An english girl who after six months in the french mountains, has left for Italia, the beautiful country. My thoughts on leaving life as I know it and beyond! Join me as I embark on a life with lots of adventure and a lack of heels!!!!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Fab Vintage from Lil' sis!

Been meaning to do this for ages and since I have wi-fi access for a few days thought I'd get to it!!

My Lil' sis is fellow blogger Smashingbird and has recently set up her own vintage store on Etsy and it is sale time, so click on the link below for a look.

It's Sale time over at the Etsy Store  SmashingbirdVintage
She is offering 25% off all items for a limited period only - just enter code SUMMERSALE at the checkout! 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Journeys end!

Now where was I? Well after a nightmare journey we made it to Sicily, just about in one piece.

The train did in fact go on the ferry across the water seperating the island from the mainland, it was quite something, the train was split in two then pushed onto the train tracks inside of the ferry, then it was a 20mins or so on the boat, we could get out of the train have a wander then back in our seats to be pushed back onto the tracks on land. But we then had a 45min wait in the station on the, already heated up train, with no air con, there is nothing to describe how hot it was, must've been getting on for 40 degrees, could not get off and just had to sit and cook. Very unpleasant!

We finally arrived at our destination station 45 mins after we were due in, our taxi that the B&B had arranged for us was not there and there was just one lone taxi sitting waiting. We were 4km from where we staying so had to taxi, it was almost 9pm by this time. So we walked over to the taxi, the driver was flipping burgers in a van (???) and left that and jumped in his cab (???) that did not appear to have a meter. Now I don't like to stereotype, but Sicily does kinda have a reputation of being the home of the Mafia, our taxi driver did not look like someone you argued with if you get my meaning. He did'nt know the address of our B&B (taxi driver???) and drove us round and round asking random people for directions, although we had shown him a map and it was quite a big road, hmmmm. Anyway €20 (just paid, too scared to question the fare!!) later we were at our B&B which was shut, I had been trying to phone them to let them know we were on our way but both numbers kept cutting off or not ringing, aghhhhhhh......

Anyway we finally managed to get through and the B&B owner came along a few mins later to let us in. Now I had already had a nightmare booking something for this particular night, we were only staying one night in the port town of Milazzo as we were getting the boat from there early the next day to reach Salina in the Aeolian Islands. The first place I booked, through (yes I am naming and shaming) said they did not have my reservation and had no availability (I have emailed Venere 3 times about this and have had no response) and that helpful B&B owner booked us in with his friend somewhere else. If I had not emailed the original B&B to let them know our arrival time I would not have known we had no room, thank christ I did, after the day we had had that would've just about finished us off. I have a copy of the confirmed reservation from!! F**kers! I have also used them a lot and never had a problem, won't be using them anymore!!!

So by the time we actually got into our room it was almost 9.30, 11 hours since we had left Positano. Hot, sweaty and tired, we showered and sat on the bed eating biscuits and breadsticks for our dinner whilst watching the most random Italian TV show I have ever seen, it was like two audiences playing sing star mixed with the generation game with some drag queens, dominatrix and gimps, a few fairy's, scantily clad women (as always, this is Italy after all, near naked chicks in every advert, I actually saw a whole nipple one breakfast time!!) and a blow up doll thrown in!!!!!!!!

See, it was all worth it!!!
More pics in next blog.  

But we made it and after a good nights sleep we left by 8.30am to jump on the boat that was taking us to where we are now, a little piece of paradise, the stunning Aeolian islands. Ahhhhhh............

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The journey so far!

I am currently writing this blog 2 hours into the 6-hour train journey from Amalfi coast down to Sicily, our next destination, well for tonight at least.  The sea is on my left and the lush hills are on my right, not a bad view!!

It is 4.45 in the afternoon and we left our little home in Positano at 10.30 this morning. We have had a rather eventful day so far. The journey required a bus from Positano to Amalfi, then a change of bus, then new bus Amalfi to Salerno where we were to pick up the train for Milazzo in Sicily.

After a relatively painless start we got to Amalfi and then boarded the next bus. Now the Amalfi coast road is terrifying for someone such as myself, scared of heights and an increasingly nervous passenger (by road, well by Italian & French roads) these people drive like maniacs, we had countless near head on crashes on the bloody bus and the bus actually crashed into the 3 foot high safety (???) barrier (protecting us from the 150 meter drop into the bloody sea!!!) at one point going around a blind bend and coming face to face with another bloody bus!

