How to Deal when you Can’t Travel

I’m a traveler at heart and always have been, ever since I accidentally fell into the world of aviation and found myself as an International Flight Attendant. It’s there in 2010 I got my thirst for travel and you could say was bitten by the bug as life has never been the same again. I’m always thinking about travel, what jobs I can do which will allow me to travel and where I am planning to go next.

However, regardless of how glamorous and up to date my instagram appears, I’m still figuring it out. The truth is I created Santorini Girl when I lived in Santorini. As life happens I’ve found myself back in Ryde, Sydney, Australia (my hometown) and I started thinking to myself ‘how can I run a credible travel blog if I’m just back home?!’

So I’m writing this piece today to be truthful and authentic about my experience as a travel junkie who has to suck it up, pay my bills and keep living life whilst trying to encourage others to travel and see the world.

So Here’s my Top 10 Tips for Not Going Insane When you Can’t Travel

  1. Always have your next trip in mind, not necessarily planned, but a broad idea of where you want to go next. Mine’s Santorini (wow big surprise there!) for my close girlfriends wedding in June 2019, haven’t planned a thing yet but I know it will all fall into place.
  2. Explore somewhere new in your own backyard. I currently work at a hotel in Sydney and the amount of tourists that come through and tell me about their experiences I’ve never heard of in Sydney astonishes me. Get out there and do something new. Recently I was invited to a friends house across the road from where I live, and there was a FREAKING RESORT STYLE POOL in there….actually felt like I was in Bali! Ok not such a big new experience but definitely shocking that this had been across the road from me this ENTIRE time and I had no idea. Open your eyes.
  3. Take Mini Breaks on Weekends. If you’re savvy like me you can always plan a little ahead when airfares go on sale and go visit your friends interstate, a short break and a scene change does wonders for the incessant travel junkie inside me and gives me just enough of a hit to keep me going through another mundane week back home.
  4. Visit an Authentic (insert nationality here) Restaurant. One of my favourite things to do is go across the road to a Greek restaurant called Platia. They do a $29 all you can eat special on Mondays and Tuesdays and the owner is always giving me more complimentary lefko krasi (white wine) and it feels almost as authentic as if I were sitting at a taverna in Greece myself.
  5. Keep in Touch with Fellow TravellersMy favourite thing about travel is always meeting new people! Keep the vibe alive and stay in touch when you can, I have a few people I met in Europe this year visiting Sydney over the Summer and I cannot WAIT to see them and reminisce about our holiday over a wine or two.
  6. Show Someone around Your City. This kind of touches on what I said in point 2, seeing the city though someone else’s eyes and having the opportunity to be there with them and guide them to your favourite places about town is an experience I find so very rewarding when their face lights up with excitement. Hey I may of seen this 1000 times, but seeing it though someone else’s perspective is always an eye opener and definitely heart-warming.
  7. Save, save, SAVE! You probably don’t need that new cute t-shirt. Put it down and think about the sunset in Croatia you will be watching while sipping on a cocktail in 6 months. We live in a fast paced consumerist society, but you don’t have to keep up with everyone else. Make yourself happy and invest in a little old fashioned saving. Open an ING Everyday Savings account and earn interest on your savings. Plus you can use that card overseas and not get charged ATM or International transaction fees! Winning!
  8. Music is Your Best Friend. Whenever I’m feeling a little shitty like I’m NEVER going to get out of Ryde I pop on my favourite playlist from Europe (the 2016 one is better than the 2018 one) and dance my little heart out. Memories when firing in that cute brain of yours will increase endorphins and good times, sure it’s in my bedroom and not on an exotic beach but that’s why we travel right? To create these times to remember later.
  9. Meditate. Especially in nature or at the beach, it has a calming effect and you can literally  imagine yourself wherever you want to be in the world at that moment. Saves you on the airfare too.
  10. Don’t Forget Travel is a Constant in Your Life and Before you Know It – You Will be on a Plane Again. I recently figured this one out and it relieved a lot of the pressure I was putting on myself to get out there and travel again. I can bring as much content and love to this blog sitting here in Ryde as when I do sitting in Ireland or Italy. Travel will come again and it will be awesome. Til then I’ma keep you all updated with everything that happens in between travel and beyond.

With love

Santorini Girl

Sail Croatia – Beautiful this Time of Year

So for the past week I have been M.I.A mostly because I was having too much fun onboard Sail Croatia! (the other reason is because I was more than likely a little hungover)

I booked in to do the Navigator Cruise, a fun party tour that takes you around all the Croatian Islands including Hvar, Makarska, Korcula and Dubrovnick. I was on the Split Return (South) trip.

