Travel

ESPANA

So my last post was April 3rd…I always tell myself I won’t allow any of these long hiatuses to occur, but here we are. A lot has gone on since April and between work and my personal life this took a back seat, but I am back – and what better way to come back with a nostalgic post about Spain?! Around this time two years ago I was travelling all over Spain, loving every second of it, even the historical heat wave we faced in Madrid (well, maybe not that part). Spain was absolutely beautiful with such an incredible culture and people, so I cannot wait to share these images and stories with you!File_003(2)


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  • Madrid

Our first stop was Madrid. Beautiful beautiful Madrid! I have never been to Spain before so I wasn’t too sure on what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Throughout all my European adventures, I have never seen such detailed architecture before. The plazas were extremely large, much bigger than the ones I saw in Italy. The nightlife was unmatched – watch out NYC, they are the true city that never sleeps…well, aside from the whole siesta thing (yes it is real!). Literally everything shuts down during siesta time, I had extreme trouble finding even a convenience store to just grab a bottle of water!

I loved exploring everything Madrid had to offer, from the museums, to the parks, to the flamenco dancing, and of course the tapas and wine! They also have great trips available to places like Toledo (so sad we didn’t get to go!). I would definitely recomend renting a bike (we were able to do so at a gas station lol), see a flamenco show, and explore EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid to get lost!

Oh and if you’re there in the summer be sure to order a the popular summer wine cocktail, tinto de verano. It literally translates to red wine of summer. Super light and refreshing 🙂

Let’s start with some of the sites you can’t miss!

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The Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) is just breathtaking. The size alone will leave you in awe! No pictures are allowed to be taken inside but surely what you see will be engraved in your memory. The rooms are so beautifully (and ornately) decorated and full of indulgence, you could only imagine a king living here! They have gardens surrounding the place, making it hard to believe this is right in the middle of Madrid! They also have an armory full with an incredible collection, some even say the best in Europe.

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Plaza Mayor is a typical plaza full of street vendors and little stores, but what makes it so unique are the murals painted on the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House). the building was constructed in 1619 and as assumed, has undergone many renovations. It was originally designed to house the Baker’s Guild, which was extremely powerful as they controlled grain prices. the original paintings on the walls were redone in 1992, so pretty recently! It is now home for the Madrid Tourist Information Center, so if you are looking to get any information, this is the place to stop by! Also, typical to touristy areas, I would stay away from the cafes in the plazas, you can find a much more authentic and reasonably priced place one off the beaten path.

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Statue of Felipe III in front of Plaza Mayor

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Plaza de la Villa – just a cute little square close to Plaza Mayor 🙂

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  • Marbella

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Down to Andalusia we go! Marbella was a great way to relax on beautiful beaches and drink some tropical dranks after a bunch of touristy things (and a TON of walking) in Madrid. There were a ton of British and Russians there when I was there, I am not sure if they like to vacation there or if they kind of took over. Nonetheless it was absolutely beautiful. From the little stone pathways, the winding tiny streets. It reminded me of Sorrento or Cinque Terre. They had the cutest boutiques, the most quaint little cafes. I would totally recommend just walking around and getting lost and see what you stumble upon. They have wonderful ocean front dining and clubs at night right on the beach. I have honestly never heard of it before coming here, I assume places like Ibiza overshadow it, but it seems pretty family friendly too as I saw a ton of families with young kids! We literally just ate, drank, and relaxed on the beach during our time here, we didn’t do much exploring at all.

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  • Granada

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Our final stop before heading back to Madrid to go home! And WOW, what a way to end a trip of a lifetime! Granada was just breathtaking, from the 1000 year old Alhambra and the views, to the wonderful markets and vendors, to the Turkish baths, to the modern shopping and dining, Granada has it all. I will certainly be adding more pictures as I unearth them from my computer, but the views I was able to capture from the Alhambra Palace are literally nothing like I have seen before. It was totally worth the trip to see and explore the grounds here. It truly felt like I was time warped to the past. This is another city with a ton of winding little alleys and streets that you should get lost in. It also had a very Arabic feel, with Arabic restaurants, vendors, etc. Completely different vibe and energy form Marbella and Madrid and anywhere I have been really. Loved every second of it.

Also, though there are no pictures here (we weren’t allowed to take them), of the first Turkish baths in Spain, I highly recommend going. After a long trip of travelling and walking around, see and learning and being apart of this awesome history was just incredible. The baths were beautiful and clean, and we got massages after!

