Visiting the Bonnville Salt Flats Speedway is a top thing to do with your rental car in Utah. The densely packed salt pans are a unique natural feature stretching over 30,000 acres! Famous for it’s Speed Week to break racing records, we had arrived on the white salt reflecting area on an early morning for a little drive with our rental car. Continue reading “Wandering The Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah”
Rome was at the top of our list to visit for a long while. But we knew this would be a little more expensive than our usual city trips, due to the amount of attractions in Rome that we really wanted to visit. Plus, we couldn’t go to Rome without at least a day trip to Pompeii for the ancient ruins of the Lost City and to climb the top of Mount Vesuvius volcano, so we were pushing out our usual budget.
As soon as we arrived we were hit with the 36°c degree heat and we were prepared with our sunglasses and suncream. We stayed at the Four Seasons Hostel, which was great location from the train and metro stop plus cheap to sleep there, however overall rather dirty and it’s definitely not a place we will return to. But seeing as we spent the whole day and evenings in the city it was fine just to sleep and shower there.
We were a little in doubt to queue up and visit the Colosseum inside, as we could see how crazy it was to wait in line up to 4 hours! And we are definitely not the type that like queuing! We took a chance and got up on our 3rd day at 7am, which was hard to do after going to bed so late, and took the metro to the colosseum to see if we had a chance to get to the front of the line. Surprisingly, it was the best time and idea we had on our vacation. We must of been within the first 100 people, so once the Colosseum was open we went straight in!
We found it stunning to see, and to learn the history of how it would of been. We wanted to book the underground tour as it was highly recommended and definitely something we would enjoy, but unfortunately it was sold out online months before we actually arrived! When we return in the future, we will keep this in mind and book in advance.
With the same ticket you had entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which was also at the top of our list to visit. We took a side entrance that was rumoured to be less popular for the tourists, and with our curiosity we got there and could walk straight in, instead of queuing at the main entrance for minimum an hour.
Once again Rome took our breath away as we tried taking in all the information and history, how life would of been and how amazing it is to walk around freely in such a preserved area. Again we didn’t go with a tour so we could take our time and explore at our own pace, but we would of benefited from a guide to learn better about what some of the ruins were.
With one of our free afternoons we decided to travel out of the non-stop city with the metro to the famous aqua ducts. I personally didn’t know much about them, so Lennart became my tour guide. He had a good place in mind that he had researched where there were still parts of the aqua ducts standing that would have carried water towards Rome.
Was beautiful to just walk through the fields, with no other people in sight. We followed the dried up path, with the wild flowers and a little stream nearby. It didn’t feel like we were only 20 minutes from the center of Rome. We could of spent hours there but once the sun was setting we headed towards the city for dinner and prepare ourselves for our excursion trip to the Lost City of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius the following day (and our last full day in Italy).
Here Lennart is photographed with a section of the original stoned road to Rome.
Some things we missed were the Pantheon and the Appian Way so they will be on our list next time our travels take us to Rome! There is just so much to see and take in it was hard to fit everything in on a 5 day visit! Would definitely recommend at least 7 days if your planning your visit to Rome.
We had two words for Vienna on our first day, beautiful and busy! Travelling here by train from Innsbruck was a beautiful experience as we never saw so much lush green grass before! The train from Innsbruck took around 2 hours but that time was well spent researching museums and activities to do on trip advisor.
I normally take lots of photos but in this city the camera battery was running low sooner than expected. We immersed ourselves in the culture, like eating bratwurst with mustard in a roll on the main shopping street – delicious! We couldn’t sit down anywhere as the whole city buzzing with shoppers and all the locals were drinking coffee on café terraces. We squeezed some time in to do some shopping, but mostly focused on exploring more of the busy streets and open squares of the city.
We booked ourselves into the AllYouNeed Hotel-Vienna2 which was fine for a decent night’s sleep and a fresh well-assorted breakfast the following morning. It wasn’t luxury, but it was good for what we needed with regards to location and price, plus the free WIFI was good, so we could plan what to see in the following days.
As we only had 2 full days we were limited to what we wanted to do. We were rewarded with warm sunny weather and were able to spend both days out late exploring. One evening did bring some heavy rain and thunderstorms but luckily we had just made it back to the hotel.
Some highlights of visiting Vienna firstly was the Schönbrunn Palace, with beautiful fountains and gardens that you could spend hours walking around in. The whole grounds were free to enter. There could of been more places to buy cold refreshments as the weather was reaching 40°C and most things were selling out to other tourists, but we were prepared and had some snacks and water with us. The flower arrangements were done beautifully and most statues and water fountains were being restored so once its done it will be strikingly picturesque. I took hundreds of photos here so it was hard to choose the best one. A beautiful recommendation!
The Technical Museum in Vienna was very enjoyable to visit, as they had a wide range of scientific, communications and industrial artifacts which we found interesting. It was not very busy when we visited during lunch time hours so we managed to appreciate all the artifacts on show without having to rush or miss out on some parts of the museum. Not expensive to enter so check it out if you are there!
