Cinque Terre > Barcelona > Paris> Amsterdam
Manarola, Italy // September 9-12
The Cinque Terre is a national park in Italy comprised of 5 cliff side villages that are all picturesque and amazing. They are all connect by pedestrian paths so you can actually hike between all five. It’s really spectacular. We stayed in Manarola, which is the second town in. Our Airbnb was really cute. It was one large bedroom attached to one small bedroom. Each bedroom had its own patio and there was a shared bathroom. It was a great set up. We spent 3 nights there sleeping in, swimming in the ocean, napping, and hiking up the hill to this restaurant on top that overlooked the ocean and had amazeballs $8 salads. This is the view:
The villages are very compact and pedestrian only so it’s a very relaxing place in that sense. There are plenty of coffee shops and little bodegas and cafes — one cafe had a cold potato salad with octopus that knocked Kris’ socks off.
To come here from southern Italy with the shitty food and overpriced everything and awful people — it was like another world. Somehow northern Italy and this magnificent park while still being touristy, manages to maintain their integrity. Of course we also ate tons of gelato:
Our traveling partner, Elizabeth, went home from here and we were on own for the remaining few weeks of our trip. She left very early the morning of September 11th, which happens to be our anniversary. We awoke to little chocolates and fruit, a bottle of bubbles, and a postcard crammed with lovely thoughts and wishes. It was a fucking delight.
On the morning of the 12th we checked out and headed to Pisa - the closest airport. Our flight wasn't until the evening so we found what was dubbed "an american style cafe" in Pisa and it was the perfect spot to spend a few hours before our flight to Barcelona.
Barcelona makes a great first impression - the airport is stunning and shiny and clean and it was super easy to find the bus into town. We got off in the city center and the walk to our hosts's house was beautiful. They live in the middle of a network of pedestrian alleys that are crammed full of shops, cafes, and tiny piazzas. We were staying with a darling gay couple of one of them even waited up for us to properly check us in. It was so sweet. Their apartment was magnificent and immaculate. Our room was tiny, but comfortable and the rest of the apartment was super spacious and comfy and they welcomed us to lounge and make ourselves at home.
Barcelona // September 12-16
On our first morning in Barcelona we went to a brunch spot called Milk Bar. It was tiny and warm and cozy. We sat at the bar and had the most amazing eggs benedict ever. Like. It rivaled Denise's. Anyone who knows her knows that is a huge deal.
Then we spent the afternoon lounging fully nude on a beach under a rented umbrella. We even ordered food from the gay bar on the beach, appropriately called Be Gay, and it was served to us while we were naked. It was so novel. We ate ceviche and watched all of the people all day. And by people I mean penises. It was great.
The next few days we saw the famous sights (La Sagrada, the gothic quarter, etc.) and spent lots of time with our amazing hosts - a gay couple :: Guilloume and Ali.
Their place was so beautifully decorated and comfortable that we lounged there quite a bit and took lots of baths in their amazing tub. One of the nights we grilled dinner together on the roof and I learned how to make real sangria.
Also. There was the fancy iced tea shop right outside their apartment and we went there at least once per day, often twice. It was so fun. They had iced chai tea and iced matcha and fun stuff like iced green tea with mango nectar and lime juice and all kinds of delicious combinations. On our last night I bought a jar of their chai mix to take home with me — this was one of only two things we bought take home with us. It was worthy of the coveted space in my backpack.
Paris // September 16-20
We left Barcelona the afternoon of the 16th for our evening flight to Paris. From the Paris airport, we took a train into the city center and the walk from the train station to our host's house was super delightful - much like Barcelona - it was thru a well populated pedestrian area and the house was right in the middle of everything. Our host was the most darling, classic French woman in her 60s :: Marie. She warmly welcomed us into her super classy apartment. It was so fucking Parisian. It was like a museum that we were going to live in. Our room was gigantic, the kitchen was the cutest space I had ever seen and she had a gorgeous living room and terrace with the best view ever — we were in the heart of the 3rd arrondissement.
Each morning she would go downstairs to the boulangerie and get fresh pastries and put them out with coffee and other nibbles.
The first day we walked along the river to the Eiffel Tower:
Other than that we stayed in our neighborhood because it was less touristy and super fun. We ate crepes and had picnics and visited the home of Victor Hugo.
And we spent lots of time lounging in the apartment because it was so fab, and we were just getting tired.
Paris is so fucking romantic. It's like every cliche you've ever heard. They are all true. Paris is that great.
Amsterdam // September 20-24
Our last morning in Paris was super chill and we took an easy afternoon train ride from Paris to Amsterdam — 3 hours on a lovely train. We also got some yummy french sandwiches and pastries from the station for our ride. The walk from the Amsterdam train station was such a fun intro to the city. It was strait down the main drag and we passed french fry stands, cheese shops, coffee shops, weed smoking, it was great.
The Airbnb we picked was right in the center again and our host, Julia-Beth was this adorable girl from South Africa who is in her last year of fashion design school. Our room was a corner room with huge windows and an amazing view. It was funny in that it had an en-suite shower and sink, but the toilet was outside of our room and shared with another Airbnb room.
Also, their apartment is literally above a weed cafe so that was super cool. You just walk in and order off the menu from the bar, just like you were ordering a damn cocktail. It's lovely. And people are just chill and high. Instead of drunk and obnoxious.
Amsterdam was funny though. We were like officially shutting down and literally one of the days we went out for breakfast, came back home at 1pm and didn't leave our bed the rest of the day except to go downstairs and cook dinner. We sort of expected that though, so we intentially planned these last few weeks of Airbnb’s with that in mind — making sure the rooms were extra comfy, that we had use of the kitchen, etc. Our place was perfect and the house itself was beautiful with a huge kitchen that was well equipped.
Amsterdam is a great city though. The canals are beautiful and there are cheese shops on every corner with free samples and they have a great coffee culture, and then of course — the apple pie.
It is fucking overwhelming to walk around there though because of the tiny narrow streets and all of the bikes, scooters and cars. There is no order to it so every time you cross a street or take a step you have to make sure you're not going to get smashed by one of those three things. It's kind of a lot and is sort of sensory overload. Plus there's shit tons of people - like New York City level pedestrian traffic. Oh, and there's trams that run on tracks that are flush with the road, so you have to watch out for them too. It was totally chaotic.
On our last day we had a lazy morning in our apartment and then walked to a really unique coffee shop to kill time before heading to the airport — it was a gorgeous clothing boutique with a few tables in the back and an espresso machine. It was darling:
Tonight we fly to Dublin and are looking forward to spending the last few days of our trip in an English speaking country that is very familiar to us. Dublin, then New York, then home on Wednesday. Whew!