Chowing Down in Cinque Terre

The first view I had when I was getting off the train!

The first view I had when I was getting off the train!

After every trip I am so grateful I took the time to keep a journal. If I have any advice for you, please write down the details of what you are doing! The funny moments, people you meet, places you eat – it’s hard to find the time but even jotting down notes will help you remember the small stuff.

I just spent some time re-reading and reminiscing on my 3-night detour to Cinque Terre. I went after France and before Germany.

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Imagine this – 5 coastal villages with piled pastel buildings holding seemingly ancient balconies drying clothes in the hot sun. The smell of fresh focaccia breezing out the open windows of shops, and tourists wandering the streets in a more leisurely pace then you’d find in a major European city. Picture hilly cobblestones and tiny fishing boats bobbing amongst the others in a crowded harbor. The Italian language filling your ears while summer smiles breeze by you on the streets. Even as a slightly overcrowded summer destination, Cinque Terre is still a feast for the eyes and of course taste palate.

Hiked up to a view point in Manarola

Hiked up to a view point in Manarola

I did some hostel research before my trip and found the Hostel 5 Terre in Manarola (one of the 5 towns). The rate was reasonable, reviews were good, and the pictures looked beautiful. I would imagine it’s difficult to find a bad place to stay in a coastal area like this. After an incredibly long train ride from Nice I stumbled into the Hostel 5 Terre at almost 11 pm. Right away I had a great feeling about the place, and I was right. It was in a great location, very safe, and the staff was amazing. The rooms were VERY clean and spacious and the room we stayed in had a glorious view. The only complaint I had at the time were the showers, I’m VERY serious about bathroom cleanliness and the sinks and toilets were fine but I thought the showers could be a little bit cleaner. One of the best parts of the hostel was the restaurant downstairs, they served breakfast and dinner at a very reasonable price compared to many of the places in the village and it was equally as good.

View from our hostel

View from our hostel

After a long day of traveling, we slept in a little and got up at 9:30. Just being in Italy alone slowed down my pace and made me much more relaxed as a traveler. It’s so socially… correct in a place like this! The first thing we did was wander around Manarola to (of course) begin our eating escapades :X.  We sat in a cafe on the water and enjoyed the view while sipping on espresso and enjoying a pastry. I noticed right away the difference between a French croissant and an Italian one! The French make theirs much buttery and flaky, whereas the Italians make theirs much sweeter and doughier. Both are delicious and executed in totally different ways.

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We had a mini photo shoot up here (Manarola)

After exploring numerous viewpoints around Manarola, we visited the tourism office for some help. We got maps, directions and learned how easy the train system was to use. We decided to purchase a Cinque Terre Card Train this included access to all trekking paths, free wifi and unlimited train access on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line. This is good for 24 hours and costs 12 Euro.

We soon discovered no matter which town you choose to stay in, you can’t go wrong. We first ventured to Monterosso, the largest of the five villages. It was drizzling rain for most of the day, so we scoped out the “Beach of the Giant” which was beautiful even in the rain. We ate lunch at a little cafe right on the water, I highly recommend anything seafood (I really don’t eat fish, just shrimp) and anything with lemon. They grow a lot of lemons in this area so it’s fresh and delicious.

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Produce truck in Monterosso

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View of Giant in Monterosso

After some drizzle the sun came out and we headed to Vernazza. There were some great little shops here, my favorite was a leather shop with beautiful sterling silver jewelry, we spent over an hour in there chatting with the owner and picking out bracelets. Needless to say this made us hungry so we headed for our first gelato and devoured it while admiring this view:

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Afterwards, we hiked up some steep stairs to a little view tower, and got some AMAZING view of the town:

View of the Vernazza Harbor

View of the Vernazza Harbor

Locks put on the view tower

Locks put on the view tower

The tower was tiny and full of people, but it was worth the spectacular views. The water is so blue it looks fake! It’s funny how quickly each tiny town creates it’s own personality in your head while visiting.

After our view tower we were ready to do a basic hike from Vernazza to Corniglia, we weren’t equipped for a full on hike, but this was about an hour and a half (leisurely) and flat enough to do it in my TOM’s. We stopped in a foccacia shop and “packed” a few heavily topped slices… aka stuffed our faces as we marched up to the starting point.