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View from Alhambra Palace

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Food from restaurant that overlooked Alhambra – I want to say it was the Carmen Mirador de Aixa

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Amazing work being done by hand in the palace.

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Verona – the city of love

Hello lovelies! So, keeping with the theme of love since I am still so giddy about Valentine’s Day, I decided to write about Verona, one of the most romantic and quaint little cities in Italy. I’m sure it sounds familiar, as I think everyone and their mother has read Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, which takes place in Verona. To me, Verona was so incredibly beautiful, yet so full of history. Nestled between the Adige river and Lake Garda, I feel as though this place is one of the more underrated tourist destinations compared to some of Italy’s more famous regions like Rome, Milan, Naples, etc. There is something so romantic and charming about Verona, just strolling along the alleyways and seeing the beautiful arches and churches. There was really something breathtaking in every nook and cranny. I really wish I was able to spend more time exploring this city. If you are ever in Italy, I highly recommend taking a day or weekend to walk through the infamous streets of Verona.

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Since it is most well-known for Romeo + Juliet, it only makes sense that they have many monuments and odes to this famed play. For example, Juliet’s house where you can see the symbolic balcony (for a small price), or stand next to the Juliet monument where legend has it if you touch her right breast, you will have good fortune bestowed upon you. You’ll also see here the walls where lovebirds write their names . I can’t even imagine how many couples have written their name here. Also down the street, they have Juliet’s tomb, which you are able to walk around as it seems like a garden, but there is an entrance fee to see the actual tomb.

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Sant’ Anastasia Church

There are so many beautiful and historical churches all throughout Italy. The Sant’ Anastasia church in Verona was so ornate and beautiful that my sister and I couldn’t resist just walking around and taking in all of its beauty. The detail that went into creating the ceilings, the murals, the statues, it was all just unbelievable. HINT: if you are wearing spaghetti straps or revealing clothes, definitely have a shawl or scarf handy to cover your shoulders.

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Castel San Pietro

Okay for the best view in all of Verona, I don’t care what anyone else says, the best view is at the top of Castel San Pietro. Bring your water and your walking gear because there are about a million steps to the top, but it is worth every step. I believe there is a trolley or bus of some sort, but what fun is that? The real way to take in all a city has to offer is by foot. You get to walk past houses and yards, and little caverns and balconies, there really are no words for it. And once you get to the top, you will just be completely awe struck. You really feel like you are looking out into the entire universe.

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Piazza Erbe

Although there are many plazas within Verona, the one I liked most was Piazza Erbe. There are so many stalls and stands, from food to clothing to souvenirs, it is basically one giants market square and flea market.

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Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio is a beautiful, ancient castle from the Middle Ages. It costs about 6 euro to tour the entire museum, but you can also walk around some of it for free. Constructed back in 1354, it was used to protect the citizens of Verona from attack. The Ponte Scaligero bridge is also said to have served as a quick escape route to the country-side.

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My sister and I crossed both the Ponte Scaligero and the Ponte Pietra. Built originally with wood and then with white and pink stone, the Ponte Pietra is absolutely beautiful, but the history behind it is even more beautiful. Since the bridge has been around since 1 B.C., it seems only normal that it has collapsed several times since then. What makes this bridge so fascinating is that every time it collapsed, architectures of that time rebuilt it in the style of that time. For example, the right side of the bridge dates back to the Middle Ages and in 1298, features such as towers were added on and then the arches were renovated again in 1520.

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Ponte Scaligero

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Ponte Pietra

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Verona Arena

The Verona Arena is an expansive structure that resembles the Colosseum. I believe it is the third largest of its kind in Italy. Eros Ramazzotti was performing the night we were there which was pretty amazing. If you can attend an event here I would certainly do it – and if you do show me pictures! I’d love to see what it looks like on the inside, if it is just as beautiful on the outside! Also to the left of the arena, is the town hall which is called Barbieri Palace. With the Grecian columns, it certainly resembles the White House!

 

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Gavi Arch

This arch also reflected the Venetian influence as it is built in white marble. When the French took over, it was completely dismantled as they believed it messed with traffic patterns and such. They discarded the pieces under the arches of the arena. In 1932, it was finally reassembled, piece by piece.

