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Places I've Been

Venice Diary Day 2: Exploring Venice

October 29, 2017

After our first day in Venice, where we managed to see all the big sights, we decided to just explore the town. We walked from our hotel down to the vaporetto¬†station, Venice’s public transport boats. We hopped on, enjoyed the sights along the Canal Grande, and before we knew it, we arrived at the Rialto Bridge station where we hopped off.

 

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On the vaporetto!

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Taking the vaporetto is a great way to see the town.

We walked around, got lost in the small streets while looking for the bookshop Libreria Acqua Alta, before suddenly finding it was right in front of us. Outside, there’s a sign that welcomes you to “the most beautiful bookshop in the world”:

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Once inside, it’s filled with books. In old gondolas, on shelves, boats – basically everywhere. On top one of the shelves I found a black cat, sitting up and simultaneously sleeping – I didn’t think that was possible but this cat certainly mastered the art of sitting and sleeping. He slowly opened his green eyes and peeked around at the people who were too busy looking at books rather than at him, giving him the perfect view of what they really were up to. Like a cute, sleepy, security camera. Apparently, there are many cats here at times as they’re welcome inside, but we only saw this one (below).

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Books, books everywhere!

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The cutest (and sleepiest) security camera ever!

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Old encyclopedias are used to make stairs…

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Of course I climbed up! The view is over the canals and looks really beautiful.

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Imagine sitting here with a good book and a glass of wine in the evening!

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After admiring the bookshop, we walked up to the northern neighborhoods in town, almost completely devoid of any tourists. As during the day before, we got lost quite a few times, and Google Maps wasn’t of any help. Some of the streets are so small that Google doesn’t recognize them and sends you on big detours. So we just kind of waited and followed the bigger crowds and wherever they were going. We had some delicious pasta in a restaurant before heading out to explore more of the city. We allowed ourselves to just go with the flow, get lost, and get stunned by the surroundings. While the San Marco area is beautiful, it’s packed with tourists, which is reflected in the prices for a glass of wine in the town center.

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Sometimes, I have to force him in front of the camera ūüôā

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I particularly love the backdrop here – looks so picturesque!

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Look at this magical light!

We decided not to go back to the hotel before dinner and had a lovely dinner at a small local restaurant called Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. I had one of the best pasta arrabiata ever! The decor is very modest and traditionally Italian, which just gives all the more of a local feeling. Definitely go here for great local food, if you have the chance.

After dinner, we wanted some cocktails and headed down to the famous hotel The Gritti Palace and its fabulous bar called Bar Longhi. We got a table on the terrace in the first row down to the Canale Grande, which of course gave us fabulous views of Venice and the canals by night. The staff, all dressed in white jackets, were super friendly and the drinks were exactly what we were after. Due to its location in a five-star hotel on the Canale Grande, the cocktail prices were a bit steep but what else would one expect in a place where going to the restroom is an experience all of its own? In short: lots of marble and brass details. On your way back from the restrooms are framed photographs and messages from some of the world’s biggest A-list celebrities thanking the hotel for its hospitality. A nice little touch, just in case you hadn’t fully grasped how freakin’ fancy the place is ūüėČ Jokes aside, it was great! After another drink in another place, we took the Vaporetto back to our hotel.

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Places I've Been

Venice Diary Day 1: First impressions and a Gondola Ride

October 17, 2017

We arrived in Venice around 20/8pm and made a detour to get there – getting around in Venice isn’t as straightforward as you’d think and you can’t trust Google Maps. We checked in to the wonderful Hotel Moresco, were greeted with a drink and quickly checked in before heading out for dinner. Again, we took the wrong way and ended up walking 30 minutes to get to a place that was about 5 minutes from our hotel. Oh well! We ate a late dinner and went looking for a place to have some drinks. We ended up in a square not far from our hotel with very cheap drinks and lots of young people who we think were students from the nearby University.

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Looks like a postcard!

The next day, we headed out to explore Venice and to see it all. Wherever we looked, it looked like a scene taken straight out of a painting or a postcard. It was magical. We took a long walk along the small alleyways and followed signs to the Rialto bridge. The closer we got, the more tourist-packed it was. Finally, we walked through some buildings, turned left, and there it was – the Rialto bridge. I’ve seen it on TV and on pictures but I’d never realized how BIG it was. We admired the views from the bridge for a bit…

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It even looks smaller in this picture than in real life!

 

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Rialto in the background

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The bridge is full of small shops. You might roll your eyes at first and think how everything is about money nowadays, but it was actually made this way back in the day.