Now we were nearly at Salerno when all of the passengers at the rear started shouting to the driver, we had no idea what was going on. The bus driver made an abrupt stop and everyone rushed off of the bus bar a few of us at the front not having a clue what was up. I got off to go and investigate and found out that the bus was overheating and could go no further!!!! They were sending another bus but they had no idea how long it would take to get to us!! Perfect!! We had given ourselves extra time due to being used to the Italian time (or lack of) schedule of public transport but this was 1.10pm and our train departed at 2.33pm, there was not another one until about 10pm!!! A load of people disappeared, some were trying to hitch a ride and I managed to flag the only cab down that passed only to find that a bunch of Italian women jumped into the other side of the car before I even got to it!!! Another young couple were desperate to reach the train station too so we walked to the nearest hotel with them to call a cab and share the ride, we were just about to order the cab when a random bus stopped, not the one they had sent but it had stopped so we all had to hot foot it back down the road and cram onto the local bus with all our luggage and no where to put it.

Crisis averted, we arrived at the train station by 2.10pm only to be told the poxy train was delayed by 20 mins. The train is going to a different destination than where we booked, we have been told it goes there too. Who the f**k knows? We’ll see in a few hours I suppose, but first this train has got to cross the Mediterranean Sea that separates the long leg of Italy from the little island of Sicily? 

Friday, 8 July 2011

From Rome to Positano

So where are we now? We left Rome for the Amalfi coast, Positano to be precise, two weeks ago. We had originally booked one week here but were having a bit of a dilemma about where to next so as the apartment was empty for the following week we decided that we would stay on for another week here instead, as really when else in our lives will we ever be able to say “ah shall we just stay another week?”  And having been lucky enough to visit here once before we knew how much we loved it and just what a beautiful place it is. And quite frankly after the 6 hour hellish journey here from Rome via disgusting Naples we both could not face moving on anywhere any time soon. We did not want to see another train or bus!

We have been staying in a little split level studio built into the cliff side with our own little terraced garden, complete with our very own lemon tree, with views of pretty Positano all around. All pastel painted houses, bougainvillea blossoming and lemon tree’s all built into the cliffs tumbling down to the bay and the sparkling sea, lovely! Apart from the f***ing mosquito’s, aghh…

Since arriving here it has been nice to kick back for a bit, unpack and stand still for a while, go to the beach, lay in the garden, relax over a drink with the sea stretching before us, wander the maze of alleyways filled with shops (Fendi beach bag anyone??) and restaurants spilling out into the paths and generally watching the world go by albeit packed with day trippers and whilst sweltering in the boiling, humid heat. Been in the 30’s but 80% humidity. Sweaty!!

We had a hot, expensive and reasonably disappointing day in Capri. Firstly went to the famous Blue Grotto on a boat trip, the waters were meant to be bright azure and seemingly glowing from underneath, what actually happened was we paid 50 bloody euros to sit on a boat at the entrance to a cave for an hour, then climbed into a tiny rowing boat to enter said cave for 5 minutes, the water was quite blue, not really that amazing, there were so many poxy boats you could barely see the water anyway then we were whisked back to the dock. A complete waste of €50. Don’t bother if you happen to find yourself there. We then headed up to Capri town, which was basically Bond Street on top of a cliff, packed with us day-trippers, bastard boiling hot and ridiculously expensive, even for Italy. €10 for a glass of fruit juice?? I think not!! And the showing off and posing took things to a whole new level, (even for Italy!!). Unless you really have squillions in the bank you would feel like the poor relations staying here, people really only come here to be flash and to be seen being flash, and in all honesty I can’t really say I can see why? It’s quite nice but there are nicer places, it is just exclusive for exclusives sake. It cost us €150 in total for the day, to get the boat there, go to the bloody grotto and have a pizza for lunch (the cheapest thing on the menu), and no drinks apart from water. Crazy. We both felt we would have rather treated ourselves to a meal out in Positano instead but hey ho, you live and learn.

