Sicily – Enter Cefalu

After settling in a London for a week, it was time to head off again to Sicily.

The closest I had ever been to Italy was Malta last summer but I was dying to get a taste of pasta, gelato, pizza… and of course see the sights.haha But yeah, I was off to Italy with the boyfriend for our first taste of Sicilian culture.

We arrived at Gatwick at the crack of dawn to take our flight via EasyJet. I was tired but nervous more than anything. I was excited to see Italy but nervous about leaving London and Trump ruining my chances for getting back in. I took a leap of faith and boarded my flight with my boyfriend mocking me the entire way.

A few hours later, we land at Palermo airport and I’m dying for the sun. We try to run through security because we don’t want to get caught behind a school group on vacation and we beat them. Small victories. We also step outside and it’s warm. Another victory! All we need to do is find the rental car and we’re off to Cefalu.

So an hour later, we have the car and we hit the road. One thing that is true, Italian drivers are a bit crazy. But we drive past rolling green fields, Mt Etna and a few farms before we arrive in Cefalu.

We find our Airbnb (it was cute but basic in the sweetest way),

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we go down to the center of Cefalu,

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and then we realize we’re starving and food isn’t really served until 7 PM (3 hours from then). I literally start to feel hangry bubbles form but we walk around and take some pictures until we stumble across tourists stuffing their faces with a slice of pizza. Out of desperation, the boyfriend asks them where they found food and 10 minutes later, we get something in our stomachs.

Although we had a full day, it felt like we arrived at night after driving across the island to the north east side. We wandered a bit more and then order pizzas to go where we sat in our Airbnb next to each other for body heat (the mountains get cold at night).

The next day, we prepared to picnic and make our way to Castelbuono for a hike.

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The hike ended up getting crazy as we couldn’t really find the designated path. The boyfriend insisted we were going the right way but I knew it wasn’t. lol We had to hop a fence, passed by a bull and then came to a pasture of bulls that he wanted to walk through. I said this aint right and eventually he agreed but it got testy.

We tried to follow walks found in this guide but they were harder to navigate than we thought.

We then head back to Castelbuono to see the city itself and take a few pictures (all was forgiven at this point).

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The next day, we had misadventures with his vape. But stay tuned for more!

 

Samana Day 1-3

The title of this blog post is called Samana Day 1-3 because although we were in the DR for two days at this point, we officially arrived and started our day / true vacation from this moment forward.

Day 1

We woke up in our beautiful all white minimalist villa to a natural green landscape covered with wildlife. Sun poked it way through the clouds as we got dressed for the day and sipped on our morning coffee and / or tea.

Beginning our Caribbean holiday the only way we knew how, we made our way down to the private beach with down our secret / private entrance.

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At the beach, we thought “Why not plan our next holiday to Italy?”  because that is what one does when tasked with sitting in the sun all day.

Later we decided that we needed to get moving and splashed around in the ocean as well as built a rather impressive sandcastle.

Full of sun, we then made our way into Las Galeras (the specific area in which we stayed in Samana) to explore the town in the daylight as well as to grab a bite to eat. We didn’t know where to go exactly but stopped in a small cafe that served sandwiches (if they want to call them that). It was quite underwhelming (some toasted bread with a thick cut cheese and ham barely melted between the two slices topped with ketchup). It was edible and cured the hunger pain but would I recommend? No.

After that, we strolled about for a bit and picked up some pastries to eat for breakfast in the morning and grabbed some food from the local market (which color me shocked – didn’t have pre packaged meats). That would be a task for the next day but let me say, it was something to cook a meal from scratch.

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We spent the remainder of the day, lounging about and finally went up the hill from our villa to a tasty restaurant serving Italian food.

Day 2

It was time to head to the beach again, this time, for a bit of working out and swimming.

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Getting a bit restless, we moved to the bar at the beach where we sipped on some “Coctel de casa” and ordered a fresh fish meal. The beach we spent most of our time at was called Javo Beach – very well maintained and lovely.

