My Trip to Peru

Hey everyone! Today I have another travel post for you all! I always enjoy writing these posts because it gives me a chance to relive my trips through photos and videos! I like to look back in order to remember certain events and to simply reminisce on wonderful experiences! Today, I am going to be sharing my trip to Peru with you all! (All photos in this post were either taken by me, or a family member.)

In June of 2018, my family and I went on a trip to Peru! This was quite the surprise, and I was thrilled because I knew I was going to be doing more exploring, and that by going on this trip, I would be able to check another item off of my bucket list! None of us had ever traveled to South America before, so we were really looking forward to it. Of course, before I travel anywhere new, I really like to do some research on the country, the culture, the people, the food, etc. Doing this makes me more knowledgeable, and I also feel that it is respectful to learn as much as you can before going to new places (you never want to make others uncomfortable or do something that can be seen as disrespectful).  I was able to learn so much, and I even shared the information with my family. For example, I learned that due to the elevation in Cusco, some people who travel there may feel a bit nauseous or out of breath for some time.  Also, it was important to keep in mind that when it is summer in North America, it is winter in South America, so even though we went in June, we had to pack some warm clothes!

For those of you who do not know, my grandma is from Spain, so my mother’s side of the family is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. This was very helpful for us while we were away. Even though you do not necessarily have to speak a certain language in order to travel to a different country, I feel that people should at least learn the basics (hello, goodbye, thank you etc.) in order to be respectful. The locals in Peru mostly spoke Spanish, however they did speak some English in the areas with a lot of tourists. For those of us who don’t speak Spanish, we were still able to communicate somewhat easily.

We soon arrived in Peru, and our first stop was Cusco. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel called Niños Hotel Meloc. Although we were all feeling pretty tired and jet lagged, we were ready to do some exploring! In order to beat any altitude sickness, the hotel staff gave us all coca leaf tea. Luckily, we all felt fine, however this is not the case for many visitors.

I fell in love with this beautiful city! It was vibrant, exciting, and there was so much history surrounding us. The people were amazing, and there always seemed to be some sort of event or celebration going on, and the locals were wearing colorful, traditional clothing. I loved walking down the streets of Cusco and seeing the incredible Spanish colonial architecture. I really loved walking through the Plaza de Armas! Nightlife in Peru was unique to anything I had ever seen before. Many young people would be out dancing in the streets, all in sync with one another. We stopped to watch and I remember in these moments, I just felt really grateful to be able to experience a new culture. That night, we all went out for ice cream at a place called Qucharitas ice cream shoppe, and we all agreed that we needed to go back for more before we left Cusco (it was that good)! One moment that stood out me while in Cusco, was when we found ourselves walking through an open-air market.  It was interesting to see because it was not something that I was used to, and we were able to see how the locals lived their everyday lives.

The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús in the Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

The next day, we were able to go see the statue of Christ (or Cristo Blanco) standing tall on top of a mountain, guarding the city. The view from this spot was breathtaking, and I although you can see the statue from many different spots in Cusco, I feel that it’s worth it to get up close. The statue also glows at night, which I thought was really beautiful. After, we went back to the Plaza de Armas to see if any events were taking place, and to take some more photos. We saw the Statue of Pachacuti, who was the ninth ruler of Cusco, and later on, the Emperor of the Inca Empire. He is a very important figure in the history of Peru, so we sat on the steps for a photo.

Cristo Blanco
Cusco, Peru
A few family members and I at the Statue of Pachacuti in the Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

Throughout our time in Peru, we saw many alpacas walking around, which I absolutely loved! I thought they were so adorable, and we even stopped to take a couple photos holding the baby alpacas! Next, we decided to stop by the Qorikancha museum, which I found so interesting. The architecture was absolutely beautiful as well. Once again, we were able to get a gorgeous view of the city from here!

Me holding a baby Alpaca
Cusco, Peru
Me at the Qorikancha museum, admiring the view
Cusco, Peru

The day after, our driver took us to multiple locations where we were able to see some of the Incan ruins of Peru. This was a truly incredible experience, and we really enjoyed traveling around to see the stunning views and ruins. At one point on our tour, while we were in the car, a herd of sheep stood in our way in the middle of the road! We had to slow down and let them pass, and I thought they were just adorable! We were able to see the Pisac Ruins in the Sacred Valley, and being there felt so unreal. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and I could have sat there admiring the view all day long. We also stopped to see the Maras Salt Mines. These ancient salt pans have been around for over 500 years, and I thought it was so cool to learn about. This day-long tour ended with our driver taking us to our next stop, which was a town called Ollantaytambo.

