Warsaw

So originally myself and Emma had planned to go to Warsaw for a little tourist trip, but sadly she had to cancel her holidays, so I used it as an opportunity to catch up with some good friends and check out Sneakerness Warsaw. I knew as soon as I booked the flights with Air France and the short connection in Charles de Gaulle that there would be issues, and rightly so... my bag never made it from one plane to another. Big up Air France, nice job. Thankfully, I got my bag delivered to the hotel the next evening.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu Centrum for three nights, and thankfully it's location meant that it was perfect for being able to reach the Sneakerness Warsaw event in under 10 minutes walk, as well as only being a short distance away from the main tourist spots. Definitely recommend it.

Arriving quite late in the evening on Friday, and after the carry on with my bag still being in transit, all I wanted to do was chill out, and get my bearings for the Sneakerness Event on the Saturday, so I headed to the Pałac Kultury i Nauki where the event was being held to check it out.

Now this place is pretty cool, and extremely tall, stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of Warsaw, but definitely the craziest place I've ever been to for a sneaker event.

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It's pretty great that I can go to so many different places in the world, and be able to meet up with people who I have met through collecting trainers. A big shout to Diana and Pavel from Moscow who were on their travels in Europe but took a detour to Warsaw for the weekend, really great people.

And of course, my Suede&Mesh boys - Arek, Maciek, and Radek. First and foremost, those guys are the absolute shit, gotta say a big thanks for all their hospitality over the weekend, and a huge congrats on an extremely successful Sneakerness event, curated by them!

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Radek, Arek, Maciek, Pavel, and myself, photo taken by Diana.

Friday night was spent catching up with those guys, and helping out a bit at the event, getting prepared for opening on Saturday, but I was exhausted so it was time for bed.

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Pałac Kultury i Nauki by night.

Saturday -

9am alarm, and time for Sneakerness Warsaw!

You can check the full write up by clicking here.

After checking out the event for a bit, myself, Pavel and Diana decided to go on a little wander to Warsaw's "Old Town", which was pretty close to the Pałac Kultury i Nauki, and is apparently the main tourist district of Warsaw. That was soon realised when you see the price of foodand drink start to increase the closer you get, whereas it's very very very cheap away from this area!

We literally had no plan, and just walked and walked, so here are a bunch of shots below of what we found on our travels.

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Big thanks to Maciek for the Legia top, I'll wear anything when I have no other clothes to wear.. ;) 

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These guys were putting on quite the show in one of the squares in Warsaw Old Town, so we spent some time checking out their skills.

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After our little trip around the Old Town, we headed back to the event to catch up with the guys, and then had a few stops to make.

Firstly, we went to the nearest shop to get some necessities as I still hadn't heard anything about my luggage, so I grabbed some underwear, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Definitely necessities, right?

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Sunset behind the Pałac Kultury i Nauki.

We then went to where Pavel and Diana were staying, and then back to my hotel to see about my bag, and of course, it was at reception! A phone call, text or email would have been appreciated from Air France to let me know it had been delivered, which was promised, but anyway, I got it, that was the main thing!

So I got changed, and by this time, the Sneakerness Event had finished for the Saturday, so we headed to Arek's apartment, and passed a McDonalds on the way, so obviously we grabbed some quick munch. They have these machines to order your food and then collect at the counter, new to me, clearly the UK is a little behind!

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Looking towards Warsaw City Centre from Arek's apartment.

Sadly, I have nothing to show for Saturday night in the form of pictures, but I can assure you that on Sunday I had one massive hangover! It was a crazy night. The Polish sure do love their vodka, and their crazy secret clubs.

It was also great to meet old and new faces, and be able to have a drink together and chat all things footwear! Shouts to Pavel, Diana, Arek, Radek, Robert, Chris, Francky, Tebar, Lorenzo, Diana and everyone else for an awesome night!

 Sunday -

Sneakerness is a two day event, so nursing a vodka hangover, I headed to the event by midday so that I could get some shots for my blog post on the event, but I had left my camera at Arek's, and he forgot to take it, so we had to swing by there and grab it.

I literally just spent the day at the event, drinking, and chatting, really chilled out vibe, and then we tidied up at the end, and said goodbye to Sneakerness Warsaw's 3rd Edition.

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Apparently the best method to put up and take down the Sneakerness banner from the roof...

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Pavel and Diana had an early morning flight back to Barcelona, so we said our goodbyes and then we headed back to Suede&Mesh HQ, and grabbed some beers!

The guys wanted to go for some food so we went to this place (I'll get the name) where they pretty much had a shot of vodka with every course, and they had around 8 courses! One shot of vodka was enough for me, thanks!

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Monday -

Monday was sadly home time, but with an afternoon flight, it meant I still had a chance to meet up with the guys and have some lunch with them!

