Touring Lisbon…

I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Portugal recently. After spending a few days with an old friend who was from the Sintra region, I headed into Lisbon to spend a few days with HouseTrip and a few other travel bloggers. There is not a doubt in my mind that HouseTrip went out of their way when they researched the fantastic tours they book us on and to mention our perfectly sized 7 bedroom apartment in a quieter part of downtown.

Lisbon

To start the fun, we had the opportunity to ride around town in a bit of style. The unusual site of motorcycles with side cars got more stares and cheers and smiles then I have seen in a long time! It was a great and fin way to tour the city without exhausting our feet. We set off while the sun was up, had the great opportunity to watch the sun set with an amazing view of the city and eat gelato by the river.

Lisbon

Lisbon

On our only full day as a group, we had what was suppose to be a 3-4 hour walking tour. Well, lets put it this way, you put a group of travel bloggers together, expect to go at their pace, not the tour guides! Our tour lasted 7 hours and ended with our tour guide dropping us off at one of the most popular chicken restaurants in the city. I give the most respect to our tour guide Paulo and would recommend him to anyone looking for an enjoyable wander around Lisbon. The evening ended with an enjoyable and delicious dinner and a famous Fado restaurant. The music was very moving and a great experience to have had.

Sintra

Our final day took us on a bus tour. This tour didn’t stop anywhere for long, but drove us past all the major sites that one wouldn’t want to miss with limited time to see everything. We journeyed from Lisbon to Sintra, End of the World, Cascia and back to Lisbon while eating and drinking local flavors along the way.

End of the world

What a fantastic way to spend a few days busing around a new city. Thanks HouseTrip for the invitation and all the planning put in. Along with the fantastic apartment that managed to hold us all very comfortably, thanks Sidecar Touring for such a fun way to see the city, thanks Intrepid Tours & Paulo for a great day out, and thanks We Hate Tourism Tours for a great past paced way to see a lot in a small time.

Trolley in Lisbon

Interesting Links

HouseTrip

Sidecar Touring

Lisbon Urban Adventure Tour with Intrepid Tours

We Hate Tourism Tours

Although I was a guest of HouseTrip all of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Rest and Relaxation in Florence

Florence, Italy

Everyone travel’s a bit differently. I like to be on the go, but I also like to have a bit of downtime in my travels. I recently attended a Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Umbria, Italy. Between 2 blog trips and a conference, I was exhausted! Nine days of full on go, go, go! It was a fantastic conference preceded by a great time in Rome and followed by being treated like royalty throughout Umbria. By the time I made it to Florence all I wanted was some down time. And down time is what I got! It never occurred to me how exhausted I would be by the time I got there. Fortunately Florence is a great city to relax in. Sure there is loads of stuff to see and do, and I did a fair bit of walking and seeing. But I didn’t visit any museums, no city tours, no wine tasting. Just me and my camera. I wandered the beautiful streets of Florence, hiked up to watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangiolo, and relaxed in my great apartment with the amazing view!

Florence, Italy

A big thanks to House Trip for helping to organize my stay while in Florence. I had a beautiful apartment, with an amazing roof top view of the city. A full one bedroom with a living room, kitchen and dining room. The bed was so comfy and I slept so well, that I ended up taking 2 naps! Of course I was only in Florence for a limited time, so I couldn’t waste away all my time sleeping and relaxing on my veranda overlooking the beautiful city, but I sure did spend a fair amount of time there. The owner of the apartment, Eleonora, couldn’t have been sweeter. She was so friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed her list of must see, do’s and eats while in her home city! I ate at a restaurant she recommended, I ate at her favorite gelato shop, and I even walked a few streets on both sides of the city that she had mapped out for me.

Florence, Italy

Although House Trip did sponsor my lodging, the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Interesting Links:

House Trip, Apartments in Florence and worldwide

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The colors of a Roman Market

Markets and Photography seem to go hand in hand. At least inside my head! I love the colors and the smells and atmosphere of fresh food markets. I was recently in Rome and thanks to House Trip for hosting me in Rome, and Context Travel for arranging our market tour followed by our cooking lesson with Eleonora. I had an amazing tour of a locals market in Rome. Our wonderful guide, Eleonora Baldwin took us on a tour through the Mercato Trionfale, the market where Roman’s do their shopping! Afterwards we had a cooking lesson and enjoyed a big group lunch, to read more about that read my Living & Eating Like a Local…in Rome blog!

