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The Epic Adventure: Month 5 (April 2016)

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I know I say this every month, but I seriously can’t believe I’ve been travelling for more than five months now. I’m now more than a third of the way through this adventure. Even though it feels like I left just yesterday, I’m so excited that I don’t have to even think of coming home for another ten months. I’m having far too much fun!

But I now do have a definitive end date to at least this trip. Last week I booked a flight home from Rio de Janeiro to Melbourne. I’ll be leaving on the 1st of March next year and by the time I arrive in Melbourne, after more than 40 hours in transit, it will be the 3rd of March.

It’s a week after the start of class but I’m sure I catch up. I absolutely was not going to miss spending Carnivale in Brazil.

It’s a mammoth flight. I have to go via Dubai . The flight involves a 14 hour flight from Rio to Dubai, a 9 hour stopover in Dubai, and then a 16 hour flight (with a stopover in Singapore ) back home to Melbourne. Thankfully I had enough points to do it all in business class again!

I doubt March 3rd will mark the end of my travels. My rough plans at the moment are to do another study program in Malaysia next June and then spend some serious time travelling Asia, and potentially Africa if the budget allows. But we will see how I feel after ten more months of travel!

But back on to the topic of my current month, here is what I got up to in April!

 

Places Visited

1 April- 3 April- Hurtigruten Cruise, Norway

3 April- Bergen, Norway

4 April-10 April- Florence, Italy

11 April- Pisa, Italy

12 April- Tuscany Winery Tour, Italy

12 April-14 April- Florence, Italy

14 April- 19 April- Malta

20 April- 22 April- Florence, Italy

22 April-24 April- Paris , France- including a day tour to the Loire Valley

25 April- Amiens, France- including a dawn service at Villers Brettoneux

25 April-30 April- Florence, Italy

 

Some Interesting Statistics

Countries Visited- 4

Planes- 6 (Bergen-Oslo, Oslo-Milan, Pisa-Malta, Malta-Pisa, Florence-Paris, Paris-Florence)

Trains- 31 (including the whopping 24 trains I’ve taken to get from Florence to university in Prato this month)

Ferry- 1 (The Hurtigruten)

Things Lost- 3 (perfume, camera bag and iphone charger)

Things Broken- 2 (other iphone charger, camera lens)

Hostels- 2

Hotels- 1

My Very Own Apartment- 1

 

Favourite Moments

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  • Finally settling down in Florence. After more than four months of being on the road I was beyond excited to finally have a place of my own in Florence. Being able to put my clothes in cupboards and my toiletries in the bathroom was the best feeling. I’ve also been loving the ability to pack a small bag for weekends away, and home cooked meals in our kitchen. You also can’t beat how beautiful Florence is.
  • Being less alone. Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love solo travel. And I did have one weekend this month (my trip to France) where I threw the solo travel hat back on. But for the most part of this month I’ve been surrounded by people, and people I know. Studying in Florence with more than a hundred other students from my university has definitely made me feel connected socially. It’s nice to make long term friends rather than the short term ones that are often made while travelling. And for the lack of a better phrase; I’ve found my people!

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  • The tiny Mediterranean country of Malta was never in my original plans. I decided to add it to my itinerary when I realised I had a free weekend in Florence and we found return flights for dirt cheap (like 30 Euros return!). I fell absolutely in love with Malta. From the history of old towns like Valletta, Mdina and the 5000 year old temples to the beautiful beaches and water of the Blue Grotto, Gozo and Comino, Malta was the perfect mix of history and paradise. Five days just wasn’t enough, I’ll definitely be adding it to my list for future trips to Europe.

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  • The Loire Valley. I found myself with two extra days in Paris. Given I’d already spent a week there back in March I wanted to do something different this trip. So I headed to the Loire Valley for a day trip to see three of the most beautiful castles in the region. Despite weather that was not ideal, I couldn’t get over how beautiful everything was. I especially loved seeing all of the flowers in bloom for the Spring.

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  • Attending the Dawn Service at Villers Brettoneux. I made a trip to France specifically to attend the Australia War Memorial for the Anzac Day Dawn Service. I had to get up at 2am, it was freezing, sombre and sad, but it was also a very special experience. As someone that has studied a lot of world war history, had a relative pass away on the western front and attended many commerative events, attending the Anzac Day Service at Villers Brettoneux is an experience I’ll never forget.

 

  • Reuniting with my mum. After five months away from home, I finished the month of April with a reunion with my mum. Her and her partner, Pasq are over here for the next month to travel Italy with me. I didn’t really realise how much I had missed her until she was right in front of me. After running down the platform to give her a huge hug, I found myself wiping a few tears from my eyes.