The Prater Amusement Park is also a highlight. Like most amusement parks, they are expensive and full of flashing attractions trying to make you spend all your money to win a teddy bear. But I am positive to say that we had a really good night here. We spent a perfect clear night high above the park by first going in the famous ‘Riesenrad’ Ferris wheel, with views of seeing the whole city. We managed to keep to our budget, but one ride (that was priced at €5 each!) which we just had to try was the ‘Prater Turm’. Leaving your shoes and bags below you are taken up slowly and half way up to the highest point of 117 meters you start swinging in circles until you reach the top, lasting for up to 3 minutes. It was a great experience so high up but I definitely admit it was a little scary swaying in little flimsy metal chairs, while you’re holding on as tight as possible to your partner.
Vienna was a beautiful city, and we would definitely love to return in the future, maybe in the winter season when the city is covered in snow and they have their famous christmas markets.
It was good to have good warm weather and a variety of attractions and museums to keep us active. However we were definitely looking forward to getting back to the mountains in Innsbruck with the train and to check in at our new hotel with a swimming pool and sauna.
We decided to step out of our comfort zone of capital cities for our summer destination in 2014. What sparked the idea was that we had never been to the mountains during the summer season and after doing some research with our budget in mind we chose Innsbruck, Austria as our destination.
We started our first few days in the Basic Hotel Innsbruck, keeping in mind our budget and to explore the city for the first few days on a cheap budget. We were greeted warmly after arriving late, all of our questions were answered well and what we always base our sleeping arrangements on, a location with good free WIFI.
With our new walking mountain boots ready to be worn we decided to spend our first day going straight up the beautiful mountain on the cable car. We took the Nordkettenbahnen to Hafelekar, the highest point of 2256m above sea level. It was amazing to see the city down below on one side and the amazing views of the mountain range on the other. Our photos show how fantastic the weather was and what gorgeous views we encountered at the top!
After reaching the ‘touristic’ part of the mountain and having our photo taken together by other tourists and hikers, we decided to break in our mountain boots more and follow a walking route with a red dot. Unknown to us we didn’t know where this would lead us to or how long it was, resulting in getting us very far away after a good 3 hours of exploring! (We were oblivious to amount we had walked!) We were so immersed in the beauty of our surroundings we finally realised that we were going to have to find a safe path down the mountains, as the cable car would have stopped running by the time we walked back the same route. Luckily we had some snacks with us and we had a good feeling that we would come across a pathway down within another 30mins as it seemed that we were slowly descending. Well 3 hours later and we seemed to be in the middle of the mountain range with no one else but the famous Austrian cows with their bells in sight!! I must say at this point I was getting very worried as it would only be a few more hours until dark.
We came into contact with a solo Belgium hiker, who had some knowledge of the paths and directed us to a small pathway that led us down the mountain. This pathway was not a pathway as he described, it was half falling away and with one wrong step we would have gone flying down. It was also overgrown and used only by the most experienced hikers but it was our only close option to getting down the mountain after 6 hours of hiking. Even our comfy new mountain boots were tired and we were starting to feel our knees hurt in every step. Our snacks and water was completely gone and our energy levels reached very low points.
After 1 hour slowly trekking downwards and darkness beginning to fall we finally made it to a tarmac road with a little hidden café. At last we could stop worrying about being stuck and grab something to eat and drink before following the tarmac road back to Innsbruck city centre. Within the following 1 hour we had made it back in the dark, crashed on our beds and slept until 1pm the following day! The 8 hours of hiking had knocked us out. We had a great sleep but our leg muscles were aching for the next couple of days.
After all the exploring up the mountain and getting lost along the way, we feel that our first day was the highlight of the whole vacation. However we have learnt that we shall never follow a walking route with a red dot ever again!
Keeping the capital cities goal in mind, we took a 2 day trip to Vienna in the middle of our 10-day vacation. Travelling by train, we read some new chapters in our books and watched the beautiful famous green nature of Austria pass by. Check out my Vienna post about our visit!
Once back from Vienna we booked ourselves into Hotel Innsbruck which we reserved for some luxury feeling to use the relaxing indoor swimming pool and sauna, and because of the excellent reviews. We requested a view of the mountains and that’s exactly what we got, opening the curtains every morning to the stunning views of where we got lost at a few days before. Throughout the time spent there the service of this hotel was fantastic, even letting us check in our big suitcase early when we left the first hotel in Innsbruck to leave for Vienna, and stored it safely until we arrived back 2 days later.
Innsbruck is a picturesque city, small enough to explore within a few days. The Golden Roof was a 5 minute walk away from both hotels and the main restaurants were buzzing with locals and tourists. One little restaurant/bar that we found in a side street behind the hotel served a delicious meal of schnitzel and chips. It was where the locals hung out, so we joined them instead of spending twice as much for the same dish near the Golden Roof. The city was very pretty but we booked this destination for the experience of hiking in the mountains, which we certainly experienced!
Our time here was a wonderful experience, one we will definitely remember. If you are ever visiting Austria, I’d recommend a few days to Innsbruck!
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This vacation was in 2014.
Have you been to Innsbruck before? Or thinking of going? Let us know in the comments!