyage chérie!!

Meghan Atherton said...

You MUST eat dinner at Alla Vecchia Bettola in Florence. Order their Penne all Bettola. We loved it so much we went 2 nights in a row! It's a bit of a walk from the center of the city (30 min or so) but absolutely worth it!

Gerteke said...

When I was a child, we used to go to Switzerland a lot (I'm from the Netherlands) during the summer holidays. We used to stay somewhere in between Sion and Brig, you'll find it on Google Maps :-) I remember being incredibly impressed by the serenity of the Rhone Valley, the highest mountains en the size of the Lake of Geneva. So, if you have the time, plan a (relaxing) walk somewhere in those Alps, have some raclette or cheese fondue and put your face in the sun. I've only been once to Geneva, as a child unfortunately, but if I would go now, I would mostly dive into the historic roots of the city (it's the home/cradle of protestantism/calvinism for instance). Oh, AND (i don't know if it would be too much of a travel, but southeast of Geneva is the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of Europe anyway. Enjoy your holidays!

Her said...

If you can make it to Marie-Antoinette's estate at the Palace of Versailles while in Paris, you will be overwhelmed with splendid beauty. The palace is nice and all, but when I stepped into the estate I stepped back in time. The moss covered slate roofs, green grass sobered hills, dandelions and water features.... all so drool worthy. Take a seat and let it all wash over you. One of my top 10 favorite places ever!

....and eat lots of Pain au chocolats! ;)

Kelly said...

In Paris - Montmartre for sure, the character and the streets there are amazing. We stayed near Moulin Rouge (using Airbnb too!) and had the best tiny crepe stand on our street so we ate crepes twice a day while we were there. If you make it to Montmartre I highly recommend walking up to the top of the hill to see Sacre Coeur, it's a beautiful view and a stunning building.

I also think it's worth it to climb Notre Dame if you have a chance. The view is amazing and, in my opinion, better than climbing the Eiffel Tower because the line is shorter and I preferred the view of the Tower rather than the view from it.

I also liked the Musee D'Orsay better than the Louvre because I have a greater appreciation for the art housed there, but both are great stops.

Mathilde said...

What an awesome plan! I come from a small city only half an hour away from Geneva, (in France) it's called Annecy and it is really nice to visit, there is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains! Come and visit me ;) (I know it sounds weird as you don't know me, but I've been reading your blog for quite some time so I feel like I do know you!!) Anyway have fun, there are so many beauties to see in Europe :)

Anonymous said...

Keep talking about your "shoestring budget"...

Run Lori Run said...

This sounds like a wonderful trip! We went to Italy a few years ago and I chronicled some of it on my blog. We stayed in Riomaggiore, Rome and Florence. I especially recommend getting a guided tour of the Vatican and pay extra to go before the general public enters. It was worth the money to beat the crowds. Bon voyage!


I'm Sara. said...

We have been to Rome and Florence! I just love Rome…it is, of course, a bustling busy city but something about it has my heart forever. Goodness, Italy was just magic for us. I can hardly recall it without tearing up :) So happy you guys are getting to do this! I can't wait to hear about the other places you visit too!

Unknown said...

very exciting! I live in Germany, though I've only been to Berlin once. It's a very interesting city, plenty of history & culture to see. If you're interested in hip neighborhoods, I would recommend Kreuzberg or Neu Köln- they're both filled with cute cafes and boutiques. The Holocaust Memorial (next to the Brandenburger Tor) is also really worth taking the time to see.
In Paris, I would say that I enjoyed the Musee D'Orsay more than the Louvre- it's in an old Railway station and the architecture is just lovely. We also climbed the Arc De Triomphe instead of the Eifel tower and the view was simply stunning. Sounds like you guys will have a wonderful adventure- hope these ideas are helpful!

Anonymous said...

