Sweden,Italy, and France – November 2015

It’s been awhile since this incredible trip, and since I’m finally getting the blog together I wanted to at least share my top 5 moments and our itinerary.

Top 5 Moments:

  • Seeing Pope Francis:  we were a bit disappointed that the Pope was not around when we visited Vatican City, but when checking in to the hotel the manager mentioned that Pope Francis happened to be visiting Florence! We wandered down to the main square by the Duomo where hundreds of people were lined up to see him.  We joined the crowds, and after about 45 minutes of waiting Pope Francis emerged in the Popemobile! I’m not really religious, but it was a moving moment.pope.PNG
  • Climbing the Duomo: it’s an incredible view of Firenze and an impressive church.
  • Papal Tombs: I’m a bit Dan Brown fan, and so exploring Rome and The Vatican felt like I was in Angels & Demons.  My favorite part was exploring the Papal Tombs and seeing how well preserved everything was after so many years of history.  It’s very impressive!  Unfortunately, it was a bit dark so I don’t have a good photo.
  • Steak Frites:  When my mom and I went to France together when I was in middle school, we went to this restaurant called Le Relais de l’Entrecote.  It was one of my favorite meals ever, and I swore when I eventually made it back to Paris I would go.  Luckily this time I got to share the delicious food over a bottle of wine and Jack.  Post dinner, we headed on an evening boat tour on the Seine – very romantic!    This was the night prior to the Paris attacks (see note below).2015-11-12_181850886_E0F3D_iOS.jpg
  • This Tiramisu: the picture speaks for itself! This was at Fuoco Matto in Florence.IMG_0671 (1).JPG

Our 2nd to last night of the trip was the night of the Paris terror attacks on November 13, 2015.  We were already safe in our hotel when the attacks began, learned about it from a CNN alert, and immediately turned on the French news.  I’ll never forget trying to remember how to count in French so I could read the death count as it continued to rise. My heart will always be with those lives cut too short in these horrific acts.   All of the monuments were closed in the following two days, and the city was eerily quiet in mourning.  Our hotel was right by Notre Dame so we wandered by the day after, and it was filled with police with giant machine guns.  The following morning before flying back to Stockholm we also stopped by Montmarte to only discover the same machine guns. We both left Paris in a somber mood, but this event reminds me how important it is that we continue to travel.  If we live in fear, than the people who commit these terror attacks have won.   Rick Steves puts it well here.

Itinerary:

  • Day 1:  overnight flight from Oakland to Stockholm
  • Day 2: dinner in Stockholm’s Old Town
  • Day 3: early AM flight to Rome
    • Colosseum
    • The Forum
    • Pantheon
    • Trevi Fountain
    • Spanish Steps (under renovation while we were there)
    • Dinner @ SAID dal 1923 (chocolate restaurant!)
  • Day 4: Vatican City
    • Vatican Museum including Michelangelo
    • St. Peter’s Basilica
    • Wandering the streets to find gelato and pizza
    • Dinner in Trastevere
  • Day 5: early AM train ride to Florence
    • Seeing the POPE!
    • Basilica of Saint Croce
    • Ponte Vecchio
    • Dinner @ Fuoco Matto
  • Day 6: Exploring Florence
    • David
    • Climbing the Duomo
    • Amazing lunch @ Panini Toscani
    • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Day 7: early AM flight to Paris
    • Love Locks bridge
    • Notre Dame
    • Wandering the neighborhood of St. Germain
    • Steak Frites dinner @ Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
    • Evening cruise on the Seine
  • Day 8: Exploring Paris
    • Climbing the Eiffel Tour
    • Arc de Triomphe
    • Champs-Élysées
    • The Louvre (free on Friday nights for young adults!)
    • *evening of Paris attacks*
  • Day 9: Day after the Paris attacks – spent close by the hotel
  • Day 10: stopped by Montmarte briefly before our flight back to Stockholm
  • Day 11: morning exploring Stockholm, flight back to Oakland
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