We set sail last Saturday and as I boarded the boat ‘Mlini’ I thought to myself

‘You have got to be joking! They want me to skip and hop across HOW many boats with my luggage to get to my vessel!’

It was truly an enlightening experience for me. So as I struggled and dragged my suitcase across 4 boats I finally got to mine. It probably didn’t help that Split nightlife had also got the better of me the night before and had zero sleep.

I met my cabin buddy Kate, also a female solo traveler in her 30s! Praise the lord I had found a likeminded similar aged person to share extremely close quarters with for the next 7 days.

We settled in and went upstairs to meet the rest of our fellow travellers and what a bunch of beautiful people they are. Mostly Australians (no surprises there) with a couple of Canadians (for good measure) some Brits (to try and keep up with the Aussies) and a lovely Irish girl!

We were welcomed onboard by our representative Ivan who then introduced us to the crew, Captain Dennis, boat owner Antonio, chef Fadjula and  waiter Tom.

The boat also came with free wifi which worked intermittently but also helped to connect to the outside world.

DAY 1 HVAR Saturday

We left the port of Split and headed towards the island of Hvar. I was terribly sick from the night before so I took a nap like any good 32 yr old should. At the front of the boat the others got to see a dolphin that was swimming alongside us. Upon arrival in Hvar, I missed the first water taxi that took us over to the port. Oops. But luckily so did my roomie Kate and the 2 Canadians Rory and Brett. So we commandeered another water taxi that took us across to meet the others. We hiked up to the top of a mountain and got to see an amazing good view of Hvar. I would’ve enjoyed it more however I was still extremely ill, guys DON’T DRINK the night before a sailing trip…..TRUST ME!

I felt like I was dying as we made our way down the hill and we all grabbed dinner in a local restaurant and then went out for drinks, I’m surprised I lasted so long!

Kate and I were staying in a lower deck ensuite cabin and were woken up at 5am to the abrupt sound of the engine humming away taking us to our next destination. I actually kind of found it soothing! Like really intense white noise.

DAY 2 – 1 BEFORE 10 – KORCULA Sunday

So when you travel with an eclectic mix of 20 something to 30 something year olds – you’re going to expect to drink. Enter 1 before 10, the fun rule that states one must drink 1 alcoholic beverage before 10am or have to drink 10 before 1pm. I think I lasted about 3 days until I figured out I can just hide in my cabin until the others had forgotten about it. Haha.

As the music flowed from the top deck of the boat we stopped for swimming enroute to our destination and of course I jumped on a pink inflatable flamingo as soon as I could with drink in hand.

Every day Fadjula would prepare us a lovely 3 course meal for lunch and I must say every meal without fail was delicious. All of the food had a very authentic and homemade quality to it. We had salads, pasta, soup, meatballs, chicken and an array of Croatian dishes.

We arrived in Korcula where they was an option for a Kayaking trip. I know my limits. I know my arms. I know my attention span. So I knew this wasn’t for me. Most of the group went off on their kayaking adventure whilst 4 of us hung back and decided to go and check out the town.

John, Jack, Kate and myself ventured out and found the most AMAZING small beach just outside the main town. The hues of blue and green set my soul on fire! The pure beauty of this place was incredible and I just couldn’t wait to get in the water. After a short swim and some photos we head back to meet all the others and hear about their Kayaking trip. Suffice to say they would’ve preferred they came with us as the Kayaking activity went for a little too long and wasn’t really the relaxing tour they thought it would be. Beach and wine, thats the only activity I’ll sign up for!

Ivan, our representative then took us on a short tour of the town before heading up to a rooftop restaurant where they served a set menu however I just opted for a Greek Salad, which I coped a lot of flack for!  Dinners at restaurants average around 100 – 120 kuna per night ($26AUD) including a couple of glasses of wine which is not inclusive to the boat trip.

After dinner we head back to the boat for some pre drinks and card games, Tom our waiter was awesome and kept our drinks flowing. Every time someone rang the bell that meant they shouted everyone a shot. That bell rang alot!!!!

We went out to another local bar that evening and partied with all the other cruises that were about town as well. As it was September there weren’t as many people around but I kind of actually preferred it because it wasn’t so intense but still a fun time.

