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The Last Days of Rome | Day 2 ~ Part 2 of 2

We hit up all the touristy hotspots in the area, including the famous Trevi fountain, which had tourists overflowing from every crevice which was enough to send a girl running, and the Pantheon, which, although was packed with tourists too, was pretty damn amazing. The Pantheon is apparently the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome, being a temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. The architecture is just extraordinary. Truly slap-you-in-the-face-fantastic. The front facade is like tour typical temple, build with large stone columns supporting a triangular top (sorry, I’m not much of an architectural-writer). As you walk through, a drum-like interior (the rotunda) engulfs you, the dome of which having a hole at the centre casting a beam of white daylight into itself. This dome, if it were to flipped upside down, would actually fit perfectly inside the rotunda. Luckily it’s free to enter and it’s incredible detail and design forgives the flocks of tourists that come to visit its interior. Pantheon… By this time I began to freak out …

City Explorers | Bratislava ~ Part 1

Bratislava, the small yet charming capital of Slovakia, awaited us after our brief trip to Brno in the Czech Republic. The rain didn’t let up as we de-boarded our coach and headed for our Airbnb near to the town’s centre. But by the time we had dumped our bags and took a breather, night had fallen, and we had to again begin exploring the town by moonlight (and streetlight). But first, dinner: The following day we discovered Bratislava in all its historical glory, it having a similar feel to Brno but seeming, to me, far more interesting and beautiful. The centre is only accessible by foot, meaning cars can’t pollute the pretty buildings and lively, yet calm, vibe. To begin exploring we grabbed some pirôžky on Obchodná street – a small business that was one of the few to survive the turbulence of Communism and other events of the time in the area. Pirôžky is basically a kind of doughnut filled with poppy seeds, marmalade, nut or apple filling, served only in the morning from …

Brief Encounters | Brno

Burno, bruno, brrrr-no… however you pronounce it, Brno is the underdog city of the Czech Republic, being fiercely out-done by it’s more beautiful sister, Prague. However, it’s not a place to be overlooked, especially if you’re in the Czech Republic or at least passing through – it’s a main stop on most coach routes from Budapest through to Vienna. After a very long coach journey in the evening from Budapest, I arrived in an illuminated Brno, engulfed by the Autumn night and chill – it was a spontaneous surprise trip, which made it all the better. Although I had eaten way too many Hungarian pastry snacks on the bus and my stomach gurgled to no end after I had to begin to use my legs I was eager to explore upon arrival. We attempted to soothe my pastry-induced stomach gurgles doing a mini evening tour of the city centre, led by a friend of a friend who had just moved to the area. Resigning to a tiny food market in the main square of the …

Cinque Terre-ravels | An Italian Thursday ~ Part 2

Thursday in Cinque Terre ~ Part 2 of 2 After taking a slightly wrong path and losing even more time, arriving into the town of Manarola extremely later expected, I was exhausted. My legs trembled. Clearly, my muscles were trying to tell me to lie down or jump into a jacuzzi to chill the heck out. I had had a short break in Corniglia, the third town after the first hike from Vernazza, but even then I was walking and exploring. It was super cute on the inside, maybe not the most beautiful of all the towns from the outside, but of course worth spending time in. My breakfast had surely burned off by that point and I took shelter at a cafe to have a glass of freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice (to soothe my looming illness) and some bruschetta – a classic Italian dish ;sliced toasted bread, drizzled with olive oil, garnished with tiny pieces of mozzarella, fresh chopped garlicky tomatoes and pesto, respectively, so as to create an Italian flag with …

Cinque Terre-Dreaming | An Italian Thursday ~ Part 1

Thursday in Cinque Terre ~ Part 1 of 2 Day broke and I was up and out the hostel before you could say “breakfast”. Strapped into the shuttle bus, hurtling far too quickly through Bassia, down the hills and into Cinque Terre, I arrived nice and early into Riomaggiore before the tourists flocked. I tiredly strolled to the rocky shore and climbed onto the rocks for a moment to breathe, listening to the sea waves bump against the tiny wooden boats parked in rows against the cliff faces and getting an amazing view of the whole town. Early wake-up calls, constant walking and a lack of vegetables started to run me down after a couple of days; my body ached, my throat scratched and my nose was bunged up. I hunted down a cafe on the main road in Riomaggiore and made sure to down a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice before drinking a macchiato and small piece of freshly baked cheesecake and Riomaggiorian lemon pie (don’t judge). I felt super crispy, drinking …

