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So Very Excited {Europa Or Bust}

We're doing it, we're really really really doing it!

Ian and I have spoken for a long time about doing a Europe vacation, and doing it RIGHT.  And I'm so over-the-moon excited to say that these plans are in the works.

This is truly my dream come true.  I feel like the luckiest girl, spending my weekends and weeknights meticulously researching and planning every lovely detail of this trip. 

A few times I've actually burst into tears of joy at the computer because I simply can't believe that this is actually happening.


 
 

Paris, Bern, Florence, Rome, Sorrento.  I'm SO incredibly ready fo fall in love with these places.
 
Now ... time to turn for you for advice of how to pack, what to see, where to shop, and most importantly -- what to eat! 
 
Europe suggestions for a first-timer ... ready, set, GO!

34 comments:

  1. OH MY GOSH!!! So exciting :) I know you will have the best time!! When is this going to being take place?

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  2. I'm so so excited for you and jealous too! We wanted to go to France for our honeymoon but went to Disney World instead, haha. One day we will make it over there too!

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  3. check out hotel eiffel trocadero in paris - we LOVED it!

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  4. We couldn't stand Rome (I think we're in the minority... just too "big city" for what we like out of Europe), but prepare to fall head over heels in love with Florence! Trip of a lifetime, for sure!! Happy for you, friend!

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  5. I've been lucky enough to visit Paris 3x. If you like museums then buy the museum pass online before you go (1 day, 3 day or 5 day depending on your time there). It gets you into every major museum and site except the Eiffel Tower and can save you HOURS of waiting in line as you get to bypass them!

    I can also recommend several restaurants in Paris and good shopping areas as well if you have any interest.

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  6. Oh super jealous! I agree with Kate, wasn't super impressed with Rome but Florence you will love!! If you get any extra time you must hit up Cinque Terre. Oh man, cannot wait to live vicariously through you!

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  7. So exciting! We just booked a trip to Ireland & England for the end of May! So much to figure out yet, but so excited!

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  8. Bern: Loved it. Skip the zoo. Visit the clock tower. Maybe 2 blocks from there was the best longchamps store ever...Climb the tower in the Cathedral, it was worth the trip for the views and you are close to the rose garden which was beautiful.

    Rome: Get the Roma pass. It made life SO much easier and you can visit so many museums at a much better value. I stayed somewhere near the train station and wouldn't recommend that area, it was sort of dead at night. Also, book your Vatican visit prior to your arrival so you can secure a good time and an English speaking tour guide. I can try to find my POC if you are interested.

    Florence: All the museums and if you are interested, their soccer games were AWESOME and much more affordable than Rome. I did a one day bus tour of Pisa and wine country which was awesome and worth the 7 or so hours away from Florence. There is a bar right near the Duomo in the Piazza del Duomo that was really fun and had amazing drinks. We also went on a midnight run to this bakery that only sells from like 11pm-3am and was so good. I can do recon if you love donuts.

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  9. The best tip I took for traveling with clothes was to ditch the accessories. I know, I love a great necklace, but it was SOO helpful. But what you do is instead of a white t-shirt with a fun necklace, you bring a fun bright shirt with a pattern on it. This will help you mix and match more things and if your clothes themselves don't require accessories, you will limit what you bring. I did bring a few scarves, because they serve a purpose. So I would suggest bright pants, colorful tops and mix and match as much as you can! Have fun!

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  10. Ahhh, some of my very favorite places! SO excited for you.
    I have yet to travel to Switzerland (it's high on my lust list)- however I can talk at LENGTHS about Italy & France.

    For the Italy portion of your trip, I would splurge on a great hotel in the best location in Rome- where it really matters, and save a bit in Sorrento. Sorrento is beautiful and charming everywhere- you will love it, but it's a great place to stay in a little b&b. I think your opinion of Rome will be strongly determined by where you stay.
    In Sorrento we stayed at Casa Correale (we were on a budget) and it was charming/ simple- located in a lemon grove walking distance from town/ the ocean. However, it is a bit hard to find- so if you do decide to book there, I will give you better directions than the elderly Italian gentleman gave me! lol
    As for Paris- on our last trip we stayed at La Tremoille which is in a beautiful part of Paris (right bank), literally steps to the Champs Élysées & all the fashion houses. Paris is super easy to get around (the metro is fantastic), so location is less important. I think on our next visit we will try to stay in St Germain - more trendy/ less old fashion/ fancy.
    Le Marais is a great historic district to walk around & look in beautiful home decor shops/ galleries/ small boutiques & eat an amazing falafel- however unlike the rest rest of Paris everything there is closed on Saturdays (it's the old Jewish quarter, so it's a different schedule than the rest of Paris). Oh, and all shops/ a large portion of restaurants are closed on Sundays in Paris. That's something most people don't realize when they are booking plans. I would suggest buying the book
    Ok, I could keep going- but it would probably be better to just email and I can send you all of our restaurant recommendations, etc- LCamarella@gmail.com




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  11. Florence is my favorite city that I've ever visited. Food is great. Quaint. Best Italian city to visit because it's less touristy but you get the real Italian experience. GREAT leather markets (bring money for bags!).

    The most important thing you MUST do is grab a bottle of wine and walk across the arno and up the hill to the Piazzale Michaelangelo at sunset (anyone will be able to tell you where this is). You get an AMAZING view of Florence. Also, going to the top of the Duomo is hard (its something like 360 steps I think) but the views are incredible.

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  12. Oh my goodness! How awesome!
    I am so excited to follow along on your journey because my husband and I are planning on going to Europe when he graduates from his MBA program in May 2014! One year!
    :) Safe travels!!