DAY 3 DUBROVNIK Monday

We cruised into the port of Dubrovnik and docked there for the next 2 days. Kate and I went off to explore and ended up at the nearby beach Copacabana. We caught an Uber there for only $6. Ubers are really cheap and also safe in Croatia. We ordered a couple of glasses of Prosecco and enjoyed the afternoon vibes.

We all met for dinner at a local restaurant at the port. I had an uncooked mussel in my serving (literally clear as day) but the waitstaff didn’t seem to care. Haha. When I informed the waitress she simply told me to put it ‘over there’ and pointed to where the other mussels shells were collected. Bemused I followed her instructions and made sure I checked every mussel before I ate it!

After we head back to the boat for another round of drinking games before getting ready to head out to Sky Bar. Sky Bar is a tourist bar with really good music and well priced drinks (and buckets) although I only stuck to drinking wine out of a straw!

Stumbling through the streets at 3am looking for a bakery we finally found one, when I asked for ketchup with my spinach pie the lady screamed at me NO KETCHUP! I didn’t order ketchup again.

DAY 4 DUBROVNIK Tuesday

Woke up Tuesday morning to sneak out of my cabin with Kate to avoid doing our 1 before 10am shot and we grabbed breakfast at the local mall. After a spot of shopping we went to meet the others to go and ride dune buggies atop a mountain in Dubrovnik.

Upon arrival we were giving hairnets, helmets and face masks to stop the dust from going everywhere. After a quick safety briefing we jumped in our 250CC dune buggies and set off along the rocky road. I drove for the first half of the  ride and Kate the second. I personally think the dune buggies could of gone a little faster with us only hitting a top speed of 30Km/h but hey safety comes first! We saw an amazing view of Dubrovnik high atop the mountain and took some pretty good photos.

Kate and I then went and got a massage at a local Thai place for around $80 AUD for the hour. It was well priced for the service we received.

After we all met up for a quick bite to eat and then went to Club Revelin, as to was a Tuesday night with no specific event on we all got in for free. Some of the guys opted to go into VIP whereas Kate and I just hung out near the front close to the DJ. Mostly tourists and other sail boat cruise travellers in there, I think it would be an awesome venue to see a favourite DJ play at!

DAY 5  MLJET Wednesday

We sailed up to one of the most beautiful national parks I have ever seen in Mljet. Everyone opted
to stay on the boat except Kate, Cherie and I and we went off to explore. We walked about 1.5km to get to the entrance of the park which cost around $27AUD for entry. Beautiful landscapes consisting of lush greenery and the bluest water I have ever seen made for an incredible sightseeing day. We jumped on board another small boat which took us over to St Marys Island which is home to a monastery. After checking it out in only 20 minutes we head back to the main part of the national park, took a quick dip and then went back to meet the others on the boat.

We had a chill night this evening and had a BBQ on board. It was delicious and probably one of my favourite meals.

DAY 6 MAKARSKA Thursday

TONIGHT WAS THE NIGHT. The night of the Pirate & Sailors Party! We pulled up to port and were escorted by Ivan over to the pirate party shop where we could get supplies for the celebrations later that evening.

Kate and I got ours and then went on an unsuccessful mission to find a place to get our nails done which didn’t end up happening. However we did get a much needed nana nap in before it all got crazy again. Our ships owner Antonio shouted us all dinner that night which was a beautiful Pasta Carbonara.

It was our last big party night so everyone got dressed up and we had another round of pre drinks on the boat. The cave club where the party was held was just a few metres away from the port so we stumbled over and continued partying into the night. The club was a little smaller than expected however it had a good vibe and everyone had a good time.

DAY 7 Arrival back to SPLIT Friday

The end was near and we arrived back into the port of Split after a quick swimming stop in the morning, We had another day to ourselves so Kate and I went and got mini facials at Dermologica and finally got our nails done, although mine turned out terribly!

We all met up for dinner one last time at a restaurant on the foreshore of Split’s port and celebrated the last 7 days that we have had together, it was also John’s birthday so we sang and got him a really tiny piece of cake.

Overall my favourite thing about this sailing trip would definitely have to be the people I met. I was so lucky to be put on the cruise I was assigned to, a really fun and caring and loving bunch of people!! I couldn’t of asked for anything more.

Now off to SANTORINI! Where I will be reviewing all my favourite places to eat, see and stay!

With love

Santorini Girl

 

Pub Crawl & the Curious case of the Chihuahua

Split is absolutely amazing, I think I have found my new spirit home! Everything is pleasing to my soul from the beaches, the innate natural beauty, the cafes, the restaurants, the shopping and the nightlife! Its a perfect mix of city and island life to me all set in the magnificence of the Mediterranean. 

