Posted in Holiday Happiness

Day Trip to The Aeolian Islands

A day trip to the Aeolian islands is a great thing to do whilst visiting Italy. These are several islands of Volcanic origin are located off the northern coast of Sicily. Easily accessible from Sicily the islands can also be reached from the town of Tropea, south Italy. Several companies offer the trip within the town departing from the local harbour. If my memory serves me right we paid around €40 (slightly less for a child) for our day trip to three of the islands.

Boat in Tropea harbour
The boat in Tropea harbour

Departing early morning from the harbour in Tropea, the sun was glistening on the water whilst we excitedly boarded our boat for the day. There were several boats leaving from here but finding the tour we booked was easy as there were plenty of people around to guide you.

We were embarking on a 12 hour round trip to see three of the islands in total – Volcano, Lipari and Stromboli. I have to confess here that my memory is pretty sketchy with timings of this trip, as in can’t really remember how long we spent sailing to each place and how long we were there (this is why I’ve just bought a travel journal for future trips). I know we were quite a while reaching the Aeolian islands, well over an hour.

Leaving Tropea port
Tropea harbour as we left

As we left the port we were soon treated to a view of Tropea town. I wished at this Point I had taken my DSLR for some better shots. But I still managed to get a photo that captured just how magnificent it looks perched on the rocks of the Calabria coastline.

Tropea town from the water
View of Tropea from the water

Aeolian islands stop 1 – Volcano

First stop on our day trip to the Aeolian islands was Volcano, an island known for its sulphur and wild panorama. Volcanic activity here has been going on for thousands of years and as we got off the boat you could smell a strange smell of sulphur in the air.

We wandered along past a few little shops and restaurants until we reached the therapeutic mud baths and hot springs the islands famed for. Unfortunately you have to be over 16 I think they said to bathe in them. I have to be honest though I wasn’t really feeling it anyway so the fact my son is only 11 was a bonus. That said they are suppose to have many beneficial healing properties for skin conditions.

Therapeutic mud baths Volcano
People bathing in the mud baths

Aside from climbing the creator and a bit of wandering there wasn’t alot else to do. So we stopped for pizza before boarding the boat to our second destination.

Aeolian islands stop 2 – Lipari

Lipari is the largest and most populated of the Aeolian islands. It makes a great base if you want to visit all the islands in your own time. We arrived in a busy port with a lovely looking pastel seafront.

Arriving in Lipari on our day trip to the Aeolian islands
First glance at Lipari

We meandered up the winding streets admiring local art work displayed in the shops. I am always interested in independent artists when I travel, you can pick up some lovely art pieces to remind you of your trip. I bought a wall hanging made from washed up pottery pieces and driftwood found on the beach.

Local art work in Lipari
I bought the one in the top left corner

We soon stumbled across Lipari Cathedral, Known as Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartholomeo di Lapari in Itallian (a bit of a mouthful!) Located right in the heart of Lipari, the cathedral is the oldest and largest church on the islandIt stands proudly at the top of a large staircase. My son lazily waited mid way up protesting that he could see if very well from where he was ha ha!

Lipari Cathedral
Walking up the steps to Lipari Cathedral

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering some more. Lipari is a pretty town and as we were there the end of May it felt very laidback much like Tropea. I expect in July and August like most places it is much busier. Out of the three Aeolian islands we visited, Lipari was my favourite.

Wandering the streets of Lipari
Wandering in Lipari

Aeolian islands stop 3 – Stromboli

Back on the boat we headed to our third and final Aeolian islands of the day, Stromboli. Stromboli contains one of the three active volcanos in Italy. Most eruptions consisted of small gas explosions creating lava to run down the rim. For this reason night tours are popular in hope of seeing the lava glowing. It is said that Mount Stromboli has been in continuous eruptions for the past 2000 years.

Mount Stromboli from our boat
View of Stromboli from our boat

Stromboli has recently hit the news (a week ago) after it errupted sadly causing a fatality to a hiker. In a guided group it is possible to hike up the volcano. We were only there less than two hours so just had a short look about and some more pizza! (How I didn’t turn into a pizza on this trip I don’t know?!!)

There was just enough time for a few quick photos at the foot of the island before we boarded the boat for the trip back to Tropea. My son picked up a small piece of volcanic rock as a souvenir.

On Stromboli, just before leaving

Would you like to visit the Aeolian islands? We think a day trip was perfect. Have you visited one of the islands I haven’t? I would love to hear.

Next stop on my Italian travels will be Venice…. stay tuned 😉

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Travelling as a Single Parent With One Child

Travelling as a single parent with one child wasn’t something I thought I would ever do. It was a decision I was faced with after I split up with my sons dad when he was just 18 months old. As an Aquarius I’ve always had that needing for adventure and excitement and as daunting as it was I wasn’t about to let the fact I was a single parent stop me.

