3 Days In Cinque Terre

cinque terre

After we left our 6-week apartment in Rome, we jumped on three trains and made our way to Cinque Terre. I honestly hadn’t heard of these five little villages until my Italy-obsessed mother mentioned them to me recently. I’m so glad she did. I’m so glad we went.

Cinque Terre was definitely one of the most beautiful places we visited in Italy.

cinque terre

Cinque Terre: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English. And that’s exactly what it is – five small villages right next to each other. They are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
  • The train will take you back and forth between the towns or you can actually hike in between them too. Many hikers come from all over the world to walk the seaside trails in-between the five villages.
  • The trails between the villages are actually a national park!
  • Cinque Terre’s local wine is typically white and always delicious

cinque terre

We decided to stay in Vernazza each night for the most romantic reason of all: it was the cheapest on Airbnb. We did visit all the other villages other than Monterosso. Vernazza, in the end, was by far my favorite. But each and every one of them is adorable, charming, and breathtaking.

And each one is a killer butt workout. I’m not joking. Stairs upon stairs upon stairs upon stairs.

The food was a bit more expensive than Rome, and though we had some killer meals, there were a few mediocre meals too. Mediocre is an extreme rarity in Italy. So take that for what it’s worth. The views from restaurants were incredible though.

cinque terre

We hiked between Vernazza and Corniglia. It was an easy-to-moderate walk, and we loved it. There was endless picture taking opportunities. We then took a train to Manarola, and one to Riomaggiore. (The trains are a rip off. 4 euros between each of the villages each time – no matter how close you are.)

cinque terre

Kyle painted a lot while we were staying here. We didn’t have wi-fi, so I wrote in my journal and read quite a bit. It was a lovely, relaxing stay.

One night we did a wine tasting of three white local wines. We ended up meeting an Australian couple and visited with them while sipping. It was a lovely evening!

cinque terre wine

Real Cinque Terre Conversation:

Me: Babe! Italy is my favorite country ever. Do you think they’d make me an honorary citizen because of all the wine I drink?

Kyle: Definitely because of that.

Me: That’s what I thought.

cinque terre

3 Days On The Amalfi Coast: Sorrento, Amalfi & Capri

sorrento

The most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen are along the Amalfi Coast. Some of the favorite days of my life were spent along the Amalfi Coast area. This was my favorite trip in Italy! It was also the most expensive trip we took in Italy. The prices for everything were much higher.

Worth it!

On the first day, Kyle rented a litte Fiat 500 to drive us along the Amalfi Coast. It was the only car we used during the 2 months in Italy. It was the perfect afternoon. We listened to music, we stopped in Positano for a seafood lunch, we drove through the windy roads and soaked up every fabulous sight our eyes could see.

positano

13713274_10154312856788210_475602943_n

positano

I can never depict the beauty we saw on this drive. No picture will capture it either. It truly is heaven on earth.

We stayed in Sorrento each night. We entitled Sorrento: “Little America.” It is definitely geared toward rich English-speaking tourists, and that’s normally NOT our cup of tea. But we still loved the area. It’s beautiful. Our favorite night was sitting out by the water eating the best muscles of our lives.

sorrento

sorrento

On day 2, we took a ferry to Capri. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. I got sick as a dog on the ferry ride around the entire island. Other than the waves of nausea, it was a lovely day. I’ll just leave some pictures to attempt to capture it all for you.

capri

capri

capri

The last day we explored Sorrento some more, took a train back to Naples, then a train back to Rome. It was one of the best trips of my entire life. SO happy we went!

3 Days in Naples & Pompeii

IMG_1710

Naples is gritty. Where much of Italy feels like an idyllic dream pulled right out of a movie, Naples has some rough edges. It’s a bit dirty, a bit rougher. Yet its authenticity is so charming, you cannot help but stare in pure joy.

You see mothers hanging laundry from three floors up as men sell fish underneath at the street market. You see kids playing ball in the busy streets while dogs try to beg for a bit of gelato cone.

naples

We only had a brief stay in Naples (with an Airbnb, of course!), but we enjoyed the experience. Of course, since it’s only a short commuter train ride away (30 minutes maybe), we visited Pompeii as well.

Naples: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The locals of Naples are called Neapolitans.
  • Naples has a straight main street going through a large portion of the area: Spaccanapoli. It’s incredibly narrow, so cars don’t go through most of it. If you get a picture of what Naples looks like in your head, you’re probably picturing Spaccanapoli.
  • Naples was the most bombed Italian city in WWII.

