Amalfi Coast

When you google search “Italy” you are greeted with thousands of images of Rome, Venice, and a stretch of coastline called the Amalfi Coast. Just seeing the photos made my travelers itch grow intensely strong, and I knew we wouldn’t be going to Italy without visiting this paradise. It was a love at first sight sort of experience, and the pictures just don’t do it justice.

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In this beautiful landscape mountains plunge straight down into crystal clear bright blue waters, pastel houses hang onto the sides of sheer cliffs, and a sweet lemon fragrance follows your every footstep. The beaches are filled with rows of brightly colored chairs that so beautifully compliment the warm waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The cobblestone streets lined with small boutiques, secret hidden stairwells, and constant chatter of voices gave me an immediate sense of belonging… like this was where I was meant to be.

Because of time constraints, we opted for a day tour of the four major cities along the coastline, Ravello, Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento. We left Pompeii early in the morning, and weren’t home till late that evening, and it was incredible how much we were able to see that day. It was quite a bit of driving on winding, sides of cliffs types of roads, but the views were well worth it. We stopped several times along the way and between towns to get photos and our driver was very eager to slow down for us to really enjoy the scenery.

Our first stop was Ravello, a small town perched on a cliff overlooking the Amalfi Coast. The town was essentially just a few streets centered around a cathedral and a large open square to wander. It was the only town we visited that was perched on the top of the mountains and it felt as though we were on our own beautiful planet.

We then visited Amalfi, the main town on the coast. We spent the majority of our time on the piers that jutted out into the water, looking back at the gorgeous town. It was such an incredible day, and we managed to sneak in a impromptu photoshoot before wandering into a very mediterranean cafe and ordering frozen lemonades (an absolute must if you are ever in the area). We only had an hour or so in the town, so we didn’t manage to make our way into the center, but the views from the water were just to good to pass up.

As we travelled on to the next town, we stopped along the way to see the Emerald Grotto, a beautiful cave named for the color reflected in the water through a small opening to the sea. I couldn’t manage to get any decent photos of the light, but it was quite magical, and the commentary after we explained that we were American was hilarious.

 

After our short boat ride around the cave came to an end, we stopped for lunch at one of the most gorgeous restaurants I have ever been to. Clinging to the side of the cliffs, we had a front row seat to the beautiful coastline.

After a bit more driving, we found our way into Positano which much like the other towns on the Amalfi coast clings tightly onto the side of the cliff and falls straight into the turquoise waters below. A healthy set of stairs and narrow paths lined with boutiques led us to the seaside where we sat on the pebble beach and soaked up the sun. I stuck my feet in the water (not wanting to be wet and salty for the rest of the afternoon) and searched for sea glass while my siblings escaped to the water.

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The last stop on our day trip to the Amalfi Coast was Sorrento, the birthplace of Limoncello liqueur. At this point in the day, we were all worn out, and I didn’t manage to take any photos of the town despite carrying my camera around my neck the entire time. We wandered the streets of the town, stopped in a few shops to try Limoncello and other fruit flavored liqueurs, and saw lemons on practically everything in sight. It was a lovely town, but we were all wishing that we would have been able to spend more time in Amalfi or Positano. Maybe it was because we had already seen so much, but Sorrento didn’t really impress me.

As the day came to an end, we headed back to Pompeii where we would stay one last night before heading off to Venice. We didn’t plan appropriately, or anticipate how much we would all fall in love with the Amalfi Coast, and quickly realized that a one day tour was far too short. Since the rest of our trip was already booked, we could not extend our stay, but it would be safe to say that we will be back soon. I’m already looking forward to spending more time exploring and hiking the quaint Italian towns on this coastline.

I made a short video documenting our tour through Italy that you can watch here.

When you travel with your sister

When you travel with your sister, you argue, you make up, and you come back stronger than ever.

I couldn’t imagine a better travel buddy than my sister. Although, I’m still surprised by how well we travel together. With two years between us, my sister and I have always been pretty close. Growing up, I would follow her every move, trying to be just like her — I can distinctively remember her rolling her eyes when I tried to convince her to wear a matching outfit. She has always been there for me, teaching me the ways of middle and high school, taking the brunt of responsibility, and being the person I could run to when things went wrong. Despite our different personalities, we are always there for each other.
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Our personalities perfectly balance out each other. She is a planner. She likes to know what time we’re leaving, where we’re going, how we’re getting there. I’m more impulsive. I see something interesting and its all I can keep my mind on, I just want to go… do. She is organized, and has all of our travel details written down, always available. I’m easy going and will go along with any plans that are made. I calm her down when we’re running a bit late, and she always knows what to say to cheer me up.

