4 Days, 3 Nights in the Amalfi Coast

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After visiting Como, I changed my itinerary to go to the Amalfi Coast.  In my original plan, the route made much more sense as I wasn’t traveling from Northern Italy to Southern Italy so abruptly.  But I met some cool people at the hostel and decided that I’d have more fun with them than I would solo. Plus, I was able to afford a place in Sorrento as opposed to my original stay in the boondocks of the Amalfi Coast.  Though the route was not ideal, I’m confident I made the right choice.

GETTING THERE
This was a trek to say the least.  By “trek,” I mean a 13-hour journey — 12 hours to travel to Naples and another hour to get to Sorrento.  Taking an overnight train helped to maximize time and save money on a night of accommodations.  I didn’t get too much sleep, however.  In case my Mom is reading this, I don’t want to go into too much detail and freak her out.  I will say, if you take an overnight train book a window seat. If you’re lucky enough to travel with a friend, take turns sleeping.  There were some shady characters on the train, arrests were made by plain-clothes officers upon arriving in Naples. I made it safely and with all of my belongings, which is all that matters.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW
We stayed at an Airbnb in Sorrento.  It was walking distance to public transportation, and a 20-minute walk to the beach.  The proximity to the bus made it easy to beach-hop. If you’re new to Airbnb, you can use this code to get $40 off your first trip of $75 or more. If you’re not new, we’re in the same boat and I’ll let you know if I come across any codes for existing users.

GETTING AROUND THE COAST
To get around the coast, I relied heavily on the bus.  If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to consider popping a Dramamine before the ride.  A beautiful view, but curves galore…so plan accordingly.  To reach Capri, it was a smooth ferry ride from Sorrento.

 

WHERE TO EAT
In the Airbnb, we had access to a kitchen so we went to the grocery store to stock up on food and wine for our stay. The area is known for Baba, a dessert that reminds me of rum cake.  It’s not as easy to find in other places in Italy, so try it there and thank me later.  And, be sure to try some Limoncello …don’t be like me and attempt to take it as a shot.

 

THINGS TO DO
Similar to Como, day trips are the thing to do when visiting the Amalfi Coast. In 3 full days, I was able to get to Positano, Amalfi, and Capri.  For the most part, my activities during these day trips consisted of lounging on the beach.  

In Capri, I switched it up and did a boat tour of the island.  Honestly, I wouldn’t do it again.  Perhaps I was bored, or maybe it was the sleep debt catching up with me….either way, I fell asleep during the tour.  I did wake up here and there to snap a pic then go back to sleep.  I didn’t make it inside the Blue Gratto, as boats were waiting in a 45-minute queue.  Only two people on our boat of at least 30 chose to hop on another boat and wait it out. Hope they made it!   

BUDGET
Here’s a breakdown of my budget for three nights exploring the Amalfi Coast.  I was with 2 other people on this leg of my journey, so the prices reflect my share.

Item

Cost

Overnight Train from Como to Sorrento

73 € = 86  USD

Accommodations

157 € = 185 USD

Getting Around

43 € = 51 USD

Food and Drinks

58 € =69 USD

Activities

18 € = 21 USD

Total

349 € = 412 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.18 USD.

I’m off to my next stop! Make sure you hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss a moment. Ciao for now,


Marissa

5 Days, 4 Nights in Lake Como

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Located in Northern Italy, perhaps Lake Como is best known for George Clooney’s home. Admittedly, I didn’t know this tidbit until I arrived and was asked by numerous people from around the globe if that’s why I chose to visit.  I chose it because I’d seen beautiful pictures, it was a quick trip from Milan, and made sense in my route (which changed after visiting Como).

GETTING THERE
I arrived in Milan at Malpensa Airport and took a quick train ride to Como. The ride is around an hour, but it took me a bit longer since I was initially confused by the number of trains at Milano Central.  The number of options coupled with the language barrier made my trip a bit longer than expected.  What I should’ve done was just hopped on a train as they display the route on a screen once you’re on the train. Then I could’ve hopped off and on until I found the right one.  Next time…

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW
Lake Como has a bunch of small villages, perhaps the most famous is Bellagio.  I chose to stay in Como proper at Ostello Bello Lake Como because it had great reviews on Hostel World, Trip Advisor, and Hotels.com (I like to cross check). I made the right choice; I was comfortable, had a good time, and met some great people.

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GETTING AROUND LAKE COMO
You can get around Lake Como by bus, train, ferry, or my favorite because it’s free – your own two feet.  Plus, I’m averaging about 16,000 steps a day, which is about 15,000 more than my normal average. The bus I needed only ran about once an hour, so look at the schedule and plan accordingly.

WHERE TO EAT
Since my hostel provided free breakfast and dinner, I didn’t worry about food too much.  To get a break from pasta, I visited La Vita e’ Bella for a salad. The number of salads was almost overwhelming, but again, it’s a healthy alternative to pasta.

Then, to balance my healthy choice, I made room for gelato. As you can see from the line, Gelateria Lariana is a hit.  My favorite flavor was cherry, which tastes almost like Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.

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THINGS TO DO
Day trips, day trips, day trips.  While in Como, I visited Bellagio, Nesso, and Varenna.  While Bellagio is the most popular, Varenna was my favorite because it was less touristy.  I spent a lot of time on the beach in Lake Como.  The one that stands out in my mind the most is Lido di Faggeto, not because of the views (which were amazing) but because of the trek to get there.  There were so many stairs that climbing them took the same amount of time as the 20-minute bus ride!! This is an exaggeration, but seriously, there were a lot of steps!! To give your legs a break, I’d recommend taking the ferry at least once.  While more expensive than the bus, the views were amazing.  There’s a normal service and a fast ferry.  I took the fast one, which got me to Varenna in under an hour.

