Caio from Verona!
Traveling has always been on my heart. I tried to go to Florence, Italy and study there in school; however, a multitude of things happened in life, aka God telling me that it wasn’t the time for me to go over seas yet. I dreamed of the photos I saw on Pinterest and even set the background image on my phone to a different city in Europe every other week. My dream finally came true with a lot of prayer, consistency, and budgeting. Today I get to share with you the start of my journey to Europe with Nick. I will take you through our travels from city to city, starting with Verona!
Our flight day was long so thank goodness for movies and airplane snacks. Our trip was delayed, so we actually arrived in Italy a day late due to a storm out of Boston. I learned very quickly that no travel day happens exactly as planned. Everything happens for a reason because we got to spend an unplanned afternoon walking around Lisbon, Portugal.
I will never forget my first steps into another country. The languages, cafes with croissants and cappuccinos filled the airports, and the architecture already blew me away!
Lisbon is a gigantic city. We had a friend staying there and she said you need a lot of time to cite see; however, our less than 24 hour trip was enough for us!
We arrived in Verona late at night and got a taxi to our Airbnb. I highly recommend using Airbnb when traveling because we got the chance to meet all the locals and they gave us tips on amazing places to go. I felt very safe the entire time.
Our first stay was super cozy and small. The toilets, showers, outlets, and everything is different so come prepared with outlet converters and travel size toiletries. Target was my go-to place for items before I embarked on this adventure!
We had large windows in our bedroom that we opened every morning and then we would just walk to the heart of the city that was only around ten minutes away.
Before I jump ahead, I have to reminisce on our first night. We walked around at 1:00am to a local pizzeria a few doors down from us and ended up having wine, pizza, and talking to a local who happened to be a photographer. We ended up going back there multiple times because the food was amazing, no Dominos pizza, and the people were super friendly.
We tried to wake up as early as we could every morning so that we had a full day. I did get pretty chilly in the mornings and night time, but during the day it was warm! Wear comfy shoes because we walked miles on miles every day. I didn’t mind it with the views! I had to stop at every bridge overlooking the hilly scenes of Italian homes and gardens.
I learned quick that breakfast over there only consisted of croissants and cappuccinos and warning, if you order a coffee, they will hand you a shot of expresso. No grande from Starbucks so I sipped and enjoyed my few sips of needed caffeine.
My favorite spots in Verona were Juliet’s home from Romeo and Juliet, the Ponte Pietra bridge, and the Arena di Verona.
We were only in Verona for two nights so on our last night when it wasn’t raining, we got a taxi to this restaurant hidden on a hill. This restaurant seemed like an Italian antique shop filled with gorgeous pieces of art that also served food. A glass of Prosecco was waiting on our table along with a basket of bread and oil. Nick and I both ordered their well known black and white spaghetti with calamari in it…oh my word was it amazing. I ate the entire thing and could have eaten seconds!
We ended up climbing to the tip of the city overlooking their skyline. We chose to leave a little something behind one of the rocks up there in hopes to one day come back and get it. It was a dream.
Next stop was Florence!
Florence was a huge city compared to Verona. We took a train into this city and when we arrived I was blown away with the historic beauty in every building.
When traveling by train, we bought Eurail Passes. Without these, travel prices would have been through the roof and it allowed easy access to tickets. This was my first experience on a train and I enjoyed it. We learned through trial and error, but that is what traveling is all about.
We stayed right in the heart of Florence in an Airbnb with Italian grad students. What an experience! We learned very quickly how much people smoke over there. This cultural difference made us move to a hotel one night due to allergies and Nick’s asthma, but our stay there was a lot of fun.
During our time in Florence, we went to as many museums as we could. Definitely schedule your tickets in advance! We went to the Museum of Galileo, The Accademia Gallery, and the Bargello Museum.
We loved just walking and seeing where we would end up. One afternoon we sat and read our books while sipping on a drink. One morning we ate at a cafe by the river and just relaxed. Unless we had tickets somewhere, no plans were the best plans.
My favorite drinks were their freshly squeezed orange juice that they sometimes added mango to, red wine and cappuccinos! I ordered mine with soy milk because they don’t serve almond and it was the perfect dose of sweet.
Florence was so lively at night time! Live music was always playing somewhere in the background. I tried my first Italian gelato and ate an entire bag of chocolate that melted in my mouth. Traveling post college on a budget also meant indulging in bread and peanut butter for a few meals, but Nick and I will look back on those memories and enjoy more runs to the market!
