The beautiful Cinque Terre!

Cinque Terre was a really awesome experience. We took several trains from Siena to get to Levanto, a town on the northern tip of the 5 famous small towns in a row on the sea edge in the National Park of Cinque Terre, often seen written as simply as 5Terre. From the train station, we took a taxi (thank god-it was straight uphill)! to our campsite. It had taken a lot of research before hand to find a reasonably priced place as Cinque Terre is by no means a cheap place to visit. All of the towns’ accommodations were way out of our budget, and the site we ended up at was bare bones basic, renting a small two person tent as we did costed us 38 euro a night. On top of that, there wasn’t a place to cook, so our restaurant street continued. We arrived around 5pm and learned that the buses running into town (the campsite was up in the hills) had stopped already and we had to take the 10 min “walking path” down to the main roads and then walk another 15-20 into the town. We passed a pizzeria that the campsite owner recommended to us on the way down, and decided to eat there that night. Once in the middle of the town, we found a grocery store and stocked up on food that didn’t require cooking and settled with the fact that we would be eating PB&J’s for lunch, indefinitely. Along with that we got some jam filled biscuits, muesli, tuna and mayo. We had been carrying preparations for an oil based pasta along with our luggage from Roma, and figured we’d take a chance and bring it again to Florence, where we would head after Cinque Terre. We also grabbed some wine and headed back up to the pizzeria and took two pizzas togo. At least those prices weren’t too assured! I think it may have been that evening (or the next) that we made friends with two other couples; one from Germany, and the other France, but Soho was from Italy. We started conversation with them when we heard the two couples talking about their different university experiences and overheard Frederick say that she was in grad school and only paid 800 for the whole year!!!! We couldn’t help but interrupt and ask for her to repeat that! They pitied us and our absurd American education system and its cost. She even gets paid a monthly allowance for expenses! We were just a tad jealous, to say the least.
The following day we set out to explore Levanto, as we were told there was a beach! It was pretty nice, very crowded in the free beach areas, because more than 3/4th of the beach is covered with beach chairs and umbrellas that you must pay to rent from the restaurant that is in front of them, after of course paying just to get into that area. This was one thing that we found widespread over all the beaches of Italy, that really struck us as odd. Being from Hawai’i where it is seen as seriously wrong to charge anyone to go to a beach, as it is public and illegal to own a beach. We tried to not let it bother us, but we started to realized that we’re a bit snobbish when it comes to beaches… Hard to blame us though, ey? After getting some sun at that beach, we headed to the train station to check out the next town over, Monterosso, the 5th (or 1st, depending on how you look at it) town in the 5Terre line. This town was basically just a beach on the right and one street filled with shops and restaurants, and tons of men selling big beach blankets, which if they weren’t solely out to rip you off, I wouldn’t have minded getting one! It was in this town that Hoapili finally succeeded in finding a speedo (he’d been longing to tan his thighs where it was somewhat culturally more acceptable than at home, and to fit in with the locals, I think), but it was the short short type, not the full on tighty-whitey ones. Lol! Monterosso’s beach was no different that the other crowded beaches everywhere else, but it was really cute and a bit bigger. We found a good spot with a view of a bunch of Italian men playing volleyball trying to impress the girls sitting near them, who they eventually succeeded in getting to play with them. It was pretty entertaining. And speaking of tighty-whities, two of the more Italian looking ones (no surprise here), were wearing those exact type, but they were actually strikingly white! It was weird watching them play volleyball in what really truly looked like their underwear!! Cinque Terre is famous for its hikes, and we heard that there was one from Monterosso to Levanto, so after the beach, we grabbed more water, and set out on the hike that was to take 2.5-3 hours over a mountain. I’m not exaggerating here. It was a slow inclining hike over.a.mountain. Luckily I had my inhaler, which I proudly only used twice (my asthma has been getting progressively worse over that last few years-especially when I do anything cardio… I know that just sounds like a really good excuse not to exercise, but really, I would if I could do it without my throat closing!!) There was a family that was trying to find the trail at the same time as us and it was only their daughter who wanted to complete it, her parents were too tired from their day of nonstop hiking between the other towns. So we offered to find it together and accompany her on the hike. Her parents were really sweet and thankful, Dominique herself was really shy and quiet, but a very nice girl, around my age is my best guess. We all kept each other good company and we had some good laughs over Hoapili wearing only his short-shorts in order to get a good tan… The whole way was really hot and we were constantly drenched in sweat. The amazing views were really so so worth it all though. We were seriously impressed! It was so high up there too, that we could see all the towns. A very cool experience! Eventually, we started making our descent, and as we got closer to Levanto, we passed by a small B&B with the guests enjoying the really really really amazing looking pool. We pressed on, knowing we would be greater by the ocean once we finally made it. The water felt way warmer and I eased completely into a lot quicker than the morning when I thought it felt like ice water. After easing our aching muscles a bit, we all dried off and headed towards the train station, to show Dominique how to get home. Before we went back to camp, we stopped at a beach shop that sold floaties and grabbed two of the long skinny one person blow up ones that we desperately needed after our terrible first nights sleep on the hard rock ground under our tent. It was very clear that the campsite we picked was meant for serious campers, who drove there. I swear we were the ONLY people who didn’t drive there themselves and therefore we were way more underprepared than all of them. Since they all did drive (mostly in their own cars driven from mainland Europe, or rented cars), they could pack all the camping supplies they wanted! Most of them had ways of cooking, had nice blow up air mattresses with their own foot pump, and tables and chairs. We felt like the poor kids on the block with our tiny borrowed tent (which had holes and mildew), wimpy floaties to sleep on, and no way of making ourselves any food. Every morning we at least were able to order cappuccinos from the owner and even got croissants one morning. Anyway, we were on the way back to camp when we were asked from behind if we were going to Camping San Michele. I was just in the middle of telling Hoapili- in Hawaiian- that the couple behind us were also staying at our campsite, just one tent above us when they asked. I said yes and they asked if we wanted a ride up, they were just on their way to their car. We were SO thankful. I was really not looking forward to the trek back up the “walking path” which was actually more of a rocky inclined cliff, after our intense hike that day. I believe we ate tuna sandwiches that night for dinner, and stayed up in the wifi area chatting with our friends and using social media. The next day we took the train to the 1st town Riomaggiore and learned from the info station that the seaside hike between the 1st-2nd and 2nd-3rd towns were closed, but we could take the inland ones, over even more mountains!! We decided to say no to that, and grabbed a cone of tako and mussels and went to check out that towns harbor area where a few people were swimming. We ran into both the couples from the campsite there too! The next town over was Manarolla. It was rather small, but it was the town that I had read was the best. They had a really nice swimming area, and rocks to jump off of. Hoapili did just that before continuing on our journey. We decided though that we would come back to this town the next day to catch the famous sunset colors on the seriously colorful apartments that formed in a big chunk on the side of one of the cliffs. After Hoapili dried off, we went back to the train (ran into the two couples-again), to head to the 3rd town Corniglia. From there we decided to hike to Vernazza. We had purchased the 5Terre day ticket, which included unlimited train rides between all the towns, and also the entrance to the hikes. Our hike the previous day was considered apart of the famous 5terre hikes so it had been free but surprising lacking in other hikers. Anyway, the entrance fee would have been something like 7.50 each and trains were a good 4 euro each too, so the day ticket for 15 was worth it if you were going on a lot of train rides too. We had been told that this hike was relatively flat and along the coast the whole way. Oh how we were lied to. It wasn’t the worse thing in the world, but when you are expecting something easier (and still tired from the day before) and are greeted with hills and stairs upon stairs, going uphill, you aren’t that happy! Also, for most of the hike the ocean was blocked by trees! It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. Anyway, once we finally made it to the next town (about 1 hour 45min with breaks), headed to their beach-more like just ocean access, there was no sand or anything, with intentions to get in and cool off. It was really crowded and the only place we could put our stuff was up on a slanted rock. Hoapili was already down by the water as I finished undressing and tried to scale the rock down to get to where he was. I unfortunately snubbed my toe pretty good and quickly didn’t want to get in the water bleeding and with a flap of skin hanging off my toe… Instead, I cooled off in the fresh water spicket where I cleaned out my toe. Hoapili and I sat on the edge of the water while he contemplated getting in too, but also decided to just rinse off as I had. I walked barefoot into the town, and got napkins to wrap around it before putting my socks and shoes back on, at the little gelato shop we stopped at for a snack. Hoapili was also contemplating doing the next hike, onto Monterosso, but I had refused-one because I was exhausted, and two because of my toe!!! But, we had made plans with our couple friends to meet up and go watch the Germany vs France (yea, pretty good rivalry between the two couples!!) Euro16 game together and wanted to be back in time to shower. So we just went to the train station and headed back to Levanto. This time no ride came to our rescue, but I made it up the path in one piece. We made it back with just enough time to clean up and change and then we all headed down the path to the same pizzeria and sat in the really really hot dining room (due to the pizza oven) and enjoyed the game together. They had ordered the plain marinara pizza, which we hadn’t yet because a pizza with just tomato sauce was not customary to us… But they shared a piece with us and it was really delicious! It’s also always the cheapest one-obviously haha. France ended up winning, but everyone was a good sport about it!! We all got along really well, and loved their company. We also learned that the French/Italian couple had gotten engaged the day before us! Our German friends had been married almost 4 years though, I believe. Everyone was full of congratulations and the married ones told us how much they really loved married life and how truly excited they were for all of us. The following day, we did laundry and I caught up on the last blog I posted about Roma and Tivoli, before my computer fully died with no reviving from my somehow busted charger. We purposefully wasted a good part of our day, know that if we wanted to last until sunset to get the colors on the colorful building of Manarola, we needed to keep some energy and out of the beating sun. We had too many cappuccinos, and definitely had enough energy!! We spent the afternoon by the water in Manarola, Hoapili jumped off a few times, and we enjoyed people watching for a while, then when more people left, we found a good spot to lay out enjoy a beer while waiting to eat dinner somewhere in the town. Towards the later afternoon, there were rumors of a jellyfish in the water, and when most people had gotten out of the water, we went to look from above. It was a huge one, biggest I’ve seen outside of an aquarium, bigger than a basketball I’d say. It was really beautiful, but I felt bad for the few people it managed to sting. Hoapili was bummed we forgot the GoPro so he couldn’t dive in to get photos… I wasn’t so upset about that… Soon after, we dried off and went in search of a place to eat. As I mentioned, Manarola is a really small town, and there weren’t many options. Since they were all way out of our price range, we just went with the one that had the nicest view and sucked it up!! There were no pizza saving graces here, so we both ended up with a seafood pasta (I swear its better to get the same pasta because there’s chances, like this time, that they’ll combined both portions on one big plate and you serve yourself the pasta. I think this way they might give you a bit more, but that may all be in my head…). They were soo busy that it was taking forever to get their attention to get the bill, and the sun was setting. So I sent Hoapili with the Camera to grab the photos before the sun set. By the time he came back, I still hadn’t payed! That’s also another culture shock for us. Italians (and all of Europe) are in no hurry to give you your bill, you could sit there all night for all they cared, and to us it seems like pulling teeth to just get our bill and go. I mean we wanna give the people money for goodness sake!!! We eventually made it, and luckily made the train we did. The trains between towns get really scarce the later it gets and we could have been waiting there almost an hour for the next one. It was pretty late when we got back so we just went to bed. We had to check out by 10am the next day, but were welcome to stay in the lounge area. We did that for a while and took the 11 something bus down to the train station (there’s no way I’d take all our luggage on that “walking path”)!! The tickets that were cheapest to get us to Florence (about three trains I think) didn’t leave for over an hour by the time we got there, so we bought some postcards and magnets and settled to wait. Spending the entire day just traveling somewhere that would take only 2-3 hours to drive to, is definitely something we won’t miss! Anyway, we really really loved our time in Cinque Terre, despite our roughing-it camping experience. I would highly recommend visiting there, but save a bit more just for it, so you can have a bit more of an upgraded sleeping experience than we did!

