Well, my first three months of travel are over! And as you read this, I am en route back to the States, where I will spend just over a month catching my breath, hopefully making some money, seeing my friends and family, and kissing the shit out of my dog. But don’t worry–I’ll also be furiously planning my next round of travels (and as I said, I have a few things in mind–just need to actually take the time to start booking a few things and look at logistics).
In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a rundown of the past few months–the places I’ve seen, quick highlights of the experiences, and little teasers for what you’ll soon see on my blog (because let’s face it–I’ve had a seriously difficult time keeping up with blogging as I’ve been traveling, and I have a lot of stuff yet to put out!).
I just counted: I’ve been on the road for 80 days now; 69 of those outside of the US.
To say that I’m exhausted is kind of an understatement. When planning my travels, I didn’t really take into account that this isn’t just a two-week holiday that I can muscle through and then go home and relax for a week afterward to play catch up on the intense speed at which I travel. In the two-and-a-half months that I’ve been traveling, I’ve only had about five days of rest. Couple that with jumping around between cities/countries every few days and the fact that I have to unpack and repack my entire life each time, then be overly conscious about where my things are at all times so I don’t lose something/have something stolen/whatever, and I’ve hit it: travel burnout.
University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is not only the focal point of the campus and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but it’s also something even cooler–it’s the real-life version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
In a train car traveling en route from Camogli to Bologna via Milan, Italy, I’m trying to concentrate on reading Forty Rules of Love. I’ve read and re-read the same paragraph a couple of times, unable to stay focused.
All I can hear are the sounds surrounding me: computer keys clicking as Cindy types; a woman licking her finger and angrily flipping pages in her Italian beauty magazine while muttering things under her breath; the train engine whirring at its current stop; distant chatter in Italian from other cars; occasional text messages coming through or phones ringing. Tap tap tap tap lick turn tap tap hiss “allora” lick turn tap tap chirp chirp hiss.
We arrive late to Milan—the connection to Bologna has already left. In the queue at information, Italian tempers flair as the information desk gentleman gets reamed out by one angry customer after another. Hands are flailing about in flamboyant gestures as words fly rapid-fire out of Italian mouths—I only manage to catch every few words, and even though I know it’s angry and the words are nasty, it sounds so beautiful to listen to.
Chuflay, which got its name years ago from shooing flies away from the gorgeous food, is in a fantastic location–right along the water’s edge in Portofino, providing some fantastic views of the harbor, but set back far enough that you won’t be bothered by the hustle and bustle of the influx of tourists.
When you think about Italy, what images are conjured up? For me, the first thought is always bright buildings, laundry lines, beautiful harbors filled with boats, dramatic hills with huge estates, and Italians going about their everyday lives.
“A small village, Portofino, stretches crescent-shaped along the edge of this calm bay.” – Guy de Maupassant
When I woke up around 10am, I felt like the previous day had been a dream—the short train ride from Genoa to Santa Margherita Ligure; the bus trip around winding, blind curves hovering on cliffs just above the sea on the way to Portofino; and finally, the arrival at the gorgeous Hotel Splendido.
But when I wandered out of the bedroom and into the living room, and clicked the button to raise the electric blinds, I realized it was all very real. I couldn’t help but stand in that exact position with a wide smile as I watched the view of Portofino’s yacht harbor come into view. I eagerly threw the glass door open and walked out onto one of the two terraces in the suite in which I was staying. For a few minutes I soaked up a bit of sun, breathed in the fresh air, and marveled at view of the tree-covered hillsides and sparkling blue waters dotted with boats.
As the plane descended into Genoa, Italy, I couldn’t help the perma-smile on my face. This was Italy. I was back. Italy has (obviously) always held a special place in my heart, and seeing the hills, the colorful houses, the aquamarine water—it felt like I was seeing Italy again for the first time. (Really though, this was only the second time I’ve flown into Italy—and that last flight was seven years ago!)
When I visit a new place for the first time, I always do a bit of research on the neighborhoods in which to stay, and then try to find the perfect accommodation for that city.
Genoa is pretty small in comparison to other cities in Italy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in accommodation choices. When Cindy and I were planning our trip to Italy, we only really had two criteria: it had to be central and needed to have good reviews. Thankfully, she’d been to Genoa the year prior and had a pretty good hold on the city and already knew of a great place to stay—the Genoa City Best Western. She’d visited for a bloggers conference, and the hotel staff let all the bloggers take a tour of the penthouse suite while she was there, so she knew that the hotel was a great option for us.
I took a one-day bus tour through the Highlands and knew it wasn’t going to be enough for me. I needed more than just a taste of those mountains and lochs. As luck would have it, my friends and fellow travel bloggers, Pete and Dalene, were housesitting in Fort William, so I decided to spend a few days in that area catching up with them, cheating on my dog with the two pups they were dog-sitting, and going on a hike with Pete that may or may not have almost killed me. (Seriously, I thought my thighs got a workout in Edinburgh, but they didn’t know the level of burn they were about to experience in Fort William.)