The #1 thing we loved about Napes: the pizza. Holy carbs, batman, Naples is a pizza god. We didn’t expect much less from the original creator of the pizza pie. Both Kyle and I agreed it was the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives. (Mine, gluten-free, of course). Starita was our favorite pizzeria.

naples

We also loved its proximity to the water. We ended up climbing Castel dell’Ovo and then finding some nice tables for an afternoon spritz. We got a kick out of watching everyone bath on the rocks.

naples

naples
naples
naples

naplesPompeii: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Pompeii was a thriving city until Mount Vesuvius blew in 79 A.D. The volcano’s eruption ended up burying the entire city. Nobody in the immediate area was left alive.
  • The city wasn’t discovered again until the 1700s.

pompeii

The ruins of Pompeii are amazing – but honestly, not as impressive as some other ruins we’d already seen in Italy. In fact, we visited Tivoli for a day and enjoyed the ruins at Villa Adriana much more than we did Pompeii.

pompeii

That being said, it was still an incredible and humbling thing to see. I splurged and got the audio guide to learn about as much as I could while we walked around.

pompeii

Ready for the biggest surprise in the world? The best meal I ate in Italy was found in a little side restaurant in the town of Pompeii – about a 15 minute walk from the ruins. I kid you not. The owner’s son apparently has celiac, so he has mastered the art of gluten-free food. We adored it. The restaurant is called Osteria Da Peppino

Overall, our stay in Naples and visit to Pompeii were both great. They can’t qualify as my favorites, but definitely another lovely look at Italy.

A Costa Rican Christmas

A Costa Rican Christmas

Oh hey there, friend!

Long time no talk!  December was a busy month for me, and I didn’t get around to reaching out to my readers as often as I would have liked to.  I’ve had my hands full with new client work, rearing up for launching my blog’s new focus for 2016 “Pursuing Interesting,” creating two ebooks, and enjoying the holidays.

…Speaking of holidays…  I thought I’d share what our Costa Rican Christmas looked like this year.  I was a bit bummed to be so far away from my family in December, but we made the best of the situation and ended up having a fantastic Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Trees aren’t so easy to come by in this little beach town, so The Boyfriend created one out of trash bags.  If you think it’s lame, I don’t think we can be friends.  It was basically the coolest part of our holiday.

Costa Rican Christmas

I also embraced my artistic side over the holiday break, but let’s just say that we will be leaving most of the painting to the expert from now on.  My giftings are elsewhere, but hey look at this glamor shot!

For Christmas Eve, we took a walk on the beach, relaxed a bit, and then met up with some lovely friends to spend the evening at Black Stallion, a ranch in the next town over that offers zip-lining, horseback riding, and the most delicious BBQ dinner family style.  We partook in the dinner.  Beyond tasty food and fun cocktails, the entire place was decorated for Christmas, which made my little Christmas heart soar.

The occasion was so momentous, I actually put on makeup and did my hair.  (I’ve missed that a bit if I were being honest! There’s something fun about a casual beach town, but there’s also something fun about eye liner and flat irons.)

costa rican christmas

 

There was also plenty of goofiness…

Costa Rican Christmas

Costa Rican Christmas

This picture was taken right after I accidentally slapped The Boyfriend across the eye.  This is when I convince you I’m not violent.  See how lovingly I took care of him after injuring him? That’s true love.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Christmas Day began with the two of us enjoying mimosas and french toast with whipped cream (we went the healthy route, as you can tell!).  Santa even visited us and brought us lots of fun gifts.  That was really creative of Santa because there aren’t that many stores and definitely not a large variety of things within those stores here in good ol’ Costa Rica.

We spent a couple hours at the beach.  I can’t even describe how busy it got overnight with Christmas tourists.  I wouldn’t normally put Costa Rica and Christmas together, but apparently thousands of people do!  The sand was covered in beach lounger after beach lounger.  Also, I have yet to see so many fake boobs here as I did on Christmas.  And nothing makes you think of Christmas more than that.

We came home to eat junk food and watch Miracle on 34th street.  Then we went out to watch the sunset at a new local rooftop bar with a gorgeous view (but seriously overpriced drinks!  I think they didn’t realize we aren’t in Laguna!).

Costa Rican Christmas

After $3 a sip, we went home to make a real dinner.  Like a grown up dinner.  We roasted chicken, sautéed mushrooms and other veggies, and even made oven fries.  When I say “we,” I really do mean WE.  The Boyfriend splits cooking duty with me equally.  That’s a man.

Overall, we had a lovely Costa Rican Christmas!  It was nice to start our own traditions as a couple.

I cannot wait for all the fun new stuff that I will be sharing with you on my blog this new year!  I’ll see you again on the 1st of 2016!  Remember to make your “Pursuing Interesting” resolutions (click here to learn more!)

