One Day in Capri

I could get used to island life.

Beautiful blues, breathtaking heights and dozens of boats bobbing along the water…

It was my second visit to Capri in two years and second impressions proved to be just as good as the first.

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Blue Skies in Belém

Belém is windy. 

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25 de Abril Bridge

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The blue skies had deceived us, making us think we would be strolling along the harbour with the warm breeze in our hair. Instead, picture five windswept women who were blinded briefly by strands of hair in our faces and hands gripping different pieces of clothing to protect our modesty.

Aside from the weather (can’t complain about the sunshine!) our main point of call was visiting monument Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 54m high concrete statue commemorating the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death. It’s in all the guide books but I hadn’t envisioned the actual scale of it – it’s huge.

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Padrão dos Descobrimentos

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There’s an exhibition space inside and a lift to the top, and in this particular case a shelter from the wind. A slight breeze welcomed us when we reached the top and we all went separate ways to admire the 360 degree view of Belém.

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Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
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Padrão dos Descobrimentos Map

Tourists looked like tiny ants down below.

We braved it back to the bottom of the monument and prepared ourselves again for the blusterous weather. But first, coffee.

Nosolo Italia is a modern Italian restaurant offering a wide variety of Italian dishes and of course gelato, with a pretty cool view to go with it.

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Perked up with caffeine, we set on the path again to explore further. Encountering a pretty park and beyond, Torre de Belém.

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Once in a while you take a snap that happens to make you smile more than others, and this is one of those. Between the Moorish tower in the background and beautiful blossom in the foreground, you can also spot four of my favourite ladies admiring the delicately arched windows and balconies. Co-ordinated in prints too, that’s true friendship! 

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Torre de Belém

I had my eyes set on discovering the stunning Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, one of Portugal’s most successful architectural achievements.

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A short walk in the sunshine brought us to this UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s even more captivating close up! With a beautiful green garden and a fountain feature to welcome you, everything was looking grand.

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Breathtaking details against the blue backdrop of the sky, I was fascinated by it’s beauty.

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It was getting late in the day so home-time was occurring, but not before sampling Portugal’s famous egg tart treat from Pastéis de Belém.

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And what a treat it was…

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Topped with sprinkles of vanilla and cinnamon, the mouth-watering warm pastries were devoured within a few steps of leaving the bakery – the perfect sweet snack whilst we waited for the tram to take us home. It’s easy to see why it’s such a hot spot for tourist and locals, but if you do take a visit be prepared to wait a few minutes to get served – I promise you, it’s worth the wait!

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Back to Bairro Alto and up the steep streets once more, we landed back at our apartment for a change of clothes, a quick freshen up and a much needed glass of vino.

Glammed up and ready to go, we hit the cobbles and headed for the local bars. With A and myself both braving it with our wedged heels, we took a little longer than the others to climb the steps up and down to our destination. You can take the girl out of England…

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Dress ~ TU // Bag ~ Zara // Shoes ~ Clarks

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After consuming cocktails at Bar Do Ricardo we headed to Grapes and Bites for dinner – a seemingly popular spot so it’s best to reserve a table in advance if you’re in the area.

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Live music and a lively atmosphere makes it a great restaurant to visit, whether you are with friends, family or work colleagues. A vast number of wines to choose from, we opted for a bottle of red, and a menu you could peruse for hours – if you’re indecisive like me.

The two vegetarians of the group shared two plates whilst the three meat eaters ordered three courses to share. My favourite dish had to be the Tuna with sweet potato mash, yum yum yum!

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More vino and a glass of port (or at least I think it was…) later, it was pudding time. We were in chocolate heaven – a melt in the middle sponge with oozing chocolate sauce and a rich chocolate torte slice – Lisbon take dessert seriously.

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We cheered a couple of times to friendship and our day of sightseeing, and before you knew it we were the last table in the restaurant. A sign of a great evening with fab company…

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Sightseeing in Cascais

Continuing my trip to Lisbon last month, our third day was our final day as a five-piece as one of the girls had to fly back home *insert sad face emoji*

It was a long day ahead of sightseeing so we picked up coffee en route. I also caved in to my sweet tooth and devoured a delicious sponge cake – the perfect breakfast alternative for those who require a small sugary treat to jet start those energy levels…

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It was a 40 minute trip to beach resort Cascais, with enjoyable views all along the way we sat chatting and admired the vast number of pink houses – which led to conversations on painting our own homes pink, naturally.

