Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

— John Steinbeck


Positano was a dream. It’s one of the more unique and fascinating towns we’ve visited with colorful buildings that are seemingly built straight from the sea and into a ravine that shoots right up the steep cliffside.

We took the local bus from Praiano to Positano and hopped off at the La Sponda bus stop. Immediately off the bus you’re greeted with beautiful views, both of the sea and the town. As you walk towards town take notice of the wrought iron fence with built-in benches. They’re absolutely adorable. There are a few spots on the walk into town to get your “money shot” photo with the sprawling hillside full of colorful houses, shops and restaurants in the background. I don’t think you can take a bad photo in Positano, it’s just not possible.

Where to Stay:

While we opted to stay in Praiano on this trip, I would love to come back one day and stay somewhere luxurious. My dream would be to rent a place with sweeping views, like Le Sirenuse. Sadly we don’t have the disposable income for a hotel bill that Le Sirenuse would run us. A girl can dream though.

Restaurants:

  • La Zagara: We had a lovely breakfast here one morning in their outdoor garden with beautiful views of the cliffside town. On another morning we had takeaway cappuccinos and pastries before sailing to Capri for the day.
  • Casa e Bottega: We had lunch here one day and it was one of my favorite meals of our entire trip. The space is gorgeous and the owners were delightful. We were lucky enough to grab a table with a view. Not only is Casa e Bottega a great place for breakfast or lunch, it’s also a design store with beautiful housewares that you can purchase.
  • Chez Black: A famous restaurant on the promenade and a place to be seen. We found the food to be just “meh” though.
  • Blu Bar: One afternoon we sat under an umbrella on the Marina Grande and ordered drinks for a few hours while we enjoyed the view. Another afternoon we sipped drinks from their bar, which was great for people watching.

What to Do:

  • Follow along with Rick Steves on his Positano Stroll to learn about the towns history and landmarks not to be missed
  • Wander around the winding streets and bop in and out of the shops
  • Make your way down to the beach promenade and take in the views of Spiaggia Grande
  • Take a fiat or vespa tour around town
  • Take a boat tour
  • Take a ferry to Capri
  • If the weather is warm, rent a sun bed and bask in the sun or spend some time at a beach club
The local bus dropped us off at the La Sponda stop where we were met with this first view of the town.

We had breakfast one morning at La Zagara in their beautiful open air garden with cliffside views.

Spiaggia Grande views

A limencello spritz

Praiano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Because of its obscure location, the Amalfi Coast can be a difficult destination to reach. You have options though! Depending on where you are starting your journey, you can take a bus, ferry, taxi or private transfer. We started our journey from Naples and opted for the more affordable route of the local express train (€38/two people RT) to Sorrento and then the local SITA bus (€8/two people RT) as opposed to roughly €150 for a private transfer one way. The route we chose only ended up taking about an hour longer than a private transfer so it was worth it for us to save the extra money. The logistics were seamless and quite easy. While researching for this trip so many people said to avoid the hassle of public transportation and just hire a private transfer. That’s not really our jam though. We always prefer public transportation when traveling in Europe. We always find it efficient, easy to navigate and more affordable.

Where to Stay:

When we started looking for accommodations on the Amalfi Coast, we started our search in Positano but because we wanted something with a view we quickly started looking elsewhere as everything we came across was well over €400/night. We ended up staying in the town next door, Praiano, because we wanted something in a quieter area that wasn’t going to break the bank. Luke and I are travelers on a budget, always. We found this AirBnb with an incredible patio that overlooked the sea and was shocked to see that it came in around €100/night.

If you’ve never been to the Amalfi Coast, something to keep in mind is that a lot of the properties and hotels aren’t very modern, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re likely to pay a lot more.

Another benefit to choosing Praiano as your home base is that it doesn’t take as much time to travel between towns for day-tips. We chose to visit Positano on a few different days and Amalfi on another day.

Restaurants:

We loved every meal we had in Praiano! There are a few things I do want to mention about the food situation in this town though. While there are not a ton of restaurants in town, the places below were so good, I’d recommend them all. All dinners were accompanied by a bottle of wine and had a view of the sea, because every meal should be enjoyed this way when you’re on the Amalfi Coast. For the few times that we did not dine out, we picked up fresh ingredients from the local markets tucked into the winding hillsides and made meals at our AirBnb. I’m really missing those €1.50 packages of fresh mozzarella and €4.00 packages of prosciutto right about now.

