Chilled Mountains in Bolzano Bozen, North Italy

My train hurtled through a valley resting between stunning mountains. The air felt fresher already and I could see the snow-capped mountains of Austria in the distance.

The view from Barbara’s backyard

I was visiting an Italian friend that I’d met while doing my scuba diving course on the Great Barrier Reef a year ago. Barbara had just arrived home only a week ago after finishing a year of travelling Australia. Great timing!
She lives in a really interesting part of Italy in the most northern part called South Tyrol. What makes it different to the rest of Italy is that Tyrol used to be under the rule of Austria until only about one hundred years ago, before Italy took control. It still retains much of its German ancestry and ways. German is the native spoken language here with Italian second. It even has its’ own version of Oktoberfest which is so cool! I only just missed out on the festival by one day which was a bummer though. The food is a mixture combining the best of each culture. The majority of signs and street names are in both German and Italian.
Best of all, it’s just naturally beautiful with being surrounded by tall green mountains covered in vineyards. I was even lucky enough to have perfect weather with blue sunny skies for my stay.
I got to sleep all alone in a spare bedroom at Barbara’s family home. It was such a treat! The next day we drove up into the mountains and did a short hike to a lovely cabin restaurant. We ate too much superb German/Italian food (hint: real Italian bacon is amazing), and then relaxed on lounger chairs with blankets admiring the view.
A lake at the bottom. And Barbara’s favourite place to swim in summer
Love the blankets! And the view
Cheesy grins!
Cute llamas at the restaurant
And a bunny!
We wandered back down after a surprising amount of hours passed and back to Barbara’s house. For dinner that night, I learned how to make a really easy and delicious Italian pizza. The crispy mozzarella cheese on top was to die for.
I was sad to leave the next morning. Barbara’s family had been so generous in hosting me. I really loved learning about Italian stuff and home life from a native, and being shown what to eat and drink.  It was surprising to find out that there is more to Italian food than just pizza and pasta. It was quite an eye-opener.
It was time to head south though. After running out of time in Spain, I was trying to be a lot more time-conscious this time to maximise my time in Italy which meant planning more than a day in advance (ick!) and some long travel distances (ick again!). I had a long day of travelling ahead of me as I was heading all the way down to Florence. I was using Blablacar (like ride share) again as it was so economical price-wise compared to the trains.
I gave Barbara a hug and three cheek kisses as is the Italian custom, and hopped into my Blablacar.
View from the cabin restaurant. Can’t get it out of my mind. Was so stunning and vividly green. Photos don’t do it justice

Exploring Naples Underground and the Island of Capri, South Italy – Part 2

I was exhausted after my previous day spent climbing volcanoes and wandering the massive Pompeii site. That day had been twelve hours total of sightseeing, trains and not a huge amount of sitting around. The next day had to be slightly less active. At least a little bit.

