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126 Kms from Asti
We reached Milan by 5 PM in the evening.It was a great trip that took us back in time.Read More
We reached Milan by 5 PM in the evening.It was a great trip that took us back in time.
We started the journey from Milan Centrale at about 7:30 AM. It is about 3 hours 5 minutes by the fastest train. The train tickets cost about 67 euros per person each side. Ticket cost varies from 45 euros to 90 euros depending on the time you book.
Stay in Milan, shop in it's famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and indulge in great Italian fare. But for art and architecture lovers, don't forget to visit the following:
My trip to Lisbon from Milan was originally planned via Brussels, but due to unexpected circumstances, I found myself crossing over all the way from Liege in Wallonia to Ostend-Bruges in Flanders to catch the last seat in the flight to Lisbon. Milan to Brussels to Lisbon became: Milan to Liege + over priced Taxi to train station + Train to North Belgium Ostend-Bruges(with help from a nice friendly local who helped me book the tickets at the station without the intention of scamming me) + Bus to the airport + 2 hour wait with loads of travelers in a little airport. I wont complain much, as not only was I completely refunded for my troubles by Brussels Airlines (Taxi fare + Train tickets + bus ticket), they managed to get me at my final destination comforted with a seat in business class in TAP Airlines (Portuguese Airlines). Travel Blog Confession: Sold to Portugal after business class upgrade My first ever Business class trip after literally covering not just a country but en entire continent. Let me explain my complex trip to Portugal. Milan to Liege (Economic Class Air) Liege Airport to Train station (Taxi) Liege Train station to Ostende Bruge city (Train) Ostende Bruge Train station to Airport (Bus) Ostende Bruge Airport to Lisbon (Upgraded to Business Class Air) Starting from the land where they speak Italian to the land of French speaking Belgium. Next, a train to the Dutch speaking part of Belgium to only end up being spoilt by the best of Portuguese air hospitality. The crew of TAP airlines were obliged to treat me special as a Business class passenger. I wonder if they knew that I was upgraded by the awesome staff in Flanders Ostende Airport. They really did their best that busy day. The funny thing that day was me even attempting a maverick journey like that to travel all across Belgium to catch a flight in time. Vasco Da Gama would be proud of my Travels Vasco Da Gama traveled south reaching below the cape of good hope in South Africa before he reached north east of Africa and then to South India while taking help of the ruler of Malindi (present day Kenya) and the great Arab navigator Ahmed Ibn Majid, to show the explorers the route to India. Mean while , I found myself reaching Liege and taking the help of a cool Arab Taxi driver who helped me quite a bit in realizing that Ostend- Bruges was actually all across the other end of the country and that it would be better and cheaper if I juts took the train from the train station. He did that speaking in French to some one who has a real tough time saying Bonjour and always prefers to say Ciao with a wink. He did try to over price me though and but was quite easily prepared to bring down the amount upon me bargaining like a typical Indian. Our conversation reminiscent of conversation between the great explorers, navigators and sea faring merchants of that time who would often hang around India, Indonesia, Persian gulf or across the sandy beaches of east Africa. A trip to the National Museum in Rome would enlighten me of the historical Roman trade with many Indian ports and beyond that was thriving until the demise of the great empire. Landing in Portugal on a busy weekend night Lisbon had great vibes. I love coastal cities, they are always special. Maybe the influx of people over ages brings all the coolest people over to a coastal port city. Wading through the busy evening streets, we find ourselves in a little street with history written all over it. Our Airbnb hostess invites us to climb up 3 storeys on wooden steps that seemed to belong in one of Vasco Da Gama's old ships. I gasped for my breath as I carried our week long luggage across the tiny wooden steps. Had to climb three floors to finally reach our beautiful little Portuguese apartment. Our Airbnb landlady would further entertain us with an introduction to Lisbon city and Portuguese culture. Like a typical coastal nation citizen, she takes out an old paper map. As she reads out some Portuguese names of the areas around, we get interested and take notes. The next day you would find me jumping in joy around the coast. I was absolutely loving my holiday in a country which helped make Goa fun. Lisbon fever: Love at first sight We took the city sightseeing bus service that would play beautiful fado music while educating us about Lisbon. I was awestruck listening about its glorious history on top of the bus. Walking across Lisbon was great fun. Paradise is sunny weather and regular supply of Codfish Cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau). Do click on the link to the have a glimpse of this Portuguese delight. I had actually tried it at this very place on the link. The perfect brown fish cutlet is filled with melted cheese and has to be eaten with care. You fall in love instantaneously with Lisbon, while sipping wine on a disposable "I Love Lisbon" wine glass at the Torre de Belem. Strolling across the Bairro Alto or the upper neighborhood/district, you can find the best food at the best price. Just make sure to avoid the tourist traps. By tourist traps, I refer to those unscrupulous businesses that exist all around the world. Usually near the perpetual tourist attractions. Intending to only benefit from a location but not to deliver in terms of value. The rent could be high or the motivation to meet a threshold to have customers may be low. Soon we would find the best places as we dine with old friends in Lisbon. Later we would eat the best frango and wine near the train station at faro completely based on a intuitive hunch. Not always do you enter a place to be completely blown away with the service, quality and value. I discovered loads of trattoria in Italy where you can end up having a really good meal at lunch time at a great price.