In my next post, I’ll go into detail about our hike and our romantic dinner in Corniglia!

Favorite Photos From Nice, France

Now that things are settled and fall is in full swing I am back on a consistent schedule (no big trips for another month or two… sadly) but I can finally finish blogging about my Euro trip! What better way to deny the winter’s approach?

I didn’t really spend enough time in Nice to really talk about my favorite hidden gems, so I thought I would include some of my favorite photos from my half day of wandering around:

We visited Confiserie Florian for a tour of the candy factory! Yummm

We visited Confiserie Florian for a tour of the candy factory! Yummm

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Rocky beach view in Nice!

Rocky beach view in Nice!

Candles were my favorite photography experiment in each cathedral we visited!

Candles were my favorite photography experiment in each cathedral we visited!

Beautiful view from the viewpoint above the city! It was a hot trek up, but so worth it.

Beautiful view from the viewpoint above the city! It was a hot trek up, but so worth it

I hope you enjoyed my post series on Paris and the Riviera!

8 Things You Must Do in Austin, Texas

I was lucky enough to have just spent the better part of a week in Austin, Texas. I had never been to Texas before so I was really excited for this! 8 of us rented a great apartment through Air B&B right in the city, and were able to take our time exploring the ins and outs of the live music capital of the country. I ate some amazing food, drank great beer, and had an absolute blast exploring the night life of the city. I have listed out 8 things that really stuck out to me as what not to miss if you get a chance to visit.

1.) Wait in line for a large plate of BBQ from La Barbecue

a portion of my plate

a portion of my plate

I know ALL the rave in Austin is Franklin’s BBQ, and I’m sure it’s great but honestly I don’t have 2-3 hours to wait in line for food that’s “all the hype”. We somehow stumbled upon this gem in a small park of food trucks off the highway. It was Sunday, so don’t get me wrong we definitely waited in line, but the FREE beer and amazing live music definitely helped the time go by fast.

la BARBECUE, yummmm

la BARBECUE, yummmm

the band playing while we were waiting in line and enjoying our lunch!

the band playing while we were waiting in line and enjoying our lunch!

I am a serious food critic and I can honestly say this was the best barbecue I have ever eaten in my life. I may be a normal sized 24 year old woman, but I can admit that I ate like a man. I accidentally ordered one of almost everything on the menu and finished just about all of it. I would highly recommend the ribs (any) and the brisket for meat, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sides… my personal favorite was the bacon buttermilk potato salad (I’m literally drooling thinking about it).

2.) Explore the live music scene… everywhere. 

Street Performers on South Congress

Street Performers on South Congress

I’m not sure if this was stereotypical of me, but I expected a lot of country music. Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the US and it is mostly country musicians all along the main strip. I was TOTALLY wrong about Austin, I heard absolutely everything. I heard rock, alternative, instrumental, and the street performers probably blew my mind the most. The best street performers I found were in South Congress, at night we saw a few great bands in bars on 6th street as well as Raney Street. Really any part of town you go, you won’t be disappointed no matter how commercial.

He was one of my favorites, he could play ANYTHING and was always smiling!

He was one of my favorites, he could play ANYTHING and was always smiling! (found on South Congress, and we later saw him near the bat bridge!) 

3.) Visit the Bat Bridge

Mostly everybody who visits Austin knows about the bat bridge and will visit if they aren’t afraid of the amazing little creatures. I know it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but this was seriously amazing. We arrived on a grassy park right next to the bridge at about 7:30 PM and hung out until the bats came out a little before 8:00. Their feeding time constantly changes so we were early just in case. Right on queue, over 1.5 MILLION bats come out to feed. Watching them fly out one after another is seriously breathtaking.

bats!

bats!

4.) Go out on Sixth street 

If you are interested in the bar scene, you will be frequently told that you HAVE to go out on sixth street. It is most definitely the most commercial/main stream area of Austin and probably looked down upon by the hipster locals, but we had an absolute blast. Each bar was so different. Our favorites included:

- Maggie Maes

-Friends Bar (especially for live music)

-The Trophy Room (just for the mechanical bull… and yes I rode a mechanical bull)

- The Jackakope Bar – great food and drinks!

