Backpacking through Europe – April 2011

In April 2011, my husband and I finally had the opportunity to go backpacking through Europe.  It was a spur of the moment decision (we had 3 weeks to plan it all).  We bought Interrail train tickets, used Trip Advisor for reviews and to book most of our accommodation.  The trip was totally awesome!!

I didn’t want to take my “big” camera with us, so instead we bought a Canon Powershot G12 as the camera was compact, fitted easily in my handbag and could shoot images in RAW.  Ideal for travelling.

We’d love to share a bit of each country we went to and hope that you will enjoy this visual journey with us.



Our journey started on the 31st March 2011 directly after work in London, we caught the train to Harwich and boarded the Dutch Flyer for an overnight ferry to arrive in Holland the next day and a short train ride to Amsterdam.  We arrived in Amsterdam on a slightly cold and overcast day, but the following day was beautiful sunshine 23C and we even got a bit of sunburn.  We went on an awesome “grandma” bicycle tour with Mike’s Bike Tours which was so much fun and a great way to get around.  It seems there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than people!

The Bakfiets bicycle – you put your children in the “bakfiets” part – hillarious


In Berlin we stayed at the BEST hostel of our entire Europe trip – the Wombats Hostel.  Berlin was breath-taking!!  With the amount of history in the city, it was not what I expected, but it exceeded my expectations.  What a great city!!  We went on a bicycle tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours and it was definitely the best way to see Berlin.

We visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp which is just outside Berlin and the sheer scale of this concentration camp is unimaginable!  This place was so eerie and with the horrors that took place there, it was not surprising that we got goose bumps.

The Brandenburg Gate is magnificent

The Jewish Memorial Site

The Berlin Wall


Prague was exactly how I imagined it. Gothic themes, cobble stones and a castle… it felt like a fairy tale. Unfortunately the Astronomical clock was not working when we were there  =(

I thought that capturing their surnames would make a cool photo…


Budapest = culture shock!!

We did not know what to expect in Budapest, it was a “random” stop on our travels.

We went to the Great Market Hall for breakfast and afterwards a relaxing morning at Gellert Bath. In the evening we had yummy Hungarian Goulash at the For Sale Pub.

Another City, another Cathedral!!

Parliament Building


Vienna was a great food stop – chicken schnitzel, apple strudle and beer!!  Yum!!


We went to Innsbruck, a stop-over while making our way to Venice.  We wish we could have stayed longer in this quant picturesque town located in Austria surrounded by the Alps.  Fresh air and breath-taking views.  We loved it!  Wouldn’t mind going back there one day for a skiing holiday.  Out of all the places we visited in Europe, this town had the most beautiful Cathedral, however the photos that we took do not do it justice.

The Alps had a fresh layer of snow when we woke up the next morning. The most beautiful scenery on our train journey was definitely the stretch between Innsbruck and Verona.


Venice was the most romantic city we visited.  Definitely lived up to our expectations.  We stayed on the island Lido and caught a 15-20 min boat ride to Venice.  The hotel Villa Stella we stayed at was wonderful, fabulous rooms and the best cappuccinos’ we had on our trip.  Would definitely recommend this place, the experience was amazing!

We saw the ring around the sun phenomena in Venice – spectacular!



The Colosseum

We went to the Vatican Museum (photos below) and the Sistine Chapel.

Below is St Peter’s Basilica, they were preparing for the Popes Easter speech the week beforehand.

The Pantheon

Trevi Fountain


We spent one afternoon exploring Florence.  Below is the Cathedral in Florence made out of marble.

It was our first Wedding Anniversary in Florence – beautiful full moon rising in the distance!

The following day we went on The Best of Tuscany Tour to Siena, San Gimignano, Fattoria Poggio Alloro wine farm for lunch and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


Cinque Terre means five villages which is along the coast in Italy.  We stayed in Monterosso village.

Great cappuccinos’, gelati ice cream and romantic sunset drinks.

