Italian Roadtrip : Cinque Terre, Toscana, le Marche

Looking back on my past 6 years of traveling, most of my destinations were pretty exotic spots, where there was much to discover, to dive into and soak up endless experiences. My first summer trip of 2019 turned out to be Italy, the country where I spent all my childhood summer holidays from back then when I was 5 til I turned 18. The last time I saw my relatives in Italy was in 2007, exactly twelve years ago.

My first thoughts about an italian roadtrip was like “oh yeah, it’s just Italy”. Don’t get me wrong Italy has a lot to offer for all the art & history aficionados. Obviously their culinary “chef-d’ouevres” or just the simpler variation of nonna’s kitchen, belongs to the best and favorites cuisines in the whole world.

However for my own personal interests and photowise I’m tending more on the american or asian continent.

Surprisingly we had a super lovely holiday as you can witness on my travel video about Italy. I discovered the “aperitivos” with endless free food, I had the chance to discover some beautiful spots in Tuscany, enjoyed endless amounts of delicious dishes and loved spending quality time with my girlfriend and our families.

Cinque Terre (Liguria).

We started our roadtrip around 04:00 in the morning, as we were late again, as usual. But it turned out to be a good time to leave the contry on a monday morning, as we barely didn’t had any heavy traffic on the road.

It took us 11 hours to reach our first destination “Riomaggiore” which is one of the first “terra” of the Cinque Terre (trans. Five Lands). We had booked an appartement very close to the sea, so we could enjoy the cliffs and sound of the waves in the morning. There are five main spots which form Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso.

It’s hard to choose one of the “terre” as your hotel spot, if you haven’t been there before. I tried to get an idea online, but it left me clueless. We opted for Riomaggiore, as we loved the sight of the rising houses from the shore towards the mountain hills.

Actually it only takes 2 minutes by train to get from Riomaggiore to Manarola. The train leaves the station, passes a tunnel which connects both lands, and two minutes later you’re in Manarola. The longest distance between two “terre” would be around 8 minutes.

This means that it’s actually not that important where you sleep, as you can easily travel around and the trains move around til midnight.

Even though the connecting train rides don’t last long, it’s still pretty exausting to do all the cinque terre in one day. Definitely it’s easily doable, but there a lot of steps to climb and many steep hills to walk.

As we only spent 2 nights in Cinque Terre, we decided to have a relaxed arrival after almost 12 hours of driving, and do the other 4 terres left for the second day. There are two trails that will lead you to the different spots. Sadly because of construction works, the trails were closed for us. On the first day, the ferry terminals were closed as well due to the harsh waves. So we had to rely on the local train line.

Let me sumarize my favorite spots at the terre:

  • Riomaggiore was definitely pretty because of the rising colorful houses from the shore towards the upper hills, where you enter “Cinque Terre”. However the bars & restaurants were pretty boring.

  • Manarola was slightly different, but also pretty similiar to Riomaggiore. In Manarola it was easier to get into the water, or watch the locals diving from the cliffs. The best spot in our opinion was the resto-bar “Nessun Dorma” on top of the cliff. It offered wonderful sunset views and you could enjoy an Aperol-Spritz for 9 Euro followed by a free “plancha” with bread, olives, salame and prosciuto. They call it “Aperitivo” where you get free finger food between 6 and 8 pm while ordering a cocktail or a glass of wine.

  • Vernazza had the coolest bars close to the ocean. The several bakeries nearby offered great & cheap food as well. From the main alley you can slip through a rock-hole, walk through a cave that leads you to the sea.

  • Corniglia was the steepest terra and definitely made me sweat walking from the trainstation up to the top. It seemed less lively than the other 4 spots.

  • Monterosso was the beachy area of the 5 terre, also called Monterosso al Mare. That’s where you’d find those colorful ombrelones that protects you from the sun at the beach. There was a different vibe and it looked more lively as people were jumping into the water, went swimming and kids were laughing out loud while the waves crashed into their faces.

The food and drinks can be pretty affordable if you take the time to find cheaper bars. Hotel or hostel wise Cinque Terre can get quite costly.