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One side of the bridge…

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…and me looking out over the other side of it.

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It’s completely PACKED with people!

Being me, I wanted to get away from the large crowds ASAP. It makes me uncomfortable and a bit panicky. Now, there’s really no escaping the crowds on the Sestiere San Marco, but the Rialto bridge is packed. We continued our walk up the alleyways and found ourselves lost and on small one-way streets, with nowhere to go but back, several times. It didn’t matter though – it was all so beautiful that you didn’t mind going all the way back anyway.

 

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Who would mind getting lost here?After walking around for a bit, we suddenly found ourselves at the Piazza San Marco, the main square in Venice with the prominent clock tower and St Mark’s Basilica. Seeing this big square, with its majestic buildings is one of those things that take your breath away, just for a moment.

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The top of St Mark’s Basilica

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Us and the clock tower in the background – it’s 98.6 meters tall!

 

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Hi there! Me posing in my favorite new jumpsuit from Weekday.

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We wanted to go inside the Doge palace (on the right), but the museum site was down for online tickets. If you don’t order online, you have to stand in line for several hours.

By this time, we were a bit thirsty and decided to have a drink at the infamous Harry’s Bar. Harry’s Bar has a long and peculiar history and is also the place where the Bellini was invented (fresh peach juice and sparkling wine). It’s mainly a restaurant, despite its name, but we got a place in the bar and ordered a Bellini and an Old Fashioned at very hefty prices. I’ve seen people complaining about the prices here but to me, it’s as simple as this: either you pay up and appreciate it for what it is, or you don’t go. Yes, it’s pricey and no, it’s probably not worth 24 euros to have a small drink but it is what it is. Personally, I loved the Bellini and the atmosphere, which was a bit hectic and very old-fashioned – in a good way. They ask for no photos inside due to guests’ privacy but I took a little picture of our drinks which you can see on my Instagram here.

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Harry’s Bar is easy to miss but here’s the exterior.

 

After another walk and another drink, we decided to hop on a gondola, a very touristy thing to do, but also a must when in Venice! It’s really, really expensive. The minimum price was 80 euros for 30 minutes but we opted for the large tour to see Casanova’s and Marco Polo’s houses etc. It set us back 140 euros and lasted around 40 minutes. I think it costs even more during the summer. Again, yes, it’s expensive but if you can afford it, I think it’s a lovely experience and probably my most memorable one from the whole trip. I’ll make a separate post on the gondolas in Venice later on.

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Off we went!

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The bridge of sights. This was the bridge from where prisoners got a last look on the outside world before being sent to prison (on the right).

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Beautiful Venice.

After our gondola ride, we wanted to visit the famous Caff√© Florian, established 1720, making it the oldest caf√© in the world. As with everything else in Venice, it’s really expensive and probably not worth its price, but it had an unbeatable view of the square and some pretty good people-watching.

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Caff√© Florian on Piazza San Marco is the world’s oldest caf√©!

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The original interior. Pretty awesome, no? ūüôā

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I had a hot chocolate and Jacob had some wine.

In the evening, we headed out to dinner at a very small and new place called the Flat. So charming! It was like sitting in somebody’s home. There was only one chef in the kitchen and one server, and about 8 tables inside, which made it a really intimate atmosphere. I had a veggie pasta, served in this really cute pot:

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My little pasta pot!

And that was all from our first one and a half day in Venice! More to come!

Places I've Been

Four Days in San Teodoro, Sardinia

July 27, 2017
La Cinta beach in Sardinia

After staying in family-oriented Alghero and super expensive Porto Cervo, we drove an hour south to San Teodoro. We’d heard great things about this little town, which was said to be livelier than Alghero and less expensive than Porto Cervo. The first day, we just hung out by the pool and went out to eat, to kind of get the vibe of the place. The next day, our hotel had a shuttle bus down to the main beach of La Cinta (pictured above). La Cinta is one of the most famous Italian beaches and it is a very frequented beach. Like most Sardinian beaches, the color of the water is a beautiful turquoise. However, there were just too many people for our liking and a bit too high waves to fully enjoy a good swim. Because of this, the beach is perfect for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and canoeing. Another negative was that there were no bars, restaurants or shops nearby and we hadn’t brought any water or anything. So after lying there for a few hours, we packed up and went back to the hotel pool. We had plans to explore the other beaches around San Teodoro, like Spiaggia Isuledda and Cala Brandinchi, but were just too¬†lazy and decided to stay by the pool the rest of our stay. Very unlike me but there we were close to home, didn’t need to take the car (and thus could have a few drinks during the day), could use the hotel restaurant etc., so it was just very convenient.