The long awaited blog… Siena!

I have a lot to catch up on!! I don’t even think I have caught you all up on Siena… We took a bus from Roma to Siena, and then a taxi (about 10 euros) to our campsite. It was a really nice facility with a mini store, pool, restaurant and a bar. The campsite itself was really big and we seemed to be on the farthest end of it! We lugged our stuff down some stairs, across the site- up and down hills, up some more stairs finally arriving at our big tent that was already set up with two cots inside. It was comfortable enough, we could stand and there were two small windows. I think we just hung out there for a little while before getting some dinner at the restaurant. I don’t know if I’ve explained to you guys how an Italian menu works… There are appeitizers of course, all the same price as a course, then there are primi, first courses. These are priced anywhere between 8 and 12 euro, usually a pasta of some sort. Then, there are second courses which are a meat or fish and these are roughly between 12 and 15 euros. You’d think with those prices that getting either a first or second course will do, right? Wrong. The portions are tiny and leave you still hungry after. If you are lucky, there is pizza on the menu. We hated spending more that 7 or 7.50 on a pizza with toppings (margarita was usually 5 or 6), but of course there are places that price them at 10 or more. Eating out in Italy was just basically a pain for us, especially on a budget. And after 4 weeks of traveling BEFORE Italy, we were utterly unprepared for the expense of eating out. We usually stuck to getting a pizza each, because it was the only thing that would fill us up without having to get both a first and second course. Anyway, I digress. That evening I think we actually both had a first course, and lucked out that were was bread also served and we shared a liter of the house red wine. In the morning, we were woken unpleasantly from the building heat inside the tent, which was a dark grey, thick material, baking directing under the sunshine. We wanted to go to San Gimignano that day anyway, so we got up and got ready (only downfall of campsites is having to run to the toilet down the stairs and across the road area to pee in the morning, as soon as you get up if you’re me!). We took the bus to Siena’s city center and then bought separate bus tickets to the medieval town we were venturing to. The price of the tickets was kind of unexpected, and it took most of our daily budget, save a bit to grab a bite to eat while waiting. So I unhappily went to the ATM and got out more cash, for any souvenirs and the fare to get into the museums and the tower once there. At the café we grabbed sandwiches from, a woman came in with her massive dog, which was the same color as Kawelo, so we started missing her- not uncommon! The bus ride was a little over an hour and we knew we wanted to be on the bus going back in a couple hours, in order to get back to Siena in time to enjoy the pool (which closed at 6 or 7 I think, so early!) so we only had a little time in the really neat, walled-in town. We walked straight to the center and bought tickets which included entry to the tower and the archaeology and modern art museums- again more money than we would have liked to spend!! We picked the tower first because it was closest, and went up a ton of stairs to stand in line at the bottom of the small stair case that went all the way up. I really didn’t notice anything odd about Hoapili as we both waited patiently our turn to get up to the tippy top. It sure was worth the wait! It overlooked not only the whole town, but the rolling hills of Tuscany, as far as the eye could see, until you saw the mountains in the far distance. The top was round and separated by three bells in the middle, which were cadged in and you had to duck to get to and from each side. We looked at the pretty views of one side, took some photos, went to the other side, lingered a while enjoying the Tuscan views. There really wasn’t much else to see, and we had seen both sides, so I assumed we would head back down, but Hoapili went back to the other side, again. So I stood patiently as it looked like he was taking photos on the far right side of the ledge. He was not in fact taking photos. He was getting something out! When he turned around he dropped directly to his knee and asked me to marry him!! I jumped and squealed with excitement, and of course said yes! It was very exciting and I think he picked the perfect moment. We took some selfies, pictures of the ring on my hand, and asked a nice lady to take some pictures of us. Of course I couldn’t keep to myself that he just proposed hehehe.
We giggled and kissed the whole way to the archeology museum, which was mostly old Tuscany poetry… The art gallery (besides the really far out stuff-modern art is definitely not my favorite) was pretty nice too. I really liked the whole section on WW2 in Italy. From the gist of what we could understand, there seemed to have been quite a lot of resistance to the war, and a lot Italian civilians helped the American soldiers locate German camps.
By the time we left, we had just enough time to buy two bottles of wine (to celebrate!), a magnet and some postcards, to remember where we got engaged! We took the bus back and when we got to Siena’s center, we realized we didn’t have anything to open the wine with! So after a lot searching, I finally found a place that sold them, and it even has Siena, written on it! Nice souvenir 🙂 We took the bus back to the camp, called Stevens mom, and went to change into our suits and I FaceTimed my family by the pool. Before going to dinner, we poured wine into our hydros (we are so classy), and snuck it into the restaurant! We both had pizza this time, and got a tiramisu for dessert! Nonstop wedding talk and scheming was how the nights conversations went, much to my liking! I don’t know if that wine was really strong, or I was just drunk off love, but I told Hoapili I better not have anymore, so we saved the other bottle. In the morning, we went to the pool early, enjoyed some more sun before checking out and taking that same bus… But this time, we missed the stop at the train station (because it wasn’t AT the train station, it was under some parking structure, and us being the strangers we are, had no clue we were supposed to get off there)! So we ended up staying on the bus until the end of its route, where the driver took a 15 min break before going back the same way, and we eventually made it. It’s a good thing I didn’t book those train tickets in advanced, because we definitely missed the train we meant to take! Anyway, we made it on the next, and started on our adventure to Cinque Terre!!