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Portoni della Bra

Right behind the arena is Piazza Bra, the largest square in Verona, and some say the largest in Italy. Lined with cafes and shops and stands, there is a ton of people-watching to be done here. There are also little fountains with lush plants spotted here and there throughout the square. In the square you will also notice two large arches with a clock in the middle. This gateway  is called the Portoni della Bra.

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Or you simply just wander around, you never know what beautiful sight you may come across 🙂

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Nashville Bachelorette!

Okay so in my previous post I mentioned planning my sister’s wedding and such. Well obviously with a wedding, comes a bachelorette party. I can honestly say at 23, I’ve never even been to a bachelorette let alone plan one! When my sister decided on Nashville, TN as her party destination, at first I was like ummmm what? I was sooo ready for Miami or Vegas! When I did some research, I was shocked to see it is basically the bachelorette capital of the US – and when I got there, I knew immediately why!

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Coming from NYC, the flight was not bad at all, about two hours. Also, I should note I flew Southwest and highly recommend it! Great, cheap flight with extremely friendly and accommodating staff.

When we landed, I absolutely fell in love. Like an airport that is clean, people that are friendly…say whaaa?! I was most definitely not in the city anymore! We claimed our baggage and waited for our Uber (another note: Uber is much cheaper down here – and the drivers are basically all super friendly musician transplants from allover!). Everything is so casual and laid-back here, so definitely whip out the flannel and boots and leave the body-con dresses and stilettos home!

Also, everything in Nashville is super close. We stayed near 12 South and 8 South in an Air BnB. If you haven’t tried Air BnB yet, you really must. Nothing like having a home to go back to at the end of the night. I also just feel you really get a better, more full experience. You can walk around and explore and really get to see the neighborhood.

The atmosphere (excluding Broadway) is so quaint yet has a touch of unique Southern flair. Their streets are lined with unique little shops and restaurants. Many of the walls have beautiful murals on them – don’t be shocked when you see people actually waiting in lines to take pictures in front of these murals.

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I could seriously go on and on about this place, so I’ll finally get to my checklist of Nashville must-dos and must-sees – bachelorette party or not!

  • Edley’s BBQ on 12th and Halcyon!
    • I had the brisket platter (when in the south!) with cornbread, mac n cheese, and baked beans. It was so delicious I ate every single morsel. The bar also serves up some great and more importantly, strong drinks. Definitely a must-stop for some laid-back dining and food.

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  • Wander down 12th Street
    • Really cute boutiques and unique shops:
      •  White’s Mercantile – home store + clothing store. Really cute things! A bit pricy though.
      • Serendipity – small boutique selling a bunch of Nashville items, similar to White’s but on a much smaller and more reasonable scale.
      • Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James. Okay the clothing line is stunning and appears to be amazing quality, so I wasn’t shocked that the sweaters cost upwards of $200. The items on display such as plates, books, linens, etc., all had that Southern touch and I absolutely loved it. I would call it the Southern Belle version of kate spade. HINT: The side of Draper James has two beautiful murals!
      • S’More Love! A vintage little blue truck that was whipping up the perfect specialty s’mores. They were also parked next to a flower truck. Seriously could this place get any cuter?!

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  •  MURALS
    • There is art everywhere in Nashville, you just have to find it 😉 Check out some of these murals you should definitely be on the hunt to find.

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  • Frothy Monkey
    • Coffee + wine bar….what?! They also serve breakfast through dinner! Great big porch where people hang out and sip there beverages (which vary at the times of the day, wink wink). Line was kind of long, so try to go off-hours!
  • Five Daughter’s Bakery
    • This place is a dream come true. From the decor to the actual donuts, everything was impeccable. With hanging lights and the cutest mural on the side of the building, this place is just one big invitation. First, upon rounding the corner, you can smell that heavenly smell of donuts. Then your mouth begins to water. They also have paleo, vegan, stuffed, the 100-layer (cronut), and regular donuts!
      • Here were my favorites 🙂
        • Huckleberry (still dreaming of this)
        • Apple Crumb
        • Vanilla

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  • Jeni’s Ice Cream
    • Literally mouth-watering ice cream. They have vegan kinds, gluten-free, but most importantly, INCREDIBLE flavors. The ice cream was so rich and thick and the flavor combos were so different yet paired perfectly. They are all about keeping it real and natural. You can also buy pints!
      • Some amazing flavors (I can attest to this as I basically sampled the whole line of flavors) include:
        • Brambleberry Crisp
        • Brown Butter Almond Butter
        • Churro
        • Goat Cheese with Red Cherries
        • Middle West Whiskey & Pecans
        • Sweet Potato Eclair