The first night I decided to put my big girl pants on, head out solo and see what this beautiful place had to offer. My hostel had given me a flyer for a pub crawl so I thought why the hell not! Meeting near the Bell Tower the instructions were to look for a green umbrella. So off I went to seek out this mystery umbrella which I found quite easily. After kind of nervously making eye contact with a few people ( I got up at 4am that morning for my flight – tired does NOT work well with me)  and started having some conversations, meeting people from all the over world and of course…..Australia. We are literally everywhere. But I love it! 

We started at a club where we got free drinks for 2 hours and played beer pong and ate pizza. Its the first time in a long time I’ve been out like this and I had to remember how to let loose! 

It didn’t take me long. 

Throughout the night we visited 2 bars and a club and I partied the night away. The music was perfect, the company was awesome and it was a great way to break the ice and meet new people. 

I will be writing more on experiences and the beauty all around me after I complete my Sail Croatia trip which I set sail tomorrow! 

For now I want to share the story about the curious case of the Chihuahua. 

Yesterday as I was basking in the sunlight on Trstenik Beach I was chilling out reading by book and tanning. I was sitting right in front of Cox Bar and I could hear their tunes playing, mostly deep house which was most enjoyable. 

However towards the end of the day the song ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton came on. Obviously a very sad song about his son’s tragic death which reminded me of my fathers own tragic and sudden death. 

With a tear in my eye I put my head down and held onto that moment as sometimes this is how I feel connected to my Dad, a memory, a song, anything really that takes me to a moment where I hold his memory in my heart so strong. I then started contemplating the dog my father gave to my mother just before he passed, Honey. Honey was already an older ‘senior citizen’ when we got her so 3 years on her health is ailing. I had the thought that when she goes she will be going through the gates of heaven and my father will be waiting for her. A comforting yet emotion revealing thought to have.

Just then as I was opening my teary eyes and lifting up my head a Chihuahua was right in front of me. As soon as I looked at this gorgeous pup it RAN over to me and nestled itself right under my chin and started licking me furiously! This cute little thing wouldn’t stop! Madly licking my face and my arms and then sitting down and what I can only believe comforting me! 

In that moment I knew, we are all connected, all is one and my father is definitely around and looking out for me. I was so super grateful for that unexpected experience. It was the timing that blew me away, that a dog – which I was just thinking about in connection to my father was there for me. 

Animals definitely know whats up! After this Chihuahua simply walked off and returned to his family and sat with them. A happy coincidence or something more? I like to believe in something more. 

Until next time 

Santorini Girl 

IMG_1793IMG_1766IMG_1765IMG_1770

Quick Trip to Verona

Yesterday I was asked by my other cousin Lorenzo if I wanted to take a trip with him and his girlfriend Alessandra to Verona or Turino. After a quick Google search I decided on Verona, even though there was an impending storm on approach I optimistically thought it would all magically fall into place.

We drove 2 hours west towards Venice from Saronno, near Milan. I have no idea what the speed limit was but I feel like we were going pretty fast on the autostrade and got there 15 minutes earlier than expected.

The storm clouds were gathering, but that just made for an awesome backdrop for all my photos.  We parked up and headed towards Verona arena, as we were in a bit of a rush to miss the storm I decided to skip seeing inside the arena and went on a mission to find the balcony of Juliet.

Verona is a very stylish town yet it has an old school charm. With many speciality shops and designer labels lining the Main Street it is definitely a good place to visit for a spot of shopping.

We head down the streets and got lost a few times but on the way got to see the main square, churches and a LOT of balconies. All of them teeming with beautiful blooming flowers. Finally we found Casa di Guilietta and for 6 euro entry I got to stand on her famous balcony. Not sure if taking multiple selfies is what Juliet envisioned for her balcony to become a platform for but none the less I enjoyed the experience and the vibe of the people all visiting too. Up next I was told I needed to touch the boob of the statue of Juliet for good luck, I did so and took another selfie grabbing it. Again, not sure if this is what Shakespeare envisioned his literature would lead to but hey such is life! The ominous clouds filling the sky was like poetic symbolism to how Shakespeare’s characters must of been feeling when they enacted this famous balcony scene, that a storm was brewing and on the way.

And oh boy did it storm! Luckily my cousin and I were inside a shop when the first down pour happened, and then met with Alessandra and made it back to the car and departed before the flash flooding occurred! I was happy dancing in the rain back to the car, but I hope no one was too severely impacted by yesterdays weather.