Single parent  travelling
Paphos when my son was younger

Over the years my son and I have taken many holidays just the two of us and whilst I have a grateful heart and lots of memories it has come with challenges along the way…

Packing…

This has got easier now he’s older but travelling alone with a writhing toddler, full size suitcase and pram is not fun. But you need so much stuff! I will never forget the time I went to Orlando and shopped way too much… I had to wear wedges to the airport as they wouldn’t fit in my case. My son was just 3yrs old, I also had two full size cases on this occasion plus the pram and a wild toddler. This still unsurprisingly wins my most hellish journey to date. I would not recommend wedges and a toddler full stop, let alone in an airport. Packing light is the answer… these days hand luggage only and a small back pack each win the day. It also helps that he can now manoeuvre his own luggage.

You are the only set of eyes

I guess this is not too dissimilar to at home only throw in anything water related and you are on pins… you are the only set of eyes on him. This has got easier as he’s got older and can swim well but none the less I still can’t fully relax without constantly looking up to check on him. When he was little it was even harder. Want a drink? toilet? This involves battling a wet squirming tantruming toddler out the pool to go with you. Aside from this you have the whole leaving your stuff unattended drama or face loosing your sunbed.

Night times are lonely

When he was little I sat in the kiddy disco on my own with a glass of red watching him join in. I always felt really self conscious and definitely lonely. It was hard sitting around the seemingly other perfect happy families and often I would have a little cry back at the room once my son was in bed. Fast forward to him being older and discos are not his thing. We now get to go wander out and choose somewhere to eat but hanging around after food is not his thing either… once the meals done he’s bored. We end up back in the room relatively early whilst he uses the Wi-Fi to watch some crap YouTuber and I read my book.

I am his entertainment

He’s lonely… I watch other siblings play together in the pool. Chasing each other in and out the sea, they will forever have each other. I watch dads energetically entertain their children with slight envy. I’m his only friend… so you know what that means? I don’t get a minute. He needs me to play and entertain him and I do. Whilst he was small and could jump into the pool and into my arms it was fun, I would chase him round being a shark. But it’s not the same now he’s older… try as I might he calls me boring.

He’s desperate to make friends

Okay so maybe is more due to the fact he’s an only child… but he lingers round other kids desperate to make friends. Talk about pulling on my heart strings. Sometimes he does make a friend and my moaning for 10 minutes on the sunbed soon turns into begging him to spend 10 minutes with me. I can’t win. I’m either at his becon call or he would sooner spend time with some kid he has just met.

Hotel is everything

Get the hotel wrong and your in trouble. My days of wanting to go to a resort where kids entertainment are bouncing round the pool like they’ve drank 10 cans of red bull are long gone. I don’t want to be cohurst into doing water aerobics with 15 people I don’t know who probably don’t exercise all year! No offence. I’m all about the joining in and making the most of it… but that’s not my idea of fun so now my sons older I avoid such resorts. But it’s a fine line… finding a hotel that ticks boxes for him and me is tricky.

Excursions

Booking excursions is a great thing to break up your holiday. But not always so simple when you are the loan parent. Take recently on a trip to Italy… we booked an excursion to see Stromboli volcano afternoon into evening as we wanted to see the eruptions at night. But I soon realised this would entail us walking back from the port on our own at 11pm at night in the pitch black. Suffice to say we switched to a day one. These are the kind of things you have to consider when holidaying as a single parent… is what your doing safe?

But let’s look at it another way…

He’s my travel buddy

My son, my friend… maybe not forever but I’m grateful of somebody to go travelling with. Just the two of us get to decide on destinations and that’s exciting, we’ve been to some amazing places.

Mature beyond his years

Travelling just the two of us means he’s had to step up and be there for me. Whilst I try to remain the adult I have to confess I do lean on him at times. My son has an outstanding sense of direction and is very mature beyond his years in navigating us around new places, using public transport and communicating with people with an air of confidence I find inspiring. This comes from travelling so much from a young age, these skills will no doubt aid him later in life. I also won’t be worried when he leaves the country (okay maybe a little bit still!)

I can afford more

The cost of taking only one child is less and this has influenced luxury holiday choices. I also can’t actually remember the last time we went away only once in a year. Yep we share so many magical holiday memories that we will both forever treasure.

Conclusion…

Life may not always be the journey we planned but never let that stop you doing what you want to do. Going away as a single parent was daunting initially, hard work at times but it’s oh so worth it. We’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.

Travelling with my son
More recently in Italy

If your reading this and your yet to make that leap of travelling alone with your child, just go for it. Go explore, discover and try new things. You get 18 years if your lucky before they won’t want to go away with you anymore… make the most of them.

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Personal Development

Do You Have a Bucket List?

Do you have a bucket list? An actual physical written down one or is it just a mental record in your head? Confession… a while back I bought this bucket list book. I proudly shared it on my Instagram but then guess what… I never wrote in it! My bucket list remained in my phone. Whoops!

Bucket list book

You see the book is really lovely and whilst I’m happy to record it in my phone writing my life long dreams in the book feels like a serious commitment. Why would that be a problem you ask? Isn’t a bucket list suppose to be things you want to do?