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By the pool, with a drink! Standard practice during our San Teodoro visit.

During the evenings, we would go out for dinner and drinks. Thankfully, the nightlife was a bit livelier than elsewhere on the island. In the evening, the bars were full of people and later on some of them moved on to the big nightclubs in San Teodoro, like Amba Night and Luna Glam. We went bar-hopping but felt too tired to go out dancing, so we just went home afterward. San Teodoro is definitely¬†more fun if you like socializing and people-watching! In terms of restaurants, there’s almost only pizza and seafood there, so not much to choose from for us vegetarians. A bit disappointing – but at least the pizza is fantastic.

In terms of restaurants, there’s almost only pizza and seafood there, so not much to choose from for us vegetarians. A bit disappointing – but at least the pizza is fantastic. We had pizza at two places. The first one, Pizzeria San Teodoro, was a fast-food restaurant with self-service and really good pizza. The second one, Ristorante Lu Liciu, was very popular among the Italians, which is always a good sign. Get there late if you want a table though! The worst food experience, not only in San Teodoro but all of Sardinia, was a place called Da Fabio. The food and wine were okay but the service was one of the worst I’ve yet to experience. Without going into details, the servers are far too stressed and not at all service-minded. Combine that with high prices and you’ve turned me off.

All in all, San Teodoro was great to come to, especially after quiet Alghero and expensive Porto Cervo. But at this point, we were a bit sick of all the exploring, driving off to beaches, seeing new things etc. So when it was time to leave, we checked in to a resort to just have the time to be. More on that in my next post!

 

The top photo is of La Cinta beach by Steffen Kamprath used under CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Places I've Been

An Honest Account of Porto Cervo, Sardinia

July 13, 2017

I’m sitting at the pool restaurant, with just half a glass of wine left. It’s hot and the sun is slowly creeping up on the small spot of shadow that I’d managed to find. A few days ago we left Porto Cervo, and that’s the place I’m writing about today. Porto Cervo is the capital of the Costa Smeralda, and I have so many complicated feelings towards it, which I will take you through in this post.

After a bit of an underwhelming experience in Alghero, we were glad to move on to something a bit different. The drive to Porto Cervo from Alghero took around 2 hours and we stopped in Sassari for lunch. Sassari is not a coastal town and I’d not even heard of it while doing my research on Sardinia, but we were pleasantly surprised during our short stop there. The town is quite big, buzzing with restaurants, beautiful parks and loads of locals. There was even a vegan restaurant there, while we struggled to find even vegetarian food in Alghero. Either way, we had lunch at a cozy little place called Pan Caf√©, which I highly recommend. They had vegan croissants, vegan chocolate, lots of fantastic sandwiches and food, and of course something for the meat-eaters of the world as well. The waitress, who reminded me of Am√©lie from Montmartre, with her quirky smile and short black hair, was the kind of person you wish you’d become friends with; smiling a genuine smile, happy to make you something off-menu if you’d prefer.

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Porto Cervo is dubbed the billionaires’ paradise and you can’t fail to see why, once you get there. The city was built in the 1960’s by Prince Aga Khan IV and it is just strikingly beautiful – a true feast for the eye, for lovers of architecture. It’s a small town with close-to-none locals, beautiful small houses, and 5-star hotels. It has a yacht marina and you’ll find the top designer stores here – Gucci, Louis Vuitton, MiuMiu, Valentino, and Bvlgari grace the small city center and you will not find an H&M anywhere near here. Not even a convenience store because, apparently, the rich don’t need convenience stores, and this town is made up entirely for them.

The big, beautiful yachts line the marina and a glass of plain white wine will set you back 25 euros, should you want one. Luckily, we only spent 3 days here, or we would have no money left ūüėČ

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We stayed in a hotel close to the town center and with free parking just outside. During the day, we drove off to the beautiful beach close by called Liscia Ruja, with crystal clear, turquoise waters. One of the days we tried going to another popular beach in the area called Capriccioli, but I really can’t recommend it. While the waters are as beautiful as the rest of the Smeralda Costa, it is a very small beach, and completely packed with people. So we left for Liscia¬†Ruja, where we stayed for both days of our¬†Porto Cervo stay. Liscia Ruja is also called Long Beach. Here, you can either bring your own sun chairs or towels or rent a sunbed at ridiculous prices. Two sunbeds and one umbrella cost 50 euros – for the rows in the back. Should you want close proximity to the water, it will cost you up to 80-90 euros…. And that is not even including the parking at 2,50 euros per hour. But what’s all that money for the clientele here, really? ūüėČ

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The best part about Porto Cervo is that there are some really good restaurants there. The worst part about Porto Cervo is that it is ridiculously expensive and only has two types of people: the super-rich, and the not-that-rich who are curious about this little town and the lifestyle it hosts. If one is up for partying, there’s plenty of partying to do here and you might just spot a celebrity or two while you’re there. However, if you don’t have the money that comes with the lifestyle, chances are that you will be ignored in many of the bigger clubs. In Porto Cervo, money talks louder than anything else, which is what I didn’t like about it.