I’m so sleepy and I have an entire shopping day in Milan tomorrow…

Until then

Santorini Girl

A Road Trip to Lake Como 

Travelling solo I’m always happy to see a familiar face so when I arrived in Milan Central Station on Wednesday I received a  big warm hug from my cousin Alessandro. I was lucky to find him as I didn’t have a wifi connection but these things always seem to sort themselves out. I’m staying here for a week before heading off to Split. I only booked my connecting flight the day I arrived to depart next Wednesday 5th September with Easy Jet for the low cost of only 60 euros including a 23kg bag. Its really fun and exciting to only book and plan a few days in advance but also totally doable. 

The next morning my cousin had organised a surprise day trip up to Lake Como as its relatively close to wear he lives. What I didn’t know was he had planned for us to go on his Ducati. What an experience! Expect nothing, get everything! 

Before our departure I was suited up in full Ducati gear including helmet, gloves and a heavy duty jacket. Not the best attire for a 29C day however completely necessary for safety’s sake. 

We head off along the autostrade and I dare say we got there quicker than if we would’ve taken the car. Our first stop was at a little lakeside town called Argegno where we had a quick pit stop and a few photos of course. 

Then we were off again to go ‘up the mountain’ as Alessandro said. We weaved our way though the windy roads and arrived at the summit Balconi D’Italia meaning the balcony of Italy. 

Balcone D’Italia is an amazing view of where Italy ends and Switzerland begins and absolutely breathtaking. Its quite close to Lake Como and I highly recommend anyone who is visiting the area to take the extra 45 minutes to head up the mountain and see this view. It’s incredible and totally worth it. I had no idea I would be seeing Switzerland when I woke up this morning! There is a small restaurant at the summit serving simple meals and sandwiches, I had the prosciutto e mozzarella which was perfect for a midday snack. I also saw the most AMAZING bee I’ve ever seen. It was black with blue wings, I didn’t even know they existed – l’ve been encountering a lot of bees on this trip (maybe its my new spirit animal) but none like this before. I think my cousin was a little disappointed I was more excited about the bee than the view haha. 

We then continued down the mountain and caught the ferry to Bellagio. Bellagio is a very cute fancy little lake side town, with cobblestone streets and the charm of a fairtytale. We parked the bike and went for a walk and I bought some really beautiful silks in a shop called Azalea, a historic store in Bellagio boasting customers such as Goldie Hawn and now me.  All are made in Como and are of high quality, costing me only 46 euro for 2 I think I did really well. 

After a long day we headed home winding our way through the mountains and tiny villages of Lago di Como. The fresh air hitting my face I was sure to breathe in all in. Seeing the area by motorbike was really rewarding as I feel I got to see a lot in a small amount of time, if you would like more information on motorbike tours throughout Como please contact me via the contact form above. 

Tomorrow I think I’m off to explore the city of Milan, but who knows? Traveling with no plans always has its unexpected surprises!

Until then 

Santorini Girl 

SHOP: Azalea – Silk of Como 

WEB: azaleabellagio.com 

ADVICE: The lady in the shop was extremely helpful and didn’t make me feel bad when I picked the most expensive piece in the shop and said its probably a little bit out of my price range, Instead she said I have good taste and showed me some more affordable pieces. A great experience and great value for money 10/10 

LANDMARK: Balcone D’Italia 

LOCATION:Lanzo d’Intelvi, Province of Como

ADVICE: Do it! Especially if you are staying in Lake Como head up that mountain and check it out. An unexpected and awesome view of the border between Italy and Switzerland. 10/10 

TRAVEL HACKS GONDOLAS AND FIRST CLASS TRAINS

Hey everyone! This will be a quick one as I’m currently traveling from Venice to Milan on a super speed Italo train, its pretty cool to be writing this post whilst the Swiss Alps are gliding by outside the window. 

So as a solo traveler you sometimes have to do some pretty romantic shit alone. Take for instance a gondola ride. At first I really wasn’t too into the idea because I thought I wanted to save that experience to do with someone special in the future. However my mother INSISTED I take a gondola ride! “How can you go to Venice and NOT have a gondola ride?!’ she said. So I asked around and found out a private gondola ride is 100 euro (about $160 AUD) which wasn’t something I was prepared to pay for, a romantic lonesome gondola ride haha. 

(TRAVEL HACK) So I went on viator.com (from the advice of my good friend Ally in Ireland) and found a ride for 41 euro. Furthermore as it was the first time I was using Viator I got an extra 10% off. So for 36.9 euro ($58 AUD) I booked in to have a romantic adventure for one. 

