5 Days, 4 Nights in Porto

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GETTING THERE

At this point in my European tour, the days blend together and creep up out of nowhere. Consequently, I completely forgot to secure transportation to the airport in Rome.  My Ryanair flight (more on that later) was scheduled to leave pretty early, and getting there by public transportation would be a headache because I’d have to wake up super early.  After weighing my options, I decided to book a private car with my host, for 40 €!!! If you have been following my blog, then you know I was not happy about that price. Nonetheless, I booked it and forced myself to be content with the decision.

I arrived at the airport in about 30 minutes and stood in the line to check-in.  This marked my first flight in Europe, so I didn’t know what to expect.  When I arrived at the counter, the Ryanair representative looked at my luggage and told me I didn’t need to be in this line since I only had carry-on bags.  She told me to head straight to security.  So, imagine my surprise when I got to the gate and I was told my luggage was too large and I’d have to pay 50 € to check my bag!! I was not a happy camper!! I don’t even want to look at the getting there section in my budget because it will reflect the cost of the private car, the flight, AND the baggage fee. Getting to Porto was definitely what my friend and I refer to as a #FinancialWomp.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW

I stayed at an Airbnb in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is a quick trip to Porto.  My host was great and changed his schedule in order to pick me up from the airport. His generosity eased the pain of the aforementioned #FinancialWomp. My host was great and he provided great suggestions for ways to experience Porto like a local.

GETTING AROUND PORTO

In Porto, I walked a lot then took an uber if it was super late or when I was feeling lazy. Uber prices were super reasonable in Porto. For example, some of my rides were 10-minutes but only cost around 2 €.  So, I didn’t mind splurging on the occasional Uber.

WHERE TO EAT

Antigua Casa Ze da Guida.  I had some of the freshest salmon at this restaurant, which makes sense since it’s right by the water. I had an amazing salad, salmon, and sangria for 12 €. I visited this restaurant three times during my stay, so clearly I’m a fan.

Porto is known for Francesinha, a sandwich with layers of meat, topped with an egg, cheese, and special sauce.  I was told by several locals that Café Santiago makes the best Francesinha. When I went, it was pretty crowded; head to the bar if you don’t feel like waiting for a table.

If you partake in a Francesinha and need a break from the meat, check out Essencia for vegetarian options.  I had a three-course meal for 10 € and it was amazing!

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THINGS TO DO

Instead of official activities, I wandered around quite a bit in Porto.  The view from The Dom Luis Bridge is amazing.  São Bento Train Station also makes the list of beautiful things to see in Porto. After that, head over to Café Majestic, a beautiful café that’s been around for nearly a century.

Livaria Lello was highly recommended but I didn’t make it inside due to the long line.  It’s a bookstore that J.K. Rowling frequented when she lived in Porto.  I’m told it provided inspiration for her books. I’ve yet to read a Harry Potter book (blasphemy) so I wouldn’t get the connection anyway.  The trip wasn’t a waste because it was a quick walk to Clérigos Tower.

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BUDGET

Here’s a breakdown of my budget for five days in Porto.  

Item Cost
Rome → Porto 222 € = 266 USD
Accommodations 90 € = 108 USD
Getting Around 20 € = 24 USD
Food and Drinks 92 € = 110 USD
Activities Free
Total 424 € =  509 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.2 USD

I’m off to Lisbon.  Ciao for now,

Marissa

4 Days, 3 Nights in Rome

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GETTING THERE
It took about 4 hours to get from Venice to Rome by train.  Actually, add another hour to that because I first took a bus from Chioggia to Venice.  If you’re in Venice and want to enjoy some beach time away from the crowds, check out Chioggia.  I digress. I took Trenitalia or Italo to Rome.  The trains are similar, so when traveling through Italy, I compared prices and went with the cheaper fare.

 

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW
The hostel I wanted to stay in was pretty expensive, so I opted for a private room in an Airbnb instead.  To date, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in an Airbnb.  A private room with a balcony, your own table in the kitchen for breakfast, equipped with a special message on a chalkboard.  Feel free to send me a message if you’re looking for accommodations in Rome and would like more information about the listing.

Rome 3

GETTING AROUND ROME
I got a 48-hour card for the metro and buses for 12.5 €. In hindsight, I would’ve been fine purchasing a few cards that are good for 100 minutes for 1.5 €. Once I got to a main destination or attraction, I just walked to the next place.  I only needed the metro a few times – to get to the Airbnb, the Spanish Steps for a tour, and The Colosseum.  Since I purchased the pass, I did hop on the bus a few times to feel like I got my money’s worth.

 

WHERE TO EAT
Honestly, I didn’t find any restaurants in Rome to write home about.  Perhaps it was my lack of research or the fact that this marked my third week in Italy and there are only so many times I can get excited about pasta and pizza.  Either way, I was sadly underwhelmed. I did find a restaurant that puts interesting spins on the traditional aperol spritz. Check out Bistro Coronari for a tasty spritz.

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THINGS TO DO
To get a lay of the land, I started with a free walking tour.  The tour included the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Square, and Piazza Navona.  After the tour, I made my way to the Trevi Fountain.  I went in the afternoon and it was super crowded.  I was hoping to get back at night to see it with the lights, but I didn’t make it.  Of course, a trip to Rome isn’t complete without visiting The Colosseum. A description won’t do it justice. I will say that once you step off the train, The Colosseum hits you; it’s truly breathtaking!

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BUDGET
Here’s a breakdown of my budget for four days in Rome.  