5.) Visit South Congress 

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South Congress is the funky part of Austin, it features consignment shops, antique shops, markets, and great restaurants. We had a really great time wandering around, watching live performers and trying on costumes. Some of the favorite places we stopped were:

-Allen Boots – VERY out of my price range, but so fun to admire the pricey boots and leather.

-Uncommon Objects – I had a blast wandering around this antique shop. Also had fun with my camera in there!

Items at Uncommon Goods

Items at Uncommon Goods

Items at Uncommon Goods

Items at Uncommon Goods

- Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs - We stumbled upon this shaved ice truck on our walk back to the main town. All I can say is WOW. Amazing quality, we chatted it up with the owner for quite a while and he threw some amazing flavor combo ideas at us. Perfect treat on a hot, hot Texas day.

6.) Visit the Texas State Capitol

Stunning inside and out, a perfect place to cool off and take some really great photos!

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7.) Visit Hops and Grain Brewery 

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This small craft brewery that shouldn’t be missed! The staff is great, beer tastes AMAZING, and it’s on a much smaller scale but you can tell these guys are extremely passionate about what they do and care about sustainability.

8.) Rent a car to drive out and tube down the Guadalupe River. 

We did this on a Monday so from what I’ve heard it’s a TOTALLY different experience without the crowds, but we rented a cozy little mini van on Relay Rides for most of the day and headed for the river. We had a tube for our cooler, and each had our own as we sloooowwwlllyyy mosied down the Guadalupe. We used Tube Haus to rent our tubes, and the staff was great, shutting us to and from the place we would start and end. It took us about 5 hours to do the “medium” distance, and we really had so much fun cooling off. I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to lose my phone!

I hope you enjoy some of these tips. We really had an amazing time and I can’t wait to get back to Austin!

Labor Day Weekend 2014 – Camping in Cape Cod!

Early this summer my sister and brother-in-law impulsively bought a pop up trailer. With a one year old son and another baby on the way, I thought they were a LITTLE crazy. I now realize how perfect camping is for kids and families. Mid July we booked our first “big” camping trip for Labor Day weekend. After a little research we decided on Sweetwater Forest Campground in Brewster, MA. We hadn’t visited Cape Cod at all this summer, so we thought it would be a nice change since we usually go North. 

The front office and general store! So cute!

The front office and general store! So cute!

I cannot say enough amazing things about this campground, I wouldn’t consider myself an EXTREMELY experienced camper but from where I have stayed this was by far the best. The first thing you see as you pull into the campground are Appaloosa horses neighing and galloping around the property at Sweetwater Farms. This farm breeds top quality Appaloosas. They are beautiful to look at and the farm is a great touch.

The staff is great, very accommodating and are extremely knowledgable about the campground and surrounding areas throughout Cape Cod. The prices are affordable – about average for a campground in New England. We had a pop up trailer so we required hook ups and we paid a little extra for a tent on the same site. You can see your surrounding neighbors but because it is in a forest I felt like it was more private than most places I have seen. Behind us was all woods and the space we had was very large. Some extra perks included: extremely clean bathrooms, a pond for fishing, constant activities each day at the campground and there a bike trail leading right into the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Our trailer all set up!

Our trailer all set up!

SO now onto the weekend! We relaxed at the camp quite a bit at night, but we are way too antsy to not go out for the duration of the day. Even when the weather was less than ideal.

I apologize in advanced how frequently I talk about food. I mean I’m not ACTUALLY sorry, but really I realize my love for food tends to overrun my posts :).

I broke down all of our stops that are worth checking out:

Friday: 

we checked in around noon and got all set up, we were borderline hangry so first we stopped for lunch at

  • Guapo’s Tortilla Shack right down the street in Brewster. Guapo’s was PACKED. It’s a tiny place where you order at the counter and  sit down. The place was overall good, the food was really fresh and delicious. It was definitely on the pricier side for some casual Mexican, but it is in Cape Cod so most places are on the more expensive side. It’s worth a stop if you are staying nearby.
  • After lunch we headed over to Chatham center, this is one of the towns in Cape Cod that has a nice downtown with shops and restaurants. We also quickly learned they have REALLY delicious ice cream… to satisfy our sweet tooth we went to Buffy’s, it was probably the most expensive ice cream I have ever purchased, but I must say it was really delicious. I would also recommend their homemade lemonade. The pictures look average, but I’m serious… it’s worth it:

Black Raspberry Ice Cream from Buffy's

Black Raspberry Ice Cream from Buffy’s

Mint Oreo ice cream from Buffy's in a homemade waffle cone!

