Vacation Blooper – Blue Grotto Snuggles

Being American, I love to hug, snuggle, cuddle, whatever.  But as one of my favorite movies so aptly puts it, “No hugging, dear. I’m British. We only show affection to dogs and horses”*, not all cultures are as huggy as well, me.  So why is this important?  Well, entering the Blue Grotto in Capri involves very close quarters potentially with strangers.

When the seas are gentle and the Blue Grotto is open, about 20 – 25 row boats are ready outside the grotto waiting to accept passengers from other boats or from those taking the stairs (like moi).  Since the physical entry to the grotto itself is fairly small, everyone, including the boatmen have to lay completely flat upon entry and then can pop back up once inside the glittering blue expanse.  Fast forward to me and Scube getting in a boat with an Austrian couple in their late 40s.

Knowing we had to lay down I said to the woman, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it, we’ll all be friends here after this experience!” with a huge grin on my face.  Her face however was ashen and horrified.  She flat out refused to lay on me.  She cowered in a small nook on the boat inches from my spread legs and cuddle ready arms and at the last moment tipped her head back to avoid injury.  Once inside the grotto, her no touching policy continued.  And I get it, not everyone wants to lay on a young, chesty American woman who’s bosom is ready to welcome anyone with open arms in these circumstances, but in the spirit of new experiences, would my breasts have killed her?  Or maybe they would have?  We will never know.

blue grotto

 

*The cult classic Amanda Bynes film What a Girl Wants featuring Colin Firth…swoon.

Vacation Blooper – Napoli Edition

I’m trying something new here.  Sometimes on vacation, really funny things happen as a result of something I or Scube do, and felt that these little anecdotes haven’t quite made it into our travel stories.  So while this isn’t a video of me falling on my face or scaring Chris Pratt with a fake dinosaur, this is a silly story from our last full day in Italy.

Our hotel in Naples didn’t offer free breakfast, and since hotel breakfasts are wildly overpriced (why is cereal $12?!?!), we decided to go out and do as the locals do.  To be a local in Italy means walking up to the bar and ordering your pastry first.  Once you eat your pastry, you order some form of an espresso, and then wash it down with a small, free of charge water.  Well I don’t like coffee or espresso for that matter, but I am however in love with drinking chocolate (Italy’s version of hot cocoa). So in my awful broken Italian (beyond Grazie! Ciao! and Prego! I’m at a loss), I tried to order a drinking chocolate.  “Vorrei questro cioccolata, por favore?”  Well, L-O-L.  This poor bartender was sent into a tailspin.  It was like I asked him to conjur Willy Wonka as a patronus with Silvio Berlusconi in the role of Grandpa Joe.  He looked at a shaker full of cocoa powder, found it was empty and started fumbling around behind the bar.  The elderly man who owned the shop started yelling at him in Italian.  What I gathered back and forth was “where is the cocoa??”  and “how do you not know how to make a cioccolata you fool?!”  After a lot of hand wringing, the elderly man escaped to the back and returned with a massive bag of cocoa powder and starting frothing the milk.  Meanwhile, in my head, and unable to articulate to these two adorable men who didn’t speak a lick of English, I was saying “I just wanted a small little cup of drinking chocolate…”  Instead, I was left on the sidelines watching this hilarious little horror transpire.

Scuba Steve was squeezing my hand hard as we were both thinking the same thing, which was “OMG Sara, what have you done??  These poor men.”  Cue 5 minutes later and I had been served a pint glass, an actual, full blown pint glass full of piping hot cocoa.  Adopting an “I don’t want to offend” attitude, I downed the crap out of that cocoa.  Granted, it was delicious, but feeling so full from my chocolate pastry, I was not expecting to drink 16 ounces of hot chocolate at 9am.  Scube was shocked, but let’s be real here, I can down a disgusting amount of chocolate in all forms with feeling zero digestive side effects.

And that my friends, is one of my many vacation bloopers.

donut

Pic of the Week – Capri

Capri is an absolutely magical and beautiful island with so much to offer.  I’ll be blogging about our trip to Italy in the upcoming weeks, and I hope you followed along via Instagram as we traveled around Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

Below, the pic of the week is taken from atop Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island, in the town of Anacapri, which can be reached via walking, or a 13 Euro round trip chairlift ride.  The views are breathtaking during your ride up, down, and upon arrival at the top.  Enjoy!

View  of the Il Faraglioni from atop Mount Solaro in Anacapri
View of the Il Faraglioni from atop Mount Solaro in Anacapri

And we’re off!

Hi all!  We are off to Capri and the Amalfi Coast for the next few weeks.  I’ve scheduled a few posts, but you can follow our adventures on Instagram @appetite4travel.

Thanks for sticking with us, and new adventures will be posted soon, including a guest blogger’s scuba diving adventure, our trip to St. John, and many others.  Obviously, Italy included!

planes
I want to fly in that heart plane with a dancing bear and monkey

The Beauty of a Walking Tour

Ah the walking tour.  If you’re anything like me you’re probably thinking that a walking tour equals an umbrella wielding guide in an old colored woolen jacket trying to coral a gaggle of foreign tourists down the street while shouting “this way! this way!”.