Grey skies greeted us at our destination but we had high hopes the sun would join us a little later on in the morning, which of course it did. A pit stop off at the cute and comfortable café Bijou De Cascais for more coffee and pastries (savoury and sweet), preventing any hanger moments that may have occurred.

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Heading towards Ribeira beach, we took a leisurely stroll along the charming streets, where you can also enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping (magnet tiles, anyone?) We managed to restrain ourselves from too much stopping here and there, as we were keen to see the sea. Mr Blue Sky finally got the memo, with the sun shining down on the smooth yellow sand, we kindly asked a fellow tourist to take a photograph of the five of us sat on the wall with the beach behind us (which I haven’t posted here due to my friends’ shy nature… but note that it’s a bloomin’ lovely picture!)

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A quick dip in the sea was essential, and my feet thanked me for the freshen up.

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Port Captaincy Building
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Cropped Tee ~ Topshop // Trousers ~ Next // Bag ~ Primark // Sandals ~ Office

Cascais is actually a fishing village and was a popular resort for Portugal’s royal family in the late 19th and early 20th century. You can enjoy a stroll around the Marina, lie out on the beach or wander along the tiled streets to your hearts content, admiring each detail as you look around – we did the latter.

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Praia da Rainha

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The lovely Sophie from Soph’s Choices gave me the perfect recommendation for a late lunch – House of Wonders. Boasting a roof top terrace, café and a gallery, I couldn’t wait to explore inside and find out more.

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With a sea view and those gorgeous terracotta roofs to look out on, we bagged ourselves a table and sat around drinking Sangria until our food arrived.

I love the decor, particularly the lanterns and bright colours, and the music playing in the background gave it a super relaxed vibe – we could have fallen asleep quite easily. Or potentially just sat there until it got dark, drinking endless jugs of sangria…

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These spinach and ricotta pastries were incredible, I actually like to think of them as parcels of joy. They kept any hunger at bay until our main course arrived, a salad feast! The colours, the flavours, the combination – you should probably look away if you’re feeling peckish right now…

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After demolishing our feast we took some time to sit back and relax, people-watched and discussed our favourite parts of the trip so far and what we had left to plan for the remaining couple of days. We had to pay down on the second floor, which was another pleasant experience (seriously, this place has it spot on when it comes to decor and aesthetics).

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Five bellies full, we set on with the rest of our sightseeing adventure. Cascais is a real charming place to visit, a definite must if you are in Lisbon – especially if you love tiles, palm trees and beaches! 

Our afternoon in Belém will continue in Wednesday’s post, too many photos to bombard you with for one day. Don’t forget to give me a follow over on Instagram, where I’m sharing the snaps of Lisbon that don’t make the blog cut…

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One Sunday in Sintra

Whilst researching my trip to Lisbon I came across several recommendations to visit it’s historical town, Sintra. And on our second day we did just that.

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When I sent my friends the link to Carrie’s blog posts with a guide of where to go and what to see, Sintra was a resounding ‘yes‘ with everyone. It took around 25 minutes to walk to the Metro (typical blogger holding everyone up, taking photographs of errythang), passing many beautiful buildings en route whilst trying not to trip on the cobbles. Sintra is 45 minutes away by train so we were eager to make a pit stop at the station for a coffee – and sometimes there is no greater sight than the sight of a Starbucks. Four mocha frappuccinos and one coffee frapp later and we set off to buy our tickets and board the train.

It was the perfect day for it – sunshine, blue skies and a whole day to explore the town with some of my favourite people in tow.

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We briefly stopped for a bathroom break and some fresh lemonade at this charming café, Saudade, before carrying on with our sightseeing escapades.

On first inspection, Sintra is beautiful! 

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After a stroll along the streets, lined with enchanting historical buildings and rather impressive roofs, we ventured down a few steps onto a more (if that was possible) scenic path.

A few selfies and a short wait for our transport up the steep hill later and we arrived at Castelo dos Mouros, the Castle of the Moors!