Well of course but it doesn’t mean the list doesn’t scare me in more ways than one. Firstly some things on it I’m not sure how I will ever achieve them from a cost point of view. Secondly some things actually terrify me! Like many peoples bucket list it’s a list of my wildest dreams… places I want to go, things I want to achieve, moments that will make my soul soar.

Record your goals

Inside the pages of this book there is space to record the goal, your inspiration and then ultimately when you achieved it. So as you can see once it’s written down you have a commitment to making it happen. That or forever be faced with a record of things I dreamed of doing but never achieved. Yikes!

It just so happens a week today I will be crossing off a major bucket list thing – skydiving… yup, I’m going to throw myself out of a plane and honestly I keep getting little bolts of pure fear through me when I think about it. I’ve already paid for it and I’ve already put it back once! If there was ever a time to be filling out this bloody bucket list book it’s now.

If not now when?

There’s no time like the present so they say… so I’ve finally done just that, I’ve spent the afternoon officially filling in the pages. It’s a known fact that you are more likely to achieve goals if you have wrote them down, so go me!

No way am I being left with a book of forgotten dreams… so let’s hope that theory is right! Here’s to entry number 1… My skydive for the charity MS Trust. You can read my story here and sponsor me if you wish – https://www.justgiving.com/Rachael-Scott11

100 bucket list things

Did I manage 100? No… when it came down to it I realised I am doing pretty darn good anyway, I’ve already done tons of things I dreamed of. Had I started this earlier it would definitely be full now but I’m kind of glad it’s not as it means I can add more things as and when I am inspired to.

Have you crossed something off your bucket list you never thought possible? Tell me about it in the comments!

Rachael 🙂 x

Fancy a bucket list book? Etsy has some great options, check them out!

Posted in Holiday Happiness

20 Reasons You Should Book a Disney Cruise


Here I share 20 reasons why you should book a Disney cruise but really there are too many to truly mention… I mean anything Disney is always a good idea! In 2015 I was lucky enough to go on a Disney cruise. It was some time ago now but it is still embedded in my mind as one of my best trips ever. Disney cruise ships really are something special.

Disney Cruise Line We cruised on the Disney Fantasy for a week around the western Caribbean; stopping off in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas – Castaway Cay. This is based on my experience on the Fantasy but I hear all the ships are out of this world.

1. You Will Feel Like Royalty on a Disney Cruise

From the moment you get on the ship you are treated like royalty. Waltzing down the red carpet to board whilst they announce you by name to a round of applause may not be everyone’s cup of tea but lets just say you definitely feel special. Your waiters get to know you and your preferences personally as they rotate restaurants with you each night. Your stateroom host quickly learns your names and greets you with a smile always asking if there is any more they can do for you.

2. The Interior is a Work of Art

I don’t even know where to start here but the attention to detail on a Disney cruise is something else. Right from when you step into the ship’s stunning three-story atrium, decked in regal shades of gold and blue with fine details adorning every element inside your know no expense has been spared. It’s an entrance one might expect in a grand hotel… as a first time cruiser I was in awe. From the intricate mosaics around the ship, the themed restaurants, to the beautiful theatre. There is too much to mention… its simply grand and exquisite through out.

Disney Cruise Interior

3. Door Decorating Fun

Yes this is a thing! Be sure to decorate your stateroom door Disney style. I read this before going so I was prepared. Disney don’t like you to use tape so be sure to use magnets, the doors are metal. You can make life easy by purchasing pre made designs on Etsy (just search Disney cruise door magnets) but I’ve always loved crafting so I had a go myself. It’s fun to explore the ship and look at all the designs.

4. Magic Portholes

So we had an interior stateroom but it was suffice. I mean are you really going to sit in your room on a Disney Cruise? It was a little tricky getting ready some nights with a hyperactive 7 year old though ha ha! I must mention here the magic porthole… a “window” to the world with a real-time view outside the ship. But that’s not all… Disney characters appear in the porthole too! Yes you might just see Tinkerbell fly across… I was freaking out spotting them all. Well done Disney, a great addition for those who can’t stretch the budget to an outside cabin ha ha! I would totally book an interior room again.

Disney Cruise Stateroom

5. Delicious Dining Experiences

Ohhh the restaurants… guests have many options to choose from when it comes to dining. You are given a dining rotation and depending on the length of your cruise you may visit some restaurants more than once. You can opt out on some nights like we did if you would prefer a more casual affair like Cabanas. It was nice to have a break from dressing for dinner plus whilst all the guests were dining we enjoyed numerous goes on the aquaduck without queuing. All the restaurants were amazing, not just the food but the decor too. None were quite as delightful as Animators palate though – you get to draw your own character and watch in delight as it comes alive as part of the show.

Disney Cruise Dining

6. Adult Only Dining

If you want to experience fine dining (I should say even finer dining really) head to one of the adult only restaurants – Palo or Remy. We dined in Palo on our last night and the food was divine… the service again was impeccable. The waiter was very patient explaining things on the menu to us. The setting was very serene and had we of made a reservation prior to getting on the cruise we could have enjoyed a view of the sunset out of the wall of windows (book in advance!) but none the less I fully recommend it anyway.