 

Item Cost
Chioggia → Venice → Rome 66 € = 79 USD
Accommodations 139 € = 167 USD
Getting Around 12.5 € = 15 USD
Food and Drinks 74 € = 89 USD
Activities 5 € = 6 USD
Total 297 € = 356 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.2 USD.

 

My three weeks in Italy are up. On to the next country.

 

Ciao for now,

 

Marissa

3 Days, 2 Nights in Venice

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GETTING THERE
It took a little over 2 hours to get from Florence to Venice by train.  Nothing too eventful on the quick trip, which I’ve learned is a good thing.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD
I stayed at an Airbnb in Mestre.  Staying in Mestre was cheaper than staying in Venice proper.  From Mestre, it took about 15 minutes to arrive at  Piazzale Roma, which is a main square for buses, trains, and water taxis.

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GETTING AROUND VENICE
I purchased the 48-hour tourist card, which covered unlimited travel on buses and water taxis.  Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify for the “Young Person’s Travel Card” for tourists up to the age of 29.  I attempted to use my student id, but it had to be coupled with a passport to verify my date of birth. So, no discount for me, womp. Still, 30€ for a two-day card was more cost-effective than buying tickets for individual journeys.

WHERE TO EAT
My trip to Venice was so quick, and I didn’t do much research on restaurants before arriving. I did stumble upon a place called Timon where you can eat on a boat, I guess that’s cool. Personally, I chose a table by the water because I have enough trouble balancing stuff on land.

THINGS TO DO
For me, a trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride.  A 30-ish minute trip has a set price of 80€ per vessel and increases to 100€ after 7:00 pm. Up to six people can ride in a gondola.  I met up with 2 friends that I met at the first hostel, so we were able to split the cost.  We considered asking others to join (actually, I jokingly did ask) but a lot of people were enjoying a romantic ride, so that would’ve been awkward.

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If you visit Venice, check out Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a department store near Rialto Bridge. Tons of shopping and there’s a free viewpoint from the top of the building.

BUDGET
Here’s a breakdown of my budget for three days in Venice.  

 

Item Cost
Train from Florence to Venice 40 € =  48 USD
Accommodations 98 € = 118 USD
Getting Around 30 € = 36 USD
Food and Drinks 34 € = 41 USD
Activities 27 € =  32 USD
Total 229 € = 275 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.2 USD.

 

Ciao for now,

 

Marissa

5 Days, 4 Nights in Florence

GETTING THERE

It took about 3 hours to get from Sorrento to Florence by train, which was a nice break from my previous trek.  It was just enough time to watch Creed, which I’d downloaded before I left for Europe. Glad I did because I haven’t been able to download any movies or tv shows since…so please, no Power, Insecure, or Game of Thrones spoilers.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW

Somewhere with an A/C.  Florence was extremely hot and I was in an Airbnb without an A/C or fan.  My host attempted to buy a fan, but the stores were sold out.  According to the locals, they’d never seen a summer so hot. So, I guess there’s a reason the fans were out of stock. It was so hot I considered getting a little propeller fan that I could attach to my phone.  But trying to use that while sleeping didn’t seem like the smartest idea.  All that to say, look at the forecast and check the amenities before you book.

GETTING AROUND FLORENCE

I was able to walk pretty much everywhere I wanted to go.  I didn’t feel like rolling my bag on the cobblestone streets when I arrived, so I hopped in a taxi. Other than that, I relied on my feet to get around. So happy a few friends convinced me to invest in some good sneakers before I embarked on this journey.

WHERE TO EAT

Since being in Italy, I’ve been searching for a good aperitivo. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s like happy hour 2.0.  You pay for a drink then get free food.  So my plan to save money was to find aperitivos where I could purchase a glass of wine then eat for free. Most of the aperitivos I found offered potato chips. Now I love chips, but not for dinner. After traveling in Italy for two weeks, I finally found a solid aperitivo in Florence.  Golden View Open Bar has a great view of the water and an actual aperitivo spread. They offered cheese, meat, potatoes, tomatoes, you name it. So I purchased a glass of wine and went back to the spread several times. I decided to sip slowly.  Luckily, I didn’t order a beverage with ice, so my drink didn’t get watery.

THINGS TO DO

The highlight of my trip was a cooking class. Initially I wanted to take a wine tour under the Tuscan sun. Due to last-minute planning, that wasn’t an option. Luckily, there was one spot left in a cooking class. It was pretty expensive, but it was actually worth it.  The class started with a drive to Tuscany where we met our chef for the day.  If you take this class, try to book with Chef Isak, who is both knowledgeable and entertaining. We made bruschetta, pasta from scratch, roast pork, patata al rosemarino, pizza, and tiramisu.  Plus the wine was flowing. If I return to Florence, I’ll take this class again.  Perhaps I should say “when I return” because I visited Il Porcellino and rubbed the boar’s snout, which guarantees a return to Florence.

Chef Curry with the pasta

BUDGET

Here’s a breakdown of my budget for four nights in Florence.  

Item

Cost

Train from Sorrento to Florence

54 € = 64 USD

Accommodations

145 € = 171 USD

Getting Around

10 € = 12 USD

Food and Drinks

98 € =116 USD

Activities

89 € = 105 USD

Total

397 € = 468 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.18 USD.

I’m off to my next stop! Did you click the subscribe button so you don’t miss a moment? You can also follow me on Instagram to see more travel pics. 


Ciao for now,

Marissa