Two of the most successful football clubs of Italy – Internazionale FC and AC Milan – still play their home matches in the very same stadium. If you're looking for return on investment on your travelling, this is the perfect place.Famous footballers to have played here: Paolo Maldini, Javier Zanetti, Luiz Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo, Kaka.Things to do apart from football: Visit the Sforza Castle to check out medieval art treasures. Shop for the best fashion at Galleria Vittorio.Average expenditure per day per head: Rs. 4,500Book the best hotels.Read more about the city.
The best thing that could have happened during an otherwise uneventful summer vacation was our Italian holiday. Though short-lived, those seven days will forever remain etched in our memories. Planned on the spur of a moment, my three boys (the eldest, being my husband) and I eagerly looked forward to visiting Italy – a land of history, romance, wine, pasta and home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We booked our tickets on Qatar Airways , applied for our Italian visas which we got in a week’s time and kept counting days and finally hours.Day of travel: Sunday, 3rd July, 2016With the commencement of the summer holidays and Eid Al-Fitr just round the corner, we expected a very crowded airport. But what awaited us there was way beyond our imagination. We boarded our 4:40 flight to Doha at 5:40. Desperately we prayed we wouldn’t miss our 7:00 connection flight to Milan. Unfortunately, the 7 o’ clock flight departed leaving us at Doha. We were rebooked for the afternoon flight and landed at Milan Malpensa International Airport at around 20:40. I've heard that the sun sets late in these European countries but to experience it first hand was indeed ethereal. At 20:40 in Milan, the sun had just begun its official descend.
9 | LAKE Como + SWISS ALPSFly into Milan and hop the train towards George Clooney’s stunning stomping grounds – Lake Como. Not much beats the picture perfect scene of the bright blue lake with pastel lake villages below the snow-capped Alps. For easy train connections, stay in Varenna for a few days but be sure to take the ferry to nearby Bellagio. After gorging on pasta and wine, head north into the Alps to St. Moritz for fantastic hiking in the summer or world-class skiing in the winter.
A city that I have consistently never liked: it’s not rich in art and I am not rich enough for Via della Spiga yet. All that shopping just waiting to be done and I can barely afford the window-watching here. People are smartly dressed which is a pleasant distraction from the ugly post WWII buildings that had all the flamboyance of a finance manager. And the creativity of a blender. Wooh, am on a roll here! My recommendation... Do NOT take a taxi to the airport, unless you booked a hotel right next to it, or are the type who flies charter. My Google Maps kept going on and soon enough I could see the Piemontese appellations on the same screen and Turin was a bare 100 kms away! I almost thought he was kidnapping me and to leave a sommelier stranded on the Nebbiolo wine route did strike me as smirk-worthy. I don’t know how far it was – he said 45 kilometres, I think he meant light years – but I paid a godawful 103 Eu• Nottingham Forest: I missed it this time but a molecular bar that comes up in every conversation must be worth its test tubes and vials. Dario Comini is no small name in the world of mixology so make sure you try something here. Closed on Mondays, which was my reason for not making it. Rita bar on Canigli was a healthy compromise but be there early so you get the tasty aperitivo treats; for come 10pm and they remove it all. And your table looks empty, and now you have to make conversation, and the drinks disappear faster and the bill mounts. En suite, we hit the Mag bar and that was by far one of the best cocktail bars I have ever been to and I do like my mixes. What a shake, what cocktails. I preferred it to the Rita. These guys also have a speakeasy (1930’s) and they have an awesome card; don’t even bother walking upto it. You need to have your name on the list. I didn’t make it. The alcohol-soaked me had to call it a night.ros! So much for not shopping in Milan. The man had already started setting up the credit card machine even before we pulled into t
352 Kms from Asti
6. A walk through the land that created ParmesanRead More
6. A walk through the land that created Parmesan
My last destination within Italy was Venice, and I wanted do a brief pit stop somewhere before getting there. So bidding Florence goodbye, I headed for Bologna. Bologna is quite close to Florence and is well connected by train. It was Christmas eve and I didn't have elaborate plans, and Bologna seemed perfect.I lazily walked down the streets and walked into the cathedrals before reaching the foot of the Two Towers - Asinelli and Garisenda. It was quite surprising to learn that the Tower of Asinelli was the tallest leaning tower in Italy, much taller than the tower of Pisa (97 meters as compared to 56 meters).
