Europe 2016

By on July 16, 2017

Saturday, Sep 17, 2016, 10:00 AM EDT


Today, we arrived in Dublin, Ireland after a fun 13-hour flight. We flew Are Lingus, and it was a rather excellent airline. We flew economy which wasn’t bad; I would have liked more leg room, they offer seats with extra space for an extra $40-60 depending on the flight – it may be worth the extra cost. Overall the flight costs were decent; we spent a total of $1500 for the two of us to fly, not bad considering – I purchased five months out from the date we were going.

We took a quick bus shuttle from the airport to our hotel, this was a cheap way to get there, and versus the cost of a taxi, it defiantly helped with the budget. We booked a hotel called the Royal Marine in Dun Laoghaire. This was a good first pick, it was out of the city and was quiet, we were upgraded to a deluxe room for free and well worth it. A quick 20-minute ride on the train got us to the city center, and it was less than 10 euro.

The city was great and would highly recommend spending more than the one day we did, planning on going back in the fall of 2017 to spend a few days to see more than what we were ending up seeing. A couple of places I would enjoy for street food was The Counter and Bunsen Burgers.

Bunsen had the better burgers from the census of the two places. The prices are reasonable however the options are limited, so make sure to be in a burger mood.

The Counter had other options than just burgers; they had made you own type sand which and I ended up with a steak slider with a few sauces to try, my favorite was the Korean BBQ type sandwich, the winning item on the menu is the adult shakes.

The next day we were out to head to Paris, what a day that turned into. We were at the airport early to make sure we had no issues with security and on time for our flight. Unfortunately, my companion accidentally packed his passport, and by the time we got it back, we had missed our flight. However, this is where Aer Lingus impressed us. Within minutes I was able to get the flights rebooked on a flight less than 2 hours from our original flight, and best of all there were no charges for our mistake.

Finally, we were through security and on our way to Paris!!

Sunday, Sep 18, 2016, 12:01 PM EDT


Finally made it to Paris!!

So by the time we got to Paris, we had missed our reservations for our train into the city, as we were staying near Disney at the Radisson Blu, so we had to take a taxi into the city which turned into a bad idea.

The traffic was horrible, and we ended up paying a higher fee because it took too long, knowing know I would take the next train into the city, it’s a little longer but with traffic accounted for we would have made it there in same time for ¼ of the price. Taxi there and back ran us 200 euro.

Once arrived at the Eiffel Tower, I was able to get this excellent shot in. I enjoyed riding up the very top floor. However, it was crowded and took forever to get back down to the streets. We spent the rest of the night avoiding beggars to buy everything to finding a nice hole in the wall place to grab dinner.

The next day we decided to stop using taxis and start using Uber, I am glad we decided to try this out early on in our trip, we saved probably hundreds. I was hesitant to try Uber in a different county but it wasn’t bad at all. I think we had the hardest time in Spain as we didn’t understand Spanish and was able to get around fine with the French I knew. We had plans to check out Disney but got up late, so we went to see the city, comparable to Disney springs in Orlando. Which was great as it only took us five mins to get there and turns out both parks are right there in the middle, we accidentally stepped into Disneyland Paris.

The thing I enjoyed the most was how busy it wasn’t; we did both parks in less than 5 hours. So we ended enjoying the whole day even though we slept in for most of the day. There was hardly any lines to the rides it seemed to die down around 3 pm. The trips I enjoyed the most was their version of Space Mountain and the Crush’s Coaster. The price was well worth the experience of visiting a Disney park without the Orlando traffic.

Train station at the entrance


Sleeping Beauty’s Castle


Access round about to both parks.

Monday, Sep 19, 2016, 7:30 AM EDT


We decided at the last minute we would keep our stuff at our Paris hotel and just fly to London for the day; we were able to find a cheap hotel near the airport so we could stay over and spend the whole day and fly back in the morning. We got a good deal for a return flight for under 100 euro. With the hotel, we spent less than 200 euro for the time we spent there.

This is where a fast track entry would have been a perfect idea; we spent 2 hours waiting to go through customs, let me tell you the first thing I bought this year was the global entry option for this years trip. The amount of time we waited in the customs lines between the countries we could of having an additional day of travel to make it up. Once out of the airport, we grabbed an Uber to the center of the city which took about 30 mins which weren’t too bad, but once we got a hand of the train system, it was so much better. We spent about 30 euro to get to the city, and for less than 20 euro we were able to get a whole day worth of train travel for 6 zones which we needed to get back to airport, this is good for a full 24 hours from the time of purchase and you save money over multiple days (well worth it).

We jumped on the train and landed in Westminster on the district line; this is the sweet spot – this is where you will find big ben, London dungeon, among some great places to eat.

