TRAVEL | A Travel Guide to Naples and Pompeii, Italy

This is a long one, but if you ever visit Naples, you need to be prepared. Trust me.

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know I love Italy and I go there whenever I have a chance. Some weeks ago I shared with you my daytrip to Positano. Today, let me share about my experience in Naples, which was our base during the trip. I went to there with two of my very good friends - we've travelled around together before, and went to Sicily a couple years ago which we loved.

This year, we settled for Naples, a historic city south of Rome, with plans of visiting the infamous Pompeii and its volcano, the Vesuvius. This post will be a long one since there's a lot to say and I've gathered so much advice to share.
Before I start with my tips and tricks, I need to write a little disclaimer: Naples is a messy city. It's chaotic, raw, loud, there is smoke in the air and motorcycles will probably almost knock you over if you're not careful. Naples is not a destination for everyone - in fact, I think it's actually a destination that only very few people would thoroughly enjoy. Personally, I felt very unsafe on the first day we arrived, but after having a couple days to adapt, I felt much better and more comfortable walking around the city. At any rate though, if you plan a visit to Naples, make sure you don't take valuable belongings with you and try to avoid the 'tourist look' - in some parts of town, Neapolitans will single you out straight away and you will get looks and stares.

The main thing I was excited for about going to Naples was visiting Pompeii, which I already went to seven years ago (time flies!) and absolutely loved. 

Do I even need to introduce Pompeii? The vast, impressive Roman settlement was frozen in time following the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD, and left to us are the remains of beautiful, complex buildings, mosaics, paintings, statues - and of course corpses - that give us a glimpse into the lives that the people of Pompeii, rich and poor, led. I strongly advise that if you are in the area, you visit Pompeii - if you're not familiar with its history, you should 100% get an audio guide or a guide who will talk you through the most important points to know about the city. The site is incredibly large, so make sure to arrive early and you will probably spend the day there. You can take food with you, but there is a restaurant on site and a lot of public fountains with drinking water available. 
When you get there, your map in hand, the ancient town is yours to explore... Always with the terrible Vesuvius in sight.

Since Pompeii is such a big space - and is composed of a lot of bricks and semi-destroyed walls, I've put together a little list of the most interesting sights there, for those of you who want to go straight to the point and avoid random walking around:
- the Cave Canem ("beware of the dog") mosaic,
- examples of termopolia, which are basically antique fast food shops. Spot them by the counters in which round crates are built in - that's where the takeaway food was preserved for people to come in a buy. See, we haven't invented anything - name something, the Romans made it!
- the House of the Faun, with its beautiful impluvium and gardens,
- the Villa of the Mysteries, famous for its beautiful and intriguing painting which depicts a mysterious ritual,
- the House of the Vettii, for its wonderful, bright paintings,
- the House of the Small Fountain (Casa della Fontana Piccola), which as the name says houses a beautiful fountain covered in well-preserved, colourful mosaics.
I could go on forever about what to see in Pompeii, but my biggest advice would be to go there for yourself and spend time exploring the ruins, which seem surprisingly familiar and let History speak for itself.

How to get there: take the Circumvesuviana train line from the Garibaldi station, to the stop Pompeii - Villa dei Misteri. 
Tickets: 15€, half price if you are a EU national under 25 years old. Make sure to buy the tickets on site, don't get them through other ticket offices around the station.

Naples feels very overwhelming, and its historic centre is full of narrow streets, churches which you're not too sure you can visit or not, but it also has its fair share of museums and interesting sights. Do not miss the Archaeological museum, which contains one of the most beautiful antique collections I've ever seen, from breathtaking statues to all the beautiful mosaics found in Pompeii, and preserved from rain and decay at the museum. There's also flying penises, if that's what you're into. Crazy how the Romans liked penises. (Never thought I'd ever write that sentence on my blog, but there you go!) I won't include any pictures of that though, and just leave that to your imagination...

The Palazzo Reale is also a beautiful palace to explore. It faces the stunning Piazza del Plebiscito, which is really worth exploring. The Palazzo contains the most beautiful hall and staircase I've ever seen. Even just for that, you should definitely go there.