The next morning, before leaving for Venice, I walked down to the University of Bologna - the oldest university of the world. Its alumni include Copernicus, Malfighi, Galvani, Marconi, Enzo Ferrari and had Dante Alighieri among others, as faculty.
276 Kms from Asti
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.Read More
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.
Day 7: Next day we moved to Zurich as next we had early morning flight for Mumbai from Zurich Airport. So, in short we had only few hours to explore Zurich .After hotel check-in we left for Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe.The view was mesmerizing. Bought some chocolates and souvenirs there and left for Zurich old market. We reached bit late as all shops get closed by 7 in the evening. Enjoyed coffee and evening life of Zurich.Roamed around the streets,cafe and market with closed shops :( by the lake side. After sunset reached back to Hotel, had dinner and did packing as we were suppose to leave early morning to catch our flight.
We started from Zurich at 9:30 in the morning, bypassing through a few smaller towns and a conduit of ever impressive highways, before reaching our first stop at the town of Luzern. And it turned out to be one of those picturesque ancient towns, I definitely did not want to miss on during my visit to Switzerland.
This exciting city should be at the center of every Swiss Itinerary. Its suave views, glittering skyscapers and art galleries adhere well to the Swiss standards. The city, crowned by the Alps, won't let you off without some great memories.
3 | Geneva + Interlaken + LUCERNE + ZurichArrival in French-styled Geneva, seated on Europe’s largest glacier lake, visitors are immediately struck by the clarity of the crystal clear waters. The lingering Alps reflected brightly off the lake while Geneva vies as one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities. Move on to Interlaken and Lucerne for everything from hiking in the Alps, ski diving to chocolate tasting. Ideal for outdoor and photography lovers. By train, Geneva to Interlaken: 4hr 30 min then Interlaken by way of Lucerne to Zurich: 2 hr 46 min.
19:00 h. Zurich – Dinner in the restaurant of your choice. Transfer to hotel about 22 hrs.Total distance: 690 kmScenery: Lakes and mountains in Switzerland. Note: We enter France, remember to have your passport ready.07:30 h. – Zurich – Departure.09:00 h. – Berna – Arrival-. Free time in the Swiss capital which has an attractive historical centre with the appearance of a “large village”. We will visit the Federal Council Square, the Cathedral and the Clock Tower, and see the city’s statues and fountains.11:00 h. – Berne – Departure-. View of Neuchatel Lake. We cross the Free Country amidst beautiful scenery. After crossing the French border we will stop for dinner in a service area.
362 Kms from Asti
3. A bread, bean and biscotti feast in FlorenceEvery turn in Florence will greet you with people feasting on bread and bean soup, and the mandatory Chianti wine.Eating Italy's food tour starts from Oltrarno, Italy's answer to Paris' Left Bank. Take delight in the region's Bohemian vibe, abuzz with students and artists in hipster cafes and an all-round vibrant culture. The tour is bound to give away a number of local food and restaurant secrets. Among the multitude of food and wine tastings, you'll also learn to make Italian cantucci (biscotti), sample locally made fennel salami or Finocchiona, Tuscan cheeses and crostinis, and stop at an authentic Italian trattoria (restaurant) for steaming hot soups. Don't leave before having Florence’s famous steak, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and of course, end the tour with gelato.Read More
3. A bread, bean and biscotti feast in FlorenceEvery turn in Florence will greet you with people feasting on bread and bean soup, and the mandatory Chianti wine.Eating Italy's food tour starts from Oltrarno, Italy's answer to Paris' Left Bank. Take delight in the region's Bohemian vibe, abuzz with students and artists in hipster cafes and an all-round vibrant culture. The tour is bound to give away a number of local food and restaurant secrets. Among the multitude of food and wine tastings, you'll also learn to make Italian cantucci (biscotti), sample locally made fennel salami or Finocchiona, Tuscan cheeses and crostinis, and stop at an authentic Italian trattoria (restaurant) for steaming hot soups. Don't leave before having Florence’s famous steak, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and of course, end the tour with gelato.
