My European travel journal – Berlin, Paris & Rome

Time goes by… and this is not an innovative statement. But don’t you get an impression that it goes by a couple of times faster when you do something that interests you, that you are passionate for? It’s like the time magically accelerates when you do something fun. On the 1st of September I left on my summer holidays – first summer holidays of my own, fully planned and organized by myself. Now, as of 13th of September I’m back in Poland. I wonder when did that time pass? Since I was involved with a lot of activities my holidays ended in a blink of an eye. But my memories shall be eternal and I’d like to share them with you. Here’s a journal of my trip to Berlin, Paris and Rome.

Berlin

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As I mentioned it earlier on 1st day of September in the early afternoon I finished packing my suitcase and headed for the central bus station in Poznań from where I was going to take an express bus to Berlin. I booked my seat in advance so I paid very little money for it. The bus arrived with a slight delay, all passengers came onboard and we were off. After a rather pleasant journey which took approximately 4 hours, I was in Berlin. At ZOB, which stands for Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof Berlin (Central Bus Station) I needed a little help to reach the correct U-Bahn (underground) station. Luckily one guy from my bus was going there too and knew the way, so I tagged along. 30 minutes later and after I changed the underground line I reached Torstrasse where I had my room rented. The journey made me tired and it was raining so I didn’t go anywhere that day.

The next day – Wednesday started for me with a meeting with someone I was hoping to meet for a long time. My visit to Berlin was a perfect opportunity to finally meet Tanja Bochnig, owner and perfumer of April Aromatics. We met at Hotel Zoo located by the Ku’Damm street filled with lots of exclusive shops. We had some tea at the hotel bar and talked about perfumes, the whole creative process, difficulties etc. Then we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Tanja guided my through some churches and a couple of fashionable places in Berlin. We ate lunch together and around 2 PM we had to say goodbye as Tanja had to pick up her daughter from school. But we were supposed to meet just a week later in Florence. I went back to my apartment to have a little break, then decided to go for a walk. I kept walking along the Friedrichstrasse, which was a very good move as I kept discovering new things as I was heading South. I encountered Galleries Lafayette and Quartier 206, two famous shopping centers. Then I walked next to the Checkpoint Charlie, a place where the border between East and West Berlin was located. Later I bumped onto a couple of museums and some unknown buildings of interesting architecture. The day was getting close to the end so I started heading back South to finally make a full circle around Berlin.

On the 3rd day I went to the Pergamon Museum in the morning & I literally skipped all the waiting in the queue, took me maybe 20 minutes of waiting before I came in. I was walking around the halls and corridors, listening to many fascinating stories told by audio-guide. I always liked learning about ancient civilisations. To see all the exhibitions it took me over 4 hours but I didn’t even feel that the time passed by so quickly. From there I passed right next to Berlin Cathedral which was just a few steps away and led me straight to Unter den Linden. I directed by steps to Alexanderplatz to see the Neptune’s Fountain and a TV Tower (I didn’t go up as I was there with my parents not long ago). After that I headed in opposite direction and taking a stroll along Unter den Linden I reached Brandenburg Gate. I passed through it and headed slightly right to see the Reichstag Building and then on the left side from the Gate there was a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, gray concrete blocks create a specific atmosphere there. When I continued walking through Ebertstrasse I reached Potsdamer Platz, a more modern place in Berlin. From there I headed back to my place.

4th day was the day of my departure but to say a last goodbye to Berlin I went for lunch at one of the cafes and then I headed for the airport. Off to Paris I was!

Paris

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I flew from Berlin Schoenefeld to Paris Orly airport and after collecting my suitcase from the carousel I was supposed to take an OrlyBus, a service that connects the airport and the city. I got a little bit lost there but finally found my way around. With the bus I was taken to Place Denfert-Rochereau in 14th arrondisement of Paris which also happens to have a metro station. I took a line number 6 to get to Bir-Hakeim station which was the nearest one to the place I booked. Actually to get there I had to walk right next to the Eiffel Tower. I was running a bit late and when I arrived my host was waiting for me at the entrance. The apartment was located on the 7th floor in an old but renovated building and there was no elevator. Actually apartment is a huge overuse here as the whole thing had 8-10 square meters and it was sort of bathroom-bedroom 2-in-1 thing. Bed in one corner, shower and toilet in the other one… But it was ok since I had an amazing view from the window. On the day of my arrival I was tired so I went to bed earlier to be full of energy the next morning.

