Europe with Little House Big Heart

While Jesse and I are gallivanting around Europe (we’ll be hitting up a ton of London museums today!) I’ve asked a few of my favorite bloggers to stop by and share about some of their favorite travel memories. I love reading about where people have been, and of course seeing all of their pictures! Today’s guest post is from  another one of my best blog friends, Jess of Little House Big Heart. She and her husband Kevin are super avid travelers and have been to Europe twice since I started following her blog, plus they may be going to SouthEast Asia in 2014! I’m just trying to convince her to make a trip up to Virginia to visit me! đŸ˜‰

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First, I want to thank Ashley for asking me to guest post for her! Travel is something we’re super passionate about around the Little House, so when Ashley asked if we’d talk about one of our trips, I was thrilled! Since we’ve been married, Kevin and I have visited nine countries together and have a trip in the works to visit at least three more.

Our most recent trip took us to Germany, Austria, and Italy in May of this year.

After a direct flight from Dallas, we landed in Munich, Germany first thing in the morning. We always plan our flights to land early in the morning so that we have a better chance at beating jet lag and have a full day ahead of us. A quick train ride into the city dropped us just blocks from our hotel, Motel One (don’t let the name scare you; it was fantastic!).

Passport.

We loved Munich. Neither of us speak a word of German (although we did learn to say “I’m sorry, excuse me” and “I don’t understand”), but we absolutely loved the city. We loved the Englisher Garden. The leaves were just starting to come out on the trees and the quiet was welcome after the bustle of the city.

Munich Englisher Garden 1 Munich Englisher Garden 4

My single favorite thing about Munich was the Viktualienmarkt. The food stalls there were so colorful and full of life! The vendors were friendly and the beer garden was a great place to eat the nibbles we’d bought wandering through the stalls.

Munich Viktualienmarkt 3 Munich Viktualienmarkt 1

We left Munich after only two days to head south to Innsbruck, Austria. The train ride through the Alps is worth mentioning; there can’t be a better way to take in the scenery than through a slowly swaying train window.

We can’t say enough good things about Innsbruck; it surprised us so much. The first thing we did when we arrived in town was to purchase an Innsbruck card. This got us into all the main attractions for a really reasonable rate! Once we had our cards, we headed to the cablecar up the Hafelekarspitze. The view from the top was breathtaking.

Innsbruck Hafelekarspitze 2Down in the city, we loved wandering through the Altstadt along the Innsbruck River and touring the Innsbruck Hofburg.

Innsbruck Innsbruck Hofburg 1

Our time in Innsbruck was far to short; only one day there and we were on our way to Venice, Italy, where we stayed at a charming bed and breakfast, Alla Vite Dorata. We were as surprised by Venice as we were by Innsbruck; it was so much busier than we ever imagined. There were nice cruise ships docked the day we arrived and the crowds at the main attractions were positively atrocious.

We adopted the following rule: get lost. If we went down a street and found a crowd at one end, we turned onto a quieter street and onto another and another until we were utterly and completely lost… and that’s when we discovered the real Venice.

Venice Canal Walk 1 Venice Canal Walk 2

If you ever go to Venice, be sure to check out the cicchetti (pronounced chiketti). They’re fabulous little appetizer sized bites and tiny glasses of wine for usually 1 or 2 Euro. There’s a few bars that serve them around happy hour time and the good ones are always packed with locals and tourists in the know!

From Venice we headed west to Florence, Italy for a few days in it’s art and culture. We stayed at a great B&B just steps from the Duomo. We spent a lot of time wandering the streets of Florence; the weather was gorgeous and the city is really beautiful. We set up our camera one evening to take photos of the Arno as the sunset and climbed up to the Piazza del Michelangelo the next morning to capture the sunrise. I highly recommend you doing both!

Florence Florence Piazza Michelangelo Sunrise 2One of our favorite dining experiences of the whole trip was in Florence. Our wonderful B&B recommended a small trattoria near the main market, Trattoria Mario. The (handwritten) menu changes daily, the tables are communal, the wine is cheap and the food…the food was to die for (we ate there twice, and for us, that’s saying something).

We left Florence behind and headed for our final stop, Rome. We stayed at a truly incredible B&B, Domus Quiritum. Honestly, this B&B made our trip. The owners and their staff had such wonderful suggestions for things to do and places to eat (we even went out for an incredible dinner with them one night).

You can’t go to Rome without visiting the Vatican. Kevin and I had both visited before, so we skipped the Sistine Chapel tour and opted to go up on the dome instead.

Rome St. Peters Basilica 2We also visited our favorite church in Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the oldest churches in Rome.

Rome St. Paul Outside the Walls 2 Rome St. Paul Outside the Walls 4Another great day was spent at Rome’s ruined sea port, Ostia Antica, just outside the city. A short metro ride dropped us off at an amazingly well preserved historical site that allows visitors to wander in and around its ruins, climbing stairs and really experiencing the whole site. We stayed until closing.

Rome Ostia Antica 6 Rome Ostia Antica 7 Rome Ostia Antica 5

Last but not least, we went on a walking tour of ancient Rome with Rick Steve’s audio guides. Instead of walking the tour, though, we found a perch high atop the forum and watched the tourists walk down the ancient street. From where we were, it was easy to imagine them to be ancient Romans going about their own business.

Rome Forum 2

It was a fantastic trip! We’re so blessed to be able to travel like we do! If you have any questions about suggestions on what to do in any of these cities, don’t hesitate to email me!

Happy travels, Rowlands!

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If you have questions, you seriously should email Jess! I picked her brain for weeks while we were booking our trip and she was a HUGE help! Now if only I could have followed her packing advice a little bit better…

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