BootsnAll Travel Network

About Travel Bella

I have started this blog to muse about my love for travel, especially European travel. I will write about my travels in it - past, present and future. Since I'm not a fan of writing long-hand, I feel the journals that have accompanied me on past trips have never ended up being as full of my thoughts and impressions as I want them to be. Typing is much faster and this blog will be full of all the things from my travels I never want to forget and that I hope any readers will enjoy as well. I will also use it simply to write about any travel related things that pop into my head. That's what a blog is for, right? I chose Travel Bella for the name of my blog because last time I was in Italy my sister bought one of those t-shirts that says Ciao Bella on it and I thought it was cute, and it popped into my head when I was designing this blog - hence, the name. Here's to more beautiful travels!

Discovering Cinque Terre

January 20th, 2008

It’s hard to believe now, but five years ago I had never heard of Cinque Terre. My friend and I were sitting in the dining area of our hostel in Florence, going over our itinerary for our jaunt down to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, after which we’d head up to Milan with a pit stop in Pisa before returning home. We were trying to decide what hostel in Milan to grace with our presence when a guy plopped down across the table from us. We’d never seen him before, but that didn’t matter because in youth hostels everyone becomes instant friends. It is a law of the traveling backpacker. So we told him where we were headed. “No, no, no,” he said in dismay. “You have to cut out Milan – it’s just fashion and business people, anyway – and go to the Cinque Terre.” To which we responded in confusion, “um…Chingkay what?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Croatian Agriturismo

January 12th, 2008

When you’re traveling I can’t recommend staying in an agriturismo enough. Agriturismos are farms that offer accommodation to travelers. Usually, you can partake in part of the daily farm activities as well. Some, of course, are better than others, but if you’re lucky you’ll find one that is extremely affordable and really lets you experience the culture of another country.

The one my family and I stayed at in Croatia was pure bliss. We chose it because it was the only place we could find that seemed to be right where my great-grandma grew up. It was crazily cheap and we figured it could end up being wonderful and saving us lots of money or it could be an absolute disaster. We took the gamble. And it paid off.

After getting a bit lost trying to find it, we asked a lady and her young son if they knew how to get there. After following the son’s directions (he spoke English, the mom didn’t) we ended up driving down a long driveway. My grandpa, being a farmer, immediately took interest in the small plots of various crops surrounding us on either side. Ahead of us, at the end of the driveway, stood a stately, 3-story, light green villa.

“This can’t be right,” Mom muttered. “That looks like someone’s house.”

“Great, we’re lost again,” Angela sighed. She was the one made to ask the last people for directions, and was probably worried we’d all vote her to ask the next people too. And sure enough…

“Hey, look, there’s a guy right there,” I pointed as we got closer to the house. “Let’s ask him if he knows where we are.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ummm…I Don’t Know About This Place

January 6th, 2008

It was our last night in Belgrade so Ana and Borko insisted that they take us out on the town – ok, they didn’t have to do too much insisting. They were excited because it was the first time they’d been out since having their daughter a year ago, and Ang and I were excited because we’d heard and read all about how great the nightlife is in Belgrade.

As we walked through the lively downtown area of the city, we noticed that every bar had numerous outdoor tables and most of them were full of people. Borko explained that no one sits indoors at the bars in Belgrade, even in winter – they just bring out heaters when the temperature starts to drop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Driving in Santorini

January 4th, 2008

Oh, the joys of driving in another country. I try to avoid it.

I don’t even like driving in America, let alone a foreign country. I’ll just take the train, thank you very much.

But there I was in Santorini with a free car rental (it came with my hotel room) so, being the budget traveler I am, I decided it would be a waste not to use it. I ignored the thought nibbling at my brain that if I hit something, it would no longer be much of a bargain as the car rental guy so nicely explained there was a 500 euro deductible on the rental insurance. Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the Reasons I Love the English

January 2nd, 2008

My sister Angela and I were returning to Alnwick, a town in England where we had each spent a separate semester studying, after an afternoon of shopping in Newcastle.

As we left Newcastle, we made sure to take the 505 bus since it is much faster getting back to Alnwick than the 516. Plus, it was my cousin-in-law’s birthday so we wanted to get back in time for her party.

So we got on the upper level of the 505 double decker bus a little after four in the afternoon. We were about three miles outside of Newcastle (which, let me add, is only 25 miles from Alnwick) on the freeway, when the bus slows way down. Ang and I were a bit confused, but then the bus started speeding up again, so we went back to discussing our Topshop and H&M purchases. Not for long though, because about a minute later, the bus started slowing down again and this time the bus driver pulled over to the side of the freeway and stopped. Read the rest of this entry »

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No Problem

January 1st, 2008

Bacina, Croatia is a small coastal village located about half way between Split and Dubrovnik. It is where my great-grandma spent the first fourteen years of her life before moving to America with her family. Of us five travelers (Mom, Granny and Grandpa, my sister Angela, and me) only one of us had been there before. My mom, who had traveled there thirty-two years earlier with my great-grandma – the only time she ever returned to her birth place.

We were staying at an agriturismo in a neighboring village to Bacina called Peracko Blato. Within five minutes of getting there, we learned two things about Croatians:

1. Everything to them is “no problem.”
2. They are very bossy (but in a good way!)

Angela and I had just dragged our suitcases up the stairs to our room when Pero, the son of the couple who owned the house we were staying at, appeared.

“Are you hungry?” he asked, thrusting a basket of apricots toward us. “I apologize we have no figs right now.”

“I’ve never had a fig,” I said. “What do they taste like?” I had momentarily forgotten about the Fig Newtons I’d eaten my whole life.

His face registered complete shock. Ang and I both giggled at his bewilderment over this statement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting to Croatia

January 1st, 2008

Croatia is not an easy place to get to. At least not the way I traveled there.

In June of this year I did a two week trip with my mom, sister, and grandparents to Belgrade, Italy, and Croatia to visit the birthplaces of my great-grandparents and meet European family and friends.

Since we decided to go from Belgrade to Croatia, we ran into some difficulties. Read the rest of this entry »

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