7. Deck 11 For Sun & Fun

I have to confess I had a slight love hate relationship with deck 11, ha ha! It’s mayhem for parents, heaven for kids! This is where to pool is, the aqua duck (water coaster) can be ridden, back to back Disney movies play on a huge screen. Little ones can splash about in Nemo’s reef and you can if your kid will let you… try and relax on the sunbeds. Also it is home to some of the more fast food options you may want in the day available from the likes of Flo’s cafe and Luigi’s pizza. Deck 11 is super fun but a few hours and you need some headspace! The aqua duck is awesome… be sure to ride it in the dark too as it is all lit up!

Disney Cruise Deck 11

8. Characters Galore on a Disney Cruise!

Love your Disney characters? (of course you do!) well I think I interacted more with characters on the cruise than I ever have. You never know when you might bump into them… which is super exciting! also there are plenty of opportunities for character meet and greets. My son met stitch his all time favourite on pirate night, he was so playful and funny, he still talks about it now. I was over the moon to have my photo with Mickey in his captains outfit too!

9. Pirate Night & Fireworks

Who doesn’t want to dress as a pirate really?! Well if you don’t you will stand out! Bandannas were even provided in our stateroom to wear for the occasion. We had taken our own costumes anyway as I am not one to miss out on a dressing up opportunity. As well as pirate themed dining that night there was a stage show where all your favourite Disney characters perform in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ production. Not forgetting the spectacular fireworks as well! Followed by dancing the night away as a DJ blasted popular dance songs. Pirate night was a blast!

Disney Cruise Pirate Night

10. Disney Merchandise

Be sure to check out the Disney merchandise whilst on the ship… they are pros at making you get rid of your money and the cruise is no exception. Official cruise line clothes, souvenirs, pins, plush toys and more are on display in the stores. I bought a few things to remind me of my trip (yeah like I will ever forget!)

11. West End Worthy Shows

Disney doesn’t mess about when it comes to entertainment we all know that… It’s what Disney does best! But oh my gosh the shows… I LOVED Disney wishes… its encompasses everything Disney is about growing up but staying connected with your inner child. We also saw Aladdin and Disney dreams which were both fantastic.

Disney Cruise Stage Shows

12. You Can Chill Out

You may be reading all this thinking I don’t know if it’s too much! But fear not… you can escape the mayhem on the adults only deck and it was like a sun trap. I soaked up the rays with a cocktail whilst looking at the ocean. When I was too hot I took a dip in the Quiet Cove pool – pure bliss! where are the kids (if you have them) at this point? In kids club of course. Just to mention as well I met loads of adults on the cruise with no kids too!

13. Kids Club Heaven

I don’t think I have ever wished I was still a kid as much as when I clapped eyes on the Oceaneer club and lab aboard the Fantasy . I swear you will never get your child in a kids club on holiday again after experiencing this… it’s in a league of its own. Children 3-12yrs can immerse in a multi themed activity centre – there’s Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and Monsters Academy to name a few. A light up dance floor, computers, reading areas, televisions, video games, dressing up, a sound studio to create music, a craft area… the list goes on. Your favourite characters might just make an appearance too. Got a baby or a teen no problem… no one is left out on a Disney cruise, they cater for all.

Disney Cruise Oceaneer Club and Lab

14. Indulge in Pin Trading

If your a pin trading fan then you will be pleased to know this is a thing on the cruise to. For those who are unfamiliar with pin trading is buying, selling and trading collectable Disney pins that can be worn on a lanyard. You can trade pins with cast members (which is super fun) as well as other guests. On the last night of your cruise as well a pin trading event is held where you might just find some rare pins so be sure to check that out. Oh and pin trading is totally for adults as well as kids! I literally had as much fun as my son.

15. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Yes the royal salon where young guests can be magically transformed into princesses or knights is aboard the cruise too. You hear about the princess make overs lots but not as much the ones for boys. My son was seven at the time and loved the experience. They gelled his hair and put little silver Mickey confetti in it, he was given a sword and shield and declared a knight… we proceeded to then do the ships treasure hunt. This is where you look for clues around the ship (you realise its enormity at this point) and it’s simply magical… you will need a few hours but it’s good exercise and fun!

Disney Cruise Bibbidi Bobbdi Boutique

16. Rejuvenate in Senses Spa

I indulged in a massage and facial at the spa despite it being pretty pricey and it was worth every penny. I didn’t pre book this as the whole holiday was getting ridiculously expensive (did I tell you prior to this cruise I spent a week in Disney too?!) but as luck would have it they do offers once you are on the ship so that twisted my arm (like it was hard!) and I’m glad I treated myself. My advice would definitely wait till your onboard to book this… I can’t remember the price but it was quite a bit cheaper.

17. Visiting Castaway Cay

This deserves a post of its own really but Disney’s private island Castaway Cay is really something special. A tropical paradise in the Bahamas where the fun really doesn’t stop! Pristine beaches to soak up the rays, incredible snorkelling, slides in the sea, delicious barbecue food, bike rentals… just to name a few! You are not going to be bored on this island. Sadly a day there just didn’t feel enough but what an experience.

