Tag Archives | Mediterranean cruise

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

We’re quickly approaching the one-year mark since we vacationed in the Mediterranean.

It seems like only yesterday we were strolling through the streets of Florence and sun-bathing on  the deck of cruise ship!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

If your’e anything like me, you LOVE to travel, but you loathe to pack. It can be an overwhelming task, especially if you plan to travel for over a week! Planning for our Mediterranean cruise was no exception. When it came time to finally stuff my suitcase, I decided that comfort and style had to be the rule.

I wanted to look put-together, but not so much so that I couldn’t go casual when need be.

Rather than pack 15 different outfits, I needed items that could be mixed, matched and re-worn without looking too repetitive.

AND… everything I packed needed to be easily folded away without needing to be ironed once unpacked (I mean come on… I don’t even iron at home)!

I found the following items to be the cruise-wear necessities. And they served me well!

Check below for current links to my fave’s!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

The Necessities 

1. A stylish pair of sunglassesThese are a must for any vacation! And Ray-bans are my absolute favorite!

2. A timeless swimsuitOn a fancy cruise, you’re bound to feel a little classy. Just about any all-black suit will do!

3. A floppy hat. Something that makes you feel sophisticated and care-free at the same time.

4. Strappy sandalsGreat for exploring the sights or slipping on before you head to the pool deck.

5. A light jacket. You’ll most likely experience fair-weather on your Mediterranean cruise, but if you’re cold-weather-wimp like myself, you’ll want a light jacket on hand. This cargo jacket from Madewell is a personal favorite of mine.

6. A sundressPick a dress that is multi-functional! It should be comfortable for the days that you are traveling, able to be dressed up with accessories for fancy dinners, or serve as a bathing suit cover.

7. A flow-y topWhat is flow-y you ask? Just the adjective my sisters and I created to describe a shirt that doesn’t cling to you, allowing you to snack as much as you like and still feel cute. 🙂 You will be snacking quite a bit on a cruise, so a flow-y top is necessary!

8. Linen shortsThis pair is both comfortable and stylish. I live in this exact pair AAAALLLL summer!

A Packing List for Every Adventure

I am a huge fan of lists and list making! (I may or may not be working off of a list to write this post! 😉 ) Maybe you’re not about to embark on a Mediterranean cruise, but if you’re adventure bound – chances are – you’ll need a packing list!

You can download my Travel Necessities packing list here for FREE!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

 

Happy packing! 🙂

 

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The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

If you’re a travel junkie like myself, the word “riviera” probably calls to mind some stunningly picturesque images: aqua blue glistening waters, lush green landscapes, and little fishmens’ boats tied up along shore. After visiting the riveras along the Mediterranean coast this past summer, I can tell you that those quaint coastal towns live up to the hype!

There was something unique to love about each town that we visited, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t have my FAVORITE! So in countdown fashion, here are my top four most picturesque stops along the rivera. You’re sure to fall in love with them too!

No. 4 Cassis, France

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Count of Monte Cristo ruined my visit to Marseille, France. Where I expected to see cobble stone streets, active fisher’s markets, and family-owned bakeries, I found industrial shipping yards and shopping complexes. The once picturesquely historic city had been modernized. Thankfully, we took a short half-hour drive along the coast to Cassis, and our day was saved!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Cassis had everything I was hoping to find in a quaint town in the South of France: bakeries, brightly colored store fronts, and a castle looming over the city through a thin layer of clouds.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Breathtaking to say the least!

No. 3 Monaco

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

If you’ve seen Casino Royale, then you’re familiar with the beauty of Monaco! Although it is the second smallest country in world (only 2 square miles in size) it’s home to the world renowned Grand Prix and Monte Carlo Casino.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

We paid homage to the great casino where I shocked my Adventureman by winning a round of roulette! (For your reference, I’d never played the game or even gambled before!)

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

No. 2 Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was my most highly anticipated stop on our trip! I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with vineyard-studded hillsides colliding perfectly with turquoise water and faded pastel-colored buildings!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages, connected by trails and a rail. We visited four of the five towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza. I highly recommend taking time to disembark in each village to truly appreciate the beauty of each one.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

No. 1 Portifino

Nothing prepared me for Portifino. It was a city I had never heard of. We almost skipped visiting it entirely to relax on our cruise. Man, am I glad we jumped off the boat!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Portifino is a port city whose harbor is so small, we had to travel by taxi to reach it from our cruise ship. The city is literally a coastal jewel! The contrast in colors between the lush green landscape, blue water, pastel-colored buildings, and brilliant flowers is just dreamy!