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  • Biscuit Love
    • I am still dreaming of the food from this place. Oh my God. No matter what time of day you go, I guarantee you will be online for about an hour. And let me tell you, it is so worth it. The food here was actually unbelievable. With huge portions and tastes that cannot be compared, you will leave with your belly full and your smile wide. Heads up you may also spot a few celebs!
      • We split:
        • Bonuts
        • Hummingbird Family Reserve
        • Egg Plate (eggs, grits, biscuit, sausage or bacon)

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  • The Sutler
    • Great drinks. Great atmosphere. Live karaoke – between good singers and the “had too much to drink and the vodka is telling me I’m a good singer” singers. The cheese dip was incredible and between the few of us, it was devoured in seconds. We did this on our first night as a way to ease ourselves into Nashville. They also have a lounge downstairs that plays 90’s throwbacks on Thursdays. #TBT y’all!

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  • The Gulch
    • Biscuit Love is in The Gulch. It’s a nice area with business building, industries, chain stores, and mom and pop shops. Definitely a lot going on but it is super clean and there is a lot to do, especially in regards to eating! Here we passed a few restaurants that seemed to be popular as well as went to the liquor store and got some coffee.

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  • St. Anejo
    • Brunch #yasssss. This is also in The Gulch. I have to say not a lot of these places take reservations, and the waits can be pretty long, but I promise they are worth it. I definitely recommend this place for a Saturday brunch. Endless chips + salsa, 2-for-1 drinks that you can mix and match (can’t go wrong with their sangria or mimosas!). The food here was also amazing. Seriously these places need to open up in the north!

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  • Miss Fit
    • Okay, so since we were here for a bachelorette, us girls decided to take dance lessons. This place offers exotic chair dancing, pole dancing, anything your exotic mind can imagine. We booked the exotic chair dancing. Since they do private parties, we booked ahead of time and got our own studio. The lights were dim, mirrors surrounded us, music was loud, it was honestly such a fun time. The instructor teaches you the dance, allows you to pick your music, and she will even take pictures of all of you afterwards! This was really a lot more fun than I expected to be. Release your inhibitions girlfriends! They also give everyone a complimentary champagne toast!

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  • Sprocket Rocket
    • Perhaps the most fun thing we did during the trip. Okay so this is basically a travelling bar, where about twenty people are sitting on bike seats and actually pedaling around downtown Nashville. There is a golf cart motor in there, but with so many people, you actually do need to do some work, which is actually a lot of fun and once your drinking you come to enjoy it. There is a bartender in the middle who takes pictures, and serves up drinks for the whole two hours. **NOTE: You bring your own liquor!** We had our group, a couple conveniently from NJ, and a group of people from Long Island celebrating a 50th. It. Was. Amazing. Our driver, who happened to be Ryan Culwell, blasts party music while we drink and pedal and sing at the top of our longs. It is really a site to see, people stop and try to give us high-fives, record us, etc. We get in on the fun too by yelling “paparazzi!” at them. There is also a drinking game called Red Light – at every red light we scream “Red Light!” and have to drink. We also encourage everyone to pedal when they start slacking off hahah. Seriously the best time, and you get to see a lot of the downtown area.
  • Pinewood Social
    • Drinks. Dinner. Bowling. Yes you read that correctly. This was a more upscale place, but again upscale in Nashville is like casual NYC. We had some drinks and dinner here as a prelude to our night on Broadway. I got the mac n cheese and a salad – it’s justified since I ate like complete garbage the entire time I was down here! The girls ordered hot chicken, burgers, etc. Everything was in huge portions and looked so so good! Since the wait was so long, we actually just found seats at the bar and were able to order dinner there. Definitely recommend!