When I arrived I was happy to see it was a SHARED experience, meaning they pack 6 strangers into a gondola and float around the canals. I proudly went up to the front and said ‘UNA GRAZIE!’ (one please) proudly stating my singleship (its a new word I just made up….go with it ) and got assigned to a gondola with some lovely Canadian ladies. It was a quick 30 minute trip around the canals, with our gondoliers dressed in traditional garb accompanied by a singer and accordion player on one of the other gondolas. A great experience and Im so happy my mum encouraged me to do it! 

(TRAVEL HACK) Now as I said before I’m on an Italo train going from Venice to Milan. I booked about a week in advance using an app called Trainline EU. It gives you all the train schedules in the EU. I was surprised at the low cost of the train I chose at only 14.50 euros for a first class ticket. The trick is to search different days and different schedules to get a really good price, as long as you can be a little flexible. This train ride has been more comfortable than an aircraft and they served me a complimentary drink and snack plus I have a really comfortable spacious seat. I may consider travelling by train again for the next leg of my journey from Italy to Croatia (still not booked!) 

Ok I’ve gota jet – meeting my cousin Alessandro in Milan in about 10 minutes! 

Until then 

Santorini Girl 

Beaches in Venice

Venice is well known for its beautiful city that meets the waters edge, the gondola rides, the Grand Canal and those freaky looking masks.

What many people don’t know (myself included) was that Venice is also home to a few coastal beaches. Whilst I love exploring a new city, the beach and the sun is where my soul resides. So when I was researching Venice and things to do, I popped in the search term ‘beaches in Venice’ on Google and was happily surprised to find a couple.

LIDO DI VENEZIA

Lido Di Venezia is probably the most popular tourist beach with a free public access area. The ACTV water ferries operate every 15 – 30 mins from all the popular wharfs. I caught the number 2 ferry from San Toma to Lido. It takes about 40 minutes and is 7.50 euro for a 75 min ticket. I ended up purchasing a 24 hour ticket for 20 euro which allowed me to return on my first day and go over the next morning again. After a short walk down the street you will find the beach, lined with umbrellas and sun lounges. Of course these are an extra cost, 18 euro for an umbrella and sun lounge combo. Not one to make a impulsive purchase, I had a look around and found Aurora Bar to the left of the umbrella sales desk. I went in and asked if I purchased a drink and some food if I could use their sun lounges. Of course this was not a problem for them, and voila! I got a free sun lounge AND food and beverage service for the bargain price of 5 euro! 3.5 for a prosecco and 1.50 for a bag of chips…winning!! And more cashflow to spend on more wine and food.
I also ate lunch at Aurora, they serve a cute little wood fired pizza for 6 euro. In the afternoon after I had sufficiently baked, I headed down to the water and had a short swim, fell asleep on the beach and woke up just in time to catch my ferry back.

BAGNI ALBERONI

Bagni Alberoni is a little further away but so worth the journey, Again catching the ferry to Lido di Venezia I then boarded the ‘A’ bus to Alberoni. I had no idea if I was on the right one but the island is small so I thought whats the worst that can happen! Gratefully, it was right and some friendly locals told me where to get off the bus, it took around 30 minutes. Bagni Alberoni is a more secluded beach with not so many tourists and more locals. Unlike Lido di Venezia it was free to use the public bathrooms and the beach staff were more warm and welcoming. I hired a sun lounge for 8 euro and chilled out all day (and tried to fix my patchy sunburn from the day before!) The sun is STRONG in Italy, I thought it would be less burny as there is still the protective o-zone layer here. Oh how wrong I was, so slip slop slap! I had lunch at the restaurant on the beach, getting a delicious buffalo mozzarella sandwich with fresh tomatoes and basil, accompanied by a couple glasses of Pinot Grigio. It was only 7.50 for all! I highly recommend making the extra journey down to Alberoni as you get to see a more authentic side of Venice.

Next time I come to Venice I would consider staying on the beach side of the island as there is easy access to ferries and there is more of a beachy vacation vibe, with restaurant lining the streets and boutique stores selling local fashion.

Tanned & happy

Santorini Girl

My First 24 Hours in Venice

After a relatively quick flight over from Dublin taking only 2 hours and 10 minutes, I landed at Venice airport around 10.30pm. As I had priority seating in 1F I was first off the aircraft. Jumped on the tarmac transfer bus and got my bag pretty fast. For some reason as I was walking though to the arrivals terminal I had the thought, not all things always go to plan. Maybe it was intuition, maybe a coincidence but boy did things take a turn from the moment I stepped outside.

