The first two weeks in London seemed to absolutely fly by, and just as I was making myself comfortable and learning the city around me, last Wednesday it was time to pick up and go on my first little vaycay to none other than the beautiful Italy!
My boyfriend and a friend of mine from Australia both came along, and we spent a bellisimo 5 nights in the gorgeous Cinque Terre region, along the Italian riviera coast line. If I had to describe the holiday to you in three words they would be: Beach, Pasta, Gelato. That pretty much captures the holiday as a whole. I have never eaten so many carbs in such a short space of time before but I absolutely loved it! I was in pasta heaven and as a mostly-vegetarian eater, I constantly had an abundance of meal options to choose from wherever we went, which is quite a rarity for me.
The temperatures were around the 32-35 degree celcius mark for the first three days but during the last two days the temperatures reached 40 degrees which was quite exhausting. I love summer and heat and don’t get me wrong, I put up with 40+ degree days all the time in the Melbourne summer, but the great thing about Melbourne is that it never lasts for long and there is always a cool change around the corner. Here it just seemed like the heat was non-stop and there was no wind, so I was really looking forward to coming back to a nice and cool London. Of course, just my luck, London was having a little heat wave of it’s own with over 30 degrees! Nevermind, just like home, there’s always a cool change around the corner in London too (we’re a perfect match, London and I).
Naturally with all this heat, most of our time was spent lying out on our very-expensive-but-totally-worth-it beach chairs, soaking up the sun and playing in the crystal clear waters of Monterosso. I still can’t quite get used to the ‘European sand’ which consists of just rocks – there is no such thing as walking gracefully along all those pebbles, I looked more like an awkward, limping sea-hobbit than one of my fellow Italian beach goddesses, not to mention that now my feet are crying out for an intense pedicure session. I’m just hoping that before my next beach holiday, those funny-looking swimming shoes will magically reappear on the fashion scene making them publicly acceptable for people between the ages of 5-60 too. One can only dream…..
Cinque Terre (which literally translates to ‘Five Towns’) is also full of beautiful hiking trails and you can walk from one town to the next along the breathtaking coastline. There are easy, medium & hard trails and we managed to complete the easy one from Riomaggiore to Manarola on our second day (whilst hungover and in flip flops) and it felt like more of a nice and scenic walk than anything remotely strenuous. The next day we decided to take on something a little tougher and walk a medium-level trail from Monterosso to Vernazza and that was definitely a huge effort. I have never climbed so many stairs in my life, especially not in such heat, so when we finally got to Vernazza I felt so proud and accomplished that it has now motivated me to seek out some more hiking trails around the London area and see if it’s something that I may really enjoy doing (if anyone knows of any good ones please let me know).
In between exploring towns and lying out on the beach, we mostly ate ridiculous amounts of gelato (the winners were pistachio and Nutella flavours) and hopped from one pasta restaurant to the next, filling our bellies with local vino and carby goodness. Our last night was spent in Genoa as that is where we flew in and out from, and we spent most of our time in the Porto Antico area which was full of billion dollar yachts and yep, more delicious gelato.
Other than the food and weather, my favourite thing about Italy was the cats and dogs (seriously!). They were absolutely everywhere and dogs are allowed into every store, restaurant and hotel without question, whilst the cats can be found sprawled along cold shop floors or casually sitting at cafe tables. Amazing! I’m so used to Australia where it’s so strict with animals (and everything else) and tight OH&S regulations mean that animals aren’t welcome anywhere, so being the animal lover that I am, I was in absolute kitty & pup heaven!
Unfortunately it was home time come Monday morning. I must say I have never heard anything good about RyanAir and being quite the hesitant flyer that I am, I wasn’t sure what to expect from our flights. I think because I already expected the worst, I wasn’t quite surprised by the strict service (I felt like we were being herded onto the plane like cows). Despite my expectations (or lack of) I was mostly taken aback by the extreme upselling that they conducted during the flights – from going into the finer details of explaining the ‘delicious, succulent hot food’ available for purchase, to selling scratchie cards, fake ‘vapour’ cigarettes that you can smoke onboard and international sim cards. I found it amusing more than anything else, but overall the flight was quite pleasant once I put my headphones in and blocked out the constant PA sales interruptions. I’m not going to lie, for the crazy low price that I paid, I’ll be flying RyanAir again and it will probably be sooner rather than later.
All in all it was an amazing, relaxing holiday and an absolutely perfect way to introduce us to the endless possibilities of a European long-weekend getaway. I can’t wait to see where we will go to next…….
The London New Girl