So did we do it better than taking a cruise?
Well, if you take out having to lug our suitcases everywhere, on and off trains, to and from airports and up and down all the steps we ended up having to navigate, then we obviously would have had a better time of it on a cruise.
BUT, we were able to immerse ourselves a lot more in the cities we stayed in and this, to me, is invaluable. We were under no time constraints when it came to most of the things we wanted to see and do (unless it was those imposed by ourselves when we chose to do guided tours). It was particularly lovely in spots like Venice and Capri to enjoy the place once all the day trippers had left. We ate what we wanted, where we wanted and when we wanted. We could stop when and where we wanted. We got to use all sorts of public transport and we got out of the cities too. We saw so many more countries and sights on our itinerary than if we had been on a cruise. And there’s nothing like staying in a place for a few nights to get into its groove.
I loved the fresh markets we came across – being able to buy and cook with fresh local produce was a great experience, not to mention being able to interact with the locals.
I’m not saying don’t go on a cruise, they definitely have their place and there are people who absolutely adore cruising, but for us and the way we travel, d.i.y is the way to go. Maybe just with less luggage next time….
The main thing I learnt out of this trip was that while it was great to tick off some of the major icons of the world, I actually much prefer going to a place that is quieter and where you can appreciate it for being itself. I much preferred Barcelona and Lisbon over Paris and Florence. Those flag carrying big tour groups were so annoying and I got so sick of being harrassed by people trying to hawk me stuff whenever I came near a popular sight. I hated having to line up for everything, although to be honest, we didn’t have to do very much of that, we just moved on if there was a huge queue.
Where would I go back to? Lisbon and Barcelona. For sure.
I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to my Laos trip in November. Even more so, because I know it will be a much more intimate experience.
If you’re interested in any of the facts from our trip, here they are:
We stayed with:
Parkroyal on Pickering, Chinatown/CBD, Singapore
Citadines La Ramblas, La Ramblas, Barcelona
Hotel Convento do Salvador, Alfama, Lisbon
Villa Montmartre, Montmartre, Paris
Citadines Lyon Presquile, Lyon
Chateau de Trigance, Trigance
Private Residence (AirBNB), Vieille Ville, Nice
Locanda Ca’Amadi, Cannaregio,Venice
Villa Il Mosaico, Florence
B&B Antico Monastero di Anacapri, Anacapri, Capri
Casa Di Eddy, Termini Station, Rome
We flew with:
Singapore Airlines Perth to Barcelona and from Rome to Perth
TAP Airlines from Barcelona to Lisbon and from Lisbon to Paris
HOP Airlines from Nice to Venice
We drove with:
Sixt (between Aix en Provence and Nice)
We bought these city cards to help save us money – they included free public transport:
We used these tour companies (everything else we did ourselves):
Urban Adventures in Barcelona (Tapas Walking Tour)
France Tourisme in Paris (Versailles)
Tour Azur in Nice (Monaco Evening Trip)
Florencetown in Florence (Pizza and Gelato Making)
Dark Rome in Rome (Vatican Tour)
Coop Culture in Rome (Domus Aurea)
If you have any questions about our trip though, please ask me!