Travel

Remembering the Amalfi Coast

It seems like an eternity ago now that my feet touched down on Italian soil after a dream Greek escapade. In reality it was only 5 months ago that our plane took off from Santorini and landed in Naples via Athens. All those memories come flooding back to me now. The ease of changing countries in Europe, the splendour of short flights and the eagerness to see everything that a country has to offer. I love to travel. To expand my horizons and explore new places with open eyes, a yearning soul and a refreshed mind. Every day to awaken and get excited for all that is planned as well as the unexpected surprises. To travel is to live.

Flashback to the end of March and the start of beautiful spring weather. We didn’t spend much time in Naples until after visiting the majestic Amalfi Coast so our first point of interest was finding the bus that would take us directly to Sorrento. That was our base for this leg of our trip and a glorious town where lemons grew in abundance and their scent filled the air. Specialty shops sold limoncello and you could walk down long, picturesque streets and shop for all the souvenirs your heart desires.

We took a guided tour of the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento in an 8-seater mini van and our extremely confident driver Massimo who navigated all the twists and turns of the road with great precision and confidence. Our first stop was Positano, the jewel of the Amalfi Coast, with its vast mountain vistas and multi-coloured houses stacked on top of each other like Rubik’s cubes. We were only given an hour to spend in that enchanting town with sparkling blue water but since we were there so early in the morning it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.

Next on the tour was the thriving and extremely beautiful town of Amalfi. The crowds in late-March were plentiful and it would be crazy to imagine what goes on there in the peak of summer! Our driver gave us about 1.5 hours there so we quickly ran up the steps and entered the miraculous Duomo di Amalfi. The interiors of the cathedral were intricate and ornate and I highly recommend a visit even if you’re pressed for time. Amalfi had everything one could possibly want and more. For the brief amount of time I got to walk its streets I could already see that this town was pure gold in terms of lifestyle, shopping, food and relaxation.

For lunch our tour guide took us to the oldest and most marvellous hillside town of Scala where we devoured a light three-course meal. The views from that place were to die for!

Finally we made our last stop in gorgeous Ravello. The home of two lavish villas – Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo, though we only had enough time to visit the latter and what can I say, every square mile of that place was perfection. Our visit was just before the flowers started to bloom but nonetheless the views totally impressed us.

When researching which tours to take along the Amalfi Coast we were spoilt for choice. As it was low-season we waited until we got to Sorrento and then booked our tour from the Information Centre next to the main train station. The company we went with is Amalfi Coast Tour Select. Our driver was witty and charismatic, knowledgable, precise and with a great sense of humour. His driving along the winding roads was incredible. In my experience a tour is always the most memorable part of a trip and having the right tour guide is ultra important. On this occasion, we were thrilled with our tour even though it was a bit of a rush from start to finish. The more you see the better, right?

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Travel

Love Affair with NYC

One of the highlights for me this year was accomplishing my dream of visiting the Big Apple and feeling the excitement and energy of beautiful New York City. For years I felt a gravitational pull towards NYC, mostly out of curiosity for everything I studied about at uni, read in books/magazines, watched in films and heard in music lyrics. So this past summer, while I was on vacation for the first time in the US, it was obvious to me that NYC had to be on the top of my travel list.

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During the summer, New York was absolutely sweltering, but somehow that didn’t stop me from getting the most out of my sightseeing checklist. I felt so full of energy and so eager to see with my own eyes all the major tourist attractions. For me this included cruising past the Statue of Liberty on the free Staten Island Ferry, seeing the Empire State Building from the top of the Rockefeller Center, seeing the bright colours of Times Square and walking through stunning Central Park, often referred to as the “lungs” of the city

I certainly did a lot of research prior to the trip to make sure I got the most out of such a long-distance journey. It wasn’t easy venturing into Manhattan every day on the subway from Brooklyn but having everything clearly mapped out and arranged on paper really helped me. Between riding on their well-organised bus system and sweating it out in the underground subway stations (before boarding the air-conditioned trains), New York City had me completely hooked from Day 1. I can’t describe exactly what it was that made me fall in love with it, but I know that reminiscing about my holiday there always makes me smile from cheek to cheek.

My advice to you is to do your research before your trip because not only can that save you a lot of money, it can also make you feel much more at ease having a sightseeing plan in the fast-paced craziness that is New York! For example, admission to many top attractions is free or at a reduced cost, if you go on certain days/times of the week. This is mostly what I planned my days around and it ended up saving me quite a lot of $$. So just do your research and you can’t go wrong.

New York City has it all, from world-class art galleries/museums to top-notch theatre performances and fine dining. While walking its streets I had the distinct impression that this really is the city where dreams can come true and anything is possible. Frank Sinatra definitely got it right in the lyrics – “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York” and I know that returning to this crazy concrete jungle will be something I simply have to do, just preferably not in the summer!