Bologna, Italy

Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Among the city’s many medieval towers are the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda. Top recommendations:

  1. Climb the medieval leaning towers ( Due Torri- Torre deli Asinelli) to get a birds eye view of Bologna city, you have to buy tickets (3 euros) from Piazza Maggiore tourist information centre. 498 steps, spiralling up!
  2. Visit Piazza Maggiore, the center of Bologna’s political and social life since the 13th century when the square and the buildings surrounding it began being built. It is one of the biggest and oldest squares in Italy. The buildings that surround the square are Palazzo re Enzo and Toree Dell’Arengo, Neptune fountain, Palazzo D’accursio, Palazzo Del Pedestal and Basilica of San Petronio.
  3. Santo Stefano church20171128_113751
  4. Walk the narrow streets surrounding Piazza Maggiore where you can find various cafes, market stalls and shops20171128_105206
  5. Have plenty of pasta! 20171128_124508.jpg

 

Verona, Italy

Verona is a city in northern Italy’s Veneto region, with a medieval old town built between the meandering Adige River. It’s famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” A 14th-century residence with a tiny balcony overlooking a courtyard is said be “Juliet’s House.” The town feels very romantic and grand, and is very walkable in one day. Even though it was raining, I know this is a truly beautiful town! Top 5 recommendations:

  1. Visit Juliet’s Balcony which includes the love lock wall and golden stature of Juliet. You are apparently meant to take a photo with her, and cup one boob! Secret tip: to get the best shot of the balcony, there is a free upper viewing spot in the embroidery shop on the corner which no one seems to have noticed when I was there!
  2. Stand on a bridge to take in the views24129763_10157233530103849_5324088592873257583_n23905350_10157233530188849_1957372781712107191_n
  3. Try Venchi, you can find this chocolate brand across Italy.
  4. Visit the Verona Arena, which sort of looks like the colosseum in Rome! Although this was for Opera purposes rather than bull fighting.
  5. Have a meal at Osteria al Duca. You have to lunch between 12-2 if not you’ll miss out on food! Italian’s take a break after this time and close up. Also, this restaurant gets very crowded, so plan ahead, it’s a famous local place.20171125_140229

Zante, Greece

Zakynthos is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea and a well-known summer resort. The harbor city of Zakynthos is the capital and major hub, centered around waterfront Solomos Square. Popular beaches like Agios Nikolaos, Alykanas and Tsilivi offer swimming and water sports. Accessed by boat, Navagio beach is the site of a famed 1980 shipwreck resting in a sandy cove framed by cliffs. Your perfect beach getaway with crystal clear waters and sea turtles!

Note: There are no buses from the airport, you’ll have to take a taxi which won’t cost very much as all the main beaches and Zante town is super close. Kalamaki beach is the closest to the airport.

Here are my recommendations:

  1. Shipwreck Beach and Blue caves departing from Laganas beach. You can climb the ship but just be careful because it’s quite rusty and has many sharp edges. This tour was also suppose to include the famous view point to look down at Shipwreck Beach, but unfortunately there was a forest fire going on that entire weekend ><
  2.  Turtle Island (Marathonisi) and Keri caves departing from Keri beach. You’ll have time to swim in the caves and chill at turtle beach as part of the tour.
  3. Laganas (Party town at night) and Kalamaki beach. You can rent pedal boats, kayaks and all types of fun floats to relax in the sea. Plenty of restaurants to choose from as these two beaches are connected. Most people choose to stay here (in terms of accom)
  4. Xigia Beach, known as Zante’s natural spa as the water is quite sulphuric and you can smell it (like rotten eggs but not as strong as Iceland)
  5. Zante Town

Must try dessert: Frigania. Extremely sweet, kinda like a Banoffee pie. My photo isn’t great, but it was really yummy!

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Hue, Danang and Hoi An, Vietnam

These three very different but each amazing cities is being written about in one post because I managed to cover all of them through the best tour I’ve ever experienced! Our driver Ben Lee was essentially a tour guide because he was very kind to go above and beyond his role. Get in touch with the company called VM travel, 47 Le Loi Street Hue City, Ben’s phone number +84919591234, they’ll plan it all out for you according to how many days you can afford to do) hueprivatecars.com

Here are some of the highlights I covered on the trip:

  1. Hue City : Hue Citadel is a huge complex that would take a full day to see if you are interested in covering all areas. However, I found it sufficient to just spend a few hours admiring its ancient architecture and layout. I visited so many Emperors tombs that did not look anything like what you’d expect! They almost looked like palaces. Thien Mu Pagoda is a great place for sunset views with the symbol of the octagonal 21-meter-high tower, the pagoda is the perfect combination of artificial architectural work and picturesque nature. 17098673_10156193612908849_4641827015865603483_n16938624_10156193612998849_5679356292316375870_n16939482_10156193613418849_5394646896633868568_n17155283_10156193613273849_5162353872608716134_n

2. Biking in Hue. This wasn’t part of the original tour package but because Ben was that amazing, he got in touch with his friends to help rent us bikes at a local rate and took us around paddy fields, vegetation sites as well as allowed me to experience sitting on a water buffalo! The buffalo was definitely more cute than scary. Tip: purchase a straw hat, it’s all part of the Vietnamese experience.

 

3. Driving from Hue to Danang, you take the Hai Van Pass connecting Da Nang with the town of Lang Co in Hue province. Of course, this means you stop by Lang Co beach for its amazing sand and blue waters. Hai Van pass is a more scenic route rather than taking a quicker tunnel route and its name refers to the mists that rise from the sea, hence reduced visibility as shown in my photos. You can also stop by the Marble Mountains where you will be able to explore the caves and pagodas on top of the mountain. Make sure you wear trainers if you want to get to the top because you have to wiggle yourself through a natural dark cave that isn’t huge and doesn’t have clear foot paths! Several Buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains. Fun fact: they collect oysters using old wheel tyres!

 

4. Danang. I cannot believe how developed this city is, almost felt like I was in Hong Kong. There is clearly a lot of investment going on here as it is a harbour city and you can find huge hotels along their main beach, as well as international food choices. We drove back here at night on the way back to Hue, just to see the famous dragon bridge beautifully lit up.

 

 5. Hoi An. This was a very romantic city and highly recommend for when it gets dark because of all the lanterns that makes the place unique. A must see, but one that can be done for a few hours in the night.16939306_10156197887073849_2383112232455110647_n