While it was sad leaving London, my first stop was Italy for my mates (from Adelaide) wedding!!! It was held in Venice and I had a week to explore beforehand. I went to Naples first and did some pretty amazing things such as a day trip around the island of Capri, cruised along the Amalfi Coast and ate some delicious food!!
From Naples I went up to Rome to meet some mates (from Adelaide) and we explored this incredible city. There is so much to do and see.! Rome absolutely amazed me and it is one of my favourite places. We even managed to see the Pope in action at a service in the Vatican City!
Now it was time for the wedding in Venice!!! My mates, Alysha and Chris, were getting married in the Basilica of St. Mark in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)..!! There were about 30 people over from Adelaide so you could imagine my excitement to finally catch up with them after two years apart!! On the day of the wedding, a few of us went to the markets to purchase some food for a massive cook up (we were all a little hungover as well). Such a great way to start the day. The wedding was held in the crypt of the Basilica for the ceremony and pictures in the Piazza afterwards before the reception in Hotel Danieli and to top it off drinks at the Hilton’s Skybar! What a wedding..!
We went to the island of Burano the following day for a delicious lunch and some great photos of the coloured buildings – a great day out before heading to a villa in Tuscany for a wine tour and exploring the city of Florence. The last of my travels with the Adelaide crew was a few days in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, where we ate up big (and drank of course) and walked along the stunning Cinque Terre coast.
A few people started to branch off from the group here including me. I caught a train back to Venice and a ferry to Piran in Slovenia where there was a big performance happening when I arrived. I explored the coast for a day and got the bus to Ljubljana. I loved this city and the amazing food markets. Did a free walking tour, of course, and went on a two-day tour with Balkan Road Trips (now MedExperience).
This short tour took us to Lake Bled (went canyoning!) and then through to Croatia checking out the stunning Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park for amazing falls on the way to Split. Some of the people on the tour were going to the Ultra Festival in Split and had a spare ticket for me – I even managed free accommodation – score!
Split also meant it was time to meet up with my travel buddy, Mitty, who had also just arrived in Split! We booked a bus to Mostar in Bosnia but were so busy chatting and catching up that we missed the bus and had to catch the following one! It was a nice bus trip along the coast to Mostar and we pretty much went straight to bed once we arrived.
We did Bata’s Tour with our hostel, Hostel Majdas, which had been highly recommended to me by many people. It definitely lived up to its name and more. This one-day tour covers so much history in such a good way and Bata is very, well, ‘interesting’. We went to some stunning waterfalls and other various sights and the journey in between was half the fun. You will have a great time.
From Mostar we caught the scenic train to Sarajevo for a few days exploring the war-torn city and then it was an overnight bus to Budva in Montengro. We dumped our bags and went for a boat trip around the coastal town which was just beautiful and was able to check out the town of Kotor as well. Such a relaxing way to see the stunning coastline. Yummy dinner of mussels and seafood pasta.
From Budva it wasn’t an easy journey to get to Tirana in Albania but we managed. Tirana was ok and we did a lot of walking around but there just wasn’t much too it. We did find a cool restaurant which we went back to a couple of time that had some yummy local food.
It took us a few busses and a dodgy taxi ride from Tirana to Ohrid in Macedonia and then we got lost finding the hostel. Eventually got there and went out to explore around Lake Ohrid. The lake was stunning. We walked through a fisherman’s village to a great view of the sun setting over the lake. We checked out the castle ruins and went out for lunch where Mitty had an allergic reaction to something so ended up having a few shots at hospital!! Never a dull day travelling with this kid!!
We met a great group of people at the hostel and I went out with them one night which was good fun. On our last day in Ohrid, Mitty and I hired bikes and rode around the lake where we came across ‘Nemo’s Beach’ which had music pumping and deckchairs along the water – ideal! Our next stop was Skopje, the main city of Macedonia. This place was full of statues and had some pretty cool fountains. We walked around the old cobbled streets of the medina and checked out the view from the city castle.
It was time for our last overnight bus to Belgrade in Serbia and we did the free walking tour of the city once we had dropped our bags off. Serbia was cool and had some great little backstreets and hidden food spots. The Belgrade Castle ruins were pretty good and we went for a massive mission to find Cathedral of Saint Sava which is the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans.
Our last part of our European leg was in Belgium for the Tomorrrowland Festival!! We had a couple of days in Brussels beforehand where we explored and found a food festival and rested up before meeting some mates and making our way to Boom where the festival was held. We set up camp and managed to find some of Mitty’s friends. The next few days were crazy. Never have I been to a festival like it. I have since read that there was apparently half a million people there.!!
Once Tomorrowland was over we were to get our backsides back to Brussels a-sap and onto the airport for our flight to Cape Town, South Africa. We slept the entire way…