Of Lost Cameras and Sinking Cities

IMG_20170703_100336

Sad story:  We lost our camera in Venice.  It was a hot, miserable day and our hotel was out in the middle of nowhere.  It took us 3 hours to find it, which meant we had to take a few breaks because the heat was so unbearable…it just so happens that on one of those breaks, I stupidly set the camera down and forgot to pick it back up.  Not a great start to our trip.

IMG_20170703_111301

After we got to our hotel, I was feeling so shitty about it that I didn’t even bother to go out into the city our first night, but I decided that one night of sulking was enough.  Camera or no camera, we had come to see Venice.

IMG_20170703_114503

It was hot, crowded, and beautiful.  I did my best to capture it with some grainy Kindle Fire shots, but of course, they don’t do it any justice.  We arrived with no itinerary and we definitely didn’t want to fork out the cash for an overpriced gondola ride – especially since we now had a camera to replace.  Instead, we simply wandered through the alleys, stopping for the occasional gelato to try and beat the heat.

IMG_20170703_135214

IMG_20170703_140134

IMG_20170703_142835

IMG_20170703_143900

So where to begin with Venice…  It’s a tourist trap for sure, albeit a beautiful one.  It’s also possible that my experience was a little tainted due to having lost our camera.  I definitely couldn’t imagine spending more than a couple days there, but I certainly don’t regret going…especially when considering it may not be around much longer.  My advice?  Don’t go in July.  Wait for the off-season to avoid the crowds and the sweltering heat.

IMG_20170703_113331

2016

DSCF3943

January

DSCF4059 (1)

February

DSC_0196

March

DSC_0452[1]

April

DSC_0740

May

DSC_0083 (2)

June

DSC_0021

July

DSC_0131

August

dsc_0152

September

dsc_0231

October

dsc_0173

November

dsc_0159

December

What an incredible year I’ve had!  Looking back at each month made me realize how unbelievable it’s all been.  It also made me realize how quickly time is going by.  How has it already been another year?  How?

Here’s to hoping for an amazing 2017 for us all!

An Evening in Milano

DSC_0263.JPG

After a lovely few days in Cinque Terre, we spent one day in Milan before catching our flight back to Turkey.  The visit was quite short, so we didn’t do too much, but we had a great time walking around the main squares and getting our last few bites of Italian food.

DSC_0255.JPG

The architecture in Milan is stunning and it’s crowning jewel is the Duomo Cathedral.  It was enormous and beautiful, as was the whole of Piazza Duomo!

DSC_0276.JPG

DSC_0273.JPG

DSC_0282.JPG

I absolutely loved listening to this man play music on the bottles!  He was brilliant!

DSC_0288.JPG

We were both starving after the long stint on the train, but we were having trouble finding something that wasn’t ridiculously overpriced in the main square.  We stumbled upon a little cart selling gelato popsicles and the rest is history.  This almond was superb.

DSC_0290.JPG

Our “Last Supper” involved two very large and very delicious pizzas.  Speaking of which…

DSC_0283.JPG

…we missed out on seeing the original Last Supper, which is housed in Milan.  It was a bummer because I find Leonardo da Vinci very fascinating and would have loved to see some of his work while we were there.  We did, however, manage to see this statue of him.  I guess that just  means we’ll have to go back to Milan to do it properly…

DSC_0300.JPG

We loved you, Italy!  Italy is one of those places I know in my heart that I’ll see again.  I went into it with a mix of expectations based on differing opinions and was pleasantly surprised by how laid back, relaxing, and beautiful it was.  Until next time!

Le Cinque Terre

DSC_0168.JPG

**WARNING**  This post  may contain picture overload.

My husband and I just returned from spending a few days in the beautiful, colorful string of villages on the Italian Riviera known as Cinque Terre.  We decided we wanted to do something relaxing before school started and this place fit the bill:  beautiful geography, lovely architecture, fantastic food, hiking, beaches, and great wine.  My dad visited Cinque Terre a few years back and still talks about it, so we had to see what it was all about.