Waking up on Saturday morning (5th of September) put a big smile on my face. I was in Paris! This was happening for real! I bought a baguette and a fromage in the market nearby and ate it as my breakfast in the park while I watched the Eiffel Tower. Of course when I finished the Tower was the first thing I wanted to check from my to-see list. Morning hour saved me some time as the queue wasn’t long, it was even shorter as I decided to take the stairs instead of elevator. Seeing as I was getting higher and higher above the ground made my heart race but when I saw the view from 1st and later from 2nd viewing terrace my breath was taken away. Champs de Mars on one side, Seine on the other side. The weather wasn’t perfect but I didn’t care, I still loved the view. I didn’t even realize I spent 2 hours there. After I took the stairs back to the ground level I walked through Champs de Mars to look at the front of Ecole Militaire. Not far from there was Place des Invalides with Les Invalides castle complex and Musee de l’Armee so I went there too. After some time I returned to the Eiffel Tower only to cross Seine and explore what’s on the other side. Surrounded by the juicy green grass and fountains of Jardins du Trocadero I reached Palais de Chaillot which is a home to a couple of museums. From there a straight road guided me directly to Place Charles de Gaulle and to L’Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately the queue the queue to enter the isle in the middle of the roundabout where the Arch is places was so long that I could not wait. But I’ve seen it and that’s what counts. And I was at Avenue des Champs Elysees! This big and busy street is filled with top-notch boutiques of fashion and jewellery designers. There’s also a biggest Sephora in Europe that I couldn’t miss (I finally tired Prada Infusion d’Oeillet there, I love it!) and right next to it is a Guerlain boutique – of course I had to enter and smell a couple of things (hello, Derby!) Later I went I little bit off the track to see Le Palais de l’Elysee but it seemed to host some important guests and the building was surrounded by the police and you couldn’t get much close to see more of it. Walking through Rue Saint-Honore I passed many boutiques, Hermes and Louboutin for example. After a while I arrived at Place de la Concorde with Obelisque de Louxor in its central part. 5 minutes away there was a Madeleine church which I also visited. It was getting late so through Pont de la Concorde and next to Assemblee Nationale I went back to get some rest.

On Sunday I started the day by having le petit dejeuner a la francaise which consisted of croissant, a piece of baguette with a bit of butter and jam, a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and a glass of orange juice. Nothing to make you full but oh well… It was good (and expensive). Then I took a metro to Montmartre as I wanted to see Sacre Coeur. It was quite crowded but the queue to get inside of the church was moving rapidly so I also got a chance to see it from the inside. I also make a tour around it from the outside. The place provides a nice panoramic view of Paris. As I was slowly making my way down the map I managed to find Place Pigalle and a little farther there was Moulin Rouge. I also wanted to see the famour dome of Galeries Lafayette but it was closed on Sunday. Then I made it to the building of the Opera and after a longer distance I arrived to the Notre Dame. To get back home I walked through Boulevard St. Germain.

On Monday morning I had an appointment at Atelier Cologne boutique. I was invited to join there for a little breakfast. Unfortunately neither Sylvie nor Christophe could make it as they were traveling but at least I met a part of the crew from one of my most loved perfume houses. I was introduced to their recent launches that I didn’t get the chance to smell earlier. When it became a bit more crowded I also helped at the store for a while. I thought the meeting would last for 2-3 hours while in fact I spent half of my day there. After saying goodbye I returned to Galeries Lafayette to see the dome and through Place Vendome I wandered to the pyramids of Louvre. In the evening I had to pack my suitcase as on Tuesday morning I was going to make a next step on my trip.

