If you have already been following us over the summer months of this year 2017 you have probably noticed that we’ve been to many European countries this August. We are both really big travel enthusiasts and one of our biggest dreams is to be able to travel the whole world with each other. So at the beginning of this year we decided to start with our „home-continent“ Europe. We did a three and a half week roadtrip through Italy, France, Spain and Portugal and left around seven and a half thousand kilometres behind us.
The first route from our home in Austria to Nice in France was at the same time the longest. It took us about 10 hours of merely driving. Our biggest problem was that we went to bed so late because we underestimated the time it would take to pack all our bags (as usual) and consequently were extremely tired. But with a short stop in Verona to get something to eat and some power naps we made our way to Nice. We especially loved sitting at the Promenade des Anglais and feeling our first sea breeze of the year. The view over the whole city and the azur blue water were also really breathtaking. Another great thing about our stay in Nice was the view we had while eating the typical French breakfast that was served at Villa Bennecourte.
Unfortunately, we had to make some very bad experiences in Barcelona. Our DSLR camera got stolen while we were sitting on a park bench because we showed a man the way. Thus, we spent many hours of our stay in Barcelona at the police office. Furthermore, on our way back to the hotel another pickpocket grabbed into Hannes’ pocket while he was getting out of the Metro but luckily, this time that thief was not successful. We really thought that everything’s against us on that day. We felt so stupid for being robbed although we knew that Barcelona is ill-reputed for thefts and were so sad because all our photos were gone. On the next day we decided to buy a new camera although we could hardly afford one at that time. But if we follow the advice of that well-known song that tells you to always look on the bright side of life we can say that we met Alba who is not only a translator at the police station in Barcelona but also a really nice person who helped us very much in that situation. Additionally, we now have got a brand-new camera and had a wonderful shoot with Nicola Dixon who travelled all the way from Great Britain to Barcelona just for us.
On our way to our next destination we shortly stopped in Calpe. We wanted to get a great view over the bay area so we decided to go up the hill we could see from the center of the city. Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of luxurious villas which was so crazy! When we arrived on top of the hill we were simply overwhelmed by the amazing view we got to experience there. The only bad thing about Calpe was that we had our most expensive and at the same time worst dinner there. We wanted to do ourselves a favour and have a really good dinner after the shock in Barcelona but we got really disappointed by very small portions and unhealthy sidedishes that had been served.
Cartagena more or less just served as a stopover for us but we still had a great time there. We were finally able to relax again after the bad time in Barcelona. We went into the sea for the first time of the year and found a cool restaurant where we received starter, main course and dessert plus one drink for only 10€ which made us really happy. We knew that Cartagena is not the most popular city of all but we wouldn’t have expected that we were the only human beings in some of the side streets. It seemed like all of the people in Cartagena had gathered on the one main shopping mile.
If we knew how much we would fall in love with Seville we would definitely have stayed there longer! Luckily, all the main sights of the city were in walking distance from our hotel Alcázar. We went to see the royal palace Alcázar, the Plaza de España, strolled through the old town and in the evening even got to see a beautiful sunset while sitting by the river. What makes Seville so special and so beautiful is the Arabic influence that is distributed all over the city. We also had our shoot with Ernesto Villalba in Seville.
Big rocks rising out of the water, hidden beaches, cliffs and yellow sand – We’re talking about the Algarve in Portugal. For us it is one of our favourite places in Europe. The Algarve has so many beautiful beaches to offer all surrounded by high cliffs. Due to its location at the Atlantic Ocean the water is always very cold but in summer it is normally very hot outside so going in the sea serves as a good refreshment. We stayed very close to the Praia de Marinha which is one of the most popular beaches at the Algarve. It is really beautiful there but in the high season it is totally overcrowded. Luckily, we received a very good tip from Hannah’s brother Julian who was also there just a few weeks before us. He told us about a secret beach next to the Praia de São Rafael in Albufeira which we tried to look for on the next day. After climbing down some rocks we found the beach Hannah’s brother was talking about. For many hours we had really been the only people there! We were so happy and it was just such a magical moment! At the Algarve we also met Jessi & Markus and spent such an amazing time with these two cuties while shooting with the sun going down behind us.
When accessing the city of Lisbon we totally felt like we were in Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco simultaneously due to the Christ statue called Cristo Rei and the large red bridge called Ponte 25 de Abril. In fact the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Ponte 25 de Abril in Lisbon were built by the same company, still they are not completely alike. What makes Lisbon so magical in our eyes are definitely the cable cars that are driving through the whole city and the streets that go up and down the hills on which Lisbon is built. When we had our shoot with Hugo Coelho at the Portuguese coast he also gave us lots of good tips about what to see in Lisbon, among those the quarter Bairro Alto or the pink street named Rua Cor-de-Rosa. We also talked about typical Portuguese dishes and those are the Bacalhau which is a very popular fish there and a sandwich called Francesinha which means little French girl.
On the road to our next stop we we also took some time to explore the nationalpark of Sintra to wich the westernmost point of the European continent named Cabo da Roca belongs.