With that being said though, Porto Cervo is stunningly beautiful. Like something out of a fantasy or a fairy-tale, with every inch of the city perfectly planned out and thought of.

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Delicious Cacio e Pepe at Elite Promenade

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A Moscow Mule at Zamira Lounge

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And a vodka sour with passion fruit! So yummy!

If you have money to spend and want to spend it with other people who also have money, Porto Cervo is a town for you. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are experiencing the real, true¬†Italy¬†because there’s no genuine Italian spirit here whatsoever. Italy isn’t this perfect and this adapted to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It isn’t a planned-out town built entirely for the billionaires to play in. But if that’s not what you’re expecting, and you want a bit of the glitz and glam then Porto Cervo is the place to be in.

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One handsome Dane!

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Truffle pasta (my favorite!) at Madai Restaurant.

Recommended:
Beach: Liscia Ruja was great, but we didn’t visit that many others…
For food: Elit Promenade Caf√© has the most delicious pasta on the island and at “bargain” prices as well!
For drinks: Zamira Lounge has delicious drinks, lovely staff and is reasonably priced.

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Places I've Been

Five days in Alghero, Sardinia

July 9, 2017

Driving to Alghero

After arriving at Cagliari Airport, we got our rental car and drove into the city for a pizza lunch before heading off for Alghero. Luckily, Jacob is the designated driver, always, and I was able to catch some sleep on the 3-hour long ride. We arrived in the afternoon and headed out to the city a bit early. Alghero is located in the North-Western part of Sardinia if you’ve never heard of it. Eager to start our vacation, we went for dinner quite early and later went for a drink at a wine bar. After that, seeing as it was Saturday and all, we had planned to continue on partying but were disappointed to find that the city pretty much falls asleep after 23. Even on a Saturday. What a bummer!

Alghero is packed with people in the high season. There are plenty of small boutiques and shops, gelaterias, cafés, and restaurants in the old town. The old part of town is protected by huge walls, perfect to take a walk on and catch the sunset. Plus, from there, you get a lovely view of the harbor and the ocean.

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View of Alghero from the city walls

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Us <3

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Small alleys everywhere

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Alghero harbor

The beaches of Alghero

The best part about Alghero, though, is the nearby beaches. There are some in the city, but they’re not very charming, so you would need a car to get to the better beaches, which we did every day of our trip. The best one was La Bombarde.

On our last two nights, we went up to a small bar called Buena Vista where one can get a kick-ass mojito and the most beautiful view of the sunset. Everyone gathered there, drink in their hand, and enjoyed the sunset with their loved ones. The waitress is Swedish and very friendly, which always is a plus in my book ūüėČ

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La Bombarde Beach in Alghero

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Look at those cristal clear waters!

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Jacob reading a book with a view

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A beautiful  sunset

 

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Mojito and Caiprinha in the sunset!

Honestly, though…

To be honest, at first, I wasn’t very keen on Alghero. It is filled with families with small children, tourist trap restaurants, and a bit too sleepy for my taste. But once I got past that, got to know the town and took it for what it is, I did end up enjoying our stay, even though it wasn’t what I had in mind.

After 4 days and 5 nights, we packed our bags, checked out, and moved on over to the east coast and Costa Smeralda… but more on that later!

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Yummy pasta! The selection for vegetarians wasn’t the best in Alghero, seeing as most food is fish and seafood. However, I did find pasta here and there…

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Found a little cat-themed shop!

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Flowers galore!

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Alghero by night!

Places I've Been

A Weekend in Rome

November 17, 2016
Rome

So we’ve been back for two weeks and I’ve yet to write anything about Rome. The reason is that I’ve been sick and busy with other things, but now I finally have the time to write a little bit about the Italian capital. First things first: I absolutely loved Rome. I fell completely in love with it and can’t wait to go back. In my opinion, Rome has everything that a big city should have: history, culture, friendly people, nice bars, excellent food, great shopping…¬†I could go on forever, but in short: I love¬†Rome!

