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Oct 2017

A 13-Day Europe Itinerary for First-Time Travelers

13 days Europe

Time to plan that quintessential Eurotrip!

This was it. It was time to step out of my Asia-only travel comfort zone and embark on my first trip to discover the magical Europe. Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland
 – here I come!

Day 1: Bidding farewell

Goodbye Singapore! With great excitement, I boarded my 13-hour long flight to my first destination – Roma, the Eternal City. Andiamo!

Day 2: Rome

Rome  was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Between the cobbled street and time-worn architecture, it felt like I was transported back hundreds of years into a whole new world.
In fact, I was even half-expecting to see men in togas and horse-drawn carts! Needless to say, the historic city really won over my heart the minute I stepped into it.

My explorations in Rome also brought me to the Vatican City, a city state even smaller than Singapore. Despite its size, Vatican City certainly packs a punch. It issues its own postage stamps and euros, and even has its own passports!

One must not miss the Colosseum when in Rome! One of the biggest amphitheatres to have been ever built, the majestic structure is rightfully named as one of the seven ‘New Wonders of the World’! As I stood before the grandeur of the massive stone monument, I could almost hear the frenzied cheers of ancient Romans urging on the bloodthirsty antics, just like in the epic movie Gladiator.

After all that walking, I had to find some delicious gelato. Make sure you treat yourself to the classic Italian ice cream when in Rome!

My final stop for the day was Trevi Fountain. It is the most elaborate and awe-inspiring monument I’ve ever seen. The locals believe that by tossing a coin over your left shoulder into the water, you will guarantee a return to Rome. 

I did so eagerly – this is one coin I certainly didn’t mind losing!

Day 3: Chianti & Pisa
Away from the bustling cities and into some quieter corners of Italy, I ventured into the picturesque Chianti region where the breathtaking Siena sits. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this medieval city is home to some of the most stunning art collections and spectacular architectures. A personal tip when you travel to this area: bring along extra batteries or power banks to keep phones and cameras alive! It’s truly a shutterbug’s heaven here.

To tick off my bucket list, I had to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa for an Instagram photo! It was both hilarious and challenging trying to come up with creative and wacky poses with the freestanding bell tower. I bet the Tower’s architect never imagined that his miscalculation would have resulted in a symbol of Italy’s civic pride! Savouring on delicious Tuscany fares – wine, cheese and pasta – my night in Tuscany concluded in pleasant stupor and a belly filled to the brim.

Day 4: Florence

We could all do with a dose of retail therapy whilst travelling, especially with up to 70% discounts on luxury Italian brands! The Mall in Florence is home to famous boutiques such as Prada, Furla, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Burberry. I’m not ashamed to say that I thoroughly enjoyed shopping here! Plus, these affordable items (only in Italy!) are perfect souvenirs for family and friends back home.

Luxury didn’t end there! After a long day of shopping, I was welcomed with the friendliest smiles and top-notch service into the swanky 5-¬star Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel. This royal treatment really made me felt like a film star!

Day 5: Venice

The nautical city of Venice turned out to be even more special than my imagination. At every turn, there was a picture¬perfect view awaiting to surprise me – gondolas bobbing along canals, St Mark’s Square, St Mark’s Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs.

In addition, I love the maschereri (mask shops)! The handmade Venetian masks sold in these shops were strange yet alluring. As I hopped from one shop to another, I was determined to plan a trip to Venice again during the Venice Carnival just to don on my own mask and join the party!

Day 6: Milan & Évian-les-Bains

Moving westwards from Venice, I then travelled to Milan. Truly, they don’t label the fast-paced metropolis as the shopping capital of the world for nothing. I thought that I had already bought all my souvenirs, but boy was I wrong. There were simply too many things to buy here!

My next stop was Évian-les-Bains, a gorgeous town perched on the borders of Switzerland and Italy. Nestled between lakes and mountains, the natural wonder is also where Evian mineral water originates. It was an ideal stop – after visiting numerous cities in a row, I was craving to get away from all that hustle and bustle into the tranquil nature.

Day 7: Lake Geneva Region & Lake Geneva

In the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland, I experienced my first Christmas market! Known as the Montreux Marche de Noel, the Weihnachtsmarkt (traditional Christmas market) consists of over 150 stalls beside the scenic Lake Geneva. With a myriad of delicious food options and an absolutely electric atmosphere, my visit here was definitely a memorable one.

I then made my way to Interlaken, a resort town that lies in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. If you are one who has little tolerance for the cold, make sure to throw on extra layers – it was really chilly here! To warm myself up, I treated myself to a classic four¬-course Swiss fondue dinner, a local delicacy that originated from the Alps. Yummy!

Day 8: Mount Bussalp

Today was the highlight of my trip – a thrilling sled run down Mount Bussalp! Admittedly, I was slightly nervous about the 7.6km sledge run (the longest in Europe!). However, I found strength in numbers and felt more courageous after seeing the number of participants around me.

What an exhilarating experience it was! There’s nothing quite like zooming down snowy slopes surrounded by a surreal ivory landscape. With the frosty wind biting my cheek, hair flying in the wind, I truly had the ride-of-a-lifetime!