THERE & BACK AGAIN // Frankfurt, Germany

Getting to Frankfurt from Venice proved to be a bit of a long haul, but that was our fault for flying with a budget airline! The flight itself was only an hour, but we had to travel an hour by bus to a smaller, further away airport at Venice. Then after arriving in ‘Frankfurt’, we had to wait another two hours for a bus that took over an hour and a half to get to the city centre. I don’t know why they claim Hahn airport to be a part of Frankfurt, but we made it. Eventually.

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This was Chris’ first time in Frankfurt, but because I had been here previously we decided to keep it pretty chilled out in regards to sight seeing. Plus there really isn’t much to see in the city. These photos of the city skyline are from atop the city’s main chapel tower. My fitness has certainly declined after traveling and being sick: climbing all the stairs nearly killed me!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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For lunch we headed to a market hall I had visited last time, and got the exactly same thing I got all those months ago! An un-appetising looking local meal of a meatball, herb sauce and potato salad. Delicious nonetheless!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We also stumbled across an Australian shop, which provided us with a great deal of novelty. Tim tams! Beer! Weet bix!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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In the afternoon we joined a free ‘alternative’ walking tour of the city. The company had only recently started up, so unfortunately to tour wasn’t overly fantastic. Plus it was freezing!

We ventured across the river to the Sachsenhausen district to try the local apple wine, as well as some local food. Which in true German style, is basically meat, cabbage and potato. It was a great night, as we reminisced over the end of an era, and all that was in these past few months.

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This morning we woke up to a small snowfall! It was a nice send off from Europe.

We are currently waiting at Frankfurt airport for our flight to Dubai, which has unfortunately been delayed. Hopefully we don’t miss our connecting flight to Melbourne, as the whole journey back is already long enough.

Next time you’ll hear from me I will be back in sunny Australia! It is still all a bit surreal.

– Reanna.

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PICTURE PERFECT // Venice, Italy

 

I suppose Venice has been the real last ‘holiday’ destination for me, as our next stop is Frankfurt (which I visited wayyyy back when). It has been a fantastic last destination: it is just as beautiful as I could have ever imagined.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We arrived about mid afternoon on a train from Florence, and after successfully navigating our way to our accommodation we headed off to a free walking tour of the city. It is such a fascinating city, and unfortunately we didn’t learn as much about the construction of it as I would have liked on the tour. It was still great to be able to mindlessly follow a guide through the city: despite having no cars, the city is such a veritable maze of bridges, lane ways and canals!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We were lucky to have some sunshine that afternoon. The tour ended in St Mark Square, out the front of the famous basilica. It was a truly beautiful building. We visited the interior today, but you couldn’t take photos inside!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Today we marked down a few things on our map and hit the streets. It is so fun to just wander around this city!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We visited a fresh food and fish market in the morning near the Rialto bridge, before indulging in some more wonderful 1.50 euro coffee. It is taking us awhile to get our heads around the Italian coffee culture. You buy coffee at a ‘bar’, and can pay the normal, cheaper price for your drink if you stand at the bar and drink it, or pay up to twice the price to sit down at a table. We have had a few incidents where we have started walking towards a table with our coffee but had the barista warn us we will have to pay more!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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On our adventures we searched for, and successfully found, a bookshop our tour guide mentioned to us. Many of the books in the over crowded shop are housed in boats in preparation for the floods the city occasionally experiences. Out the back the owners have constructed a staircase out of damaged books that visitors can climb.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Below is the ‘Sighing Bridge’, which connects the Duke’s house and the former prison. Legend has it prisoners would sigh deeply as they were escorted into internal cells.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Gondola rides are typically Venetian in the minds of tourists, but Chris and I decided we would not partake in it the second we heard about the 80 euro for 40 minutes price tag. Instead, we opted for a short traghetto ride. Basically, for 2 euro each we got a short ride in a gondolla across the main canal. It satisfied our desires to get on the water, but without the pain for our wallets!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We climbed up a carpark for some views over the city. Unfortunately it was a lot colder today, and quite overcast so the city wasn’t as picture perfect. It was beautiful nonetheless.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Rialto bridge at night.

Only three nights left in Europe! It still feels so surreal, but our time is almost up. I am trying to prepare myself for the plane ride home. I am really not looking forward to it, as my flight anxiety seems to have progressively got worse since being in Europe. The idea of being in a plane for 14 hours is awfully unappealing right now. But thankfully I will be flying with Chris, so it shouldn’t be too unbearable!