We started off with a delayed¬†flight from Copenhagen. When we finally got to board the plane, ¬†I was tired as hell and just wanted to read a book in peace and quiet. However, a group of really annoying Swedes, who boarded the plane very drunk and continued the bender on board, thought otherwise. Sigh! We arrived late in Rome, but luckily I had arranged¬†for a private driver to come and pick us up at the airport. Tired and excited to see more of Rome, we went to the hotel for a¬†good night’s sleep. We stayed just within the walls in a small hotel/B&B called Augustana House, which I definitely recommend due to its proximity to both the center of Rome and the Vatican.

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The next day we had a lovely pizza, saw the Spanish Steps, Fontana di Trevi, and the Pantheon. Of course, we also enjoyed the sunny weather.¬†It was 22 degrees Celsius, as opposed to Denmark’s 6-7 degrees C at the time. It was heaven for two people already sick of the gray, rainy, Copenhagen fall. We enjoyed walking around in our spring jackets and sunglasses¬†even though it was late October. Oh, how I needed that sun! Visiting Rome in fall was a very good idea. During the summer months, I hear it is absolutely packed with tourists and extremely hot – not my favorite combination. When I do go back, it will definitely be in fall or very early spring. Anyhow, we visited the Vatican on Saturday and the Colosseum on Sunday, before we flew back Monday morning.

I’ll write more and show some more pictures in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Travel

Off to Rome

October 26, 2016

Scandinavia is beautiful in fall, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s dark and it’s cold. It’s been 3 months at home in Copenhagen and I need my travel fix badly. We have a trip planned for January, but I couldn’t wait that long, so Jacob and I decided to go somewhere. A fall getaway. And what better place to go in fall than Rome? It’s still around 20 degrees Celsius down there, which is basically considered Danish summer. So Thursday evening, we’re off! We’re staying until Monday and we plan to eat, eat, eat, drink, and perhaps see some historical monuments in between. I can’t wait!
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Of course, I will keep you updated on my travels through my social media (I am called liveandletsgo on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc – so am easy to find ūüôā )

If you have any suggestions on blog posts I should read before going, or any tips on where to eat (vegan/vegetarian) and drink – let me know in the comments!

Photos by Moyan Brenn, CC license through Flickr. 

Places I've Been

Flashback Friday: Beautiful Bellagio

September 4, 2015

Italy has got to be one of my favorite destinations, mainly due to two reasons: 1, it’s absolutely beautiful and 2, it’s vegetarian foodie heaven (I’m including the wine here). I’ve been in Milan quite a few times now, but last year, my boyfriend and I decided to go on a trip to Bellagio, only two hours north of Milan. Okay, I decided it and he got it as a birthday gift, but you get the drift. We rented a car at the airport (from Gold Car, I won’t make that mistake again!), a tiny and fresh little Fiat 500 with a sunroof, and headed for Bellagio. We couldn’t really decide in which one of the little villages by Lake Como we wanted to stay in, but somehow decided to go for Bellagio.¬†To say we weren’t dissappointed would be an understatement.

Our little car wound its way up the narrow roads, with absolutely awe-inducing views of the beautiful lake Como and the mountains in the background, which still had some snow on the top. The houses were gorgeous – many (wealthy) Italians own summer residences here, and it isn’t hard to see why. Finally, we arrived in Bellagio and found the little bed and breakfast we were staying at. It was run by a really friendly and sweet Italian family, and there was a dog I could pet so naturally I was over the moon. The weather was absolutely perfect – sunny and just hot enough to wear something sleeveless, but with a soft breeze that made sure you never got sweaty as you walked around the cobbled streets.

 

Bellagio, Lake Como

In Bellagio…

 

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Bellagio from the boat

One of the days we took the boat out to Villa del Balbianello close to the city of Lenno. We took the boat to Lenno and walked up to the Villa, which was such an amazing place. To think somebody has actually lived here!

 

Bellagio, Lake Como

Recognize this?

If you call yourself a Star Wars fan, you probably recognize the scene above. Villa del Balbianello is used as the setting for Naboo, where  Padme and Anakin got married.

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Loggia / Villa del Balbianello

Loggia, shown above was part of the James Bond movie Casino Royale, and was used as the hospital where Mr. Bond was recuperating.

If you’re a big fan, you can even take one of the Star War tours that will show you where all the scenes were shot here.

 

Lake Como

Lonno – steps down to the lake

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i Giardini di villa Melzi

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View over the mountains from Bellagio

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bellagio truffle pasta

And this… this is the best damn truffle pasta I have ever had. At Hotel Metropol Bellagio.