Thursday, July 30, 2015

Positano: heaven on earth

Positano, Italy is hand-down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Book a flight and go and maybe never come back because it's just that incredible.

The day began with drinks at Le Sirenuse per the advice of many friends and ended a little bit sunburned, but extremely happy laying on bright orange and yellow chairs on the black sand beach. There is a cute little sandwich shop/store with the extremely creative name, "Delicatessen," where we bought fruit, bellinis and amazing sandwiches filled with super fresh tomatoes, eggplant, cheese and other sorts of italian seasonings and whatnot.

Positano is so beautiful and absolutely perfect. I think I told Alex at least 1000000 times, "I'm so happy here!" I could have spent forever there, but a long weekend is plenty to enjoy it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sorrento: home to the italian grandma you always wanted

Our arrival in Sorrento was filled with mixed emotions. Relief at being alive and not sold to Italian sex traders. Sadness at leaving our taxi driver aka our new best friend. Happiness at not being in scary Naples any longer. And exhaustion from the travel and wine at dinner.

We had no idea what we were getting into when we rang the doorbell at our bed and breakfast. I wish I'd had a secret go-pro to record the whole thing. Our Italian grandma (Raquel) greeted and exclaimed she was pleased to see we weren't the typical American fat girls she was used to meeting! But she was angry we arrived so late because she needs her sleep. So angry in fact she forgot to offer glasses of Horchata, which she profusely apologized for the entire weekend. She sat us down, patted our hands and pulled our 15 maps of Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Ravello and the surrounding areas and went over each map point by point, detail by detail with her extraordinarily specific recommendations and advice. Then she gave us three travel books and suggested we read them before starting out the next day. I didn't remember a single thing she said except that she thought I was "not fat".

Famous for orange and lemon groves, Sorrento is adorable and a little underrated in my opinion. It is the perfect place to stay if you are planning on moving around the Almalfi Coast. It is the most convenient to travel to Capri, Positano, Pompeii, Ischia and other must-see places.

The town is beautiful and we had the best pizza and pasta ever at Ristorante San Antonio. Sorry, Naples! And, because I am entirely too sentimental I bought about 10 pounds worth of lemon soap, handmade pasta and italian candy as gifts for my family. And at customs a month later trying to fly to America, I completely regretted it because my bag was grossly overweight.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Naples: Pizza and Biker Gangs

Naples is a riot. We had heard it was a disgusting, scary travel back through time, which is true. But, it was really fun to see for a few hours. As home to the world’s original and bestpizza, we had to go (during daylight).

Walking up Via Tribunali was an experience in itself. We saw men who absolutely were fake cops, old men dropping baskets of who knows what down from third floor balconies to motorcyclists down below and all sorts of characters from biker gangs to little old ladies who looked like they could cut you if you insulted their cannolis. And there was lots of yelling and wonderful pizza smells.

There are lots of famous pizzerias and we chose Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente for dinner. I had the margarita pizza and house red wine. It was everything I expected and more. I never wanted to leave that restaurant, but we had to get to Sorrento.

Upon leaving, we realized dinner had taken longer than expected and it was dark. We ran to the taxi station and met the funniest taxi driver who kept offering us food and candy. Our cabbie (whose name we never quite understood) was the first of many Italians who were the funniest and kindest people I have ever met travelling. Ciao, bella!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

La Rioja: 70 cent vino

Our weekend in La Rioja was unreal. It was completely perfect. Laura, May, Alex and I planned a trip away on a whim because we have been hearing how beautiful and impressive La Rioja is but we really couldn't have imagined it until we saw it. We stayed at a really cute AirBnb in Logrono on Calle Laurel and booked three wine tours before arriving. 

Friday night started with tapas hopping on Calle Laurel. Some of the most popular tapas restaurants are Champi, Tios Agus, Zorropito and El Jubera. If you have never eaten spanish food before I would recommend trying pulpo, champinons, croquettes, tortilla de patata and whatever else you think looks appetizing! All of the tapas are sitting on the bar so you can browse and ask questions before eating.  

Saturday, we had booked an morning tour at Marques del Riscal vineyards. Designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry, it's absolutely stunning and a bit shocking to see because the sleek, modern design contrasts with the charming village setting of Elciego. On our tour we made some new best friends from Boston and went on to have lunch with them in Laguardia. Laguardia is adorable and worth a day trip or even an entire weekend if you have time. Another vineyard I would suggest making a reservation with is Ysios.

Logrono is the largest town in the La Rioja region and it was a great springboard for our weekend. While I would suggest visiting Laguardia and Haro, you can also go to several amazing bodegas in Logrono, including Bodega Olarra and Franco Espanola  This is such a beautiful part of Spain and it's really overlooked and underrated! I would love to go back one day. 

A Book for the Brokenhearted

In early May, my friend Laura started telling me about a book I needed to read. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed covers some of the most painful and sad aspects of life, but in a really poignant and moving way.

I cried more than I laughed and I prefer books that make me laugh more than cry, but it came at the perfect time. Sometimes life is super messy. But, I have realized that for every thing that is confusing, hurtful or heartbreaking, probably five different things also happen that make me smile and surprise me. Those are pretty good odds and I'll take them happily.

I heard once that if everyone threw their problems into the center of the room, we'd all be fighting to grab ours back. Personally, I'd try to grab like, Giselle's problems, or Beyonce's problems, but whatever. The point is to remember that everyone has their own crap that blindsides and annoys and hurts them, too. Thankfully, no one is in this crazy thing called life alone :)

The quotes I saved in my phone:
You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.

Accept that this experience taught you something you didn't want to know. Accept that it's going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you no will surely pain you less.

You're looking for the explanation, the loophole, the bright twist in the dark tale that reverses its course. Anyone would be. It's the reason I've had to narrate my own stories of injustice about seven thousand times, as if by raging about it once more will change and by the end I won't still be the woman hanging on the end of the line.