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  • Broadway
    • The infamous downtown of Nashville. This place was a complete mob scene like PACKED like Times Square in NY. I assure you that no locals are hanging out here. But honestly, it was great. I normally can’t stand crowds, but the crowds here were so lively and fun, and it didn’t help the entire street is full of wonder. With neon lights EVERYWHERE and live music coming from every single bar (there were NO DJs), this was the place to be.
      • ACME Feed + Seed
        • Moonshine Slushies! Amazing drinks, go to the third floor rooftop part and drink and dance the night away! The first floor has live music, and the third floor was a bit younger with a DJ and more of today’s hits.
      • Tequila Cowboy
        • Place was packed, they played some strange crossover music but the crowd was dancing and it was fun to let loose and just go with it.
      • Paradise Park Trailer Resort
        • CHEESE FRIES. LIVE MUSIC. I really loved this place especially because the person who was singing sang my favorite song, “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. I really just love how laid back everything is here. Nothing like going out in jeans and a t-shirt!
      • Other places we stopped in and had fun at or were recommended to see:
        • The Stillery – small little place off Broadway – they saw my sister’s veil and got us a round of shots in celebration! Yay!
        • Honky Tonk – line was LONG.
        • Printer’s Alley – we walked through and saw some bars, but I think they would be best to go to late late night like 2:30/3 AM

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Oh Nashville, I had such an amazing time. I absolutely cannot wait to go back. I either need to get proposed to or my friends need to because we need another reason to get back down there! Most definitely my new favorite city. People honestly are probably getting annoying with how much I talk and rave about it! If anyone has any questions about any of these places or want to know a bit more, please comment or reach out to me! I’d be happy to talk – especially about bachelorette planning!

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Capri

Capri, easily one of the most beautiful and relaxing places Italy has to offer. Nestled in the cliffs in the Gulf of Naples, it literally looks as though a sculptor just carved a little town into the cliffs. It had such a rustic and quaint, yet vibrant and lively feel.

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Since we were already in Sorrento, we took a half hour boat ride to Capri. The boat ride was really short and pleasant as the waters weren’t rough. The morning started out cloudy, but by afternoon (and hours of climbing steps), my sister and I couldn’t wait to change our clothes and cool down.

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We arrived at Marina Grande, a bustling sea port lined with a few cafes and souvenir shops. This is where we first saw the infamous “handmade sandals” shop. For 99 euros, you have custom made sandals made for your feet and to your liking, right in front of you!  If you don’t buy the sandals, then I honestly would not spend too much time here as the actual city of Capri has much more to offer. Also, this is the place where you can get on the funicular, bus, taxi, or even chairlift to go up to the main square in Capri. This is also the spot where you can catch another boat to go on a boat tour around Capri (my sister and I did this later on in the day).

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When we first got there, my sister and I had the BEST sandwiches I’ve ever had in my entire life. Would you be shocked if I told you it was only comprised of a slice of tomato, a slice of mozz, some oil, and bread? The Italians have simply mastered the art of cooking simply yet deliciously.

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We sat on this very rocky beach for a bit and just took it all in. We still couldn’t really believe we here in Italy. It really felt like a dream (still does!).

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Before we trekked up almost three billion stairs and explored the city, we went on a boat tour around Capri. Capri is most famously known for their grottos, little caves where the water is amazingly clear and blue due to the reflection from the sun hitting the cave. There are various grottos, such as the blue grotto, the white grotto, and the green grotto. Sadly, the tides were too high in the caves when we got there so we couldn’t go in them. We did get close to them, and as you can see, the water was beautiful regardless!

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The boat tour allowed us to stop and swim for a bit, which was an experience in itself. How many people can say they spent their day swimming next to the grottos on the coast of Capri?!

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Obviously had to get some fishing in during the tour haha!

After we got back, we decided to explore this historic city. We also didn’t mind checking out the luxury shops like Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, etc that line Via Camerelle. However, to get there, we had to do a TON of walking and a TON of stairs. Honestly, when I got home, I couldn’t even look at the stairmaster in the gym for weeks. It was truly all worth it. The views from such heights were incomparable.

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During our walk, we also came across these mini shrines or praying stations, if you will. It is said that these were set up for the elders who could not make the trek and journey to the actual church. These were set up so they can go to “church” basically outside of their home.

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SO many steps!

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But at least some were beautiful – almost too pretty to step on!

We finally reached the top! We reached Piazza Umberto I, or the Piazzetta, Capri’s most famous square. This is basically the heart of Capri, lined with cafes, newsstands, a tour kiosk, town hall…and most importantly, celebs. What was once a market for selling fish and vegetables, the piazza has become a top meeting place for locals and celebs. Don’t be shocked if your bumping arms with Clooney or photobomb a few paparazzi!