– Reanna.

THESE LAST DAYS // Florence, Italy

It is such a weird feeling to be counting down the days until we return back to Australia now. Foreign concepts such as sunshine, warm weather and good coffee will soon be a reality in our lives again.

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That doesn’t mean we aren’t enjoying our remaining days here in Europe. After the hustle and bustle of touristic Rome, Florence seemed peaceful. We caught an early morning train from Rome yesterday, and got to Florence with plenty of time ahead of us. We only booked for one night, but we easily managed to see everything we wanted. The main attraction of the town is the Duomo, which is probably the most stunning church I have ever seen. It was free to wander around inside, but you could pay to climb the dome. The price tag was a bit excessive for us, so we made do with wandering around outside. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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While being significantly quieter than Rome, Florence was still full of tourists, and consequently selfie stick vendors.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We spent most of the afternoon just wandering the streets. There are plenty of museums and galleries in Florence, but with the sun out we really just felt like being outside. We eventually climbed up to a viewing square with amazing sights of the city. Another basilica was located further up the hill, as well as an extravagant old graveyard. Some of the tombs could have passed as mini palaces! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Florence would probably have to be up there with one of the most beautiful towns I have been to. The small laneways, old buildings, and surrounding mountains were truly picturesque. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After some coffee and rest we decided to go to the Uffizi gallery. It is the most famous collection of art here in Florence, and the building itself is quite spectacular.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After our early start to the day we were quite tired in the evening, so settled down for a dinner of aperitivo (buy a drink and get access to a food buffet, usually about 8 euro) before camping down at our hotel for the night.

Today, we are off to Venice! We are both incredibly excited to see this famous city, despite warnings about the likelihood of us getting lost and the expensive price tag. It shall be fun!

– Reanna.

AUSTRALIA DAY ABROAD // Rome, Italy

As well as waking up early in order to fight the crowds at the Colosseum, Chris and I also had hopes of catching the final songs of the Hottest 100. However, it turns out the countdown runs for far longer than we anticipated, so we ended up giving up after a few songs in order to make the most of our time in Rome! Admittedly it did bring a pang of homesickness to my heart seeing everyone quaffing beer and blasting Triple J on facebook. Oh, Australia.

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Even though we were a bit later than the 8:30am opening time, we still managed to get into the Colosseum without waiting. It truly is a magnificent structure, and such a feat for its time.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Our ticket to the Colosseum also gave us access to the Roman Forum, which are the ruins of the old city centre just over the road. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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It was amazing seeing so much history preserved in a buzzing city. I can’t imagine the amount of maintenance that must go into these places. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After a couple of hours we had our historical ruin desires met, and continued on for a bit more walking before settling down somewhere for lunch.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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It was such a splendid day. Still not overly warm, but the sun was shining nonetheless. After lunch we walked over to the Vatican City, intending to check out the basilica. However, the line to get in was absolutely ludicrous (like, we would have been waiting an hour or something). So we made do with wandering around the square in the sun for a little while.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We intended to find a park in the afternoon, but subsequently had no luck in finding it. It was lovely to merely wander around the streets anyway. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Research informed us of a Scottish pub hosting a little Aussie shindig, so we headed there in the late afternoon. They had Fosters – apparently Australia’s number one beer, despite the fact no one drinks it – and vegemite sandwiches. There was basically no one there, but it was fun to have a few drinks and watch the Australian Open on tv.

Hope you all had a fabulous – and warm – Australia Day back in Aus!

– Reanna.

SELF GUIDED TOUR // Rome, Italy

 

The last leg of our journey has begun! We are spending five nights traveling up through Italy, before flying back to Frankfurt for our flight back to Australia. It has all come up so soon!

Once again I will have to apologise for posting a couple of times in quick succession: I intended to post these photos yesterday morning but we had an early start in order to fight the crowds at the Colosseum!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We arrived in Rome about mid afternoon on Sunday, and after checking into our accommodation we decided to hit the sites straight away! Armed with a map and our Lonely Planet guide – there are no Sandemans tours in Italy! – we checked out various landmarks, basilicas and buildings.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAll the various buildings we looked at were incredibly grand, and quite beautiful.