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The kitchen on the beach however, I wasn’t a fan. We ordered our meal and stood by waiting but it took like half an hour to eat. It was frustrating as people came after us and were served way faster. Maybe it was because of the language barrier or the fact that we wanted the meal to go but they forgot about us. No one wants to be forgotten on vacation – it ruins the magic of it all!

A bit after digesting, we left the beach and went on a stroll to watch the sunset at a nearby beach.

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Later we (or I) made some grilled chicken (our chicken was freshly killed, umm…..), sweet plantains and some home fry styled potatoes. It wasn’t half bad considering I was out of my element with this freshly killed chicken. haha

We ate dinner and then played some cards (rummy) in the villa, drinking our own homemade cuba libres. Was a fun relaxed night and great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Day 3

We ventured to Play Rincon from Las Galeras. Such a hard walk considering I was wearing trainers and a dress when we had to cross a beach during high tide to get there. I enjoyed it but we also got lost for about an hour before we even got started. Wandering up hills and faux paths, we trampled through the “forest” in circled before a local popped up out of nowhere and pointed us in the right direction.

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I almost died along the way and lost my shoe to some quicksand like mud. I hiked quite a bit in the blazing sun and had only a small bottle of water to hold me over. I think what made the journey seem more agonizing was the fact that we passed by multiple private beaches along the way.

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The beach was beautiful though – very quiet and the waves were crashing all around us. The one thing I did forget to do – remove my jewelry. The waves were so strong that when one smacked me in the head, it took my earring with it.

After spending a few hours here and enjoying an alcoholic drink from a coconut (aka Coco Loco) – we took a boat back as opposed to walking from three hours in the sweltering heat.

Later, I forced us to go out to dinner at a local joint we had a burger at upon arrival in Las Galeras the first night.

Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Dominican Republic Vacation #tired

Forgive me. I planned on writing about my trip to the Dominican Republic while in the Dominican Republic. I was just there to lounge with my boyfriend so figured we’d have a lot of downtime, some of which would lend itself to writing. I was wrong.

Surprisingly enough, downtime just sort of disappears on vacation. You’re doing one thing like building castles on the beach and the next thing you know, you’re making dinner and playing rummy and sipping on Cuba Libres. The night’s done and then it all flows into the next day once more.

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The trip – 8 days in the Dominican Republic. Time spent relaxing and sunning in the Caribbean as neither of us have ever been . It was an amazing time!

I plan to elaborate more but I literally just got back today after running around and trekking back on a long trip involving buses, taxis, airplanes, and more. I need a nap.

Posts will soon come but just to tide you over, below are some quick pictures from our second day in the DR. The first night was spent in Santo Domingo but we were so worn out, I forgot to take pictures (I did Snapchat so you can follow me there for in the moment updates, @aliciacbarnes).

 

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Tenerife – A Canary Island Story #2

So, still in Tenerife. Still loving it. Now we hit the next day where we were off to visit El Tiede.

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Volcano Tiede is the third largest volcano in the world. We took a nice long drive through the national park, taking in out of this world views, overlooking vistas and chowing on pastries that were literally the size of our heads. The ride up was amazing!

We did suffer from ear popping (because of the changing altitudes) but we had good conversations about life and silly things while feeling the warmth of the sun from inside the car.

When we arrived at the volcano, we took a cable car to the top which was covered in snow!

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We were dressed for summer but luckily enough brought some warmer gear with us so we wouldn’t freeze our butts off. We threw on everything we had so hopefully that explains why I had a dress on in the snow.

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I think we spent about an hour on top of the volcano, hiking about the paths and trying not to fall. I mean I was. Although there was a path, it was very slippery and my sneakers didn’t have a ton of grip so I was desperately trying not to go off the side of the cliff. I must admit I was chicken to hike up any further but the old boyfriend was egging me on to keep going.