The Pisac Ruins in the Sacred Valley
The Maras Salt Mines

We spent a couple nights in the small village, and we also traveled up the hillside to walk along the Ollantaytambo ruins. It was here that we were all given pisco sours to try at a restaurant in the town. This is a classic Peruvian cocktail, and these are given out at many restaurants throughout the country. Although I don’t really drink alcohol, I actually enjoyed this!

After, we made our way to a town called Aguas Calientes, which is where tourists stay in order to see Machu Picchu! I was so excited because this was something that I had been wanting to see for a long time. We all woke up around 4 in the morning so that we could see the sun rise over the famous Inca ruins. Our hotel was giving out breakfast to-go, so we took our food and stood in a long line of tourists, eager to get to Machu Picchu. We were on the bus for a little while, but soon enough we arrived! I couldn’t believe what was standing right in front of me. We decided to explore the ruins on our own, which was amazing, and then a few of my family members decided to hike Huayna Picchu. I decided not to, due to my fear of heights. Later on, those family members told us that there were steep and narrow steps toward the top of the mountain called the “Stairs of Death”, so I personally think that I made the right decision. If this doesn’t scare or intimidate you, then you should definitely try this hike. The view at the top looked amazing.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Afterward, we went out to eat. Before arriving to Peru, I was not sure that I would enjoy the food, however I was pleasantly surprised. The food in Peru was so delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed most of my meals! Aguas Calientes really caters to tourists because the town is full of restaurants and gift shops (this is most likely because many people have to stay there to see Machu Picchu). The restaurants in this town definitely seemed a bit fancier, and the presentation of each dish was really unique and pretty! I found myself trying certain foods that I would normally avoid, and I thought it was all so tasty!

For the second week of our trip, we went to Máncora, which is a resort town right near the border of Peru and Ecuador. The reason it wasn’t cold in this location is because we were right by the equator, where it’s warm all year long. We stayed at a gorgeous resort called Máncora Beach Bungalows. We spent the entire week out on the beach and in the pool, soaking up the sun and relaxing in our bungalows. We also did some exploring in the town. It didn’t seem to be a very busy time of year, so things were pretty quiet, however we heard that nightlife in Máncora is pretty big during their busier months. Once again, we really enjoyed the food in this town, and almost every night, we would watch the sunset, when the sky would turn beautiful shades of pink and orange.

A beautiful sunset in Máncora

For our final day, we went back to Lima, the capitol of Peru, to explore the city. It was pretty different compared to the other cities we went to. It was more modern, however there were some buildings that were much older. I really loved walking around the Plaza de Armas de Lima (or Plaza Mayor), and we stopped to take a look at the Government Palace and the Catedral de Lima. We also decided to go inside the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, which was in walking distance from the Plaza. The inside of the cathedral was very unique to anything I had ever seen before. I always love walking into ancient cathedrals because I get to admire the architecture and it makes me think about how many people have walked by or inside since it was first built. Also, underneath the cathedral, we saw the catacombs, which was really cool. Lima was a very lively city, and we spent most of our last day taking it all in and reflecting on our favorite moments throughout our trip. This concluded our summer vacation, and the next morning, we were up and ready to head over to the airport so we could go home!

Basílica y Convento de San Fransisco de Lima

I was and am so very grateful that I was able to travel to Peru. Out of all of the places I have ever been, I think that Peru was the most different from my home country. It was unlike my life in the US, and I found so much beauty in this wonderful country. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommended traveling to Peru. It is such an incredible feeling to step outside of your own bubble, to see how other people live their lives, and to immerse yourself into new cultures. I will never forget this experience.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to Peru! I am finally all caught up on my travel posts, however I am hoping to share more travel related content very soon! My family and I have plans to do some more traveling this year (safely, of course), so I am looking forward to sharing that with you all! Thank you for reading!

My Trip to the UK

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share another travel post with you all! After this, I have one more recent vacation to share, and then I will be all caught up on my travel posts for now! This post will be pretty long, but I hope that you will stick around and read about this memorable trip! (All photos were taken by myself or by a family member).

In June of 2017, I went on a family vacation to the UK! There was so much that I was looking forward to crossing off of my bucket list, and I was so excited to go! We traveled around different parts of England and Scotland, and we even spent one morning in Wales.