If you fancy doing some shopping, walk along the Via Toledo, where you'll find Victoria's Secret, H&M, Zara, Lush and all the mainstream shops. While you're there, stop at Casa Infante and get gelato with their signature hazelnut and white chocolate or salted caramel sauce... Best ice cream I've ever had, and ridiculously cheap at 2,50€ for a medium cup. Also look out for the street of love, with its cute messages that will instantly make you smile.

Finally, for those beautiful views of the bay of Naples and the Vesuvius, head to Lungomare, on the west side of the city. It is a beautiful walk near the port, where you'll find lots of restaurants specialised in sea food, and amazing panoramic views on the bay. I would suggest you avoid the bars on the seafront - we had a really bad experience at Rosso Pommodoro, where we got served ridiculous (and disgusting) cocktails after waiting for thirty minutes even though the place wasn't crowded. Restaurants aren't the best feature of Naples I have to say - it is hard to find anything apart from pizza, so do venture into the little streets to find the right place.

From this trip to Naples, I come back with contradictory feelings: I have enjoyed the place, how authentic and raw it is, the glimpse into the real life of the inhabitants. But I would say that if you would like a laid back, safe and stress-free holiday, chaotic Naples is not for you. Let not the bad things prevent you from visiting though - there are some amazing sights and places to discover, and although I might not be going back any time soon, I do not regret stepping into this crazy whirlwind of a city.

Would you visit Naples? Do you want to see Pompeii one day?


LIFESTYLE | Real Talk: Tips For A Productive Weekend

The art of getting stuff done even on your days off.

Some lucky people get to spend their weekends relaxing, maybe on a day out or having a crazy night at the club. Others, like me (teacher anyone?) have almost more work to get through during the weekend than they do during the week. But sometimes, making the most of the weekend is difficult, and come Monday, you realise that you haven't done half of what you had planned...
Over the last months, I've become a pro of organisation, and I am successfully managing to complete lots of work at the weekend. In this post, you will find all my tips (practical, straight-forward, simple) to make the most of your weekend if like me, you are drowning in piles of work most of the time because, well, that's how your life is. #busybee

Not only are to-do lists satisfying, but they also show the progress you've done throughout the day. Every night, I write up a to-do list for the next day, during the week as well as for the weekend. There are many ways to do this: on a daily planner, on sticky notes, on your phone - once you've found the way that works for you, it'll become a habit that will encourage you to be more productive. 
There are lots of apps you can download to create lists, however I am a fan of paper planners. I got this one in WH Smith, but there are plenty of beautiful designs in Paperchase, Typo, and other stationary shops.
The better you plan your tasks on Friday night (or Saturday morning), the clearer you will feel about what you have to get done over these two days. On Sunday night, you can review your progress, and see what remains to be done on Monday. No more excuses!

Routines and habits are what make you consistent in anything you do. Want to have a healthier lifestyle? Start by setting an exercise and meals routine. Want to start a blog? Start by planning post schedules, photography, publishing. 
Want to have a productive weekend? Set yourself a routine that you will stick to, but allow it to be somehow flexible so you don't feel stuck in it. Always wake up at the same time every weekend, and decide what the first thing you want to do is - I start with a nice hearty breakfast, coffee and a scroll through Instagram. Set up what your first task of the day is going to be. I find that mornings are my most productive moments of the day, so I plan lessons for school in the morning. If you are more productive in the evening, keep your most important tasks for that time of day, and take care of smaller chores in the morning - could be cleaning, laundry, food shopping and so on.
If your weekends are all over the place and you're not sure what time it is anymore, it is likely to mean that you won't get as much done as if you establish a routine aimed at making the most of your time.

In your weekend daily routine, make sure to include enjoyable breaks, that will give you time to refuel and break down your work. Between two tasks, get a thirty-minute coffee break, allow yourself to scroll down social media (you know you've been dying to for hours.) It is all about control: know when you have to go back to work, and don't fall in the spiral of procrastination. I always find that starting off the day in a good mood makes me ten times more productive, so make sure your morning routine sets you up for the day and that once you get on to your first task, you think 'yes, I can do this.' Have (healthy) snacks at hand, put on some motivating music (I use different Spotify playlists depending on my mood) and find something enjoyable in anything you do. Everything feels much easier when you're having fun!