Rome

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My flight to Rome was at 12:35 but due to the fact that it was quite a travel from Paris center to Orly airport I left around 9:30 to arrive there with a safe time margin. After approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes the plane landed and I was no longer in France. I was in Italy at Rome Fiumicino. There I took an express bus which helps all flying passengers to get from the airport to the city center, to the Rome Termini train station to be precise. From there I walked South-East along the station and railway to reach my place of stay. After I accommodated at my another AirBNB place it was a mid-afternoon hour so I decided to go for some sightseeing before the sun sets. I managed to see Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano and Basilica di San Clemente. My legs also guided me to the ancient Colosseum and ruins of Forum Romanum and as I kept walking I also got to Piazza Venezia. Then I had some great pasta nearby the Colosseum and headed for my appartment.

The next day started very warm and sunny, it was an ideal day to explore Rome. I started by going to the Vatican City by underground. I saw the magnificent Piazza San Pietro with gorgeous Basilica di San Pietro. Unfortunately the place was so crowded with people that I could not afford wasting my time to wait in long queues so I didn’t manage to see it from the inside. I also had to skip the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum. No problem for me, one of these days I might come back only to do what I missed on my first visit there. It still took me a couple of hours of walking around there. When I left the walls of Vatican City I headed north walking along the West bank of Tevere river. On my left I had Castel Sant’Angelo and Palace of Justice. When I reached Regina Margherita bridge I passed through it to get to the other side of the river and the road was going straight on to Piazza del Popolo. It’s a big square with two little fountains on opposite sides of it and with a column monument in the center. Then I walked through Via del Babuino to finally reach Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) – it’s a busy place with lots of tourists and many fashion boutiques (again). There are also famous Spanish Steps which to me seemed like a regular stone staircase… Then I had a quick look at Palazzo Barberini from where I went to Piazza di Trevi to see a famed Vi Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately it is currently being renovated and without a flowing water it really does not make a “wow” impression… Shame. But I saw more fountains at Piazza Navona. Firstly I visited Pantheon, I think it was my favorite building I saw in Rome but from the outside it looks much more majestic than from the inside. IT was a really long and tiring day.

On Thursday (10th of September) I was leaving before 3 PM so after having a late breakfast (I slept until 11) I only went to see two nearby churches: Santa Maria Maggiore and San Pietro in Vincoli. Headed back to collect my stuff from the apartment and headed for Rome Termini train station. Last part of my trip was waiting for me. But that is a story for a different post

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16 thoughts on “My European travel journal – Berlin, Paris & Rome

  1. shellyw says:

    What a wonderful trip. I will come back later for more pictures. I have vicariously enjoyed a European vacation.

  2. Holly says:

    Oh, your whirlwind vacation sounds absolutely glorious, dear Lucas. You really packed a lot of activity into your days! Thanks so much for the post and the pics – you look very fit and dapper, btw. 🙂 I look forward to the next installment.

  3. rickyrebarco says:

    Great pics. Sounds wonderful. Love your view of the Eiffel tower from your room. Fabulous. We stayed in St. Germanic near the Pont Neuf and Louvre. I want to go back! I missed.inside of St Peter’s too due to crowds and lack of time
    Another trip!

  4. rickyrebarco says:

    I hate the autofill on my tablet. St. Germain !

  5. hajusuuri says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip! You managed to pack a lot in. I have never been to Rome and will make it a destination at some future vacation.

  6. Cornelia Blimber says:

    Impressing! You saw a lot in little time. I admire your energy! Did you keep a diary?

  7. Ron Slomowicz - Notable Scents says:

    What a wonderful trip. Sounds like you had a great time. I love to hear that you didn’t over do it and rested when you needed to.

    One tip for the Italian museums and the Vatican – if they require tickets, purchase in advance online. When I visited the Vatican last year, I purchased online before and was able to go right in. The line to get in was around the block – easily a 2 hour wait.

    • lucasai says:

      It was fantastic. I never had vacations like that. Not sure if I will repeat such intensive traveling next year but this is something to do again for sure, but with different countries.
      Thanks for the tip. Will do that when I go and have time for all the museum musings.

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