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

Hollywoodland Secret Stairs

While in LA recently we wanted to take advantage of a nice sunny morning while getting in lot of steps. We decided to go on an adventure to find the secret (or maybe not-so-secret) stairs in the Beachwood Canyon / Hollywoodland neighborhood. Some of these stairs are no joke, they lead straight up and give your glutes a killer workout. My sister and I explored this area a few years back and it quickly became one of my favorite ways to get in a good workout while taking in some fun views of the Hollywood sign.

Where to find the stairs:

To locate all the secret stairs in the Beachwood Canyon / Hollywoodland neighborhood, first you’ll need to find a place to park on Beachwood Drive, then you’ll start walking north up the street. Once you pass the Beachwood Cafe (which by the way, looked like a very cute place for breakfast) the secret staircases are located just a bit further up on your left and your right. We loved taking the stairs up into the hilly neighborhood and just wandering around and taking in the views from the street. It’s such a unique neighborhood.

Here’s a map with the stairs circled. We found that our phones didn’t have any service while walking around the hills, so it might be best to take a screenshot to have with you for reference.
Looking north on Beachwood Drive

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

A fun visit to Lake Tahoe

Back in July, Luke and I spent five days exploring the Lake Tahoe area. It was our first visit and I can say with complete confidence that it will not be our last! The lake and surrounding areas are just stunning. The lake looks like one hundred different shades of blue depending on what area you’re viewing it from.

We chose to stay in South Lake Tahoe due to the number of accommodations, restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, shopping, etc. We could not have loved our location more! We ended each day completely exhausted from exploring, hiking, rafting and swimming. We would return to our hotel at the end of each day to freshen up and then walk only a few blocks to a variety of restaurants and breweries in the area – it was perfect.

See below for links to our favorite restaurants, bars, activities as well as a few helpful tips.

Restaurants:

Breweries:

    Activities & Outdoors:

    A Few Tips:

    We flew into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, rented a small SUV and drove just under 60 miles to South Lake Tahoe. We made South Lake Tahoe our main base and spent different days exploring different areas. One day we dedicated to exploring South Lake Tahoe. One day we dedicated to exploring Incline Village and the northern area of the lake. One day we drove to the west side of the lake and went river rafting in Tahoe City.

    If you want to spend any time at Sand Harbor, make sure you get there very early in the morning to secure a parking spot. I’m talking 7:30am or earlier. We arrived around 9am and the lot was already full and they don’t allow you to park down the street and walk in. We found the parking situation to be the same for the hiking trails. Arrive. Early. Do your research on any area that you’d like to spend time in ahead of your visit.

    If there are any activities that are high on your list (rafting, kayaking, jest skis, boating, restaurants, etc) check to see if you can make reservations in advance. It was quite busy when we visited in July and as each day passed more and more tourists arrived at the lake. Thinking ahead to our next trip, we’ll likely visit during the week and not over the weekend because the crowds on Friday and Saturday became overwhelming.

    Viewpoint at Memorial Point Scenic Overlook
    Viewpoint at Memorial Point Scenic Overlook
    Beers at South of North Brewery. We visited their location at the Basecamp Hotel a few times during our trip. They have live music in the evenings!
    Sand Harbor
    Sidellis Brewery
    Emerald Bay State Park
    Emerald Bay State Park
    Emerald Bay State Park
    Emerald Bay State Park
    Emerald Bay State Park
    Back at South of North for some pre-dinner beers.
    A ski chair at the Heavenly Village Shops.
    Edgewood Golf Course
    Edgewood Golf Course
    Donner Train Tunnels
    Donner Train Tunnels
    Donner Train Tunnels
    Donner Train Tunnels
    A quick stop to explore Truckee, CA before heading back to the Reno-Tahoe Airport.

    A Quick Trip to California

    Back in September we were itching to get away for a quick weekend trip. We had California on our minds and envisioned driving up and down 101 and taking in the views of the central coast. We figured staying in our car/finding places to explore outdoors was our best bet given there is still a pandemic in full swing. Anytime we were around anyone else we 100% had our masks on. We actually had our masks on just even walking around outside. For us, it’s better to err on the side of caution and plus I truly don’t mind wearing a mask. I understand people being leery of traveling (trust me, I am as well) which is why we take our safety and the safety of others very seriously by wearing our masks, washing our hands, sanitizing, eating meals outdoors away from other people, etc.

    In California we explored Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea were new-to-me places and they were just adorable! I don’t have any restaurant recommendations, coffee shops or fun things to do to share in this post as this trip was really focused on being close to the water and breathing the fresh California air. I do have some pretty pictures to share though, which is something I’m always good for!

    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