  • Il Pirata: We ventured down to the water for a leisurely lunch here on our first day. It was a bit on the pricier side, but the location was just lovely and the views cannot be beat.
  • La Moressa: We had dinner here one evening on the patio and it was delicious. We especially loved their version of tiramisu for dessert.
  • Kasai: Probably the most memorable meal of the trip. We made a reservation a few days in advance and dined outside to take advantage of the views. The food was so unique and the lemon dessert blew our minds!
  • Ristorante Il Pino: An amazing restaurant in the middle of Praiano serving Italian dishes with a modern twist. On a few different occasions during our meal the waiters would sing traditional Italian songs and get the entire restaurant to follow along – it was beyond delightful. When we were finishing up and paying for our meal our waiter informed us that the restaurant owner provides transpiration back to your hotel – it was a dream come true to hear this as we were staying at the top of the hill, lol.
  • Che Bontà: We stopped here for snacks and drinks on a rainy day. Grab a spot on the stairs outside for some good people watching.
  • Cafe Novantaquattro: We grabbed a few takeaway cappuccinos here in the mornings.
  • Open Gate: We stopped here for lunch when we were out exploring. Our waiter sold us on their lasagna as it’s an old family recipe. It was incredible!

Things to Do:

  • Go on a self-guided walking tour of the sleepy little town
  • Visit La Bacheca ceramics studio for the most beautiful pottery (we picked up a few pieces for our moms)
  • Visit the tiny Bob Art studio – when we were walking around town we saw so many Bob Art pieces built into the walls
  • Visit the tiny markets tucked into the hillside for fresh produce, cheese and wine and unbelievably affordable prices
  • Hike the Path of the Gods

Getting Around:

We utilized a few different buses during our stay.

Mobility Bus: Our AirBnb host let us know about the local bus that operates specifically between Praiano, Positano and Nocelle. You can purchase tickets in advance at most markets in town and they run €1.30/person each way. You can also purchase tickets on the bus, it will just cost a little more. The local bus operates between 8am to 10pm with frequent pick ups and drop offs. We also very conveniently had a bus stop located right at the base of the stairs to our AirBnb.

SITA Bus: For the day that we spent in Amalfi, we hoped on the SITA bus. There are a few bus stops along the main road through Praiano. You need to purchase tickets ahead of your bus journey and you can do so at most newsstands, bars and tobacco shops.

Bus Tip: When purchasing tickets for either the Mobility or SITA buses, make sure to let the cashier know your starting and end city as fares vary depending on how far you’re traveling. Fares can run €1.30 to €4.00.

Beep beep, the cutest Fiats

A very special dinner at Kasai

We loved making dinners at the AirBnb with fresh ingredients from the market

The patio of our AirBnb

Naples, Italy

Back in May Luke and I took our first trip to Italy. We mulled over different cities to visit and ultimately landed on splitting our time between the Amalfi Coast and Rome. Because we chose the Amalfi Coast, we flew into Naples and spent some time there before making our way south.

We flew into the Naples International Airport in the late afternoon and had the whole evening to explore as well as the entire next day. Naples and the surrounding area is quite large, but we felt like we saw what we wanted to see in that short amount of time.

We booked this AirBnb in the Centro Storico neighborhood. The Centro Storico neighborhood is known for its ornate churches and is jam-packed with trattorias, bars and local shops. The area felt very local and everyone we encountered was nice and helpful. Upon arrival to our Airbnb we were having difficulties with our door key and an old man appeared out of nowhere with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, house slippers and a robe that was barely covering his body, to help us out. He was quite the sight, lol. After he helped us out, he disappeared back into the winding alleyways never to be seen again. I would like to think that experience sums up the vibe of the neighborhood quite well.

Had we been planning on spending more time in Naples we probably would have booked a place in either the Quartieri Spagnoli or Chiaia neighborhoods as those areas were very charming, full of character and right near the water.

