The day after we landed in London, Tie and I joined a tour group for a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. From London to Stonehenge it is a 2-hour drive and then about an hour to Bath, and from Bath to London is another 2 hours. Typically I am not a big fan of tours, but if I can sit in the comfort of a coach bus with that itinerary I am a-okay with it.For breakfast, we just picked up something quick at the bus terminal. There are many tour groups in London, but we personally went with ____. We enjoyed our guide’s unapologetically cynical English humor as he gave us an overview of the buildings and parks we passed by in central London and later in Stonehenge and Bath, too. In short, British royalty owns most of the land and properties so the rich just keep getting richer. Living in Manhattan, this comes as no surprise. And there’s no such thing as a British accent, only an English one.
I never intended on visiting Basel, Switzerland, but it was a convenient place to catch a flight for the cities we did want to go to. Still, it was a decent one-day trip. We stayed at an AirBNB on the outskirts of the city and took a train into Basel. Parking was just too expensive (as was everything else, really). I really wanted to indulge in some quality chocolate and cheese, but I wasn’t ready to pay 40 swiss francs for a cheese fondue with only bread. So unfortunately, didn’t get my foodie fix here. We made up for it in other ways.
Lately, Tie and I have been busy renovating our first house together so I thought it’d be most appropriate to write about our visit to the Vitra Campus during our last Euro trip. It is truly an interior design lover’s dream come true. We were staying at an AirBNB in Weil am Rhein, Germany and the campus was a short drive away (they also have free parking!). Lots to see here – we ended up staying longer than expected! A brief background on Vitra – it is actually a Swiss furniture company that manufactures many works by famous designers of the past and present. Vitra Campus is a showroom, museum, and playground all bundled into one glorious span of land. And with its buildings designed by the likes of Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, amongst others, you really can judge a book by its cover; the interiors are just as beautiful.
These days, Tie and I try to mix in both big and lesser known cities into our travels. When we told others we were going to France, many thought we might be going to Nice or Paris. This time around, however, we decided to visit Colmar, which is close to the border of Switzerland, Germany, and France. If you’ve read our previous post about the Ghibli Museum, you’ll know that both of us are big fans of Studio Ghibli films. And it just so happens that Howl’s Moving Castle draws inspiration from the quaint, charming town of Colmar. Seeing the floral-dotted canals and unique criss-cross facade on the colorful buildings in person was like watching a live-action version of the animated movie. I could see exactly why they chose this location.
One of the most unexpectedly beautiful cities I’ve visited is Prague. And it’s not just because it was my first foray into Europe, or the first time I was traveling with a friend. Before going there, I knew little of the Czech Republic, except a former coworker had gone there and her pictures of the red roofs looked pretty cool. But Prague, despite being a popular travel destination, maintains a quaint and lovely old town charm.
Of all the beautiful cities in Italy, Venice was the one I looked forward to seeing the most. And not only because of news that it’s going to vanish in the coming future due to rising water levels. Shamefully, it is because the One Piece fangirl within wanted to see the real-life Water 7. If you didn’t get the reference, don’t worry about it. Just nerding out as usual.
The next day, we did a bit of window-shopping around the Galleria. Milan is known as a shopping hub, but you can actually find the same stores around the Duomo in other parts of Italy, like Venice. Being the non-fashionista that I am, my favorite store was the bookstore. For the stylish folks, they do have a good collection of fashion publications, as well as pop up and adult coloring books. Anyhow, we didn’t end up buying anything because there was nothing we needed (and we’re not made of money).
Milan is one of those cities I never imagined I would visit, in part because I’m not a huge shopper and also because I don’t have a lot of money (the likely causality of the former). But since Emirate’s popular $800 roundtrip flight deal per couple lands in Milan, who were we to refuse? I thank my Facebook acquaintances for posting about it during the spring of 2015 – we booked our tickets shortly afterwards. Emirates still has regular promotions for this flight route, but it has definitely gotten more expensive since then ($500 and upwards). We had a different friend going to Italy almost every week at that time.
Our most recent trip to Italy landed around Margaret’s birthday. Emirates had a special offer in 2015 where 2 people can fly to Milan and back from New York for $800 total. We immediately booked the flights on my phone once we found out about it. After the flights were booked, it was time to figure out accommodations.
I had recently applied for the Hyatt credit card from Chase before booking the trip. The signup bonus for the credit card was 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel. The Park Hyatt was the Hyatt brand’s luxury line of hotels and the Park Hyatt Milan was part of Hyatt’s top category hotels. So I decided to use the 2 free nights at that hotel during this trip.