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 Between the impressive boulders lay an array of beautiful buds, blossoming in the glorious sunshine. Beyond the greenery was the first sight of the castle walls, and the views were breathtaking.

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After ignoring a warning from a fellow slightly out of breath tourist passing by “not to bother continuing our climb”, we managed to reach the top of the castle – and spent some time admiring the stunning panoramic view of Sintra and beyond (check out the gorgeous terracotta roofs!) We decided not to visit the Palace on this trip but appreciated it from afar, just one of many reasons to re-visit in the future. Stomach rumbles and heat grumbles was a sure sign to depart and make tracks back down the steep steps, and back down to the town for refreshments.

We passed several tourist-heaving restaurants before approaching a small Tapas bar which was slightly tucked away from everything else. It can be tricky requiring a table for five in some eating places, but the staff at Romario de Baco rearranged the furniture slightly to fit us in which was appreciated.

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I’ve been rattling my brain trying to remember the name of the white wine we drank as it was delicious, and it helped to wash down our lunch perfectly! A couple of the girls ordered crepes but me and P fancied the cheese topped zucchini – with a side of fries, naturally.

A much needed coffee perked us up and we set off to discover more of the town. Picking up a few souvenirs along the way, I spotted a beautiful white building with the most stunning detailing around it’s windows. I’m no architect but I do appreciate alluring exteriors… and palm trees.

  

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Dress | Zara // Cardigan | Mango // Shades | Boots

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If fairytales were real then they would be set in Sintra…

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We were a bit exhausted after our dream home shopping, so we grabbed an ice cream and hopped back onto the metro. If you do visit Lisbon make sure you take a trip to Sintra, there is plenty to see and do and you’ll be wowed by its beauty. I fell in love with the pristine colourful homes situated between the houses that looked run down and unloved – but were still beautiful in their own way.

The weather in June is very warm but bearable, so after a day of sightseeing  you’ll want to freshen up and change – which became our routine before going out again for dinner and drinks.

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We had passed Pharmacia the previous night and read good reviews about it in our guide books so we strolled down a few streets to find it again. Situated opposite the bar we had cocktails in the night before, the exterior is gated with a faux green grass that is perfect for lounging out on with friends.

Our dashing waiter joked with us as he helped us pick our dishes – recommending that we pick 6 or 7 plates to share. There was a plenty of variety to choose from, even for our two vegetarians in the group. The smoked salmon on a bed of sweet potato was probably my favourite, with the duck croquettes earning second place – and we all obsessed over the potato wedges!

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Cropped Tee | H&M // Skirt | New Look // Bag | Zara

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The restaurant is decked out to the ‘pharmacy’ theme which makes it an interesting visit, and they prescribe the best vino to aid any mood 😉

 Have you seen the last Lisbon post

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Landing in Lisbon

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A 3am start to the day must only mean one thing – holiday o’clock!

After little sleep (I’m not sure if it was too much excitement or a bout of anxiety) the four of us dragged our tired selves out of bed and got ready for the 4am taxi call. By the time we got to the airport I was just looking forward to a large coffee and some breakfast, as were the other girls (hanger on an early start should be avoided at all cost) so we hurried through check-in and customs and landed our bums on seats in the first restaurant we saw – Giraffe.

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Mmm, the veggie breakfast. I’ve only eaten burgers at Giraffe so I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the brekkie was, even if it was a teeny bit cold (and my coffee took a little longer than anticipated to land in front of me). It hit the hanger spot and we felt ready for the first leg of the journey, hitting up WH Smiths en route for sweets and reading material of course. First stop – Munich.

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Free tea and coffee whilst our flight was delayed was welcomed with open hands. I joked there was something wrong with the left phalange (a Friends reference that I like to pull out when flying), but within 25 minutes the technical hitch was fixed and we made our way to the second plane of the trip. Lisbon, here we come!

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Hello, sunshine!

The warmth hit us as soon as we stepped off the plane, all 32 degrees C of it. Palm trees, sunshine, heat – our holiday had begun and I couldn’t wait to explore this beautiful city!

I have to give a shout out to Lufthansa airline for making the flight stress-free and comfortable. From the service to the free wine, they made an anxious flyer feel at ease and I look forward to flying with them again.

