Page 2 of Freedom 55 Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome September 27th 2017

We caught a Saturday, September 23rd train from Venice direct to Roma Termini , the main train station in downtown Rome. Our B&B hostess Rosa Maria, had told us which bus to catch on our arrival to reach our accommodation at Al Colonnato di San Pietro. It was easy enough to find the bus as they are all parked just outside the train station. You can buy tickets in advance from a machine, or at any Tabac shop. You can buy a single trip, or for a variety of different time periods so we chose a 72 hour pass to cover most of our tourist activities around Rome. Our bus, Number 64, was apparently known as the “Pickpocket Express”. So we held our bags close, closed and in front of us. The bus tends to pack ... read more
Vatican Swiss Guards
Holy Father Pope Francis giving his Angelus prayer
Largo de Torre Argentina

Europe » Italy » Veneto September 23rd 2017

The bus arrived on the edge of Venice around 6pm, leaving us a bit of a distance out of Venice proper. It is a short walk over to the People-Mover where you buy a transit ticket from a machine, then climb stairs or use the elevator up to the platform to board the mini rapid-transit. This takes you from Tronchetta Island, where the cars and buses park, to a stop at the cruise ship terminal, then on to Venice. Our walking route took us over the large and busy bridge towards the front of the train station and into the crowds. Luckily our small and lightweight High Sierra rolling backpacks served us well, making it much easier this year to walk a distance with our luggage. The sights and sounds of Venice immediately and overwhelmingly assaulted ... read more
Chris at our fish market
Lido beach

Europe » Austria » Vienna September 9th 2017

Although I had incorrectly booked our Sept. 7 train tickets from Hallstatt, it was no problem boarding at Bad Goisern, two stops later. Our reserved first class seats were a little more comfortable and we could order food from our seat or sit in the dining car next to us. As we had to change trains around noon in Puchheim, we decided to have lunch on the next train. It was a quick and easy change (we only had about 10 minutes) and we were quickly settled in, on our last leg to Vienna. The only awkward thing about the trains in Austria is a lack of luggage storage. All the trains in France have large luggage storage areas as you enter, but most of the trains in Austria have nothing at all, creating very crowded ... read more
Schonbrunn Palace
Inside Musikverein
Upper Belvedere Palace

Europe » Austria » Upper Austria » Hallstatt September 6th 2017

We left Salzburg by train, after a 7:00AM taxi ride which our hosts graciously arranged for us. The Salzburg train station is easy to find your way around in and we had purchased our tickets for Hallstatt there a few days earlier. The short train journey of less than 3 hours, including one quick train change around halfway, was through beautiful countryside and into the mountains dotted with small towns and the occasional castle. It was just starting to rain as we got off at the Hallstatt stop. There is a small building here in the wilderness at the side of the track and a path leads down to a small walk-on ferry to take you on a 15 minute ride across the lake to the town of Hallstatt. I remembered that our hotel was on ... read more
Pension Maria Theresia, Bad Goisern, Austria
Skywalk above Hallstatt
Sliding down a tunnel, 400 metres underground.

Europe » Austria » Salzburg » Salzburg September 5th 2017

Pretty much any view of Salzburg includes the huge 11th century Hohensalzburg Castleand Abbey, towering over the old city on top of cliffs rising up, as it happens, right behind the flat we stayed in for a week. We actually had skylights so we could look straight up at the castle! Many locations in and around Salzburg are recognizable from The Sound of Music. While we stayed here, we downloaded and watched the movie again to remind ourselves of which local sites were actually in the movie. There are tours to just take you to each and every site, which we did NOT do, but we did visit Mirabell Gardens (featured in the song Do-Re-Mi) and Hellbrunn Palace, where the gazebo from the movie is loc... read more
Looking down from top of Unsterberg cable car
Magic Fountains at Hellbrun
View of Hohensalzburg Castle from top of Kapuziner Kloster park

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Saint-Denis August 27th 2017

40 minutes on two metro lines north of our home base in the 2nd arrondissement, is the district of St. Denis. We made the trip out here on Sunday to see the Saint Denis Basilica Cathedraland a necropolis, and the huge market nearby that is on every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The market has hundreds of stalls across a large square and spilling out down the streets running off in every direction. Most of them are outdoors with clothing, shoes, luggage, lingerie, scarves, cell phones and electronics, a variety of produce and Moroccan ethnic foods. This is the sort of crowded, sketchy market where you do not keep anything in your pockets and you hold your bag close. The indoor market was nearly as large with numerous butchers, bakeries, fish merchants, cheeses, a... read more
Saint Denis Market
Saint Denis Basilica Cathedral
Elaborate detailed carvings over door

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Hyeres August 24th 2017

Along the Côte d'Azur, on the Mediterranean coast in the south of France, between Marseille and Nice, is the small city of la Lavandou; a beautiful, touristy beach community. To reach here from Paris required a four hour train journey to Toulon, (at 108€ each way) then a 3€, one hour bus to la Lavandou. It's about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop to the beach, docks and ferry terminal where for 28€ round-trip you can take the 45 minute voyage to the naturist island of Île du Levant . Luckily, I was able to choose a train, bus and ferry with tight connections, making our total trip under 7 hours, but at other times on other days, the trip may easily take 10 hours or more. Upon arrival, you can either make the ... read more
Approaching Île du Levant on the ferry
Our view
Sunset across Mediterranean towards la Lavandou

Europe » France » Île-de-France August 18th 2017

The medieval town of Provins, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Existing since the early Middle Ages, Provins was a wealthy commercial town. On the ancient lands of the Earls of Champagne, Provins is located on the crossroads of the European trade roads. Although a busy tourist attraction, this is a real town, with citizens, schools, and regular businesses. Streets and walkways are rough and cobble-stoned, buildings are surrounded by high walls, gardens and huge old trees. Walking through the townsite really is like stepping back in time. There are a lot of interesting things to explore here and our visit stretched into several hours. Our Metro Navigo Pass covered our SNCF Transilien train fare from Paris Gare de l'est to Provins, as well as a PROCARS small sh... read more
Underground Galleries
Botticelli rose
Eagles of the Ramparts

Europe » France » Île-de-France August 16th 2017

On our first trip to Paris four years ago, I had probably posted close to 100 photos of the Eiffel Towerwithin the first few days here. The sight of it fascinated me! On this trip, although we had the occasional glimpse of the tower as we travelled around the city, we did not actually go down to see it for over two weeks! There was a lot more security around the tower this year, as there is at all major monuments and museums in the city. because of that, there were huge lineups to get through a gate just to stand directly below the tower. And although I had considered buying a ticket to go up this year, it appeared to be a wait of 2 to 3 hours so we decided to pass on that ... read more
Remote control boats, Luxembourg Garden
Chris in front of the Eiffel Tower

Europe » France » Upper Normandy » Giverny August 14th 2017

When planning a trip to see the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, it is definitely best to buy the 10.50€ tickets online a day or more ahead of time. You can print them yourself, or if you don't have a printer available like us, you can pick them up at any fnac outlet. With advance tickets you can ignore the 1 to 2 hour lineup and walk straight in through the Advance Ticket and Group Entry. You can reach Giverny from Paris by train for 14.70€ from the Gare St Lazare station. We rode on the 8:19AM train, choosing forward-facing seats upstairs on the right side for the best views, arriving in Vernon at 9:05. Right outside the station door you will have various shuttle se... read more

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