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BUDGET
Here’s a breakdown of my budget for four nights in Como.  The night before I was scheduled to leave, I added an extra night to my stay.  That extra night was more than half the price of my first three nights combined since it was so last-minute. Also, I considered the one-way ferry to Varenna an activity in the budget.  I digress, here’s the breakdown.

Item Cost
Train from MXP to Como 18 € = 21 USD
Accommodations 100 € = 118 USD
Getting Around 28 € = 33 USD
Food and Drinks 62 € = 73 USD
Activities 17 € = 20 USD
Total 225 € = 266 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.18 USD.

I’m off to my next stop! Ciao for now,

Marissa

Hostel Review: Ostello Bello Lake Como

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If you’ve been following my blog in the time leading up to my journey, then you know I was considering hostels to help save money.  I was super skeptical about the hostel life. I like my own space, definitely my own bathroom, it’s not like I’m back in college. Well, I did it. I stayed in my first hostel, Ostello Bello Lake Como. Here’s my take on it…

When I arrived, I was greeted with a welcome drink of my choice, so I was already a fan. Then, I heard all the free perks, like wifi, bike rentals, computer rentals, renting a modem so you can stay connected even when you leave the hostel.  Free breakfast and dinner were the real MVPs. For breakfast, think continental. For dinner, think pasta. Then pasta the night after that, and the night after that. Still it was free, so you only had to pay for lunch or go next door to the supermarket.

After the welcome spiel, it was time to see the rooms, dun dun dun.  My room had 6 beds — 2 sets of bunk beds. Luckily, I wasn’t on the top bunk because that was a bit of a climb. Each bunk bed had an outlet that included a reading light and a charging station with a usb port, so I didn’t have to break out my universal charger. The sheets were clean, and free. The rooms also included individual lockers for your belongings, and you could rent a lock for free. Working A/C was another plus. My only issue was the bathroom. The showers were pretty small. Before traveling to Europe, I’d read reviews for numerous listings that often mentioned the small showers. Still, I wasn’t mentally prepared to not be able to comfortably maneuver when taking a shower.  Enough of the rooms, now for the vibe.

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This particular hostel was a hybrid between a hostel, a bar, and a club for visitors and locals alike. So, one can chill in the common area listening to music or opt for some quiet time in the secret garden, equipped with hammocks. The people who worked there also added to a vibe. I was surprised to learn that after the first day, some of them knew my name.  They were super helpful when it came to providing recommendations for things to see, places to eat, and where to shop.  One guy at the front desk even invited a few of us out on a boat.

To me, a hostel is like an overnight summer camp for adults. From the bunk beds, to who am I gonna sit with for lunch, to foosball tournaments. The only difference is, instead of a medal for participating, you get a shot from the 24-hour bar.

I extended my trip by a day, so I guess it’s safe to say I’m a fan of the hostel life. I am nervous, however, that perhaps my first experience was too good of one. Ostello Bello Lake Como set the bar high.

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At summer camp, you write in a memory book and promise to keep in touch.  At hostels, you follow people on ig or snapchat.

Now, I’m off to my next spot with two new friends I made in the hostel. Click the follow button so you don’t miss a moment from my adventure.

Ciao for now,

 Marissa

 

What’s In My Suitcase

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One of my friends recently got back from a year of exploration, so her packing list was extremely helpful. I ended up buying a lot of things that she suggested even though she was gone for a year, and my trip is only a few months. So here’s what I squeezed in my carry-on bag and personal item:

Clothes:

  • 3 sundresses
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 1 jumper
  • 1 skirt
  • 4 pair of shorts
  • 4 tops
  • 2 sweats…probably will be used for athleisure
  • 2 sports bras…again, we’ll see if I workout on top of all the walking I’ll be doing
  • 3 bras
  • All the undies (in case I’m not able to do laundry as often as I’d like)
  • 2 shorts and 2 tanks for sleeping
  • 2 sleep shirts/dresses
  • 2.5 swimsuits (.5 because the top of one matches the bottom of another)
  • 1 cover up

Shoes:

  • 1 pair of Sandals
  • Flip flops for showering
  • Flats…happened to pack with a color scheme, so just bringing 1 pair of flats
  • 1 pair of sneakers

Day bags:

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste – 2 of each because I’m that person who will drop a toothbrush then be forced to get creative
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Face Wash
  • Sunblock
  • Chapstick
  • Soap
  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Shampoo
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Curling cream
  • Shea butter
  • Flexi-rods
  • Mascara
  • Eyeliner (in case I’m feeling fancy)
  • 5 lipsticks/glosses..though I’ll probably only use 2

Other:

  • Travel towel
  • 2 travel face cloths
  • 1 blanket for the plane
  • Cocoon for sleeping…wish me luck in hostels
  • 2 luggage locks
  • 1 lock – for lockers in hostels
  • Universal charger
  • (Below) basic first-aid kit
  • I-pad mini
  • Fitbit – to keep track of my steps so I don’t feel guilty about not working out
  • Notebook
  • Journal

Okay, that’s it…by “it” I mean a lot.

Happy Travels,

Marissa

 

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