Saturday, 31 August 2019

What To Know Before Travelling To Rome

What To Know Before Travelling To Rome ItsHollieAnn
My wife and I recently got back from an amazing three days in Rome as part of our honeymoon. We spent our time there strolling around ancient streets, eating delicious pizza and sampling the best wine Italy had to offer. 

As always, before we travelled, I did a little research on the city. Aside from the best Instagram spots and places to eat gelato (lemon flavour is a must-try by the way), I didn't actually come across information that was helpful to know. So, with that in mind, I really wanted to share my thoughts and experiences to hopefully help anyone who's planning to visit this amazing place one day. 

PRICING

Hands down my most asked question, is Rome expensive. Like anywhere, it's only as expensive as you make it. If you're eating at a restaurant, dishes with more expensive ingredients will be more expensive. I found a pizza to be roughly and more local wine on the menu to be aroun€25 a bottle. If you're eating near attractions, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum etc, food and drinks will likely be double what they'd cost one street over. Taxis were reasonably priced, around €10-€15 to go across the city. Free Now was the best priced app I found and was totally safe.

ROME IS SMALL

A great thing I found about Rome is that it's small. We stayed in Municipio I and found it super easy to walk between the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. We took a taxi over to the Colosseum purely because it was too hot to walk and would have also probably taken a short taxi to Trastevere had we have visited. The metro is said to be a great option to hop on and off however it was closed when we visited. 

ENDLESS DISCOVERIES

I mentioned in pricing that food and drink is cheaper a street or two away from attractions and though this worried me at first, thinking we were never going to find anywhere to eat, there's something to discover around every corner. Endless cafes, bars and restaurants to sit inside where it's cool or outside to people watch. There are home-cooked recipes in almost every restaurant and there are gelato bars everywhere to grab a cold desert to walk around with.

BUYING ILLEGAL GOODS

Like most cities, there are people walking around trying to sell you things. Anything from bouncy balls to bracelets and handheld fans to fake designer goods. I didn't realise until we were outside the Pantheon that these tradesmen, if you can call them that, are actually illegal. A police woman confronted a lady trying to buy a scarf and the seller scarpered away down the cobbled streets - She went on to explain how it wasn't legal in Rome to purchase goods from these people and that the buyer, even with no prior knowledge, could face punishment of the goods taken off them or a fine for their purchase.  

PRE-BOOKING TOURS

We didn't actually take part in any tours but a lot of friends who have visited Rome had said  pre-booking is a must to visit the likes of the Vatican and see inside the Colosseum as queues can be so long. When doing my research, I found that a lot of tours available to book online had such bad reviews because of tour guides not arriving or having to wait in line anyway because tickets weren't what they were sold as. My advice is do your research - If you have enough time in the city, find a reputable travel shop and book whilst you're there instead of online. 

PICK-POCKETING

Fortunately we didn't have or see any experiences with pick-pocketing whilst in Rome. It does happen however if you're careful and vigilant, it can be avoided. I always made sure to have my bag closed and cross body if possible. We never left our phones on a table when dining outside and made sure to never show the money in our wallet when paying for anything. Like anywhere, only take with you what you need, keep your belongings close and be aware. Rome is a busy city, probably one of the busiest places I've been. You're constantly brushing against people and walking through crowds so just be careful and in tune with what's happening around you. 

LEARN SOME ITALIAN

I strongly believe it's nice to learn some of the language wherever you're heading but I found it especially helpful in Rome. Rome see's tourists from all over the world so it doesn't hurt to learn basic phrases of theirs - Hello, goodbye, please and thank you are great to start and will go a long way. 

ATTRACTIONS ARE BUSY

It goes without saying that attractions are busy and so going early in the morning or later in the evening are the best times, I found. This can however backfire if it's a hot day because everyone is going to want to visit when it's cooler. As a rule of thumb, early in the morning or in the evening will be your best bet. If you're looking to go into attractions like the Vatican and Colosseum and don't have pre-booked tickets, it's also worth heading to those before opening to make sure you get in. 

WEATHER

Again, like anywhere, check the weather before you go. Rome's weather in August is very warm as expected - The city doesn't have a lot of air conditioning or open space and so that's something to think about. For me 30 degrees is fine, but I need air conditioning readily available. Choose a time that's best for you and prepare well.

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I really hope you found this helpful. Feel free to add anything extra to the comments! 

What To Know Before Travelling To Rome ItsHollieAnn
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Monday, 19 August 2019

How To Spend Three Days In Charleston

How To Spend Three Days In Charleston ItsHollieAnn
Despite still having a couple of destinations to tick off this year, we're already thinking about where we'll head to in 2020. We're trying our best to keep things simple but there's just so much we want to see that it seems silly to waste any time. That in mind, after the incredible two months I spent in Charleston last year, we're thinking of stopping off there for a few days en route to our destination. 

When I thought about it realistically, Charleston is a big place and even after seven weeks of exploring, I still boarded the plane home with things on my to-do list. However being fortunate enough to spend a few days there is better than no time at all so I've compiled my perfect three day itinerary. Of course, everybody's wants and needs are different but if my wife and I head back to CHS, you can bet this is what we'll get up to. 

