Tag Archives: italian

Hua Hin Days

The next day, having risen at the rear-crack of morning (also known as 11 am) we bounded out for something to eat before hitting up the beach.  Now, again, we had been so very starved of food selection while living in Sangkhlaburi, so food or eating or snacking or anything to do with any food topic seriously took up most of our consideration!  I also wanted some coffee, so we found a place down the street, on the way to the beach, called The Coffee Club.  They also served food of course!

Now, another thing about me… I never, I mean NEVER take pictures of my food.  I’ve never understood it before… I understand plating can be quite well done and very picturesque, but in general have never understood why people take pictures of their food.  However, on this occasion, after having looked at their menu and seeing that they had a grilled chicken sandwich that included AVOCADO (I seriously almost fainted when I saw that and then nearly cried!!!) I couldn’t help but take a picture of both the menu AND the food once it arrived.  I mean, come on!  It was even served on ciabatta bread!!!   I again almost cried at seeing REAL bread again!!  So yes, I’m now a photographer of food…

OMG!!!!!
OMG!!!!!

In any event, we spent the rest of that day lounging on the beach with some beers and I proceeded to get one of the worst burns I’ve had in a long time!  Not just along my shoulders, but my stomach and high up on my thighs as well.  It’s now been almost a week since that burn, and though I’ve been slathering myself with coconut oil and pure aloe vera, I’m still red and a bit itchy, lol!  The day basically just passed on the beach (rough life I know) then we went off for a few happy hour cocktails on one of the beach bars along the pier.  We sipped on several cocktails, talking away the hours when we were suddenly visited by some interesting guests on the roof of the next bar over.

Yes, three macaques decided to see what all the happy hour fuss was about!  I wasn’t sure what to expect from them because they can be quite violent at times, but these three just seemed to keep to themselves, accepting bits of food they wanted from sharing people.  Once dinner time came around, we opted for the Spanish Tapas restaurant  It did not disappoint!!  We ordered a liter of homemade sangria and had about 6 different dishes between us!  It was quite a treat that neither of us had had in a long time.  We were supposed to have left the next day but Jo heard that there was a Muay Thai fight the next night, so we decided to extend our stay for a night in order to catch it.

When we rose that next day, it seemed to just be a comedy of errors.  Of course, despite my burns we still had to go to the beach to hang out and swim for a bit.  We didn’t last that long though as the heat of the day felt twice as hot on my skin and as there wasn’t any shade to sit under, I could only bear it so long.  From the brief beach time, we went off to scout where the fighting was to take place but when we got there, we found out they only had fights 2 nights a week (Thursdays and Saturdays- and we were on a Friday).  Dejected by that, our next thought was to go get some food (again with the food, I know!! ;)).  Jo had seen something on TripAdvisor about a mexican food place that got great reviews along Dechanuchit Alley, near Prapokkiao (street?).  So off we went in search of that…

Another brick wall was hit as even though we were using the GPS app on TripAdvisor to find the place, it seemingly didn’t exist.  However, the street where it was supposed to exist on was an absolute bustle of energy!  There were restaurants lined one after another along this strip of road and though they were each already quite spacious, the street was being turned into an extension of the restaurants so people could sit in the street and other general shop owners were setting up for a street market!

At this point I was seriously kicking myself for not bringing my camera because it seriously was a sight to see!  Hundreds of people walked about busily setting up their shops.  I mean not a single person was simply hanging about (except us).  Everyone had a job to do and there were even people who set up a little lemonade stand and walked up and down the road selling cups of lemonade to the workers.  Jo and I got a coffee from a shop nearby Ko’s restaurant and simply watched the life around us.

Interestingly for us, a bar was even being set up on the street just next to where we sat!  So of course, even though at this point neither of us had had any breakfast or lunch, we just HAD to get some cocktails once the bar opened up!  As we sat on the street downing some beverages, a banner caught my eye several food stalls down.  I went to get a closer look and (suspenseful music here) lo and behold it was an advertisement for a Muay Thai fighting match TONIGHT!!  Yay!!!  So essentially, had it not been for us wandering to find the non-existent Mexican food place, and for us to decide to hang out with coffee to watch the street wake up for nighttime activities, and for us to decide on having a few cocktails at the street bar, then I never would have seen the advert for the Muay Thai!!  We took this as a very good sign that we were supposed to see a fight on this night!

