Over the weekend, my friend and I took a semi-impromptu girls weekend to DC to eat, drink and explore. Here are some of the photos I instagrammed along the way since I finally have the Instagram app. Side note — my favorite Foursquare location in DC was Michelle Obama’s Vegetable Garden.
Day 7: Sunday, August 14, 2011
I dislike getting up early, but when getting up early means going from one beautiful part of Italy to another, I’m OK with it. Although I was sad to leave Ravello, it was time for the third leg of our trip. So we got back in the rental car around 6 a.m., and drove back up the autostrade to the Rome airport. And after a quick flight over the sea, we arrived at the Catania airport in Sicily.
It was about a 40-minute trip to our hotel, and we arrived in Taormina at the Hotel Belvedere. From the front:
View from the back:
Another amazing view. After settling in, we went out exploring the streets of Taormina. During this time was Italy’s vacation season, so lots of Italians were vacationing here, too. I considered it the equivalent of Americans vacationing in Ocean City, MD or the Outer Banks. Dinner that night was more pasta, and this time, with some salmon:
Afterwards, we had after-dinner drinks at a cute cafe, where I had a delicious espresso/amaretto drink (decaf), before turning in for the evening:
Day 8: Monday, August 15, 2011
Day 2 in Sicily was all about R&R. So we hit up the pool and did just that. Hotel pool:
La bella vita:
After reading and chillaxin at the pool all day, it was time yet again to get ready for dinner. What a life. I heart vacation. I had mussels with the group, then pizza. Pizza in Sicily was different than in Anacapri. Good different. First, it wasn’t cut, so you had to cut your own slices. I watched an Italian lady beside me cut hers like a piece of meat. The taste was different, too. The biggest difference was the cheese. In Anacapri, there was more buffalo mozzarella, which changed the flavor. Basically, pizza in Italy, no matter where you go, is amazing.
Day 9: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Since we were lazy the day before, this day was about exploring more of Taormina. So it was on to the Greek Theater. This was built in the 3rd century BC and STILL hosts concerts and other performances. Pretty cool.
When we climbed up to the top, we got a great view of Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe:
Not too shabby. After we saw the theater and the view from the top, we explored some more of the streets and did a little shopping. Taormina is very cool, and each part of Italy I saw was different from the other. Some other scenes from the day:
The Duomo, which dates back to the 13th century:
After a day of sight seeing, we were hungry (obviously). This day, Dave and I decided to check out an Irish pub we saw, for a change of pace. We’d been eating non-stop Italian for over a week, so when we saw Irish fare, we were intrigued. First, fun Irish snacks:
Then, we ordered burgers. These were nothing like American burgers. But, it was still fun to try:
To finish up the non-Italian theme of the day, I went with a Mojito to drink after dinner:
Day 10: Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Today was our last full day in Italy. As much as I was in love with it, I was ready to go home. I missed Starbucks, hot yoga, my bed, breakfast smoothies, running, and my daily routine. Who would have guessed? But, we still wanted to enjoy our time in Sicily, so we did some last minute shopping and sightseeing.
Love all the dogs I saw in Italy, especially this one on a vespa. I reallllly want a vespa now that I’ve been to Italy. We finished up the day with lounging by the pool, and I had pasta poolside.
And then, the last supper:
Yep, I had pasta again, bolognese. We had grouper, too. I wasn’t TOO adventurous, since meat in Italy kind of scared me. Some fish come with their heads still on. I don’t eat too much meat as it is, so this wasn’t appetizing to me. But, I got to experience so many amazing pasta dishes that this wasn’t an issue. We ended the evening with gelato. We had gelato a few times, which is soo much better than ice cream. The chocolate I had the last night tasted like brownie batter. Mmmmmm.
The next day was an extremely early wake up call to venture back to Rome, then Boston, then Pittsburgh. It sucked, but we made it home safe and sound, with no travel issues. Plus, I had the weekend to recuperate from the jet lag before it was back to work and back to reality. Viva la Italia!
When we last left off, I was dreaming of cheese and Steelers bars in Rome. But it was time to leave the city and get to the coast to Ravello. Ravello, which is on the Amalfi Coast, was founded in the 5th century as a shelter place against the barbarian invasions which marked the end of the Western Roman Empire. Thanks, Wikipedia.
Day 4: Thursday, August 11, 2011
We got up in Rome, had breakfast and into the rental car for the drive down the autostrade. To actually get to Ravello, you have a lot of uphill cliff driving to do after you get off the autostrade. It’s a little scary if you’re afraid of heights. Very narrow road, too. But that didn’t matter, because when you get there, you see this:
Ah-mazing. We checked into the Hotel Villa Maria and had a little snack in the piazza. Some photos from our first day:
After doing a little exploring, it was time to eat dinner…glorious, dinner. We dined al fresco at our hotel’s restaurant. This was our dining “room”:
And then I ate this:
Crepes and raviolis. SO. Good. Could the food be actually getting better by the day? I think so.