Roma and Tivoli

Aloha kākou!

Sorry to have to catch up from so long ago, but I wanted to talk about our time in Roma!! We really loved the city, it was a bit cleaner and had larger streets, and also a lot more tourists. We noticed a funny contrast between Amsterdam, which had tons of groups of young guys traveling together, and then in Rome, where there were there were tons of young gals traveling in groups together. Anyway, after our arrival (and dealing with the really rude american hating Airbnb host), we went to bed and then in the morning-kinda like lunch time, we did laundry and went to get groceries and made lunch before heading into the city. We found our way to the Trevi fountain and made our wishes, and also witnessed some sort of reality show going on with tons of cameras on these young people and from what we could gather, it seemed like some sort of bachelor show or something! So weird!

IMG_0173.JPGIMG_0179.JPGIMG_0181.JPGFrom there we went to the spanish steps but they were being cleaned so we couldn’t walk up them, only take pictures behind a big gate blocking it 😦

IMG_0190.JPGWe ran into two girls, Sam and Tamara, from Canada that were in our Napoli hostel too!! We had made plans to visit with Stevens other 2nd cousin, Vencinzo’s brother, who lived in Rome that afternoon so we went to the Pantheon church before meeting him for coffee.

We sat and talked with Gamma for a really long time, and certainly enjoyed our conversations about religion, politics and learning all about stuff going on in Italy and Rome especially, and how much the Vatican has pull on things. After saying goodbye to him, we made our way back on the tram (30 minutes from the city center) and made some dinner and drank wine at home before going to bed.
The next day we got up really early and went to grab our tickets we bought online for the combo of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palantine hill. We read online to pick them up at the forum to avoid the long line, and then we walked over to the Colosseum and got to skip the line and go straight thru. It was so packed and hot and there was also an event going on with the prime minister visiting. It was so huge and incredible but so crowded and hot that we only really walked around the main level and then headed back to the forum and walked around there, went into the church and then up to the hill to look over all of the forum, it was such an amazing view! We ate our lunch under some shade and then we started on our walk all the way to the Vatican City. It was a pretty long walk and we were so hot and tired and then had to wait in the line for about 45 minutes (which we heard was way better than in the morning which was about 2 hours) just to get into the Museums which you had to walk thru to get to the Sistine Chapel.

It was SO crowded that we just felt like herded sheep walking thru the museums and then even worse thru the Sistine, but it really was amazing!! All the art throughout the entire museums, even the ceilings, which were just unbelievable. After we walked for hours through that madness and were just dead beat tired and just headed back to the house to cook again and drink more wine!! The next day we had to check out at 9, and we made sure to get out in case to not upset our Airbnb man and were able to leave our luggage at Sam and Tamaras hostel room while we all went and got food and some souvenirs together before we headed to Tivoli.
I wont go into many details of our trip to Tivoli (which is a really close by town to Rome), but it included a metro, which we needed exact change to buy tickets for and we only had a 50, so the line to actually talk to a person and get a ticket was our only option, which I stood in long enough to miss our train connection in the next station over, where we needed to go. We eventually made it, super tired and stressed out but our nice B&B man came and walked us to our room (which was so fancy!) and we took a nap until it was time for dinner. We got some pizza somewhere and then watched the game in the center of the city (well, I went back early cause my feet hurt). The following day we went around the Park in Tivoli (the reason we went there) which was really beautiful with caves and waterfalls and grottos, it was very beautiful!! After our walk around the park, we went back and grabbed our luggage and returned to the train station and had to go BACK to Rome to catch the bus to Siena.
Anyway, I’ll catch you guys up on our trip to Siena later 😉
Na Leilani

Italy; Sicily-Pompei

Aloha Kākou!!
Since leaving the Netherlands, we have been to Sicily; stayed in Palermo at an Airbnb and we took a day trip to Taormina (on the other side of Sicily, a 4 hour train ride each way!). We really loved Taormina and the gorgeous views from up in the town overlooking the beaches and isolla bella (a small island).

IMG_9828.JPGIMG_9829.JPGIMG_9836.JPGIMG_9867.JPGIMG_9868.JPGIMG_9873.JPGOur second day in Palermo we just walked around (after sleeping in until 11 because our room had no windows so it was so dark!!) and had pizza and then walked to the shore and got a gelato.

IMG_9835.JPGThen we just returned to the room and packed up and took a taxi to the harbor to catch our ferry to Napoli!

IMG_9845.JPGIMG_9848.JPGIMG_9853.JPGIMG_9855.JPGIMG_9858.JPGWe were not really expecting a big ol cruise ship type boat, and it was pretty exciting for me, my first time on a big ship like that! Hoapili had 8 months on a bigger one though, and had to keep reminding himself that this was only for one night!! We had our most expensive meal for the quantity on the ship at the restaurant and I flat out laughed when the food came at the portion size for 12 euro! We left still hungry and asking each other what we wanted for dinner!! But we made it safely to Naples in the morning and took the metro combined with walking to our hostel “Giovannis Home”. Giovanni himself was the nicest, funniest, full of character italian we’ve met! He was so hospitable and when we first walked in the door he got us water (we were sweating like pigs) and sat us down for the “talk”. He had a black and white map for us and used several different colored highlighters to guide us around the city.