One convenient aspect to the AirBnb we booked was that it was walking distance to the central train station, Napoli Garibaldi. We strategically planned this so we could easily get to the train station the morning of our departure to the Amalfi Coast. We purchased tickets ahead of time here for the Campania Express local train from Napoli Garibaldi to Sorrento and our total cost was €24 for two passengers, round trip. When we arrived at the train station there was some confusion on what platform we were departing from as nothing was listed for our train number. A quick check-in at the ticket counter confirmed that we’d be escorted by an employee to the correct platform with other travelers going in our same direction directly before departure. I don’t know if this is because we were taking the local express, or some other reason, but this should serve as a good reminder to always ask when in question.

Things to Do:

Due to the fact that we only had a day and a half of exploring, this section is going to be on the lighter side.

  • Visit Castel Sant’Elmo for sweeping views of the city
  • Wander around Via San Gregorio Armeno and get lost in the alleyways
  • Wander around the Naples Harbor
  • Eat lunch in the Vomero neighborhood, we found a great street with a lot of restaurants and shops

Colorful Los Angeles

One of my favorite things to do anywhere I go is to find pretty things to take pictures of. For me, a perfect day would be exploring aimlessly with my camera and just seeing where the day takes me. The urban sprawl of Los Angeles is beyond perfect for this because there are so many different neighborhoods and cities so close, all with their own vibe.

On this particular trip we spent some time wandering around the Los Angeles Arts District (a new-to-me area to explore) to see what street art we could find. There were so many colorful walls and photo opportunities. We didn’t stay too long because we needed to go grab lunch, but I definitely see myself spending more time in this area on our next trip – especially since Girl and the Goat is in this neighborhood and I’d love to dine there.

I rounded up some fun photos I took this past weekend all over the city. I included their locations, too, in case you want to visit any of these fun spots. I just love long weekends here.

1316 Palmetto St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
1316 Palmetto St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Paint splatters in the Arts District
Found on a random wall in the Arts District
1398 Palmetto St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
1398 Palmetto St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Found on a random street in the Arts District
1323 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Walking on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, CA
1337 Lebanon St. (at Cameron Lane), Los Angeles, CA 90015
1337 Lebanon St. (at Cameron Lane), Los Angeles, CA 90015
226 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
295 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
916 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Rowena Crest Viewpoint

The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is located roughly 20 minutes east of Hood River, Oregon. For years I’ve seen photos of this beautiful location but wanted to see it with my own eyes, so one weekend Luke I drove out to the viewpoint to get some photos. On the day of our visit it was an exceptionally beautiful day in the gorge. The views in the gorge always amaze me; I’m convinced you can’t take a bad picture out here.

DJI Mini 2 Drone Flying for Beginners

I mentioned in this post that I recently purchased a drone. Owning a drone that can take beautiful aerial photos had long been a dream of mine and one day a few months back (after a lot of research) I decided to just go for it! I purchased the DJI Mini 2 because it appeared to be the best option for beginners and for me specifically. I read a ton of reviews and watched countless videos just to make sure I was making the best choice for my needs.

Before my first flight:

Before I flew my drone for the first time, I took the recreational UAS safety test and familiarized myself with all of the flight rules and regulations. Even though my specific drone doesn’t require you to be registered with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) because the weight falls just under the recreational requirements, I went ahead and registered it anyway. If I want to add any aftermarket accessories to my drone (propeller guards, landing gear, or any other miscellaneous gadgets) it could increase the weight and then a registration would be required. The fee is only $5 and is good for 3 years, so it was worth it to me to just have that part taken care of. Since technically you’re operating a small aircraft, it was important to me that I have all my bases covered in case I run into any situations where I’m questioned for flying my drone. I also have my name and cell number label-printed on my drone in case it gets lost and I can’t locate it. Then the best case scenario would be that a nice person would find it and contact me.

I found watching this video to be extremely helpful to familiarize myself with operating my drone for the first time. It walks you through embarking on your first flight step by step. I then downloaded the DJI Fly app on my phone and got familiar with setting up my phone and controller. In the app you can also view “fly spots” to ensure that you’re flying in an authorized area.

