Italy

Europe, Travel

Italy is somewhere I never really expected to travel to, but wow I am so glad I got to. Each town and city surprised me more than the last. By the end of our 10 days in Italy, I was head over heels. The little alley ways, the food and the people are all part of Italy’s charm. Genoa was our first little taste of Italy, a gorgeous coastal town up the top of Italy with a population of close to 600,000. It set a high standard for the rest of the trip. Old buildings, passionate people, phenomenal architecture and Fiat Bambina’s everywhere.

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Our accommodation throughout Italy was through Air BNB which I have raved about before and cannot recommend highly enough. Willem’s Mum booked each apartment for the cities we visited and she NAILED it. Our apartment in Genoa was up in the hills, with a balcony overlooking the city. It was perfect for drinking wine and eating all the Italian food you can possibly think of – olives, cheese, prosciutto, salami and bread.

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2 nights later it was arrivederci Genoa and hello Florence. We caught the train to Florence and on our way popped in to Monterosso al Mare planning to do the Cinque Terre coastal walk but unfortunately the weather decided it didn’t want to cooperate. Instead we found shelter in the form of a beach side cafe and ate our weight in Lasagne.

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Time to emerge ourselves in Florence! Our apartment was right in the city centre so everything was within walking distance. It wasn’t love at first sight with Florence. Because it was a bigger city it didn’t have the same charm that Genoa and Monterosso had. It wasn’t until we got to the Florence Cathedral that my breath was taken away. The outside of the cathedral is insane. Such intricate detailing on every inch – inside and out. Willem, Brendan and Julie climbed to the top of the dome where they got incredible views over the city.

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After 2 nights in Florence it was time to say goodbye and make our way to Rome! We spent 4 nights in Rome and we definitely didn’t run out of things to do. Vatican City and The Colosseum were my favourites, obvious I know. Standing inside The Colosseum was such a strange feeling. The history of that place is so bizarre so to be where it all took place gave me goosebumps as soon as I walked in.

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Again, our apartment was in an amazing location, less than 100m away from The Spanish Steps. So each night we would stand at the top of the steps looking out to the city and each night people would hassle us, trying to sell us stuff. People had approached us in every city to try and sell us stuff but Rome was the worst. At the top of the steps guys would come up to girls and force bunches of fake roses in their hands and then follow them asking for money. It got so bad I just had to yell NO to get them to go away. I have very little patience with people trying to sell me crap. Our last day was spent walking across the Bridge of Angels and exploring Castel Sant’Angelo. We had lunch at the castle with a view straight across to Vatican City. A perfect way to end our time there.

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Our time in Italy was drawing to a close and we finished in style – Venice! Julie outdid herself booking our apartment in Venice. It was located down the cutest wee alleyway overlooking a canal – bellissimo! Venice was the perfect way to end our time in Italy and it was my favourite place by far. Each day we would get lost, turning down different alleyways. Venice was far more shopping orientated than I had expected but it didn’t feel too touristy. Our last night was fantastic. We got dinner and decided to eat it by the water. Willem was leading us and it seemed like we were getting lost and further away from the water but ended up in a perfect spot by ourselves on the waters edge watching boats and gondolas go past.

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Well Italy, well done. I wasn’t sure what to expect but you blew me away and I can’t wait to get back.

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Thanksgiving

New York

On Thursday November 28th we got to experience a holiday, truly unique to America. Thanksgiving. We had planned to spend Thanksgiving with our American friends Mike and Armyy as well as kiwi girl Jackie. By now we were living in a new neighbourhood at a place we had found on Air Bnb. As long as hosts are regularly checking their e-mails you can book into an Air Bnb place on the same day you book it.¬†Which we did as we were cutting it fine. So we stayed in Greenpoint for a week, which was such a cool little place. It was close to Williamsburg and a short commute to Manhattan. There were bars and food places everywhere and was always buzzing with activity. The place we stayed was a massive room and extremely warm which is all two freezing kiwis can ask for!unnamedEvery Thanksgiving there is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade which is a huge deal over here. They have giant balloons, bands and performances, it goes for miles. We had planned to head the parade which was in Manhttan from Greenpoint early in the morning. We had read that you need to get there at like 6am if you want to see anything. So I set my alarm for 5am. We woke up 9am, oversleeping by 4 hours! Lucky or us it was televised, so caught all the action. I want to try and go to the actual thing next year though. Quick tangent, the day before Thanksgiving we headed into Manhattan and ended up at Grand Central Station. Do not do that the day before Thanksgiving. I repeat, DO NOT do that the day before Thanksgiving. It was absolute chaos. Chaos consisting of New Yorkers freaking out they weren’t going to make it home in time for Turkey Day. IMG_2149 After watching the parade on TV we headed over to Mike and Armyy’s house to start the festivities. I helped Mike in the kitchen to prepare all the food. We had Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, peas, corn and gravy. Delish! I feel a theme coming along, like most of my posts are going to revolve around food. Anyways, we also had these things that Americans call biscuits but to me they were a cross between a croissant and a scone. Tasty none the less but we had them with the Turkey etc. IMG_2159 It was a great day filled with too much food, watching Black Fish and playing Sephora themed Monopoly. Part way through our feasting we decided we’d head to the Black Friday Sales at midnight just to experience the madness. So after winning Monopoly (I kicked ass btw) we headed off to a mall in Queens in the freezing cold (the cold is another reoccurring theme of mine, apologies).

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Black Friday was everything I had hoped. I didn’t buy much, but I did get to see one human being throw a chair at another human being. Black Friday = experienced!