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Quite a few fountains were still running, which was a nice change from the many that were turned off in other cities for the winter weather. However, Trevi Fountain – the most famous fountain in Rome – was under some serious maintenance, so you could hardly even see it! Thankfully a friend had warned us this would be the case, so we weren’t too bitterly disappointed when we came across it.

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Winter seems to be peak time for a lot of maintenance on various landmarks. The basilica atop the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum also had scaffolding on them at varying points. This can be a bit disappointing – particularly when you pay money to go into things such as the Colosseum, and can’t visit all of the exhibit but you have still paid full price. However, I do understand that in order for us to be able to visit such pieces of history, there needs to be a lot of maintenance work done!

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There is a ridiculous amount of street vendors walking around armed with selfie sticks, which they try to sell to everyone who crosses their path by saying “selfie, selfie!”. Yeah, no thanks.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We walked into the Pantheon and wandered around for about two minutes before an announcement came over saying it was closing time and we all had to leave. Well, at least we got in there!

Chris and I were both pleasantly surprised with how walkable the city was. Looking at the map and talking to our friend gave us the impression that we would probably have to figure out the metro at some point, but we were easily able to walk everywhere. I love when we can do that in a city!

– Reanna.

OPENING HOUR ISSUES, CHURROS & UNWANTED SICKNESS // Madrid, Spain

 

Even though the weather kept up being freezing cold, we were lucky enough to have the sun show itself yesterday. It is amazing how much a city can change with a bit of light and blue sky.

On a recommendation from our tapas tour guide, we checked out a major park near our hostel. In the centre of the park was a crystal palace, turned art gallery.

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The exhibition inside was quite intriguing. It featured various moving marionettes within an old caravan, and eerie music playing.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Afterwards, we saw another free gallery, before walking around the rest of the park.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We had a place in mind for lunch, but once again found ourselves at a loss, as it wasn’t open! The time differences in everyone’s day to day lives here is proving quite frustrating for Chris and I, who are used to eating regularly and at common times!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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In the afternoon we came across a shopping centre that offered nice views of the city from the top floor. I was feeling a bit tired and had a sore leg, so we sat in the sunshine and read for about an hour.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After a bit more walking, we stopped to fulfill another tourist obligation of churros. They weren’t as spectacular as we had anticipated, though I am sure if you had it with chocolate, as it is intended, it would have been amazing.

We did a bit more walking in the afternoon, and headed over to an area recommended to us for tapas at what we would have considered dinner time. Once again, nothing was open! We eventually found a mediocre place to have something to eat and drink, but ended up heading home early as I was starting to feel quite unwell. I ended up being in bed by 7, with a bit of a fever, a roaring headache and pain all over.

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I am still feeling quite under the weather today, but have stocked up on medicine and am taking it pretty easy today. We are traveling to Morocco, so a lot of sitting around at airports is on the agenda! I hope I can kick off this sickness, as it is the last thing I want when traveling!

– Reanna.

WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE // Madrid, Spain

I am not quite sure how Chris and I managed to remain human yesterday, after our less than stellar night of sleep at the airport. I will put our survival down to cheap coffee, tapas and red wine.

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Apparently we have arrived in Madrid for some of the coldest days of the year. This was devastating to Chris and my dreams of sunny Spain, but such is life. We spent the morning looking around a flea market, before checking out a contemporary art museum (EU student cards again providing us with free entry)! It was quite interesting, with some works from famous artists such as Dali and Picasso.

We decided to start looking for lunch at 12, but apparently this is far too early for Spain! Everything was closed until 1, but eventually we managed to find a place opening at 12:30. For 10.50 euros we received a huge starter, a main, a beer and dessert.

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In the afternoon we joined a Sandemans tour and walked around the city. I really don’t know much about Spain, so it was fascinating to learn about it’s history. Above is the oldest restaurant in the world!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Below is the palace, which looks very similar to Versailles.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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That night we went on Sandemans tapas experience, which was fantastic! We went to three different tapas bars, each representing a different region of Spain. Subsequently, we got to try a drink and tapas from each region. In the second bar we even got to drink red wine out of a traditional wine skin. It actually wasn’t as tricky as it looks! Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the history of tapas, which made for a wonderful tour.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe are off for more sightseeing today, and undoubtedly more tapas! Apparently tapas come for free with your drink here in Madrid, which is quite different to the fancy tapas restaurants at home.

– Reanna.