When we arrived at Heathrow airport in London, I remember feeling eager to see all of the sights, however we were definitely a bit jet lagged. We gathered our bags and met with our driver who took us straight to our first stop, Bath! On the way there, I was feeling tired, but couldn’t fall asleep because we were driving on the wrong side of the road! I was a bit nervous, but I also found it so interesting! I loved seeing how different everything looked from my town in the US, and I also thought it was so cool to be in a country with so much history. We soon got to the hotel and after checking in, we decided to explore the city of Bath!

I absolutely loved this city, and felt like it was the perfect first stop on our trip! As to be expected, we did a lot of walking in pretty much every city, but any time I am in a new place, I really don’t mind because there’s so much to see! We eventually found ourselves standing in front of Bath Abbey. Of course, we stopped to take photos and to admire the beauty that surrounded us. We went to take a look and spent some time inside. After, we continued exploring and we walked by the Royal Crescent; one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks. I found the architecture to be so interesting and unique to anything I’d ever seen before! Sadly, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Bath (it was only a couple days), but I really did love what we saw! Just a few years later, and this city now holds a very special place in my heart.

My older sister and me standing in front of Bath Abbey
The Royal Crescent

Next, we were on our way to see a very historic landmark that I am sure most people have heard of, and that is Stonehenge. We first drove from Bath to Avebury and then to Stonehenge. When we arrived, we all were given a headset and device so that we could stop and listen to learn about the history of Stonehenge. I didn’t really know very much about it beforehand, but I was aware of its importance in the UK. I think it is amazing that these stones have been here since 3000 BC to 2000 BC! I also feel that it is so important that we keep these monuments protected and taken care of; not only to attract tourists, but because of the interesting history behind it. After our tour, we decided to stop by Salisbury Cathedral which was incredible.

Stonehenge

The next day, we made our way over to Wales to see one specific site: Tintern Abbey. This was so cool to see because the Abbey is a ruin, but so much of it has been preserved, so we took a tour inside and around the area.

A few of my family members and me at Tintern Abbey

Back in England, we spent some time in Chipping Campden, which is a small market town. I loved our hotel, which was close by. It was small, yet very nice and I liked that it felt private for my family. I believe this is where I was introduced to the typical full English breakfast! While I did enjoy most of what was on my plate, I found it so strange that beans are considered a breakfast food because this isn’t the case in the US. I remember really enjoying the food in this area. One day for lunch, we were at a restaurant close by, and there was a group of about four people and they were playing some traditional music while we ate our food.

One of my favorite areas was the Cotswolds! I just really enjoyed being in the countryside of England for part of our trip because it felt peaceful to be out in nature. On one of our hikes we saw many horses, cows, and sheep walking around as well! I absolutely loved seeing all of the charming villages!

We soon made our way to our next destination: Keswick. I really enjoyed staying in this town because it is right in the northern Lake District, and we were surrounded by the beautiful mountains! I thought it was the cutest town, with some stunning views! My family and I took a little boat ride on Derwentwater which was beautiful, and then we decided to go on a hike at Lake District National Park. The views were truly breathtaking! It was a pretty long hike, but it was still very enjoyable because we had such perfect weather and the fantastic scenery around us.

A view from our hike at Lake District National Park

After making our way to the North of England, we went a bit further to spend some time in Scotland! I didn’t think I would, but I absolutely fell in love with Edinburgh! We arrived on a cloudy day, but something about this felt perfect. The architecture and mood of the city just seemed a bit gothic and dark which I surprisingly really liked! I just love big cities because there is so much to do and see! As we walked around, we saw the Scott Monument which I thought was so cool! We also stopped in front of St Giles’ Cathedral. The crown spiral was awesome, and I felt that it was a bit more unique compared to other cathedrals I had seen previously. We walked up Calton Hill to see a gorgeous view of the city with many monuments in walking distance. I have such a fond memory of our first night in Scotland. When we went out to dinner, it started to rain, and normally this would bring down my mood, but I was just so happy that I didn’t care! I was laughing and having a great time with my family.

St. Giles’ Cathedral
Our view from Calton Hill with the Dugald Stewart Monument

Eventually we got to Loch Ness, which is a very famous lake in Scotland. It was actually pretty cold when we arrived, but we still wanted to spend time in the area. Despite the cold weather, we all got some ice cream (because I don’t care how cold it is, I will NEVER say no to ice cream)! After, we somewhat spontaneously decided to take a boat ride on the loch, however we split up, so a few of my family members went on a larger boat to tour the lake and search for Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster), and the rest of us went on a high-speed boat tour, which was so much fun! We had to wear some protective gear (goggles, a life jacket, etc.) as well. I was a bit nervous, but I spent almost the entire ride laughing with my brother sitting beside me!