 

Favourite Food Moments

  • Discovering the Central Market in Florence. Whilst the bottom level of the Central Market in Florence is where the locals buy their produce, the top level is a foodie paradise. It’s home to a food court of sorts with a wide variety of dishes on offer. I’ve eaten amazing Napoli style margarita pizza (seriously the best pizza I’ve ever had), spaghetti bolognese, delicious cannoli and salmon stuffed gnocchi. During our first week in Florence we went three times!

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  • The wonders of de Neri street in Florence. On Via D’Neri in Florence you’ll find two of the best places to eat. The first place is Gelateri de Neri which is home to some of Florence’s best gelato, I especially loved the cheesecake flavour. The second is All Antico Vinanaio where you’ll find the best Panini in Florence. I’ve been back three times and you seriously can’t go past the prosciutto, rocket, gorgonzola and truffle cream combination. They bake their bread on sight, the ingredients are fresh and you’ll need to arrive at opening to avoid the half an hour wait at lunchtime.

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  • Italian food in general. I’m not going to lie, one of the reasons I decided to settle here was because of the great food in Italy. I’m loving eating amazing gelati, gorging on 2 Euro pizza for lunch, trying every type of Italian dessert and cooking with the fresh produce on offer. The tomatoes and mozzarella in this country are just better than anywhere else!

 

Worst Moments

  • Almost missing my flight to Paris. I had every travellers worst nightmare when trying to catch my flight from Florence airport to Paris. I got on the bus that was expected to get me to the airport at 6.45pm, an hour and a half before my scheduled departure of 8.15pm. The first issue was being stuck in traffic so by the time we arrived at the airport it was 7.15pm, not ideal but still workable.The real nightmare began when the bus driver failed to stop, despite the fact that I had specifically told him I’d be getting off at the airport. Instead I found myself stuck on a freeway with the next stop being 10 minutes away. By the time I jumped off the bus it was 7.25pm and I was stuck virtually in the middle of nowhere. I walked down to the service station and asked a man filling up his car whether he could call a taxi for me, but he didn’t know the number.By this point I was close to tears. I’d almost given up on ever making my flight when the same man I had asked to call me a taxi pulled up in his car and told me to hop in. He sped down the highway to the airport and I arrived at 7.45pm, ten minutes before my gate was meant to close. I raced through security and made it to my gate, finding that despite my panic the plane was only halfway through boarding. Needless to say I’m thankful for Guiseppe (the nice Italian man that picked me up) and the fact that Florence is a small airport
  • Getting sick. Whilst I managed to get through last month without getting sick, my shitty immune system played havoc on my body yet again. I found myself with a terrible cold that lasted a good two weeks. In fact even now I still can’t quite shake this cough.

 

Money Spent- $4,271

There is no denying it, I absolutely blew my budget this month. I’ve almost spent as much in my first month in Italy as I’d budgeted for two months. It’s not that Italy is expensive, but nights out have added up.

The biggest killer for my budget was the $1100 weekend to France. France is expensive to begin with, but unfortunately I made some silly mistakes when booking flights so I spent way more than I should have flying to Paris and back.

I’m absolutely going to have to start being more frugal with my spending. Otherwise I might be in a bad situation with my bank account balance.

As always, you can see my full budget breakdown here.

 

Posts Published

I’ve really sped up my publishing this month, especially towards the end of the month. I’m working towards closing the distance between when I actually visit a place and when I get a post out. The 30 minute train rides from Florence to my university in Prato are definitely helping.

I’m hopelessly in love with Portugal: What to Do in Porto

A Day in Coimbra

Where to Eat in San Sebastian, the Ultimate Foodie Paradise

The Best Day Trips from Madrid

Celebrating La Tamborrada in San Sebastian

Crossing the Arctic Circle on the Hurtigruten Ms Lofoten in Norway

How to Avoid Theft and Pickpocketing in Europe

Falling in Love with Andalusia: What to Do in Seville

Falling in Love with Andalusia: Three Days in Granada

How to Get to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on Public Transport

Best Day Trips from Barcelona: Marvelling at the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres

What to Eat in Spain, the Land of Churros, Tapas and Iberico Ham

 

Instagram Top Five

I can’t believe only one of my Malta photos was in the top five. They were some of my favourite photos of the whole trip!

Exploring little Tuscan towns ❤️❤️

A photo posted by Britt Jeffs (@adventureliesinfront) on

 

Where to Next?

I’ll be spending the first 28 days of this month in Italy. Now that my Mum is here we have some weekends exploring Italy planned. I’ll be heading to Venice , Verona, the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast just to name a few! Then on the 28th of May I’ll leave Italy for good and arrive in Slovenia, which is my next country!

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