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Backpacking in Europe

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Backpacking in Europe - Page Text Content

S: Europe - Summer 2009

BC: ITALY: Cinque Terre, Milan, Trieste FRANCE: Paris, Carcassonne SPAIN: Barcelona, Donostia, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Santiago de Compostela, San Sebastián, Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada SWITZERLAND: Lake Lugano SLOVENIA: Piran, Bled, Ljubljana HUNGARY: Budapest


1: ITINERARY May 29 - 30: Cinque Terre, Italy May 31: Milan, Italy June 1 - 2: Paris, France June 3: Carcassonne, France June 4 - 7: Barcelona, Spain June 8 - 9: Donostia, Spain (San Sebastián) June 10 - 14: Madrid, Spain June 11: Day trip to Segovia, Spain June 13: Day trip to Toledo, Spain June 15 - 16: Santiago de Compostela, Spain June 17 - 18: Córdoba, Spain June 19 - 21: Sevilla, Spain June 22 - 23: Granada, Spain June 24: Legnano, Italy June 25: Lake Lugano, Switzerland June 26 - 27: Trieste, Italy June 28: Piran, Slovenia June 29 - 30: Lake Bled, Slovenia July 1 - 2: Ljubljana, Slovenia July 3 - 6: Budapest, Hungary July 7: HOME

2: Bye Mom and Dad! | After traveling with dad and mom for two weeks, it was strange to say bye to them! It was bittersweet though because we were about to start our amazing trip!

3: Hello Cinque Terre!

4: Can you believe that Sonali broke some marble? Some kids laughed at her! | Exploring the Five Lands of Cinque Terre

6: Corniglia

7: Corniglia sits on a cliff with the buildings barely hanging on. We loved it and walked down to the harbor through the small pathways in order to find a nice place to eat our lunch in the middle of the day. | Look Mom!

8: Sometimes when traveling, surprises happen. Either you can let them ruin your day, or you can work around them. After spending the previous day frantically searching for a hostel to stay in Cinque Terre, we woke up to the sounds of a torrential downpour. On a whim, we decided to leave for Milan one day earlier in hopes of salvaging the day. Luckily, our friend Ilaria was able to meet up with us and show us around some of the most beautiful churches in Europe, including Il Duomo.

9: Milan

10: Milan's Famous Duomo

12: Paris, France

13: Originally, we had considered Paris simply a transit city - a place to stop on the way to other cities. We had extremely low expectations and could not have been more surprised by the ambiance that has made Paris famous to travelers for generations. We will definitely go back there with more time!

14: Notre Dame

15: Exploring the area around Notre Dame was a ton of fun. There were tons of bookstalls along the Seine River and the surrounding buildings were gorgeous. It was a very relaxing place to have our Rick Steves headphones in to listen to his audio tour.

16: Sainte Chapelle | Considered the triumph of Gothic architecture, Sainte Chapelle’s stained glass is absolutely breathtaking. It was built by Louis IX to house the supposed crown of thorns. The stained glass tells stories from the Bible and covers the entire history of Christianity, although it is hard to see all of the pictures. We were amazed by the amount of workmanship that was put into every detail. The overall effect is overwhelming. We spent plenty of time gazing in awe at the stained glass and basking in the multicolored light.

18: Eiffel Tower

20: Sacre Coeur

21: We watched the sun set over the city with music in the background. It was the perfect end to a long day!

22: As soon as we arrived to Carcassonne, we were so exhausted from our long day in Paris that we accidentally fell asleep at the hostel. When we woke up in the evening, we realized that the castle was already closed. We were able to sneak into a back entrance and explore the perimeter of the external walls of the fortified city completely alone. It was an unforgettable experience!

23: Carcassonne

24: Barcelona | Barcelona is known as one of the best cities to simply wander around. Our favorite thing to do in Barcelona was probably shopping! This was the city where discovered our favorite store in Spain, Zara. We also realized how much Barcelona had changed since we had visited years ago!

25: Mercat | We bought delicious cherries! | Placa de catalunya There was megastore called El Corte Inglés at one of the corners of Placa de Catalunya that we would stop at to get delicious yoghurt drinks that we would have for breakfast! We miss them in the U.S.

26: In Barcelona, we realized how enjoyable a café con leche could be! And so began our trip-long addiction...

27: TAPAS | Tapas on Carrer de la Mercé in the Barri Gotic: Barcelona boasts great tascas – colorful tapas bars. The neighborhood's dark, the regulars are rough-edged, and you'll get a glimpse of a crusty Barcelona from before the affluence hit. La Pulperia has a octopus - tender and spiced with garlic and chili powder. La Plata keeps things simple with extremely large plates of sardines and small glasses of keg wine. | Steve Lercher

29: La Catedral de Barcelona | Most of the construction on Barcelona’s vast cathedral took place during the glory days of the Catalan nation. The faade was humble, so in the 19th century, the proud local bourgeoisie redid it in a more ornate Neo-Gothic style. Though the cathedral is Gothic and supported by buttresses, it has smooth outside walls. That’s because the supporting buttresses are on the inside, providing walls for 28 richly ornamented chapels. The small chapels are supported by local guilds and show great wealth. An interesting tidbit is that the first Native Americans brought to Europe by Columbus were baptized in one of these chapels.

30: Parc Guell

31: When we went to Parc Guell in 2002, the only thing that we remember is how hot it was and the popsicles that we had when we were there. It was amazing to be able to go there again with adult eyes to really enjoy the beauty that the part has to offer with hours of time to wander.

36: San Sebastián | Our hostel was in the main square, Plaza Constitución. | San Sebastián is a great place to enjoy the beach and relax. Although it doesn’t have many tourist attractions, it is an adorable town to wander around and get lost in. We tried some Basque tapas (pintxos) and treasured the few moments of sun that we had the two days that we were there (there wasn’t much!).

38: Madrid | Nos encantan churros y chocolate! | Madrid is the hub of Spain. Located in the center of the country, we got there during the middle of our trip. We went on day trips to Segovia and Toledo and spent some time exploring the city. Shilpa met up with us and got to take part of the adventure that is getting pick-pocketed on the metro in Europe. Our hostel was only a couple of blocks from Puerta del Sol, and we had the most insane, vibrant, and loud hostel owners in all of Madrid. All in all, it was a great journey!

41: Temple of Debod | It's pretty amazing that in the center of Madrid they have an actual Egyptian temple.

43: Segovia

46: Toledo

48: Toledo

50: Santiago de Compostela

51: Santiago de Compostela is located in the northwestern province of Galicia. The remains of St. James are located here, and for this reason, it is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the world. Everywhere you look, you see pilgrims carrying their grungy packs and reveling in the completion of the long journey. Although we did not complete the pilgrimage, we had a great time in Santiago de Compostela. We had a relaxing time drinking coffee and making our own dinner in the hostel kitchen. The historic portion of the city is enchanting without the crowds of other Spanish towns.

53: The park behind El Pobo Gallego was one of our favorites in Europe!

54: Cordoba

56: La Mezquita Visiting La Mezquita is a dream come true for us! When we first began planning our trip, this was the first place that we talked about! Trust us it lived up to our expectations! You don’t really realize how huge it is until you are inside and the amount of arches is almost disorienting as you wander through.


66: Sevilla

68: Granada

70: Grenada

72: Legnano



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Sheiphali Gandhi
  • By: Sheiphali G.
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