Toscana: Siena & San Gimignano.

After our stay at the terre, we moved on to Tuscany. We drove almost three hours until we reached Siena, where we booked a hotel for 2 nights as well. We stayed at the “HOTEL SANTA CATERINA” which was the most charming accomodation I would have ever expected. It was also pretty affordable considering the location and its wonderful backyard that offered a view of the Tuscany countryside.


I loved the beauty of the hills and greens in Tuscany. Personaly Siena didn’t seem that much of an attractive city to me, as I’ve already been to a lot of medieval italian cities, and they kinda all look alike. At night most of the tourists had dinner at the Piazza del Campo. The whole piazza was packed up with foreigners. The bars in the little side alleys stayed empty. It definitely seemed very touristic. Even on a weekend night there wasn’t much going on. Most of the restaurants shut their doors at 23:00 (11pm), where on the other hand cities in Portugal or Spain stay up til very late during the main summer season. I missed the music coming out of the bars, people dancing in the streets, or just random people running by.

The road from Siena to its neighbour city San Gimignano was very scenic and it offered a couple of nice vista points. Even in town, especially on the village edges you could enjoy lunch with a splendid view towards the greenish hills of Tuscany. San Gimignano however was a tourist magnet. You wouldn’t spot a local among the crowds that were walking through the main alleys. The local shopkeepers were very welcoming and rather nice compared to the business people in Liguria. Watching these crowds of german, dutch and british tourists walking by just wouldn’t put me at ease in San Gimignano.


Le marche.

From Tuscany we moved on towards the Marche reggion. We spent a couple of days at the family’s house in Poggetto which was located in the countryside, a tiny village with less than a hundred citizen. There wasn’t even a shop in the village, nor a bar.

However everything was very genuine, as we were the only foreigner in Poggetto I guess. My girlfriend’s grandma spoiled us with her breakfast and cooking. Getting to a supermarket we had to drive to the next village. The gelaterias were also located and spread throughout the different villages. It didn’t bother me, as I was glad that all this was pretty authentic.

During our stay we went to the beaches in Ricchione and Senigallia, visited a shopping mall in Rimini and had a wonderful dinner with ocean view at “Ristorantino Prima Secca” in Fano.

The Marche region in my opinion is very underrated, as it looks very similiar to Tuscany. Travelers however tend to visit the tuscan area of Italy, which is more expensive. Marche offers you hills, nature and mountains. The beach cities like Rimini, Pesaro, Riccione are only 30-60 minutes away.

Flying a drone at Cinque Terre was prohibited (psht! don’t tell anyone). At the marche countryside it didn’t bother anyone that I sent up my drone to take some impressive footage.

I loved the village fests, that were theme-based for example: the tagliatelle fest “Sagra delle tagliatelle”. The following week they hosted a truffle fest or a meat-based fest. Lovely backyard parties in a public place where people would enjoy traditional music with local food and wine all night. Endless amounts of italian specialties are without a doubt a big part of an italian vaccation. We just couldn’t stop eating!

If I had to pick my favorite spot of the three mentioned above, it would be Poggetto, with its laid-back village vibe.

We spent ten days in Italy, and I’m glad that I gained back my interests for the italian culture. I’d still visit Portugal in a heartbeat over Italy, however I can’t argue that Italy has a lot to offer as well.

Norway : Lofoten Islands & the arctic circle

The year 2019 started with an unusual trip. My girlfriend and I decided to visit the northern part of Norway, the Lofoten islands and the nordic city Tromso. I’d consider it an unusual destination as I don’t like spending my precious holidays in winter-cold countries or cities.

As we already went through the winter curse in our country, which consisted of freezing nights and rainy days, we headed north-bound towards the arctic circle. I expected to take the best out of my recently bought Mavic Air drone and was looking forward to pet some reindeers. This all sounded too fancy, if it wouldn’t have been for the rain.


