A Travellerspoint blog

June 2016

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Italy - Pisa

sunny 29 °C
View Italy on kmmk17's travel map.


After two very busy days, our final day of travel was far more relaxed, with just a visit to the small city of Pisa before flying home.

Checking out of the hotel and making our way across the city to the station, we jumped on another cheap train with locked windows, for an hour's ride to our next destination - Pisa.

Apennines over the Arno in Pisa

Apennines over the Arno in Pisa

Pisa is relatively small, and after dropping our bags off at the station, it took just 15 minutes or so to walk across the city, over the River Arno again, to the main draw - The Leaning Tower.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Although not the most leaning tower in the world (that record going to the tower of Suurhusen, that I had trekked two hours across rural North Germany for a five minute view four years previously) it was still an iconic attraction that I'd always had on my list, which with it's close proximity to San Marino I had tied into a tour.

Unlike a lot of well known attractions that prove underwhelming, the leaning tower was as amazing as expected. Although the grounds were small, it was fascinating and well worth the visit - lovely weather and no admission charge to see the outside.

After having lunch, we then made our way back to the train station to collect our bits and then head towards the airport with plenty of time to spare. A nice relaxing end to the trip that was as good as planned and well worth it.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Italy Tagged tower city italy2016 Comments (0)

A Romantic Getaway

Italy - Florence

sunny 32 °C
View Italy on kmmk17's travel map.


Waking up in Rimini after my side of the bed had been invaded throughout the night it was time to make our way towards the second stop on the trip - Florence.

Going back to the train station, we boarded a train back to Bologna, this time having a mooch around before our onward trip.

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Dropping our bags off at the luggage storage in the station, we walked into the city centre, taking in the ambience of the historic Italian city, arriving at the Piazza Maggiore, taking a walk around the main square, towards the two leaning towers, before making our way back to the station. Quick, but enough to see the city itself.

Two Towers

Two Towers

After obtaining our bags we found out that we should have prebooked our onward travel, Unlike the other trains which were all regional and cost around €10-15, this was an express train whisking us through the central mountains, of which all second class tickets were already sold out.

Either we wait an hour to take a slow train that wouldn't arrive until 5pm, or we pay €40 and go business class for the half hour trip arriving in the early afternoon. We went for the latter and after briefly enjoying reclining chairs in AC, we arrived in the birthplace of the Renaissance - Florence.

Duomo

Duomo

The city is full of historical architecture, housing works by Michelangelo and da Vinci amongst others, and after dumping our stuff off at the hotel, we took a walk around starting with the Duomo cathedral, before making our way down to the Piazza della Signoria, where a copy of Michelangelo's David stands in it's original place.

David

David


Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio

Walking down towards the Arno river, we crossed the Ponte Vecchio, towards the Pitti Palace, before walking back along the riverside to the hotel.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

A busy hot day much like the previous, we chilled out in the room before grabbing a pizza and having a relaxing evening before our final day of the trip...

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Italy Tagged art architecture history city italy2016 Comments (0)

Oh my god, it was 98 degrees

Italy - San Marino

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Italy on kmmk17's travel map.


Less than a week after getting back from Budapest, it was time for the next getaway - this time to Italy with my friend and work colleague Fara.

We had planned a trip across the width of Italy to visit San Marino, Florence and Pisa, but as the only way to San Marino was to fly via Bologna or Ancona from Stansted, this meant a long first day of the trip.

Leaving home just after five I drove via Luton to Stansted early on Saturday morning to make our plane to the Italian city of Bologna, where after arrival we would then make our way to our hotel in Rimini. It was already very hot and in no time at all we were already disgustingly sweaty - what a contrast to the weather just a few hours ago at home.

After getting our tickets sorted we boarded our train, but after a fifteen minute delay it turned out there was a problem with our train, and so we had to board the following train. Unfortunately, this one was far busier and we ended up having to stand, crowded with a bunch of Americans who told us that things would only get worse - yesterday it was 98 degrees in Siena...which after translating is 36˚C...

Arriving in Rimini, we quickly checked in changed into summer attire, and made our way down to the bus stop for our hour ride to our third country of the day - San Marino.

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico

After an hour in a lovely AC bus, driving through the Italian countryside, crossing the border and then making our way up Mount Titano, we arrived at the entrance to the Most Serene Republic's capital, taking in the quaint ambience and views over the nearby countryside, and the coast.