Although we expected Porto to be different than it actually is we were still impressed. We thought because we’re still in Portugal which is a quite hot country that this wouldn’t be different in the North where Porto is located. But we were wrong – It was significantly colder than in the South and also the style of the whole city looked more Northern and not like a typical Southern city anymore. During our days in Porto we stayed in the hotel Castelo Santa Catarina which made us feel like we were living in a castle. Many parts of the city are ornamented with the typical Portuguese Azulejos which are colored ceramic tiles. The old Portwine carrying boats also instantly come to our minds when we think of Porto. Hannah doesn’t like the taste of alcohol so we did not try the famous Portwine but we had dinner next to the river which was a great experience too. In the evening we went over the upper part of the bridge called Ponte Dom Luís I to get a good view on the sunset. It was such an incredible feeling to watch the sun going down over the river of Porto together.
The way to Madrid was one of the most boring ones of our whole roadtrip. This big city is situated in the middle of Spain and there, no matter if you look to the left or to the right, you can see nothing except plain dry land. We only stayed in Madrid for one night but we already got a very good impression of the city. We had dinner in a very good restaurant called Mérimée and afterwards we went to the famous shopping mile Gran Vía. Numerous shops, boutiques, cinemas and ice cream parlors are settled on both sides of that big street and high buildings are rising from the ground. We found this great shop called SOLOiO which was like entering paradise for Hannes. Ties, bow-ties and cufflinks everywhere you look – the perfect shop for men who love to dress well. Although Hannes already has billions of that stuff at home we couldn’t help but buy another tie and cufflink.
Tossa de Mar, Spain
Tossa de Mar is situated at the Costa Brava, the rough coast in Spain. Tossa de Mar is definitely a town visited by many vacationers but although it was filled with many tourists we liked it very much there. The old town is just so beautiful and has many nice restaurants to offer. The Costa Brava itself is so stunning with all its little bays surrounded by big rocks and the clear blue water. The woman at the reception of our hotel told us about a beach called Cala del Senyor Ramon, which is less crowded than the other ones. We were really happy about this tip because our beach was great! Furthermore, during our whole drive to that beach we had a breathtaking view over the coastline of the Costa Brava – it was so amazing!
Cannes where the annual International Film Festival takes place is such a magical place. Situated at the Côte d’Azur the city embodys a luxurious and chic lifestyle. Expensive cars, high-cost boutiques and luxurious hotels everywhere. Spending your holidays in Cannes is definitely far from cheap. We payed 6€ for two balls of ice cream just to give you a little example. For dinner we luckily found an Irish pub called Ma Nolan’s which was very good and not as expensive as the other restaurants. Except the high prices Cannes is really beautiful and definitely worth to see!
After leaving Cannes we decided to make a quick stop in Monaco. The luxurious lifestyle there can be compared to the one in Cannes. First we went to see the famous Casino Monte Carlo. Hannes was really impressed by all of the expensive cars driving and standing around there. Afterwards we went up the hill to see the Grimaldi Palace and the old town which turned out to be our favourite part of Monaco.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is really as beautiful as everyone tells you! We were totally overwhelmed when we saw all these little villages built into the rocks for the first time. The colours of the houses, the clear blue water, … – everything is just so magical about this place! So if you ever thought about traveling to Cinque Terre, definitely go for it! When we went to Cinque Terre we stayed in La Spezia and approached the five villages by train. Just go to the train station and buy the Cinque Terre Card to have access to all of the trains, mini busses and hiking paths. This way to approach the five villages of Cinque Terre is very recommendable in our opinion because the train frequently arrives at the train stations and it doesn’t take long to get from one village to another. It is easily possible to explore all five Cinque Terre towns in one day because they’re really small and not far away from each other. However, we were not able to see all of them because we had our shoot with Jana & Simon later that day. Owing to the great amount of tourists that were still there in the evening we decided to do another session in the early morning.
In our opinion Venice really is one of the most beautiful cities. It is such a special and magical place because it is totally not like any other city in the world. The canals with the gondolas floating on them, the numerous beautiful little streets and the nice boutiques make you fall in love instantly. We also think it’s so cool that Venice is totally car-free and you can only reach your hotel in the center by foot, taxi boat or water bus. So when we arrived in Venice we had to decide between those three options. After looking at the prices of the water bus we decided to take all of our bags and just walk to our hotel because Google Maps said it would only be 15 minutes. But Google Maps in this case was a big liar because when we really arrived there 40 minutes had passed.
Hannah hurt her knee very bad, especially going up and down was really hard for her. Unfortunately, it was a very bad moment for her to sustain that injury. If you have ever been to Venice you know what we are talking about. Venice is almost just made of stairs, it’s all about going up and down on the bridges over the canals. So Hannes insisted on carrying Hannah over all of the bridges in Venice which was like one of the cutest things ever. If you’ve been to Venice at the same time and wondered why a man is carrying his woman over all of the bridges – Now you have the answer.
For us this roadtrip through some countries of Europe was definitely an experience we will never forget and it meant so much to us as it even was our first big vacation together. We met so many amazing people and spent such a great time with each other that bound us together even more. We are simply so greatful for having been able to make this experience.
Hannah & Hannes