We flew out from Brussels and had a 2-night stop in Bergen, the main city in the south-west of Norway. All I knew about Bergen, were the beautiful colored houses which I knew from google and the mountains surrounding the city center. It all seemed very “nordic” to me, because of the maritime vibe with all the ships, anchors and fishermen, therefor I was looking forward to finally discover Bergen. It turned out that city center wasn’t that attractive at all, and it ended up as a big disappointment. On tripadvisor we tried to find several tourist spots, which would allow us to kill the time. Sadly we couldn’t find any online.

All you can do is get some fishy-food at the local fish market, grab a coffee or two, get on top of the mount “Fløyen” with its fancy funicalar. All this can be done in 4 hours. Besides that I really can’t give you any further tips. Bergen didn’t turn out as I expected it to be. At night, we didn’t find any awesome bars which would allow us to get to know some local folks, it all seemed very dead. I guess paying 10 euros/dollar for one beer or a shot of rum doesn’t sound very inviting. Sadly that’s the average price you gotta pay for booze in Norway.

We were happy to move on towards the Lofoten in the early morning of our 3rd day in Norway.
You can easily reach the city center of Begen from the airport by the local lightrail (one-way ticket costs about 3,5 euro/dollar, or the express busline “flybussen”, which takes about 25 min(the one-way ticket is about 10 euro/us$).


Lofoten Islands: Reine, Sakrisoy, Henningsvær.

We landed in Leknes, where one of the 3 airports of the Lofoten is located. It was the smallest airport that I’ve ever landed at. After jumping out of the airplane, we walked through a door, and immediately reached the luggage claim belt within a couple of meters. Right next to the luggage claim where two single booths of the rental car companies. After spending exactly 4 minutes at the desk, we got a descent upgrade for our car: a hybrid VW Golf, with automatic transmission, and spiked wheels.

Prior our trip we booked a lovely wooden cabin in Sakrisøy, also known as “Rorbu” houses. Rorbuer are traditional fisher houses made out of wood and usually painted in red or yellow. It was one of the cheapest “chalets” we could find on, but it turned out to be exactly what were looking for. The check-in was flawless. The main entrance of the cabin was facing a big snow-covered mountain, right next to the water. A very basic kitchen station allowed us to prepare our dinners and breakfasts. Nearby the Sakrisoy houses was a “Coop” supermarket, and with 50 euro/us$, we could prepare our food for the upcoming 3 days. Expect to pay at least 60 euro/us$ while having dinner at a restaurant. Norway ain’t cheap!

It was the first time I ever stayed in a wooden cabin. I loved brewing my fresh coffee every morning with my portable “Kalita Filter”. The living area and the wooden beds on the upper level of the house were very cosy. The wooden cabin was definitely an important part of our Lofoten experience, as we weren’t spoiled with the best weater. We spent 5 days / 4 nights on the Island. During our stay we only had two days of sunshine. The weather was changing constantly, it was mostly snowstorms, rain and fog. As it was my first trip where I would use my DJI MAVIC AIR drone, the weather didn’t allow us to fly it up, as the winds were way too strong.

It’s really hard to kill the time on the Lofoten during bad weather, as there’s isn’t much to do. Because of the icy roads it takes quite a while to visit other cities. Driving from Reine to Svolvaer would easily take 3 hours. The center of Leknes hasn’t much too offer, except for a couple of coffee houses and an unattractive shopping mall.

There’s one main road that leads across the Island, the E10. There aren’t barely any shortcuts, you won’t get lost on the Lofoten without a GPS, but you will use the same road over and over again to drive around.

During our 4 days, we visited Reine, Leknes, Henningvaer and Svolvaer and we made it to the Unstad arctic surf beach. There are plenty of tiny villages that you will pass by within a couple of minutes. Different fishermen restaurants are spread out all over the Island. Besides having cake & coffee, taking lots and lots and lots of photographs, there’s not much to do in the Lofoten.