Finally, good to be able to just sit and chill without the stress of an event, but the Suede&Mesh team killed it, seriously.

I'll hopefully get back to Warsaw next summer, got some big plans for Europe!

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Florence - Italy Adventures

Utilising the Italian Train service once again, we hopped on a train and made our way to Florence from Pisa, a relatively short journey, gave me some time to try and edit pics too which is always good. Tried to take a chunk out of the inevitably large amount of images I'd have to go through when I got home. Arriving in Florence in the middle of the day probably wasn't the best idea though, as it was roasting, much hotter than it had been in both Rome and Pisa. With our screenshots of Apple Maps in hand, we made our way to the hotel, and had to wing it a little as I may have taken us up the wrong street, even with directions.

Anyway, we eventually made it to Hotel Pendini, which is where we would be staying for the next 4 nights. A lovely hotel sitting right on the Piazza della Repubblica, and next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, with Louis Vuitton across the road too if you fancied a spot of shopping.

DAY 1 -

So you can probably guess by now what we done once we got checked in, right? Of course, we went for a wander to get an idea of where everything was.

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Hotel Pendini on the right from Piazza della Repubblica.

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Palazzo Vecchio from Piazza della Signoria.

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Fountain of Neptune.

One thing I knew about was the Ponte Vecchio, so this is what we would search for first, and after going in the wrong direction originally, we eventually made it to the awesome Palazzo Vecchio which you can see above.

You'll notice a lot of people going in and out of a door at the front of this building, so make sure you do the same, it's worth it. Below are images of what you'll discover when you do!

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From here, the Ponte Vecchio is an extremely short walk through the Piazzale degli Uffizi, which you can see below. A busy area both day and night!

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Due to the time of day, I couldn't get a good shot of the Ponte Vecchio from the front side, so of course, we'd come back a few times more, but we did take a wander over the bridge which is full of jewellers, and then head to one of the bridges behind it to get a better view.

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Ponte Vecchio from Ponte Santa Trinita.

 My parents had visited Florence last year, and I swear all they done for the next few months when they came back was just talk about how amazing it was, so this was one of the main reasons we chose to visit here.

In all honesty, although we'd only walked around for a couple of hours, we weren't too impressed with Florence, certainly not in comparison to how we felt about Rome. Maybe the travelling and walking around had eventually caught up with us, so we headed back to the hotel to unpack and get changed.

Some shots from the way back.

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Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.

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Feeling a little drained, we just planned to head out for some food and of course gelato! We headed to Piazza della Signoria to grab some food at a restaurant we'd spotted during the day, and of course, it was busy, so they probably are doing something right.

How wrong could we have been? They weren't doing anything right. We waited an absolute day and age to just get drinks! I wish I could remember the name so you could avoid them, but I've forgotten.

So off the back of a shitty meal, all that could make up for it was the biggest tub of gelato I could find, and that's just what I got. (Photo not included as I absolutely demolished it!)

Back to the hotel it was!

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"Put that f*cking camera away!"

Day 2 -

One of Emma's friends had booked us on a walking tour as a birthday gift, I'll be sure to get the name for you off of Emma. Big shout to our guide Sylvia, in the middle of the day, in the scorching heat, she was great!

However, first, after demolishing some croissants with nutella, I said that I couldn't get a decent shot of the front of the Ponte Vecchio, so off to the bridge we headed as the sun would be at the opposite side.

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Now it was time for our walking tour, so meeting outside the Hard Rock Cafe, we got acquainted with our guide, and off we went. We basically toured the historic centre of Florence, while getting all the necessary information about each 'attraction', and trying to find any unoccupied spots of shade. Basically everything you'd expect from a walking tour, it was pretty spot on.

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Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

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Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze.

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Campanile di Giotto.

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Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

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Museo Casa di Dante.

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Chiesa di San Carlo.

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Palazzo Vecchio.

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Now if you didn't know already (we didn't until my mate told me), Florence is pretty damn fashionable. Pretty much every street you walk down will have some form high fashion shop on it, or just a clothing shop in general, so it was time for me to get dragged around... for a little while at least.

We were struggling to find much to do at night to be honest, except for eat and drink, which isn't exactly a bad thing, but we wanted to be able to walk places and check out new things, but literally every thing was closed.

So once we grabbed food, we just headed to the Ponte Vecchio where there was a couple of guys singing and playing guitar, who were amazing, so we spent an hour or so chilling listening to them.

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Day 3 - 

So we pretty much had two days left in Florence, and it felt like we had done very little, so we figured out what we wanted to do and..... we came up with very little!

However, one thing we definitely wanted to do was visit the cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), it's dome and it's surrounding bell tower, and baptistry, but every day we had been there, it was queued all the way around.