After our several cocktails (and a free whisky shot) we stumbled our way to the site of the fight (the name escapes me now, go figure!) bought our tickets (800 baht each!!) and finally had some food at the Italian place next door.  Though all the events of the day seemed to just line up in random ways so that we could see a Muay Thai fight, after having seen the 7 fights, I still call the day a comedy of errors.  I say that because only about 3 of the 7 fights were actually worth watching.  It was a disappointment and honestly we saw better fights over New Year’s in Sangkhlaburi than what we watched there.  Oh well!  And we weren’t the only ones who felt cheated as there was another couple in 7-11 (where we went after for more booze) who were talking about how lack-luster the fights were and how disappointed they were.  I mean, come on, for 800 baht we were expecting some really good fights!  Not seemingly mismatched, gloves on, not highly ranked matches!  Oh well.  Just goes to show not everything turns out as you’d like. 🙂

On to A Real Gem

Back to Thailand

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Arriving in Hua Hin

The bus ride to Hua Hin was mainly uneventful.  I say that because I had gotten a wee bit tipsy before meeting Jo at the bus station and therefore don’t recall most of the trip.  However, at one point between little naps, the inevitable sensation that always creeps up when one drinks started to kick in… Yes, I REALLY needed a bathroom!!  I had heard that the trip was only a couple of hours, so I figured I would be ok…  But just like all mini-bus journeys in Thailand: whatever time you are given for the trip, double it!  However, given that, what’s also nice about the mini-buses is that they inevitably always take a bathroom break about halfway or just an hour shy of reaching the destination.  Thank goodness for this!!

I seriously was starting to worry whether my poor bladder would hold up!  I kept asking the driver “hong nam??” (room water literally) in hopes he would hear the absolute desperation in my voice and make a potential emergency stop just for me.  “Ha nittie” (5 minutes) is all he kept saying as I kept praying that THIS time it really would be ‘ha nittie’…  Sure enough we did (eventually) make a stop at a gas station for food, drinks and bathrooms (hooray!!!).  Fully content (and about a quarter less body weight in water) we continued on the last little bit to the coast.

It’s amazing how much you miss something and don’t ever recall that you do until you are faced with it again… I speak of the ocean.  We pulled up at a random junction near the clock tower (which is really a HUGE poster of the King with a teeny clock at the top) where the driver said to us “falangs” (foreigners) and pointed for us to get out.  True to my style (and thankfully Jo’s too) we didn’t have any place planned to stay just yet.  Jo used her phone to track down a potential place to stay and we headed off in the direction It showed, which was also in the direction of the water.

About 10 minutes later we hit Naret Damri Alley, a bustling tourist street full of every possible worldwide cuisine restaurants that you could possibly imagine.  I mean they had German, French, Spanish Tapas, Italian, Norwegian, Swiss (seriously!!), Greek, American, Indian, Finnish, and more!!  Having come from and lived in the small town of Sangkhlaburi where the most exciting thing was pad thai or fried rice, we just about fainted when we saw all these delicious food options!!  Keeping ourselves in check (wiping the drool from our chins as we walked by each place) we first found a place to stay.  Memory Guesthouse just down the street from Dechanuchit Alley on Naret Damri Alley was where we decided to settle for 400 baht a night.  We paid for 2 nights, settled in and then headed out for some FOOD!!  We opted for an Indian restaurant just across the street and dined as if we had never had food before!

At this point the sun had already set so going to the beach wasn’t an option as far as tanning was concerned.  So instead we got a couple of beers and headed out just to scout where the beach actually was from us.  First we went the wrong way down N.D. Alley to basically a dead-end, along the way checking out and continuously being shocked even more so by the array of differing cuisines available.  We turned around and went the other way down N.D. Alley, past our guesthouse toward the Hilton.  We reached what looked like another dead-end (a parking lot near what looked like a Chinese Temple of sorts) but continued on as I was determined that there HAD to be a beach nearby!