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We stayed in an amazing apartment in Bairro Alto, the central district in the Portuguese capital. The perfect location with walking distance to the shops, metro, and an array of bars and restaurants. The famous number 28 Tram even passes by, a vintage yellow trolley that explores several districts including Baixa, Alfama and Estrela.

After a quick trip to the supermarket for supplies (water, cereal, red wine) we freshened up and took a stroll up and down the nearby streets. Cobbles and colourful tiled buildings galore, it’s easy to find yourself getting lost as you wander along each path you come across.

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We were missing one piece of the puzzle up until 6pm, our friend Margje! Taking a different flight and joining us a little later, we welcomed her into our home for the next few nights before heading out in the hunt for food and sangria.

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It’s the Lisbon law that all food post-brunch must be washed down with Sangria…or at least a law we made up and went along with. A cool Tapas café only a few yards from where we were staying caught our attention, I can’t quite recall the name of the place but there was free breadsticks and the sangria went down like juice. The tortilla was particularly tasty, dare I say the best I’ve had in a long time, and the quirky decor was a talking point.

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We walked down past the Gloria funicular, the system that connects downtown Lisboa to Bairro Alto, in the search of a couple of bars we had seen in our guide books. Noobai café serves food but you are most likely to visit for it’s terrace with a stunning panoramic view of the city and Rio Tejo.

Caipirinha’s + friends + this view = priceless.

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Our first views of Lisbon got 10 thumbs up from the five of us. A city break by the coast is the ideal vacation for friends who enjoy a few hours of relaxation but get their kicks from sightseeing, the perfect destination for fidgets like me.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next post, where we visit the magical town of Sintra.

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Exploring Pompeii and Climbing Vesuvius

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A couple of days before our trip to Sorrento came to an end, we spent potentially the hottest day of the holiday in Pompeii. It was one of my favourite parts of history taught at school so I couldn’t wait to visit such a historic city!

We hopped on the train (an experience in itself) and within the hour arrived in Pompei Scavi with many other tourists surrounding the station, it suddenly felt very different to where we had just come from. It’s difficult to explain unless you have been there, or perhaps I was just nervous about our impending trip up Mount Vesuvius (you know, that volcano that mostly destroyed and buried Pompeii, Herculaneum and areas nearby), but it felt very surreal being in this city after hearing so much about it.

We made a quick pit stop for coffee before heading to our transportation – because there is always time for coffee in Italy. Luckily the mini bus that picked us up was only taking us to another means of transport, the monster truck as I liked to call it. It was a bumpy road up to where they drop you off (not great for travel sickness sufferers) but the views when you get there are incredible, and that’s before you reach the top.

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You have about 90 minutes to reach the top of the volcano and back down again before your transport leaves base camp, so we made tracks and began our journey up to the top.

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Now, Mama A and I don’t do things by halves. Do as the Romans would do, I say – so we climbed to the top and down again in white attire and sandals. We were judged by many tourists passing us along the way, but how many people can say they have climbed Vesuvius in sandals?

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In all seriousness, if you’re reading this and planning to go – wear sensible clothing, we only wore what we had packed, and we hadn’t packed trainers.

Be careful where you are stepping too. Along the way you will (hopefully) spot a few fairly large craters in the gravel, and it’s a terrifying thought what could happen if you took a wrong step. There are flying bugs when you get to the top so bright colours will only attract them more, as we found out, so muted colours are better – prepare to shake it off…quite literally.

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The views were breathtaking. I felt on top of the world.

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I would love to spend more time up there to just sit and take all of it in – I mean, look at it. The perfect spot to forget about your troubles and admire one of the most beautiful views in the world.

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It’s amazing to think such views come from somewhere that buried a city and killed so many people in 79 AD. Of course the main attraction was the crater itself, so we lined up to take a look into one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It was fascinating! There isn’t much activity at the moment but apparently the government does have an evacuation plan in place if experts find cause for concern.

After spending some time taking photos it was soon time to head back down to the bus. I was aware of who else was on our bus and I would recommend doing the same thing as it’s helpful to know when it’s time to leave. Another thing to note is that there is no bathroom at the top, just in case you get desperate after all that water you will be drinking to re-hydrate…

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The journey back was a scenic but bumpy ride, and we were happy to be back on familiar ground.