The night before, we spent some time checking opening times, and what not. Also, we had failed to find a ticket office, as we knew we had to get tickets to climb to the top of the duomo, as well as the bell tower, and to enter the baptistry. The cathedral was free, provided you were respecting the religion and had your shoulders and top of your knees covered. This is pretty much standard in Italy, so please bare it in mind, just a simple shawl will suffice for the ladies!

A 7:30am wake up call, we took our bottles of water and baguettes that we had bought last night, made our way to the ticket office, paid 10e each for two tickets, and went to join the queue to climb the cathedral's dome. This was the largest queue, so figured it would be smart to do it first, and even though we arrived there about 9am, the queue was huge, and we spent two hours in it before we managed to enter. Thankfully it was only 11am, and the sun wasn't that strong yet, but we were in the shade for the majority of the time anyway.

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Now this cathedral and everything about it, located in Piazza del Duomo is just spectacular.... however, the climb wasn't, but this was mainly due to the poor organisation from staff who failed to stop people coming down various staircases while people were trying to go up. Therefore, you were stuck in these little claustrophobic humid staircases, feeling like there was very little air to breathe! Not a pleasant feeling.

463 steps later and inside the duomo...

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And to the top of the duomo...

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Now it was time to check out the interior of the cathedral, and once again, another queue... It would have been great if you could climb to the top of the dome, and then visit the inside of the cathedral, but you get shuffled out a door, and then have to queue again.

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Next on the agenda was the baptistry, which sadly was covered in scaffolding on the exterior, and this seemed to deter people from going inside, which is a real shame, as this was honestly one of the nicest interiors I'd see since we were away.

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Now before we were able to muster up the energy to climb the neighbouring Giotto's Campanile (bell tower), we had to stop for some lunch, in the form of lots of water, and two of the finest crepes with nutella known to man.

Conveniently the cafe was just across the road, in the shadow of the bell tower, almost taunting us while we rested.

But we were finished, and ready.... but oh wait, another queue, yes, you have to queue to climb the bell tower too. Only a half hour wait this time.

We said we wouldn't stop until we got to the top, and then we could stop at various levels on the way back down, so 414 steps later...

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Duomo, Cathedral, Baptistry and Bell Tower - Check.

Absolutely exhausted - Check.

One thing I always do is keep an eye on the sky when it is getting near sunset, and the sky was shaping up to be pretty lovely, and since we knew it set behind the Ponte Vecchio, we figured we would head there to see what we could capture!

Rightly so, the sunset was amazing!

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Day 4 - 

If you didn't know already, one of the main attractions in Florence is the statue of David, which is housed at the Accademia Gallery. We had walked by the gallery the day previous to get an idea where it was and what the queueing was like, but as expected, there were queues of 2+ hours, so we didn't bother.

We were going to check it out on our last day in Florence, but once again, queues queues and more queues, so we really just couldn't be bothered! So sorry for no images of the very famous David.

One of the best ways to see cities when you go away is to use the City Sightseeing Tours which you will find in many cities worldwide. These guys offer informative bus tours, with at least one line running in the city, but sometimes many others. I've used them in Iceland, New York, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, and even in Glasgow and London. They also offer a hop on, hop off service, which is exceptionally useful when it comes to getting to certain places which may be a little bit out of the centre, or you just aren't keen on walking too far.

The City Sightseeing Tours in Florence begin at the Santa Maria Novella train station, so we headed there to buy ourselves a day ticket each, and hopped on the first line to do the full tour, which took around an hour.

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Buses can be a little bit of a nightmare to take pictures on, so we always just do the full tour first, and decide which spots we want to check out, then go round again and get off. We drove by Piazza de Michelangelo which provides stunning views over Florence centre, so we decided to come back here later on... for sunset, of course.

With the first tour over and done with, we got off at the station and waited until the next line came by which would take us out to the stunning little town of Fiesole, which is set up in the hills on the outskirts of Florence.

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The tour which goes up to Fiesole takes a little bit longer, so when we came back down, we grabbed a spot of lunch, and before we knew it, we were back on the first line and heading up to explore Piazza de Michelangelo.

When we were at the Ponte Vecchio the night before watching the sunset, you are able to see the Piazza de Michelangelo from here, and we could see all the camera flashes during sunset, so tonight was our turn to see what all the fuss was about.

Unfortunately, it was really cloudy all through the day, so we were hoping it would clear up a little for sunset coming around.

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First footwear shot of the holiday... couldn't go 10 days without one!

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While we were on the bus up to Piazza de Michelangelo, we spotted a basilica which was tucked away up some stairs, so of course, we were going to have a look.

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Not this basilica.. the next one.

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Sitting at the front of this basilica provided the most amazing views over Florence, and we were sure we had found the best spot for the sunrise tonight.

The front door to the basilica was open, so I went inside to be greeted with complete darkness, and only the sound of humming coming from the basement. So I walked over, and the below picture was what I was greeted with.

