Part 1: Cultural Enlightenment
After a week of fine tailoring, a heat wave and black pudding in London, we were feeling the need for a change in scenery. Packing our bags, we jetted across the English Channel to the city of love: Paris!
Jumping off the Eurorail late afternoon in Paris, four heavy suitcases in tow and peak hour congestion, our emotions were running high. Between excitement and stress, we were as eager to begin our sight-seeing as we were to take a nap. And what a place we had to lay our weary heads….
Formerly Napoleon Bonaparté’s nephews house, our home for the next three days was the Shangri-La Paris.
Only a short walk away, we headed straight for none other than the Eiffel Tower.. An increadible piece of architecture, Paris’ most famous landmark simply takes your breath away.
After the Eiffel Tower, we decided to check out another city marvel, the Arc de Triomphe. As the taxi driver said “Why do you want to get close? Traffic!!” we soon checked the clock and realized it was approaching peak hour. As soon as we left the taxi, we understood what he meant. The Arc de Triomphe is a local steer clear zone due to the amount of traffic that flows through. Nonetheless, we had to get closer to see one of the world’s most iconic structures.
After a long day of site seeing, we decided a day of wining and dining was well overdue.
Kong was a recommendation and a simple ‘must-see’ when in Paris. With spanning views of the Seine River and Point Neuf Bridge it was easy to see why.
Full from an amazing lunch, we decided to stroll back to our hotel. On the way back, we decided to stop in at one of the many local food markets that Paris has to offer. An obligatory croissant or two were purchased for a light snack later that day…
After a little rest back at the hotel, we consulted with our concierge Henri. He encouraged us to visit the “ best steak restaurant in Paris”. Coming from Australia where red meat is plentiful and of great quality, we were a little sceptical, however it did not disappoint. Atelier Vivanda jumped straight into our Top 5 restaurants of all time. This is as authentic of an experience you could get, with only ten seats in the restaurant and not a word of English. Without a doubt one of the best meals we had on our trip so far and a must-try for any serious steak lover or foodie out there.
Day 4 – Buongiorno Italy!
We woke up with the mood set sombre, as we realized we were saying goodbye to our beloved Shangri-La Paris. Coming off a food experience like no other, Paris had us in love.
*Note – Three days is not enough in this incredible city.
After a cancelled flight and 5 hours of waiting at Charles de Gaulle airport, we landed in Milan for Fashion Week. A long day of travel had us just about ready to hit the hay, but with time of the essencew we headed to a few exhibitions in the evening.
Our list for Milan was long and with our cancelled flights, we needed to fit 3 days into 2. We began Day 5 being treated to a little R&R by renowned Italian fragrance brand Aqua di Parma.
We were then lucky enough to be treated to lunch at one of the most popular eating spots in Milan…Il Salumaio. Tucked away in a little laneway, this spot was our first true Italian food experience and boy was it one to remember.
*Tip – try the Osso Bucco
Being Fashion Week in Milan, it was probably one of the busiest times to be in the city. When it came to hitting ‘tourist’ spots, we were dodging people left right and centre. While trying to figure out where exactly we were, we look up to find Duomo di Milano. The most recognizable cathedral in the world apart from the Vatican, Duomo di Milano is truly a masterpiece.
Whilst we were in the neighborhood we thought we might as well stop past the world’s first shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Another short and sweet taste of another beautiful city. Milano, was amazing and rest assured, we will be back. Next up it was time to hit the streets of Florence. From a big city atmosphere to the Tuscan Hills at Belmond Villa San Michele, it is fair to say relaxed was an understatement.
Rated as one of the top honeymoon spots in the world, the history of Villa San Michele is incredible. The original villa design by Michelangelo himself has been around for centuries. Apart from the stunning five star accommodation, the history of this Tuscan villa blew us away.
Day 8 and we headed down from the Tuscan hills and into the heart of Firenze. The winding cobblestone roads and hidden gems at every corner, if you blinked you might miss the true beauty of this stunning city.
Known for their leather goods, we decided to opt for a little retail therapy, or bargaining fun, depending how you look at it. The markets are filled with amazing local goods, a lot of which has been made right there in Florence.
Our last stop for the day was Cathedral Santa Maria, which once again, brings you back to the renaissance era with the amazing craftsmanship of such stunning architecture.
That brings week two to a halt. We covered a lot of ground and there is still so much more to see and do…stay tuned.