The “love walk” between Riomaggiore and Manarola.  There were padlocks all along the way – I am not sure what it means… a bit of a mystery.

Walking on the pebble beach I came across this heart of rocks that someone made during the day.  So cute T + A.


We stayed at Villa Saint Exupery Gardens and went to Monaco for a day trip to check out the lifestyle of the rich & famous.

Monte Carlo Casino in the reflection mirror below


Avignon – the City of Popes a long time ago.  Quant, pretty and a good one night stop over before making our way to Barcelona.


Barcelona is obsessed with Antonio Gaudi – seriously I had no idea who he was before I went there.  We went on another Fat Tire Bike Tour which was great.  A bit of history, cycling, ended with Sangria and Nachos on the beach.

We also went to the Picasso museum.  We had delicious tapas at Cerveceria Catalana.

Park Guell by Gaudi – the buildings below look like gingerbread houses

Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s Cathedral that is still being built – weird and wacky architecture!

Montserrat Monastery via cable car


Paris, the City of Love!  Je T’aime!

We had been to Paris before, so we did not feel that we had to go into all the sight-seeing places but instead we went for a walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame Cathedral on the first day.

The following day we watched the Royal Wedding in our hotel room, because although we were not in London for the event, I did not want to miss out.  Afterwards we went to the Eiffel Tower and walked around a bit.  Paris was the perfect ending to our European Adventure.  On the 30th April 2011 we took the Eurolines bus back to London.

The Louvre

We went for hot chocolate at Angelina; it is not normal hot chocolate, it tastes like actual melted chocolate.  They bring the hot chocolate with fresh cream and a glass of water.  If you are ever in Paris, do not miss this!

This was taken with my iPhone 4 – Hipstamatic app

The End.



  • Annalize du Plesssis - June 6, 2011 - 5:34 am

    Wow!!! Dit is pragtig, het dit baie geniet, gevoel ek is saam met julle op die toer!!ReplyCancel

  • Rentia - June 6, 2011 - 7:36 am

    You are truly an amazingly gifted photographer!! Gorgeous photos… I feel as if I was there…ReplyCancel

  • Gert - June 6, 2011 - 8:54 am

    Fantastiese fotos van fantastiese plekke van julle fantastiese vakansie! Die fotos is maar net die punt van die ysberg. Dis n ondervinding van n leeftyd! Die res van die wereld wag vir julle!ReplyCancel

  • Philip Higgs - June 6, 2011 - 11:20 am

    An amazing photographic account of your trip to Europe, Lizanne.You have captured it in a very personal way.ReplyCancel

  • Carlien - June 6, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Klompie stunning fotos! Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Aline Borduqui - June 6, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    Wow!!! Lizanne, the photos look stunning… You must have had an amazing time! I love the way you captured the details of the places where you went to. All the very best and lots of love!ReplyCancel

  • Marelize Schmahl - June 7, 2011 - 7:07 am

    Lovely Lizanne, makes me feel like I was there with you guys.ReplyCancel

  • Sumien Jordaan - June 7, 2011 - 7:54 am

    As usual you show what a fabulous photographer you are!! Looks like you had a fantastic time xReplyCancel

  • Anuradha Sharma - June 7, 2011 - 10:04 am

    Wow!! The photos are beautiful. I felt I have been to Europe again.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Hixson - June 7, 2011 - 2:53 pm

    Whow what inspiring photos a true sense of adventure, travel and love!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Anneli Marinovich - June 8, 2011 - 11:54 pm

    Great shots Lizanne! Brings back great memories and makes me want to go travelling again! Love the shot you took in Paris with the hot chocolate and macaroon – great edit 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Robyn Gwilt - March 13, 2012 - 9:29 pm

    Love your pics – great quality from that little camera! Those locks… just seen them in Paris (Feb 2012) on a statue – they are Locks of Love, that people are putting on statues / fences / whatever! I’m undecided on them – they’re a little like ugly graffiti!ReplyCancel

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