When In Rome

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (hi guys!) you’ll know I recently took a 5 day trip to Rome.

It was the first time I’d been to Italy and I was really excited to see what it was all about. I struggle with travel anxiety and especially in places where I don’t speak the language, but G Man had already been and had been fine so I was pretty chilled about this trip.

I’m used to long haul flights so the 2.5 hr flight seemed like a breeze. I was able to listen to the second and third Childish Gambino albums in full from take off to landing perfectly!

We grabbed a shuttle bus with a very friendly driver to our hotel and checked. The River Palace hotel is situated just off the Piazza del Popolo so was in a great location for walking to all the places we wanted to visit.

We arrived pretty late in the day so headed straight out to grab some dinner. We found a lovely little place and sat inside because it was a tad chilly. I had a great bowl of spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce. I wasn’t majorly hungry and the serving was a perfect size. I hadn’t expected this, but it seems in Italy you eat a starter, 1st course of pasta, 2nd course which is your main course and then desert. I couldn’t work out how everyone wasn’t the size of a house!

Back at the hotel we slept badly and we had decided the room as way too small (you couldn’t actually fit into the shower and my knees butted against the sink when I sat on the loo) so we upgrade and moved our belongings into our new room. The second room was much better, we even got an extra pillow each!

I was very impressed with the breakfast in this hotel, which comes as part of your room. There were pastries, pancakes, fruit, cereal, meats and cheeses, bread and hot food (scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon) and coffee with juices. All of this was buffet style so you could have however much you wanted, and the dining rooms were never too busy.

Over our stay we visited the Pantheon, The Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and of course the Piazza del Popolo, amongst other things we passed by. We also ate in some amazing places, one of which was recommended to me on twitter, Di Qua.

We actually ate here twice and I really liked the modern feel of the restaurant mixed with the traditional cuisine.

The other thing I hadn’t expected from the food was that the only things you can eat are pasta and pizza – like every restaurant had the same menu. So it then boiled down to quality, price and ambience. I think we chose pretty wisely!

We also wanted to hunt out a good gelato place, and after searching on Pinterest I saw Giolitti recommended a couple of times. When we arrived we joined a line of people to pay – you pay for the size of gelato you want, and pick up a ticket. You then take your ticket to the gelato counter, where it’s every man for himself (think Brooklyn meat deli) – I noticed whilst we were waiting that they had milk-free options and when we requested these our server was awesome. We specified that we wanted milk free and chose our flavours, and he immediately put down the cone in his hand and said we wanted a cup (I assume the cone had risk of dairy) and then went out the back for a brand new paddle which he scooped my gelato with. I really appreciated how he took my intolerance seriously without being told – much better than here in the UK. We then went outside to eat! I chose Melon and Wild Cherry flavours and they were both out of this world. As we ate the line outside for ice cream snaked out of the door. I think we chose a perfect time to go in!

Another thing I noticed whilst we were there was that people ask for their gelato in a cone, use a spoon to eat it with and then throw the cone away…. Very confusing.

We did a huge amount of walking on this trip – we hit 23k in one day alone. I’m so glad I took my Sketchers and Tevas. I also sunburned by face quite badly on one of the days…. I’m such a sunshine novice!

I took loads of photos on this trip, so here’s a selection of some of my favourites!

It was an awesome trip and although I was tired by the end, I’m very glad I visited. I’d like to see other parts of Italy now, as I now don’t have the anxiety of the language barrier. If you can recommend other parts of Italy, then please go ahead in the comments. Where should I go next?

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 3

Hello! This is my 3rd and final post rounding up my recent trip to Ibiza. If you haven’t read the other two you can read part one here, and part two here!

So after an exciting, but soggy day previous, we woke, had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then headed off to get our cab to the other side of the island and to Playa Den Bossa. At this point the rain started, rain like we’d never seen before.

Being from England we’re used to the rain, but we’re also used to it draining somewhere. Not in Ibiza. That water just sits on top of the ground. I have a wonderful memory of us all sat in the cab, chatting to the driver when the rain hit so hard. Don’t Worry be Happy came on the cab’s radio and we all (cabby included) started to sing along. It was really rather fitting with the weather being as it was.

Our hotel front was down a short path with no access from the road, and so we had to unload and carry our cases down the slope to the hotel lobby. Wading through 5 inch water in flip flops isn’t the one when your case weighs 21kg. The receptionist was wonderful and brought us dry towels before doing anything. We were delighted to find out our rooms were ready already, and so we wouldn’t have to hang about before checking in.

Our original plan had been to head to Nassau Beach where we had reserved beach loungers for the afternoon, but with the rain we knew this wasn’t possible. So we headed to our rooms, opened the complimentary wine and enjoyed our rooms until the sun cleared.

imageThe view from our balcony.