I tried limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor that you sip on after meals. In Italy they had pasta with salmon in it and caesar salads with hard boiled eggs. I enjoyed getting those and loved it! As appetizers, our go-to was a smoked salmon charcuterie board.
Our time in Florence came to an end quickly, but I would love to go back and travel to Tuscany! Now onto my favorite place we went to in Italy…
Positano is officially my heaven on Earth. I cried when I saw my first view…this is not a joke. I mean how could I not?
We got a driver from Naples to Positano. He would stop and let us look at views and get snacks on the road. Having a vehicle to ourselves made the experience better and easier on the nausea going up the Amalfi Coast.
This coast is so secluded from the world. Everything is SO BEAUTIFUL! Vibrant flowers and vines crawled up every building. The colors along the coast reflected in the water and made sunsets breathtaking. The locals are so inviting and want you to enjoy your stay. Every meal has a view of nothing but water and sky. My favorite place in Positano was the bed and breakfast Nick surprised me with, called the Villa Yiara–
The rooftop was a garden and a floral scent filled every room. The woman who greeted us became our friend very quickly and was always there to assist us if needed. Our room was solid white with gold trimmed furniture. The linens were fresh and made every day in addition to breakfast waiting on us when we woke up. I thanked God every day for such a tranquil experience where truly nothing else mattered in the world except the moment I was in.
We sipped on bellinis and saved money by going to a market down the road for food. We had a favorite place to eat where there was live music and we met a sweet couple from South Africa who we talked to for over an hour. One night after dinner we decided to run all the way to the bottom of the coast just to get gelato and it was well worth it.
A memory I will keep forever was when we kayaked in the ocean overlooking the city and coast. We swam in little coves and just laid down on the kayak hearing nothing but ocean. I would do that again in a heart beat!
Before we knew it, it was our last night and we couldn’t leave. There were also some unsafe occuring activities in our next city so we stayed an extra night in a new hotel where they served us nutella crepes in the morning and were gracious enough to let Nick and I stay on their rooftop terrace as we awaited our next travel day.
I would go back tomorrow! Now, don’t get me wrong, traveling can be magical; however, like I said earlier, nothing happens as planned and Nick and I ran into many bumps. We had healthy arguments, disagreements and more, but it made us closer. We are especially closer after the hardest travel day of them all…
Let’s just say our trip leaving Positano was something I would never want to repeat. We already prepaid for everything so remember that… Our bus taking us to Sorrento then to France was an hour late. In fear of missing our train, we got onto a bus that started taking us in the opposite direction. I then started to get car sick on what was suppose to be one of the most beautiful car rides in the world. While I held my bag to get sick in, Nick was attempting to talk to a woman who speaks little English so we could get off. We finally got off and as I sat on the road rubbing tons of peppermint oil on my head, Nick is running around the city of Amalfi trying to find us a ride.
$200 later, we get in a car where we both continue to get car sick and our driver decides to drop us off on the outskirts of a very large city. He said the train station was only a 10 minute walk. Three miles later, we are running with our luggage trying to find this station. I’m about to faint at this point and had to get dragged along until we finally found it. We missed our train by five minutes. There we found ourselves homeless and eating peanut butter m&ms for dinner. It’s almost 10:00pm and I’m almost to tears.
Finally we found a ticket back to Naples where we got the last room in a hotel. We found a few stale sandwiches around midnight and indulged in that and peanut butter while reminiscing on all the events that had happened. There were more but some should just go unsaid…let’s just say I hit a low.
At the end of the day, we were safe with a head full of memories from Italy. I got to look at him very proudly and was excited for our next country.
Rest and eating was what fueled us every day so before I go, I wanted to touch on eating.
There is a large time difference so my body had to adjust which it really struggled with. After every croissant and bowl of pasta I had to tell myself that it is OKAY! Actually, better than okay because when would I be able to eat Italian chocolate and a croissant with nutella by the Amalfi coast? We only get once chance at this life. I have to thank Nick for walking me through my moments of low when I would let my body image take over what was in front of me.
It is NOT easy, but it IS worth it, I promise. Find someone who will hold your hand through any situation. Remember that food is a part of life and culture. Eat and discover what is out there.
My body started to adjust and after being so sore from walking up and down the hills, I wanted to eat more croissants. I want you to know that if you have shared these challenging thoughts, you aren’t alone and if I can do it, you can too.
My France blog post is coming soon so in the mean time, please enjoy the rest of my photography gallery: