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Arriving in Florence

Our introduction to Florence – the center of Tuscany

Background

Our first trip to Florence was part of an Italy Tour in Fall of 2017. Florence is the birthplace of Renessaince, home to some of the best museums in Italy and the largest city in Tuscany.

Getting There

We arrived to Florence from Venice via Bologna in train. The trip took about 2.5 hours. We booked the tickets months before online back in our home in Atlanta, GA, USA. Train reservations are fairly easy via the train italia website.

Below is a clip of our train passing Bologna.

Passing Bologna on the way to Florence

Galleria dell’Academia

We stayed at a Air BnB rental in Florence. The city center was a 15 min walk and the train station was a 20 min walk. We could also opt for a taxi or bus.

Our first stop next morning was Galleria dell’Academia which houses one of the most famous sculpture – Michelangelo’s David. The lines at the entrance goes around the block, so it was good we did our reservation online a week before. Below is a picture of Glenda on the reservation line as some street musicians entertain us by the sidewalk.

Here are some pictures from the museum including the sculptures – David and ‘Sabine Woman’ .

The museum’s gift shop was pretty good. And just 10 minutes walk from the Academia Gallery takes us to the historic city center. More on that in the next blog! Below is the highlight video of our visit to this world famous museum. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel or add the Tuscany Playlist in your favorites to view all the videos from tbis region.

Academia Gallery in Florence

Basel, Switzerland

In the middle of nowhere, close to everywhere!

Imagine a place, where you walk across a bridge to go from Switzerland to Germany. Rent a bike and ride across town into France. Take an hour or less train ride to Zurich, the snowy Alps or tiny country of Lichtenstein. A 2-3h train trip could get you to Luxembourg or Milan, Italy!

In the summer of 2018, we discovered such a destination in the city of Basel, Switzerland and its nearby picturesque villages by the Rhein river.

We arrived in Basel in a regional Lufthansa aircraft from Frankfurt, Germany on a short 45 min trip.

Basel Airport is relatively small. Our next stop was a 4h train ride to Paris. So we took the local bus from the airport to Basel SBB station. Below is a short video clip and some images of a first look at Basel.

The Basel SBB station is an ideal pit stop to freshen up, grab a bite or do some shopping before heading to your next destination – which in our case was Paris. If in any doubt, you can always check with the friendly customer service staff at the upper lobby.

Long distance train services between Switzerland and France are frequent and comfortable in both 1st and 2nd class. Most trains offer free wifi for your devices to stay connected online.

If you are staying in and around Basel, the picturesque Swiss and German villages by the Rhein river are only 15-20 mins ride in local train.

We stayed in one such place called Rheinfelden at the border of Switzerland and Germany. Below are few pictures of this beautiful sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere but close to everywhere!

A Taste of Eastern Europe

A photo collection of delicious Eastern European cuisine

We had a wonderful trip in Austria and Hungary during the summer of 2018. Below are a collection of delicious cuisine we experienced there.

A Hungarian bakery where we stopped on our way to Budapest.

A quick snack at a McDonald’s by the highway from Vienna to Budapest.

Hungarian goulash (stew).

Hungarian pasta with chicken.

Another Hungarian roadside bakery on our way back to Vienna.

Breakfast at Cafe Klimt by the famous Hofburg palace in Vienna.

Lunch in Budapest. Duck with Mushrooms and potatoes.

Hungarian Crepes and icecream with walnuts for dessert!

Paris at night – a tour

An evening tour of the romantic city

The above video clip is a night tour of Paris we took in the summer of 2018.

Paris, dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière), has a reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities.

It is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain, Lancôme, L’Oréal, Clarins, etc. A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Paria has numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world’s most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Moulin Rouge, and Lido, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually.

Paris Riverboat Cruise

A riverboat ride in Paris

The Seine river runs through the heart of Paris, France. A boat trip on the river provides a great view of many attractions. It is also a great way to relax your feet after a day of touring all the great museums and historic landmarks dotted across Paris.

Taking a riverboat ride is easy and affordable. We booked a round trip tour by the dock at Eiffel Tower. You can also get a hop-on / hop-off pass that allows you to depart from one point of attraction and get off at another one.

Once on the boat, try to find a good seat by the side of the boat or above. Our trip was during June at late afternoon, so we chose to sit outside. Most boats offer air conditioned interior sitting as well.

One of the fun things to watch is the variety of boats by the river bank. Many boats are transformed into hotels or restaurants and gives the Seine a festive atmosphere.

A key landmark to see from the river is the Notredame Cathedral. Other notable sites are typically announced in the commentary by the guide as the boat passes through them.

Taking the tour in late afternoon has an added benefit of watching the sunset from the river.

Click here to see the YouTube video highlights of our boat trip

Enjoy the pictures below we took from our boat trip! Paris je t’aime!

Orsay Museum, Paris

The Musée d’Orsay is one of the largest art museums in Europe. It is located on the Left Bank of the river Seine in Paris, France.

The museum has a grand view both from outside and the inside which is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built in late 19th century. It is easily accessible from central Paris. A 15-min walk from the Louvre or a scenic ride on a hop-on hop-off boat are two great options to reach it.

The Orsay museum holds mostly French art from mid 19th to early 20th century, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.

It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Below are a few of these great masterpieces.

Oberammargau, Fairytale Bavaria

A fairytale town in the middle of Bavaria

Oberammergau is a small town in Bavaria, Germany known for its 350 year old tradition of Passion plays. It is also famous for woodcarvings like the Grimm fairytales of ‘Hansel and Grettel’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood ‘ . We visited the picturesque town in summer of 2018 on a bus tour from Munich. Below is a photo tour of Oberammergau .