Insane 10 Day Eurotrip Itinerary – Part I

Earlier this year my best friend Amelia and I found cheap (I’m talking less than $300) flights to Europe and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’d already been to Barcelona but it was the cheapest city to fly into, and Amelia hadn’t been yet so we decided to just do a quick stop in Barcelona before heading off to see more of Europe. We did 4 cities in 10 days. Let me repeat that. FOUR cities in TEN days! I figured I’d highlight some of the mentionable moments and tips for those crazy enough to attempt such a trip.

FIRST STOP: BARCELONA

We landed in Barcelona late at night and found our way to our Airbnb, which had approximately 3 million stairs to our flat. However it was adorable with a little terrace looking over the alleyway and the sweetest Airbnb host to give us a rundown of the flat and things to do in Barcelona, along with the yummiest tomato chips. We were exhausted and starving after our 11-hour flight and right outside our door was a little restaurant called Casa Lolea. Boy did we luck out by stumbling on this place because it honestly had the BEST sangria I’ve ever had. We wanted to order what the locals would so the server suggested the Catalan Tomato Bread (pan con tomate). You cut a tomato in half and then rub it on a slice of bread and then drizzle with olive oil. It was good but not as good as the sangria. We tried to go back the next night but they only had a few tables and didn’t have room for us.

CASA LOLEA

The next day was a doozy. We started with the Runner Bean free walking tour of the Gothic Quarter. I highly recommend free walking tours in any city you’re visiting. First of all, they’re free! Well you just tip them what you think they deserve. They give you a great overview of the city you’re in, share the history and fun secrets and you get to meet other people traveling as well. We started in Placa Reial just off La Rambla. Look how adorable.

We took a stroll through the Gothic Quarter and learned a lot about the history of the city and the reason for the difference in city structure and culture. I loved the gargoyles atop some of the buildings. We saw the roman columns, walked under the cool bridge and were exposed to some of the aftermath of war. 10 out of 10 would recommend. I had done the Gaudi walking tour on a different trip and would also recommend that. We saw Gaudi on our own on this trip.

So after the free walking tour we did some more walking. The taxis were on strike blocking off a road in the middle of the city while we were there so we had no other choice but to WALK everywhere. So we walked to Sagrada Familia which is grand and beautiful but also very crowded with tourists and under construction. I wonder if it’ll ever be finished. And then we tried to take an uber but after getting canceled on 3 times by the only 3 ubers in the city we just started walking to Park Güell, which is uphill at the top of the city. Park Güell is this beautifully weird park that Catalan artist/architect Antoni Gaudi built. Its my kind of funky weird art park. It’s a MUST SEE if you’re in Barcelona.

Park Güell
Casa Batlló

By this point our feet were so tired we finally attempted to figure out the bus. Which was super easy after I downloaded an app and we should have done it 20,000 steps earlier. We made it back to our flat and yelped the nearest restaurant to get paella. I won’t let you know which one it was because we were SUPER not impressed with the food or sangria so I would not recommend. This is when we tried to go back to Casa Lolea for more sangria but they were so packed we couldn’t fit.

the BEST sangria

The last day in Barcelona we only had a half-day so we decided to check out the Picasso Museum. Which was surprisingly interesting. I mean, Picasso is world famous but most of the museum was his art before his strange shape people paintings. Who knew he was good at all types of painting? I especially loved the pigeon paintings – look them up. Unfortunately photography is prohibited in the museum so I have nothing to show for our visit but trust me and check it out.  Up next… BUDAPEST.

Insane 10 Day Eurotrip Itinerary – Part II

BUDAPEST

our hidden treasure chest

We arrived in Budapest pretty late so we headed straight to our Airbnb which looked super sketchy from the lobby but the flat itself was adorable! We searched for the closest restaurant and there happened to be one directly below our flat, named Puder. It was DELCIOUS. Amelia ordered a pork dish which she claims was top 5 best meals of her life and I got pasta (even though we were headed to Italy shortly) and I’m glad I did because it was divine. We also ordered “nachos” which happened to be Doritos with cheese wiz dipping sauce. We just laughed. We also ordered mulled wine which tasted like the holidays and warmed up our insides.

Magical view from our flat.
Puder – notice the “nachos”

We were blocks away from the Central Market so we decided to check that out first since it was on all the lists of places to visit. It was in this huge building with an adorable Hungarian roof. I think the market is way more packed during warmer months but it was nice to walk around and see all the paprika, trinkets and more paprika. We went across the street for breakfast at a little café called Ambers. Ambers had the BEST croissants I’ve ever had in my life. So much that we came back the next day for more.

Ambers

Right in front of Ambers was a Hop On Hop Off stop so we bought bus passes. This was the best purchase because it covers two days and you get to see all the touristy spots without paying for taxis and can go at your own pace (note: there are no ubers in Budapest). The first day we did the whole route and mapped out where we wanted to hop off and what we wanted to save for the second day. Our highlights from that day were Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, the castle, the Parliament building and the shoes on the river. It was snowing while we were visiting so walking around Fishermans Bastion felt like we had stepped into a fairy tale. We also were freezing our butts off. I put my hand warmers in my boots so my toes wouldn’t fall off.

