Have you ever traveled to or dreamed of visiting Italy or Greece? These 2 destinations have always been on my vacation bucket list and I can’t wait to share the highlights from our 3 week trip to Italy and Greece with you.
I have been promising you a blog post with our highlights from the Italy and Greece trip we took in May.
It’s safe to say that I am NOT a world traveler. So when we started planning our trip to Italy and Greece before the pandemic I can’t tell you how excited I was.
This was seriously a trip of a lifetime for me. And it did not disappoint.
There are a few destinations that I will give you much more detail on in future separate posts. I just couldn’t include all the information here. So stay tuned for more on Venice and Carpi Italy, and Mykonos and Athens, Greece.
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Italy and Greece Trip Itinerary
We really packed a lot of things into our 19-day trip to Italy and Greece!
We started out in Venice, Italy, and stayed for a few days before moving onto Ravena where the cruise ship was docked.
Next, we went to Greece and Turkey on the cruise ship and traveled to Italy by bus, train, ferry, and water taxi before and after the cruise.
My husband and I went with a group of friends which was great for planning private excursion tours because there were 7 of us. This was the best thing about having a group and I would highly recommend it!
It was an early and exhausting morning as we left our house at 4:30 AM and headed to the SeaTac Airport to catch our 7:00 AM flight.
We laid over in Newark for a couple of hours and then we were off to Venice, Italy.
Our flight arrived in Venice around 9:00 AM. I was exhausted since I’ve never really traveled long distances and it’s hard for me to sleep on a plane. I was literally dragging.
The only way to get to our hotel in Venice was to take a water taxi. This wooden boat was so beautiful! I didn’t expect a water taxi to look like this…it was a very pleasant surprise!
We experienced a gorgeous scenic one-hour water tour of Venice. I was so overwhelmed by the old buildings and canals that I had a bit of a teary moment. I couldn’t believe I was really here.
And of course, there were gondolas everywhere you looked throughout the waterways of Venice.
Needless to say, this incredible experience snapped me out of being tired and actually energized me. I was ready to go!
The outdoor cafes were amazing. There was just such a romantic feel overlooking the canals.
People have asked me if the canals had a bad odor. When we were there in May it was not too hot yet and I didn’t notice any smell.
We made it to the Bauer Hotel dock and checked in. We physically stayed in the Residenza Grunwald next store which is part of the same hotel.
My hubby made me pose for a picture in front of the wallpaper in the lobby area. Can you believe how well my outfit matched the wallpaper?
Often known in English as St. Mark’s Square, the Piazza San Marco was the first place we sat down to have a bite to eat at one of the outdoor cafes.
Here I am, waiting for my first bite of authentic Italian food.
I’m so glad we went to Venice in May. The temperature was perfect in the seventies and the crowds were not as bad as they usually are in the summer months.
The square was always busy and we often had to wait for a table.
It was hard to get used to the European way of dining. People would sit at a table for hours and not get asked to leave as we do here in the U.S.
St. Mark’s Basilica cathedral church was stunning.
I couldn’t get up close because of the work being done on the building.
Let me ask you…what is the first thing you think of when you hear “Venice, Italy”?
Is it the canals or a gondola? We couldn’t leave the city without riding a gondola. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it.
NOTE: I have so many pictures and experiences I want to share with you that I couldn’t possibly fit them all in this post. I am working on a separate Venice, Italy blog post that will be published soon.
THE CRUISE SHIP
After spending a couple of days in Venice we took a water taxi and then a bus to Ravena where the Celebrity cruise ship Constellation was docked.
I don’t have much to say about the cruise because…
- We didn’t spend a lot of time on the ship.
- The ship was only filled to 30% capacity.
- There was a staff shortage so both the entertainment and food were lacking a bit from the times “before Covid”.
Our first stop on the cruise was Katakolon, Greece.
We took a private tour to the archaeological site of Olympia in a valley in the Peloponnesus.
Here we saw the remains of the sports structures used in the Olympic Games held every four years starting in 776 B.C.
Not only is Olympia home of the ancient Olympic Games but also the former site of the great statue of Zeus which has been ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
We learned so much about Greek history during the tour and I would highly encourage this tour.
There are so many quaint outdoor cafes in Greece.
And the gelato is absolutely amazing!
I don’t even have a picture to share with you.
This beautiful place was on the top of my bucket list. I was so excited to see the sandy white beaches, white buildings, and blue roofs.
The plan was to…
- go sightseeing in the town of Oia
- visit two wineries (Venetsianos and Santos)
- have lunch at Venetsianos on top of the cliffs with a vista view
- go to Santos
Unfortunately, plans don’t always turn out the way you want them to.
We did not get to go to Santorini due to the high winds. It wasn’t safe enough to tender to the port. I wish I would have had some amazing experiences to share with you but maybe next time.
The cruise ship docked in Kusadasi, Turkey where most of my friends in our group went on a private tour of Ephesus.
Here is a view of the Basilica of Saint John located in Ephesus.
We decided to stay on the ship that day. Here’s a view from our cabin balcony.
Thessalonika is the second-largest city in Greece.
We didn’t make any excursion plans at this port so it was low-key.