Preparing for our high-speed boat tour

We also went to check out Tynemouth Castle and Priory. I loved seeing this because it was in such a beautiful location; overlooking Tynemouth Pier! Although it was windy, it once again seemed to perfectly add to the overall mood of the castle. I really loved exploring things like this because I had never walked through ruins quiet like it, and the fact that so much of it is still standing after so many years blows my mind!

Tynemouth castle and Priory

After our time in Scotland, we made our way back to England for the end of our trip. We only had a couple more stops, but first we went to York! This was another city that I really loved! As we were walking, we ended up seeing York Minster Cathedral. This medieval building is very important to the city of York, and it is one that you definitely cannot miss! There’s something so nice about just walking around a new city. While it is the simplest thing you could do, it is so exciting as well! It was another day where I simply felt happy and not for any specific reason either! I enjoyed walking by all of the shops and the food was delicious as well!

York Minster Cathedral

Our trip was coming to an end, so of course, our final destination was London! I completely fell in love with this city, and I never wanted to leave! I was overjoyed to be there! It was a bright and sunny day when we arrived, and we saw most of the tourist attractions that day. We saw Westminster Abbey, which was amazing, and then we saw Big Ben which is, of course, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world! Throughout our entire trip, we stopped to take a ton of photos, but once we got to London, the amount of photos doubled! After admiring Big Ben, we stopped by the London Eye. We debated whether or not we wanted to go on, but we decided to keep exploring instead (though I hope to go on one day)! We spent some time relaxing in Trafalgar Square which was very crowded, but I didn’t mind at all. I really enjoyed being around new people, and it was nice to just take in everything in that moment. I was really looking forward to seeing Buckingham Palace because it is historic and one of the most popular tourist destinations in London, so this is where we headed next!

Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
Standing in front of Buckingham Palace

The next day, it was a bit rainy, but that was definitely not going to stop us from going out! On this day, we went back to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards! Then, we went to Picadilly Circus. A lot of people tend to say that all big cities look the same. People also compare London and New York a lot, saying that Picadilly is just like Times Square.  In some ways it did remind me of New York, but it was different in some significant ways too. Things like the red double-decker buses, the architecture in many areas, and of course the well-known landmarks and monuments made this city really stand out to me. We stayed in this area for a while, walking past all of the shops, seeing the attractions, and hearing musicians playing on the streets. Eventually, we made our way over to the British Museum. We were able to see a few different exhibits, but we had to see the most popular exhibit, which is the Rosetta Stone! Seeing the Egyptian Hieroglyphs in person was really incredible, and it made me think about the different ways that people could communicate through writing/symbols.

Everyone is familiar with the playwright Shakespeare, and it was really cool to walk by Shakespeare’s Globe, which is not very far from where the original theater once stood! We also happened to walk by a colorful mural of him which I loved! On our final day of the trip, we saw a few more important landmarks, and of course my family had to buy a couple souvenirs from the gift shops! We saw Tower Bridge and also London Bridge, which both cross over the River Thames. Up until this point, I had yet to try fish and chips, and as cliché as it sounds, I didn’t want to leave without having it! This was one of my last meals in the UK.

A few of my family members and me standing in front of Tower Bridge

The next day, we were off to Heathrow, catching our flight to head back home to the US! I was so sad to leave because I had such a wonderful time on this trip! Now, I have all of the happy memories to look back on through photos, videos, and stories.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to the UK! I know that many of us really miss traveling right now, but I truly believe that sometime very soon, we will all be able to see more of this beautiful world again! Thank you for reading!

Can’t forget the classic phone booth photo:

London, England

My Trip To Hawaii

In June of 2016, my family and I were off to Hawaii! This was another very memorable trip for us, and I got to cross a few things off of my bucket list while we were there! I have been reminiscing on past vacations since summer time is upon us and that is usually when we do our traveling! Today, I wanted to talk about this trip with you all. I am sharing this story by memory (and with the help of photos). All of the photos I share with you were taken by myself or a family member.