Fishermans Bastion

We stopped around Fashion Street and tried chimney cakes, which were like big round churros. Nom. Our bus pass also came with a boat tour so we ran to the river to catch the last boat of the night. We didn’t really know what to expect but our bus price was worth just this boat ride. We were on a large boat with only about 15 other people. Most of the other patrons stayed downstairs because it was enclosed and it was freezing but Amelia and I took our glasses of champs and roughed the cold to experience the most epic view of the Parliament Building lit up at night. It was exquisite. And just as we were passing the Parliament Building the George Ezra song Budapest came on and it was truly magical. This was the moment I fell in love with Budapest. We didn’t really know much about Budapest before we visited and kind of randomly chose it as one of our destinations but it was by far our favorite stop on our insane 10 day tour.

The next day was our “spa day” at Szechenyi, the most famous thermal bath in the City of Baths. It was quite an experience. I’m glad we checked it out. It was pretty expensive and weird. If you’re going I recommend bringing your own towel and shoes because they’ll charge you an arm and a leg to rent some and they’re required. You’ll have to pay your entrance fee and a fee to rent a locker and they were out of lockers by the time we got there so we had to rent a whole cabin. There are SEVERAL indoor baths that look like regular swimming pools and some that are fancy but the big attraction is the outdoor bath, which looks like you’re taking a bath with a thousand strangers in a castle. It was below freezing while we were there so putting your towel on a rack and running to the bath was quite the experience but the baths were warm and supposedly have lots of natural healing qualities or something. I don’t know. We just went for the gram. We did see a group of older gentlemen playing chess in the bath and Amelia says “omgosh look, water chess nuts” lol!

Szechenyi
Rub a dub dub…500 people in a tub.

After the baths we hopped on our bus and wanted to check out New York Café because it’s on all the lists of things to see and do in Budapest. So we walked in, saw how beautiful and fancy it was and saw the prices and the long wait to get a table and walked out. Well, at least we saw it. Then we went to this little pub across the street and had another AMAZING meal. Seriously, Hungary has incredible food. Our waiter brought some pickled vegetables to eat along with our meals and those were almost the best part of the meal!

We wanted to check out some of the ruin pubs. Budapest has this whole district of bars in the old Jewish quarter that were created out of old run down buildings of which many were destroyed after World War II and had just been sitting since. Instead of demolishing them, they created funky bars and nightclubs. We stepped in to Mazel Tov, which was more of a restaurant than a bar but it was GORGEOUS. We also stopped by Instant, which was epic with a tree in the middle but it was really early in the evening so nobody was there so we moved on. We wanted to visit the most famous ruin bar, Szimpla Kert. They were having an art show in the downstairs area when we arrived. We grabbed a few beers and checked out the art and the funky building. This bar was HUGE! Every room was extremely different but so funky and fun! We’re talking baby doll heads on top of bowling pins, weird. We settled in a cute nook of a room upstairs and decided that we had one last Hungarian tradition we need to try before we left; shots of Unicum and Palinka. Everyone said we HAD to try it. We asked the bartender what flavor she recommended and said something disgusting like bubble gum so we certainly didn’t order that flavor. We went with something more mild like cherry but it was still disgusting. But we did it! When in Rome! Then we had a lovely drunk walk home with a stop for noodles. We learned that there’s a large Chinese population in Budapest because Hungary was the first European country to offer visa-free travel and easy immigration to the Chinese in the 80s and 90s, so there’s a lot of great Chinese food options in Budapest.

Szimpla Kert
adorable Airbnb

Tootles Budapest. Next stop… ITALY.

Insane 10 Day Eurotrip Itinerary – Part III

VENICE

Venice canals

Our next destination was Venice, and what a perfect place to experience my first time in Italy. The town was so picturesque and straight out of a movie. We arrived in the early afternoon so the view from our top floor flat balcony was unbelievable.  I immediately started blasting That’s Amore. Our top priority was pizza. We walked to St. Marks Square and stumbled upon a cute pizza place. To my surprise, one of the items on the menu was pizza patatosa which sounded an awful lot like pizza with French fries so I clearly had to order it! And it was exactly that. And it was amazing. After dinner we found another little wine bar and had some delicious Chianti.

French fries on PIZZA!

Day two in Venice was the most colorful day of my life. We took a ferry to Burano, a little island where every building is painted a different bright color and it was truly a rainbow experience. We took the first ferry over so the island wasn’t crowded at all, and allowed us to sneak photos as if we were the only people on the island. We got more pizza for lunch because why not? We went for a walk with our pizza which was a horrible idea because the birds started to swarm. At one point we hid in a tiny alley because we were afraid for our lives. I could see the headlines now; “birds kill basic tourists because they insisted on photos with pizza and colorful houses”. But we got the shot. 🙂

That evening, back in Venice we yelped a restaurant close to our flat that looked decent. So we mapped it and upon arrival we realized the restaurant was no longer in business. We were pretty far from the main town center so we just wandered down sketchy alleyways until we found a place to eat. We stumbled upon this little place that only had about 5 tables but had two patrons so we figured we’d give it a shot. And thank goodness we did because it was DELICIOUS. I ordered the seafood pasta and Amelia had Carbonara. At one point, Amelia had gone to the restroom so I checked my phone and I had a DM from my friend Christina that saw on my story that we were in Venice and recommended a restaurant. I looked at the name of the restaurant and then the name on the menu and then laughed! She was recommending the restaurant we were in! Taverna Scalinetto is a must if you like good food and great wine. I showed the server because I needed someone to share in the moment and Amelia was in the restroom! She laughed with me. Good sport. After dinner we stocked up on Haribo gummy candies and watched Friends on our projector screen in our Airbnb.

After seeing some of the other sites, Rialto bridge, the leather shops, the gondolas it was off to our next destination; Florence!