We walked on and stumbled across the Luna Hotel, where we most definitely were probably not allowed to be. We couldn’t resist the views though. Could you blame us? Although we were staying back in Capri, I would definitely recommend staying here simply for the views and ambiance (and of course I did some research on it 😉 ).

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Capri gave me the best food, the best workout, the best pictures. Seriously, this must be a stop in your travels to Italy.

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Weed Orchards & Winery

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Fall is my favorite holiday simply because of all the food, the activities, the fashion, and it basically means the holidays are around the corner! 🙂 I recently went on an apple picking double date up at Weed Orchards in Marlboro, NY with my cousin and our boo thangs. Although we got lost once or twice along the way and then our wagon full of everything we picked tipped over (thanks Cosmo), we still had an amazing time.

Coming from suburbs right outside of NYC, we are all sooo used to the fast-pace, go go go lifestyle, houses on top of one another, skyscrapers, etc. Driving through these “country” roads (that’s basically what it is to us), was so beautiful and peaceful. Looking out the window and seeing farms, and an expansive amount of rolling hills was so different, and I loved it! It’s so refreshing to get away from all of that city hustle and bustle sometimes.

Once we arrived, we were immediately overwhelmed with everything that there was to do. There was a cafe, a winery, a kitchen, and a little petting zoo for the younger kids. They also had free hard cider tastings going on (they had a few different flavors, all looked awesome!). We were in a rush and on a mission to pick some apples so we didn’t get a a chance to taste any of them. We rented our wagon and we were off.

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We first came across the pumpkin patch (buy 3 get 1 free), where it was perfect pumpkin on perfect pumpkin on perfect pumpkin. Seriously, I kept changing my pick because every few feet I would come across another perfect one!

Then we got to the apples and the fun began. It was the boys first time apple picking so they had fun climbing the trees, and shaking the branches. Basically my cousin and I were the babysitters.

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Since we went in early October, they had 8 different apples: Empire, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Mac, Macouns, early Fujis, and Honeycrisp. We also came across some other fruits and vegetables like eggplant, grapes, and peppers.

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As we were finishing up, our wagon tipped and everything spilled out (WTG Cos hahaha). We salvaged most of it, but we still wanted our apple bags to be filled, so on we picked. Before and after he lost his wagon privileges hahah.

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Also, Cos decided to put me on his shoulders. As you can see from below, it gives me complete panic attacks. The before and after:

We finished the day by getting some BBQ and other fresh food from their kitchen. I walked through their little store where they had fresh baked pies of ALL kinds, honeys, jams and spreads, salsas, breads, the list goes on. I was like a kid in a candy store. I bought a strawberry pie for Cosmo’s family, some zucchini walnut bread, blueberry crumble bread, and some honey. The blueberry crumble was so good I may have to make a trip back up there just so I can have it again.

Overall, amazing place that I would definitely recommend you check out if you live around the area. I would also try to get there a bit earlier so you can fully enjoy all it has to offer.

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After a successful day of apple picking 🙂

Can’t wait to show you what I do with all of these apples!

Already looking forward to coming back next year!

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Sorrento

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Oh Sorrento, I absolutely adore you. Sorrento is definitely in my top five favorite cities of all time and I recommend if you ever go to Italy to make it a priority to spend a day/night here. With charming little alleyways lined with shops, incredible restaurants, and views like no other, it is also the limoncello capital of the world (all the more reason to visit!).

When I first arrived in Sorrento, I’ll never forget how breathtaking the views were, especially since it is like a city carved into and atop the cliffs. Overlooking the sea, our hotel room (see the video below) was like a dream.

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My sister and I immediately went to the beach and went swimming – the water was freezing since it was September, but we figured we were in Italy so we just had to do it. Later in the day we were able to rejoin our group and went to a local pizzeria where we were able to have a pizza demonstration and of course eat our body weights in pizza (when in Sorrento, right? 😉 ). Afterwards, my sister and I went strolling around, shopping at the boutiques and emptying our wallets. We strolled around Piazza Tasso, a square lined with little cafes.

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I think my favorite part was when we went to Limonoro, a candy/sweet shop that revolves around everything limoncello. I’m talking limoncello filled cookies, limoncello gummies, the list goes on. They offered us free samples of literally anything we wanted to try! I had these cookies, and honestly my taste buds have never been the same. I am seriously placing an order as soon as I finish writing this post.

