Day 1: Arriving in the Italian capital
Upon our arrival in Rome at approximately 7:30, we were transferred to hotel Laura via shuttle. Our hotel was situated in the heart of Rome, with the Bolgna Metro station within close proximity. It took around 1.5 hours to reach the hotel and the rest of the day was free for leisure. Dealing with jet-lag, we relaxed at the hotel for a while and in the evening went for a stroll around the nearby plaza, just 3-4 metro stations away from ours.
Day 2: Exploring Rome
Beginning the morning with a simple breakfast, (offering sugary pastries, bread and preserves, packets of French toast and cereals) we prepared for the HoHo tour. The pickup point for the tour was just 2-3 stations away by metro. The bus took us through the streets and plazas of the ancient, captivating city of Rome.
From Papal Basilica to Piazza Barberini — we desired to visit all the places that the tour traversed, but could not see some, due to an ongoing marathon. However, locations like the magnificent Vatican revealed Rome’s historic allure, which was further enhanced by the ideal romantic weather. Furthermore, I cherished the flexibility and freedom that the tour provided (it was my first-ever HoHo ride). The buses were frequent and the drop-off points were within walking distance of the destinations. The bus tour concluded at around 7 and we returned to our hotel.
Day 3: Florence – The birthplace of the Renaissance
Being a vegetarian presents a difficulty in Europe. Therefore, we had to bring our own food and snacks for most of the trip. However, we managed to find a restaurant that catered to our dietary preferences for dinner.
After spending two days exploring Rome, we traveled to Florence by train. The train journey was delightful and lasted approximately an hour. Upon reaching Florence, we took a bus to our hostel, Wow Florence. Since I had conducted extensive research for almost two months, I was familiar with the local bus routes. The hostel was conveniently located just a 10-15 minute walk away from the main square and other popular tourist attractions in Florence. Unlike the hotel in Rome, the hostel had a relaxed atmosphere and was filled with vibrant young individuals.
As Florence is a small town, we decided to explore the local area on foot. While wandering through its streets, we stumbled upon a restaurant owned by a Pakistani gentleman. We struck up a conversation and requested our preferred meal. He served us a delicious dinner, but the highlight was yet to come – the following day.
Day 4: Making the most of local tours
The following day, we returned to the same restaurant where the taste of homestyle cooking evoked a sense of nostalgia. After breakfast, we set off for a visit to the historic city of Pisa. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a tour guide who led us on a walking tour of Piazza dei Miracoli and its monuments. The Cathedral, the famous Leaning Tower, and the round Baptistery provided a captivating sight. Our guided tour then took us to Piazza dei Cavalieri, where we explored Scuola Normale and Conte Ugolino Tower. After a fulfilling day, we returned to our hotel and called it a night.
Day 5: Becoming the merchant of Venice
On the next day, we boarded a train to Venice and arrived at our hotel, La Meridiana, around noon. From the train station, we walked to our luxurious 4-star hotel adorned with extravagant interiors and offering exceptional service.
Day 6: The Island Excursion in Venice
We settled in and prepared for our next round of discovery. We visited the central area of Venice – St. Mark’s Square and wandered around. We were particularly interested in experiencing the traditional Venetian Gondola ride, but were deterred by its cost. Luckily, we encountered an Indian family who were willing to share the ride with us. As a result, the ride became much more affordable.
Day 6: Exploring the Islands in Venice
Our second day in Venice was reserved for a trip to the islands of Murano and Burano. The starting point was an hour’s walk from our hotel, which allowed us to explore the city on foot. Although we were initially worried, we managed to arrive on time.
The boat journey took us through secluded islands, showcasing peaceful and vibrant landscapes. After passing by the Island of San Giorgio, the public gardens, and the tip of Sant’Elena, we reached Murano – an island renowned for its glass manufacturing industry. There, we visited a factory and observed a live demonstration of the production of various glass products. After the tour resumed, our next stop was the picturesque island of Burano, offering a captivating view of the brightly-colored houses of the fishermen. It was a mesmerizing tour and a must-visit destination.
Day 7: Arriving in the City of Romance
Now it was time to visit one of the most popular cities in Europe – Paris. Our flight from Venice took around two hours and we arrived at our hotel around 03:30. The location of the hotel once again deserved praise. One notable aspect was that this was the first hotel where we had access to complimentary drinking water.
We intended to take the full HoHo tour, but due to our arrival in the afternoon, we could only manage a two-hour ride. Consequently, we could only visit the Eiffel tower, the surrounding museums, and catch a glimpse of the nightlife in Paris while watching a laser show.
Day 8: Immersing in the Parisian ambiance
Paris was still waiting to be explored. Continuing with the HoHo ride, we decided to spend quality time at our preferred destinations rather than aimlessly visiting places. Hence, we disembarked at the Eiffel tower and the beautiful areas surrounding this iconic tourist attraction in Paris. Lunch was also taken care of thanks to a Chinese restaurant where we found vegetarian noodles.
Day 9: Returning home
Our concise expedition had now reached its conclusion and we embarked on our journey back to India, with a multitude of memories.
Highlights: The visit to the pinnacle of the Eiffel tower astounded me to the very core.
Low Point: In Italy, the conduct of the personnel was not particularly pleasant, but in France, the individuals were welcoming, cooperative, and empathetic.
Advice for future travelers:
• Despite walking for an hour, it was arduous to find a restroom in Italy. Therefore, exercise caution.
• Optimize the advantages of public transportation. It fosters a stronger connection with the destination and is financially reasonable.