a highly detailed, luxury travel blog for those who want to take amazing vacations
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The Greek island of Santorini is exactly what you would expect - white washed hillsides, unobstructed views of glistening ocean and sleepy cobblestone streets. My husband and I spent the first week of our honeymoon here in early April, before the tourist season starts and shops and restaurants and just beginning to open up for an upcoming summer season. The views were unlike anything we've ever experienced and we look forward to returning for another stunning visit.
Marrakech is a soft introduction to the gates of Africa, with mazes of unnamed streets and busy markets enticing you to buy. For us, it was an opportunity for adventure, opposite of the ease and expectations of traveling through Europe that we were so accustomed to. After months of researching the cultural differences, I felt adequately prepared to encounter a travel shift - but I was in for a very rude awakening!
We stayed at the most incredible riad known as Riad Nomades, where our French hosts Pascal and Pierre gave us an unforgettable stay. Within the safety and serenity of the riad, we were served the most delicious meals and rested from the chaos that awaited us outside...
With that said, I probably won't ever go back to Marrakech because it encompasses everything I don't want in a vacation experience:
-An uneasy feeling
-Knowing I was being taken advantage of because I was American
-Inability to trust anyone, even for something as simple as directions
-Constantly being stared at, even while fully clothed
Now, everyone has their own experiences and this was simply mine. There are plenty of people who love visiting Morocco, but it just wasn't for me. Luckily the owners of Riad Nomades have a location in Bali and I look forward to staying with them again!
London does not disappoint when it comes to top travel destinations. There really is something for everyone - iconic buildings, rich history, a wide variety of culinary options, colorful markets and, of course, the awe of royalty. The city is extremely easy to navigate and has an intricate subway system that can get you anywhere you need to go. London is also one of the most expensive cities to visit, so prepare to pay a high price tag for nearly everything, mainly because of the conversion rate from the dollar to the pound.
-Favorite Experience: Changing of the Keys (free, but book ahead!)
-Must Do: Book Afternoon Tea
-Favorite Shop: Fortnum & Mason, the royal grocery store
-Best View: Primrose Hill
Siena is a small medieval Tuscan town, less than an hour train ride away from Florence. It is famous for their annual horse races, considered to be the most dangerous in the world for the narrow track that is established in the main square of the town. The city is divided into designated regions, signifying their allegiance to a specific horse and rider, so colors and flags are boldly (and loudly) displayed.
However, that's not why I come here. I make this a top priority day visit for one reason and one reason only - to get a few slices of my favorite pizza in the entire world. Hidden down the narrow cobblestone street of via del Porrione is San Martino Pizzaria, where you'll find locals chowing down on some of the best pies in the region. Here, you'll order from the counter and take your warm, cheap and delicious lunch to one of the few tables in this little restaurant. No frills - just perfect pizza awaiting to be devoured. Don't expect to find this in a travel guide, just ask anyone working in town and they'll point you in the right direction!
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is easily the most beautiful place I've ever been to. Literally meaning "5 lands", visitors hike along the cliffs, bouncing from town to town, soaking in the breathtaking views along the way. This is one area of Italy that is not known for the food, but has its hidden gems if you take the time to get lost before continuing on. This is especially the right region to enjoy some of the freshest seafood around, usually caught just hours before hitting your plate.
Each village has it's own personality and is worth spending some time in. It's an easy day trip, especially if you decide to take the trains to and from instead of hiking the entire journey. Just be sure to check train times, as they only come about once an hour, so you'll want to time it right.
Rome is a city filled with iconic sights around every corner, but when you take time to look beyond the crowds you find that there is a mystery about Rome that often gets missed by tourists. From the seats that line The Vatican courtyard waiting for The Pope to arrive to the glistening, golden lights of dusk, there are secrets waiting to be discovered if you look close enough.
While I've been to Rome several times now, there aren't many recommendations that I can give you that you wouldn't either already know of or be able to find on TripAdvisor. Rome is my least favorite city in Italy and even though I think everyone should see it once, that's about it.
Here are a couple secrets you might not know about:
This is one of those lesser known amazements of the city. There are very few English spots daily and the only way to get a ticket is to send in a request (via mail!), with a special stamp, to The Vatican and hope you get a ticket in return. Be sure to book as soon as possible to have any fighting chance, it’s definitely worth it!
Right in the heart of the city is this strange, but mesmerizing spot where the bones of friars adorn the rooms of these crypts. It's so strange that you have to see it for yourself and definitely worth a visit.