We took a short walk to Scavi Di Pompei, the only archaeological site in the world that shows the appearance of an ancient Roman city as a whole. It’s incredible how the amount of ash and lapilli coated everything from houses and roads to people yet so many remains are still in one piece.

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Strolling along the cobbles, finding our way through ancient Pompeii felt like an enjoyable history trip. I didn’t particularly like History at school but I remember enjoying the Roman period, alongside Henry VIII, it stands out in my mind the most. Walking through you can imagine what life could have been like 2,000 years ago before Vesuvius erupted, as the streets are still intact (with thanks to archaeologists and vulcanologists through the years helping to restore the town) and it seems to be an ongoing project going by the building work that was present during our visit.

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I found myself getting lost, in both senses.

To wander around, wondering how the locals felt when the volcanic ash was raining on Pompeii, gave my trip to Italy a little more substance. It was such a fascinating part of history and the energy of Pompeii still felt very much alive, and it doesn’t get more real than when you come across some of the people who were buried in the lava.

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On first glance you think they are statues, but when you look a little closer you can see the emotion on their poor faces of being utterly terrified of what was happening. It’s hard to imagine how you would feel in that moment but this particular civilian next to the ‘wishing bowl’ holds a strong indication of how many felt, don’t you think?

We continued through what felt like a maze, and had a bit of fun with the columns that surrounded us –

Now you see me, now you don’t

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There were several ‘crossroads’ that could confuse even the most knowledgeable guide, so I made the most of getting lost by having a bit of fun up and down the streets. The heat was real, so we tried to make our way towards the exit, wherever that was, you just have to follow a path and hope it takes you in the right direction really.

There are areas where you can still see the size of the rooms and there was even a sink, whether this was an addition after the disaster I’m not sure, but it brought the place to life. Intricate details on ceiling are present, statues, greenery and many other aspects make the experience leaving you with so much more than what you think you know about Pompeii.

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It makes you use your imagination and brings you incredible insight to a town that despite how little is really there, can conjure up so much emotion.

There is one cafeteria for refreshments and maps to help you find your way around the site – allow at least three hours for your visit, or longer if you want to see the amphitheatre too.

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We finally found our way out, and what a view we were left with.

The memory of Pompeii lives on.

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Returning to Sorrento and with a view of Vesuvius, we enjoyed our penultimate evening by our rooftop pool with a new perspective.

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This was such a long post to write but I’ve really enjoyed taking a trip back down memory lane. I hope this series of ‘Exploring Italy’ posts have given you an idea of how much there is to see and do. 

I always love reading your comments and getting feedback on my posts, so leave me a comment below or tweet me.

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Exploring Amalfi

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As I looked back through my diary from my trip to Italy, I felt inspired to type up today’s post in ‘diary’ format (expect lots of photos)…

9am – Breakfast time! I had my usual bowl of pineapple and pear first (balancing out the bad stuff), before going up to make my bacon roll with a side of scrambled eggs – and croissants were mandatory for snacking on later.

10.30am – We wandered into town to do some shopping, popping into a local supermarkets to pick up essentials – bottled water, chocolate (Ritter Sport and Milka are the best) and a few packs of my favourite pens to feed my pen obsession.

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12.45 – We hopped onto the City Sights tour bus which drove us all along the Amalfi coast, passing places like pretty Positano, to where we ended up – Amalfi. I would highly recommend taking one of these coach tours as you can stop off along the way and visit smaller areas that are slightly less swamped by tourists, for a small price. We decided to spend our time in Amalfi as it seemed like it had more to do and I wanted to visit the Amalfi Cathedral and see its’ cloister. It’s a shame the weather was so miserable but we made the most of it despite the drizzle, after all we were in Italy and we had croissants to devour…

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You see it in films and on TV but I couldn’t believe just how beautiful the Amalfi Coast was – I felt like I was in a James Bond movie cruising along (ignore the fact that I was actually sat in a coach, far less impressive) The views were spectacular, breathtaking actually. I will say it again but Sorrento and the surrounding areas are almost too stunning to capture on camera, the photos just don’t do it justice.