Day 5: Friday, August 12, 2011
Our second day in Ravello was time to explore. Right near our hotel was the Villa Cimbrone, which dates back to the 11th century. I’ll let the pictures tell the story:
And then the Terrace of Infinity:
After we took in the view, we hopped on a bus and then a ferry to Capri:
Capri is another cute little Amalfi Coast town. And we took a cab up to Anacapri to do a little more exploring, and to experience the pizza there of course.
Honestly, this was the best pizza I ever had. I had 3 out of the 4 pieces, and looking back, I wish I would have eaten the entire thing. Pizza near this area is the best since the buffalo mozzarella is so fresh, coming from Naples.
I liked it.
After Capri, we took the ferry back to the town of Amalfi and checked it out:
From there, we took a taxi back to Ravello and got ready for dinner. Since we liked our hotel dinner so much the night before, we ate there again the second night. I got a delish little whole wheat pasta dish with goat cheese:
Day 6: Saturday, August 13, 2011
By day 6, we were a little pooped from all the traveling and sightseeing of Rome and Amalfi, so we opted for a more leisurely day. This consisted of a little fingers and toes polish change at the spa, then laying out in the sun. We had a picnic lunch outside with some incredible sandwiches a local deli made us. I wish I could have taken a picture because they were so good – crusty bread with Italian meats and cheeses, drizzled with a little olive oil. Nom nom nom.
That evening, we walked over to the Hotel Caruso, per the recommendation of a good family friend. I’m so glad I listened to her. We stopped at the bar and saw the view:
We ordered our drinks, and were presented with this:
God Bless Italy and their delicious appetizers. I like to think of this as the shirt before the shirt, because then we got our Bellinis:
I had two they were so delicious…and wayyy expensive. This place was mighty swanky. But worth it. Check out this infinity pool at the Caruso:
Then we walked over to the Hotel Ruffalo for a sunset dinner on our last night.
The streets of Ravello walking to dinner.
Frutti di Mare. Oh yeah.
It was to bed early that night, because the next day it was up early, early to drive back to Rome and get on a plane to Sicily. See you in Part 3. Ciao!
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Italy for almost two weeks to eat, drink and be merry. I went with my boyfriend Dave and his parents, and it was a celebration of Dave finishing four long years of law school and taking the bar exam. And it was also a celebration of me putting up with it the last four years. So, here is a little 3-part blog series on our trip, day by day, starting with Rome. I (literally) ate my way through Italy, and have photos of everything along the way. I’ll share the whole album of photos in part 3 since there are LOTS to share.
Day 1: Monday, August 8, 2011
After flying through the night (PIT -> DTW -> FCO), we arrived in Rome in the morning. Since it was too early to check in, we walked down to the Trevi fountain and had a bite to eat. I was legit falling asleep at the table. That jetlag hit me hard. So, once it was time to check in, we took a nice long nap, got up, and it was dinnertime.
Dinner, night 1 at the Hotel Majestic:
Day 2: Tuesday, August 9, 2011
After getting a good night’s sleep, it was time to hit the streets of Rome. After a little hotel breakfast (brie for breakfast? yes, please) my tour guide (a.k.a. my boyfriend) took me on a walk to the forum and the Colosseum. We saw all of the ruins, and went on a tour of both the forum and the Colosseum (and people watched — Italy is GREAT for people watching). Some sites:
We walked all the way back to the hotel on Via Veneto and I was DIRTY. I had Roman filth all over my feet, so I hosed off in the shower (after contemplating sticking my feet in the bidet.) After a little rest and showers, it was time for dinner, night 2 at Girarrosto Toscano (which was excellent):
A little pasta and a little risotto. Finished with some cafe gelato:
Not pictured: a delicious spread of antipasto that took up the entire table. Then, sweet dreams of buffalo mozzarella danced in my head.
Day 3: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
It was up and at ‘em again on day 3, our last day in Rome. But not before stopping for a drink or two:
And then we hit up the The Capuchin Crypt, which was super creepy and super interesting. According to Wikipedia, this crypt contains the skeletal remains of 4,000 bodies believed to be Capuchin friars buried by their order. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia since we were not allowed to take any:
On a happier note, it was then time to go on our next tour, so we took a tour bus over to the Vatican and Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica:
After seeing the sights, it was back to the hotel for some relaxation and preparation for our night ahead. First, Piazza Navona:
Then dinner at Ristorante Pierluigi. Since I’m a terrible faux food blogger, I didn’t snap a picture of dinner. So, onto La Botticella, home of STEELERS NATION Italia. Fun fact: When Dave studied in Rome two years ago, they watched the Pens win the Stanley Cup here. Look how cute it is:
Holler Slippery Rock University:
I just returned from my first trip to Texas, and my first South by Southwest (SXSW) experience in Austin. It. Was. Awesome. 48 hours of Texas food, blue skies, live music, and March Madness thrown in for good measure. Next year I will definitely be returning – and next year I most definitely want to arrive earlier in the week to experience the interactive conference part where all things social media/tech, etc. are discussed. And I’m definitely eating at Stubb’s BBQ again. Photos:
Remember when I asked Santa for the Lululemon bon voyage duffel? Well, apparently Santa reads my blog because I didn’t get just one duffel for Christmas, I got TWO! I must have been a good girl last year. So, now I’m in a predicament. I don’t want to keep both because they are way too similar. I’m already a bona fide bag lady, so it would be overkill to keep both. Plus, I can return one and get other lulu swag with it like a nice sports bra or the gym essentials kit. So, which one do you like better? Both are perfect for the gym and traveling.