The other place on our doorstep here is Pompeii, we never went the last time we were here, as we just wanted to relax and the way to get to Pompeii is not relaxing. You have to get a train which links Naples (vile city of filth and mafia) and Sorrento, and Pompeii is in the middle, we had had the unfortunate experience of this awful train before, it is like a really old underground train but with plastic seats, no air-conditioning, no luggage space (hundreds of people have luggage with them as it is the only train to Sorrento and you cannot get there by any other means unless coming direct from Naples airport!!!!!), packed to the rafters with people hot and sweating and it takes about an hour and a half. It is hell. But anyway I digress, we had decided to get up early and catch the 7.55am bus to Sorrento in order to get on the awful train to Pompeii, we stood at the bus stop until 8.50 when we, and many others, found out the sodding buses were on strike. So we went off to the beach instead. Pompeii take two, a couple of days later we tried again and managed to get there. It was ever so impressive that the whole town of roman ruins is still basically standing all these thousands of years later and the level of destruction caused by Versuvius’ violent eruption was immense but unless you buy a guidebook or pay for a guided tour there is no information about anything at all, not even a map from the information office on site!!! So if you’re going buy a bloody book before you go in.  We spent the morning there and enjoyed much more than our outing to Capri and then once reaching Sorrento, again by horrid train, basked in the knowledge that we never, ever have to get on that god-awful piece of transport again.

Then we have spent a few more days knocking around here, got rained on (just one grey day), had a lovely fresh fish dinner out with views of the sea and village and have been trying to keep cool in these ever rising temperatures, thank god for air-con!!

So that brings me up to date really, we leave Positano tomorrow morning for an epic journey to Sicily, our last stop. We have 2 hours on a bus with a change in the middle, then 6 hours on a train all the way to Sicily (the train goes on the ferry apparently??), the a cab to our B&B for the night in Milazzo before sailing off to the Aeolian Islands on Sunday where we will be staying for a week. Will need a blimin rest after all that travelling!!

Positano pics,

Friday, 1 July 2011

All roads lead to Rome.

I don't think I need to say what this is!!

It is said that all roads lead to Rome, this most ancient of cities, once centre of the world.

I have been to Rome before, it was my first taste of Italy and I loved it then and I loved it just as much this time around, maybe even more, when our road led us to Rome.

We arrived there last Wednesday by train from Florence; we had found a cool little studio to stay in over the river Tiber in the Trastevere district, mere minutes from the ruins of ancient Rome.

Enroute to our new abode I had a little accident. Now I am known for being a little unsteady underfoot so this will come a no surprise to those of you used to seeing me on the floor, there I was lugging my stupidly overfull and very heavy bag along Rome’s cobbles when my bag got caught in a hole of a missing cobble and due to the sheer weight of my non-capsule wardrobe the bag pulled me back and under it!!! Leaving me sprawled on the floor with my bag on top of me!!! Not very fa la bella figura is it???? A lesson learnt, travel lighter in future!!!!

Anyway, our apartment was great, albeit surrounded by hundreds of bars (we had been warned by the very nice owner at time of booking, I like that kind of honesty) but it had double glazing and I do not travel anywhere without earplugs so all was fine, apart from my grazed and bleeding elbow!!!

We spent three nights in Rome, we visited all the sights as we had before (though didn’t bother queuing hours to get in this time especially as it was near on 40 bloody degrees!!!) and words cannot describe what an magnificent city it is, it is just a constant feast for the senses, the ruins are incredible, so much so you can just imagine what it must have been like in the days of the ancient romans, the buildings that are still intact such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum are just awe inspiring and it sounds so cheesy but you can just feel the history, and the fact that all this still remains for us mere mortals to still see is just unbelievable. Add into that a mighty portion of great shopping, cool bars, fabulous restaurants and it just does not get any better.

Rome is an enormous city and it was madly busy with tourists, much more so than when I had visited before, and we were also experiencing hotter than normal temperatures (obviously as we were there) but we found that you can still escape the madding crowds and find quiet shady spots, stumble upon quiet piazza’s with beautiful buildings, come across parts of hidden ruins and just sit and watch the world go by as it has for centuries over (much more reasonably priced) a coffee, just to be there and be part of such an amazing place makes you feel very lucky.

Although we thought we had done all the main tourist sights last time we were there we found that we had only just scratched the surface and come across so much more, even in the places we thought we had already looked. It is another one of those places that you just kind of have to get lost and let the city guide through. Down shaded passageways littered with traces of the cities rich past, along imposing avenues dominated by centuries old formidable architecture, up stairwells leading to hilltop palaces with vista’s spanning the city old and new, the winding streets leading to the splendour of the Vatican City in all of its glory. Ahhh ‘tis a beautiful place.

The romans may well have been a cruel and violent force to be reckoned with at the height of their power but by god did they know how to build the most perfect city and their descendants continue to make this one of my most favourite places in the world.

the mighty Pantheon

ancient rome

castle angelo surrounded by Bernini's angels

Piazza Venezia

Trevi fountain

I just know I will be back again and again.