Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Category: Leisure Travel (Page 1 of 5)

Lost luggage disaster with Air France and Lufthansa

Our Nightmare Lost Luggage Saga with Air France and Lufthansa

This Christmas, we decided to take a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Europe for the holidays. We had a great time – don’t get me wrong. We saw all kinds of cool places, but the vacation was overshadowed by a horrendous experience with Air France and Lufthansa and both airlines’ refusal to offer any semblance of customer service. We’ve been home for over a month now and are still fighting with both airlines to receive the customer service that we deserve. Here’s the sad, infuriating saga of my family’s luggage-less vacation.

The seven people on the trip came over in three separate waves. My mom and sister came a week earlier. I flew solo and met them in Milan. My dad, brother, and brother’s girlfriend, Jill, flew over together last. They were scheduled (and had confirmed seats together) to fly from Windsor to Toronto to Paris to Munich. When they got to the Windsor airport, they were told that they didn’t have seats on the first flight. They spent nearly two hours at the Air Canada desk while a customer service agent moved mountains to get them onto the full flight. He told them that he could see that the segment had been cancelled by someone from Lufthansa, but had no way of knowing how or why it had happened. Eventually, all three of them made it on the plane and got to Toronto.

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Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice

Located just a short walk from the most popular tourist spots in Venice, the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours of hands-on fun. Da Vinci invented so many incredible things – like ball bearings that are still used in machinery today – and this museum brings them to life with wooden recreations that you can operate yourself.

The first floor of the museum contains several replicas of da Vinci’s most famous works of art with descriptions and information about their significance. You can also see some of his handwritten manuscripts. I passed through these displays pretty quickly because I was anxious to get up to the hands-on portion of things.

Manuscript at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

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Colosseum tour in Rome

Touring the Top of the Colosseum

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome had been on my bucket list since before I ever heard the term “bucket list.” When I first caught sight of it on the bus to my hotel, my jaw actually dropped in amazement. It’s amazing to think that such an enormous structure was built using only manual and animal strength.

While I was planning my trip, I discovered that the top level of the Colosseum had recently been reopened to visitors for the first time since the 1960s. I knew I had to experience that. As it was the thing I was most looking forward to in Rome, I decided that it was worth splurging on a tour to get the full experience. I ended up taking a 3.5-hour guided tour with City Wonders.

View from the fifth level of the Colosseum

It’s also possible to visit the top level of the Colosseum with a ticket purchased straight from the official website, but I gave up on that because with only two weeks left in December, they still hadn’t started selling January dates and I had plans to make.

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Visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria

Fortress Hohensalzburg: Salzburg’s Top Attraction

While visiting Salzburg, it’s impossible to miss the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg high atop the hill looming over the city. It offers lots of great history, plus a killer view, so touring the fort should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Salzburg.

Salzburg, Austria at twilight

Things to do at the fort

First things first, let’s talk about that view. When you exit the inclined railway, head left to go to the “balcony” overlooking Salzburg. You’ll get the perfect panoramic view of the Salzach River winding its way through the city with the surrounding mountains in the background. It was gorgeous in the summer, and when we visited in the winter, the twilight view looked like it belonged on a Christmas card.

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What to see at the Musei Capitolini

What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome

The Musei Capitolini offers a fantastic gallery of artwork and artifacts right in the heart of ancient Rome. If the collection isn’t enough to amaze you, the buildings themselves are worthy of exploration, as they’re intricately detailed and certain areas show off the blend between ancient Rome and more modern construction as old ruins were uncovered during excavations to expand the galleries.

If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, the museum has a significant historical significance: it’s considered to be one of the oldest museums in the world, having been gifted to the people of Rome by the Pope in 1471. The layout of the unusually-shaped square was designed by Michaelangelo (the artist, not the Ninja Turtle), who also contributed one of the most famous works of art nearby – The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Note: I received free admission to the Musei Capitolini thanks to a 72-hour Roma Pass provided by the tourism board. All opinions are my own. For more information on the Roma Pass or visiting Rome, check out the Tourism Board’s website. You can also contact them on Facebook or via phone at 0039 060608.

What to see at the Musei Capitolini


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Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome

Located just a few minutes from the Vatican City – in fact, it’s connected by a walkway the Pope could use to escape attackers – Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome is the perfect place to explore after visiting the Vatican City. Your tour gives you an interesting insight into how the structure has morphed from a mausoleum to a fortress and Papal residence. If the history isn’t enough for you, the view of Rome and the Vatican from the top of the fortress is worth a visit in and of itself.

Note: I received free admission to Castel Sant’Angelo thanks to a 72-hour Roma Pass provided by the tourism board. All opinions are my own. For more information on the Roma Pass or visiting Rome, check out the Tourism Board’s website. You can also contact them on Facebook or via phone at 0039 060608.

Visiting Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

What is Castel Sant’Angelo?

If you find yourself in the vicinity, the imposing structure is sure to catch your eye. It stands out from the other architecture in the area with its fortified walls and cylindrical tower. It was originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and his family, and the ashes of subsequent emperors were also placed there. A bridge crossing the Tiber River leads directly to the Castel, and the angel statues lining both sides reminded me a bit of the famous Charles Bridge in Prague.

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action-packed New York City weekend itinerary

Action-Packed NYC Weekend Itinerary

Looking to cover New York City’s highlights in a weekend? This two-day, action packed itinerary will take you through the best of the best. Be prepared: you will do a lot of walking. My two weekend trips to NYC have seen me average 13 miles a day according to my Fitbit. This fast-paced New York City itinerary will keep you on the move and is definitely for the go-getters who want to see and do as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Day One in New York City

Start your weekend in NYC in lower Manhattan and finish the day in Midtown.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty - Weekend in NYC itinerary

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UN Security Council Chamber

Touring the United Nations Headquarters in New York City

Visiting the United Nations headquarters in New York City is an awesome way to get an up-close look at how the international governing body functions. My boyfriend and I weren’t sure if it was possible to take a UN headquarters tour, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s very visitor-friendly and that there were plenty of same-day tickets still available. If you’re a little bit nerdy or interested in government, this is a great place to visit on your trip to New York City.

Outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City

How to get to the United Nations headquarters

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Entrance to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland - Is it worth visiting?

Should You Visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions. Its stunning blue waters contrast beautifully against the surrounding black volcanic rock, but its immense popularity leaves many potential visitors wondering if it’s too touristy to bother with. There are numerous pros and cons for visiting the Blue Lagoon, and you should weigh them all before deciding to buy a ticket or skip it.

Should you visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?

Why you should visit the Blue Lagoon

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Steaming geysers at Iceland's Geysir area

Iceland’s Golden Circle in Winter

The Golden Circle is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions. Easily accessible as a day trip from Reykjavik, it offers a taste of some of the truly incredible natural wonders the country has to offer. Encompassing three separate attractions, Þingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss, this well-trafficked area combines spectacular scenery, Icelandic history, and a chance to see geothermal action up close. Visiting the Golden Circle in winter not only helps avoid the crowds, but the snow-cover also lends an additional layer of beauty to already gorgeous landscapes.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

When heading northeast from Reykjavik, Þingvellir National Park is the first place you’ll pass on your Golden Circle route. Steeped in both human and geologic history, this was my favorite stop. The broad rift valley central to the park is the result of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates separating. Ever so slowly, the two continental plates are pulling apart, widening this rift. Adventurous visitors can even scuba dive in the rift, though I didn’t get to try that on my visit.

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