Now, it may come as a surprise to you all (and most definitely to me), but I’ve actually managed to acquire quite a few friends, despite the fact that I’m bouncing all over. It must be all my witty charm. Or my lounge access. (I’m looking at you, Shuaib). In either case, I spend a lot of time being social and hanging out with some really great people.
As I mentioned before, my friend Katie came all the way up from Brighton in late to November to visit for the weekend. We had an excellent time, and you all will be pleased to know that I’ve acquired a membership the the Historic Scottish Monument society, simply because I’ve visited the castle approximately 1,000 times since arriving.
We also spent a ton of time at Camera Obscura, taking a boatload of photos and being silly.
And obviously, we went to the Christmas markets, because duh it’s Edinburgh, they’re great!
– Carissa “No But How Many Photos of Myself Can I Fit In Here?” Rawson
I am currently on a train, heading from Naples to Rome, where I will board my flight allll the way to Amman, Jordan. I haven’t spent the last few weeks writing as much, because I’ve finally had company! I already told you all about my nefarious weekend in Rome with Sarah, but shortly after she left, my step-mom, Joni, arrived.
Now, I don’t know if you guys know this, but we’re the kind of family that spends 13 hours at Disneyland and rides all the rides in one day. Since Joni was only going to be around for five days each in Roma and Napoli, we went full out.
Which I will tell you all about, in great detail!
But today I’m going to start with our trip to Tuscany. Now, Joni had never been to Italy before, so I wanted to make sure we had the best time possible. I booked us a one day trip through Tuscany using viator, which started at 07:30am and ended at around 9pm back in Rome.
This was the first large tour group I’d been in since coming to Europe, and about 70 of us climbed into a bus, where we received headphone sets and walkmans. We were basically just missing the fanny packs. Our tour guide was an Italian woman with a British accent, which sounded probably as weird as you’re thinking.
Our bus stopped for a coffee break about an hour into the drive, at a location clearly designed for us tourists. They had free samples of about….oh, 50 types of chocolate, as well as olive oil, limoncello, wine, champagne, and more. I mean I think they thought we would try only one or two, but come on, it’s me. I tried every single one. (Free!)
Breakfast accomplished, we climbed back into the bus and finished our drive through the Tuscan countryside.
Arriving at the city of Montepulciano at around 0930, we walked through the ancient village, with a guide telling us all about its history. Like how people rolls barrels full of nails up the mountain for…fun? It was absolutely beautiful, and I wish we were able to spend more time there.
Alas! Our time there ended, and we were whisked away to an ancient monastery, where we took several scenic photos and thought ravenously about lunch, which was forthcoming.
I have to say, one of the best things about being on a tour like this is the ease of it. You know how people go on cruises because all the entertainment is there, in front of you, and you hardly have to think of anything? The tour was like this. They took us from place to place, fed us amazing Tuscan food and wine, and taught us all about the history of the area. So relaxing, but also so much fun. (Especially the wine!)
To that end, we ate this crazy lunch, with approximately 1000 different kinds of cheese and wine tastings from all around the Tuscan region. And we had this…dessert wine? With a biscotti? I mean I was thinking something like moscato when I dipped my biscotti in it and took a bite…but it was more like Crown Royal. Or jet fuel. Just awful.
Afterwards, we headed to the city of Piensa, a picturesque little town famous for cheese. (according to me). We walked around the whole city, got some souvenirs, and then boarded the bus back home for another drive through the winding Tuscan countryside. There’s something just absolutely peaceful about the golden rolling hills, and it reminded me a lot of home. *tear*
Ah, well, one day I’ll go back!
Anyway, the day ended late and we were all tuckered out after the trip, so we returned to our super luxurious hotel (did I mention that? They upgraded our room for free!) and crashed out for the night.
Don’t worry though, I’ve got plenty more stories about the days ahead.
I promised a happy post and here it is. Guys, Nice is beautiful. There is a reason that the rich and famous come to play here, and that’s because this city is basically paradise. I’m sat here, on the beach, just watching the waves roll in and wondering how I got to be so lucky. In short, you need to visit. Spend some points (there’s a Hyatt here!) or get an Airbnb and just let yourself rejuvenate in this fresh French air.
Plus, a bottle of wine is only 2 bucks! I mean, that makes this place at least 1000% better.
Ok pause right now. My waiter just came over and was starstruck to learn that I write a travel blog, and that I was in fact writing about Nice at this very moment. Does that make me famous? Anyway, since he was so kind, I’ll go ahead and plug his restaurant. Everyone, go to the Neptune Plage on the beach because the wine is cheap and the view is gorgeous (and I don’t just mean the waiters).
So, what about Nice is nice? Apart from the water, there’s a lot to do. My first day here, I wandered the fresh market, picking up some of the plushest produce I’ve ever seen and enjoying it while sipping a cappuccino on an outside terrace.
Today, I gave in to my baser instincts and headed to Blast: An American Bar, where I stereotypically ate French Toast and loved every minute of it. The service was some of the bet I’ve ever gotten, so I left a 2 Euro tip (See? See how tipping is done?)
Nala and I have wandered the streets, eyeing the luxury shopping (Chanel? Gucci? Please.) and every so often visited something historic. That’s the beauty of Europe, you see. Everything is old, and oftentimes, beautifully preserved. We can find things here that predate the US by hundreds of years, still in use, and still gorgeous.
I’ve gone on a tour to see the rich and famous in Monaco. Along the way, I stopped in the medical village of Eze, which houses 40 people and a huge cactus garden because…France?
I even went to the Le Casino Monte Carlo, where I paid 10 Euro for entry and got stared at because perhaps my leggings weren’t quite in the dress code.
In short, the French Riviera is everything you’ve heard it is and more. It is elegant, grand and rich, welcoming, humble and affordable.