IMG_9910.JPG He told us where not to go, where to definitely go, explained that Naples was no where on the top 10 of theft cities in the world but to still be cautious with small purses and jewelry and told me that I was safer alone walking the city than with Hoapili, because he was more likely to be mugged and sexual assault was non existent, the most they would do was look at me! After an hour of instruction and joking, we were now prepared for Naples! And we got scolded for booking two nights in Pompei because that is too much time, and that we should have booked a day trip to another island because Capri is too touristy, but oh well! We were shown our rooms and the kitchen, bathrooms and common area and then we set out for the day!

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We saw the Duomo, a big hall meeting place, a bunch of different piazzas and then we got a text from Giovanni telling us to come back for lunch! So we did and he made and taught us and three other hostel guests, how to make a simple “backpackers” pasta. It was just spagetti noodles, chili peppers, olive oil and garlic. And it was so delicious!! After our yummy lunch, we had gotten ahold of Venchinzo, Hoapilis 2nd cousin who lives in Naples and we made plans to meet with them at 530. So between that time and after lunch, we went to the Capella Sansevero where we couldn’t take photos, but I’ll take a photo of the post card we bought of the AMAZING sculture of Jesus. You can literally see every bone, veins, clothes, the cloth is so lightly covering its face, it is the most remarkable piece of art I think we’ve seen so far. And the building itself was small but filled with tons of other amazing marble sculptures that we were blown away by! One had a net wrapped around a man and it was so intricite, I don’t understand how someone carved that! We still had a little time to spare so we sat in the piazza we were ment to meet Venchinzo at and ate some gelato. He arrived with his wife and their two young and very cute daughters, both being pushed in a stroller and we all went for a walk around town. His English was much better than he claimed it was, and his wife was able to understand a lot, but speaking back was harder. Venchinzo managed to be interpreter and we all chatted a lot, learning about each other. We stopped at a really really nice coffee bar (they are just called bars here, but not usually with alcohol, just espresso) which they highly recommended and both had espresso and shared a rum baba (a deicious pastry with rum in it and it was soooo good!!! very moist and juicy) and the espresso cup was almost too hot to hold!! But that is the traditional style! I even drank mine without milk!! I think I may be done with espresso tho, Hoapili can have all of mine 🙂

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After we split up after the walk, Hoapili and I went to the pizza place that Giovanni recommended, (apparently the best in Naples, which we had to agree on) called Gino Sorbillo. The place was packed with a huge crowd outside, so we just went in and ordered two togo which was only about a 10 minute wait, as apposed to the 1hr+ wait some of the people in the hostel told us they waited!

IMG_0023.JPGWe grabbed wine (even though we read we shouldn’t drink wine with pizza because you can’t taste the pizza and especially the mozzella as well, you should drink beer) because we had been in Italy awhile and still hadn’t bought a bottle to share yet! When we got to the hostel we went out on the lānai to eat and Giovanni came out and scolded us for drinking the wine with pizza!! And we even knew it too! So we corked the wine and pulled out our two beers from the fridge instead to please him haha. But I did notice that the wine was very strong with the pizza… Almost lined your mouth too much to be able to use your taste buds as effectively. The beer was much better. That evening we shared our wine while talking with some hostel guests. In the morning we grabbed a yummy pastry and Hoapili got an espresso (ordered just as a cafe here) before going around the corner to the Sotteranea, the underground tour of Naples. This was by far our best tour experience yet, and we actually felt that we were getting the most of our money paid. It was a guided tour-in english, for almost 2 hours!! It went almost 40 meters deep underneath the city to tour the ancient roman water canal system which later became safe places for citizens to escape to during WWII when they had bomb raids.

IMG_0002.JPGIMG_0003.JPGAlso, we learned that many of the soldiers would escape down there and change into civilian clothes and go back up to get away from the Army. We learned ghost stories of the man who used to clean the water with a net like you would in pools who if the family who’s house was above the well whole it didn’t pay him, he had complete access to their houses from below so he would go and steal things or disrupt the house, which they say still happens today. After the underground part of the tour, we were taken into an apartment which just about 10 years ago was discovered to be build on top and inside an ancient roman theater!

IMG_0006.JPGWhen the wall plaster was peeled back, the ancient type of architecture were hidden behind! Plus, the high ceiling, large size of the apartment and the archways throughout the house all indicate it was roman, but the family living there before said they had no clue!! And underneath, there was what the family thought was just a really big cellar, but when it was further excavated, they found that it was actually the dressing room of the theater with a staircase leading to the stage.

IMG_0008.JPG It was really remarkable and we enjoyed that tour a LOT! Since it was a Sunday, the Castel Nuovo was due to close (according to google) at 2:30 so we went straight there (after getting ripped off for sandwhiches for lunch- never get anything in Italy that doesn’t have a price labeling it) but found it to be shut for working that day… So we walked on to the other castle by the see, Castle dellʻOvo, and debated for quite some time if we wanted to get in the water or not, and where was the best place since it was all rocky and a lot of the places that seemed accessable were lined with rubbish along the coast so after wasting some time, we just decided to go to the castle and think about getting in later, but as we walked towards the doors, they shut!!! Google said that castle was open until 7:30 so we were pretty upset. Two castles in one day! So we walked more along the water and found a better place to get in, where Hoapili did, and I just sunbathed (I have a cold and the water was kind of chilly, I didn’t want to get any worse). He said it was refreshing but REALLY salty, his shorts even dried white in some places because of the salt!! We took the metro back through a special one Giovanni told us is supposed to be the most beautiful one in the world, it was pretty cool, but the photos come out better than it looks in real life, to be honest.

IMG_0011.JPGIMG_0012.JPGFor the rest of the afternoon we kind of lounged around and chatted with two girls who had just arrived who were from Canada and we all decided to cook a pasta dinner together. We walked to the supermarket and then back and Hoapili did most of the cooking, very nerviously because Giovanni might tell him he was doing something wrong!! He ended up coming in and helping towards the end, and telling us not to use the “shit” pasta sauce we had bought and that the olive oil base would be enough flavor. He was right!! It was super good and we made so much that we all had seconds!! That night I was reading and Hoapili was practicing his Ukulele in the room when two girls in our room came screaming “There’s a fire!!!! Then we all panicked and they decided to add “not here, but next door! Come watch!!” Thankfully, it wasn’t our hostel on fire, but it was someones apartment a few doors down! We heard there was no one inside, but it was quite the fire! At first it was just going out the window and up, and then we heard it hit something like a gas line and it went straight across, melting the AC unit and the gutter of the apartment next door! It was intense and all the hostel guests were freaking out, but when I saw the firemen show up and start spraying it, I just went back to bed and read a bit before sleeping, I was too tired for all that craziness!!
In the morning we packed up all our stuff and left it in the landing while we went to the Castle Nuovo, open this time!

IMG_0014.JPGIMG_0015.JPG And then we went back to Gino’s for some more takeaway (lunch was crazy packed too!) We ate back up at the hostel and then gathered all our stuff to head to the train station to go to Pompei! We made it to the hostel (the shortest walk from the train station so far!! Halleluja!) around 4pm, checked in and got some maps and info about Pompei, and went straight to the ruins. They closed at 7:30 and we were there almost that whole time. It was really incredible, but to be honest, I was quite shocked at the mear size of the city! I don’t think I realized just how big it was! And I was a bit disappointed with the lack of bodies… Or even artifacts. Don’t get me wrong though, the ancient city of 2-3BC was freaking cool, it just wasn’t really what I had imagined. Plus we had to pay 13 euro each and I was mostly intersted in the bodies. And they had huge glass displays of bodies in the courtyard before the main entrance, that I could have seen for free… Anyway, Pompei is one of those must see’s, so I’m glad we saw it!!