Genoa Dreaming | An Italian Tuesday ~ Part 2

Tuesday in Genoa ~ Part 2 of 2 Late-afternoon hit and I jumped on a small yellow rickety bus to a nearby former fishing village called Boccadasse. Only a 30 minutes away, the exceptionally charming village has a small enclosed bay and a rocky shore, being the perfect spot to have a quiet moment amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a small place to explore, great for an hour or two max for those on the go. There’s an amazing view on a sort of “balcony” next to a church that overlooks the sea and village just at its edge, located at the end main promenade in the area and where you’ll likely come from when getting the bus from Genoa. When you take the rocky main path down, you can walk up and down paths around the surrounding tiny coloured houses or just lay on the beach and enjoy the sound of the waves licking the rocks. Impatient to wait for the sunset, having initially thought to see it at Boccadasse …

Genevan Joy | An Italian Tuesday ~ Part 1

Tuesday in Genoa ~ Part 1 of 2 Plans to explore a bit of the city when I had arrived the previous evening went swiftly out the window as I reached my hostel and rested my poor legs. In no time at all, I had to search for dinner and then night had fallen (alongside my eyelids). After the deepest of deep sleeps I awoke to climb up to Spinata Castelletto through the city’s steep and winding paths. Once a fortress of Castelletto, this ‘balcony’ offers a 360 view where one can admire the multicoloured terraced buildings, medieval towers and Baroque peaks and domes of the city. The early morning sun brought about a haze on Genoa’s skyline, and so I decided to make a later return to see the sunset and the city’s beauty in a different light. Meanwhile, caffeine was in order. Slowly stepping back down the steep trail up, I embedded myself into the winding spaghetti of Genevan streets, the buzzing arteries of the old part of the city. Whilst looking for …

Yamas!

My last day in Athens was sadly spent solo, and what remained was to hit up the rest of the tourist sights and do everything left on the list. First up, however, was to get a couple of boxes of that amazing baklava from our first full day. Gesturing again like a mad woman inside the pan-pastry bakery, speaking in English slowly but receiving only Greek replies, I left with about a kilogram of sugary treats in my bag and probably a couple of cavities in my teeth. I attempted to wait for the sun to creep our behind the thick white clouds, the weather having dramatically changed toward the end of the holiday, so I found a nearby cafe and sat outside with an iced coffee and a few pieces of ice-cream baklava. The Chelsea Hotel was the cafe I visited, located just opposite the bakery on a street corner. Inside, there’s a bar, serving up hot drinks in the day and cocktails in the evening, being clearly a great hit with local young …

First Aid Mondays

Monday became a day of recovery from a little too much wine at Cinque, slowly meandering through the centre of the city, having seen nearly all the ruins and now in need of souvenirs (and rest). To nurse our hangovers, we discovered Klimataria, a tiny tucked away authentic Greek restaurant, dishing up homey Greek dishes with generous portions. It’s located in a kind of random part of the city, not next to the usual tourist restaurants in Monastiraki. If you get lost, look for the shrubs and leaves sticking out of the building and the vibrant yellow interior glowing from the inside. On the menu for us was an uplifting and delicately delicious pan of scrambled eggs with mixed veggies, like tomatoes, peppers and even some shards of bacon (not a vegetable, I know). To follow, I had a dish with Aubergine “cream” (silky, creamy pureed aubergine) with tender chunks of beef in a rich tomato sauce. The view from our Airbnb. Fresh sesame bread popularly sold on the streets of Greece. For souvenirs the …

A Slice of Pie & History ~ Sunday

This morning we hit up a renown local cafe in the city, it having been around since 1931 as a family business. It began by distributing milk and later producing puddings, creams, yoghurts, butter honey and pan pastries, all made according to traditional recipes of course. They also make sure to carefully source their ingredients from select producers in Greece, making the food is more delicious than it already is. Hidden under vines and leaves that ripple across and over two buildings on wooden structures, cafe furniture is spread out in front of the cafe, illuminated by warm yellow lights inside and green neon in-front boasting its name “Stani”. We had to try multiple things, of course, ordering the famous traditional sheep milk yoghurt served with thick fresh honey and crunchy walnuts, a filo cream-pie and famous Greek cheese-pie, with hot coffee on the side to wash it all down with. The yoghurt was exquisite; delightfully creamy and sour with a traditional “crust” atop, the sweetness of the honey cutting through the sharpness of the …