Find all the free things and only spend money to see those things that you dying to see. Find little cafes and plazas and sit outside people watch. My mom and I did a trip last summer and it was great. The Metro system in Paris is super easy to navigate...just memorize what the word looks like, stay on the same colored line and count your stops! Rome is easy peasy to walk, no need to pay for transportation around town. Rome has lots of ways to see things without actually spending money. Go to Sacré-Cœur in Paris. Beautiful view of the city. I suggest going up in the Eiffel tower (all the way to the top!) just as the sun is going down. If you get in line when its still light out, you'll be able to see everything, then see the sunset, and then all the city lights as they go on. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

So exciting, You will love it there. We travelled in Europe for 9 weeks in the summer of 2013 and had the best time. I loved Montmarte in Paris. We also used airbnb the whole time and cant recommend it enough for saving money and meeting locals. we also used bla bla car to save money on transport and met some lovely people. I wrote about cinque terre on my blog: at http://www.shanteleianna.com/?s=cinque+terre it was our favourite place, we stayed in Riomaggiore while we were there, but it really doesn't matter which village you stay in, just buy your supplies for antipasti in Monterroso where it is chaeaper, and get the train pass, it saved us heaps of money. have fun :)

Eva Ellie said...

I went to Florence 2 years ago, and it's one of my favorite cities in Italy. When there you really have to find an old fashioned photo booth (fotoautomatica) and take some nice vintage photos. It costs about 2 euros and takes 5 minutes to develope!

Here some info about locations:




Kathrine said...

Fun!! I lived two years in Paris and LOVED that city. I also got to test my touristing guide skills every time friends and family came to visit, and here are my advice for a smooth stay:
1. The area around st michel in the fifth have lots of cheap eats as there are lots of students in the area. 2. The Louvre on a Friday evening is free and the least crowded with people 3. Before you spend too much time commuting from one metro line to another in dingy metro stations, first check if you can walk the distance instead. More often than not, this is a better solution. 4. Visit the Versailles! It's an hour train ride outside Paris, but SO worth it. 5. The Marais is my FAVOURITE area, ever. Cozy cobbled streets and jewish eats. For perfect view over Paris, Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is the place to be. 6. Bring snacks and water. There are queues everywhere, even off season. 7. Evening strolls along the river Seine makes you realise why they call it the most romantic city in the world. 8. Don't be offended by rude waiters. It's not worth it. 9. Jardin the Tuileries or Champ de Mars are perfect places for a picnic. Have a fun trip!!!

Belle said...

what an amazing trip! I can still taste & smell everything in my head from my 3 week trip to Italy a few years ago.
It is such a magical place! My best recommendation is to just get lost in all the alleyways and try and find little bacaros (small bars), cafés and talk to the locals :) Learn a few Italian phrases so you can say hello, ask where the bathroom is, etc... It makes it fun!

Cinque terre, eat the seafood & drink the white wine!
In Florence, enjoy the sheeps cheese, salamis and a lot if gelato! Stroll all the cobblestone roads and take in Florence.
Rome, colosseum & Vatican were tourist spots but still a must see! We walked up to villa borghese gardens (right above the Spanish steps) and strolled through cherry clossom trees, sat with a cold beer and just had a little picnic. Loved it! Also, the neighborhood Trastevere is the old Rome -- cute spot to check out if you have time.
Enjoy and have an amazing time!

I'm Sara. said...

Ok, one more thing because I remembered a place we went so often in Rome it makes me cry happy tears to think of it. Orange Park.

You must find Orange Park. The view is heaven.

Vanessa said...

You should come to Portugal! One of the prettiest places on earth!!!

Lara said...

So excited for your trip! My husband and I did an almost identical trip three years ago, except we did southern Germany instead of Berlin.

There is a pizza place in the third city of Cinque Terre that has the absolute best pizza we ever had in our lives. Eat gelato everywhere in Italy; eat street crepes everywhere in Paris.

Rick Steves is very quintessential touristy - but his iPod tours were really useful to us and allowed us to feel like we were picking up some historical points without paying for expensive tours. He also has tips like how to get into the Colosseum through a much less used entrance, etc. Things that will save you time and money.

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