We went to see The White Tower on the seafront which has a view of the entire city and the Mediterranean Sea.
Walking along the Beach Promenade and Aristotle Square was a lot of fun and there were so many incredible places to dine.
Here’s a view of the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center.
Without dating myself too much, the structure reminded me of the TV cartoon show, The Jetsons.
We spent quite a bit of time at the Kapani Market in Thessalonika.
The market had anything you could want. Flowers, produce, fish, meat, household items, olives, nuts…you get the picture.
This was my favorite stop in Greece. I mean, if you can’t go to Santorini, Mykonos is the next best thing.
There were a lot of white buildings and beautiful blue trim. I really loved how charming this town was.
The most adorable doors and window shutters, stone pathways, and funky little stairs.
The water is so clear and blue here in Mykonos.
The stone walking paths to stores, bars, and restaurants were really narrow and so fun to wander about.
NOTE: There is so much more I want to share with you, including the restaurants we found and more water views that you will be able to see in a separate post all about Mykonos soon.
This was the busiest and most physical day of the entire trip. There is so much to see in Athens, the historical capital city of Greece.
We had a private tour of the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Acropolis Museum. And of course, there was a fabulous Greek lunch.
The Acropolis, an ancient citadel in the center of Athens, Greece, can be seen throughout the city.
It contains the remains of several historical ancient buildings with the Parthenon being the most famous.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, above, is a stone Roman theater structure.
Artifacts found on the Acropolis and surrounding slopes can be found in the Acropolis Museum.
Here you can see the Caryatides or Maidens of Karzai.
I have many more pictures from the Museum to share in the Athens, Greece post coming up soon.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
After the museum, we visited the Presidential Mansion in Athens where we watched the Presidential Guard. This is a ceremonial infantry unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and mansion.
This is one of the most exotic Greek Islands and is in the Ionian sea. Zakynthos is well known for its sandy white beaches, including Shipwreck Beach and the most turquoise waters.
The blue caves are the main attraction here. From everything I’ve read, Zakynthos has the most gorgeous views and plenty of opportunities for the perfect picture.
Sadly, I was not getting around very well from an accident the previous day so I actually borrowed a wheelchair from the cruise ship and we went to a wonderful outdoor lunch at a nearby restaurant.
That was about all I could do that day.
After the 10-day cruise was finished we headed to the Bologna train station from Ravena, Italy.
Once we arrived in Bologna we took the ferry to Capri, Italy where we would spend the next 3 days.
We stayed at the Hotel Weber where the view was spectacular.
Just down the hill where all the rocks are is a loading area for boat tours. My friends went on a boat to see the sights.
Unfortunately, it was a little too steep for my bad knees so I just enjoyed the pictures they took.
Capri was the most charming and picturesque town and was one of my favorite destinations on our Italy and Greece trip.
I loved the quaint sidewalk cafes.
My husband and I had a romantic dinner here. The food and ambiance were amazing!
Get ready for a Capri, Italy blog post with more beautiful pictures, info on shopping, the chairlift we took to the top of the mountain, and so many more scenic spots! Coming soon!
After spending a few days in Capri we took the ferry over to Naples where we stayed for two nights.
This was a great location to be close to the airport for travel and for the tour Positano and Amalfi Coast tour we took the next day.
This is the view from the Grand Parker Hotel where my friends stayed.
And where we should have stayed.
This is the view from our room.
Yes, you could say that we did not plan this one correctly.
But we did find a wonderful restaurant in one of the alleyways.
We loved this restaurant, Bencott, so much that we decided to come here twice. It was the best food we had during the entire trip to Italy and Greece.
Sometimes when you venture from the beaten path, you find the best surprises.
Doesn’t this seafood pasta look amazing?
There is a lot of graffiti in Italy and Greece. It really took me by surprise. Venice and Capri seemed to be the only places I didn’t see it.
Here’s a beautiful building on the way down the hill to the water.
Overall, I would not come to Naples again except for access to the airport. It was my least favorite stop.
POSITANO & THE AMALFI COAST
Our group arranged for a private tour from Naples to Positano and the Amalfi Coast.
What I loved about this tour was that we were able to see the most gorgeous views from the very top.
We got out of the tour van a few times for a photo opportunity.
We even got to see mozzarella cheese being made.
This was the most delicious mozzarella cheese I have EVER tasted.
We also visited a farm-to-table restaurant complete with outdoor gardens where food was grown for our meal.
NOTE: More to come on the Almalfi Coast in another blog post with more pictures and experiences.
What I Learned from Our Trip to Italy and Greece
- Carry change at all times in case you have to use the restroom. Most places cost money.
- Drinking water is not free of charge.
- If you are staying in a hotel or on a cruise ship, do not expect to have access to an iron.
- You can stay at the same table in a restaurant for hours and hours if you want. They do not rush you away after you finish a meal.
I hope you enjoyed some of the highlights of our trip to Italy and Greece. We had such a great time!
Stay tuned for more blog posts from our stay in…
- Venice, Italy
- Athens, Greece
- Mykonos, Greece
- Capri, Italy
- Amalfi Coast, Italy
Until next time,
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