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Today we were going to go to Mt. Vesuvius, but its awfully expensive to get there (10 euro each, once you get to Erculano town-another 3 euro train ride) and then 8 euro to get into the National Park… Double all these prices by two, and it just doesn’t seem justifiable to see a volcano, when we have one right at home!! Besides, I am still feeling sick with a really nasty cough so I didn’t really think a hike like that would be the brightest idea. Tomorrow morning we head to Naples to catch our 10am ferry to Capri! Can’t wait!!

Sorry for the delay in posts,

Na Leilani

Belgium trip and last day in Amsterdam

 

***Sorry for no photos, I have to send them to myself from my phone which I get off the camera, and for some reason tonight, only the wifi on my computer is working, not my phone! Also, I have the next blog written, but really want to include photos, so we’ll just have to wait a little while longer for that one!!***

Aloha kākou!!

Our trip to Belgium was nice! It was a really long day on the bus driving to Antwerp, then to Brussels and finally back to Amsterdam, but we had a really nice tour guide who gave a lot of information on both the Netherlands and Belgium along the way. In Antwerp, we toured Diamond Land (crazy overpriced jewelry that we could in no way afford! But we learned about the different colors and grades of diamonds and that Antwerp is like the capital of diamond import in Europe (or something like that? I have a terrible memory, sorry). Brussels was a really nice European city that gave me the mixture feelings of France and Vienna, because of the culture similarities with French and how clean-ish (Vienna was cleaner) and fancy the streets were. Their main plaza or square was really something else. Very extravagant buildings with gold embroidery (not real, apparently, or they’d all be stolen already!) and amazing architecture.

We went into a chocolate store where the tour group got to try samples… The platter got passed around once and then ended at this family of 5. They literally stood there while the lady talked to us about chocolate, and ate there ENTIRE remainder of chocolate!!!! We were dumbfounded. Somewhere between very irritated, and very amused. It wasnt just the kids either! The parents were shoving it down their faces just as fast. That platter could have easily been passed around the 25-30 other people at least one if not two more times for us to try another piece. But no, I really hope that family enjoyed their chocolate! (or maybe got a belly ache).
After the little walking tour by our tour guide, we had a few hours of free time. We found a cute restaurant in an alley and shared the three course meal for 12.50 euro with one free drink (we bought another so we didn’t have to share that! Priorities…). We also got a famous Belgian waffle covered in Belgian chocolate and we stopped for some souvenirs. We mostly slept on the ride back and didn’t get into the city until about 9pm! And we had left 12 hours before that! It sure was a long day. We grabbed a salad to eat with our leftover pasta at home and took the train and the bus back (after waiting for what seemed like ever for the Bus 26 to finally come once we were at Utrecht station… We were so hungry and tired I think we were delusional!).
The next day we didn’t get too early of a start but we finished packing, made breakfast and headed into the city for some last minute to-do’s. On the way to the bus stop though, one of my wheels on my suitcase got pretty badly broken and I quickly was getting worn out from dragging it along. I looked up a luggage repair place in the city and we went straight there to get new wheels. I was so exhausted once we got there and really thought my arms may have fallen off… But we made it and the man who owned the shop was so sweet! The shop had been in his family since 1873 and he was very saddened that his only daughter wasn’t planning on taking over the business but instead opened a hotel in Vienna. Which I do think is quite the accomplishment but I was really truly sad for him. That’s gotta be so hard to know that something in your family for so long is going to come to an end. And think about all the travelers who need their luggage repaired!! I didn’t see any other shops near the station!! Anyway, after leaving my bag there for him to fix, we went to the luggage storage to leave his bag for a couple hours. Then, we grabbed lunch and got some souvenirs before going back and getting my suitcase and returning to the station to head to the airport.
The rest of our day was spent in the airport waiting and then flying to Palermo! We got in a little past 8 and got in a group taxi for the long-ish journey to Palermo centrale, where our airbnb host told us to walk to her house from. We made there in the dark and were really grateful to sleep! The “room” was the apartments entrance area converted into a room by adding a bed… There was plenty of space but it was kinda funny that they went in and out of the apartment from our bedroom!!!
Anyway, that’s all for this blog until I catch you all up on our two days in Sicily!
Me ke aloha, Na Leilani

Holland so far

Aloha kākou!! (E heluhelu ʻoukou ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ʻelua mea leʻaleʻa i loko ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi wale nō (; )

We’ve had a really great time in The Netherlands so far! On our first full day (we arrived on Wednesday but I am going to probably write a whole separate blog about that traveling expedition) we took the bus (after finding the stop) from the neighborhood our airbnb is in to the Utrecht Central Station where we took a 30 minute train ride into Amsterdam. From there we walked towards the Rijksmuseum, stopping for lunch at a quick falafel place and a coffee shop. (Ua puhi i ka mauʻu ma kēlā wahi hale kope… ʻAʻole hiki iaʻu ke haʻi i kēia papa ʻōlelo i kēia blog no ka mea, heluhelu ko māua ʻohana!! hahaha)
The Rijksmuseum was really incredible!!! It was like 4 stories with tons of amazing art and we learned a lot! It was grouped by years, 1100-1600, 1600-1700, 1800-1900 and 1900-1950 on each story.

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IMG_9678.JPGIMG_9679.JPGBehind the museum is the I amsterdam sign that was super crowded with tourists, but we managed to get some photos!

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We took the train back to the Airbnb after picking up some easy groceries to make a pasta dinner (welcome to traveling, you eat pasta every other night…) and we just chilled out at the house that night. We slept in a bit in the morning and took the train to a bus station nearby the castle we planned to visit that day and waited by the stop for over 30min before some Aussie guys came by who also wanted to see the castle and told us that the bus only ran on Wednesdays and Weekends… It was a Friday. So we all decided to walk together about 4km… It was pretty long but we and some good chats with them. We all stuck together on the castle tour too, which was self guided unless you spend 4 more euro (on top of the 14 we already paid!!!) which included tours of the bedrooms upstairs. It was a very richly designed, elaborate and extravagant castle that we kinda felt like we overpaid for, since they obviously had a lot of money already!!!

IMG_9683.JPGIMG_9684.JPGIMG_9685.JPGThe many gardens, maze and the deer park outside were really pretty though, and we wished we had only paid the smaller fee to just walk around those.

IMG_9690.JPGIMG_9691.JPGIMG_9687.JPGIMG_9686.JPG There was a wedding going on in the rose garden that I was super jealous of! It was so beautiful!!

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We didn’t really know of any other way back to the station we arrived on, so we ended up walking the whole way back again. Our feet were so sore and we were exhausted! In Utrecht station, the largest mall is attached called Hog Catherine or something like that and we were determined to find an actual normal sized grocery store, not the “togo” places weʻd seen everywhere which were really useless when you wanted to actually get food to cook and not just heat up. Finally, after more that 30 minutes of searching, we found a decent one! We got stuff for stir fry, cereal, milk and eggs for the morning and made our way to the house on the bus.
We also stayed in that night, but we always end up getting to bed pretty late.
SATURDAY:
Saturday we decided to rest our legs and feet a bit and did a hop on hop off for the bus and boat tours of the canals and of Amsterdam.

IMG_9699.JPGIMG_9705.JPGIMG_9755.JPGWe spent most of our day touring the city this way and meet up for the pub crawl to begin around 740pm after we ate dinner. The crawl went through the red light district… which was interesting haha. The streets were sooo so crowded and the amount of young people on the crawl was a bit insane and made it difficult to have as much fun as I’ve had on other ones. But we did meet some really nice people who we all stuck around with for the whole night.