(b) When one talks of language barrier, Italy is the first point of reference and in Italy also, the Tuscany Region ranks number 1. Having said that, our maximum encounters with 'Humans of Europe' happened in Tuscany. One such was at a Farmer's market. My mother who is a local food enthusiast, on her own visited the Farmer's Market in Florence and returned with a bag full of local herbs, cheese and fruits. When we asked her how did you communicate with the Farmers (they only speak Italian and Spanish), she matter of fact replied 'With actions'. Also has learnt the recipe of local ravioli just through ACTIONS. The Italian farmers and my mother synced in so well that we had a dinner invite from a local farmer family and mother made made 'Dal Makhani' for them. The food at the dinner was what #foodgasm hashtag is for. The farmer's son who knew English, translated our conversation for them and their conversation for us. At the end, I felt as if I was sitting amongst my big, fat family from Punjab, giggling and laughing away to glory.
The homesickness eventually vanished as I travelled to the other cities. Florence was my next stop, which is a lovely town just four hours away from Rome by train. The hostel here was more like an inn that I booked through AirBNB. I made friends with guys from London and South Africa and am still in touch with them. It is amazing for slightly shy people like me that while travelling alone you are open to striking conversations and getting to know people, but when you have company, you are so comfortable with your companion that you don’t really want to make the extra effort of talking to strangers. Meeting new people transforms your worldview and makes you a totally different person. You no more want to dwell over the petty issues of life, which restricts you from doing so many wonderful things. Moving on, Florence was exceptionally beautiful and well-designed. I did not really spend any time standing in mind numbing queues to see any of the architectural marvels, but spent the days exploring the different parts of the city, climbing hills, and going to nearby villages. Florence falls in the Tuscan region, which is famous for its wineries. I would recommend to pre-book a tour to one of the wineries for a more authentic experience.
Day 09-10: Check out of Hotel Deko Rome. Take train from Rome to Florence. Check in Hotel Lungarno in FlorenceThe best way to see Rome and Florence is on foot. Walk through the myriad lanes and by-lanes, relive the medieval times and and savour the city. Visit colosseum, pantheon, Trevi, hand of truth, Duomo, academia to see David whatever you like; have delicious cheesecake at Babingtons (the best till date); get a caricature/portrait done; do some shopping - leather bags/gloves/belts/masks/perfumes etc.Reserve a day for Vatican, I liked St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican more than Sistine chapel. Make sure to book tickets in advance for Vatican, Colosseum, academia in Florence, Uffizi. Read up a bit on Christianity if u want to enjoy more. Listen to the music artists while watching sunset at one of the bridges in Florence; have Gelato at Vivoli. Cafe dell'oro serves great pasta.
Florence is the birth place of Renaissance, so there is art in every corner, literally. Apart from the Renaissance period art and architecture, Florence is replete with street art.I made my way to Piazza della Signoria. The following photographs provide a glimpse of the magnificent sculptures of Renaissance era which are at display at the Piazza and along the way.
It was time to move on to the next stop on my trip map, Florence. Getting to Florence from Rome is simple, there are trains almost every hour from the Termini station. I took a slow train (3 hours journey time) as it was cheaper and would also allow me to enjoy the Tuscan landscape, not zip past at a breakneck speed.
Florence 3 days Hostel: Ostello del Bigallo Hostels don't get more scenic than Ostello del Bigallo. It is built on a monastery dating back to the 13th century. A beautiful garden upfront and panoramic view of Florence from the terrace adds to its charm. The only catch is that the hostel is an hour's ride from the city and involves a 2 km hike. Hotel: Ginori al Duomo The staff is extremely friendly and its location, a short walk from the train station, is ideal. However, there is no getting around the three story climb as the hotel doesn't have a lift.
Florence/ Firenze The next day, we head out to Florence or Firenze. I’m pretty proud of this segment of our trip since I knew exactly what I wanted to see and when. So, for the Tuscany region our base was Florence. We left Venice fairly early in the morning and were in Florence by 12 noon- checked into our lovely airbnb apartment by 1 pm. We had the whole day to our selves for exploring the city since the next we decided to go in for a day trip to Cinque Terre. We wanted to visit the Uffizi Gallery, but decided to skip the same and instead soak in the city by simply walking around and of course eating yummy food! We did visit the grand Duomo, checked out Piazza Michelango and sat down at the Loggia dei Lanzi and watched the beautiful Piazza della Signoria. Another smart move was to take a pass for a hop-on-hop-off bus. Initially, I thought that it looked a little foolish but trust me; you can do a lot with that bus pass. There are a couple of routes that the bus service has where it takes you through all the must see spots. If you want to get off, great. If you don’t, you can simply keep sitting. We also enjoyed a lovely pizza meal at Piazza Republica– one of the prettiest squares in the city, defined by its opulence.