 

Luckily, just around the corner from the Chinese Temple, the land opened up and a vast beach lay ahead of us.  The water was severely choppy and there was absolutely no way to swim in it, so we just dipped our toes in for a bit (gloriously warm water!!) then sat on the beach drinking and talking.  We watched the moon rise, a fabulous red-orange glow coming over the horizon through bits of hazy clouds and eventually headed back for some rest.

On to Hua Hin Days

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Heidelberg

At this point in my trip, I unfortunately caught the European crud:(  Since traveling from Salzburg, everyone around me seemed to be hacking and coughing and sneezing and sniffling and well, it finally caught up with me.  I wasn’t feeling well at all, but had to power through anyway.  The afternoon I got into Heidelberg I first checked into my hostel (Steffi’s Hostel located just a few minutes walk from the train station) then immediately went back to the train station to check out a store I had spotted that seemed to be a mini-mart.  I stocked up on throat lozenges, teas, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar and tissues to care finally get myself taken care of a bit.  I had dinner at the Chinese restaurant located conveniently downstairs and had soup with tons of sriracha in it, just to help sweat out those germs;)

Heidelberg is a huge University town.  Just about everyone I came across and chatted with was somehow involved in the University, whether studying or working.  It’s a lovely little place with a great young energy and I’m just bummed that I felt like such crap the entire time I was there, but I’m thankful that I was able to get better while there.  In my mind it will always be that quaint little town where I got to rest a bit:)

The next day I still felt like run-over dog but thought “I’m here, I better do something!!”.  So I went for a walk to see the Heidelberg castle:)  I even ended up taking a tour of the castle once there, but honestly don’t remember much of it since my brain was mush from not feeling well:(

One bit that I do recall from the tour however was of the story of Perkeo.  Perkeo was a short, red-headed Italian who  didn’t speak German, yet lived at the castle as the keeper of the wine!  Seriously, this barrel of wine in the basement of the castle is absolutely HUGE!!  According to Wikipedia it can hold over 57,000 gallons of wine!!  Anyway, as the keeper of the wine (and being Italian of course) Perkeo was quite fond of wine and drank quite a bit of it.  Because he didn’t speak German and the Germans didn’t speak any Italian, when he was offered wine he would simply say “Perche No?”, which means “why not?” In Italian.  Perche no… perkeo… see the similarity??  He was the keeper for some time and as the humorous yet untrue story goes, one time someone went to play a trick on him.  They offered him some wine (to which he said “perche no?”) but instead gave him a glass of water.  Perkeo took a sip and fell dead in that moment;)  Too funny!

Another cute story revolved around the King and his wife.  King Frederick V was quite the romantic!  In the archway that leads to the entrance of the castle there are lovely etchings of nature and animals sculpted into it.  It is said that each animal is a symbol of love to his wife.  Once it was constructed he simply told her to search the gardens of the arc to find little mementos of his love for her…  Awww!!

Lovers Arc
Lovers Arc

After the castle tour I wandered the gardens, which after having been to Versailles definitely seemed to lack;)  At this point my body and mind were getting severely tired from being ill and just couldn’t do much more.  I headed back through town to the hostel and passed out.

The next day I was feeling quite a bit better and decided to head to the zoo!  I took the bus there and arrived just as it was opening.  I spent the day wandering back and forth from animal enclosure to animal enclosure just taking in all the critters.  It isn’t a huge zoo by any means, but they do have a decent variety of animals and because it was so small, it made it easy to get around to each of the feeding shows .  The sea lion feeding was like many of the sea lion feedings in other zoos where they tell you about the critters and have them do a variety of tricks for the fish.  This one was a bit unique for me however as the feeding was all in German, so I hadn’t a clue about what was being said.  It was still quite entertaining however:)