Tay xo

 

 

What Almost Two Months in Costa Rica Feels Like

What Almost Two Months in Costa Rica Feels Like

tamarindo_beach

Today I walked down the steps of our apartment, out of the gated community, onto the dirt streets with potholes filled with rainwater, over the paved main road, and into the outdoor food court area to order, in Spanish, two chicken empanadas for 1500 colones (3 bucks).

Covered in the perfume of Costa Rica, mosquito repellent, I sat at the shaded red plastic table and ate those delicious empanadas that come with the best tangy salsa you’ve ever tasted as my boyfriend ate a meatlover’s sandwich from the European-style bakery next door.

Welcome to our average afternoon in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

I can’t believe we’ve almost been in Costa Rica for two months.  In some ways it has felt like days, in other ways it has felt like a lifetime.  What’s it been like to be two Americans in Costa Rica for almost two months?  I’ll tell you!

tamarindo_vulcano

  • Mostly, we work.  I know that doesn’t sound romantic and adventurous.  But the truth is we are still normal people needing to pay bills. Sometimes I write things that excite me; sometimes I write things that bore me, so I procrastinate by Facebooking reading a book.
  • There’s not much to do in this town for locals who can’t always afford jungle excursions, so finding entertainment is a creative activity.  Growing up in Vegas, I was used to being handed entertainment.  Here we have to come up with our own.  Sitting in new spots while sipping a drink, walking, and simply existing at the beach is always good.  Also, taking pictures of cows is my new jam.

cows_costarica

  • Swimming in the Pacific at sunset is my favorite thing ever.  We take our 2 minute walk to the beach at about 4:45pm (the sun sets the same time every day). We have a certain spot we like to go because there is a massive rock formation to the right, boats anchored in front, and often Pelicans feeding all around us. We get a sunset light show The Las Vegas Strip can never compete with.  It sounds romantic, and there is some of that — but normally The Boyfriend is trying to find waves to throw me into. That’s how we roll.
  • At night, we’ve been watching scary movies on Netflix.  How’s that for exotic Costa Rica living?!
  • Our Spanish is coming along slowly, but surely.  Almost everyone in Tamarindo is bilingual and shows kindness by using our native language instead of theirs. Whenever I feel comfortable, I try to start the conversation in Spanish so they will reply in Spanish. Needing to read signs/food packages helps.  Our Internet VPN automatically changed to Costa Rica, so Netflix has Spanish subtitles – that is also helpful.
  • I have been victorious and found a bar with hard cider (my gluten free alternative to beer!).  We aren’t going to even discuss how much it is.  We’re just going to be happy for my little discovery, mmkay?

woodchuck

  • Grocery shopping is more expensive than we anticipated ($8 for a loaf of Gluten Free bread!), so we eat out a lot.  Considering I hate cooking more than I hate just about anything, I LOVE this! Also, we now hire someone to do our laundry, an activity that costs less than that loaf of bread!  Enter: The Hallelujah Chorus.
  • Most commercial property doors in this country move the opposite way that they do in America.  I still pull and push the wrong way every single time.  Every.  Time.
  • All the taxi drivers and weed salesmen still think we are tourists. They tell me it’s because I don’t have a tan.  You guys, I have NEVER BEEN TANNER IN MY LIFE!  Nobody in this country believes I have a tan.  Nobody. (*kicks the dirt and pouts*)

flamingo_beach

  • I’m starting to become suspicious that Costa Ricans have been informed that women from Las Vegas are all hookers.  They fist bump The Boyfriend whenever he tells them I’m from Vegas.
  • I have found the best yoga studio in the world with the most incredible yoga teacher.  I’m seriously so zen right now you have no idea (That is until the next time I freak out about being a freelancer without a normal job!  That’s happening fewer times each week now.  Like only 7.)

yoga_tamarindo

  • We’re currently on the lookout for a car.  Not for in town, as we walk everywhere.  But we want to start exploring more of the country each weekend.  We’d like to see the Caribbean side, the volcanos, the national parks, etc.  Let’s just say buying a car here is about 1,291 times hard than in the States.  We’re learning patience.
  • Some of the best news: my mosquito bites no longer swell to the size of a tennis ball! And I don’t have 25 bites on my legs at the same time. I’m a mosquito pro now.  Definitely going to share my tips in a blog post!

tamarindo_witchs,rock

We absolutely love it here.  It’s magical and wonderful, and it’s also just life.  We still get headaches, argue about stupid stuff, wash dishes, and crave dessert.  We are just choosing to do it in a brand new lovely place.

Subscribe to Taylor DuVall's Newsletter!