Disney Cruise Castaway Cay

18. Themed Sailings

Now I can only properly comment on the Halloween themed sailing really as that is what I was on. But if that is anything to go by then taking a Disney cruise over Thanksgiving, Christmas time and New Years Eve should only add to the experience. Halloween on the Fantasy was great, everyone dressed up, the ship was decked out – including the pumpkin tree and even the characters dressed up for Mickey’s Mouse-querade party. Who else can say they been in a dance freestyle circle with Goofy?!

19. Exciting Shore Excursions

If you do decide to get off the ship you can indulge in some shore excursions. Disney makes this super easy for you. You can browse the itineraries before you go and add them to your never ending bill ha ha! You could indeed arrange your own but I like the guarantee that I am not going to miss the boat (honestly my anxiety couldn’t take it!) My experience of shore excursions was unforgettable. In Grand Cayman we swam with sting rays (my son bailed much to my dismay) Jamaica we headed up Dunn River Falls, Mystic mountain and even on a bobsleigh tour (Cool Running’s eat your heart out!) In Cozumel we went on a submarine. Shore excursions enhance your visit when you dock so check out if any take your fancy but don’t be surprised if you struggle to choose!

Disney Cruise Jamaica

20. It’s the Holiday of a Lifetime

I hope you are reading this and have already drawn this conclusion… this is one trip you will never forget. Disney always provides ultimate in entertainment and the cruises are no exception. Word of warning though… you will come back slightly exhausted from the non stop fun and excitement but it was oh so worth it.

Disney Cruise Memories

Have you been on a Disney cruise? I would love to hear anything you would add to this list?

Oh yeah and guys… due to writing this blog post I’m now looking to book another Disney Cruise next year. I am dying to make some more magical memories with Mickey and friends on the high seas. Watch this space!

Rachael 🙂 x

Here’s the link if I have convinced you to take a look – https://disneycruise.disney.go.com

Posted in Holiday Happiness

One day in Capri (Italy)

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

The last part of our Italy adventure was to be one day on the beautiful island of Capri. We were up early, the birds were singing, the sun was shining… what could possible go wrong?! Let’s just say the day didn’t get off to such an easy start… my son was not in the best of moods as I had bollocked him for losing his new trainers! But as he sulkily wandered down the jete to board the boat I took what would become one of my favourites shots of the holiday. It’s funny how the images we share, seemingly perfect do not always portray what’s really going on in the moment. A photo can say a thousand words but it can also hide them…

Vico Equense Harbour

Getting to Capri

As mentioned on a previous post we were staying right by the harbour in Vico Equense so this was ideal for reaching our destination. It took around 40 minutes to reach Marina Grande, the busy main port where our day in Capri would begin!

Marina Grande Capri

Here there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from. We had a wander about and then decided it was probably best to take a boat tour of the island. It was soon easy to see why Capri is said to be home to some of the worlds most amazing natural scenery…

Island of Capri

The islands majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the most turquoise blue waters. Sat peacefully on that boat with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of salty sea air I was in heaven (Note to self: must buy add buy a yacht to bucket list!!)

One day in Capri? Start with a boat tour!

Our boat tour was about an 90 minutes and had the waves not have been so choppy it included a trip into the blue grotto. This is the famous sea cave where the sunlight reflects off the amazingly blue water illuminating the cave. It can be entered only via rowing boats and is suppose to be spectacular… I was really gutted to not go inside. However the water around the island did not disappoint in general… this photo below was taken at the Emerald grotto.

Blue Grotto

The Faraglioni rock formation is probably one of the first images that springs to mind when you think of Capri. The rocks jutting out of the sea range from 80-150 meters high. The middle one has an arch which legend says that if couples kiss as they sail through they will forever stay together. The rocks jutting out of the sea are really quite something…

Faraglioni rocks Capri

Other sites included Marina Piccolo and Punta Carina lighthouse that’s been there since 1866. If you only have one day in Capri be sure to take boat tour, it really is a must… it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the Island.

Anacapri

We docked back in Marina Grande keen to explore further. Anacapri located on the higher west side of the island was to be our next stop. Catching a bus seemed the easiest way to get there. But let me tell you it was crowded!! They literally stuff the bus but thankfully it was only a short ride.

From the centre of Anacapri you can catch the chair lift up Monte Solaro to the highest point on the island. I was excited but my son decided to sit this one out staying at the bottom with a gelato. Honestly he missed out, it’s not scary!

Monte Solaro chair lift

It was amazing going up, at first you could see people’s gardens below, little vegetable patches, I even spotted some bird of paradise flowers growing. As you get higher the only thing you can hear is the birds singing beautifully then silence… just total peace and quiet. The views you are treated to on the way up are spectacular…

Mont Solaro view

The ride is about 15 minutes long and upon reaching the top you must get off. There is a cafe if you want refreshments or simply take in the views… I didn’t stay up there long at all given my son was waiting at the bottom but my head was literally in the clouds.