Mint Oreo ice cream from Buffy’s in a homemade waffle cone!

After Chatham we did our food shopping at the local Stop & Shop for meat and snacks for the weekend. We headed back to the campsite early to get our big fire going and fire up the grill! 

Saturday:

We probably would have beached it for the entire day but unfortunately it was a little overcast. So we had a very leisurely morning to start and headed out for the day. It may have been overcast but it was great for a bike ride! 

  • We picked up the trail from the campground and biked from Brewster to Orleans. Once we got to Orleans we got off the trail and biked a couple of miles to Nauset Beach, en route we passed through Orleans center which was packed with cute restaurants and coffee shops. We sprawled in the sand and even though it was overcast it was still amazing. 
  • We stopped at Ferretti’s Market on the way home in Brewster to pick up our meat to grill, we were SO happy with the delicious marinades and high quality meat, we went back 3 times for grilling necessities. 

Sunday: 

Sunday was my favorite day because we visited my FAVORITE place in Cape Cod – Provincetown!!!

The Main Street of Provincetown

The Main Street of Provincetown

We were up super early and headed in that direction beating all the traffic. We saved our appetite (obviously) and here are the gems we came across: 

  • I can’t say enough about Ptown Cafe. The service was seriously top notch. Usually at a coffee shop you get good service but since it’s quick it’s hard to get the real hospitality deal. But this was not the case, we were a disruptive group – 4 adults and a one year old baby in a stroller. They were super attentive and met all of our needs. I got the chai banana smoothie and it was actually out of this world, even after I paid they were asking how it was and if they could do anything else. Their homemade treats (especially their pop tarts) looked delish. 

yummm

yummm

  • After our coffee/smoothie break we wandered around P-town and the sun started to show it’s face. We walked along the water and in and out of the shops. The streets alone are days worth of entertainment. There are funky gift shops, art galleries, lively bars and some serious characters that wander the streets. The culinary scene is top notch and it’s hard to go wrong with your dining choices. 
  • For lunch we settled on The Canteen. We wanted to head out to kayak soon after so we didn’t want a full dining experience. This way we could order and sit down. The menu was loaded with a plethora of drool worthy options. It’s mainly seafood focused but there are also options for vegetarians, etc. all of us got something totally different and were REALLY happy with our meal. The service was great and pretty quick. They have a great outdoor seating area tucked behind the restaurant with ocean views. You really can’t go wrong! I got the shrimp sliders (see below) and my sister got the pulled pork sandwich and Joe got the Cod sandwich. 

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Cod "sandwich" (in a lettuce wrap)

Cod “sandwich” (in a lettuce wrap)

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Shrimp Sliders

Shrimp Sliders

Flags hanging on the back of the restaurant

Flags hanging on the back of the restaurant

  • We were focused and heading the car I SWEAR when we accidentally stumbled upon a gem that we wished we didn’t notice… ScottCakes. It’s an amazing concept, only offering one type of cupcake. But ScottCakes did it  and ScottCakes killed it (in a good way). If you like vanilla cupcakes with the best buttercream frosting you have ever tasted… it’s worth a visit. We accidentally bought 6 for our drive. IMG_0494 IMG_3606
  •  After P-town we drove back towards Brewster and to Nickerson State Park. We really wanted to rent some kind of boat so we headed to Flax Pond. I was psyched to see stand up paddle boards, but I was not psyched to see the prices. But we were there so we ended up just splurging on a half hour of paddle boarding. I LOVED it. I was shocked at how easy it was and really enjoyed it! I’m a little upset I discovered the SUP paddle boarding at the end of the season.  

We had such an early day that we still had plenty of time to relax and grill at the campsite afterwards. It was such a perfect weekend. We did a little more eating and a little less beaching than a normal trip to the cape, but it was still great. Let me know if you are planning on visiting Cape Cod, I have stayed in most places around the peninsula. 