My first flight:

For my first drone flight I ended up being more nervous than I anticipated. I even googled “afraid to fly my drone for the first time” and came across a ton of articles with advice and quickly learned this is a very common feeling, haha. I was visiting my parents in Central Oregon and thought their house would be the perfect location for a weekend of test flying since there aren’t many large trees and the landscape is very open. I completed roughly 10 flights over the weekend, practicing basic flight moves and just focusing on getting comfortable with the controller and movements. I practiced all of the built-in QuickShots (pre-set shooting modes that record your flight path) and took hundreds of photos and videos. I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice A LOT in a wide open location as you’re starting out. The more I fly, the comfortable I become.

What’s next:

Now that I have gained a lot more confidence in flying my drone on land I need to get more comfortable flying over water. I know with practice I’ll gain more confidence. We have a trip to Italy planned in May and I want to be able to capture videos and photos of the Amalfi coast without being scared the aircraft will dive straight into the water.

I am also going to start diving into the more advanced features that the DJI Fly app offers, specifically the Pro camera mode and manual camera settings. My goal is to get comfortable adjusting these settings while in flight so I can take better photos. All of the photos that I share below are taken on the Auto camera setting and are un-edited.

photos from my first drone flight in Central Oregon
photos from my first drone flight in Central Oregon
photos from my first drone flight in Central Oregon
flying the drone straight up from my street
an aerial photo from my local park
a photo from my local park
flying the drone straight up from my street
downtown portland on a beautiful winter day
the Tilikum Crossing bridge
my street on a snowy winter day

Upper Left USA

A few weekends ago we took an extra day off of work and spent some time up in NW Washington for a little escape. We made Port Angeles our home base and explored the surrounding areas. Port Angeles is a cute little town with a historic vibe and from the waterfront you can see our Canadian friends just around 20 miles north. Oh, how I wish I could’ve hopped on a ferry to Victoria, sigh. We’ll save that for a time in the future when this pandemic is successfully behind us.

This trip was spent mostly taking in the scenery and exploring the outdoors (sensing a theme here from my previous travel posts during a pandemic?) and we were very lucky with beautiful albeit very cold weather! Not far from Port Angeles, we explored Lake Crescent and Snug Harbor, located in the northern part of the Olympic National Park – which is where some of the darling photos below were taken. Even though I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the beauty here still amazes me every time. The mix of evergreen trees and fall foliage is uniquely NW. It’s little weekend getaways like this that alway inspire me to explore more of Oregon and Washington since we live so close.

On the way in/out of town we briefly explored Sequim and Port Townsend – both of which I see us visiting again in the future!

A Trip to Chicago, IL

We recently returned from a week in the Midwest visiting Luke’s parents. We spent most of our time in Chicago showing my dad around as this was his first time here. This trip looked A LOT different from past trips due to COVID-19. For weeks and weeks leading up to the trip we were unsure if it was even going to happen. We even second guessed the trip many times. Our flights were changed numerous times as the airline consolidated flights for the week. I was scared to even get on an airplane during a pandemic! When we finally decided to go ahead with it, we had a lot of conversations on how to proceed with our travel plans as safely as possible. Chicago was in Phase 4 of re-opening and we had a game plan. We brought plenty of face masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. We planned activities where we could maintain distance from others and also planned on only dining at establishments that had outdoor seating. I was quite impressed with how safe I felt in Chicago. Most places we visited had temperature checks and everyone had social distancing in place. By the end of the trip it felt like my face mask was a permanent fixture to my face – a small price to pay for safety though.

While it wasn’t’t the trip we had initially planned on, it ended up being a great time with family and I’m grateful we were able to make it happen. We had non-stop flights on Alaska Airlines and they kept all middle seats open. They thoroughly cleaned everything and scaled back their in-flight meal service to only offer bottled water, a few sodas and snack packets. Face masks were required by everyone – which quite honestly felt safer than visiting Safeway or Fred Meyer down the street from my house where half the shoppers don’t even bother with them. While I understand traveling is controversial right now, I feel good about how we handled everything and the safety precautions that we took. The number one reason for this trip was to see family that live outside of Chicago and since it is summer, we spent time in the city together.