Top of Mount Solaro

Once my feet were back on the ground it was time to explore Anacapri. Said to be much smaller, quaint and authentic than Capri town itself it did not disappoint. We meandered around it’s little streets, browsed some of the boutique shops and stopped for some baked goods and a cocktail (for me only obviously!) by the beautiful church of San Michele.

San Michele church Anacapri

Capri town

Conscious of the time we caught the bus back to Capri town. It was much busier, but no less charming to explore. Designer stores and expensive boutiques were plentiful, catering to the rich and famous the island attracts. We stopped off for Pizza where my son actually fell asleep with his head on the table… could I finally have burnt him out? Ha ha!

Time to head back to our ferry. Many use the funicular to transport them between Marina Grande and Capri town but the queue was too long so we braved the descent walking instead… not too challenging but probably not recommended if you have bad knees. Just before heading down one last look at the view…

View from Capri town

Stay in Capri!

We were ready to leave Capri as a full day exploring left us hot and tired. But honestly it was a mistake not to stay on the island. I suspect once the day trips depart much like Positano a different more relaxed Capri emerges. I would have liked to have sampled some cuisine, fine wine, done some walking and just soaked up all it has to offer. However if you do only have one day in Capri the above could be the perfect itinerary. We really felt we got a good first taste of the island.

Will I return to Capri? For sure… along with Positano it was definitely the place I loved most on my Italy Adventure. I feel I have only just brushed the surface of this amazing country so guess what?! I return in May but to a different region… stay tuned!

Rachael x

P.S If your looking for a more private experience check out Gianna’s boat tours. I would love to use him next time – https://www.giannisboat.com/

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Visiting Pompeii and Sorrento

Leaving behind Positano for the third part of our adventure was exciting. It was an hours drive to get to our destination, a little town just outside Sorrento called Vico Equense.

Where we stayed

Hotel Le Axidie was situated by the harbour and had it’s own beach, a swimming pool (my son was over the moon!) and was far enough from the crowds of tourists that flock to Sorrento. On arrival the reception staff were most welcoming and helpful. The hotel also offered a free shuttle to the train station and into the centre of Vico Equense which was perfect.

The first day there was spent relaxing on the beach and my son made an English speaking friend (always a bonus!) playing in the pool which meant I could wile away my day with a good book and a few cocktails. From the beach you could see mount Vesuvius… if you look to the left of this photo it can just be seen.

After a good nights sleep we were up and ready to go to Pompeii. My son was so excited for this trip… he had learned quite a bit about Pompeii at school and had been sharing all the facts ever since we got on the plane. First though we fuelled up with a good breakfast… a great continental selection and views of Napoli bay, the harbour and mount Vesuvius made it extra special.

Pompeii

We took the hotel shuttle to the train station and easily bought a ticket to head to Pompeii. On arrival it was pretty confusing… there were lots of options of tours, I decided we should take a guided one after regretting having no guide at the Coliseum. This was definitely a wise move, aside from the museum part I would literally of had no idea what I was looking at other than a bunch of ruins! Also it quickly became apparent you could easily get lost in there… it’s huge!!

Get a guide if it’s your first time!

The guide very informative about the ancient Roman city and the catastrophic eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79AD. She pointed out all the different areas of Pompeii – former streets, tracks of the chariots, and the stepping stones in the street – so you didn’t have to walk in the actual street if it was flooded -, to water “fountains”, to uncovered ovens for baking bread, the baths, the amphitheater and of course the brothel!

Please note: don’t let your kid climb on the ruins… you will get told off! Which thinking about it makes sense… they need to preserve the area. This photo was taken before we got a royal telling off, whoops!

Wandering around Pompeii is very hot… there is not much shade so be sure to take some water in. I think our tour was two hours and it was enough, my son was getting bored towards the end. Definitely not ideal for children younger in my opinion. It is really a fascinating place and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remains of mosaics and paintings can be seen through out the site – it amazing how well preserved they have remained.

Where’s all the bodies?

Like many visitors we were intrigued to see the bodies. Excavators who uncovered the human remains noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses and faces of the last residents of Pompeii were revealed and can be seen today.

A little research would have told us that the bodies are not just strewn all over the site and that many have been moved to a museum in Naples. Apparently a few can be seen on the southern western side of Pompeii but on our two hour tour we didn’t see any whilst walking around. However we did see them close to the entrance in a little museum.

It was originally assumed that most of the victims were asphyxiated by volcanic ash and gas but further studies have shown there was no time to suffocate. The contorted postures were not the effects of a long agony but were the result of spasming due to heat shock. So devastating and pretty eerie to look at.

I know we only brushed the surface of Pompeii but I was happy with what I saw and learnt. I have to confess I’m not massively in to history but it held my interest and was definitely worth the trip.

Sorrento

We hopped back on the train foot weary and hot and guess what? Accidentally got one that went straight to Sorrento. Much to my sons dismay I decided we may as well get off and explore it. We had planned this for another day but no time like the present!

A short walk from the train station is Piazza Tasso, the bustling centre of Sorrento. From here you can catch the land train for a tour, begin your walk down the alleyways and main shopping street or eat and drink in the bars that are located on this square. 