The views are breathtaking! The landscape and mountains scenery is very unique, and you won’t be disappointed. Sadly we got also unlucky with the northern lights. We were using the iphone apps “Aurora Alerts” and “Aurora” to get informed about the optimal conditions of the northern lights. Every night around 22:00h (10pm) the green lights were right above our roof. Unluckily because of the clouded sky, we weren’t able to see them. One night we took our car and started driving around for an hour or two. No luck! Even later in Tromso, one of the best locations in Norway to witness the northern beauties in the sky, we were unlucky again.



Tromso was the last destination on our norway trip. Initially we had planned to make it the most popular city in northern norway to visit e reindeer farm. You can several tours or reindeer sleeding, husky sledding, feeding the reindeers followed by a traditional sami dinner. All of that could have been, if it wasn’t for the rain & fog.

After we landed in the late evening, the first glimpse at the city center was quite suprising. It looked like the center of fairy tale village, lots of inviting shops, packed restaurants and a handful of bars. On the next day we woke up with frustrations, the sky was gray, it was raining, and you could hear the wind through the room-window. We decided to walk across the main Tromso bridge and make it to the “Arctic Cathedral”. The beautiful A-shaped Cathedral was built in 1965, and to me it looked more like an Art-Center or Museum than a church. The shape of the building is actually very unusual for a religious building and it definitely looks like a recent construction. Never thought that the cathedral was over 50 years old.

Obviously with all the bad luck on our side, the church was closed. There were way too many people outside to get a descent photograph. The winds were too strong to fly up the drone. The fog was so dense that we could barely see the other side of the bridge. Bummer!

There wasn’t much to do in Tromso as well. We jumped from shop to the other, and tried too many coffees and cakes in the surrounding coffee-bars. Across our hotel was a lovely vinyl shop called “Backbeat Kaffe og Vinyl”. As the name of shop already reveals… you’ll find an interesting collection of vinyl (rock, indie, metal, soul, local bands) and can buy a fine cup of coffee, while browsing for new music. While in Norway, I had to buy the last album of “Kvelertak”, a gem of nordic rock music!

Click on the button below, to see the whole gallery of my Lofoten shots. Thanks for looking.


I just turned back home from the beautiful turkish city Istanbul. It was my first trip to Turkey, so I really didn't know what to expect from that multicultural city. We spent 5 nights in the area of Karakoy, which apparently is becoming Istanbul's hotspot.


Istanbul is divided into 3 main areas :

  • Eminönü & Fatih 
  • Beyoglu & Besiktas 
  • and the asian shore Üsküdar & Kadiköy.

Eminönü & Fatih

Eminönü and Fatih are located in the older part of Istanbul, which is famous for its mosques and lots of historical buildings like Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia. It was the first area I visited on our first day in Istanbul. We spent a whole day on that side of the city, and we could have spend another whole day to check out every corner on the west-side. Among the mosques you will find countless streets filled with markets, the Grand-Bazaar and the famous Spice-Market. At different times a day you will hear the prayers through the speakers who are attached on the mosque's towers. For myself it was the most interesting and unique part of Istanbul, and it's the place where you certainly will feel like a total stranger.


Beyoglu & Besiktas

We stayed at the hotel Grandiva in Karakoy, just across the Galata Bridge at the modern part of Istanbul. In my opinion it was the best spot for a hotel. You could reach the old part of Istanbul within a 10-minutes walk, and it took the same time to reach the Galata Tower. From Galata Tower, it's easy to get to the Istiklal avenue, a super long avenue, which leads to the popular Taksim area.

It felt like, that the modern area had culturally less to offer than Eminönü, but still there was so much to check out: too many restaurants, different spots where nightlife takes place, an endless shopping street, streetfood-stalls, and many historical buildings.

The neighbourhood of the Galata Tower was packed with a diversity of people, the youngsters, the hipsters, the older generation, the hippies. In the evening many people were sitting on the pavement around the tower to chit-chat, and share food & drinks.

While walking down the less attractive Istiklal avenue, you had the choice between hundreds of restaurants, from every price-range. After dinner, we hit the Taksim block, which was filled with quite a diversity of bars and smaller clubs. Arsen Lüpen would be an interesting bar to check out. On thursday nights, they host a jam-session, where everyone can join the stage, to play an instrument or sing with other musicians. No entrance fee, some crazy dancing and lots of fun!

