A Week on the Amalfi Coast

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Visiting the Amalfi Coast was a long-held romantic dream of mine. I had wanted to spend my honeymoon on a beautiful clifftop hideaway, but we ended up in Vegas.  I know, go fgure.  So for our 10th wedding anniversary I was taking no chances, the flights were booked well in advance.  Whatever it cost (and to be honest it didn’t break the bank) I was going and him indoors was coming with me.

 

Getting there…

 

Again, as we do with most of our flights, we booked with Easy Jet.  Tickets were around £150 return, per person, and I booked about 10 months in advance.  Flying out of Bristol, the flight to Naples took just under three hours and for this flight it was an early alarm call of 3.00 am, which I normally try to avoid, but sometimes you just got to go with it.

 

Arriving in Naples just after ten we looked out for someone holding a card with The Painters across it and off we went.  Traffic in and around Naples is super busy and arriving during a rain storm didn’t help, but we were soon winding along the Amalfi coastline and it took around an hour and 40 minutes at a cost of around £100 to get us to our hotel.

 

You can train it to Sorrento and get a taxi or ferry to various destinations, or of course hire a car, but from what we witnessed, someone else driving along the narrow clifftop roads where you’re squished into awkward spaces as vehicles manoeuvre to get by, was preferable to the other options. You need bags of patience and nerves of steel for that journey and SP and I bickering wouldn’t have been the idyllic start to the holiday I was aiming for.

 

Where to stay…

 

When it came to choose the perfect place to stay I asked my sister-in-law who had honeymooned in the Amalfi Coast the previous year.  I knew I didn’t want to stay in a big resort like Sorrento and reading reviews of Positano led me to think it was over-priced and over-crowded (I was right), so when she said to look at Praiano, a quieter spot with a 10 minute boat ride into Positano, I knew I’d found our holiday home.

 

A bit more digging around on destination websites and I found Hotel Le Fioriere, which offered the one thing I know SP loves (aside from being near water) a rooftop terrace.

 

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Run by brother and sister, Luigi and Rosalia, who made us feel immediately welcome and at home, we stayed on the first floor in a large sea-facing room that included a double and sofa bed.

 

Aside from the great location (in between Positano and Amalfi), breakfast was plentiful and served buffet-style with plenty of fresh coffee, our room was clean and tidy with a balcony, and the restaurant, Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar, was an absolute treat.

 

We couldn’t believe our luck to find such a perfect view that we could enjoy every night.  The menu isn’t lengthy but offers plenty of delicious choice.

 

As for drinks, Steve worked his way through a number of Italian craft beers and I enjoyed refreshing gin from Tuscany, thanks to Federica the bar manager, who was always on hand to talk us through and pour some of the country’s quality drinks.

 

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Where to visit…

 

Positano

 

A must-see, Positano is picture postcard perfect.  I wanted to come in to the town from the sea, so that we could feel the effect and it didn’t disappoint.

 

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Plenty of restaurants, naturally serving all the classic Italian favourites with a good selection of seafood dishes and a side order of chilled Peroni.

 

The beach has plenty of beds, roughly costing 20 euros each with parasol and little table and bear in mind that you’ll find few sandy beaches here, it’s all pebble-based so we took our aqua shoes.

 

We just went the once and to be honest that was enough.  It is heaving and I’ve read gets worse in July and August, when really it’s best to avoid if you’re not a fan of crowds

 

Ravello

 

A ten-minute bus ride can take 30 on the Amalfi Drive and luckily on our way to the town of Amalfi I found a seat.  Steve had to stand.  Public transport is slow, but it does get you from A to B for just two euros each.  With crowds already building in the day, once we got to Amalfi our first step was  straight on to the next bus to Ravello, the hilltop town with the most amazing views.

 

A large village some 335m up, the climb is steady on a full bus, but the views at the top are fabulous.  However, I didn’t capture any of it on camera as we grabbed a table in a café on the square on arrival and as we went to walk around the heavens opened, so along with everyone else we got the next bus back down to Amalfi.

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If you visit Ravello, I have heard that Villa Rufolo is a must-see.  With cascading gardens high above the coast, the views are spectacular.

 

Back in Amalfi, we just stopped for a quick ice cream, before getting back on a bus to Praiano.

 

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One Fire Beach

 

There are two small areas to catch some rays in Praiano and the one closest to us (signposted the beach, next to the church) was Lido, One Fire Beach.

 

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There are 300 steps to get this spot, but once down there two beds and parasol costs 40 euros for the day and you can jump in and out of the water to your hearts content, knowing that bar service, a shaded restaurant and clean loos are to hand.  Staff are young and friendly and there is a good energy about the place.  You can also catch water taxis from here to reach Positano.

 

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Where to eat and enjoy a Limoncello

 

There are two main areas in Praiano, Vettica Maggiore and the Marina di Praiano.  We stayed in the former, which is the first stop after leaving Positano, so we ended up eating and drinking around this area as the walk to the marina didn’t appeal.  We did it once during the day and it took around 40 minutes, but with no pavements, I didn’t fancy doing it again, on an evening.

