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First Timers in Italy and Germany - 10/28/17 - 11/7/17

Thank you to everyone who answered my questions prior to my trip and also everyone who has ever posted on this website. The forums were INVALUABLE in preparing. I’m pretty tightly wound and this being my first time just traveling with my boyfriend (who has never been to Europe), I was nervous how it would turn out. As it was, the trip was absolutely amazing and life changing!

We spent 3 amazing days in Rome in an AirBnB near the Trevi fountain (highly recommend it, the hosts were superb and the location couldn’t be beat). We used the first day to orient ourselves and acclimate to the city. The 2nd day we did the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine Hill tour with Walks of Italy. Very well done and seeing the Colosseum right as it opened was amazing. The following day we did the Vatican Tour (also through Walks of Italy). It was abnormally crowded for a Monday in late October, but it turns out we were there the week of All Saint’s Day, which is apparently the equivalent of fall break time in Italy. Afterwards my boyfriend and I walked up to the Janiculum Terrace near the Vatican. The sun had already set and it was a steep climb, but we made the trek and as we were about to head to Trastevere for dinner, my boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed! It was perfect and the night time view of the city was amazing. I’m still on cloud nine!!

The next day we traveled to Florence by train (booked through Trainline.eu) and it was very smooth. I had a large checked bag, but everything worked out. We LOVED Florence. I don’t know what it was (maybe I was still on a high from the proposal), but we both just really connected with the city. We stayed at Hotel Dei Macchiaioli, which I recommend. We climbed the Duomo, saw the David and also went up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which was probably my favorite part of our whole trip. We got the most beautiful panoramic photos of Florence from up there. Other highlights were the Mayday Club (we went both nights we were there) and the Scuola Del Cuoio (leatherwork school connected to Santa Croce).

Our last stop in Italy was (you guessed it) Venice. Also took the train here, which went smoothly (however was a little more crowded than our trip to Florence). We also stayed here 2 nights. Our hotel was the Boscolo Venezia as my dad was kind enough to gift us some of his hundreds of thousands of Marriott points. It was further away from St. Mark’s but in the end I appreciated that because we got to spend more time in the “real” Venice. We didn’t have anything planned for Venice so we were really just playing it by ear. The first day we just wandered down to St. Mark’s and got our bearings (and got used to having to walk over bridges and take boats to get everywhere). The 2nd day we went to the Doge’s Palace and also went across the canal to San Giorgio Maggiore and took the elevator up their bell tower and the views were STUNNING!

The next day we took a flight from Venice to Munich. I was very stressed out about getting to the airport on time (we were going to take the Alilaguna) and it was going to be from the last stop at Madonna Del’Orto and all I read were people saying the boats were full, infrequent, etc. We were taking the first one as our flight was at 9:30 AM. Around the time we should have been picked up a boat came by that was full and said there would be another one in 10 minutes. Thankfully, that ended up being the case and everyone at our stop got on. Whatever time we lost in waiting we made up in the trip…our driver was really motoring to the airport!

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21 posts

Munich was incredible. My (now) fiancé and I were really looking forward to this leg of the trip and it did not disappoint. And neither did their public transit! The CTA in Chicago is always a disappointment, but imagine going from German transit to the CTA…the difference was astounding. Our first day we went to the Viktualmarket beer garden which was incredible! We stayed at Hotel Am Markt so we were just around the corner. We had many a beer there. But we also made our way to the BMW museum, which was very cool (my fiancé has one and I thought this would be something cool that he would enjoy). That night we stopped by Hofbrahaus, but literally walked in, were hit with a wall of heat and BO, did a loop and left. Definitely not worth it as there are so many better brauhauses in the area (Augustiner outside of the city center for one, which we visited the next day). Our 2nd day we went to Dachau which was very sobering (with the exception of the family that took pictures in the archway of the guard house and let their children run wild outside the museum…oh and the woman who took a picture inside the gas chamber). Definitely worth the visit but allow yourself a lot of time. This was the tail end of our trip and we were just so exhausted that we ended up staying for 3 or so hours, but we really could have stayed for 5. As we were leaving it began to rain and it didn’t let up for the rest of the day/the next morning. Our last full day in Munich we went to the Residenz which was a nice way to spend the morning. It was quiet and beautiful to visit. We used the free audio guide provided by the museum.

All in all, our trip was amazing. We had wonderful weather until the last 2 days in Munich and each city was incredible. I feel like now that we’ve seen Venice, we probably won’t go back, but we will definitely return to all of the others, especially Munich because I don’t think we gave it a fair shake since it was at the end of our trip and cold/rainy. We’ll just have to go back again at time of year when it will be warm! And a word of advice to anyone like me who is younger and just naturally nervous/a planner…go for it! I was so nervous about going, but I feel so much more confident in my traveling abilities now and have a new appreciation for the Italian and German cultures. Truly an unforgettable trip! Sorry for the length of the post, but thank you if you read the whole thing! So many other things I want to include, but I’ll save that for another time ☺

Posted by
33123 posts

Oh go ahead.... include, include!!
Nice that you said, "Yes". I hope he wasn't too worried. Sounds like a perfect setting - both of you will remember it for the rest of your hopefully long lives together.... congrats.

But seriously now, more please. Lots more.

Posted by
6361 posts

Thanks for your delightful post, and Congratulations!

Posted by
3879 posts

Your trip report is a great read! Thanks for sharing. And congratulations on the special memory in Rome!

