Le sigh. It’s over?? Really?
I spent the month of April traveling around Europe (three weeks with Kevin, one week with my good friend Kay). We hopped around Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Croatia; explored the winding streets of Amsterdam, London, and Paris; and indulged in the pleasures and leisures of Provence. I logged up to 26,000 steps a day, drank wine at lunch (and dinner, and in between), read a ton of books, forgot what TV shows I’d been watching, and didn’t glance at my work email once. I threw my everyday to-dos (Eat healthy! Work out! Cook! Clean! Grocery shop! Be a productive member of society!) out the window and in true DGAF style, just did whatever the hell I wanted. It was, in a word, glorious.
The best part was that the entire time I felt so much more open to new experiences. My attitude was, bring it on – all of it. It was a yes to everything – yes to croissants, yes to seeing every old cathedral, yes to a jog through the polished streets of Dubrovnik. And although #vacationlife may be over (sob), I hope to bring more of that mentality into my regular life and continue to embrace the new, the different, and the “why nots” of the world.
From Bacvice Beach in Split to Hyde Park in London, the towers of Notre Dame to the crevices of the Anne Frank house, there were too many memorable moments to count. So, this is the highlights reel.
Let’s start with food. Obviously.
Best breakfast: The Happy Pig Pancake Shop, Amsterdam
Most adorable little corner shop with tons of sweet and savory rolled pancakes. I had apple, raisin, cinnamon with toasted almond slices – yum! They also have vegan and gluten-free options. (Close runner-up: every pastry I ate in France)
Best lunch: L’as du Fallafel, Paris
Gone in 60 seconds. That was the story of my insanely delicious (and cheap) falafel, eaten in the Jewish quarter of the amazing Le Marais district. Kevin’s gyros were equally fab.
Best dinner: L’Antica Trattoria, Sorrento
So much yum. A fancy (but not pretentious) three- or four-course dinner, complete with divine authentic Italian food, live music, great service, and a potential Mafioso at the table next to us.
Best pizza: Da Maria, Amalfi
We sat out on the sunny front patio, had a deliciously fresh pizza with gooey cheese – plus a bottle of white wine – and watched the passers-by down the main drag of Amalfi. Cheap, yummy, relaxing, all around bomb.
Best boozing: rosé all day, Aix-en-Provence
Provence is the birthplace of rosé. Or at least it feels like it is – crisp, blush-colored bottles line shelf after shelf of grocery and corner stores, and you can get them for 2 Euro a glass at the many sun-soaked patios that line the town’s winding streets. Heavenly.
Best workout: Path of the Gods hike, Positano
Il Sentiero degli Dei is a famous winding 3-hour hike along the Amalfi Coast with breathtaking views (and sheer cliffside drops that almost induced several panic attacks/tears from yours truly). We hiked from Praiano to Positano, starting with a 1,000 mile stair climb.
Best museum: Musee D’orsay, Paris
Obsessed. This museum is housed in a beautiful 19th century railway and boasts the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings in the world. I strolled for several blissful hours past stunning works by Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh … (Close runner-up: the Banksy and Salvador Dali exhibit at Amsterdam’s Moco Museum.)
Best otherworldly experience: The Blue Grotto, Capri
I never thought it was possible for a watery cave to actually glow. But this one does, and it's breathtaking. We paddled through the grotto mouth in a tiny rowboat (manned by a wiry Italian singing a deep baritone), then floated in awe on the sparkling, mezmerizing azure waters.
Best night out: Les Miserables, London
Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men … okay I’ll try to contain myself here but I am clearly a HUGE Les Mis fan. This show at the Queen’s Theatre exceeded my incredibly high expectations. Vive le France!
Best view: Walls of Dubrovnik
Okay, so Dubrovnik was pretty much our favorite stop of the trip (message me for more – I can go on). Medieval walls encircling breathtaking red-roofed homes, hugged on all sides by the bluer-than-blue Adriatic Sea. Look familiar? You’ve probably seen it on Game of Thrones.
Best bone-chilling experience: The Catacombs, Paris
We wound our way down a seemingly never-ending spiral staircase and deep under the streets of Paris. And behold – we entered a cavernous maze of the artfully arranged skulls and bones of over 6 million people. Creepy, fascinating, totally cool. (Runner-up: Amsterdam's Red Light district :-/ )
Best stroll: Canals of Amsterdam
This was my first time to Amsterdam, and I could NOT get enough of the fairytale cottage houses, meandering canals, tiny bridges, and bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere. Every turn brought something beautiful and new.
Best sunny afternoon: Hvar, Croatia
A lounge chair, a cold glass of white wine, my Kindle, and 80 degree temps … what more could I ask for? (Fine, fine, yes I was wearing sunscreen). The party island of Hvar served up stunning sea views, sun-soaked rooftops, and alfresco bars. #donotdisturb #outofoffice
Best day trip: Palace of Versailles, France
Where do I even begin. Versailles is like a castle on crack. Luxury upon luxury, lavish and ornate everything, pristine gardens that extend as far as the eye can see (with plenty of opportunities to eat, boat, bike, and sun). Louis and Marie definitely knew how to live the good life. (Runner-ups: the ash-preserved city of Pompeii, Italy and the charming fishing village of Cassis, France).
Best book I read: A Year in Provence
I became so obsessed with the laid-back Provencal lifestyle that I gobbled up this book in a few days. Think Under the Tuscan Sun but in France, the literary equivalent of a delicious leisurely meal. (Runner-up: Sweetbitter, a darkly tantalizing look into NYC’s restaurant industry.)