I remember that the flight was a pretty long one. We actually had a layover in Arizona, and then we flew straight to the beautiful island of Kauai (The Garden Island). I believe that the flight from Arizona to Kauai was 9 hours. I was so excited to go on a tropical vacation. Hawaii is one of those places that everyone dreams of going to, and I was and still am so grateful that I had the chance to go.

Kauai is very dreamy and beautiful, and even though we went around June, the island was not really crowded with tourists. This island is definitely less touristy than some of the others!

We stayed in the cutest Airbnb right by the water. The décor was tropical, and my favorite part was the balcony that looked off at the pool, and behind it, the ocean. Waiting for us on the table was a lei and a note from the owners. I loved the beautiful plumeria flowers that we would always see in Hawaii. We didn’t do much that first day because we were pretty tired, but we were looking forward to our 2 weeks of relaxation and exploration.

The view from our Airbnb in Kauai

One of the things I remember hearing about Hawaii was that it is extremely humid, and while I did feel the humidity, it wasn’t terrible (though my frizzy hair may have said otherwise). The weather was so beautiful on this trip. Every day was sunny and 80 degrees, and it really only rained while we were sleeping. I love sunny days and I am not a fan of rain, so I was happy!

On our first day, we all put on our bathing suits and drove down the road to the beach. The water was a stunning turquoise blue, and the weather was perfect. Poipu Beach was where we spent a lot of our time on this trip. When we drove around the island, we stopped a couple times to take some photos. We often saw beautiful waterfalls that would seemingly come out of nowhere.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

We spent most of our days relaxing by the water. When we weren’t at the beach, we would be hiking, swimming in the pool, exploring the island, and trying new restaurants. I remember that one of my favorite places was called “Bubba Burgers”. I still think that these may have been the best burgers I have ever tried! I tried some great seafood, and I often ordered my favorite dish: pasta (doesn’t matter where I travel, I always look for pasta on the menu)! I also had some white pineapple which was so delicious!

We went on a few intense hikes on this trip! One of the biggest ones was at Waimea Canyon State Park.  I reffered back to my Instagram post where I called it, “the craziest hike of my life”. To some people I’m sure this was not the case, but I guess at the time I felt that it was intense! We walked by some cliffs which terrified me, and I remember falling on my butt a couple of times as well! By the end of the hike, we were dirty and sweaty, but I didn’t care too much because the view was absolutely stunning.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

We also hiked some of the Kalalau Trail. This trail is very famous and it is, get this… 22 miles long (roundtrip)! We did not get that far, but what we did see was still beautiful. We stopped at an area that looked like a small beach. I can’t imagine hiking that long, but I’m sure the view at the end would have been amazing!

From our hike on the Kalalau Trail, Kauai

One of the highlights from this trip was a boat ride we took along the Na Pali coast. Kauai is not as big as some of the other islands in Hawaii, so we rode from one end to the other. We had so much fun, and tour guide was able to show us some gorgeous views. We were on a speed boat, so the wind was blowing and I remember laughing most of the time. We even saw a few beautiful rainbows through the waterfalls.

The Na Pali coast, Kauai

One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the wildlife. We were able to see Hawaiian Monk Seals pretty much every day. They would come up to the shore to sleep on the sand. Of course, we couldn’t get too close to them because we didn’t want to bother them, but they were adorable! On one day in particular, we put on some goggles and brought a waterproof camera out to the beach with us. Everyone spotted a baby seal with its mother, and a sea turtle, and I got to swim very close to them! It was truly incredible.

A Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai
A Hawaiian Sea Turtle, Kauai

Another highlight from this trip was when my family and I went on an ATV tour at Kipu Ranch. We went in 2 separate ATV’s and we followed a tour guide with other tourists. We would drive for a bit, and then stop to take photos and talk about the island. Although I’ve never seen “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, or “Jurassic World”, our tour guide told us that they filmed these movies on the island.

Our ATV Tour at Kipu Ranch, Kauai

Toward the end of our trip, we were able to see a luau. This is something that I think everyone pictures when they think of Hawaii, so this was really cool to see in person!

The last major highlight from this trip was a really big surprise to us. I always wanted to fly in a helicopter and that’s exactly what we did! This was such an amazing experience. We flew with a company called Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Our tour guide was very friendly and he knew a lot about the island. The views were absolutely gorgeous, and for someone who is fearful of heights, I was surprisingly not scared. We were able to have the tour recorded, so we can always watch it back and remember this amazing moment.