Why Èze, France is the Best Surprise in the French Riviera

Èze, France

Èze, France

Between Monaco and Nice lies a tiny medieval village that managed to steal my heart for the few hours I spent there. I knew we were headed to Fragonard Parfumeur but I didn’t think we’d have time for much else. As we were stepping off the bus to begin our tour of the perfume factory our tour director briefly mentioned a short 20 minute hike up a trail that leads to a beautiful hotel. I kept it in my mind as my nostrils filled with amazing smells and my head was taking in the importance and history of making perfume. 

Bottling at Fragonard

Bottling at Fragonard

The tour guide at Fragonard did an amazing job, she was visibly passionate about perfume and the industry in general. We were able to see them packaging tiny ducks made of soap with hand painted beaks, and we watched the machines bottle one of their body spray offerings. The tour wasn’t too long and as it came to an end the words coming out were pulsing “buy perfume now” in my head. I knew I had to get out of there fast or else I would be lured in by the floral notes wafting all around me. 

I ventured out to the parking lot and looked around for a short but steep hiking trail and found it in the back corner of the lot. I didn’t have much longer than an hour so I treaded up quickly. What I saw at the top hit me like a slap in the face, my mouth practically fell open. I first noticed cascading gardens with a clear view of the ocean, next I saw that these gardens were attached to a beautiful hotel: Chateau de la chevre d’or. I finally reached the top and before the hotel property entrance were three tables, one selling spices, one selling candy and one selling soap. I’m not sure if I was brainwashed by the view or what, but I all of a sudden had a burning desire to fill an adorable glass jar with spices and find a way to squish it into my backpack only 8 days into my trip (I did manage to refrain). But I couldn’t resist the photo opportunity that’s for sure! 

View from mid-hike

View from mid-hike

Spice Table

Spice Table

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Candy Table

Candy Table

I continued walking and found myself on hilly cobblestone footpaths with wooden doors belonging to hotel guests that look like something out of the Lord of the Rings. Scattered amongst the rooms were tiny gift shops with only handcrafted masterpieces made by local artists. Eventually we came to the top where a tiny church stands with the door open leading to yet another unique european house of God. I admired the view from the top and moseyed my way down the main road passing more modern but still adorable shops and restaurants until I reached Fragonard. 

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Candles in the Church

Candles in the Church

Sculpture in  Èze

Sculpture in Èze

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I have truly never experienced something like Èze and I’m so glad I accidentally stumbled upon it. It is honeymoon worthy and a place I hope to come back to when I want some relaxation and a breathtaking view. 

Monaco Captured in 11 Photographs

Everything you have heard about Monaco is true. It is stunningly beautiful and astonishingly tiny in size. The traffic lights are lined with vehicles worth more than your life, and the harbor is loaded with fully staffed yachts with their immaculate shine bobbing in the hot sun. 

I didn’t spend much time in Monaco, but I felt like it was enough. As long as you have time to browse the collection of boats and watch the changing of the guards at the palace you can get an accurate vibe of what Monaco is all about. Unless of course you have a spare dollar or two to afford to party with the rich and famous, then of course I would maybe stay a night. I have included some of my favorite pictures I took in Monaco that I felt really captured the unparalleled country.  

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View of Monaco from where the palace is!

View of Monaco from where the palace is!

The palace is in the background

The palace is in the background

View from the harbor

View from the harbor

just ONE of the amazing yachts

just ONE of the amazing yachts

Taking a quick dip

Taking a quick dip

Narrow alley

Narrow alley

Changing of the guards

Changing of the guards

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Blueberry Picking and Summer at Smolak Farms

The Farmstand!

The Farmstand!

When I was really young my parents would take us to Smolak Farms in North Andover, MA for apple picking each fall. As time went on, we outgrew the apple picking for a little while and my visits were less frequent. Now that we have new babies in the family, Smolak has reintroduced itself to us as a favorite stop no matter what time of year! 

We celebrated my nephew RJ’s first birthday at Smolak this past June. It was a couple of hours long (perfect amount of time) and full of barn games, hay rides, pizza and cake. After the party the petting zoo was available for the guests to wander around! It was truly adorable and the staff was beyond amazing, bending over backwards for every want and need. 

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Today we saw that the blueberry picking was half off and it was also a peach festival! I’m not sure who could resist that so we took a little drive out to the farm on this perfectly cloudless summer day.