Posted by
3931 posts

Congratulations on both your engagement and successful DIY trip. Like others, would like to read more. Don't worry about boring people. Those of us who like to read others trip reports appreciate the time you take to post. Now you can start planning your honeymoon.

Posted by
11350 posts

I can feel the excitement about your engagement but also of your enthusiam for traveling abroad and experiencing new things. Best wishes to you both.

Posted by
4978 posts

Glad you had a great trip. Love long and prosper!!

Posted by
5353 posts

Congratulations on your engagement!

Rome is by far my favourite city, been many times and back for more in February and I would definitely recommend a return to Munich in the summer, the beer gardens are thriving and a swim in the lakes nearby cannot be beat. Two of my favourite places in Europe.

Posted by
2252 posts

Oh my gosh~ what a great trip report, headed by the very romantic marriage proposal. This was so much fun and such a pleasure to read...more, please? And congratulations to you both on your upcoming life together. I bet this is only the beginning of a great adventure.

Posted by
5258 posts

Congratulations on your engagement!
What an lovely memory!

Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip!

Posted by
2460 posts

Nice report. I like that it serves as a good example of a fun trip with 2-3 night stays.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you all for your kind replies! This was our first really big trip together and I think overall it went off without a hitch (all thanks to this community and their endless advice).

I'm happy to tell you more about the trip! I know I left out a lot of info about where we ate (soooooo many great places), so I can let you know some of our highlights. But what other kind of details would people be interested in hearing???

Posted by
1052 posts

I loved your report too. Almost tearing up from thinking about the special memories you will always have. I identify (most of us do) with your need to over-plan, I'm just the same. But you still managed to relax enough to wander through Venice (unlike my only experience where I had everything booked and prepaid, and my family was too sick to do any of it.) I would like to hear any more details of special unplanned moments, your packing learnings, and any gotchas that didn't go quite right but still worked out, when you have time.

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21 posts

Thank you, Nelly! I stayed home from work today (feeling under the weather) and what a better way to recuperate than to reminisce about our trip!

One highlight that I failed to mention in my original post was our second day in Rome in the evening. We found that while we were on our trip we really only ate two meals a day (as one was usually enough to tide us over for a better part of the day). We had a large lunch that day (probably due to all the walking on our Colosseum/Forum tour) and after we went back out in the evening we found that we weren't terribly hungry. We walked all around and made stops at the Spanish Steps & Piazza del Popolo. On our way back we decided to stop at Cremeria Manaforte (at Rick's suggestions), which was amazing!! We ate our gelato on the steps of the fountain in front of the Pantheon. Not wanting to end our evening, we ended up on the patio of Tempio Bar, directly north across the plaza from the Pantheon and shared a liter of wine and some apparel spritzes. We stayed for several hours. It was a clear night and you could see the moon rising and we were even treated to some accordion music on the plaza. Truly unforgettable.

Another unplanned highlight was our last night in Venice. We didn't have any specific plans for our meals in Venice so we just wandered. Since we were in a less touristy area of the city, we weren't coming across many restaurants (especially ones that weren't just to go counters, etc.). We ended up walking in to a random square and finding Ristorante Upupa, which was still relatively empty for the evening. I had spaghetti frute al mar (I think that's the Italian name for it), so spaghetti with clams, mussels and shrimp. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip!

As for things that could have gone better, after we arrived in Florence we decided to walk with our large luggage all the way to our hotel. We decided to take the most direct route which took us through the center of town....that was a mistake on our part because all of the sidewalks were extremely narrow and there were LOTS of cobblestones. I was exhausted by the time we got to the hotel and felt like my teeth were still chattering from my suitcase bouncing over the cobblestones the whole way. We did walk back to the train station when we left but we took a different route in hopes that we wouldn't have to be walking in the street with our suitcases because we were in people's way...that wasn't the case, but you live and you learn!

We also went to Harry's Bar in Venice....I didn't really enjoy this. The bellinis were around $23 a piece and were the tiniest drinks I've ever had. I know you go for the experience, but knowing now how expensive and crowded it is (they really cram you in there), I won't go back. It didn't even have any windows to enjoy the view which was disappointing.

And packing....oh packing. I took a large checked bag. I am a chronic overpacker (check bags to go to Florida in the summer....how can one overpack bathing suits and shorts...I don't know but I do). I was worried since we were going to essentially two different climates that I needed to have lots of options. My bag was very heavy to begin with. Well turns out I could have eliminated about 25% of what I packed because I wore essentially variations on the same outfit the whole time. I'm not saying I will be able to do strictly carry-on the next time we go to Europe, but I will definitely approach packing with a new view. I even asked for a rolling carryon for Christmas and am hoping to start using that more. Oh and I made the mistake of bringing both of the Rick Steves books I'd been using and those really weighed down my bag.

Overall there were no major hiccups, but I still feel like I learned a lot!

Posted by
2252 posts

I have traveled quite a bit and have found each trip I take brings new experiences and new learning opportunities. It sounds as if you are on your way to lots of great traveling and ditto those great learning experiences! I love the enthusiasm with which you relate your adventures and appreciate hearing what you didn't enjoy so much as well as those experiences that really pleased you. Isn't the food in Italy just the best? I've very much enjoyed your trip report. Oh, and by the way, "packing light" is definitely one of those learned behaviors!

Posted by
3879 posts

Nice trip report! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the proposal.