From our helicopter tour of Kauai

I am always so very grateful that I am able to travel the world with my family. Being with my family makes me incredibly happy, and when we travel, we get to experience something new and exciting together, making it even better. I am hoping that we can travel again soon, however our health and the health of those around is much more important, especially right now.

For now, I’ll be dreaming of traveling again. Until next time! Mahalo!

My Trip to Italy

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to talk about my family trip to Italy. In 2015, we packed our bags and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Italy. This trip was so memorable because it was my first time in Europe and although I was only 15, I remember almost everything about this vacation. (All of the photos that I am sharing with you were either taken by me or by one of my family members.)

When my family surprised us and told us that we would be going to Italy in June of 2015, we freaked out to say the least. We were so excited for many reasons, one of which was the fact that we had dreamed of going, and since half of my family is Italian, it was exciting to imagine that we would be going to the country that my ancestors were from. The plane ride was probably the longest I had ever been on. It took about nine hours for us to get to Italy, not including the two plane rides we had to take before the one to Italy.

Our plane landed in Rome, and we quickly got on a train to Venice (we were saving Rome for last). I remember we were exhausted when we arrived, but I felt wide awake due to the excitement and the view as soon as we stepped out of the train station. I will never forget what I saw and how I felt in that moment. I felt like I had traveled back in time, and that I wasn’t even on the same planet. The view was stunning, and I couldn’t believe what was in front of me.

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

We first had to find our hotel, which we had a bit of trouble with. In Venice, there are no cars, so we walked everywhere we went in the city. It took some time walking through narrow alleys, and crossing cute little bridges with all of our luggage. We finally found the hotel and it reminded us of a dollhouse. We had two separate rooms since my family is rather large. We had beautiful weather in Venice, and I believe that it was cooler here because we were by the water. I truly did feel like I was living in a movie or another world that I was just not at all familiar with.

We did some exploring, and one thing that stood out to me was the fact that there were so many giant cathedrals and they would come out of absolutely no where. We would turn a street corner and all of a sudden there was an incredibly beautiful cathedral right in front of us. I couldn’t believe the detail of these cathedrals, and I questioned how on earth anyone could have built this. It also made me compare the architecture to that of America.

Venice, Italy

In Venice, we walked through Piazza San Marco, and at night it was lit up with bright yellow lights. I found myself getting pictures of every little thing that I saw in every city. I remember taking a photo with my older sister at Piazza San Marco, and I laughed because it looked like we photoshopped ourselves into the picture! My family decided to go on a gondola ride which was one of the highlights of the trip. That is something that many people dream of doing if they were to travel to Italy, so it was really incredible to experience it.

My family and I on a gondola in Venice, Italy.

Of course, we had to try pizza, pasta, and gelato (we ate gelato most nights and I was in heaven). I remember feeling nervous about having to communicate with the locals, but I believe many of them spoke English, at least in the cities that we traveled to. One of my favorite things about traveling is being around different people from all over the world. Hearing new languages and seeing how other people live their lives always fascinates me.

Our next stop was Pisa, where we were able to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Campo dei Miracoli (or The Square/Field of Miracles). Once again, we turned a corner and there was the leaning tower, along with the three other buildings in the complex. We got a family photo in front of the tower, and we ate lunch at a small pizza place close by. The pizza in Pisa was probably the best pizza that I tried while in Italy (it’s always the small corner restaurants that do it best)!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Pisa, Italy

Next up was Florence. We got to see the Florence Cathedral which is one of Italy’s largest, and yet again, the detail amazed me. After seeing Florence, we traveled to the coast and spent some time in Sorrento, and it was beautiful. Right across the water, we could see Naples, which is where my Grandma’s family is from. We then took a train to Pompeii and we were able to walk through the ruins of Pompeii and see some of the old artifacts. We also walked up Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD, ultimately causing the destruction of Pompeii.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Our next stop was Amalfi, which was one of my favorite cities that we went to. Our hotel in the Amalfi Coast was gorgeous. Both of our rooms had a balcony; one with a view of the water, and one with a view of a cathedral. When I woke in the mornings, the sun was shining through the windows of the balcony, music was playing, and I could hear the crowd of people walking around below me. We also spent some time swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and when we would turn around, we would see all of the colorful buildings sitting on the cliffs.