We meandered down the little cobbled streets where lemon themed goods are the name of the day. Be sure to try some lemoncello – after all it is here that is originated. Shops selling gelato, clothing, leather goods and ceramics are plentiful.

Sorrento is a lovely town to wander about. We reached Marina Piccola and could see down below the little spots for sun bathing by the sea on little piers that jutted out. I would have liked to spend some time down there but we didn’t have swimwear with us. Soon after we headed back to the hotel after our busy day.

Sorrento is very charming but not a patch on Positano in my opinion… definitely worth a visit though. Have you been to Sorrento and Positano? Did you prefer one over the other? Let me know!

Rachael x

P.S Don’t miss my next post all about the beautiful island of Capri!

Hotel Le Axidie – http://www.booking.com/Share-d2D5VQ

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Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Perfect Positano

If you had asked me a few years ago where Positano is I would have had no clue. I’d never heard of it or the Amalfi coast for that matter if I’m honest. Instagram has a lot to answer for when it comes to travel. You see I know it’s a big wide world out there but Instagram has really opened my eyes. So many beautiful places and I want to visit them all. When I first clapped eyes on Positano I knew I had to go… that cliff side village cascading down to the pebble beach is the epitome of the Amalfi coast.

Following on from my last blog post we left Rome for part two of our adventure. The thought of driving the narrow winding roads through Italy made me feel anxious so we travelled on the train from Rome to a place called Salerno south east of Naples. The trains are really easy to navigate in Italy, they were clean, efficient and station staff were very helpful. The journey took about 2 hours.

Salerno looked a lovely little place but we were to head straight to the ferry port and onwards to Positano. Ferry’s to the Amalfi coast only run in summer and this essentially was the start of the season being the end of May. Tripadvisor had warned me that if it’s even slightly choppy they don’t run but we were lucky, the ferry was set to go shortly, yay!

Sat on the top of the open top ferry was the best place to be… a little breezy but let me tell you it was well worth it for the views. The Amalfi coast is beautiful… lush green rugged cliff sides dotted with white washed buildings, the odd church steeple, villas and small pebble beaches. I literally sat on top of that ferry breathing in the sea air and pinching myself… it was indescribably magical. We stopped off at Amalfi first, time for a quick selfie!

As we approached Positano I recognised it instantly… you know when you see things on Instagram and think is it really that nice? With all the filters and editing these days you could be disappointed. It’s safe to say I wasn’t, it was everything the picture perfect images promised. Even my 10 year old son was impressed. I don’t actually have a photo of when we docked… I was far too excited and taking it all in.

We were staying at Casa Teresa situated 100 meters above sea level! Paying for our luggage to be taken up by porters on a golf buggy was definitely a smart move. We wandered through the town resisting the temptation to stop at any of it’s boutique shops and up the steep winding hill. The views were spectacular…

Casa Teresa was the perfect base… if your fit, healthy and don’t mind walking. It may have been a climb but the views from up there are totally worth it. The rooms were antique style and charmingly Italian. Breakfast was plentiful and served on the sea view terrace. But what I remember the most is the birds… throwing open those wooden shutters and standing on the balcony with the sun streaming on my face to the beautiful songs of those birds is a moment that will stay with me forever.

We had scheduled only two nights in Positano which would be plenty if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place but I challenge anyone not to. Our days were spent meandering down the 300 hundred steps to spend time on the Arienzo beach.

Marina Grande beach is where the ferry’s come in and much busier than Arienzo. We spent time on both but favoured the smaller quieter one. The beaches on Amalfi are made up of pebbles which I wasn’t sure I would like but honestly it made it all the more charming. I loved sitting there watching my son play in the water and the world go by. Reading my book, paddling and having some lunch in the beachside cafe.

Positano is a lovely place to wander around. Littered with boutiques selling handmade goods, chic linen clothing, ceramics and what they are particularly know for is sandals. Of course I had to indulge. Just a little further up the hill out of the main shopping area (if you can even call it that?!) I found Mastro Positano to make the most exquisite handmade Italian sandals. Honestly it’s so hard to choose… they make and fit your shoes right away. Not cheap at over €100 but well worth the little indulgence.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Positano. Locally sourced ingredients, fresh fish, seafood and homemade pasta make it hard to choose. The area is known for its lemons so be sure to make sure you try something lemon infused whilst there. The lemon sorbet is served in an actual lemon by Marina Grande and is so refreshing. I didn’t pay massive attention to where I dined (being pre blog attention to detail is lacking here) but I can tell you to wander about as restaurants are in the town and scattered up the hill. We didn’t have trouble getting in anywhere but we did dine rather late one night waiting for a table at restaurant with a spectacular view… so worth it!

I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Positano… and that is a good amount of time to absorb its charm. Day ferry’s are in and out of the port through out the day and honestly if I had come for the day I would have felt completely robbed. When the day guests depart and the sun sets a different Positano emerges, a more relaxed vibe.

We were really sad to leave Positano, although I know I will return one day. It stole a little piece of my heart… it definitely earns the title of this post… it’s simply perfect.