Where we ate:

Ersi Brewery (This was our first dinner after landing at O’hare. The weather was perfect, the patio was spacious and the food and beers were just what we needed after a day of traveling.)
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria (A great spot for pizza and beers in Wicker Park)
King Crab House (What a gem! We were walking around Lincoln Park and spotted this cute place in the neighborhood. I put my name on the list for dinner and even got to pick out where we wanted to sit on their patio.)
Kaiser Tiger (A fun spot with plenty of outdoor seating)
Kennedy Rooftop (This was our last dinner of the trip. Their patio had just recently opened and we snagged the best table there was – unobstructed views of the entire Chicago skyline!)

Other places that we love in Chicago: Velvet Taco, Le Colonial, The Publican, Giordano’s, Public House, Cindy’s Rooftop, Eastman Egg Company, Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Places that are on our list for our next visit: The Purple Pig, Girl & The Goat, Au Cheval

Where we drank:

Paradise Park (A fun spot with a huge patio to grab a few drinks)
Island Party Hut (After a boat tour on the lake we stopped here for a few beers. They have an expansive outdoor area and we found large bench to sit on right by the river.)
Big Star (We stopped in here or a few margaritas to get out of the sun)
Pilot Project (Creative and delicious beers in a beautiful outdoor space)
Sully’s House (We came across this place on the way to another place. When that other place didn’t work out, Sully’s welcomed us with open arms – and a very socially distant patio.)
Murphy’s Bleachers (We originally booked this trip before the pandemic, so we planned on catching a Cubs game on the trip. While the Cubs game didn’t happen, we walked around the outside of the ballpark and stopped in here for lunch and beers.)

Activities:

A lot of walking (We walked all through Lincoln Park taking in the sights of the city and the tree-lined neighborhood streets, Millennium Park, Wrigleyville and Wicker Park.)

Boat Tour (Wendella boat tours now require masks to be worn at all time and they’ve also restricted the number of passengers to allow for social distancing)

New York City for Thanksgiving

This past Thanksgiving Luke and I spent some time in NYC. My cousin lives on the Lower East Side and we thought it would be fun to spend the holiday weekend with her. She graciously hosted us in her tiny (yet very comfortable and cozy apartment) and even played tour guide for us – ensuring we saw everything we haven’t already seen in the city. I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and so has Luke so our main goal of this trip was to just relax, take our time and hang out. I was coming straight off my Uganda trip, so my body legitimately had no idea what time it was or where in the world I was. It took me a solid two days to finally catch up to everyone else, haha. It was a fun trip, but my bank account would tell you otherwise.

In my eyes, New York City is always a good idea and visiting this magical place will never get old.

Where we ate:
Bistrot Leo (They had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu and it was delicious)
Russ and Daughters (My first Jewish deli and definitely not my last)
Uncle Boon’s (Some of the best Thai food outside of Thailand)
Chelsea Market (It’s fun to walk through Chelsea Market and grab a bite to eat amongst the crowds)
Egg Shop (A delicious eggy breakfast spot)
Frank (We had a fun group dinner here and some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had)
Emmy Squared (We split a Detroit-style pizza, burger and Brussels sprouts salad – and it was SO GOOD!)
Bluestone Lane (We stopped in here for some chais and ricotta-strawberry toast)
Levain Bakery (Fueled up on cookies and baked goods after a sunny walk through Central Park)

Where we drank:
Grey Lady ($1 oysters and beers from Nantucket)
Amsterdam Ale House (A cozy spot for beers after walking through Central Park)
Skinny Dennis (We stopped in here after the basketball game and was blown away by the whiskey/coffee drink)
Three’s (Amazing brewery in Brooklyn with very creative IPA’s)
Strong Rope (Another Brooklyn brewery)

What we did:
Chelsea Piers Driving Range (On our last day it started snowing during a walk so we hopped over to Chelsea Piers to hit a few buckets of golfballs)
Union Square (There was a Christmas Market going on here!)
5th Avenue Shopping
Central Park (You can’t visit the city without a walk through this beautiful park)
MoMA (We got lucky and enjoyed free admission on Friday night. Although it was admittedly very chaotic with so many people in attendance.)
Vessel @ Hudson Yards (A few years ago when I first took Luke to NYC this area didn’t even exist!)
The High Line (A walk along the High Line is always fun in my book)
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat game @ Barclay’s Center