DSC_0204.JPG

We based ourselves out of the southernmost village of the five, Riomaggiore.  When we stepped off the train from Milan, we were instantly greeted with the stacks of colorful houses, blue water, boats, and the prettiest sunset.  I knew then we were in for a treat.

DSC_0016.JPG

The first order of business was to get our  hands on some FOOD!  I tried out this Riomaggiore pizza with shrimp, artichokes, spicy oil, and basil.  My husband ordered gnocchi Bolognese.

DSC_0015.JPG

Italian food is FLAWLESS.  I mean it.  I have never been somewhere that has so consistently exceeded my foodie expectations.  EVERYTHING I ate there was good.  Every.  Single.  Thing.  Also, it was surprisingly affordable.  5 Euro pizzas and pastas were abundant and no less delicious than any of the more expensive meals.

DSC_0023.JPG

After stuffing ourselves beyond capacity, we settled in for a good night’s rest before a long day of hiking the five villages.

DSC_0072.JPG

We decided to hike from North to South since the trails from Riomaggiore to Corniglia are currently closed.  We purchased all day hike and train passes for 16 Euro each and took the train up to Monterosso al Mare, about a 15 minute ride.

DSC_0064.JPG

Since you can’t start a hike without a good breakfast, we stopped for espresso and bruschetta after a walk on the beach.  Who says you can’t have anchovies and pesto for breakfast?

DSC_0073.JPG

The weather could not have been more perfect, albeit a little hot, and the views along the trail were stunning.  It was reminiscent of our hike on the Fira Trail, but more lush and colorful (and way more uphill!)

DSC_0084.JPG

How awesome is this?  This guy set up a little lemon/orange juice stand right on the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza.  Yes, please!

DSC_0107.JPG

The second village, Vernazza, ultimately ended up being my favorite!  It was so charming and colorful and the food there was fabulous, especially the gelato!  We were hot and sweaty after hiking for two hours (again, mostly uphill), so we were thrilled to see the little beach down below!

DSC_0112.JPG

Some food and a dip in the water was exactly what we needed before our next leg of the journey!

DSC_0152.JPG

The walk to Corniglia was much easier than the walk to Vernazza had been.  It was also a bit shorter.  We were surprised to see quite a few cars in this village as many of the villages have strict restrictions on vehicles.  We stopped for a fantastic dinner of grilled focacia sandwiches (prosciutto and pesto!) and I indulged in a glass of prosecco.  Seriously, why is Italy so delicious?

DSC_0164.JPG

Since the walking routes were closed, we took the train over to Manarola, where a whole bunch of kids were celebrating a birthday on the marina and playing soccer.  What a birthday party!

DSC_0180.JPG

I discovered this lovely thing called a marocchino and my life will never be the same.  Espresso and chocolate are a match made in heaven.  One place even added nutella!

DSC_0182.JPG

Also, panna cotta and strawberries.

DSC_0187.JPG

Exhausted, full, and sunburnt, we made it back to Riomaggiore in time for another spectacular sunset!

dsc_0207

We went back to Monterosso for a relaxing beach day the next morning.  The water was perfect!

DSC_0214.JPG

After swimming and lunch, we wandered the the village and picked up a few souvenirs to take back with us, mostly food-related!  Also, because my husband loves the song Postcards from Italy by Beirut, he bought a post card from every village!

DSC_0225.JPG

We also stopped on a different beach for a little bit of reading in the sunshine!

DSC_0231.JPG

It was so hard to leave!  As the sun was going down, we rode back to Riomaggiore, stopped for some take away pasta (think Chipotle, except with pasta!), a last glass of wine, and then turned in to pack our things for our early train ride out.

DSC_0017.JPG

It was a lovely, lovely, lovely way to kick off our travels for this year!  Bring it on, 2016-17!