The first place I wanted to check out was The London Dungeon; this place was fantastic. They go through the history of London with the beautiful story telling and different rooms to put you in the experience of Anne’s beheading to watching the murders of Jack the Ripper. This was hands down my top 3 attractions in Europe (1st if we do not include the crazy stuff we did once we got on our cruise)

After the sightseeing, we found our selves at St. Stephens Tavern, and this place was awesome. This is a great British pub that happens to have a great view of Big Ben. I came across this great meal called Steak & Tanglefoot Pie which I loved.

Big Ben!

A different view of Big Ben from London Dungeon from the other side of the bridge.

After our day of sightseeing, we took the train back into the city and found another great hole in the wall called The Walrus and the Carpenter, which was also amazing. We got there about an hour before closing, and it was completely dead, so we got to enjoy it to ourselves. The food was excellent and the deserts even better.

We finally made it back to the train station to take us to our hotel so we could crash for the night. On our way back we notice we were passing through Kings Cross, so at midnight we decided to hit it up. This station is massive and very friendly, very open and bright even at night. This was the great place to check out and has everything to offer – from restaurants to shopping, although at midnight not much was open. I would not recommend needing a bathroom at this time a night, I went from one side of the station to the other and that in itself was a journey, the other was looking for Platform 9 ¾.

Finally found it! Had to check out platform nine ¾.

By the time we finally made our way back to our hotel is was close to 2 am and had to be up at 6 to get back to Paris for our train to Barcelona. I loved this city and can not wait to go back in the fall of 2017.

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016, 8:00 AM EDT


What a Day! – So first thing in the morning we had to make an early flight back from our day in London to Paris where we had to pack up and make the afternoon train to Barcelona, this was the worst day of our trip.

We made a good time to our hotel from the airport we had about an hour to pack up our suit cases to make our noon train. I wish we had packed before our day trip to London but lesson learned. We had 5 minutes to spare when we made the train to Barcelona.

We had pre purchased the rail passes that I was told we would need over and over but turns out that was a waste of time. This time we are just going to book the train we need. We ended up upgrading our tickets from economy to first class which was well worth it for a 6-hour train ride. This upgrade allowed us outlets and tables. The food car was also a lot nicer.

The only thing I would have changed is making sure I was there sooner, its confusing how it works and you have about five mins to get your stuff and get on the train. The worst part was the connecting train and getting from one station to the other in less than 10 minutes sucked. They had TVs to show what station and when it arrives, and the 10 minutes your station is announced to get there you have to book it – we almost missed it and thanked god I had someone help me throw my luggage on or I would not have made it.

We stayed at a very nice hotel in the city of Barcelona which was about a 15-minute drive to the port. The only thing about the hotel is that they are small rooms, we only paid about 85 euros and it worked for us, but the rooms are best for two people.

Thursday, Sep 22, 2016, 9:00 AM EDT

Barcelona Pt. 2:

I don’t have many photos for our time in Barcelona, as I came down with a horrible cold. I ended up sleeping the whole day away after trying to make a canyoning trip in Spain. We originally were going to go rock climbing and abseiling which I had high hopes on. I didn’t get far, and the cold was wrecking with my ability to coordinate, I also should have bought gloves for this trip as I need up losing my grip and smashing my knee on one of the rocks. Needless to say, I took the hike back to the van and slept off the rest of my cold while my partner continued on the trip.

I decided that after this trip to head back to the hotel and sleep off the rest of the day, to try to get better before we boarded our cruise the next day. The room was small but the bed wasn’t bad, I was able to sleep it off for the next 12 hours.

Friday, Sep 23, 2016, 11:00 AM EDT

Carnival Vista Embarkation:

Hello Vista,

We got a shuttle to the port for less than 20 euro and were able to get the port around 11 am. At the time we had arrived, there were not many lines built up yet and were able to get through the lines pretty quick. I had just reached platinum with Carnival, and so we were able to shop and lounge till boarding started in the nicer platinum/diamond area. The cool aspect of this and wasn’t used to, was the ability to shop for spirits for the cruise which helped on costs for drinking on the cruise (this was a nice littler perk).

The picture below shows the itinerary of the places we would be stopping at while on the Vista.

We decided to hit up the steakhouse the first night, they were running a promo that allowed us to save 20% the first night and it was much more intimate than the other nights we usually go so this was a win-win. The food was excellent as always; all the restaurants were excellent on the ship.

The feature I liked was the IMAX; it was nice to have a simple date night that allowed us to go to a nice place to eat and hit up a current movie that was not only comfortable but not badly priced. We stayed on the same level as the IMAX and was easy to get here often, we ended up seeing Sully, and it was a great movie.