Some things I noticed about this zoo that was different from others I had been to was first the amount of babies they had.  Baby sea lions, baby camels, baby porcupines, baby monkeys, babies everywhere!  Second, even though they were a small zoo there were staff members everywhere all throughout the day working in one way or another; cleaning, preparing food, moving the babies from the nurseries to the adult pens for some acclimation time, etc.  Generally I never notice zoo staff around, but at this one they were very present, which I found nice!  Finally, of all the zoos I’ve been to, never before had I seen a feeding for the tigers and lions…

Oh my goodness… I can’t describe how amazing it was to see the tigers literally going from “look at that beautiful/cute tiger” to “never in a million years would I ever want to tangle with one of them!!!”.  The wild and the instincts came out in a flash the second the food arrived.  Claws scraped the enclosure bars trying to get a quicker grip on the meat about to be fed to them.  It was just amazing to see such a wild nature so close!

The lions were much more relaxed about the feeding.  It was a group of lionesses and it was easy to see which was the Alpha female.  She got her meat first (quite patiently compared to the tigers) and headed to her eating spot as the others then practically lined up to get theirs.  The order and calm in their enclosure versus the “fear for your life” energy from the tigers enclosure was incredible!  I would go back just to view the feeding again.

After the zoo I headed to the hostel once again and spent the evening plotting how to get to and where to stay in Füssen, Germany.  The “Fairy Tale” castle of “Mad” King Ludwig II, located in South Germany in a little town called Hohenschwangau was a must see on my list.  Thankfully all my plots to get there worked out and after several relaxing days of actually taking care of myself in Heidelberg I was ready to set out once again.

On to Füssen

Back to Europe 

Isola d’Elba

Isola d’Elba!!  Though I am half Italian, I never knew that this little archipelago off the coast of Tuscany in the Mediterranean Sea even existed!!  The shame, I know!!!  Thankfully my dad did as he suggested a weekend trip there to explore the little land and its numerous beaches!!  From his house outside of Florence it took about 4 hours to get to the dock at Piombino where we drove on to a ferry-boat (called MOBY) and headed to the port in Portoferraio on the island of Elba.  Though the weather had been very sketchy for several weeks prior to our trip, and though it even rained on the ferry ride over, we got two full days of sun on the island and only had cloudy days on the day we arrived and the day we left:)  Seriously lucked out since it was toward the end of summer/early fall that we went to begin with!

Our hotel (hotel Gabbiano Azzuro- hotel Blue Seagull) was located in a town called Marciana Marina on the North Western section of the island.  The town itself is a cute little quaint place with the usual shopping, restaurants, beaches, marinas and hiking trails from here to there.  The hotel, while really not terribly impressive inside offered quite a delicious breakfast including some of the best brioches I’ve personally ever tasted!  They were filled with Bavarian cream… YUM!!!  Just looking at them however pretty much capped my daily allowance of sugar intake… lol!!  I should probably clarify that the hotel itself was quite clean, the people very nice, the location an easy walk to/from the town center, but the rooms were not that big and while they boasted that each room had a private balcony, the majority of those balconies looked on to an abandoned building and you could only see a sliver of a nice view.  However, we were not there for the hotel… we were there for the BEACHES!!!

As far as beaches are concerned, I seriously didn’t think the ones in San Blas could be topped but the ones on the Island of Elba sure do give them a bit of a run for their money!!!  The colors of the water surrounding the island at the various spots are out of this world beautiful!  I found myself literally taking the same exact picture 3 or 4 times over just to make sure I was properly capturing the colors!!

The beaches are quite different from one another and some were even different from any I had previously been on before.  While I’ve mainly been used to beaches with sand, many of the beaches on Elba consisted of stones!!  I wasn’t expecting this aspect at all!!  The stones are like river stones, therefore not sharp in any way, but smoothed out from years of sea water sanding them out.  While they weren’t that comfortable to lay out on, they weren’t completely terrible either and it was due to these stone beaches that the colors remained so crisp and lovely, even when in the water!

Needless to say, after mapping out several beaches for us to visit, the next few days were spent just going from one beach to the next, sunning and tanning, swimming and snorkeling and generally just loving the water and life!  It was a great and relaxing time to be sure!!  Even more of a bonus was that we were still in Italy so dinners were to die for!!  I Love Italian food!!  The last day was spent driving almost all the way around the island, taking several pictures along the way before heading back to the ferry and then home.