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Amalfi-71.15pm – We arrived in Amalfi and took a walk in search of food and coffee. We came across this cute cafe bar overlooking the sea so we grabbed a table outside to enjoy the scenery – there was a photo shoot happening on the beach next to us which kept us entertained too (but as my dad pointed out they definitely weren’t ‘model material’ – alright Tyra Banks…)

1.45pm – After refuelling we explored the town and took a stroll through the square. The architecture was beautiful, particularly the bell tower which made it into most of my shots. It stands tall above the clean white buildings and at one point I almost gave myself neck ache from staring up at it so much.

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We didn’t do any shopping or even look in many shops, we enjoyed stepping into the local’s footsteps and walked up past the town and through a more residential area. It felt so quiet and peaceful, surrounded by all the gorgeous greenery…

4pm – It was time to head back through town and grab a snack for the road – our coach was due in at half past and was the last one back to Sorrento! Of course we had to stop off and try some gelato – and a coffee.

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4.30pm – It started to rain as soon as we got onto the bus, almost like a sign for how we felt about leaving. Camera in hand, I spent my journey back listening to music and staring out the window. Goodbye Amalfi, until next time…

5.30pm – We got back to the hotel and got changed for dinner. I threw on my favourite polka dot dress and a pair of suede wedges – it was wine time.

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In case you’ve missed the previous posts, here are the links for Sorrento and Capri’s travel posts.

Last one of the Italian adventure series next week – Pompeii and Vesuvius!

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Exploring Capri

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It was a gorgeous sunny day in Sorrento, a perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Capri.

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Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just off the Sorrentine Peninsula in a region of Italy called Campania, we set off after breakfast and took the hydrafoil over. I think it cost around 35 euros for a return journey, but prices may have changed since May 2014. Enduring stunning views along the way, we arrived about 45 minutes later and before my flip-flops could touch the ground I fell in love with the island. I mean, just look…

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I was eager to get on a boat to see the Blue Grotto, a sea cave on the island, as it’s on my bucket list to visit. As we only had a few hours we decided to spend our time exploring the main island instead, giving me an excuse to revisit in the future and check it off my list (not that you would really need a reason to go back!)

We took a walk around taking in the sights and enjoyed looking at all the lovely shops that we passed. I knew that Capri was meant to be an expensive place to visit so I was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant prices we were being lured in to. You can’t walk very far before waiters and shop workers are vying for and catching your attention (these Italians really do get away with chatting the ladies up, there were no complaints), but it was Ristorante Augusto that got our vote.

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With seafood, pasta, pizza galore on offer, you will understand why we needed some time before ordering. Our lovely waitress must have known it’s not good to make important decisions on an empty stomach so she brought over some curly crisp bites to nibble on with our iced teas. With a view to kill, we sat flicking through the menu (a few times) before finally choosing our dish. I was craving pizza. Proper pizza, and Italians do it best.

A couple of pizzas and three Iced Tea’s later, our stomachs were content. After resisting dessert, we were given free shots of Limoncello to toast our trip – if that’s not enough to persuade you to visit this serene setting then I don’t know what is. The waiters were attentive and eager to find out where we had come from, it felt like we were having a conversation with old friends! We said our goodbyes and promised to return soon.

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The queues for the cable car were long. People watching and admiring the surroundings made the time pass quicker but I began feeling anxious about the journey up. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about – and I suppose the views weren’t too bad…

The only way is up, baby.

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I felt like I had stepped out onto somewhere completely new. The crisp white buildings against the beautiful clear blue sky made the place picture perfect. The architecture was captivating, I think I spent the majority of my time with my camera in hand snapping away at every given opportunity. It felt more crowded than down below, but it’s not too hard to see why this place is a tourist hot spot. I fell in love with this floral tree at the top of the steps of the Hotel La Palma.

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The island suddenly got more expensive and luxury was at every corner. It was like walking onto Rodeo Drive, everyone looked tanned and immaculate wearing the latest designer purchase. If you don’t shop at Prada dahling then you won’t be able to shop at all…

Of course there’s always Dior, Moschino, Chanel etc if you can afford the purse damage – sorry, no Primani in sight!

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As we sat down to enjoy the scenery, I imagined what life would be like living on this island. The way of life felt simpler there, the energy was calm and peaceful and I couldn’t imagine waking up and seeing anything other than beautiful surroundings. After finishing off our bottles of water (the heat was real and my skin was turning a shade of pink), we made our way back to the cable car.