Because weekends are also made to recharge your batteries and relax, remember to create for yourself an environment in which you'll feel inspired, positive, relaxed. Weeks are stressful enough, so make weekends your little bubble of escape. Yes, work's gotta be done, but do it in a more relaxed atmosphere. Fit it a workout session, go for a walk, put up a couple inspirational posters in your room/office area. For me, motivation also comes with being inspired by other people (bloggers, friends), by places (sitting in a cool coffee shop can do wonders for productivity) and just by acquiring that mindset that will motivate you to achieve things. We all have different ways of finding inspiration, so look into what inspires you to find that energy and drive that will help you destroy that to-do list.

How do you manage to be productive at the weekend?


TRAVEL | Living the Dream in Positano, Italy

Where 'postcard landscape' definitely makes all its sense.

I am sure you will have seen photos of Positano, most likely on Instagram. The beautiful village is built on the Amalfi coast, about two hours south of Naples. As we were in the area and we had seen all the beautiful pictures of those uneven rows of colourful houses facing the sparkling blue sea, we decided to take a day trip there and experience the lush Positano with our own eyes.
I will put more details as to how to get there from Naples with public transport, but for now let me introduce you to the town by showing you the view on the way there. The bus is crowded, there's a baby crying, and you're feeling a bit dizzy from all the turns and meandering roads. And then, this is what you see out of the window:

The sights on your way to Positano are breathtaking, and already give you an idea of what you will be arriving too... Once you reach the town centre and get off the over-packed bus, the streets are yours to explore. As you turn your head to admire the town, you will find the perfect photo spot. Trust me, we spent ages there trying to get the best photos - and with that backdrop, it was easily achieved!

Once you've run out of data in your camera roll, it is time to explore. A tip: wear comfortable shoes, preferably trainers. The town is on the hillside, and you have to make your way down to reach the beach. On your way, you'll get lost in the maze of narrow streets, where colourful houses will make you go 'ooh' and 'aaah' at every corner. Also spot the little artisan shops, full of clothing or art, which, although they may not be to your fancy, definitely are part of the charm of Positano. 

From there, go all the way down to the beach. It is a small one, so expect a lot of people sunbathing or running around. In the summer, going into the water must feel great - in late March, however, I only dared dipping my feet in the sun, and it was freezing cold. But walking back and forth on the beach listening to the waves and looking at the blue water glittering in the sun was a moment of bliss. Right then, you almost forget all the people around you.

From the beach, you can take boat trips that will take you to Naples and other neighbouring towns, like Sorrento and Amalfi. The boats only come and go at certain times, so you might have to wait for your turn for a bit, but you'll be in the best place ever do just sit and wait, observing the landscape around you.
Now, let's talk about the restaurants. Those on the beach are the most expensive, with prices that are mostly ridiculous for bruschetta or pizza. My advice is to go in the little streets uphill, since most restaurants have a terrace in Positano and will allow you to enjoy the view with your lunch. My friends and I ended up in a place called La Zagara, which is more like a bar where you can have a light lunch with pizza and sandwiches, and try one of their pastries. Although they all looked amazing, I went for a classic tiramisù, and it was delicious - the second best I've had in Italy, and trust me I've had quite a few! The food is not out of this world though and the waiters could do with more welcoming manners, so if you are someone who always looks for a top experience in restaurants, this might not be the one for you. However if you're there for a light lunch, a glass of wine and a pastry, the negative sides are still really worth bearing. Especially because of La Zagara's wonderful terrace, where you'll spend your lunch with this view:

In a nutshell, Positano is a lush, beautiful town to go for a little daytrip on the Amalfi Coast. There isn't much to actually do there, but a day of wandering around, relaxing on the beach and having Italian food and drinks is about as heavenly as it could be. I high recommend a visit, if only for the breaktaking view over the coast.
To get there, hiring a car must be the fastest way, however the streets are narrow and parking must be hell. I would advise to take a bus, from the SITA company, that will take you straight there. From Naples, you have to take a train to Sorrento, and at Sorrento take a bus. However, if you are based in Sorrento or Amalfi, you can simply go by bus - or boat if you're feeling adventurous! All these options get really crowded though, so avoid Positano in the summer - we went at the end of March and the tourist ratio was about right. It is the type of place that gets crowded all the time, so bear in mind that you won't be the only ones there!

Have you ever seen photos of Positano?