Another month, another travel round-up for you! Since you seemed to enjoy my RTW Month One summary so much, I figured I should continue the series — and the end of Month Two has already come and gone!
Here's a look at what I got up to during my second month in Europe:
Countries visited: 3 (or 5) — Italy, France, and Greece (also the Vatican and Monaco, which are technically countries)
Cities (and towns and villages) visited: 15, give or take — Venice, Rome, Florence, Siena, Nice, Monte Carlo, Athens, Syros town, Mykonos town, Fira, Oia, Ios town, Naxos town, Apiranthos, Halki
Islands visited: 9 — Murano, Burano, Torcello, Syros, Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, Ios, Naxos
Favorite big city: Venice
Honestly, I never expected to love Venice. I'd heard tales of how crowded and smelly it can be during the summer time, and totally expected to leave the city uninspired. But you know what? I LOVED Venice. Yes, it was crowded. And yes, one or two small canals smelled a little weird. But this city is so unique and amazing that I was able to overlook the negatives and focus only on the positives. Venice is GORGEOUS, and I had so much fun getting lost in its maze-like streets.
Favorite small city: Oia
This Greek gem on Santorini is the one you see on all the postcards — the one with all the blue church domes set against the impossibly blue Aegean Sea. And Oia did NOT disappoint. One of my favorite days in the Greek Islands was when I went and explored this town, taking over 200 photos in just a couple of hours.
Random place I never intended to visit but did: Monaco
While I was in Nice, I found out that the independent nation of Monaco was only a 30-minute bus ride away — a bus ride that would only cost 1.40 Euro one-way. Of COURSE I had to go and check it out! Since it was so nearby, I had no qualms about simply popping into Monte Carlo to roam around for an hour or so. I felt totally underdressed in my beach gear, but am still glad I went.
Coolest (short) tour: VIP tour of the Colosseum, and Taste of Tuscany tour
This one is a tie, because I just can't choose between these two great half-day tours. The first was the VIP tour of the Colosseum I did with Walks of Italy in Rome. During it, I had a great tour of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and then got to see the Colosseum in a very special way — I got to go both down beneath the structure (where the lions and gladiators would have waited to enter the arena) as well as to the highest level up top. The Taste of Tuscany tour I did with Italy on a Budget Tours from Florence is a close second. On this one, I got to visit Monteriggioni, Siena, and the Chiani wine region with a small group of other travelers. A fun wine tasting and awesome home-cooked dinner were included, totally epitomizing Tuscany for me.
Best water-related activity: Boat trip on Santorini
In Santorini, my Intrepid Travel tour group decided we wanted to go out on a boat. So our awesome guide arranged a private charter for us with the wonderful Captain George. We had the little traditional boat to ourselves for 3 hours, which we spent dancing, drinking wine, swimming, and then slathering ourselves in mud from a volcanic hot spring (which left me smelling like sulphur for 2 days, but oh well). The evening ended just in time to watch the sun set from the donkey trail in Oia.
Best beach: Villafranche or Perissa
This is a tough one, because I went to a beach just about every day in Greece. I'll say Villefranche (in the French Riviera) simply because it was the first beach I visited this summer in Europe and it was JUST what I needed after a hot day in Nice. It was also kind of gorgeous. My other favorite was Perissa on Santorini, with its black sand and orgasmically perfect water.
Biggest surprise: Burano
I took a half-day trip out to some of the islands that surround Venice. I had always heard that Burano — known for its lace-making and painted houses — was pretty. But I had no idea just HOW pretty and amazing this little island was. I spent my time on the island snapping photos like this one:
Weirdest experience: Fish spa
On Santorini, me and a couple of my Intrepid tour mates decided it might be fun to have little fish nibble on our feet for half an hour. And you know what? It WAS kind of fun. Also weird. But mostly fun.
Coolest ancient site I visited: Delos
The Greek island of Delos is nothing but ruins today. But it's OLD. Like, old enough that this is where the Greek god Apollo and his twin sister Artemis are said to have been born. It's also a pretty cool half-day trip from Mykonos.
Most expensive car I saw: A purple special edition Lamborghini
I saw more expensive cars in front of the Monte Carlo Casino than I had ever seen in my entire LIFE. But this one definitely took the cake as being the most ostentatious of the bunch.
Here are some other stats:
Flights: 1 (Nice to Athens)
Buses: Lots, since I was still traveling with Busabout for half of this month; and I also took lots of public buses on the Greek Islands
Ferries: 8 (all in the Greek Islands)
Splurges: I may or may not have purchased an Italian leather bag in Florence… But it has a vintage map print on it! I cannot be held responsible for my actions when vintage maps and cute handbags are involved…
Photos taken: 1,394
Greek kitties patted: Countless
Times I nearly pulled my hair out thanks to terrible wifi in Italy: Also countless
Where to next?
I'm actually currently in Poland (sorry, I'm even behind on this post!), which was a last-minute addition to my trip. I will visit Warsaw and Krakow here for a total of roughly 10 days, and then will go back to London for a week before heading over to Ireland for TBEX (a blogging conference) and a bit of extra exploring at the beginning of October.
After Ireland? I have no clue. I'll still have about 20 or so Schengen days at my disposal, so I would be up for another week or so in Europe before the Next Step.
And what's the Next Step, you ask? You'll just have to stay tuned to find out!
What's up on the blog?
I'm further behind than ever on the blog — roughly a month behind my actual travels. I hope to buckle down in London next week though and try my best to get (somewhat) caught up. I have Italy posts coming up soon, a couple of videos to edit, and then of course tons of Greece content!
In the meantime, here's what I've published lately on the blog about this trip:
- Amsterdam, It's Not You, It's Me
- Berlin: Much More Than Its Past
- The Berlin Wall: Then and Now
- A Church of Bones
- Pretty Prague
- How Cesky Krumlov Charmed My Socks Off
I think that just about wraps up Month Two. Thanks for following along!
Let me know what you thought of this monthly summary in the comments!
Amanda Williams is the award-winning blogger behind A Dangerous Business Travel Blog. She has traveled to more than 60 countries on 6 continents from her home base in Ohio, specializing in experiential and thoughtful travel through the US, Europe, and rest of the world. Amanda only shares tips based on her personal experiences and places she's actually traveled!