Day 263 to Day 281
10.10.2013 - 28.10.2013 16 °C
Lake Como – Bellagio
We caught an overnight train from Budapest to Zürich to meet Leah’s mother at the main train station in Zürich. We then spent a long day travelling on three different trains throughout Switzerland and Italy to reach our destination for the next four days: Bellagio, Lake Como. We arrived at dusk so we couldn’t make out all of our surroundings; however, from what we could see Bellagio seemed like a great little town. The 2 of us then went and did some grocery shopping; walking back to the apartment we got drenched has Bellagio saw some of its heaviest rainfall this year. In the morning we arose to the most amazing views one could hope for. Our balcony overlooked Lake Como and the snow-capped mountains in the distance; it was an amazing sight first thing in the morning. We spent our time in Bellagio going for walks, eating some amazing local food, and shopping in the small boutique shops that were everywhere. It was Rein’s birthday whilst we were in Bellagio and we enjoyed a lovely dinner at a restaurant in one of the quaint little side streets.
Cinque Terre – Monterosso
After a relaxing four days in Bellagio we moved on to Monterosso, one of the five towns in the Cinque Terre along Italy’s coast. Even in mid-October we could see why so many people would venture here in the summer, the beaches were beautiful and the scenery amazing. On a beautiful sunny day we hiked part of the Cinque Terre from Monterosso to Vernazza. This took about two hours and in the heat (even in mid-October) it was hot work! Although stopping now and then to admire the incredible views made it more than worth it. Henry was the lucky one, getting to admire the views from Rein’s backpack! Of course during our time in Italy we pretty much ate pizza and/or gelato every day, both amazing!
On our final full day in Monterosso we had planned to catch a train to the end of the Cinque Terre, La Spezia; however, in going to the train station to buy tickets we inadvertently found out that there would be an Italy wide train strike from 9pm that day until 9pm the next day. Given we were meant to leave on a train at 7am the next morning we decided to leave Monterosso early; however, the only train we could get was in half an hour! Let’s just say that is the fastest any of us has run back to the apartment, packed, and run back to the train station, it was a very stressful time to say the least!
So after leaving Monterosso by Midday and being very stressed for a few hours we arrived in Nice, France. We arrived at 7pm at night with no accommodation but were soon able to find a decent hotel thanks to Leah’s mother. We dumped our luggage and went out for Chinese, as you do in France. The next day our train to Marseille did not leave until 1pm so we did some quick site seeing of Nice in the morning.
Upon arrival in Marseille we found our apartment, which was a very nice art deco style apartment on the 4th floor (annoying for carry our luggage to!). The man helping us check in spoke no English but we managed to sign language everything so we were fine!
Our time in Marseille was spent wandering through markets, walking along the harbour and visiting Notre Dame de la Garde, a large cathedral on the highest hill near the centre of town. We also ventured on a day trip to Cassis to see the town’s famous white cliffs. We were not disappointed; the cliffs were incredible, as was the small seaside town. We enjoyed gelato in the sun on the beach after our hike to the white cliffs.
We spent slightly longer in Paris than everywhere else, understandably. We had rented an apartment in the 18th arrondissement which contains the Montmartre district and Sacré-Cœur, A Basilica built on the highest point in the city.
Whilst in Paris it was Leah’s mum’s birthday and to celebrate we all headed to the Champs Élysée and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t go up the Tower, but we enjoyed a small snack whilst taking in the view of the Tower. That night Leah made a beautiful birthday bouillabaisse which we washed down with French champagne. We spent another of our days shopping at the large (large is an understatement really) shopping centre, the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Whilst it wasn’t Rein’s cup of tea, Leah and her mother enjoyed shopping and spending money!
One of the main things Leah’s mum wanted to do in Paris was visit the palace in Versailles. We did so on quite a cold and windy day but the palace did not disappoint. Before arriving we thought it would be a palace and some gardens but for those of you who haven’t been there it is massive (mostly designed by King Louis XIV) on roughly 1766 acres of immaculate gardens and forests. It was a beautiful place to walk around and admire, although you possibly would need more than the almost four hours we spent there to fully take in the palace.
After a fun-filled three weeks we said goodbye to Leah’s mum early one morning at the train station and we were once again on our own!