Sorry for the poor quality photo. To your left we have the bon voyage duffel in black, which I asked for, but to your right we have your fast in flight tote in violet, which matches the cute lulu tank I got with it. Here are their professional photos to give you a better look (couldn’t find the right color for the fast in flight, but you get the idea):
UPDATE: After many tweets going both ways, I’ve decided to keep both after all! I put stuff in both bags last night, and felt Fast in Flight was better for the gym since it’s smaller, and Bon Voyage was better for travel since it’s a bit bigger. They were gifts, after all, and who am I to refuse a gift?
So you have to fly somewhere for work and never have before? First, read these tips. Once you’ve mastered business tripping by car, you’re ready for the airplane. Here’s a few tips for new travelers:
1. Know your itinerary
You may not be the one to set up the flight and meeting times, but make sure you know them. Planning ahead, you’ll be able to know how much time you’ll have between meetings, where you are laying over, and what time you’ll need to get up in the morning so you can plan accordingly.
2. Have all your papers ready
Make sure you check-in and print your boarding pass the day before your flight, and print out any hotel confirmation numbers so you’ll have the address and information in case they mix up your stuff, or if you get a cab from the airport, you can give them the address. Most hotels will print your boarding pass for the way home, too. Also, make sure if you have a layover and have to change planes somewhere, you print BOTH boarding passes. I forgot to do this last trip and didn’t know what time my next flight was (they printed it for me at the desk). This was very upsetting because I wasn’t able to go to Jamba Juice. Or, you can go all 2010 and have everything set up on your phone – some airlines allow you to have your boarding pass on your phone.
3. Know the rules
It seems like once a month there’s a new rule TSA puts out about laptops and liquids and whatnot. Check out http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm for all you need to know before you go.
4. Charge it
If you’re like me, you have a least five electronics with you at all time, no matter if you’re traveling or not. Make sure they’re all fully charged and you have your chargers with you in your carry on. And at the airport, plug in. Some planes even have outlets in the seats. Fancy.
5. Know your expenses
Does your work have a limit to how much you can spend on meals each day? What about wifi? Some airports make you pay for it (I’m looking at you, Regan International). Can you expense Starbucks? Know how much you can spend and plan accordingly. Also, know if you should use a company credit card or your own.
6. Bring snacks
Just like in my last post about the business travel subject, I recommend packing a few snacks. You can’t have drinks through security at the airport, but you can bring food. My last trip I had pretzels, an apple and Luna protein bars with me. That way, if you are hungry at the airport or while at your destination, you have something to hold you over until your next meal. Plus it’s healthier and less expensive than grabbing airport food. It’s also a good idea to bring an empty water bottle with you and fill up after security. That way, you don’t have to keep paying $8 for water in airports and hotels.
7. Pack your bag accordingly
Usually, a business trip calls for just a carry on, so pack accordingly. Girls: You don’t need tons of shoes. I know how much it pains you. So pack a key pair of heels and shoes to work out in if you need those, and that’s it. Anything bulky you need to bring like a jacket: wear it. Trust me, those overhead bins are the size of my leg (and I’m 4’11).
8. Dress accordingly
Just like a smart packed bag is key, so are your clothes. Make sure you know what type of meeting or event you’re going to, and dress the part. Don’t know? Business casual usually works, and bring a jacket just in case. Also, don’t wear something stupid through security. You don’t want to be *that guy* going through the line unzipping and who knows what else. Don’t wear crazy boots. I would recommend wearing something casual and then changing into your meeting clothes before you have to go anywhere. Flip flops and slip on flats are usually a wonder, and fit easy in your bag.
9. Catch up on work and e-mail
Traveling is a lot of boring hours of sitting. Utilize your time by opening up your laptop and banging out some work. Prep for your meeting or presentation, or catch up on e-mails. Some planes have wifi, but for most that don’t, just put all your e-mail in your outbox so when you do connect to the Internet, it will send for you. Shazzam.
10. If you’re not happy, get out
The other week, I was put up in a hotel that was not cool. It was dirty and I didn’t feel safe staying alone there. So I left. I told the woman at the front desk I wasn’t comfortable and they didn’t charge the account, and I just went and checked in at a Hampton. Know that you are traveling for WORK (or a speaking engagement) and they have to make sure you have the best accommodations. If you’re not happy, you absolutely have the right to change it. And if you’re given a hard time by the powers that be, perhaps you shouldn’t be working for them or doing a speaking engagement there.