We then came back down the mountain and warmed up before navigating out of a tight parking spot to make our way back to the Airbnb.

During our ride, I made us have an impromptu picnic in the car, overlooking El Tiede. We were both hungry and we had the sandwich supplies in the boot of the car so I figured why not. Our next destination was an hour away and usually, I always forget to feed myself properly on holiday. Somehow, that always escapes me. Eating. I get snacks but those real meals man, so hard to remember!lol

Later we made our way to El Medano to see the end of the sunrise and to chat about life as we walked along one of the volcanic beaches.

After that stretch of the legs. We were hungry again – time for dinner! We went to a spot that looked like a home restaurant. They don’t have menus, you just get what they serve you and it’s all really cheap! We had cheese and bread, slated potatoes, bacalao and garbanzo beans. It was an interesting meal for sure but definitely tasty and dirt cheap – 12 euros for two people!

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After that, we called it a day and rested up for another day of fun.

 

Tenerife – A Canary Island Story #1

This year (or rather last) was my golden birthday. 27 on the 27th. I’m glad to be alive and get older but really, that much closer to 30 and still moving through life like “huh?” I guess there are worse things. And at least, I have a better idea or inkling to do something but back to the point.

As it was my golden birthday, I decided to keep the Birthday travel tradition alive and go away this year as well as rendez vous with  my boyfriend. The meeting point, Tenerife Spain. One of the canary islands. It’d be an island getaway full of romance, sun and adventure.

To begin the trip, I left from JFK on the 26th. Desperately trying to over come some cold or flu thing that tried to take me down on Christmas Eve. I didn’t care though, I wanted to see my boo, my bags were packed and the trip had been paid for. See ya NYC!

I took two flights. A long flight from NY to Madrid and then the next leg was Madrid to Tenerife. I actually got to Tenerife at around 2:30 PM on the 27th – my birthday. I then spent an additional five hours waiting for my boyfriend’s flight to arrive so the holiday could really start. At around 8 PM, we picked up our rental and were off to our Airbnb. Yay!

Although the 27th was my birthday, we didn’t go crazy doing much. We ended up missing all the restaurants so had a dinner of scrambled eggs and bread before heading to bed and exchanging Christmas gifts. Low key but very sweet. The next morning though, we were ready to run about the island.

We tore through Puerto de La Cruz, grabbing pastries, walking about the town and taking a few pics!

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Cabello Pastry  #yum

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After that, we jumped in the car for a windy road adventure toward Buenavista del Norte – sun was out but there was also a bit of wind.

Got a little bit vain but we also took some time to take in the scenery!

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As we only really ate a light breakfast and coffee treat, we ended our day grabbing pizza and ice cream. Was really delightful! No pictures unfortunately cause we were starved but I did Snapchat it (it’s gone now).

Tenerife part 2 coming soon!

Wake Up & Smell The Hot Cocoa

So December snuck on me – that was lovely. Lovely because so many things are about to happen. A trip to Tenerife, Christmas, Holiday Parties, A Long Overdue meet up with the BF (I have one now), etc. All of this sounds so crazy but the craziest thing of all is the fact that this year is my golden birthday.

What’s that you may ask? Golden birthday is when you turn the age of the date you were born on (at least, that’s what I was told). For some, they experienced their golden birthday at the ripe age of 3. Me, I’m going to be turning 27 on the 27th this year.

I don’t really love my birthday in general. I mean, I’m glad to be alive but don’t really look forward to the whole getting older thing but this year, I don’t mind. Partly because it’s my golden birthday and I’ll be in Tenerife with my BF on that day, but the other half of that is I feel like I *may* be hitting a stride or turning point?

I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m very positive about the things to come and achieving what I ultimately want. I think 2017 will be wonderful, despite all the tragic political craziness happening around the world. I have to be optimistic though. What kind of life do I expect to lead if I can’t see greatness for myself in the future? A pretty dark one is what I think.