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We share an appreciation of experiencing a city like a local, and would rather get a coffee in a local cafe than get sucked into all of the tourist traps of a particular location. We know what each other like, and make sure that we both get what we want out of our trip. I know that she collects shot glasses, and I collect playing cards, and we have both accepted the fact that we will not leave a country until we have added to our collections.

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After traveling for two summers with my sister, I can say that we have never been closer. I understand and appreciate her more deeply that I ever have. I’ve learned to love all of the little things that used to annoy me, like how she hates going into grocery stores alone, or how silly and touchy-feely she gets with a few drinks in her. Together we’ve learned how to navigate in foreign countries, tried all sorts of local cuisine, and seen some incredible sights. These experiences, both good and bad, have pushed us together as we learned and figured things out with each other.

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Together we are a stronger travel team, and I’m so glad that I have her by my side, whether we’re rushing to catch a connecting flight, exploring a city for the first time, or shopping at the Albert Heijn in Boxtel. When you travel with your sister, you are reminded just how much you love her.

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World Travel Bucket List

I really enjoyed making my North America travel list, so I thought I’d follow it up with my all-time travel list. Some of these places have been on my list for a while now, and some are relatively new. Researching a few extra places to fill out the list got me super excited to travel and I’m ready for another adventure. Luckily, the siblings and I are headed over to Europe again this summer, but more on that later. I’ll fill you in on our plans when we have actually made plans. But for now, here’s my all-time travel list. Not listed by importance, just my memory.


1. Patagonia, Argentina

2. Bali, Indonesia

3. Banff National Park, Canada

4. Cape Town, South Africa

5. Copenhagen, Denmark

6. Machu Picchu, Peru

7. Road trip around Iceland

8. Greenland

9. Madagascar

10. Austrian Alps

11. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

12. Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

13. Glow Worm caves in New Zealand

14. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

15. Find a giraffe on safari

16. Santorini, Greece

17. Great Wall of China

18. Taj Mahal, India

19.Floating Lantern Festival, Thailand

20. Galapagos Islands

What’s on your list?

Europe Trip 2016 || Day 18-19: Boxtel

I’m going to condense some of the days spent in Holland because a majority of our time was spent relaxing with the family.

Day Nineteen:

Our week long trip in Ireland had come to an end. We woke up relatively early to make it to the airport on time. Once all checked in and through security we stopped for breakfast and coffee. Then we boarded the plane and made our way to Eindhoven. Our Uncle Luc met us there and he drove Mom and Amy to the central station so they could go into Amsterdam to see a coffeeshop. Marguerite and I went back to Boxtel with Luc and just relaxed with our cousin Bart and his duck until Suus (Aunt) and Daan (cousin) got home. After dinner Suus, Luc, Bart, Anina, and I went to see Oma (our grandmother). We played cards and had tea. Oma was so happy and excited to see us again. Then we went back to the Molenpad and met Freek (Daan and Bart’s cousin… not on our side of the family) and Daan were playing darts and drinking since Daan finished his final exams that day. We all just sat around playing games and chatting and just enjoying each other’s company. Mom and Amy showed up at around 11:00 and they said they had a fun time in Amsterdam. We stayed out until about midnight until we were all tired then we went to bed.

Day Twenty:

Marguerite and Amy slept in, so Mom and I went to Oma’s early that morning. We stopped to get her flowers on the way and I laughed at mom using American biking signals on our bike ride. After a cup of coffee and a lekker warm stroopwafel we headed back to the Molenpad (Aunt and Uncle’s house) to make sure Marguerite and Amy were up and awake. At around 1:00 we went back to Oma and Opa’s house for a big family reunion. Anne-Lies (great-aunt) came early to spend some time with us before the great-aunts from my Oma’s side got there. Then Oma’s sisters came. Tante Ann, Marij, and Guus and his wife, Thea were all there. It was nice in the garden with the whole family and to see all the tantes again. Oma was so happy as well. After that we went back to the Molenpad and Daan had another party with all his friends. Denis came and brought paling (smoked eel) which is my Mom’s favorite so we ate that and had a few drinks sitting next to the Dommel. Marguerite, Bart and I played a game of dominoes as all of Daan’s friends had a bonfire in the back yard. After a few rounds, Marguerite joined Daan and his friends and Bart and I went to sleep.