It was about 11:30 AM and I had not eaten breakfast/lunch yet so my immediate focus was obviously finding food… and fast. It didn’t take long because right in the center of the farm is their cafe and ice cream window. It was hard to decide between something savory or one of their homemade pastries made with their home grown fruit, but I decided to go with the bacon and ham quiche with a side salad topped with peach salsa… SO. Good. Very fresh, and very satisfying. We also shared a blueberry scone which needless to say was great. 

We had 3 options for fruit picking – blueberries, raspberries or peaches! Blueberries are our favorite so we decided to go with that, but all of it looked so ripe and delicious. We picked and snacked out in the field and had a really great time. RJ got to see some animals and also go on a hay ride.  

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Blueberry Bush

Blueberry Bush

If you like Smolak Farms on Facebook you can get updates on all of their ongoing activities. I love the summer but of course the fall is great too since they have apple picking, pumpkin picking, and MOST importantly homemade donuts!!! Can’t wait to get back! 

RJ couldn't stop munching on freshly picked blueberries!

RJ couldn’t stop munching on freshly picked blueberries!

 

 

Necessary Stops When You’re Stuck in Traffic on Route 95 South (Maine to Boston)

As somebody who lives and works near Boston I spend more of my summer weekends away then home. I love the North Shore of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Cape Cod, and of course Maine where I probably frequent the most.

I know I am in the middle of a Europe series from my trip this past July, but this past weekend I found myself in a miserable Sunday situation which I find myself in quite often: traffic. As you all know traffic is brutal especially after a fun weekend away in the sun. We try to leave super early or really late in the evening, but sometimes it’s just not possible. So this time we decided to leave Lyman, Maine mid afternoon and face the fact that we were going to spend most of the trip in bumper to bumper traffic. 

Right when this was decided, my wheels started turning about what we could do along the way down 95 South, or our alternative road with actual stops would be Route 1 South. So this is how our list of stops went… 

1st Priority of course: DONUTS. I can confidently say that Congdon’s Donuts on Route 1 in Wells, Maine are the best donuts I have ever eaten in my life. Wells was not too far from Lyman so luckily I was only forced to drool for about 15-20 minutes until I could satisfy my yearly craving. Their honey dipped or chocolate glazed are my ideal choice. I snagged a box of whatever they had left in the afternoon to take home for my family and have a very healthy snack on the go. Photo credit goes to Congdon’s website! I was too busy stuffing my face to take any pics.

Buttercrunch Donuts

Buttercrunch Donuts

After hitting up the donut shop we pretty much committed to Route 1, we didn’t dare go near 95 until Portsmouth. 

Stop #2 Because I already had a donut I was satisfied in the sweets department for a while… but Joe wanted an ice cream. Luckily I knew just the place. Not too much further down right off Route 1 in Wells is  Scoop Deck, one of my favorite places to get an ice cream while in Maine. I recommend the Sweet and Salty flavor of hard ice cream! 

Inside Scoop Deck!

Inside Scoop Deck! (photo taken from website)

Stop #3: I’m a little embarrassed to admit I am somewhat of a coffee snob. I will ONLY drink espresso. Unless it’s an extreme emergency situation- AKA there is none within a 15 mile radius. Once we decided we’d be taking our time I was already looking forward to digesting that donut with my favorite iced soy latte in all of Maine at Backyard Coffeehouse and Eatery.  I have visited Backyard every year since they opened and every year they are equally as delicious. Although I stuck with my latte this visit, I have had their homemade pastries in the past and they are fabulous. 

Stop #4: Today is my mom’s birthday and she LOVES salt water taffy, so even though I am not a huge fan of the stuff we made a pit stop at The Goldenrod to get some to bring home. As you approach the store appropriately placed right on the corner of Short Sands downtown area you can see their giant machines stretching the taffy and packaging it up. It’s definitely cool to see, and kids always get a kick out of it. Along with taffy, they have a full serve restaurant, homemade chocolates, and an ice cream bar! 

Fresh taffy! Photo credit from Goldenrod's website

Fresh taffy! Photo credit from Goldenrod’s website

Stop #5: As I reflect back on these stops I’m a little embarrassed that they ALL revolve around food. I will admit we stopped to walk along the beach a little bit in York, but that isn’t exactly a hidden gem so maybe not worth mentioning and bolding for you.