I had purchased a voucher from Expedia for a transfer from Venice Airport to my hotel. The voucher says “ Drop off – Haven San Toma” so I thought I was being clever by booking ahead. Unfortunately the lady at the bus stop informed me I would be getting dropped off at a bus terminus and would have to make the rest of my way on my own and probably have to get a water taxi. By the time we got to the bus terminus it was around midnight and a storm was brewing! I found the water ferry stand and as I was waiting my turn the skies opened up and I got absolutely drenched! So there I am soaked to the bone with 2 suitcases and a wet summer hat on my head.

To make matters worse the ticket machine wasn’t taking my VISA and I was 20c short of my fare in change. Luckily some kind soul saw me struggling and gave me the extra 20c. He then showed me to the ferry stand and I waited for the boat to take me in the direction of my hotel.

By now it was a full on storm, as beautiful as Venice is – it looks god damn scary at night when you’re all alone at midnight trying to navigate the streets with no wifi. Lucky I had taken a screenshot of the location of my hotel at Venice airport when I had access to wifi.

As we approached San Toma wharf the rain started up again. I bravely stepped off the boat into the empty streets, put my game face on and set out to find my hotel.

After what felt like going around in circles I recognised the common area of the hotel through a window and begged the guy inside to open the door, soaking wet and exhausted I checked in.

The hotel itself is centrally located, simple but all I need. I have a single room with a shared bathroom. Its clean and neat and most important I feel safe. At only 35euro a night its a steal!
The front desk staff are also very helpful and friendly too.

Today I took the opportunity to see Venice on foot. It is a mild 22C today so not as hot as the 31C days they have been having (until the day I arrived of course…ugh) So I thought it would be best to see everything when its a bit cooler and then head off to Venice Lido tomorrow when its warmer again.

I started in Campo San Toma and headed up through Campo San Stin, where I think I have found my new favourite wine and panini place! La Bottiglia is a cute little bar with fresh local ingredients and very welcoming staff. Having no idea what to order, the lovely girl asked me if I trusted her and I said yes of course! She served me a prosciutto, semi dried tomato and ricotta panini alongside a glass of Italian white wine, it was delish! I’ll be heading back there later tonight.

After lunch I walked up through Campo San Silvestro and across Ponte Rialto down to San Marco and St. Marks Basilica. Because it was an overcast day there wasn’t so many people out but was still busy. I continued down through Campo San Maurizio and across Ponte Accademia and came back up through Campo Santa Margherita. I was doing SO well with my little map I got from La Bottiglia, until I went too far up and ended up at the ferry station and for about 45 minutes I did circles trying to get back to my hotel. My Fitbit says I did 8.3km today and I think 3 of them were walking in loops! It only took me about 3 hours to see all the tourist spots and Im happy with the self tour I did today.

It was a really nice day traveling solo, seeing the beauty of this old floating city and getting into some really yummy Italian food. Tomorrow its beach day!

Update soon

Santorini Girl

FLIGHT: Air Lingus
LOCATION: Dublin
PRICE: $225 for 25 kg luggage and priority boarding/seating
ADVICE: Pretty comfortable and basic for a short flight. No inclusive food/drink, ability to purchase on board simple snacks. Flight departed on time and arrived early. Everyone clapped when we landed, ugh. 7/10

TRANSFER: Booked via expedia.com with ATVO
LOCATION: Venice Airport
PRICE : 8 euro to bus terminus, 7.5 euro for water taxi
ADVICE: Make sure to confirm with the company exactly where they will drop you off, preferably in day light hours when its not raining! They ask you to put all your luggage under the coach (even carry on) so make sure you take out any fragile items before. 2/10

HOTEL: Haven San Toma Hostel
LOCATION: San Toma
PRICE: 35 euro per night
ADVICE: Fantastic if you’re travelling alone and don’t want to pay premium for a double room but still want to have privacy in a room by yourself. Its clean, basic and safe. As long as you don’t mind sharing the bathroom, I highly recommend it. 8/10

FOOD: La Bottiglia
LOCATION: Campo San Stin
PRICE: 1.10 for a coffee, 3.5 for a wine, 6 for a panini
ADVICE: Super chill, relaxed atmosphere with jazz tunes playing in the background. Fresh food and passionate staff who really want you to experience the local wine and fresh food. 10/10

How I’m Choosing to Travel

So I haven’t actually gone into how Im choosing to travel this time. I booked my long haul flights with Emirates Sydney to Dublin and then 7 weeks later Athens to Sydney, with a stopover in Dubai on the way home, I got my flights pretty cheap for $1700 including travel insurance. I booked them in December 2017 and wasn’t flying until August 2018. So I highly recommend looking ahead and booking if you can. The middle part of my trip? Totally unplanned. I plan on showing up and seeing what happens.