This feeling of general glee and excitement came over me while sipping on the hot cocoa pictured in the featured image. I was out this weekend and treated myself to some hot cocoa. Although the taste and the atmosphere of the shop I was in didn’t transport me back to London, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the progress I made and the transformations I underwent.

It was a heck of a time. A time where I experimented and truly tried to figure out who I was and where I was going. Everything was on me to figure out (how to get around, pay bills, find a place to live, find work/internship, make friends, etc). It was all hard but worth it. I accomplished so much and feel energized in a way to tackle more and continue to blaze down the path I’ve started to carve out for myself. I know I can do it, I just have to not get lost!

I feel like so many people, especially the millennial type in their 20’s, are so confused. Worried about blazing down a particular path or doing something that isn’t considered too risky for the sake of money. Money is an important thing for sure – we need it to live and satiate certain wants – but we are all soo sooo worried about it. I’d love if we could all find ways to break free of that vice. I mean I haven’t. Not even close. I still feel the pressure to bring home the green on order to live a life I can be “happy” with (note happy is in quotes because everyone has a different way in which they measure happy). I do wish we could escape it though, life might be better.

But yeah, this December I’m feeling excited about what’s to come. I believe a lot of good things have happened to me this year. I may have felt completely lost while they happened and experienced plenty of bad or traumatizing to balance it out but nonetheless, all of it needed to happen. Perhaps me drinking this hot cocoa needed to happen too – so I could truly think about the good.

Windy Walks and Cliffs in Cornwall

I didn’t imagine myself in Cornwall ever – never ever. I guess that’s strange since I went to Manchester and many people would say they’d never see themselves there. But boy, I’m so glad I went to Cornwall, in October even!
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First off, Cornwall is beautiful. There are plenty of walking paths near the coast, beaches, mini hikes, rural animals and farms, and more. It’s so quaint (but sometimes too quaint with shops closing at 9 PM and refusing to serve you food since their kitchens are closed) and the atmosphere is relaxed beyond belief.
I went there on a quick getaway with a friend. We stayed in the cutest little Chalet (hidden behind a slightly scary and narrow road) that had everything you could ask for (maps of the area, TV, wifi, mini kitchen, homemade cake and honey, etc). It was warm, peaceful and picturesque.
As soon as we got in, we made our way to one of the only open eateries near us – a fish & chips spot in Hayle. I ordered cod with some cheesy chips (fries) and my friend had the fish cake and traditional chips. Both were absolutely delicious. The portions were huge, the food was fresh (since we were so close to the sea) and the meal was cheap. Great first intro to Cornwall.
Next up, windy hikes in Porthleven and Porthcurno.
We stopped in Porthleven where we each picked up a breakfast pastry and warm drink. Again, delicious. We then walked along the harbor where we eventually started skipping, climbing and throwing rocks. I wasn’t ready immediately, I had my Michael Kors handbag in one hand and a pastry in the other but I had to roll up my sleeves and get one with nature. I wanted to enjoy all that fresh air and just sit.
After a bit of that, we were off to Porthcurno where we hiked along the coastal path. We saw “wild ponies”, sheep, castle sites, sea side views and even trekked along a small fishing village. It was a very windy day however,making it difficult to hike as there was great potential for the wind to pick you up and throw you off the cliff! We survived but there were a few close encounters.
The next few days, we took it easy, eating the Cornish delicacy called the pasty from Philps and just going on casual strolls and car rides around Cornwall.
We then took a trip down to Tintagel to see some Dark Ages ruins as well as King Arthur’s castle. It was really nice and the views were again, freaking awesome. We also had an amazing seafood meal at the Seafood Cafe in St Ives but nearly killed ourselves eating. Although the portions weren’t huge, I felt like I was going to explode after sharing a starter, then eating my meal with a glass of wine and some dessert.
I loved Cornwall! Especially the last day where we walked all over Hayle beach and got another Cornish pasty for the road. Fun times!
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