Pictures:

On to Return to Treviso

Back to Europe

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre in Italian literally means the 5 lands.  The 5 lands in this case is made of 5 villages on the Tuscan Mediterranean coast including, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.  Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village, and the Riomaggiore the southernmost.  In the summer time these spots are quite a popular vacation destination, and from the few pictures I’ve included, it’s easy to see why!!

My dad and I drove there on a sunny late-summer day through the windy roads and arrived in Vernazza, #4 village of 5…

Seriously I will put this out that if you get car sick easily, you may want to consider taking a train into any of the villages of Cinque Terre… Because those roads are seriously no joke!!  It’s really amazing that there is even a road to begin with that connect each village, as I’m sure that they started as simply foot paths then expanded to allow cars!  Mind you, they haven’t really expanded that much… The roads are barely wide enough for 2 cars, and of course Italians speed around the blind corners of the really windy and narrow roads as if they could see the other side…

Since I’m on the topic a little, I’ve just got to vent for a few seconds that Italian drivers area absolutely NUTS!!!  I’m not even being prejudice in that statement because I include my father in there too, lol!!  And he knows about it, lol!!  But seriously, anyone who has ever been to Italy knows exactly what I’m talking about!  If there is an inch of space, it will be taken by a car or Vespa or bus!!  It amazes me how there aren’t more traffic accidents than there are!!  They are all crazy drivers yet somehow it just works out!!  It’s beyond me how, but it does!  My only saving grace on this trip was the absolutely stunning views around each and every terrifying corner!!  Simply beautiful and amazing!!

Sorry for the tangent!  Back on course here: We arrived in Vernazza about mid-morning, parked the car in the lot outside the village and walked down to the village for some exploring.  Now, this area of Italy is sometimes quite prone to dangerous and damaging floods.  Everything is literally built on the edge of the mountain that dives into the Sea, so when the floods come, it leaves lots of damage in the wake.  About 2 or 3 years ago a flood had happened in the Cinque Terre area and in fact as we walked down the road to the Village, you could still see evidence of the damage it did years ago.

We wandered around the village, spotted a cave that led to a little beach that is only visible (and passable) when the tide is down, wandered up to the church and tower at the top of the village, then had some lunch at one of the restaurants with a view of the water:)  The region of the 5 lands is in Liguria, which is famous for its pesto sauce!!  Yum!!!  In addition, Liguria is also known for a special shape pasta called Trofie, which is a hand rolled pasta made from pieces of dough that are twisted together.  So “when in Rome” I of course had to have a plate of Trofie al pesto!!  It was quite delicious and hard to stop eating until of course the plate went empty… So I had to stop, lol!!  We wandered a bit more, had a gelato then headed back to the car for Portovenere.

Oh, before I leave this section- for those into hiking, there is actually a pedestrian trail that goes from the first village to the last!!  It is quite a long hike though (remember to calculate in stop times to take a gazillion picts!) and the terrain has lots of ups and downs (literally)!!  It would probably take all day to walk one to the next, but I imagine it would be well worth it for the views alone!!

On to Portovenere

Back to Europe

SpanItalish

SpanItalish is what I’d like to call the language I was basically speaking when I arrived in Italy and throughout my time in Italy… Let me break it down for ya:

Span-Ital-ish: Span = Spanish, Ital = Italian & ish = English 🙂

After my time in Central and South America, all the conversational Italian that I did know converted completely to Spanish!  So now before going back to Italy I was trying in my mind to think Italian instead of Spanish…. That was definately easier said than done as I kept speaking Spanish to myself, desperately trying to recall the Italian words again… In fact, I was sort of doing that in my mind (converting my Spanish to Italian) while in the Gatwick airport, but obviously gave up when helping out the woman from Spain:)

When I first got to Italy, while I could understand everyone and what they were saying (depending on their speed of speech and whether they had a heavy accent or not) I would reply pretty much completely in Spanish, lol!!  Needless to say this was rather annoying to me though luckily everyone seemed patient with me as I repeated myself to them, slowly converting Spanish to Italian.  Slowly but surely Italian came back and took over my Spanish!  Now I find myself thinking “how would I say that in Spanish???” and not being able to recall, lol!!!  It’s seriously a case of “when in Rome” because when in the environment it’s easier to be and speak Italian or Spanish as needed!