Easy one of the most eerie experiences of my life so far.

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I even had to take the above pictures with a flash, that's how dark it was.

After this eerie experience, we literally just spent the next couple of hours sitting on a wall out the front of the basilica, overlooking a graveyard in front of us, and Florence in the distance, watching the sunset unfold.

Sadly, the clouds hadn't disappeared at all, in fact, they'd probably gotten worse, so the below shots are the best I could muster.

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Our time was up in Florence, and our time on holiday was almost up too, so the next day, we headed to the train station, and headed back to Rome, as this is where our return flight was from on the Monday (it was cheaper that way).

Pisa - Italy Adventures

Following our trip to Pompeii via Naples, we headed back to Rome late in the evening, and had an "early night", if you can call midnight early? Ultimately we were heading to Florence, or Firenze (I'm down with the Italian language now), but we knew Pisa was relatively close, so we decided to catch a train to Pisa first, and stay there for a night. The train system in Italy, Trenitalia, is pretty great - super efficient, quick, reasonably priced, and easy to get tickets. The UK need to take a leaf out these guys book. So if you're looking to travel within Italy, I definitely recommend using them, we never experienced any bad journeys or issues with them.

We had made sure we'd screens hotted directions from the train station to our hotel this time around, so arriving in Pisa, we headed to the Grand Hotel Duomo, definitely one of the nicest hotels we stayed in, probably due to the fact that the rooftop bar had an amazing view of the Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistry.

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View from the roof top bar of Grand Duomo Hotel.

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As with every new place you go, or maybe it's just us, you've got to go explore so that's what we did. We knew Pisa wasn't as big as Rome, but on the way to the hotel from the train station, we had walked over a nice bridge at the river and spotted some areas we wanted to check out. And of course, we had to go check out the Leaning Tower.

We only had a couple hours wandering planned, as we arrived late afternoon, and we had booked to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa for sunset, hoping to get some nice sky and some even better views.

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Around the area where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is, known as , there are a number of things that you can visit, with the main ones being the tower itself, the cathedral, the monumental cemetery, and the baptistry. Most of them you need to pay to visit, but the cathedral is free to visit as far as I'm aware, but it was on our ticket for the Leaning Tower, so this was our first stop.

The cathedral is spectacular with it's grey marble and white stone, and building commenced in 1064. The interior of the cathedral is even better, and even houses Galileo's Lamp, which you can see in some of the pictures below.

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Our time was shortly approaching to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so we made our way round to the entrance as you have to be there around 15 minutes before or so. It is 18e to climb to the top of the tower, and please, if you want to do this, book it via the official site, the link can be found here, and not via some third party who will charge you a lot more.

The site can be quite hard to navigate in all honesty, even once you switch to the English language option, but have a little patience and you will get there. It is necessary to do this a little in advance as they have time slots and only let a specific number of people up at a time. The climb itself only takes about 20 minutes, and is relatively easy, but is well worth doing.

We were most surprised about how 'boring' the interior of the tower is actually, but the view makes up for it, so we'll let that slide.

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As it was bang smack in the middle of sunset, and we knew we had that rooftop bar at the hotel with spectacular views, we made the mad dash back down the tower, and across the road to our hotel so we could catch the tail end of the sunset.

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An amazing sunset, I'm sure you'll agree!

The street you can see in the above image which leads all the way to the Piazza dei Miracoli, and goes past the front of our hotel, has countless places to eat, and is probably one of the busiest places in Pisa, if not the busiest, so make sure you check it out and grab some food.

A wander down to the river at night to grab a couple of shots only resulted in one sadly.

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We were heading off the next afternoon to Florence, so we had planned to visit the Baptistry, and the Monumental Cemetery in the morning. I think we maybe paid 5e each to visit both things from the ticket office which is near the Leaning Tower.

We visited the Baptistry first, but to be honest, it's a little underwhelming inside, I think we spent all of 10 minutes in there, and that was just climbing one level up to get a good view of the Cathedral.

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The Piazza dei Miracoli is quite a wide walled area, and just to the right of the Baptistry if you're looking at it from the front, you can head over the grass and check out some of the wall remains. Through one of the closed off gates is a graveyard, but I think you may be able to get to this if you exit out the walled area.

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The next place we checked out was the Monumental Cemetery, or Camposanto Monumentale, and is a walled cemetery which is believed to be the most beautiful cemetery in the world. The cemetery was completed in the 15th century, after being started in the 13th century, and it is extremely impressive.

There is an amazing fresco named The Triumph of Death, and you really most spend some time admiring it.

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Sadly our time was up in Pisa, so we grabbed our cases and headed to the train station to catch the train to Florence! I fully recommend checking out Pisa if you're ever near, beautiful place.