This view.

If you need only one reason, and one photo to persuade you to visit this island – it’s this. Also great if you’re obsessed with palm trees like me. I could have stayed there forever, looking out to sea in the glorious sunshine.

Alas, we had to leave. We hopped back on the cable car to ground level and soon back on the boat to Sorrento.

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You can see more of my trip to Capri (skip to 2 minutes in) here – I captured it all on video, of course!

Are you planning a trip to this part of Italy? Chat to me on Twitter @kcallen_xo 🙂

Next week I’ll be exploring the Amalfi coast!

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Exploring Sorrento

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Spring has sprung, which means sunshine and warmer weather – yay!

When the weather gets better I instantly get into holiday mode and yesterday it made me think about my favourite family holiday to date. Last May we went to Sorrento in Italy and I instantly fell in love with the place. The people, the food and drink, the culture – it felt homely and we were greeted with so many friendly faces.

As I have re-discovered so many photos (some I don’t remember even seeing before), I thought I would take a step back down memory lane and tell you about some of the best things to see and do in Napoli and surrounding areas of the beautiful Italian coast line.

Hopefully you’ll find these guides helpful and may even inspire you to make some travel plans!

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Located 45 minutes from Naples, Sorrento is a beautiful town that overlooks the Bay of Naples. We had a driver to take us from the airport to our hotel, and we were grateful that he spent most of the journey informing us on the places we were passing – including Mount Vesuvius. He even told us all about how much Sophia Loren loved Sorrento, so I knew we were in good hands.

We soon arrived at our home for the week, the Hotel Cesare Augusto. It’s central to most of the attractions in the town, including a stone’s throw away from the railway and coach station and a few steps to the main square. First impressions were great and our room had a balcony with a beautiful view of the hills. We had an itch to explore so we left our suitcases unpacked and headed out to see the sights. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t too good but we made the most of it before the rain set in!

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The Piazza Tasso is the town’s main square and offers plenty of restaurants. It was lunchtime and we only had one thing on our minds – food and coffee!

The Aurora Light is sat on the main square, next door to it’s sister restaurant Pizzeria Aurora, and the friendly waiter ushered us to a table. The menu had a lot to offer and I was particularly enticed by the avocado, bacon and mozzarella toasted sandwich. I was most excited for an Italian coffee, though! The size of the cappuccino was considerably smaller to what we are used to here in the UK. We are always being offered to upgrade to a medium or a large cup, encouraging us to perhaps drink more than we should consume, so it was a refreshing change to just have a ‘regular’ size. The Italians sure do know how to do coffee, delizioso! (My attempt at Italian got much better throughout the week, I promise!)

We discovered a cute market along one of the side streets of the square, which quickly became a favourite place to visit during our stay. From gelato and Limoncello to handbags and hand-painted plates and bowls, there was so much to look at and be tempted by. Even street performers and stunning architecture at every turn, I was mesmorised by it all.

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It didn’t feel overcrowded but I can imagine once you get into June and the high season, Sorrento would be packed with tourists. With gloomy weather setting in for the night, we bought a bottle of red wine to take back to our hotel room to enjoy on the balcony before dinner. Even with an overcast sky the views are still breathtaking, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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The Hotel Cesare Augusto is a four star establishment in the heart of Sorrento, offering great value for couples and families. From stepping through the doors on day one to the very last day, we were treated well and the staff made us feel like we were coming ‘home’ each night. Surrounded by greenery and an old town, the hotel staff are on hand to help you with your excursions and also offer a delightful menu where you can taste the local cuisine (as well as Mediterranean and International food). With 120 good sized rooms, equipped with minibar, a safe, TV and a free WiFi connection, there wasn’t much to complain about. The only negative would be the entertainment, which is possibly aimed at a slightly older generation (although I did enjoy it, I wonder what that says about me?!)

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My favourite part of the hotel was definitely the roof garden with swimming pool and private bar, boasting breathtaking views of the Gulf of Naples. Bikini, book and an Aperol Spritz – perfection.

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I usually struggle with breakfast but in Italy it was my favourite meal of the day. I started each morning with a fresh fruit salad, scrambled eggs and a sausage or bacon roll, and occasionally Nutella on toast. The lovely waiter I grew so fond of even made me a cappuccino on a couple occasions. We always snuck out some kind of sugary snack from the buffet to keep hunger at bay later on in the day, the doughnuts were definitely a favourite.