On our second last night in Istanbul, we met a lovely local girl who brought us to the nightlife-heart of Karakoy which is located on Mumhane street and Kemankes street. It was the hippest part we discovered in Istanbul, and i'm pretty sure, the next time I'm gonna visit Istanbul again, this will be the place I'm going to hang out every night! It's the most attractive nightlife spot, and it's packed with too many beautiful people.

At the Grandiva Hotel we had the chance to get delicious breakfast in the morning. However if you miss the breakfast-hour, check out the Güney restaurant next to Galata Tower. It offers a variety of typical turkish breakfasts, for an affordable price of course! And you get taken care of by some turkish hipsters :). 


Prince's Islands

On our third day we planned walking towards the Bosphorus Bridge, but it was just too far away from out hotel. At the first ferryboat station, we decided to buy a ticket to get to the asian side of Istanbul faster. As a total stranger in Istanbul, we didn't thought about carrying our passport. 

We opted to check out one of the 9 princes' islands. Büyükada is the biggest one. A ferry ticket to the big island was around 6 turkish liras [2 euro, 3 us$]. A bargain! But we didn't know it would take us 2 hours to reach the island! 2 hours with too many people aboard, and we got a free sunburn. If you get the chance to catch a direct ferry from Istanbul to Büyükada or the other way around, it will still take you an hour at least.

Different travel-websites recommended to visit at least one of the islands, and considered Büyükada and Adalar as a must-see. I wouldn't recommend the island of Büyükada to anyone. It definitely was a beautiful place. So many beautiful victorian houses, no cars allowed on the island, lots of nature and parks, and great views of the ocean. But that was all it had to offer. The pier-area, where you get off the ferry, is packed with too many tourists, and every shop-owners wants you to buy food, drinks, and just any kind of presents. Once you get out of that mass of people, you're slowly walking into the silent streets of the city. 

But there are just too many horse-carriages on the streets of Büyükada. The constant noise of the horse-shoes ruins the vibe of the island. Most restaurants look very touristic, most people you will walk by will be tourists, and the shops are tourist-traps as well. 

If you love hiking or if you are into floral photography, it's definitely a place to check out. If you prefer the city life and hunting for must-see-spots of Istanbul, I wouldn't recommend you "Büyükada".


My thoughts about Istanbul

To be honest, the first 48 hours, I didn't have the feeling of being welcomed by the turkish people, especially the turkish men. It wasn't as bad as in Moscow, but still I had mixed feelings for Istanbul. Most of the men were unfriendly, not helpful towards tourists, some bumped into you without apologizing, even at the bars or restaurants, there was barely no communication. You could hardly notice a smile on their faces.

Things changed when we went out at night. Different hours, different people. It was quite easy to get into conversations with the locals. Especially with girls. Most of the women & girls, religious or non-religious, were super friendly, and totaly helpful. They showed us different places in the city, and introduced us to the turkish cuisine: turkish coffe followed by a coffee-ground-clairvoyance, the delicious streetfood mussels, turkish Ayran [iced water, yogurt, salt], and other turkish street food specialties.

We met many lovely turkish people! And during my last hours in Turkey, when we headed back to the airport, I felt like I needed to get back to Istanbul very soon! There's still so much to discover, so many turkish dishes to check out, and too many lovely Turks to meet. 


Useful informations

  • The taxi-ride from Atatürk airport to the Galata Bridge takes about 35 to 45 minutes, and costs around 50-60 turkish liras [20 euros, 24 us$].
  • Food is cheap. Booze isn't. A menu at a touristic restaurant [entree & main dish] with water and a glass of wine mostly costs around 20-30 euros [26-34 us$]. Longdrinks costs 25 turkish liras [7-9 euros, 10-11us$]. Cheapest drinks would be water, softdrinks and beer.
  • A single ticket for the tram-ride in the city center costs 4 TL [1.3 euros, 2us$]
  • A one-way ferry ticket costs around 4-6 TL.