Funbi Sowande: We have our fun loving and vibrant Assistant Editor as our guest nomad today! Having spent 6 months for an internship in Brazil, she made a self promise to make seeing the world a necessity. “Travel broadens the mind and widens your horizons” is her all time favorite travel quote and she is ready to widen her horizons one country at a time. Read all about her Euroventure! Instagram- @thefunbi
My amazing internship experience in Brazil, last year, was an eye opener for me and I promised myself to visit a new place every year. I began planning around December 2014 (yes I was taking my promise seriously!) and decided to do the Euro tour and visit three countries; France, Spain and Italy. I had only 10 days to explore these countries and had to make the best of every moment. This compelled me to prepare a checklist, timeline and a budget which helped me organize my vacation from start to finish.
VISAS: Obtaining the Schengen visa was first on my list and I applied at the VFS office via France. If you are going Euro tripping like me, you will be required to apply either at the VFS office of the country of first port of entry or where you are having your longest stay.
FLIGHTS: I traveled via Emirates because “Euro tripping on a budget”. There was a 3-hour lay over in Dubai and I got to my point of entry, Paris, super exhausted. Of course there is the Air France, British Airways or KLM option. I traveled in summer and Emirates was the cheapest flight I could get!
We used Airbnb for accommodation in all the countries and believe me when I say it’s the best thing since sliced bread. You should check out their website for more information. It is a platform where locals put up their homes or rooms in a home for a short let stay. Please be careful and ensure you only stay with hosts that have 4-5 star reviews. People have had scary experiences with their Airbnb hosts.
For my movement across these countries, I settled with EURail and this was the best decision I made. This train service allows non-EU citizens travel though Europe with a single pass. For an Euro tour, I will definitely recommend traveling via train over flying. It’s the perfect way to view more places. Though we shuttled between 3 countries, we saw over 20 different cities and the scenery was amazing. Imagine relaxing in a comfortable chair and spending the entire afternoon drinking with the South of France in view…..sigh! Besides, trains are way more comfortable than planes.
My port of entry was Paris but I had to meet up with my travel buddies, 3 of them, in Venice. I flew to Venice that evening via EasyJet and settled in nicely. Our apartment in Venice was in a perfect location, right by the Grand Canal! I woke up to an amazing view each day and waved at other tourists passing in front of the house on water taxis each morning, lol. Venice gives that feeling like you traveled back in time.
Being exhausted from all the flying, we did not get up to anything on the first day. We just chilled by the steps of St Lucia train station, took some pictures and just observed our home for the next few days. After that, we had drinks at an Irish bar and called it a night. Sleep was very essential and we needed to start the next day early; so much to do, so little time.
We woke up ready, full of energy and our first stop was one of the restaurants near the apartment. We had a late breakfast of sandwich and white wine (It’s never too early for alcohol when you are on holiday). We had done some research (hello TripAdvisor!) on Venice and the list of things to do and our next stop was St Mark’s square. We walked for over 40 minutes in the scorching sun just to get there. Blame Google maps plus ignorance because we could have used the water taxi service. Anyways, St Mark’s Square was definitely worth the 40 minutes walk in the sun. The architecture of the buildings in the square was simply amazing! The square houses St Mark’s Basilica, the bell tower, the clock tower, a public library, the Doges Palace and an array of restaurants. We began with a tour of the Basilica. It’s architecture and design is so spectacular words really can’t describe this place.
Right after the tour of Basilica, it was time for our Gondola ride. You CANNOT go to Venice and NOT take a Gondola ride, like what’s the point of your trip? The ride cost us €80(N20,000) which we split four ways and it was totally worth it. The Gondolas do not take the same route the water taxis take, so you have a private tour of the entire bay/ Grand Canal area.
The ride is so calming and relaxing, I barely paid attention to what the tour guide was saying, lovers would definitely enjoy this ride. There’s a myth about eternal love for lovers who kiss on a gondola under the bridge ….sigh 🙂 . After the ride we decided to see the 360 view of Venice from the bell tower. This cost us €7 (N 1,750) each.
According to Trip Advisor, the square is a sight to behold when it’s dark and we decided to wait till to see the square at night. Now, waiting for darkness to fall in Europe during the summer requires patience, so we had a snack from one of the food places around and sat in a park nearby for a while (till insects decided to hinder our greatness). We basically just roamed around the square till it nighttime. Unfortunately all our phones were off at this point and we couldn’t get photos. Trip Advisor was right! Its indeed beautiful at night.
After our long and adventurous day we decided to head back to the apartment and we got lost while at it. I think getting lost in Europe is definitely a part of the experience. We had no phones for directions. When we finally figured out our way, we stopped at one of the restaurants around the Grand Canal for dinner; seafood pasta and wine (I think I drank a glass of wine or two everyday during this trip).
I was in Europe, I had to behave like an European right? We were so tired from all the walking but we were not going to miss a night out and about town! We got dressed and ready to hit the club but ended up at a cocktail truck and had drinks with other tourists till about 3am in the morning.
The next day, which was the last day in Venice, was scheduled to be beach day in an Island called Lido di Venezia. We had not seen the Doges’ Palace the previous day and we decided to head to St Mark’s square before hitting the beach. Entry was €18 (N 4,500). You see this palace ehn, no damn words!We saw the prisons, the armory, several waiting rooms and chambers and of course the courtyard. Did I mention that there was less walking this day as we bought water taxi tickets? No more long walking hours, the Lord be praised! Unfortunately by the time we got to Lido, it was dark and people were already leaving the beach. Our bikinis and shorts could not waste so we hung around for about an hour. We chilled by the beach, took some pictures before leaving, had a few drinks and took leisurely strolls around Lido. It was our last night, and we were going to split up the next day (sobs), so we had drinks at the same Irish bar and then headed back to the house to hangout. I decided to lay by the edge of the Canal and just enjoy the ambiance till I was ready to go in. This is one of the many advantages of staying by the Canal you can just chill and gaze into the waters, have drinks, stare at the stars etc lol.
*Naijanomads Note : Watch out for part 2 of her Euroventure!