Have you been to Positano? Or the Amalfi Coast? I would love to hear what you thought…

Rachael x

P.S Keep an eye out for Part 3 of our Italy Adventure – Sorrento and Pompeii.

Casa Teresa link – http://www.booking.com/Share-Ji5hC4J
Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Two Days in Rome

Italy has long been on my bucket list… my Grandma was a real lover of Italy and the Italians, when she talked about her eyes would sparkle. With my son getting a little older (he’s now ten) I decided last year it was time to break away from your typical European holiday destinations (we’ve pretty much done them all and more than once) and go and see for ourselves what this wonderful city had to offer.

When you start looking into Italy you realise that it is indeed going to take several trips so we had to choose carefully where to go. Now I have to confess here travelling around Italy via train, boat and taxis was very daunting. I’m the girl who won’t even get the train alone at home. This was a self planned trip, it was all on me. We planned 10 days at the end of May/beginning of June.

No trip to Italy would be complete without Rome I don’t think so that was our starting point. I’m not a great city lover… I can appreciate them but show me the beach or rolling green hills any day over the hum drum of a busy city. But let me tell you there was a lot to love about Rome. Every corner you turned was steeped in amazing architecture.

We stayed in B&B Roman Rooms which was chosen based on location. It’s was only 3 blocks away from the Termini train station and next to the metro. The apartment was good for a budget stay close to everything. Worth a mention here is the manager who met us there was so helpful in advising us about sightseeing. He gave us a map and carefully pointed everything out.

Day One

Our first stop was the Vatican. We had pre booked our tickets through viatour thankfully as the queues outside were huge. We stopped for gelato right outside the Vatican and as expected it was not cheap. I took this photo of my son and right after he realised there was some slight toffee sauce on it and refused to eat it – bloody kids!!

The Vatican felt huge… the museums displays are endless and it was VERY busy. In fact it was a little overwhelming. We wandered around and tried to take it all in. They reckon you can do it in half a day and that is correct, but if you want to absorb every bit of information I guess it would take weeks! Luckily I’m more of a admire it and tick it off kind of girl so I was happy browsing for the afternoon. The Sistine Chapel designed by Michelangelo is absolutely incredible… not to be missed it! That was by far my favourite part. They don’t allow photos or filming but just to give you a slight idea… here’s just one of the ceilings in the corridors leading up to it.

We spent the rest of the day into the evening just wandering about taking Rome in. A bit of shopping, pasta, pizza and of course red wine was consumed. It’s a lovely city to wander around. It felt like every corner we turned there was another amazing building, we stumbled across many.

Day 2

Day two’s adventuring started at the Coliseum. We had pre booked tickets and got there early, it was busy but not as bad as the Vatican. Now the day before we didn’t end up using the audio guides we had booked… so we opted for a tour without them this time. Admiring the coliseum from outside was magical… the sun was shining gloriously through arches. Time for a quick selfie!

From both outside and in it’s easy to understand why it’s considered one of the greatest wonders of the world. It stands 48 meters high and covers a total area of 6 square meters. We wandered round taking in the information boards and just marvelling at the thought of the entertainment that it once housed.

I kept hearing other snippets of information from other people’s private guides. I quickly regretted not getting one myself… as it sounded very interesting. I would advise a private guide so you can ask questions and really take it all in. We stopped at the gift shop and bought a book – which was great as we did learn more from this when we walked around again.

Afterwards we checked out the arch of Constantine, Palatine hill and the Roman forum. All worth a look round and probably better without a bored hot 10 year old… he loved the coliseum but tired soon after. It is a lot to take in and makes you foot weary. I loved just looking around it all but by mid afternoon I was done with looking at ruins too.

We still had a few other sites to catch so after some lunch in a cafe, the Spanish steps was next on the list. I can’t lie we were a bit underwhelmed, but your probably bound to be after seeing the worlds largest amphitheatre! The area was busy, we hung around for a while people watching but being the animal lover I am I enjoyed stroking the horses, ha ha!

Next it was off to Trevi Fountain – one of the oldest water sources in Rome. It is simply stunning but it was absolutely heaving. It was near impossible to get some nice photos. Whilst there we witnessed 2 proposals which would have been so lovely and romantic of it wasn’t for the sheer amount of people!! Still we spent a bit of time around it and threw in a coin each. I would have loved to have gone back at night to see it lit up but we were pretty exhausted by dark.

I think Trevi fountain was my favourite sight I saw in Rome, closely followed by the Coliseum. My advice for the fountain would be to get to and go super early – in the hope everyone’s not had the same thought! We would have done this the next day but it was time to move along in our Italy adventure.

Rome is a fascinating city and it is indeed one of the rare ones that I would definitely revisit. I enjoyed my time there but I definitely need to return to fully absorb the wonders of it. Have you visited Rome? How many days do you think would be perfect?

Keep an eye out for part 2 of my Italy adventure… all about the beautiful Positano.

Rachael 🙂 x

Link to B&B Roman Rooms – http://www.booking.com/Share-JGXGEL