 

Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar

Our hotel roof-top restaurant and the reason why I booked our stay here, was the nicest spot we found in Praiano.  Friendly service, modern surroundings, great food and a choice of drinks with an absolutely stunning view, it was the easiest choice to ‘stay home’.

 

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Trattoria San Gennaro

Next up is the first place we visited as it was opposite our hotel and was featured in my copy of Rough Guide to Italy.  Trattoria San Gennaro is garden-based with white plastic chairs, but don’t let that put off.  You overlook the square where local kids kick a football around every night blowing off steam after a hot day and the view over-looks Positano.

 

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The food is fabulous.  I went for home-made pasta with prawns and courgette – scialatilli con zucchini e gamberitti and Steve had seafood.  Delizioso!

 

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We tried our first Lemoncello Spritz here and absolutely love it.

 

Tramonto d Oro

This restaurant is upmarket and boasts panoramic views over the coastline.  We dined here for our anniversary, so it was lobster for SP.  Gorgeous food and a fine dining ambience, where we felt completely looked-after.  Pricier than the others, but worth it.

 

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Café Mirante

The best thing about walking up 300 steps from the beach is stepping in to Café Mirante at the top, where the shades are up, the vibe is relaxed, and the drinks made to order.  They also come with free snacks.  We loved the Café Mirante Mule that specially made for us as we (I mean me) like gin.

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What to know…

 

  • The Amalfi Coast is busy in June and gets busier July to August
  • SITA buses (orange) are regular and cheap. You buy tickets ahead in shops, hotels, etc.
  • Small resorts like Praiano have little or no pavements and if the Amalfi Drive runs through it then you will spend a bunch of time pressed against a wall
  • There is a hotel in Praiano that has a lift to the beach Le Grand Hotel Tritone
  • SP and I agreed we came at the right time, with kids or walking issues the trip wouldn’t have been so successful
  • The church in Praiano has a gorgeous square in front of it. If you’re running out of cash, grab a bottle of wine and snacks from a supermarket, sit and enjoy the view with the locals.  It’s the same view as every restaurant nearby.

 

The last word…

 

In another lifetime, as a millionaire, I’ll go back to the Amalfi Coast by Super Yacht.  I do think that’s a great way to see it and I can totally see why cruises around this area are so popular.  It is simply stunning and jumping off and spending the day in Positano is a day well spent.

 

 

We loved it.  We also really enjoyed the last night of our holiday in Naples, getting back into the bustling city was great fun. It was alive and bursting with energy and we were advised to visit Antica Pizza Fritta Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo for one of its famous pizzas.  We queued for around 50 minutes to enjoy that pizza, but was super delicious.  Steve ordered the famous fried pizza, but in truth mine was better.

 

Visit my Instagram page and click on Highlights to see videos and more pics.

 

Have a great weekend folks!

 

Gail xx

 

Have you visited the Amalfi Coast?  Please share your thoughts below.

The Long and The Short Of It

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Our trip to the Amalfi Coast was everything I hoped it would be.  Picture postcard scenery, beautiful weather, delicious food.  It was a real treat and I’ll write up a blog post with all the details of how we got on soon.  In the meantime, as I know a lot of people have their holiday plans ahead of them, I wanted to give you feedback on the clothes situation and in particular what I felt I didn’t have.

 

Obviously, I had done a little bit of shopping before I went away and had focused on dresses and swimming costumes mainly.  However, when I got there I found that the most worn item, apart from two blue dresses, was my trust pair of denim shorts.

 

They’re just the easiest item to pack and perhaps the pair above are getting a little short for me now (!), but I still reached for them nearly every day.

 

To be honest I wished I’d taken more pairs.

 

I didn’t expect that to be the case, but for sightseeing, general trudging to and from the beach, having a pair of shorts was the handiest, simplest and coolest item to pair up with T.shirts and strappy vests in the day and dressed up with light flowing blouses or crisp cotton shirts and piles of jewels in the evening.

 

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Daisy dukes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  I understand that. But I’ve taken a look around and retailers this season have taken this on board and introduced longer length denim shorts.

 

If you don’t want to reveal your thighs to the world then a length that ends just above the knee can give you a more flattering silhouette.  Takes me back to the cycling shorts of the eighties!

 

Marks & Spencer has even introduced a Sculpt and Lift Denim Short. Made in cotton, the denim has added stretch so that it is kind to your curves and helps accentuate your figure.  See the red pair in the reel below.

 

It’s worth trying on shorts with a nice pair of wedge espadrilles. The perfect summer shoe, they generally are easier to wear than strappy heels and can elongate the leg.

 

What do you think?  Fancy trying some on?  Here’s a selection of shorts on the high street.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx

Porto & Pumps

Sorry for the pause.  I don’t like surprises, so having a few mechanical problems with my blog this week has been a pain in the ___, but I’m back.

 

Talking of surprises, I love spoiling my husband with a surprise or two.

 

The boy’s 50th birthday in September, was not going to be a big affair.  I get it, some people love being centre of attention and others absolutely loathe it.  We both love going to parties, but never want the party to be about us.