We headed to Nassau Beach club once the rain had cleared, and straight for the restaurant for lunch. I had the most amazing cocktail called a Hendrick’s Cucumber Sorbet, and Yakisoba for lunch.

imageimageThen we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening out!

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Pacha is world famous and we’d gotten tickets for their Flower Power night. Dressed in our hippy best we headed to Ibiza town to watch the sunset from the top of old town and then walked the cobbled streets for a shop and a look around until our table was ready for dinner.

La Oliva was a beautiful little restaurant in the bustle of old town Ibiza. I would have loved to visit old town in the day and had a proper good look around as the rising cobbled streets looked beautiful and something out of a painting. I’ll just have to go back!

It was at our restaurant on this evening I tried steak tartare for the first time, and really rather enjoyed it!

imageJust tilt your head for a good look…..

We then headed off to Pacha!

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The tiredness of the week catching up with me, I only stayed a few hours, but Caz and Sarah made it until around 4am because they’re hardcore!

The next morning was a fairly early start for the Aqua Boat towards the Punta Arabi Hippy Market. The biggest of its kind, this hippy market has been going for 35 years. A maze of crafts, jewellery and clothes, we spent a long time mooching and shopping the stalls.

imageI found this gorgeous rose gold tree of life bracelet to match my tan 🙂

The weather hotted up and soon we needed lunch. We had some yummy pizzas, picked up the last of our purchases and headed back to Playa Den Bossa, as we had a date back at San Antonio.

Having postponed our speedboat trip earlier in the holiday we had to return, and it was strange going back to San Antonio after moving away from it. It was kind of like visiting an old friend and I enjoyed going back to the familiar hustle and bustle.

Speed boats are very different from catamarans and we were soon wide awake from our sleepy stupour from the heat and slow pace of the day.

imageimageThere was opportunity to swim, but I decided to sit that one out, since my jelly fish sting was still fresh and itchy. We did, however get our perfect sunset.

imageIt was amazing and beautiful. The water was so calm and looked like undulating foil below our boat. We stopped just off Cafe Mambo to see the end of the sun and then danced until it was time to go back to the marina.

Paula, our skipper, allowed us into the private bathrooms at the marina to get changed and freshen up, and then we headed off to Bambudda our final meal out.

Bambudda is a fusion restaurant designed to tantilise the senses. Caz and Sarah had and shoulder massages whilst Tash and I people-watched. The food was lovely. I think if I hadn’t been delriously tired I might have enjoyed it more, but still it was a wonderful experience.

imageMe sipping on some kind of cocktail!

The next day was our last full day, and a relaxing one, which boy did we need! We caught the ferry to Formentara, a small island off the Ibiza mainland. I was promised beaches the closest I would get to going to the Maldives without actually going to the Maldives, and it didn’t disappoint.

imageimageI actually managed to catch some sleep on the beach before Sarah bought us all an ice cream (thanks Sarah!) and we headed back. Relaxed and tanned (yay!) we changed for our last activity.

Ushuaia was a club not far from our hotel, which hosts different DJ nights. I’m in a State of Trance was our night, with Armin Van Buuren headlining. It’s an amazing venue, with a pool in the centre, and it’s right under the flight path of Ibiza airport so low flying airplanes often cross your sightline over the stage, like some kind of over the top special effect.

imageimageI had a brilliant time at Ushuaia and would love to go back.

Then we headed back to pack. Our last morning was an early one, by choice. We woke, dressed and headed straight out to the beach. We wanted to catch the sunrise and give Ibiza the proper goodbye it deserved.

imageimageimageWe weren’t let down. The sunrise was as stunning as the sunset and it was a fitting end to the holiday. We got back to the hotel just in time for breakfast to begin, ate and grabbed our bags to meet our driver back to the airport.

We did a little shopping at the airport and boarded the plane for a quiet and solomn flight home.

It was amazing to see Gary at the airport when we arrived back, especially as I’d been away from him for our 9th wedding anniversary. But I really missed the girls very quickly, and I’m still missing Ibiza. I’ll definitely go back…. Girls, just pick a date and I’m there!

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Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 2

This is a follow on from part 1. If you haven’t read that yet, you might want to head on over!

So, I left you at Zoo Project. How was it? It’s all kinds of fun, right?

So the next day was Sunday, and as a lovely follow on from the days before the weather still wasn’t the greatest. Our next surprise for Sarah was postponed for the following day meaning a second 5am start, but it would be worth it. Just keep reading.

So instead of getting up super early we went back to bed for a few hours, got up and ready and not knowing what the next activity was (only Caz knew) we packed our beach bags, donned our bikinis and headed off for breakfast at Skinny Kitchen in the rain.