Well, walking tours have started to get a bit of a face lift, and are really worth using to your advantage.  I know there are plenty of free apps out there that provide maps and walking tour information, but when visiting a foreign country, my husband and I like being social.  We like meeting new people and talking with inevitably the local who is leading the tour. Tour guides are full of local knowledge and always provide recommendations that are off the beaten the path.

My main disclaimer here is that not all travel destinations will offer or even need a walking tour, but if you’re in a city, there’s a fair chance you can find a ton that fit your taste and requirements.

So why walking tours? They are a great way to get acclimated to a new city, as well as find new areas, restaurants, sample local fare, and get really great tidbits.  When we touched down in Sydney, Australia, the first thing we did (after we showered, changed, and face-timed my parents) was a walking tour…and it was free!  For three hours twelve of us explored Sydney with an incredible guide during the I’m Free Walking Tour.   The tour hit on all the sweet spots, and as someone who loves ice cream, the tour guide gave us a fantastic gelato recommendation (the Robert Brownie Jr was to die for!).  Since a walking tour is just a taste, my husband and I were able to identify areas of the city or landmarks we wanted to explore further, and were thrilled that we were able to spend our first day staring at the Sydney Opera House.  Granted – we had a whole week to explore Sydney, but what should you do if you’ve got only 24 hours to spare and are moving on to some place new?

aussie gelatoWe have also been in that situation* and there are many paid tours out there that focus on culture immersion (predominantly around food and wine).  I also find this to be an incredible way to see hole in the wall little spots and find out what the heck this place you’ve decided to visit is all about.  My husband and I put that to the test in Lisbon, Portugal, where we only had about a day and a half to really explore the city.  As a result – we chose a half day walking tour with Inside Lisbon that involved stops at local pastry shops, butcheries, wine and cheese shops, and Ginjhina bars littered throughout.  We also learned about the city’s history as it related to the Moor’s, and were taken to so many different neighborhoods along the way, including a ferry ride to a great seaside restaurant for lunch.  While I’d like to think we would have ambled in for a shot of ginjhina on our own, knowing the backstory really made us feel like one of the locals.

pastries belemSo while we love a walking tour, they’re not for everyone, and they’re not always available.  However, they offer a great opportunity to help you not only acclimate yourself to a city, but immerse yourself in it, even if you only have 24 hours or so to enjoy it.  Personally, I’m looking forward to our next tour – a walking food tour of Italy.  Stay tuned for that!

*Note: we also went on a walking tour in Seville, Spain, separate post on that later!

Renting a car on vacation? The dos and don’ts

Inevitably, you may take a trip that requires you rent a car.  While my husband and I are officially over that (thanks Portugal), sometimes it’s necessary to see the really cool, beautiful site that you may not be able to view without one.  So once you decide that renting a car is a must – here are a few things you should take care of first.

  1. Sign up for their free preferred or gold member status.
    1. Many rental car agencies Avis, Hertz, National, have their own type of free preferred status.  Ever see those car commercials where renters seemingly just walk to their cars and avoid lines?  That’s what this will allow you to do, and will very much come in handy in the US and abroad.
  2. If planning your trip far enough in advance – watch for coupons that result from joining rental car rewards programs for free.  Who doesn’t love a discount, right?
  3. Determine if you have a credit card that provides additional car rental insurance
    1. American Express commonly provides this with many of their cards, so check to see if some other credit card vendors provide this service.  Having this option will save you a bit of money as you can avoid paying rental agency fees for insurance.
  4. If traveling abroad, go old school.  Print off driving directions before your visit, download static maps, or spring for the navigation system.  No need to use precious data if you don’t have to.
  5. If abroad, make sure you have enough local currency on-hand or a credit card with a chip
    1. When gassing up – many gas stations only accept credit cards that have a chip in them, if your card does not work, make sure you have enough cash to avoid higher than expected gas charges from the rental company
  6. Video and photograph your car before you agree to take it off the lot…and when you return it
    1. We learned from an awful experience that rental car agencies uses minor scrapes on the car to get additional money out of you – even for scrapes under the car!  So definitely don’t bottom out, but in order to avoid additional charges or fees, video everything
  7. If you can’t drive stick, don’t rent a stick car (seems obvious, right?)
  8. Be careful and enjoy your trip!

IMG_6236*Just an FYI – I do not get paid to promote any companies on this blog (I’m so little! I have one follower!) but any links are provided to companies I have used and trust during my travels.

Hello world!

Hi world, it’s me!  One of many explorers.  I have seen only a fraction of your beauty and hope that when I go, my future grand kids will say how cool Grandma and Grandpa were.

With this blog I’m not going to pretend to provide you with tips and tricks you’d see on sites like The Points Guy (though follow-him, his insights are amazing), or provide you with the tools to track down the cheapest airfare and the best hotels.  My goal is to tell you about my travels, some food I’ve eaten along the way and the successful or not so successful attempts at recreating them at home.

I love to shop and I love dessert so undoubtedly shopping and dessert will be featured heavily wherever possible.

So sit back and relax, and come on this journey with me.