A plane to Italy, a road trip to Milan, a train to Zürich, and finally a quick plane to Paris! All in twelve days. I tend to get bored if I stay in one place too long, so three nights in each place was the way to go. The travel time in-between each place was minimal which made it even easier to keep a steady traveling pace without wearing ourselves out.
I think I was smiling the entire trip.
Traveling Through Europe
First Stop – Alba, Italy
Words cannot describe landing in Alba and driving to a castle. The bar was set high…
This trip was originally planned, then canceled and then a go again at the last minute. So, when I went looking for hotels, it was either like meh or wow. I went for the wow factor (obviously). To put it mildly, the Castello di Guarene – Relais & Châteaux is stunning! The restaurant was amazing, the breakfast was amazing, the view was amazing and it’s perfectly located for navigating around the Barolo wine region.
The castle itself is located in Guarene high above everything around it.
The best part of Italy: getting to taste truffles for the first time! They’re in season from October through the end of January. Luckily I was there in November and I confirm it’s a flavor one cannot describe. Trust me, I asked beforehand. Fresh truffles are nothing like truffle oil in the states. I knew nothing about them, but all I know is I want them again!
How it works
The waiter or owner will bring a scale to the table to shave off thin little layers until you tell them to stop. If you’re lucky, they’ll bring a few options and let you pick your truffle. They weigh the truffle before and after and charge by the gram. It can get a bit pricey, but it’s so worth it!
(Photo from my Instagram Story)
This particular dish was our last dinner with a friend from the area. It was fried eggs in a cream sauce with truffles on top. The restaurant, Ristorante Le Torri, is the number one restaurant in Castiglione Falletto. It’s a large wine region with lots of great restaurants and wines to taste. Anything in or around Barolo is by far my favorite place to visit in Italy (so far).
Second Stop – Milan, Italy
It wasn’t easy to leave the castle life, but we planned three nights per place so it was time to roll out. We were able to drive from Alba to Milan since it was only about an hour and a half away. Luckily our hotel was right in the middle of Milan so walking everywhere was ideal. The shopping was amazing! Some of the major brands have flagship stores in Milan. Which makes it fun because you’re able to buy things that you won’t see in the states until a much later date, if at all.
The rest of the trip we enjoyed the site seeing.
Getting to see the Duomo Di Milano in person was absolutely incredible. It took 582 years to build the Cathedral and it’s the largest church in Italy. It was breathtaking!
Third Stop – Zürich, Switzerland
Originally we were thinking of driving from Milan to Zürich, but the rental car company wanted to charge us 1000€ and it wasn’t worth it. We took the train instead. We enjoyed some champagne, gorgeous views and no chance of getting lost.
I again had great luck with my hotel choices, it wasn’t a castle, but we were perfectly located and the room was great! Savoy Baur En Ville had a great little bar and a comfy bed. We had the view of a beautiful church off our balcony and the shopping was dangerously close. Gucci was across the street from our hotel. I promise I didn’t know that when I booked the room!
Zürich was by far one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. It was great to get away from all the political stress of the states and just walk the streets. Everything is super clean and the people are so friendly! The weather was a bit cold, but the low season was actually really refreshing. I tend to get a bit stressed in high tourist areas, so having this directly after Milan was the best.
If I get the chance to go there again I’d love to see the countryside in the warmer weather.
My favorite part was the Mühlesteg bridge with the love locks. I could feel the love in the air.
Four Stop – Paris, France
I’d never been to Switzerland or France before this trip, but I have to admit, I was most excited about Paris! It’s probably the most romantic place I’ve ever been and although we started in a castle, we ended it on five stars in Paris! Hôtel De Sers had the best service we could ask for and we had a view of the Eiffel Tower from our huge balcony! It was truly magical.
We landed in Paris on Thanksgiving so the next day we were on the hunt for something close to a turkey meal. We ended up stumbling across Salon des Vedettes on the dock with the view of the Eiffel Tower and we were on a boat! The chicken and gravy hit the spot and made us feel like we celebrated the holiday and what we are thankful for in our own way. Even if it wasn’t over a turkey dinner.
Protests in Paris
On our last and final day in Paris, we had a plan to see everything we could see, but we woke up to something unexpected instead. The protests against the government for raising taxes was unfolding two blocks from our hotel. Most of the roads to landmarks were closed for safety reasons. This made it hard to what we set out to see and we didn’t really want to stay in the area since the protests were happening right there.
We decided to take an uber around the protests and ended up at the most amazing church, Notre-Dame de Paris meaning our lady of Paris. The medieval cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It was one of the most powerful places I’ve ever set foot in. I made an offer, lit a candle, prayed and cried while the organ played the most amazing music. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
As the day progressed and we headed back to our hotel, we had a first-hand look at the damage. It’s interesting, there seem to be peaceful protesters in yellow vests and then this other group of people wearing all black that tend to cause damage. They were headed right towards us destroying everything in sight and luckily turned left and didn’t seem to mind my camera! It was a bit intense and sad to see the damage.
what traveling means to me
The whole traveling through Europe experience made me emotional when we stood on our balcony in Paris. I think it officially hit me at the end that my guy and I have been through so much and had someone try to ruin our trip before we even got on the plane. To see our view and realize we fought through adversity to be together and make this happen is the most meaningful part of the trip for me. Even if I ended up with glass in my hand to take this pic!