During Giovanni’s check-in speech to his hostel, he suggests many things to see and do in Naples itself, and highlights streets to walk in a really logical path to see most of them. Amongst the hostel guests, we officially christened it Giovanni’s Walk.
After a leisurely lie-in, I was on my way.
-Duomo Church
Wow just look at the detail on the ceiling. And very unusual, this church was not dark or dusty at all on the inside
-Street of puppets
The whole street was full of funky shops like this with puppets, masks and dollhouses
-Museo Sansevero Capella (contains some of the most amazing Italian statue works)
No photos allowed inside but this is the most famous craving – the veiled Jesus Christ. Image from This museum is a must-see on your Naples visit
-Underground Naples Tour
Really blurry as my fancy camera does suck on low light situations. But the underground tour consisted of going through rather claustrophobic catacomb tunnels with a candle. Very fun! The tunnels are so narrow that you have to turn your shoulders sideways to fit
Relics from the people who used to live down here 
-Old Theatre Tour
I didn’t take any photos, and Google doesn’t really have any decent shots. But it was an ancient amphitheatre that had Naples apartments built all through and around it until you could hardly see it any more. Part of the tour included going into an old lady’s house where she had a secret trapdoor under her bed that led into the backstage area of the theatre. She used it as a wine cellar.
-Walking around the harbour
I do so love photographing kayakers. But hm those clouds look rather ominous..
Then the rain started. I hid in cafés and watched the rain drops thwacking the ground. I didn’t have my raincoat with me as the day had started off so blue and sunny. I also on principle, refused to buy an umbrella from the street hawkers who always seem to have ponchos and umbrellas appear magically out of thin air as soon as the rain starts ready to sell. The umbrellas are always overpriced and cheaply made. I had planned to go see more like the viewpoint above Naples and the Archaeological museum that contains many of the mosaics from Pompeii.. But the rain wouldn’t stop. There would be brief dry patches so I could scurry towards the closest metro and make my way back to the hostel.
Then a group of us made the day better by going out for really delicious pizza and wine. Well I had wine while everyone else had beer.
Not a great photo but trust me, it was DELICIOUS
The next day I caught the ferry to an island called Capri. I did have some issues getting there in that Naples Port is really confusing. It is huge and there is almost no signage that points the way to the ticket office. Of which there is more than one office to make it more confusing. I had gotten up early specially to catch a cheap ferry, but failed to even find the right ticket office in time to buy my ticket. All it meant was that I paid €20 for ticket to get there rather than just the €11 I had planned, as a ferry leaves almost every hour for Capri. And missed out on a sleep-in.
Capri was very nice. But also very crowded and touristy. I was surprised by the sheer volume of tour groups arriving in big numbers. I also couldn’t see a tourist information office, so once I arrived, well I wasn’t too sure what to go see. I do enjoy minimal planning while travelling as it does make it more fun and spontaneous. It does backfire sometimes but mostly it works out fine. It’s much less stressful than you’d think. I get to do a lot more casual wandering around, and drinking coffee in cafés with wifi planning the next activity, and asking locals for their advice. Hostels are usually very good at suggesting what to go see. Even my accommodation I usually only book a day in advance. Transport I usually book only 5-10 minutes before it leaves. But I will look up the times and approximate prices of each type the night before just to facilitate maximum sleeping-in. Unless I am using Blablacar as that requires a little more forethought. But the best part is it means I can be very flexible with changing my mind about the next destination.
But anyway I digress. My Capri day comprised mainly of relaxing on the beach, some wandering around, and a boat tour of the entire island with a visit to neat little cave called the Blue Grotto.
A neat arch rock formation. And yes my boat went through the hole too
The blue grotto was the coolest part of the day I have to admit. Although I did discover that I took the expensive method of getting there with my boat tour. It is possible to bus there from the main Capri port and then join a really long queue on the steps leading down to the water. But it meant I got to see the rock formations and some other caves around the island. It just wasn’t as beautiful as Lagos though so I felt a little bored after a while.
The small rower boats heading into the blue grotto
The rowers sang in Italian inside the cave. See how crazy blue the water is?
My boat gave a ‘lift’ to the rowers on the way back to the Capri Port
I caught another €20 ferry back to Naples pretty soon after that. Arriving into Naples, it was really pissing down with rain. Much worse than yesterday. It was like the sky had broken open and a waterfall was pouring out. I was glad I had my raincoat with me. There was a café close to the terminal that I took shelter in along with a good fifty other people also off the boat. I think I was trapped there for over 45 minutes until the rain eased off enough to run back to my hostel. At least the cafe had wifi and cheap coffee.
I couldn’t stay long at my hostel however. Once I dried off and swapped my sodden dress for dry clothing, it was time to head back to the ferry port. This time I took a taxi since I had all my luggage and electronics with me. The rain had stopped by then but I wasn’t taking any chances. After another very confusing process of finding where I was meant to check in at the port (it didn’t help that my taxi dropped me off at the wrong terminal office), I hopped onto my third ferry for the day. A much bigger one the size of a cruise ship this time. I settled into my cozy cabin and got ready to sleep for my overnight journey to Sicily.

Where I stayed: Giovanni’s Home
Price: €20 a night in an 8 bed dorm
Overall: Fantastic hostel. Giovanni is a very lovely man filled with passion for Naples. He is great at giving lots of ideas and recommendations for what to do and see, and as guests of the hostel, there was often a small discount for a lot of the attractions. He would often just randomly cook up a big delicious pasta meal for free for all the guests, and even took me for a ride on his motorcycle to show me what Naples looks like at nighttime. His hostel was considered one of the top ten in the world in 2012.