My siblings and I swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Amalfi, Italy

Our final stop on this trip was of course Rome. I was so excited to be in this city because I had dreamed about it for so long. It was incredibly hot when we arrived, but I didn’t let the heat ruin my time. We waited in a very long line in front of the Vatican in Vatican City to walk through the cathedral. The Pope was there the same day, and he spoke to the crowd. When we walked in, I just could not believe everything I saw. There was so much detail, even on the ceilings. This had to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen to date.

We went to see the Trevi Fountain, and although it was under construction at the time, I still tossed a euro and made a wish! On our last day, we got to see the Colosseum. We walked up a long road full of vendors and we stopped to eat some fresh fruit on the way. The entire time we were walking, the Colosseum was in sight. There were crowds of people waiting to get in, and we somehow got lucky, and we were able to skip most of the line! As we walked around, we saw old artifacts and I thought about the history of the Colosseum. We took a family photo, and this concluded our amazing trip.

Me standing in front of the Colosseum.
Rome, Italy

Whenever I travel somewhere new, I am always fascinated by what I see (especially when traveling outside of America). I always think to myself how amazing it would be to live in a place like Italy. The fact that people may walk by the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa every day, amazes me. The people who live in Paris may walk by the Eiffel Tower every day. The people who live in London may walk by Big Ben every day. Tourists may stop to take photos and get in the local’s way. I think that sometimes we forget to appreciate what surrounds us. I do not live anywhere glamorous, but when I travel I get to leave my home and explore and appreciate new places. Italy stole my heart the second I walked out of that train station, and if I could go back every year, I would. I know I’ll go back one day.

Thank you for reading. Italy will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget this trip. Leave me a comment below and tell me about your favorite vacation, or your favorite place in the world, whether it is in your city, or all the way across the world.

Cruise Do’s and Don’ts

The Norwegian Jewel

This past Summer, I went on a cruise to Alaska with my family. I’m definitely not a cruise expert (it was only my first cruise) but I discovered certain things about cruising that may be useful to you or someone you know!

DO: order an appetizer and a dessert (if it’s included, you might as well)!

DON’T: only eat at the buffet. There are multiple restaurants that may be included, so check them out! Although the buffet can be great because it has a variety of foods, try heading over to one of the restaurants! (Just be careful about how much you’re eating. Sometimes I didn’t even realize that I was eating when I wasn’t even that hungry!)

DO: talk to people! It may not be too often that you get to go on a cruise, or maybe it is! Either way, try to meet new people. I met someone who works in a field very similar to my college major and he gave me helpful advice. Another man that my family spoke to had really incredible stories to tell, and he was traveling alone.

DON’T: be the person who hogs the Jacuzzi (we were very lucky to get in there once)!

DO: pack accordingly. If you’re on a Caribbean cruise, packing for this trip may be fairly easy. However, if you’re heading to Alaska, LAYERING is my best tip.

DON’T: be the person who ruins dinner. On our cruise, there was a restaurant that we went to where there was a dress code. Before you even leave for your trip, make sure to pack an outfit for a fancy dinner night.

DO: remember to check with your cell phone carrier for information and rates if you’re not buying a Wi-Fi package on board.

DON’T: stay on the boat and sleep all day when you stop at a port. GO explore! See what’s out there. For my family, if you stayed on the boat to sleep you were 100% getting left behind, so go! You may never get another chance!

DO: plan excursions ahead of time. It can be more expensive to plan an excursion while on the boat, so pre-planning is always a good idea! Or, do what my family did, and plan your own adventures (in advance of course)! We were able to go whale watching and hiking and we did it on our own time. Just make sure you are back at the boat on time!

DON’T: forget sunscreen! I guess I thought that I wouldn’t need to wear too much sunscreen in Alaska. Needless to say, I was wrong! I only wore it a couple of times, but a few of my family members, myself included, got a bit sunburned on this trip!

DO: attend as many raffles and events as you can! My sister and I attended a girl’s spa day event where we got to do our own facials for free and get tips from the experts! We also went to the theater almost every night and we went to check out the clubs on board as well!

DON’T: forget your cruise card. You will need to use it as ID, to get on and off the boat, to make reservations, to make purchases, and it is your room key, so DON’T lose it! Keep it on you at all times!

DO: be polite to the cruise staff members.

And lastly…

DON’T: leave anything on the boat. I left a hair straightener in our room, and my Mom was not too happy with me. Double check your room before you go!

Thank you for reading! I hope that you found some of these do’s and don’ts helpful for your next cruise! Leave me a comment below and tell me if you’ve ever been on a cruise and where you went, or where you would want to go!