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Category Archives: Advice

Carrie’s Friend-ey Trip to Italia!

[Disclaimer: I apologize for having some trouble with photo uploading in this post.  Please CLICK on photos to make them bigger!]

Buongiorno!  Guess what?  I’ve been traveling across the pond again!  I never expected I would get back over to Europe so soon after our fall backpacking trip, but a combination of a friend studying in Rome plus a super-cheap-flight was too good to resist! Sadly, Zach couldn’t get out of work to join me for this one.  Instead my travel companions were Kelsey and Colton (a long-time friend and her awesome boyfriend).  Together we teamed up to find our mutual friend Amanda in Roma!  Having a friend already know the city and speak Italian made our trip so much easier!  We didn’t plan a lot ahead of time and relied on Amanda to show us the sights.  She was the best tour guide ever!  On our first day in the city, after sleeping off enough of our jet lag to be functional, she gave us a whirlwind, 22-mile walking tour of so many famous spots!

First we stopped at La Bocca della Verità (“the mouth of truth”), located outside the church Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  This ancient sculpture of the god Oceanus has been used as a “lie detector” since the Middle Ages.  Apparently if you tell a lie with your had in the mouth, the god will bite your hand off!  I don’t know, but I didn’t try it…

Italia

Italia

This small church had some throw-backs to the pagan practice of skull-worshipping.  The supposed skull of Saint Valentine is even enshrined there!

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Next we climbed the Aventine Hill to Rome’s famous Orange Garden.  We found a great view of the city and the Tiber River (“Tevere” in Italian) up here!

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On top of the hill is Basilica di Santa Sabina, another small, old church with a beautiful pastel-colored ceiling.

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Also up there is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a UN-recognized sovereign state and the world’s oldest existing chivalrous order.  Woah!  I had never even heard of these guys, so learning the history was mind-boggling!  Rome has so many ancient secrets!  The Knights of Malta don’t allow visitors, so all you can do is peek through a tiny keyhole into the garden of their church headquarters, Basilica di Santa Maria del Priorato.  When you do, you get a very awesome and surprising view!

St. Peter’s Basilica seen through the Aventine Keyhole (Source: Wikipedia)

One of my favorite things about Rome was the super-old but still-maintained free water fountains all over the city.  Clean, fresh, cold aquifer water!  Amazing!

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Ice cream and snack trucks for tourists were also abundant.  (Sorry for the stupid spot on my lens in this photo!)

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Down the hill we went to the famous Circus Maximus chariot racetrack.  It’s basically just a field now.  We still had some fun reenacting the races.

 Italia

Italia

What would a trip to Rome be without the epic Colisseum?  It was thronged with tourists, of course, and we opted not to go inside.  The beast of a structure is definitely impressive enough from the outside!

Italia

Italia

And with that, I’m only about halfway through our marathon Rome day, so check back tomorrow for the rest of day one!

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Hotel Sherazade in Marrakech, Morocco

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Hotel Sherazade in Marrakesh provides a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere with rooms that fit any budget!  Its location in the heart of the Medina just a couple minutes’ walk from Djemaa al Fna (the main square) is perfect for both exploring and finding your way back home!

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Central courtyard

Hotel Sherazade takes its form from a gorgeous old “riad” building- a traditional Moroccan home consisting of an open courtyard with fountain surrounded by different types of rooms on several levels.  The roof provides chairs for sunbathing, a chill space with pillows and shade, and a stellar view of the medina’s rooftops.  Sip some rejuvenating mint tea and catch up on your journal-writing up here after a long day spent getting lost in Marrakesh’s chaos.

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Rooftop hangout

King-size suite

King-size suite

Run by a German-Morroccan family and their friendly, English-speaking staff, the hotel can also help you arrange tours and excursions to other great destinations in the region.  The third-floor terrace has a cozy breakfast room and patio with a daily breakfast buffet that will only set you back 50 Dirhams ($1=8DH).  Half and full board are also available add-ons.  The WiFi is fast and reliable, and the showers are hot!  Private suites are the most luxurious rooms, while less pricey shared-bathroom doubles are still richly decorated with soft mattresses.

Services Included:

WiFi

Hot water

Continental breakfast buffet (50 DH)

Air-conditioning or fans in rooms

Tourist information available

Address: Derb Djama 3, Riad Zitoun l’kedim Marrakech-Medina

Email: sherazade8@gmail.com

Website: www.hotelsherazade.com

Prices:

With A/C and private bathroom: 500-640DH depending on type of beds and number of guests

With fan and private bathroom: 220-500DH depending on type of beds and number of guests

Fan/shared bathroom single: 180DH

Fan/shared bathroom double: 230DH

Half board: 150DH

Full board: 250DH

 

Lisbon, and how to not fight with your travel buddy

There comes a point in every trip, when you’re traveling with just one companion, that you may start pushing each other’s buttons a bit.  Especially once the novelty of travel has worn off and the annoyances of living out of a backpack, worrying about money and buses and rain, and walking endless miles every day start to seem more acute.

This point for us came in Lisboa (“Lisbon”, in English).  We had been rocking through one big city after another and maybe we were more tired than we realized.  You’ve probably been there.  Suddenly, getting lost isn’t fun anymore, and then one of you is hungry but you can’t agree on where to eat, and then you stop being patient, and then “WHERE ARE WE GOING????  WHY ARE WE STILL WANDERING AROUND THIS TOWN LOOKING FOR FOOD AT SIESTA TIMIE??????  I’M GOING TO EAT MY ARM AND THEN I’M GOING TO FLY HOME WITHOUT YOU!!!!!”  Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you see what I mean.

How do you deal with frustration on the road?  For us, I think it’s a matter of space.  No matter how much we love each other, we both need some alone time, which is hard to create when you are literally spending every waking AND sleeping moment together!  It helps to let each other off the hook from being social every now and then.  Read a book at a cafe instead of trying to talk all the time!  Go running or for a walk by yourself!  Just do some yoga in the hostel room while the other person surfs the internet.  Escape into your own thoughts every now and then and don’t stress about always being “on” for the other person.  Also, get some rest!!!  It helps us to have a lazy day every once in awhile, where we just catch up on planning, blog stuff, and reading instead of traipsing around in the sun all day.  Usually any rainy day is a good excuse for a rest!

Communication is also key.  We often fall into the trap of expecting the other to read our mind, since we know each other so well.  But that’s not fair.  You have to constantly communicate your needs when traveling, unless your partner really is psychic.  Otherwise you end up with, “How was I supposed to know you weren’t in the mood to wander aimlessly right now, isn’t that what we do every day?”

That being said, most of the time we are pretty cool with each other on the road.  We’re always learning how to communicate and take care of ourselves better.  Traveling together can definitely make or break a relationship and I highly recommend you try it before settling down!

Without further ado, here is Lisboa, which was really big, really tiring, but really beautiful too!

Cool surfboard design on the front of the modern art museum

Cool surfboard design on the front of the modern art museum. The museum is FREE and has some really funky stuff!

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Praça do Comércio in Baixa- the central neighborhood

View from the top of the Alfama

View from the top of the Alfama

Awesome samba band playing for tips!

Awesome samba band playing for tips!

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The plaza at night

The plaza at night

Lisbon has fun yellow trolley cars and amazing graffiti everywhere

Lisbon has fun yellow trolley cars and amazing graffiti everywhere

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Bairro Alto has beautiful architecture and great cafes

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Torre de Belém, the city’s most famous cathedral

Lisbon has an unending supply of gorgeous views, great food, and happy nightlife.  I hope we’ll be back to explore more someday!