IMG_9718.JPG We made it home so late that we were almost up for 24 hours straight… So we didn’t really do much of anything on Sunday!

IMG_9735.JPGWe finally were showered and dressed by 5pm and all we did was take the bicycles to the grocery store since we had only eaten cereal and eggs all day! It was nice to have a sleeping day although I kinda wish the weather was swapped for today! It was so rainy and cold, the locals told us that it was the most rain they’ve seen in awhile, 16 straight hours of rain! We didn’t sleep the day away though and we checked out the town called Zaanse Schans, just outside of Amsterdam which was a really cute dutch town that had cheese and clog demonstrations/museums and lots of the cute old fashioned windmills.

IMG_9739.JPGIMG_9741.JPGIMG_9743.JPGIMG_9745.JPGIMG_9750.JPGIMG_9751.JPGIMG_9752.JPGWe made the best of the dreary day and when we got back to Amsterdam Central on the way back to our Airbnb, we booked guided bus tickets to Brussels! We had wanted to go to Bruges, but that trip only runs MWF and since we leave Wednesday, tomorrow was our only option. It should be a nice tour though and we will get to add Belgium to our list of countries traveled this summer!
Akahi nō māua ʻO Hoapili a ʻai i kekahi mau koki mai ʻAmekekama mai! Hehehe. He pō maikaʻi no māua!!! 😉

I’ll catch you guys up later about how our day to Brussels went and our last quick day before flying to Palermo, SICILY!!! OMG!

Me ke aloha,

Na Leilani

Our week in Ireland!

On June 7th we arrived really late in the evening in Dublin and didn’t get off the bus and checked into our hostel (Oliver St. John Gogarty’s in Temple Bar) until almost 2 am. Seems to be a trend so far!
We literally just went to sleep and when we woke up we went right back to the bus stop to take it back to the airport to grab our car rental… From the airport we headed for Waterford. It was really strange driving on the other side of the road!!! Even as a passenger, sitting in the other seat was a mind spinning experience. I felt like I was supposed to be driving yet I had no control! We adjusted quick enough though, and realized quickly how many roundabouts they use! They were kind of insane in quantity, but it did eliminate lights and stop signs so I guess there are advantages! We both agreed that Hawaiʻi drivers wouldn’t stand a chance tho!
During our week in Ireland, we stayed one night in Waterford, where we stayed with Tom at his hostel. He was the nicest guy who really cared that we had a pleasant stay and also gave us lots of local tips (I just emailed him again as I re-read this to proof read it!)! While in Waterford we visited the Viking museum, walked around the museum triangle, went into the cathedral and also got groceries for that evenings meal.

IMG_9286.JPGIMG_9287.JPGIMG_9294.JPGIMG_9297.JPGIMG_9306.JPG We drove back in the late afternoon and Hoapili made dinner while I read on my tablet and we shared a bottle of wine. Later that night we talked for a few hours with a guy (Adam is his name I think?) who lives in Florida. I planned to blog that night, but we were really enjoying his company! In the morning we drove to Killarney, checked into our hostel, made some lunch and then drove into the National Park. We saw a castle there from the 1400’s and took a nature trail nearby,saw  a pretty waterfall, and some really lovely gardens and an arbetoreum.

IMG_9322.JPGIMG_9455.JPGIMG_9457.JPGIMG_9352.JPGWe had dinner in town that night and had a traditional irish lamb stew and a beef and mash potato meal before going out that evening.

IMG_9354.JPGKillarney was really cute with lots of pubs and local music. In the morning we drove to Dingle and stopped at Inch beach along the way. We saw a RV pull right up to the ocean on the sand!!

IMG_9386.JPGWe were pretty jealous but also happy you can’t do that in Hawaiʻi.
Driving the Dingle Peninsula is so amazing! Every corner you make is a new beautiful landscape of a big hill or mountain or fields full of sheep or cows or horses and everything is so green!!

IMG_9387.JPGWe started on the Atlantic Way ring that is on Dingle peninsula and we pulled over somewhere to see something (honestly can’t remember) and Hoapili noticed the front left tire was leaking. Turns out there was a small screw in the tire!!! There weren’t any gas stations along the ring road we were planning on driving and we were closer to Dingle town verse continue driving around so we turned back to find a gas station… Surprisingly, none of the stations sold repair kits to do yourself, and we were directed to go to this car repair shop. We arrived at 1:10pm and they took a break during that hour! So we walked along dingle town for a while and made it back around 2:30 and they told us it would be another 30 minute wait. By the time it is done (plus 10 euro later), we are so exhausted and had about a 20 minute drive to the hostel so we went to check in and then also found out that the only grocery store was back in Dingle!! So tiredly, we drove back again and got some stuff to make for dinner. We mingled with a group from Ohio while we all made our dinners and hung out drinking beers around the fire until we all went to sleep. The next morning we slowly made our way to Cliffs of Moher, and walked along the cliffs admiring and taking photos for almost 3 hours and we had a packed lunch on the side of the cliff! We really enjoyed the walk and were in awe for most of it!! Plus! We finally saw some PUFFINS in the cliffs side!!! (with binoculars)

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It was about 7pm or so when we left and headed to Doolin, a town Tom told us to check out for live music and good pubs. We found out on the drive into town that were was a music festival going on there that weekend and the streets were packed with people!! We made it into one very busy pub and grabbed dinner (fish and chips and a lamb burger)

IMG_9433.JPGand were told where to go to learn more about the festival, which was 35 euro each! We knew we had to drive to Galway that evening (1.5 hours away) to check into our hostel there and we didn’t want to pay that much for a couple hours at the most, so we just checked out another pub who had music going on and then headed out. We didn’t make it to the Galway hostel until almost mid-night I think, and we dropped our bags in the room (a 12 bed dorm which no other beds were filled yet, although we could tell all of them were occupied) and went out in search of a pint. When we made it back a little past 1am, there were still no other people back in the room!! (I love Galway). We slept in the next day and then walked around the city seeing the Spanish Arch, a ton of geese, a poster of an anti- trump rally, a rose garden next to a cathedral which I remember from the first trip I made there, the Galway Cathedral, and Salthill.

IMG_9444.JPGIMG_9442.JPGIMG_9449.JPGIMG_9439.JPGIMG_9475.JPGThat night we went out with two people traveling together who had been doing a lot of wolfing (staying from farm to farm for free accommodation by working on the farm) and began traveling together. One from Germany and one from France. Lots of beer was drank and we definitely felt it in the morning when we had to be back in Dublin by 10am to drop the car off!! That was a really crappy car drive to say the least… After we dropped the car off and took the bus to the hostel to check in, we went out to grab some pizza, walked around a bit before returning to our rooms to take a nap. In the early evening we walked around the streets and caught most of the football (that’s soccer (;) game Ireland was playing against Sweden in the Euro 2016!!! It was really fun to be in the streets with everyone watching, screaming and singing!