After York we stopped in When Pigs Fly Pizzeria. We didn’t eat a meal here, but we have a few times before. I highly recommend it for lunch or dinner if you feel like a quality brick oven pizza or sandwich. The staff is great and the restaurant itself is pretty funky. Worth a drive I’d say. But there is also a store selling all of their fresh beds and some other locally made products. The bread samples are endless so you can make sure you go home with what you want. I got a loaf to bring home and  we continued on our journey. 

Stop #6: Joe wasn’t feeling the outlets and I couldn’t really blame him, it was not a day to be shopping the weather was too nice! Even if I was mostly enjoying it hanging out of my car window. We drove straight through to Portsmouth next.

Joe always gets a juice from Portsmouth Health Food Center, it wouldn’t be a trip if he didn’t get one on either the way up or the way down. He got his juice and we wandered around the town, I stopped in my favorite store Macro Polo. I also love stopping in Celtic Crossing an Irish gift shop with so many things I love! Anytime I can be reminded of Ireland I take advantage.  

After Portsmouth we hopped back on Route 95 South and the traffic lightened up thankfully! I hope you enjoy just a few recommendations from my drive home from Maine. I have a million more so let me know if you are planning a trip!

Until next time :) 

Why Cassis, France Has My Heart

IMG_8629To pick a favorite place in the French Riviera is not in any way an easy task. I truly loved each place I visited for extremely unique reasons, so to claim Cassis as my favorite is saying A LOT. I’m also not sure if I could pinpoint what in particular it was that I loved about Cassis, it was more so the feel I had while visiting. 

We spent very little time there, about a half a day probably. The day also didn’t involve the typical beaming sun, it was overcast and a little cool, but still astonishingly beautiful and perfect as far as I’m concerned. 

The bus couldn’t drive right down into the village so we were dropped off a mile or two outside and took a tram down to the center. The descent  was lined with beautiful flowers hanging off houses and flashes of ocean off in the distance. 

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My half day went something like this: 

First: We did a 3 calanques boat tour

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Just some of the many sailboats on the harbor

A calanque is an inlet, cove, or bay in the cliffs between Cassis and Mersailles. When you arrive at the harbor there is a kiosk where you can choose your boat tour based how many calanques you would like to see. We chose 3 which is the shorter of the tour options, about an hour.

The most famous calanque

The most famous calanque

 

The commentary is in french but we were given a pamphlet in english to follow along. It was definitely worth it for a great photo op. If I was spending a night in Cassis, I think instead I would rent a kayak for the day to boat and park at one of the beachy calanques (notice the kayaks on the calanque shown above). 

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Next: We went to lunch 

Cassis is so beautiful it is hard to not sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch outside. We chose to eat at La Place. It wasn’t directly on the water so I found the prices to be extremely reasonable. I usually eat a light lunch but in this case you could say I went all out… I chose the three course option because my time in France was running short and I NEEDED Crème brûlée immediately.  All three of my courses were delightful, and although I’m not a fish person I included a picture of my friend’s lunch because I know many care more about eating seafood in a place like this! 

First course salad

First course salad

My steak entree

My steak entree

The fish option!

The fish option!

My perfect Crème brûlée! The wait was worth it :)

My perfect Crème brûlée! The wait was worth it :)

After that: We walked around 

From the waterfront to the storefronts, every inch of Cassis was beautiful. If you are visiting the French Riviera, do NOT miss out on this. When I go back someday I will be spending a few days in this glorious little town. Here are a few more of my favorite Cassis pictures: 

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A Few Hours in Nîmes, France

Loved this view from the Nîmes Arena

Loved this view from the Nîmes Arena

Unfortunately I spent very little time in Nîmes, France. We were on a tight schedule so I visited a few monumental sites before heading off to my next destination! It also happened to be a Sunday so as you may know NOTHING is open on Sundays in Europe. We visited:

Outside of the Nîmes Arena

Outside of the Nîmes Arena

View from inside of the Nîmes Arena

View from inside of the Nîmes Arena

The Maison Carrée

The Maison Carrée

 

Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul’s Church

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We also wandered the narrow cobblestone streets of “French Rome” and learned about the city emblem, which oddly enough is a crocodile tied to a palm tree! The crocodile is supposed to symbolize Egypt and the palm tree symbolizes victory. 

The emblem of Nîmes

The emblem of Nîmes