Europe Trip 2016 || Day 4: Göttingen, Germany

Today we slept in while Johannes went to his morning class (University was still in session when we arrived). We got to meet his lovely mother that morning and she was so gracious for the flowers and chocolate that we brought the night before. When Johannes got back we ate breakfast together. Then we went into Göttingen town center to look around and experience the city a bit. We ran some errands with him first before getting out of the car to walk around. We walked along the wall that surrounds the town, which is very old. Some parts of it have been destroyed or have fallen apart throughout the years, but much of it is still standing. It used to enclose the whole city, but now the city has grown and much of it has expanded beyond the wall. Then we found out we had to move his car so we walked back and on the way we stopped for an ice cream. After we moved the car we walked around in town for a little while longer before we went to his school to grab a bite to eat.

We sat outside and ate our food and watched all the students. It was another super sunny day, so there were a bunch of students around campus. Then we went to his English writing class since he said the professor was American and funny. The writing class was good, much of the stuff he talked about we also learn is school. While he wasn’t explaining the writing stuff he threw in stories about the nude beaches and then bashed on the Germans for a bit. Marguerite was pretty tired and fell asleep for some of the class, but luckily the teacher didn’t notice, or if he did, he didn’t call her out on it. After all, we weren’t his students.

Once class was over, we walked back to the car and drove to a little town outside of Göttingen so we could hike up to see the watch tower. It was a pretty steep hike, and I forgot a water bottle, which was not the smartest of my ideas. Marguerite had to use the bathroom, so she ran up to the top while Johannes and I took our time. Once we got to the top we walked out to the edge, and it was such a gorgeous view! You could see for miles and miles. Then we all got on the wall and rested in the sun for a bit. After about an hour we walked back down the mountain and drove back to Johannes’s parents’ house. His mom had made lasagna which was very delicious. For dessert we had rhubarb (which was from their garden) and cream for dessert. I wasn’t so sure about it at first because it is pretty tart, but after I got used to the flavor, I loved it. After dinner, we went out on their balcony and played dominoes with his Mom. We had taught the game to Johannes when he visited us for Thanksgiving a few years before, and he was determined to finally beat Marguerite (she is kind of the queen of dominos). Johannes’s mother ended up going to bed a little earlier so she didn’t finish the game. When it got dark we moved inside and Marguerite ended up winning (it wasn’t really a surprise). After the game was finished, we all went to bed, ready for a trip to the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover in the morning.

World Travels || San Francisco 2015: Day 1

Well, its been a while again… My life has gone a bit off the wall lately as AP tests approach and filling Etsy orders has taken every last minute of free time that I have had. All of my teachers have started to review before the AP tests in just three weeks, which means that I am doing a heck of a lot of studying. I am really beginning to wonder how I am able to fit all this information in my brain.

Last week, I got a little break from my crazy life and went to California with my mom for spring break. Coming back makes me really appreciate my small town, but also makes me that much more excited to really start exploring the world. The California life definitely is different than my seemingly relaxed life in North Carolina, but I still loved every minute in the Golden State. Plus, I got to visit and really bond with my cousins that live in San Francisco. I thought I would share some pictures with you and make like a journal of my trip, even if it is just to remind me of everything.

So, the first day we got to San Francisco (well, we actually stayed in Sausalito) my mother and I roamed the streets of Sausalito and acted like classic tourists. We went into all of the little shops and had a lot of fun telling each other what we would buy if we had endless amounts of money (wouldn’t that be nice). After having lunch at a local burger joint with my aunt and cousins, we hopped in the car and drove around the area, running errands (silly me, I forgot my memory card and so I had to buy one) and dropping my cousins off at gymnastics and karate. I also got a quick tour of the area too, which was fun. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner and we went to my aunt and uncles beautiful house for dinner.

Since I forgot my memory card, I didn’t take any pictures that first day, so I’ll just leave you some with the hidden stairs of Sausalito.