My mom, my husband, and I headed to Europe to join my younger daughter Danielle, who had just finished her study abroad. She’s now very fluent in Spanish, which came in very handy since we definitely encountered a decent number of people in Spain that didn’t speak English (luckily the same wasn’t true in Italy).
Jade and Noah didn’t come on the trip because Jade was absolutely not interested in a vacation filled with random sightseeing, and we knew Noah would be bored too. We have a big extended-family cruise planned for January, so they have that trip to look forward to.
Anyway, here are some details of the trip and pictures. It was hard to choose just this many!
The first couple of days were spent in Madrid visiting some of the spots that Danielle had already seen and loved.
- We started out at Palacio Real, a very fancy palace. Had to wait in a pretty long line for it (an hour and a half in the sun), but luckily this was the only site we really had to wait for on our trip.
- We then met at a local mall and did a little shopping before we met Danielle’s host mom.
- We also visited several gardens, including the one in pictures below that had peacocks!
- Our Vrbo apartment had LOTS of stairs, as did all of Europe. Basically you should do some serious training on a stairmaster to visit Europe.
- We took a cable car ride to get some cool views of the city and visited an old castle at the top.
- Then we took a tour of the city that focused on architect Gaudi’s work and visited La Sagrada Familia, a gorgeous Basilica. And later that evening, we took a tour of Park Guell, another of Gaudi’s famous sites.
- On a whim, we ended up visiting this cool old elaborately decorated hospital–we loved it so much that we ended up going to a random choral concert that night just so we could see the auditorium that the architect had also designed.
- We also stopped in a bookstore, and I had to get a pic in the middle grade section, of course. 🙂
- Our Vrbo in Venice was absolutely gorgeous–by far the nicest place we stayed, and it had an incredible balcony overlooking the lagoon.
- The vaporetto boat rides are such a fun way to travel around Venice! As soon as we got in town, we took the vaporetto down the Grand Canal and listened to Rick Steves’ audio tour.
- The next day we went to Murano and spent the day shopping at the glass shops. I could basically have bought everything in Murano–I am in love with glass! We also watched a glass blowing demonstration and watched the artist make a horse.
- Then we spent a day just wandering Venice (with the help of Rick Steves) and seeing all the canals and fun shops with displays of masks and old-fashioned Venetian clothing. St. Mark’s Basilica is especially cool because of all the different styles and materials that were used. I especially love the cool multi-colored columns!
Rome (and Florence)
- Our final stop was Rome (including a quick day-trip to Florence). Our Vrbo here also had a nice balcony–though not quite as gorgeous as the Venice one–and LOTS of very steep stairs! We were just around the corner from an open-air market, which was pretty cool.
- We splurged on a day-long private tour of Rome with a driver for parts and skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. It was expensive, but it was well worth it to get all the sites in and to have a guide tell us about everything.
- Since Danielle is a landscape architecture major, she was excited to visit some gardens she’s studied. We did a trip to Villa d’Este, which was absolutely gorgeous! One of the highlights of our trip.
- We then did the day trip to Florence and booked a visit to Villa Medici of Fiesole and Boboli Gardens (neither of which really lived up to Villa d’Este, but it was still cool for Danielle to see them–and Boboli suffered from the fact that it was very hot that day and there were lots of open spaces with little shade).
- Our final day in Rome, we used Rick Steves to visit any sites we might have missed, including the Spanish Steps and the Keats-Shelley Museum, which has a gorgeous library!
- Our flight from Rome took off two hours late because of weather in Philly, so we ended up missing our connecting flight to Chicago. Our bags did not miss the flight, which meant we were stuck without them for the night and had to do a quick run to Target to buy some essentials. We also ended up re-routed to Milwaukee or we would have had to wait another day–but that meant that when we got home, we had to drive an extra hour and a half or so to pick up our bags at O’Hare.
- We figured as long as we were in Philly, we might as well visit the Liberty Bell. We also saw the rest of Independence National Historic Park, but only from the outside, since we hadn’t booked a tour.