Gary found Skinny Kitchen one day through Facebook and mentioned it to me, knowing I was interested in eating clean. It’s a little cafe in San Antonio which provides good clean eating food on a San Antonio budget.

imageWe weren’t disappointed as we drank our yummy juices, sipped on protein shakes and nommed on pancakes, waffles and eggs on toast.

imageWe had to move inside when the drizzle started and were a little crestfallen walking to the shops and towards the marina in the rain. But by the time we’d arrived at our next destination the rain had stopped and the forecast was good.

Caz had arranged for us to go on a catamaran! Our own private boat, with a chance to swim in the sea and lunch at an exclusive beach club. Of course we didn’t know any of that at this point.

imageWe popped open the bubbly and headed out to sea. It wasn’t long before we were posing on the nets at the back of the boat… and then we anchored and headed out for a swim. Our skipper provided a paddle board and inflatable for two. As Caz isn’t a confident swimmer I offered to lounge on the inflatable with her, and then after a while jumped into the water. Only to be stung by a jelly fish…..

imageThe picture above was from the next day, but you can see it’s pretty big and it hurt somewhat. Jelly fish aren’t normally in the water this time of year, but the stormy weather had brought them closer to shore and later on we saw them in their thousands.

imageThat’s two of the little buggers but they littered the water the later we drew into the evening. Still in a little shock we were driven off to shore and to Cala Bassa beach club where I was able to collect myself and relax a little.

imageThis shot was taken for my photo bingo. As you can see I decided water was a better idea after the jelly fish incident, but you can kind of sea the shoreline beyond the bottle. It was a beautiful location, to sit and eat a yummy lunch.

imageBack on the boat we knew we wouldn’t be able to swim any more due to the jelly fish and the clouds promised a disappointing sunset, so our Skipper drove us out on a little dingy and showed us some private beaches and also Beyoncé’s Ibiza home.

We listened to music, drunk wine and watched what there was of the sunset.

imageimageimageAnd then, off in the distance I saw what I thought was either a shark or dolphin… Thankfully it was not 1 but 5 dolphins, swimming together all around the boat. Our driver was wonderful enough to keep moving the boat around so we could see them. We watched them for what was probably the best part of an hour before we lost the light.

It was an amazing experience and we were so thankful to Jose our skipper, who gave us a really unique day. From the boat we changed our clothes and headed off to Sa Capella, an authentic Spanish restaurant.

imageBuilt inside an old church, the waiters were middle-aged men with little aprons on. It was the kind of restaurant where people would be, and were, proposed to.

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Our table was up in a little alcove so set away from the rest of the tables, which was lovely and in our relaxed and happily tired states we were able to have a really good chat.

And then, in a little miss communication, they played the birthday music and brought Sarah a birthday surprise. I’m guessing they don’t understand ‘bride to be’ in Spain…

imageWe had a good giggle about that!

And then it was back home and to bed, as we had to be up in a few hours for the next surprise!

Up at the crack of dawn and very sleepy, we were picked up from the hotel by Jose (a different Jose) who drove us far and far and far into the heart of Ibiza. At which point we parked up in a field and this happened:

imageI am rather frightened of heights, but it was a good experience that I’m glad I’ve had. Though I did hold onto the side for a long time…

imageVery sleepy Erin…. Back on the ground we helped put the balloon away, and then ‘blessed the earth’….

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This was having cava with soil poured onto our heads…. as you can see from the photo, it was a little chilly…

imageAnd we couldn’t resist a selfie!

We were then taken into the very centre of Ibiza for a wonderful breakfast of tomatoes and oil on bread (for the lactose intolerant) and ham and cheese on bread for the rest. We also had coffee and fresh spanish orange juice (the best I’ve ever tasted).

And then we were back at the hotel, because we had tickets for a club to attend! Ocean Beach is a day club not far from where we were staying, with DJs, loungers, cocktails and live entertainment. We’d booked loungers on the mezzanine which overlooked the club and the pool area.

With threatening clouds, we ordered lunch pretty quickly and enjoyed some amazing hot sunshine. But then the rain came….. and it was a storm. It went for about an hour and a half constantly. Since we were dressed for pool weather we embraced it and continued to dance whilst the rest of the floor hid under a cover by the bar. We just carried on! People downstairs jumped into the pool, the music kept playing and even though we got a little chilly I’m so glad we stayed. We now have an amazing memory of dancing in the Ibiza rain!

imageHiding under sopping wet towels! When the rain stopped and the sun began to shine again we got dry towels and listened to Lovely Laura Sax playing her tunes, live, below us.

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I was rather soggy….

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We survived the rain! (Look at those clouds!)

We decided to head off earlier than originally planned, because we were chilly and soggy and headed back to the hotel. We briskly changed and then headed back out to the sunset strip for dinner and chats, before heading back to pack….. We were crossing the island the next morning!

Stay tuned for part 3, the final part of my holiday rundown……