For my first week I I knew I had to be in Ireland for the wedding so I stayed with my friend Elaine for a few days and then went down to the event. It was a good chance for me to see the city and the countryside. Whilst I didn’t see any castle or many landmarks (I hate doing touristy stuff) I did get to hang out with some pretty cool people and I think that’s more of an enriching experience for me anyway.

So a few nights ago I was like hmmm where should I go next? Of course I’m working within a budget as well. I’ve limited myself to $8000 spending money for 7 weeks. About $1150 per week of travel. So what I did was load up Google flights and see where I can go in my budget departing from Dublin, then check what accomodation costs in those corresponding places. One minute I was going to England, the next Scotland then even Malaga in Spain. I knew I had to be in Milan on the 29/8 to meet with my cousin Alessandro so I started looking into Italian destinations.

Up came Venice, and a flight with Air Lingus for $225 including baggage and priority boarding suited me well. After researching some hotels in Venice, I found one called Haven Hostel San Toma located in the middle of San Toma. Now I don’t really like doing shared rooms, so I found a single room on offer with a shared bathroom. I thought I’ll just grab my thongs (flip flops) and I’ll be right! This was only $60AUD per night and the reviews are really good. I also found transportation via Expedia for really cheap too. Only $10AUD coach transfer from the airport to my hotel. I really hope I don’t have to print the voucher because WHO PRINTS VOUCHERS THESE DAYS!

After 4 nights in Venice I’ll head over to Milan, I found a train which only takes 2 hours and only cost me $20AUD in 1st class. My cousin will pick me up and I’ll spend a few days there. Then I have a few days free to plan before I head over to Split to meet a sailing trip I just booked last minute with Sail Croatia for a week. I’m hoping to find a hot Italian beach to chill out on in the days between. I’ve just found a flight for later on in my trip from Split to Santorini for only $200 so I’ve booked that in for September 18th and hope it all falls into place.

Now im going to sit back relax and enjoy my flight over to Venice, sitting in seat 1F so classy! (not really :P)

Santorini Girl

The Pope in Ireland

Well what a surprise this was! Only days ago I was told the Pope would be visiting Dublin on Saturday. Yep the same Saturday I was due to fly out. How could I miss this?! No, not the fact I would miss the Pope, but the fact I booked to travel on a chaotic day!! #BELINDATRAVELFAIL

What surprised me most is that it was the first I was hearing about it, I mean it is an event that will attract 1000s and I had been spending a fair amount of time in the city and NOTHING, no signs, no notices – not even a hint his holiness would be gracing Dublin’s streets on Saturday 25th August. So off I went and stressed out about how I would drag my sorry ass to the airport amongst the worshippers.

I went straight to the source, Dublin Bus company, to scope out where my airport bus would be leaving from now, as there would certainly be street closures. I was told, through a flurry of internet searches and highlighting of maps that my particular bus would not be affected and I could catch it practically out the front of where I was having lunch with my mates that day.

What a mistake that was! Upon arriving in the city for my pre flight lunch (and Elly’s birthday!) I noticed the city was practically shut down. I hurried into the tourist office and asked them where I could now get the bus from. He said he wasn’t sure. That I could ‘try’ a bus across the street. After a quick investigation of simply looking in that direction, I noted that it too was on a closed road. FERRRRK.

Luckily I bumped into two people signposting bus stops ‘closed’ (on the day of the event) and asked them WHERE IN THE WORLD CAN I GET THE AIRPORT BUS?!?! They knew, and gave me yet another map with directions, but mostly a good chat. That is the essence of customer service! The ability to be knowledgeable yet also friendly and kind.

After having a grand time at lunch, even though we ran out of Prosecco momentarily, my friend Elaine and I battled through the Catholic crowd to the bus stop where I arrived on time and in fact early to the airport. My advice; try not to travel the day one man shuts down a city.

Ireland has been an amazing adventure and it quite reminds me of Sydney in some respects, just a lot more greener! Now Im off to Venice in Italy, flying Air Lingus. A day of firsts all round!

I better get to my gate….

Until next time

Santorini Girl