Unlike Cinque Terre, this coastal jewel is relatively unknown. The minimal foot traffic gave the town an idyllic vibe.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The best place to stay in Portifino is the historic Hotel Splendido. It’s a gorgeous cliffside marvel with sparkling black and white tiles, elegant staircases, and long patios bedecked with greenery overlooking the blue harbor. In the hotel lobby next to the bar, there are autographed portraits of the old Hollywood stars who have stayed there over the years.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

We sat on the porch and enjoyed the BEST peach bellini I have ever had!

We also stumbled upon Brown’s Castle. Let’s just say if we were millionaires, we’d have ourselves a new home! 😉

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

More to Love in the Rivieras

There are so many incredible stops along the Mediterranean rivieras! I still want to visit…

…and the…

How about you? Where have you been or wish to go along the rivera?

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How to Do Rome Right: The Do’s and Don’ts

How to Do Rome Right

Rome has been on my bucket list since high school! I fell in love with the ancient city reading history text books and watching classic black-and-white movies. I could hardly wait the full two weeks of our Mediterranean adventure to meet it’s finale in Rome!

Undeniably, Rome is incredible. While you’re sure to fall in love with this city, it’s important to note that there are ways that you can either enhance your Roman holiday or seriously hinder it. Here are a few of the DO’s and DON’Ts you’ll want to keep in mind for your visit.

DO throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, but DON’T expect to get a killer picture of the moment. 

The Trevi Fountain is easily one of Rome’s most iconic attractions! The first thing I did once we dropped off our bags was dig out a coin from my purse and practically drag my Adventureman through the cobble stone streets until we found the fountain.

It was awe-inspiring for sure, but SO CROWDED! People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder just to catch a glimpse of it. Maybe you’re like me and you envision the perfect photo op that makes it seem like you have the fountain to yourself as you make a wish! There was no such moment for me! I made a heroic attempt, but as you can see, not everyone in the frame was ready for the picture!

How to Do Rome Right

Even now, I’m dumbfounded by the gorgeous crowd-less pictures I see taken at the fountain. If you know the magical incantation to make the crowds disappear… please share! 😉

DO pay for a joint tour of the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill.

Some of Rome’s most popular ancient ruins include the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill. While the Forum is free to walk through, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill require an admission fee. We chose to pay for a 3-hour guided tour that included exclusive access to all three attractions and we are SO glad that we did!

How to Do Rome Right

With an all-inclusive guided tour, we were able to schedule our day and skip the lines to enter each area. Rather than walk through the ruins on our own and have to guess what each ancient structure once was, we were given a full explanation from a history expert.

By far the best perk of our guided tour was the special access it granted us within the Colosseum. Inside the Colosseum there are many different viewing platforms. General admission only grants you access to a few of these spots. Our tour allowed us to enter all viewing areas: the top of the amphitheater, the area encircling the arena, and the underground maze beneath the arena.
How to Do Rome Right

How to Do Rome Right

DON’T walk out onto the Colosseum arena (or maybe do… just don’t get caught).

I had high expectations for the underground portion of our Colosseum tour. I fully assumed that we’d be permitted to walk among the center ruins – right beneath where gladiators once fought. Much to my bitter disappointment, we were only allowed to look across the ruins from under the eaves!

At the same time our tour was taking place, a group of archaeology students in yellow hard hats explored the center area at their leisure. I frantically looked for a discarded hard-hat in hopes of impersonating an Indiana Jones in training. No such luck. But if you should find yourself in possession of such a hat… you have my blessing! Just don’t get caught!

How to Do Rome Right

DO pre-book your small group Vatican tour.

Visting the Vatican is NOT overrated! There is so much to see. We opted to pre-book a small group tour of just our group of six. One of the best decisions of the trip! Like with the Colosseum tour, we were able to schedule our tour time, skip the enormous line, and be guided by a genuine expert. Our guide took us through the Vatican museums, the former pope’s apartments, the Sistine Chapel, and finally to the breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica.

How to Do Rome Right How to Do Rome Right

DON’T eat in the tourist hotspots of the city.

