NYC-Dublin-Rome-London {Week One}

Day One (Sunday, July 24th) 

We left home today after barely sleeping the night before. Why is it impossible to sleep the night before a trip? We felt good though, didn't forget anything, and we're happy to be leaving our home in the hands of a dear friend.  

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Our flight to New York was awesome - we flew Delta and it was a cushy new plane. It was easy to get to our "boutique hotel" we had booked called Pod 51. It ended up being super cheesy. It was like an old shitty hotel that they "renovated", which really just meant they threw on a fresh coat of paint and put a graffiti mural in the lobby so they could call themselves a hipster haven. We got inside the room and it seemed ok at first glance - we just changed and headed right back out for dinner.  

Only in New York City would you wait thirty minutes for a table at 11pm on a Sunday night. But the chicken and waffles at Cafeteria was worth it.  

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We returned to the hotel and it went downhill after that. The old as fuck AC unit made this horrible ambulance level buzzing noise every time it cranked on, which was every twenty minutes or so. And it was hot as fuck with no ceiling fans, so we couldn't not use the AC. The doors were paper thin and we heard everything going on in the hall and it was a busy hotel - people talking and doors slamming literally all through the night. So we barely slept. Again. It sucked.  

DAY TWO

This morning I was like - I am not taking it up the ass. And I felt so depressed at the thought of having to come back there and spend two more nights. So we made up our minds to check out and they only charged us for the one night we stayed.  

It turns out Elizabeth had a shitty night where she was staying too so we decided to go in on a nicer hotel room together. I booked us at a place I had stayed at before and it worked out great. The room was bigger, the view was amazing, and the facilities at the hotel were awesome - the rooftop bar, the second story garden, the lobby, the lounge, the front desk. It was all fantastic and we had a really fun time.  

After Kris and I got settled in the new hotel we went down to meet Elizabeth in Union Square. From there we walked to an adorable fancy market and got picnic food for lunch, which we took to the Highline. That was awesome. We walked all through it and snagged a great little bistro table in the shade and ate. 

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We walked over to Murrary's Cheese Shop afterwards, then all through Greenwich Village, ending up in Washington Square Park to splash through the giant fountain and rest in the grass. Ninth Street Espresso was pretty close by, so we went there for Kris to get his fix.  

It started epically down pouring while we were standing in a Williamsburg market and were like....fuck. What now. We waited it out for a minute, but it was clearly not letting up so we had to abandon our evening park plans and walk to the subway. We were 100% drenched from head to toe and Kris actually took his shirt off on the subway platform and rung it out.  

That was hot.  

We all freshened up at the hotel and then raided the Whole Foods buffet for dinner since it was literally right behind our hotel.  

DAY THREE

This morning we went down to the hotel lobby and had coffee on the second floor garden. Then we walked up to 72nd Street bagel and got it to-go so we could eat in Central Park. I had an amazing mini everything bagel with cream cheese, tomato and red onion. Kris had the same thing, but with salmon too. We walked over to Bethesda Fountain and this hilarious guy came up to us. He was raising money for something, but was super funny with his approach - drowning us in compliments and saying girls like us could turn him strait but it's guys like Kris that keep him gay.  

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We got smoothies for lunch and drank them in Bryant Park. Afterwards we walked up Broadway through Times Square and back to our hotel (in Columbus Circle). We were exhausted and it was hot as fuck so we lounged on the 15th floor deck and then hit the Whole Foods buffet again and stayed in.  

DAY FOUR

This morning we got up ass early and had coffee in the lobby again, along with Whole Foods pastries before heading back to the airport. My dad met us there and the AerLingus flight was great and I ended up watching the best movie ever called Youth. I had never heard of it, but decided to randomly put it on and I loved it from the first two minutes. It's funny - I discovered the show Girls on a plane like that - I had never heard of it, put it on and now it's my favorite show ever.  

We landed close to midnight and our Airbnb host picked us up - he was super duper nice. He got us all settled and then we tried falling asleep, which was tough since it was only 7pm to our bodies.  

DAY FIVE

Our hosts left out the most adorable breakfast for us so we ate in their cute kitchen and then hopped on the bus into town. We walked around the courtyard of Dublin Castle and then just happened upon the Chester Beatty Library. The guy at the front desk was the most adorable man ever. He looked like Steve Zahn, but buffer and hotter. He was sooooooo into books and pulled out a map and made a bunch of funny marks on it and told us what we had to see. He also took our bags from us and stored them behind his desk while we looked around. It was the best ever. 

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Then we walked across the river to Third Space to have lunch. I had the most delicious asparagus and goat cheese frittata with potato salad on the side and a mocha. After lunch we got back on the bus and headed to the airport.  