STAY

In my ideal world we'd stay in Mount Pleasant on the side closest to downtown for two reasons. Firstly it's far less expensive than staying on the peninsula itself and secondly, the majority of things we'd be doing are on that side of the city. You can find more budget accommodation near the airport or on Savannah Highway however, with needing to get a couple of Ubers, it makes sense to stay as close as possible to the places we want to visit. We'd likely rent a car but still, staying in Mount Pleasant would make the most sense for us. 

DAY ONE

For me, I'd love to show my wife downtown before anywhere else because it's so great. We'd have a slow morning after arriving the night before and catch a 10 minute Uber to Stars Rooftop & Grill Room for weekend brunch. 

After finishing a mimosa or two on the rooftop we'd head down King Street to window shop - Everything from Gucci to Forever 21 is all on the same street and it's the perfect excuse to stroll past the The American Theater from The Notebook on the way. At the end of King Street, we'd head right onto Broad Street taking in the sights of St Michael's Church and some incredible historic buildings. We'd circle back on East Bay Street stopping off at Market Pavilion Rooftop for the view and a drink before strolling around the market and French Quarter before dinner. 

At this point you could head towards the Calhoun Mansion and tour the house or opt for a carriage tour of the city. Neither are up our street but I've heard they're well worth doing if that's your thing. For us, I'd probably suggest walking along The Battery and seeing Pineapple Fountain at golden hour.

Dinner has me torn - I'd love to either head to Hanks Seafood because my goodness it's delightful however Halls Chophouse is equally as incredible. It would depend on whether we were feeling meat or seafood.

At this point, after  a day of travelling, I'd most likely be ready for bed. However, if this wasn't your first day in the city you may opt for cocktails on King Street to round off the evening. Prohibition has a great atmosphere (and very strong cocktails) and Uptown Social has a very relaxed vibe but also has a lot going on of a weekend. 

DAY TWO

Our second day would start with brunch at Pages Okra Grill. Their fried green tomatoes are an absolute must - Be sure to get there early to grab a table. Afterwards we'd head to Boone Hall Plantation. It's a big part of Southern history and is still a working plantation as well as a historic house and garden. There are a couple of plantations around Charleston so have a read up on each and choose the one you'd most like to visit - Magnolia Plantation would be a close second for me. 

Though there's a lot to see, it doesn't take too long to tour the plantation so we'd head to Sullivans Island afterwards for lunch and a walk on the beach. My favourites for food are Home Team BBQ and Mex 1 but there's a host of great spots including Poe's Tavern and The Obstinate Daughter. With it being close by, we'd most likely head to Isle of Palms afterwards  for another walk on the beach and to swoon over the gorgeous homes. 

We'd spent the rest of the afternoon on Shem Creek. I absolutely loved it there and I know my wife would too. Such a relaxed vibe, sitting out on the water, watching dolphins swim by. Tavern and Table comes highly recommended but my personal favourite is Salt Water Cowboys - Sipping wine, eating Pimento Cheese is such a delightful way to spend an evening. 

As a note on Shem Creek, I'd love to stay at Shem Creek Inn given the price was right - It looks divine. 

DAY THREE

Now it may not be for everyone but I'd spend our third day at Folly Beach. It's such amazing beach town and I just know that we'd have the best time, walking along the pier and stopping at the beach bars along the streets. 

There are so many places to choose from so I'll let you do your own research but I have to say, the calamari as Snapper Jacks was delightful. 

On the way home, I'd love to stop at California Dreaming and watch the sunset. So many of my friends in Charleston recommend it all the time and it'd be nice to stop by if we were back in town. 

Afterwards, depending on what our ongoing travel plans were, we'd either head downtown for a couple of drinks or back to our hotel for a good night sleep. 
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There are so may things to do in Charleston and I'd feel extremely limited only having three days in the city but, if that was the case, this is definitely how I'd spend my time. What would you add?

How To Spend Three Days In Charleston ItsHollieAnn
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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

My Favourite London Boroughs

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in London for my oldest girlfriend's wedding. Whilst there, we had a few hours at our our disposal so we hopped on and off the tube to a couple of places we loved. As my wife and I sat, taking in our surroundings, it occurred to us that when we're in London we always head to the same boroughs first before exploring elsewhere so I thought I'd share them with you today. 

CAMDEN

We always head to Camden first, that weekend was no different. Though the streets are always bustling with people, tourist and locals alike, there's just something so comforting about it. There's an endless stream of market stalls, undiscovered food joints and countless independent shops. We always head straight towards the market, grab a seat in Dingwalls and listen to the live music over a few drinks. If it's a nice day, we'll sit outside and watch the locks open and close whilst taking in everything around us. It's without a doubt our favorite.

ISLINGTON

Hands down, a new favourite.  We stayed here over the weekend so had plenty of opportunity to stroll around and take it all in. There's endless bars and restaurants all on one convenient street along with hidden gems, alleyways full of antiques and old favourites, like Byron. 

NOTTING HILL

I fell in love with Notting Hill before I'd even visited. As I expected, the prestigious townhouses, communal gardens and street markets were just like the movies and little did I know then that snacking on a crepe from Portobello Road Market would soon become one of my favourite London memories. It's such a beautiful borough to walk around and clear your mind but also has so much to offer in terms of quaint shops, brunch spots and so much greenery. 
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There are, of course, so many incredible places to visit in London and these are just a few of the great places we've enjoyed over the years. Other favourites include Green Park, St James' Park & Covent Garden. What are your London favourites? 

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