Just don’t. The food is overpriced and very Americanized. You’ll miss out on the authentic Roman flavor – sadly, like we did! You will inevitably need to eat in a tourist area, because.. well … you are a tourist checking out the sights and you will be hungry! But do your research and find out the hidden culinary gems that Italy is known for! If you find yourself in a restaurant packed with locals, you know that you’re in the right place!

How to Do Rome Right

DO rent a place using VRBO in Rome’s Centro Storico neighborhood.

We were so glad that we opted to stay in a home for rent over a hotel or hostel! Our house was situated in the heart of the Historic Center, just a few blocks away from Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. The house was beautiful, private, and surprisingly affordable when compared to nearby hotels! We felt like locals in one of the tourist capitals of the world!

How to Do Rome Right

DO go with friends.

For years I imagined that I’d honeymoon in Rome. In hindsight I’m glad that we didn’t. Honeymoons are for privacy and relaxation, but Rome is for active exploring. Sure, it’s a city of romance, but I couldn’t imagine experiencing it any differently than with four of our dearest friends!

How to Do Rome Right

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The Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

I’m not going to lie to you. Barcelona NEVER made it onto any of my adventure lists.

When I found out that our Mediterranean cruise launched from Barcelona, I had to jump onto Google to confirm that yes, indeed – Barcelona is a city in Spain! I’ll admit that I was initially disappointed when I learned that we’d be spending five days in a city that I had hardly even heard of.

But Barcelona took me by COMPLETE surprise! It was nothing like what I expected and everything I could have hoped for in an adventure-rich destination. Here are the reasons why I think you’ll fall in love with Barcelona too.

1. THE FOOD

Oh the food – by far my favorite reason to adventure to Barcelona! Since it is a port city, Barcelona has adopted many different flavors throughout the years. Whether you’re eating at a steak house, a French-inspired cafe, or an authentic Spanish restaurant – fresh seafood is always on the menu!

Spain is known for it’s tapas, or small plate meals. You’d think that serving small plate sizes would be considered a downside, but it’s actually an ingenious way to feast!

At our favorite restaurant, Cervecería Catalana, the vast variety of pre-prepped tapas were displayed behind a glass counter. As a group of friends we’d order several different platters, fall in love with the selections, then have plenty of room left in our bellies to fill up on more!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Tapas bar
Photo source

Delicious tapas like the beef tenderloin montaditos, grilled green peppers, and brie cheese covered in nuts and jam were my favorites!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

2. THE UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE

Barcelona is particularly known for it’s stunning and unique architecture. Antoni Gaudi was the mastermind behind Barcelona’s most jaw dropping structures. Gaudi’s work is more than unique, it was before his time, other-worldly even!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Gaudi’s La Pedrera, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló are all marvels… BUT…

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

…when it comes to being exceptionally unique, La Sagrada Familia Basilica takes the cake! This church has been under construction (and still is) for over 130 years! Our heads were on a constant swivel trying to capture every detail!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

3. THE HISTORY

It was a humbling moment when the girl who had to find Barcelona using a map tried to wrap her mind around the long and colorful history of the beautiful city!

What I found to be most impressive about Barcelona’s past was the city’s unrelenting commitment to their unique cultural identity. Barcelona was once part of a region ruled by kings and queens called Catalonia. Despite being conquered, occupied, and even warring with Spain itself, Barcelona has maintained a culture that is unlike the rest of the country. Today, some locals still speak Catalan as their primary language.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

And oh – if walls could talk! Every building seems to have a story to tell. The Gothic Quarter is especially spell-binding.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

4. THE CITY IS A WALK-WORTHY OASIS

Barcelona’s city planners deserve a well-earned pat on the back! Despite it’s status as a bustling city, the streets of Barcelona never felt overcrowded or dirty. Every street is lined with a lush collection of trees and plants that make you feel like you are walking through a park.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Needless to say, we happily did a lot of walking!

On one such walk, we stumbled upon the famous Mercado de La Boqueria – the market of choice for both locals and tourists.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

We probably spent all of two hours walking up and down the colorful aisles as vendors sold everything from whole legs of lamb, to fresh eggs, gelato, fish, bread, produce, and culinary spices!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

A City to Remember

So whether you’re in it for the food or the rich history, Barcelona has something for everyone! For a city that was dead last on my list, I would EAGERLY adventure there again! So what are you waiting for?! Book your flight tickets!

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