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We grabbed some groceries after as well as some whiskey and ginger ale (an ireland favorite) and returned to the hostel to cook dinner and get ready to go out to a few pubs where we caught some good live music (in Tempe Bar mostly). In the morning we went on the free walking tour with CJ, our cool tour guide who just graduated from Trinity College in Dublin (it was apart of the tour too!). After the tour we took the bus to the Guinness Storehouse where we spent a few hours on the self guided tour, got to do some tastings, get our perfect guinness pour certificate, and drank our complimentary pint on the gravity bar overlooking the city!IMG_9665.JPGIMG_9666.JPG

IMG_9508.JPGIMG_9667.JPGIMG_9668.JPGIMG_9669.JPGIt was a really, really cool experience. And Cameron, you were right about it tasting better there than in the pubs!! We went on a pub crawl that night with the same tour company that the walking tour was with and it was really fabulous! We meet a lot of people, went to 5 different really fun bars, and got good deals with the tour for drinks and free shots in each place! The next day we left for Amsterdam!! We really loved Ireland and all the nice people, beautiful scenery, and staying in the hostels is always an experience! On the plane over to Amsterdam I sat next to and talked with a really nice guy from Galway who was starting his one month summer holiday across Europe with three of his friends. He was desperately afraid of flying (although he’s apparently flown a lot his whole life and even flew on a 13 hour flight to China before!) and told me repeatedly how thankful he was for my company and chatty-ness. Apparently I was his “rock”. Hi Cillian! Glad I could have been of assistance and hopefully we meet again!
Anyway, that was a lot of info to catch you all up on. I will try and be better at updating more periodically. We just finished our first two full days in the Netherlands and I can’t wait to tell you guys about it! Tomorrow we are going to do a hop on hop off bus and boat tour and we are excited to be off of our feet a little bit! 😉

He hoʻi mai koe!

Na Leilani

The rest of Scotland!

Aloha Kākou!
So sorry for the delay in posts! When we got to Inverness, my laptop was completely dead and for some reason, it wasn’t charging in the hostel room’s plugs so I thought maybe the charger was fried. So we just went on with things and thought we’d try it on another plug somewhere else or get a replacement soon enough (it is working now!). We stayed at the Inverness Student Hostel, about a 15 minute walk (sounds short, but deadly with our heavy packs!!) and checked in. We were in room downstairs, through a really narrow spiral stairwell with 6 other beds. Not all were occupied though in the two nights we spent there. It was about 5 or 6pm so we went out for dinner to a recommended rather cheap place were we paid about 12 pounds for two meals and two beers! After that we walked down the Nessie river a bit (the Nessie Walk) which was beautiful! Along the river were a lot of trees and flowers, and there were strings of lights above us for a lot of the way (although not lit!), and really cute bridges. There were a few other couples strolling about and some people walking their dogs as well.

IMG_9132.JPGIMG_9140.JPGIMG_9143.JPGIMG_9148.JPGWe took our time and got back to the hostel at about 8:30 or so. We grabbed our beer we had been trucking around since leaving Iceland, which we grabbed from the Duty free, and each had one up in the hostels lobby while making new friends! One really energetic man named Shaun from South Africa was very entertaining and we ended up going out with him and another young German girl who was on a Gap year.
We went to the local Hootananny’s bar which had live music, but, it was kinda slow moving in there so we had one beer and then headed to another more lively bar. We all had a really good time!

In the morning, we woke up at about 8 or 9 and packed our day packs to head to Grantown-on-Spey, in hopes to visit some and learn about my heritage, the Grant Clan. It was only about an hour bus ride and when we got there, it was really easy to find the museum (super small town!) which we walked around and learned as much as we could about how/why the town was built. It was a fairly small museum but at the end you had the chance to dress up in the old fashion clothes! I had a ball 🙂

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IMG_9171.JPGIMG_9174.JPGIMG_9188.JPGWe walked from the museum up the hill to see the small castle, which is now privately owned. Since we learned that, we didn’t get very close, but still got some photos. We then went to a local bakery shop and got some pastries and “chips” (french fries) to snack on. It was a Friday and apparently the school kids get out early so they were all hanging around the same shop, right next to the bus station.

IMG_9197.JPG We met a woman waiting for the same bus as us who lived in Grantown but was heading to Inverness to pick up her ʻspecticlasʻ! She was sweet and talked to us about her trip to Hawaiʻi years ago. It was a beautiful ride back and we kept our eyes and cameras ready to see if we could spot the same MASSIVE bulls we saw in a pasture on the way into town, but no luck. Those things looked like they were on steroids!

When we returned to Inverness we thought we would take another bus to see the Loche Ness, but the buses were delayed and we wouldn’t make it in time to see the museum or the cathedral, which we learned from Shaun (who had went that morning) later that it was an run-down ruin of a castle, overpriced and a tourist trap… So here are some of the photos he sent me of it!

We also wanted to see the Clava Clair standing stones, but there weren’t any buses out there that night and we had to be out of the hostel in the morning so regretfully we couldn’t make it there either. We just went to a co-op and grabbed stuff to make an artichoke pasta and salad for dinner. Then we ended up going out again with Shaun! It was a Friday so it was a buzzing a bit more which was fun. In the morning, we set out back to the bus station to catch one to Glasgow. It as another almost 4 hour ride which we slept and read on. When we got there, we tiredly walked almost 20 minutes to the Euro Hostel. I don’t have many nice things to say about the place, but it was good enough for a couple nights! Hoapili said the shower stalls were smaller than the ones he had to use on the ship while he was deployed! One of our dorm-mates had just come from Amsterdam and he was decked out in everything Amsterdam… Socks, boxers, jacket, phone case… It was so funny!!! We went out that evening in search of a place to eat, and ended up at a place similar to the cheap place in Inverness, but had a much worse experience there. Right as we sat down after ordering our food, a woman started setting up the Karaoke for the evening… Literally one table away from ours. We would have left but you have to tell the bar tender which table you are at and we had already done that.. So we were kind of stuck. About 45 minutes pasted and we still hadn’t gotten our food and we had finished our drinks and ordered more by the time the food actually came out! We could tell it had been sitting for a while as it was hard and disgusting… We got out of there as soon as we could, although the people doing karaoke were pretty entertaining!
We just walked back to the hostel and got another drink in the bar in the lobby deciding just to go to bed as we would go out the following night, for Hoapili’s 25th birthday!!

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When we woke up we set foot out for the Riverside Museum (after our very claustrophobic showers)! It was a really interesting museum, all about mainly old styles of transportation. I really enjoyed seeing the old trollys and learning how women became the trolly workers in the war time as all the men were gone, and “shockingly” also went onto become drivers not long after!!!!?!? lol

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We ate a good but pricey lunch at the cafe in the museum (there wasn’t anything else around) and took the subway to the other side of town, to see the People’s Palace and gardens. It was a really cute and large park, with a big greenhouse towards the center with lots of plants and trees.

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We picked a spot in the shade as it was actually a really warm day and rested for about half an hour before heading back towards the hostel.

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We picked up some snacks and drinks to start pre-gamming and sat at another small grassy area across the hostel to drink them while researching where we should go for dinner. Hoapili wanted seafood so we went up and changed into some nicer clothes and started walking to Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery! It was a really nice and fancy place with exceptional service and we shared a bottle of wine. Our waiter was the most friendly guy who was really interested in Hawaiʻi, so we invited him over anytime! We even added each other on facebook, hey Stephen! (His last name is Clark, which is pretty cool, maybe we are related!!)

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We returned to the hostel after that to meet up with another couple we met in the Inverness hostel who had just arrived to Glasgow that evening and wanted to meet up to go out for drinks for Hoapili’s birthday. We stopped at two places for beers and the second had really good live blues music! It was a really nice evening. 🙂
In the morning we packed up and dropped our bags at the left luggage at the bus station where we would later ride to Edinburgh and walked from there to the Glasgow Cathedral, which was fantastic!!

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After walking around and taking tons of photos, we walked to The Butterfly and The Pig, a tearoom which my auntie Karen from my church recommended. It was so lovely!! I got eggs Benedict and Hoapili got a salmon bagel/sandwich and we both enjoyed our own pot of tea. We felt so rejuvenated after leaving! All the ingredients were fresh and the tea was really enjoyable.