At that point we parted ways with Kris and Elizabeth going to London and my dad and I going to Rome. Our flight was nice and we took the train from the airport into town and then walked to our Airbnb. It was adorable. We had separate rooms in the same apartment building.  

After we got settled and changed, we started walking to dinner, which took way longer than expected because there are literally no street signs in Rome. It's like 1 in 4 streets is actually labeled and it's a giant clusterfuck. But, we made it and had really great pasta sitting outside in an alley at this place called Da Francesco. After dinner we walked through Piazza Navona and then past the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. My dad got gelato but I was too hot to eat anything heavy and sweet like that.  

We got back to our place around 2 in the morning. I was glad we had seen a fair amount of stuff that night though since I knew tomorrow would be hot as fuck and not as fun for exploring. I messaged with Kris for a while and then watched Mad Men until I was tired enough to fall asleep.  

DAY SIX

Today we checked out, but left our bags. Around the corner at the bar was a free latte and chocolate croissant for each of us, which we ate sitting outside under the arcade outside of the place. It was seriously hot and miserable so we decided to head to Villa Borghese (a gigantic park) and just wander around. That was super nice and it's a beautiful park. After a few hours there we walked over to Pinsele for lunch and had super yummy small pizzas that we ate standing outside at their counter.  

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Then it was time to grab our bags and head to the train station. Our ride was nice and Paolo was waiting for us in Grosseto a few hours later. He drove us back to his estate in the Tuscan hills, Terranera - a place I discovered six years ago when I was looking for a work trade situation. I've been back a few times since and it's a place that I really feel at home. It has two swimming pools, a tennis court, two houses, a two bedroom apartment, a studio apartment, multiple gardens, an olive grove, a vineyard, white horses, and a few dogs and cats. Nothing had changed and we rolled up to find the table outside set up and the latest work trade girl preparing dinner for us - Navina, from Latvia.  

Also living there at the moment was a woman named Winnie and her ten year old daughter, Linda. They were both tall, lanky, beautiful Kenyan women. We all ate together - eggplant, green beans in tomato sauce, chicken and potatoes, bread, oil, and a jug of Paolo's wine.  

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The girls were really fun to talk to and we sat up for a couple of hours after dinner talking and drinking. I felt like I was tipsy and tired enough to sleep, but I went to my room and ended up binge watching Mad Men and not falling asleep until 2 in the morning.  

DAY SEVEN

This morning I woke up to find Alexandra in the kitchen - she has worked on the farm for many years and we met the very first time I was here and I love her. She told me Paolo has sold Terranera and I felt so sad. I wrote in depth about that already here: http://cockandcrow.com/blog/is-there-ever-a-right-time, so I won't get into it again. It was an emotional day for me though and I was a super loner. I felt bad for sort of leaving my dad on his own for the most part, but I just, like, had to be alone most of the day and write and cry. I didn't expect to react that way, but obviously it was something that I needed to process.  

We all drank coffee in the morning together though, and gathered again for lunch outside, and then all went out to dinner together that evening - there was a beer festival at the park in town and we ate at picnic tables at sunset. I had a really yummy orzo and tuna salad dish and we all shared a bottle of wine.  

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I couldn't sleep again, partly still jet leg, partly sleeping in a cold creepy old stone room alone without Kris. I binge watched Mad Men again and fell asleep super late. 

DAY EIGHT

I was a total zombie today after not having slept great for the last few days. I ate a bowl of cornflakes and then took a final walk around before we left. It ended up being kind of a weird day. First we went to church with Winnie which was sort of cool - a tiny old church in a tiny old hill town with a super cliche looking Italian priest. Afterwards we started driving towards the hot springs, but then Paolo decided he wanted to stop at his other house to water his plants and make lunch. Seemed simple enough, but the watering took forever. Lunch was good - pasta with tuna and onion, garlic and oil that we ate at a table outside. But then afterwards he went to nap....but there was nowhere for us to really nap....so we just sort of sat around in the hot sticky house. There wasn't much refuge outside, but at least there was wifi so that kept us reasonably entertained.  

Finally we headed to the hot springs and that was nice. The hot tubs are terraced on the side of a hill and then at the bottom is a giant lake that's cool with a soft muddy bottom. Then Paolo dropped us back at the train station and we started our loooong journey to London - a two hour train ride, a 20 minute layover, a 30 minute train ride, a 2.5 hour flight, a 30 minute layover, a 30 minute train ride, and finally - a cab.  

I couldn't wait to see Kris and the house we're house sitting at is super adorable. It was 2:30 by the time I got there and we sat up talking until we were like - oh crap, that's the sun coming up I guess we should try and go to sleep.

Katie DiBenedettoComment