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Lemons are famously grown all year round in the communes of the Sorrento Peninsula and around the island of Capri, with the best being obtained between spring time and the end of autumn. The presence of these lemons were everywhere we went – hanging from the trees, used as decoration and inspiration on tourist souvenirs, and of course in the Limoncello. I loved seeing all of the lemon and orange trees on our walks through town, they were everywhere.

We were woken up by stunning sunlight most mornings, which we took full advantage of. This is one of my favourite parts of the town, where you can take a slightly longer stroll but capture the day to day life of locals.

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The views are captivating. From the distant views of Vesuvius to the impressive buildings we passed, this is why I fell in love with Sorrento. The serene beauty is everywhere.

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Passing the market and shops along the way, we arrive at this lovely location that offers food and drink with a view.

Picture the scene: The sun is out, sunglasses are on, you are people watching (plenty of Japanese tourists with their selfie sticks), a beverage in hand… no cares in the world!

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There is a lift to take you down to the harbour where you can wine and dine, sunbathe or take the boat over to the island of Capri. If you’re feeling more adventurous you can take the stairs from the main square in town, a steep but worthwhile walk, and there is also a train that takes you around town and down to the harbour.

It’s a completely different vibe, much more peaceful. We discovered one of my favourite eating spots at Leonelli’s Beach.

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The pizza is freshly made each day and tasted incredible. Authentic Italian pizza, washed down with a glass (or two) of Prosecco – I could have spent hours sitting there! The owner was so kind and friendly, we were chatting to him about the restaurant for what seemed like ages. He told us that it’s actually a historical bathing establishment and has been managed by Leonelli’s family for three generations. With views to admire like these, I can see why so many people love it.

After lapping up the fantastic views, we took a walk in search of a light refreshment. I found a fresh lemonade cart, where they make it right in front of you. It tasted fresh and definitely had that citrus kick to it – it’s just a shame that I spilt most of it down myself!

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After dinner we liked to explore the town at night. The restaurants were thriving with business, tourists and locals drinking their wine overlooking the square. Market stalls were still open too, if you fancied a bit of late night shopping.

What I Wore

Aside from the first and fourth day when the weather wasn’t particularly ‘sunny’, we were sun-kissed for the rest of the trip. I had overly-packed as per usual so I had plenty of options to choose what to wear each day. I dressed practically during the day, especially as we walked a lot and needed comfort, and then in the evenings I threw on a dress and wedges. I shouldn’t have been surprised by how casual the local Italian women looked during the day and night, they looked so effortlessly chic and beautiful without the makeup and high heels – I felt inspired by them!

The weather was warm, not unbearably hot, and there was a gentle wind in the air. I couldn’t wait to get my pale pins out and enjoy the sunshine! These are 3 of my favourite looks from my time spent in Sorrento itself, a mix of casual attire and slightly more glam.

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The last few tips…

One of the first things I learnt was that no driver stops at the Zebra crossing – you walk, they stop. You have to trust that they will stop and they do, and by the end of the week I felt confident in judging when I should walk and when I should wait. If in doubt, follow one of the locals.

The Italians appreciate it when you attempt to speak their language. They are some of the friendliest people in the world (from my experience) and enjoy conversation with tourists – Sorrento is a popular tourist destination so their English is pretty good.

The shopping is amazing, especially in the market, but you haven’t always got to the pay the price attached. It’s a market, so bring out your inner Del-Boy and barter – you may get more than you bargained for. It’s also worth looking around before you make a purchase, most of the shops seem to sell similar souvenirs and charge different prices.

I found that most restaurants I visited were generous with their portions. The toasted sandwich I ordered on the first day was certainly large enough to share, even if you’re after more than a snack. Sharing a pizza is common and if you’re still hungry after demolishing one, you can always order another! I wouldn’t say it was too expensive eating out, if anything it’s the drinks that bump the bill up.

Just looking back on it now, I miss it so much! 

Next week’s post is going to be about my day trip to the beautiful Capri.

Let me know on Twitter if you’ve been to this part of Italy or if you have any questions about my trip.

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