Mount Titano

Mount Titano


Quaint San Marino

Quaint San Marino

Reminiscent of Andorra, but with much less commercial tax free luxury goods, and more general tourist tat, we had a mooch around the 'city' for an hour and a half, paying for a tourist stamp and entering the castle before making our way back to Rimini, for some quick food and a relax before our last trip of the day, to the sight of Rimini - the beach.

Rimini beach at sunset

Rimini beach at sunset

Finding that a local event was going on we walked onto the beach to feel the warm Adriatic water before making our way back to the hotel for a well earned rest....

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in San Marino Tagged sea beach city hill independence italy2016 Comments (0)

Hungary for Budapest

sunny 29 °C
View Budapest on kmmk17's travel map.


The first time I visited Budapest, back in August 2013, I found the city to be beautiful, but under the highest temperatures in it's history - hitting almost 40˚C, it was a challenge to truly enjoy the city.

This time, Chris and I were much luckier. Despite threats of showers longing all week it was a beautifully sunny weekend in the high 20s. However with much of our luck being used on the weather, the travel there and back was our downfall.

Foxy & Kevin Bear joining us too

Foxy & Kevin Bear joining us too

With an early evening flight from Luton I took the afternoon off and we made our way to the airport with plenty of time to spare. With Luton Airport security being highly shambolic it took us a long time to finally get through - tonnes of bags being sidelined for further inspection but without anyone actually carrying it out. Waiting an age for our bags to finally be looked at, after solving the problem - a non-resealable bag being used for liquids, the stupid man resent the entire basket back through the scanner to end up back of the queue again.

Eventually getting our bags through we made our way into the departure lounge to find our flight had suddenly been given a two hour delay. Great - now we would arrive so late that the shops would all be shut by the time we arrived to grab some drinks. Next thing, it was back on time again.

After the usual delays caused by allocated seating we were finally on the plane ready to take off when, oh - we had missed our slot and would have to wait an hour to actually take off. In the meantime, the trolley service came around and low and behold an hour after schedule we finally made it into the air. Eventually arriving late in Budapest we made our way to the hotel finally arriving and finally getting to sleep just before midnight.

With just a day and a half to actually see the city, we wasted no time the following morning grabbing breakfast and making our way into the city. Already by 10am it was in the high twenties and with two large hills to climb it was going to be a busy and sweaty day.

Parliament

Parliament

We began by visiting the Gothic Parliament building, where recently renovations to the square outside had taken place, before proceeding to walk down the east bank of the Danube, past the monument to the Jews shot during WWII, to the Lion flanked Chain Bridge.

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

Trying unsuccessfully to get Chris to show me his Lion impression, we crossed the bridge and made our way up Fisherman's Bastion, where there are fabulous views over the Parliament on the other side of the city.

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

Carrying on towards Buda Castle, we made our way back down the riverside and eventually to Gellert Hill, where after missing the correct turning we ended up scaling a rockface to make our way to the Liberty Monument at the top and gain stunning views over the whole city.

Budapest

Budapest


Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall

After making our way back down, having done the hardest parts of our walk around it was still early afternoon and so after stopping off at the Central Market to buy some tat we decided to head back to the hotel and spend the afternoon at the Thermal Baths.

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

The Széchenyi Baths are truly historic in the city and make up the largest complex in Europe. Whilst the inside baths were small and had numerous pools ranging up to 40˚C, there were also three large outside pools, including one with a rapid pool, that reached up to 38˚C. There was also a large screen up to show the Euro 2016 matches, which today also included Hungary vs Iceland, creating a wonderful atmosphere in the sun and heat of the Hungarian summer.

Returning back the the hotel after a few hours relaxing at the baths, we dropped off our swim clothes and made our way back into the city for dinner, before walking back up the main street to Chain Bridge for night time views of the Bridge and Buda Castle across the Danube.

Budapest by night

Budapest by night

The following morning we checked out and left our bags at the hotel before heading back to the Baths in the city park, walking down to Heroes's Square, before continuing down the tree lined Andrassy Avenue.

Heroes Square

Heroes Square

Stopping at the House of Terror, where the KGB Headquarters in Hungary were located, we had a history lesson in the Cold War era of the country which concluded our weekend break.

House of Terror

House of Terror

We then headed back the hotel to grab our bits and eventually make our way back to the airport for a delayed flight back to the UK.

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend in the beautiful Hungarian capital.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged bridges architecture history city relax torture macabre Comments (0)