 

So I knew not to get him a surprise party for this special occasion.  That said, I couldn’t bear the idea of being at home with a TV dinner on a day that really should be marked.

 

So I planned a trip away, only telling SP we were going to Cornwall three weeks before the actual date, so that I could make sure he wasn’t working for the 48 hours that we would actually be in Porto.

 

You should have seen his face when I pulled into the airport instead of driving straight past it! A picture. With 48 hours of fun ahead, we merrily dropped off the car and headed for the bar.

 

Porto had been on our to do list since it was spotted in a copy of Lonely Planet a while back and the trip was a perfect fit, with an evening flight time the day before Steve’s birthday and 48 hours to explore before returning home.  This meant we only lost two day’s work – SP is boringly committed to it.

 

The forecasters said it would be in the early twenties, offering a welcome injection of Vitamin D before Autumn really sets in at home.  What’s not to love.

 

Hugging the North West coast of Portugal, Porto is the second largest city in the country and actually not that far (by train) from Lisbon.  With more time, you could/should probably try and do both.

 

No surprise here, but it’s known for its port production – we found that our favourite style is Tawny.  We also found that we could consume quite a bit of it!

 

We stayed close to the historical centre of Porto, The Ribeira.  Classed as World Heritage by UNESCO, this attractive area was our playground for 48 hours and with the Douro river running through it, offering the city one of its most popular photographic opportunities, it was a beautiful setting fit for a birthday ‘retreat’.

 

For a change, instead of me going on, I’ve asked the birthday boy to answer a few short questions to help tell you more about our trip.

 

What three words best describe our trip?

Interesting, fun, sunny

 

How would you describe Porto to someone who hasn’t been?

It’s a great place for a city break

 

What did you enjoy most about Porto?

I liked the Six Bridges Boat Cruise (caught on the harbour, takes 50 mins and costs about 15 euros per person).  Oh, and the port-tasting.

 

Was two days enough?

Yeah, it was a buzzing whistle-stop tour, but you could add on an enjoy an extra day.

 

What would you do with an extra day?

Gone to the football ground (GP – I made the right choice!)

 

What are the must-do activities in Porto?

Cable car and river cruise

 

One lasting memory from your trip?

The fog coming off the Douro.  One morning it was beautiful sunshine, the next pea soup.

 

What would you give Porto out of five?

Four, it lost a point for the food.  We didn’t really like the food choice that much, apart from the (custard) tarts, which were delicious.

 

Some snaps

 

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Pretty isn’t it?

 

As with many mini breaks and holidays you are constantly on your feet, trying to see as much as you can and I was so glad that I  had taken my Adidas Mrs Stan Smiths.  I took a bunch of clothes with me, but I ended up wearing two maxi dresses day into evening.  I felt comfortable, not just on my feet, but in my clothes, and the dresses made sure I was out of jeans for once.

 

I have on many occasion taken new shoes or heels on holiday (what an idiot) only to be a thorn in SP’s side when we’ve had to stop and search for somewhere to buy pain killers, plasters and flip flops, but I think I’m over it now.

 

We are packing for our next trip as I finish this post and I have purchased a pair of slip on platforms from Dune, see below. It’s okay, I’ve been wearing them around the house and they’re like slippers. I will, of course, be taking my Adidas, and maybe one pair of boots for the evening.

 

I bet the boots stay in the suitcase! Here’s some more ideas for great pumps, trainers, kicks, whatever you like to call em. All I know, every grown up woman should have ’em.

Til next time.

Gail xx

 

 

 

 

In The Trenches

Does anyone have a grasp on the weather?  No, me neither.  One minute it’s lovely outside and the next it’s that hideous white sky that I loathe.  I don’t mind any other colour, than that one. It’s bleak and horrible.

 

So it’s a mixed bag as we settle into, erm, Autumn, and I don’t feel like I can quite yet change the wardrobe over.  As it is, I’m sat typing this in shorts.  It’s okay, no-one can see me.  Still, when we do have those cooler moments I find myself at a loss of what to wear.

 

For those of us who need to head outside, picking up the kids (obvs not me), dashing out to pick up wine (me) then you really want a lightweight coat to pop on.  For me it’s even worse heading out to work meetings – a North Face hooded anorak ain’t gonna cut it.

 

What I would really, really love is a smart, classic cut trench coat.   Each year I keep my eye out for one.  I have had two versions in my time on this planet, both of which are not in my wardrobe any more and I’m quite good at keeping hold of stuff.  I had one from M&S, but the material was too stiff and heavy (same problem as in last week’s post), and then there was the Gap version, which was made with the same weight as tissue paper and didn’t keep its shape, with or without my body in it.  So they both went to charity at some point.  Which leaves me back with the anorak.

 

So I’m on the look out again, because I feel that if I can just get my basics right, the rest of the wardrobe will be easier.   Won’t it?

 

I  have started the search.  See this option that I tried on in John Lewis the other week.  It’s from Karen Millen and I really like the cut and weight of it.

 

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It is definitely a contender, but I’m also going to take a look at these option that I’ve found online.  Hopefully I can get one that fits before the really wet weather comes.  When is that exactly?

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xxx