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  13. Oh so fun! I would love to go back! We did Bern and LOVED it. Not too touristy, charming, the bears! I loved it all!! The food wasn't as good as Italy or France, but it was still yummy! If you look in my archives from July 2010, I did recaps of our trip!

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  14. Yayee! I loved Paris!!! I toured Europe after college. So don't have much advice since everything I took fit into a backpack and I spelt in Hostels. Ha. I did go to back last year to Germany and the Netherlands, but no places you will be!

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  15. GAH Amazing!!!!!!

    Bern: I was in Montreux in 2010 and we did a small event in Bern...I was unable to attend, but everything about Switzerland is awesome!! Drink LOTS of wine, can not get it in the US.

    Florence: My all time fave! You must go to Santa Maria Novella for a fragrance...just do not look at the prices, just buy, trust me. (I wear Angel of Florence).

    Sorrento: STUNNING! Must go to the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria - so perfect.

    SO jealous, enjoy!!!

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  16. Wow!!! Congrats!! Yall are going to have a blast!!

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  17. I've been patiently waiting for this announcement! Invest in a cute versatile COMFY pair of shoes that you can wear everyday for long periods of time! And break those babies in! There's nothing more annoying than getting a blister on day 1.

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  18. how fun! a trip like this is on my bucket list...so I will live vicariously through you until I make it myself!

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  19. OMG you are going to have an incredible time my friend...there is nothing like Europe and it's a place I cannot wait to visit again. My best advice would be to bring 2-3 pairs of shoes MAX--they take up the most room and bring items you can mix and match easily. also think about converters for your small electrics and such, and bring WAY more memory cards for the camera than you'll ever think you'll need...they go quickly when you're capturing all that prettiness ;)

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  20. Yay!! Florence is my all time fav!! I have lots of recommendations so I will email you with those instead of typing them here. You are gonna love it!! So happy y'all are getting to go.

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  21. SO SO SO excited for you!

    Paris is one of my absolute favorite places. Just the rush of culture, creativity, romance, and independence I get when I've visited, it is such a high!

    My suggestions:
    Pain Vin Fromage is the cutest little Fondue restaurant near the Seine (off on a side street, can't remember the exact location but google will tell you). Seriously, I was there for a month and went 3x.

    If you do a boat tour (not necessary, but can be fun) do it at night. And don't do a dinner cruise, just the sightseeing one.

    Montmartre and Sacre Couer-- all sorts of artists set up in the market area of Montmartre which is to the side of Sacre Couer. So cute and if you want some little paintings to take home, this is your place (I bought a 4x6 that I used to hang in my office, but since I went back to school it is still in a box. Fail.)

    Notre Dame. Obviously the cathedral itself BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF YOUR ENTIRE VISIT make sure you touch Point Zero. It marks the center of the city for arrondisment measurement but legend has it, that if you touch point zero you will come back to Paris again some day. (I've been three times and you better believe I touch and photograph my foot on that gold marker each time).

    I could go on and on and on, but I think everyone has picked up the highlights.

    So incredibly jealous and so happy you are getting to take the trip of a lifetime!!!

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  22. Yay! When are you going? We will be heading to France in June! Of all those places, I've been to Florence and Rome and my advice is to eat ALL the gelato and get comfy shoes. Lots of pizza too. Do lots of touristy things but also be sure to just enjoy and revel in the romance of it all. It's totally cool to skip the museum and eat gelato next to the river instead. Get lost, that is always the best part.

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  23. This is so wonderful! Congratulations pretty girl! This is on my wish list someday too! I can't wait to hear all about it, as well as the planning!
    Whitley

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  24. How awesome! When are you guys going?!

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  25. o.m.gawd you are going to have the BEST time! Ok, Paris: plan an afternoon shopping on the Champs and stop in a restaurant for ice cream and the best whipped cream (seriously, its way better there); have coffee or hot chocolate at Le Deux Magots and people watch, maybe see a celeb; visit the Eiffel Tower more than once; Sacre Couer has an unbelievable view of the city; have a picnic in Luxembourg Gardens...and drink wine with every meal! :)

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  26. Ahh what an amazing trip!!! I've been to all of your destinations except Bern, and they are some of my favorite cities in the world! I just went to Paris in February and blogged all about it...seriously love that city. We live by Rick Steves' travel books and he's gotten us through most of Europe so far. Some practical tips: wear comfortable shoes, see the sights but take time to enjoy the culture, and wine is cheaper than water :)

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  27. AMAZING!!!!!

    Check out NFT travel guides. NFT stands for Not For Tourists -- it can help you hit up some Do Not Miss locations that might not be totally overrun with all of the other international visitors.

    Can't wait to hear how this all unfolds!

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  28. I would love to give input, but the time of year makes a big difference on how to pack and what things to see. When are you all going?

    XO

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  29. This is so exciting!!! When are you going? I'd say in Paris do a boat tour on the Seine! I really enjoyed that because you get to just sit back and enjoy the sights without feeling like a tourist trying to cram everything in!

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  30. So so exciting!!! Florence isn't a huge city but there is so much to see- make sure you take at least 2-3 days there. If you have a chance I say try to go to Cinque Terre- it's on the Italian coast and you just cannot beat the views and architecture it's the most beautiful place I've ever been!

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  31. I am so excited for you! You are going to literally fall in love with Italy and France. We did a big Italy/Paris trip exactly 2 years ago. My recaps for Rome, Florence, and Paris are here:
    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-rome-day-1.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-rome-day-2.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-rome-day-3.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-florence-day-1.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-florence-day-2.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/04/europe-recap-paris-day-1.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/05/europe-recap-paris-day-2.html

    http://www.virginia-belle.blogspot.com/2011/05/europe-recap-paris-day-3.html

    Also Rick Steves is a European travel genius. Stock up on his Italy and France books and podcasts. Have fun planning!

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