I threw English in there of course because first I am fully fluent in English and second because it was my last resort if Spanish or Italian didn’t work in asking questions, lol!!!  And since neither Spanish nor Italian helped while I traveled the rest of Europe, I was glad that at least English did!!

On to Cinque Terre

Back to Europe

A little background

First a little background and answers to questions I’ve received along the way…

In May of 2011 I quit my very stable and good job and sold everything so I could start traveling the world.  I am a college educated, single female and am traveling alone.

What prompted me to do this you ask??  Well, simple: in May of 2006 I decided that 5 years from that date, no matter how well I was doing or what I was doing or where I was doing it, I would quit my job, sell all my things and travel the world.  Call it a quarter life crisis or simply that I’ve always wanted to travel, so “no time like the present”… Either way, that was the starting point:)

Why travel out of the country??  What about traveling in the States??  I have been very fortunate in my life to have traveled 38 of the 50 states already.  There are of course a few I would still like to see (Montana) but for the most part, I feel like I have “done” a lot of the U.S. already and would like to expand my experiences to other cultures and countries.

Why did you choose 5 years?  No idea- it just seemed like a good amount of time to get and feel stable in one place for a bit before heading off.

So, you are going to travel the world!  You must be fluent or at least conversational in a language other than English, right? Ummm, no…  I am half Italian and am conversational in Italian.  Since my travels to Central America I am now conversational in Spanish as well.  As for the rest of the languages in the world, I know a word here and there, but luckily there are always English speakers to be found in whatever city/town/country I’ve been to.  But for those occasions where even English speakers weren’t found, thank goodness for charades and sign language!! LOL!! 🙂

Now wait a tick- you said earlier that you are a female and are traveling alone… Doesn’t that scare you?  It’s interesting really because before leaving many friends and family in some ways have expressed a lot of concern over this.  My response is best explained by a quote from the famous surfer Laird Hamilton: “I can’t not do something out of the fear of what could happen”.  I just love that quote!  Of course I am still careful and am being a smart traveler ensuring that I never put myself in dangerous situations, but other than that, I can’t fear going out on my own and experiencing and traveling because of what may or may not happen.  If I fail, I fail- but at least I tried.  I have never once felt in any real danger.  All of life is a journey and thus far I’ve got to say it’s been quite a delightful one.   I can only hope it continues safely and delightfully!  And for the record, I’ve never once been alone on this journey unless I’ve actively chosen to be.  Whether I’m hanging out with fellow travelers and new friends or simply thinking of my family and of all my friends in the states, I’ve never been alone.

How can you afford all these travels??  All of the money I’ve spent on travels is money I’ve personally earned.  Basically I save my pennies and when I have saved what I consider enough to travel then I quit my job and travel!  The first time was the trickiest as I was working for the Government and had an apartment full of stuff.  My Government job knew the day would come that I would quit to travel, so it wasn’t that big a shock.  And selling basically all but 4 boxes of my possessions was a little tough, but also a nice purge!  Since the Government job I’ve basically gotten bartending and serving jobs that are easy to quit.  All of my ex-employers knew that I would quit and travel once I had saved enough as well, so no one was ever in the dark about my plans.  I just don’t think it’s right to mislead people into thinking I would be a lifer there… Anyway, so that’s what I do!  When I run out of money, or get too close to my “emergency” money I go somewhere, get a job, save money, then travel again!

What is it you are expecting as an outcome of these travels?  What are you hoping to accomplish?  I can honestly say I don’t yet know.  But I feel like I am where I need to be for now and I hope that inspiration for what I’m supposed to do will come along as I continue to travel and grow.

Well that’s the basics and background folks!  Now… lets get on with the journey!

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