IMG_4638.JPGIMG_4640.JPGIt was a short walk back to the bus station where we caught the next bus to Edinburgh, about an hour drive and then took another bus to Restalrig, back to our Airbnb we stayed when we first arrived, with Jennifer. We went down to the co-op and got fixings for supper and as Jennifer was out for the evening, we curled up and watched a movie. In the morning, we took our sweet sweet time waking up, cooking a small breakfast, and I even read a bit while Hoapili practiced his Ukulele. It was really nice to not be in a rush and we repacked and got rid of a lot of unnecessary things we were tired of carrying around! We eventually went into town to drop off post cards and I also got a suitcase to switch to from my backpack. Emily U. ,Danielle, and Hannah (all former travel buddies) all know my hatred for these dang backpacks. I was really trying to give it another go, but mine is rather unruley and it is so difficult to get anything out! So I am much much happier now with my rolly bag, and I even fit a lot that was in Hoapili’s pack, so his is much lighter and more enjoyable for him. Overall, I think it was a good decision!

IMG_4647.JPGWe got back to Jennifers and finished packing and had some soup and toast before heading out to the airport!
Scotland was great, I don’t think I’ll look back at it as the highlight of the trip, but I am glad we saw it! Especially Grantown and Inverness. I would really like to return there. Glasgow didn’t impress me much, and Edinburgh was really nice but such a big city! Anyway, I’ll post another update in a couple days about our trip thus far in Ireland!!

Stay tuned,
Na Leilani

 

PS, as the navigator for now going on two countries, I think I have told Hoapili to take the second exit at the next roundabout about 200 MILLION times. No joke on the directions today, it was at least 11 times, in a row!! Better than lights I guess…

Scotland Blog 1

Our Scotland experience so far: (Written June 2nd)

We arrived to Keflavik’s airport far too early, but we had had to drop off the van by noon and really didn’t feel like venturing anywhere with our backs on so we just waited at the bus stop to take us to the airport. When we arrived at 3, we learned that the desk for our airline didn’t open for another 3 hours… So we settled in at the only cafe in the lobby and got sandwiches and FaceTimed some family and I wrote post cards. Our time through check in and security went smoothly, and we ate again once in the terminal since we knew we wouldn’t get the chance to eat again until the morning. Our flight was a little late leaving so we didn’t land until midnight, and I had to call back our taxi that we had booked who had left since immigration took so long! He ended up being a really nice fellow and took us right to the Airbnb where we stayed in Edinburgh.

Jennifer, who we stayed with, had stayed awake waiting for us, until about 1am! She showed us what we needed to know about the place and we said goodnight figuring we’d see each other again in the morning. Jennifer is actually a friend of the mom of a really sweet girl that I met in Vancouver two summers ago when I went to visit while staying with another friend in Seattle. We’ve stayed in contact and she hooked me up with this lovely women we grew really found of, Jennifer! She is about the age of my nanny, and just as sweet and intelligent as can be! I actually think her and my nanny would get along tremendously. We set out for the day to spend in Edinburgh and she was home when we returned and we talked the entire time we cooked our dinner and through eating it as well. She is just a huge source of amazing knowledge and even gave Hoapili a book that he began reading last night from her bookcase, and the sequel!

Yesterday we went and canceled the car rental we had booked because we saw how busy Edinburgh was and also looked up how much cheaper buses were and it would also save us the expense of gas. When we returned to the city center, we grabbed some lunch at a pub and both got the local dish, Haggis. It was really yummy! Mashpotatoes, lamb/beef, and lamb aus.

IMG_2391.jpegOh and we also both tried a Scottish beer.

IMG_3322.jpegAfter we filled our bellies, we headed to the Scottish National Gallery. The amount of art there was amazing! I even found some that had connections to my family lineage, the Grant clan!

IMG_5993.jpegIMG_1573.jpegIMG_6722.jpegWe got a coffee and enjoyed it with what seems like a lot of other people in the park. It was a sunny gorgeous day that everyone was taking advantage of. After we finished, we trekked up to the Edinburgh Castle.

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It was already 5pm when we arrived, so we only had an hour to see everything before they closed 😦 We felt a bit rushed and didn’t get to read all the descriptions, but we took photos of them (the ones we could, some rooms we weren’t allowed to take photos) to read and learn about later.IMG_1878.jpegIMG_2289.jpeg

We left when they closed and headed back to Waverly Steps bus station to ride back to Restalrig area, where we stayed. There is a cop-op nearby that we stopped to grab things to make dinner. It is always so surprising how inexpensive food at groceries are! It was 1/4 or less of the cost of our lunch! That basically sums up our time in Scotland so far. We spent this morning showering, packing up our packs and making a big breakfast (Jennifer insisted, since she had bought lots of goodies for us! And we even took some fruit with us for the road) and then we headed to the Edinburgh Bus Station to catch our Megabus to Inverness, where I am sitting now. I think we’ve only got about 20 minutes to go. We both read most of the way up (I just started the first Outlander book!!!) and we are looking forward to checking into the hostel and getting some food and beers at a pub.

Until next time!!!

Na Leilani
PS: I forgot to mention how beautiful the drive up here has beens so far! Very green with lots of mountains little streams and rivers, and gorgeous yellow bushes and fields of flowers!!! I can’t wait to get to Inverness!

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Iceland Reflections

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some things we experienced/learned about Iceland during our time there!

*It is so convient to just able to fill up your water bottle at any sink or even rivers as we did a few times! The water is always delicious and pure, and cold!! Buying water in Iceland is the stupidest thing we could think to do there!
*We never had to pay to use the toilet, which was really nice.
*We saw several stray (or at least we think?) dogs wandering around.
*There aren’t very many trees and when there are they are all alined neatly in rows making small cute forests.
*Iceland grows a lot of their own food, in greenhouses heated by geothermal power.
*Iceland is so very green, harnessing almost all of their energy from the earth itself.
*Buying a weeks worth of groceries was the same cost as going out to eat once.
*It is very popular for tourists to travel in camper vans like ours and do what we did.
*There were tons of camp sites with great facilities for all travelers.
*It was baby sheep season and they were the cutest to see along the roads, jumping and running and nursing from their mothers.
*The Icelandic horses were very beautiful, we didn’t get to pet any, but we got really close!
*The Blue Lagoon needs reservations… But it is so expensive anyway! Maybe our next trip. *We don’t think puffins exist.
*A certain type of bird that we saw near the glacier park really didn’t like people. There were tons of birds near the parking lot and every time a tourist went to get a closer look or take photos, the birds started darting down almost attacking them!
*They had a lot of one lane bridges with no slight distance, a lot of them uphill.
*Kuku Campers does not insulate their vans, which they realllly should.
*The gas stations have free wifi.
*Easyjets desk at the airport doesnt open until 6pm. We arrived at 3pm…
*You need to wear a lot of layers!!!

*Get a sleeping bag for the correct suggested temperatures.
*At one point while we were driving in the country side, we stopped at a gas station and there was a motorcross race going on, and two of the riders were taking a break on the route.
*There were tons of tour buses everywhere (full of old people! Mostly American too).
*Those tours were so expensive!!!
*Reykjavik was a really cute city, very clean and we learned that they have workers who pick up trash everyday.
*We met a couple who had met due to the 2010 flight delays because of the volcano eruption and they were on vacation with their new baby, on their way to see that very volcano that brought them together!! So cute.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now. If anything else comes to mind, I’ll make an edit and add more under this!

Aloha nō,