Our room, we had the 4J on level 7 and would highly recommend this room, it had a great view and was close to everything.

This is the look out to the central area of the ship.

Sunday, Sep 25, 2016, 5:10 PM EDT

Palermo (Sicily), Italy

I was excited for Palermo; I decided at the last minute when I couldn’t find much else I wanted to do, to go Paragliding. I was happy to have found they were nice and picked us up right at the edge of the port. They took us to where we would take off and would include taking us back. The only issue we had was with the weather, to make sure we made it back to ship only I was able to fly. There was no wind on this day, but there was just enough for I to take off, and I am delighted as I was able to get some perfect shots of going down as well as experience another way to fly.

Monday, Sep 26, 2016, 5:12 PM EDT

Naples & Capri, Italy

We originally we going to go diving off the island of Capri, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the only dive shop on the island was closed due to some issues with their boat. We did some sightseeing around the island and checked out some places to eat. It was a lovely little town, but it would have been nice to have seen Naples if we had known we were not going to go for a dive.

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016, 5:12 PM EDT

Rome, Italy

This was my favorite day, hands down on our trip to Europe. Around the time i starting planning this trip I came across this company called Flying in the Sky, it was a long zip line down a mountain in a small town south of Rome. The pro of this activity was this was nowhere near Rome, so not a lot of other people were doing this, the con was the 2.5 hour trip from the ship to the vendor. The fee to get here was more on the expensive side coming out to 520 euro but well worth it, so much so were doing it again. This zip line was amazing, and it was so much more than I anticipated. The trip up the mountain was fantastic, tiny roads not much for error so that in it self-was scary.

We finally made it to the top and here are some pictures right before we made our decent down via a zip line.

The picture above was an example of how the zip line looked, I went down by myself, so it was only one person vs. two ( you can choose either option). They had GoPro rentals, but since i brought mine i asked for a mount for my helmet, and i added my GoPro which got really good footage on the way down. After the flight, we had to wait 30 minutes for the shuttle to come down and get us to take us back up to get back to our transfer car. Once we made it back up, we were hungry and found a nice quiet spot around the block that had great wine and good food.

After lunch, we got back into our transfer car and headed back to our ship to get ready for dinner. The ride was nice for being a long round trip, we got some very fantastic sights and were able to stop as needed. We made it back to ship with plenty of time before we were to take off to Livorno.

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016, 5:13 PM EDT

Livorno, Italy

We did a cooking class while in Florence – this was really fun but due to the location, it was expensive to get there, so not sure I would do it again. Pricing aside the location was great, the class was held at a small bed and breakfast on a family vineyard.

After spending the day cooking, we were able to stop in downtown before heading back to the port. We stopped briefly to see the statue of David. However, the square was bustling, so we hit the shops instead.

Eventually, I found the high-end stores, and I just could not leave without bringing something home from Italy.

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016, 5:13 PM EDT

Marseilles, France

We decided that today we would stay on the ship, as we didn’t have a tour booked for Marseille. I ended up booking an all day spa that started with massages, to getting my hair done. The resort was beautiful, and I enjoyed it, I would highly recommend if you don’t have a tour and would want to do a spa day (being in port brings the price down).

Saturday, Oct 1, 2016, 5:14 PM EDT

Barcelona – Dublin – Home

This was a sad day for me, having to head back home. We were able to get off the ship around 8 am and head straight to the airport via the shuttle service through Carnival. We got to the Barcelona airport and were ready to board by 11 am. Security was pretty comfortable at Barcelona; I think the drag was having to carry everything home and getting from the shuttle to the actual terminal. The lines for the shuttles were out of control, and that was the only downside, everything else was pretty easy.

We were back in Dublin by 1 pm and had about 3 hours before our flight home; we had to recheck our luggage because this was not a direct flight home which ended up saving a lot of money in the end so this inconvenience wasn’t too bad. The only issued I had was the way they did US boarding, we decided we would eat once we go to our terminal so we wouldn’t chance to miss our flight but the way they do flights is by doing the custom clearance ahead of time, so when you get home you don’t have to worry about this. The downside to this is that it’s in its terminal with little to no food options. Next time I will grab lunch before going to this spot to get ready to fly.

We were back into the states around 8 pm, which wasn’t bad seeing how well flew out of Dublin around 4 pm. From JFK we flew home, and made it back to Jacksonville around 1130 and grabbed an Uber home. Luckily I had all day Sunday to get back on eastern time. I think it was about a week later that I finally stopped getting up at 4 am every day and got back to my regular sleeping cycle.

Sushi & Cupcakes

February 5, 2016

Nassau, Bahamas

December 12, 2015

Hello world!

December 10, 2015