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To end our stay in Sorrento, we had a feast with our Contiki group for those who wanted to participate, and the views were just breathtaking from the restaurant, Circolo dei Forestieri. The decor was beautiful, the food was unmatched. When I get married, I’d consider having destination wedding with the reception here – everything about it was above and beyond. After my meal, I was sitting there with my sister and this older gentleman came up and asked me dance! I’m normally very shy, ESPECIALLY dancing in front of other people to Italian songs doing Italian moves I have no idea how to do. I kept saying no, but that doesn’t work too well with Italians – especially the men haha! So he pulled me up and whisked me away for a solid two songs. I let him lead the way…and of course I had him dance with my sister as well. We go down we go down together, sisters are forever haha!

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Before we left for the night we stopped at a limoncello store I Giardini Di Cataldo, and stocked up on bottles on bottles on bottles of limoncello. It also made for the perfect favor. Good thing we didn’t drink too much of it since we had a boat ride to Capri the next morning.

Stay tuned for the lovely Capri!

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ROMA E POMPEII

img_4052Buongiorno a tutti! So, growing up Italian (well only half  😉 ), it has always been a life-long dream to visit the motherland. Since I was practically raised by my Nonna, the Italian culture and way of life has always been something that has resonated deeply with me, and something I have always cherished. I also believe that when my dad (an Irish/British gent) married my mom (a hot-headed Italian), the Italian culture just kind of took over. Although, she does give my dad’s side of the family some recognition by making corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day hahah.

ANYWAYS – I finally was able to make this dream a reality with my sister. We went on a Contiki tour (a travel agency catering to 18-35 year olds), which took us ALL over Italy, starting at Rome. Since I have over 4,000 images from this trip and notebooks of memories, I decided to break down the blog posts in sections, by cities.

Let’s talk about getting there first. I don’t know about you, but I always have the biggest anxiety before overseas trips. Irrational, I know. From all of my experience travelling overseas (okay 3 times), the planes have been equipped with WiFi, televisions, charger ports, the whole nine yards. Well, let me tell you, stepping onto that plane was like stepping into a time warp that transported me to 1492. I minds as well have just sailed with Columbus. The phone (shockingly equipped with one), still had a cord attached to it…I didn’t even know they made those anymore! And so, a panic attack ensued.

Luckily we made it safe and sound, we had our meals (best part of the flight to be honest), and landed in Rome bright and early. With all the stress from the flight, thanks to me, my sister and I were completely worn out. Once we got through customs, we went outside and were greeted by a line of taxis. We got into a “taxi”and were on our way to our hotel where we would meet with our Contiki group later that evening.

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The cab ride was great, the guy was super friendly, giving us recommendations, I was even speaking with him in Italian! Then…we got to our hotel and he wanted 200 euros…normally a 50 euro trip. He became a little angry and us being scared and in an area we knew NOTHING about (it didn’t help it was so early and no one was around), we had no choice but to give him the euros. I should note it was all of our euros we had initially exchanged to get us by the first few days of our trips. So we were robbed in Rome within the first twenty minutes of being there. At least now as I type this I can laugh, not cry.

I immediately started looking at flights home while my sister sobbed in the bathroom. Our parents were able to calm us down and things actually started looking up. We went to a little restaurant La Gattabuia, where we had a few aperitivo. Seriously the food in Italy had the power to turn our entire mood around. We ate until we were in a food coma and went straight to bed since we were off to Pompeii in the morning!

Pompeii was so historic and the Italians did an incredible job of preserving this history, but am even better job telling of the history. On a side note, I learned that Mt. Vesuvius erupted on my birthday, to which my dad said “explains a lot”. I learned so much about the culture there at the time, let’s just say it wasn’t too PG-13. They even had a prostitute row, I guess it was the OG Red Light District. The beds were made of stone, because they wanted everyone to do their business and then leave immediately and not get comfortable so the next person can come in. There’s also a really interesting background to puttanesca sauce. Puttanesca comes from the Italian word “puttana”, which basically means whore. Legend has it that at these brothels, the puttanas would make this “quick and easy” sauce and serve it to customers who were waiting their turn. All in all, Pompeii is an absolute tourist trap, I would just recommend going on a walking tour and leaving.

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Stay tuned for Sorrento – one of my most favorite places in the world!