Fruit’s & Veggie’s

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Cheese

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture, Cheese

Meat

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Fish

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Prepared Food

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Packaged Food (and don’t forget the wine!)

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

All opinions in this post are my own.

Interesting Links:

House Trip, Apartments in Rome and worldwide

Context Travel, Tours in Rome and worldwide

Eleonora Baldwin, Italian Culinary Adventures

Mercato Trionfale, Roman Market Place

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Living & Eating Like a Local in Rome!

Rome like a local. It’s so refreshing to return to a city i have been to, but be able to absorb a new side of it. Having been to Rome many times before i was looking forward to “living Rome like a local” with House Trip. I was really excited to see Rome from a different angle and it was well worth it!

Woman in Rain, Rome, Italy

To start with, my fantastic host Ryan Levitt with House Trip made me feel right at home as soon as I arrived at my apartment. House Trip currently have 848 properties in Rome to choose from with prices starting from £23/night. They also offer over 92K rentals worldwide. I am totally converted and might never stay in a hotel again! Our group in Rome were spread among three separate apartments in three distinct areas on the city. A very large apartment, with an amazing view of the Colosseum, a simple one bedroom apartment with a bit of class located in the Trastevere neighborhood, and the final apartment near Campi di Firoe with low ceilings with wooden beans. All three were well maintained and very comfy. I stayed in an apartment in Trastevere, the area is full of life. There are several universities in the area and the streets are lined with cafe’s and restaurants and full of locals. Upon arrival and after settling in Kirsten Alana, my roommate for the duration of my time in Rome, and I took to wandering the area, eating gelato and enjoying the crowds of locals in the neighborhood.

Gelato in Rome, Italy

Apartments in Rome:

The beautifully and spaciousness apartment with an amazing view of the Colosseum. (From £297 GBP / USD $454 / €358 per night)

Trastevere apartment, a true living like a local feeling, away from the crowded tourist attractions! (From £117 GBP / USD $186 / €141 per night)

Beautiful low beamed ceiling apartment near Campo di Fiori with a traditional rustic feel. (From £185 GBP / USD $295 / €223 per night)

Kirsten Alana & Angie Orth, Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Kirsten Alana & Angie Orth sitting in the Colosseum Apartment window!

Food, Food, and more Food!

Starting off at a coffee shop with an espresso and pastry early in the morning, we grouped for our market tour. I am a huge market fan, I love the colors, the smells, watching people go about their normal daily shopping routines. Our guide Eleonora walked us though the market sharing all types of details with us while we picked up items that were needed for our lunch that afternoon. The smells and the tastes were heavenly. It is so easily to get lost in a place like this! We eventually made our way back to the apartment near the Colosseum where we enjoyed a cooking lesson taught by Eleonora our guide, followed by my favorite, our big group lunch!

Lunch at Pierluigi, Rome, Italy

After an afternoon full of busy work and relaxing, we headed out for a guided dinner. We regrouped at a small family restaurant near the Pantheon called, Armando al Pantheon. The food was fanatic! Our guide Gina, as well as the chef, spoke to us about the dishes served to us. We had something like 7 or 8 courses, pastas, meats, buffalo mozzarella, vegetables, and a fantastic desert they called tiramisu, however it was nothing like any tiramisu I have ever had before. Gina was full of information to share with us about the history of food in Rome and the amazing food we were eating.

Cooking Lesson lunch with Eleonora, Rome, Italy

Both of these tours brought out a side of Rome I had never experienced before. Food. I have always travelled on such a small budget, normally sharing a pizza and never having more than a single course at any given meal. I will admit that my favorite of the three meals was the lunch we ate near Campo di Fiori at Pierluigi, this was not a guided lunch, but we had some fantastic dishes. It was a perfect end, filled with amazing food, fantastic people and great conversation!

Guided dinner with Gina, Armando al Pantheon, Rome, Italy

A big thanks to Context Travel for arranging our guided market tour and our guided dinner! They arrange tours in cities around the world. And of course I want to thank House Trip for inviting me on this adventure. All opinions in this post are my own.

Interesting Links:

House Trip, Apartments in Rome and worldwide

Context Travel, Tours in Rome and worldwide

Eleonora Baldwin, Italian Culinary Adventures

Gina Tringali, Food & Travel Writer

Armando al Pantheon Restaurant

Pierluigi Restaurant

Kirsten Alana, Aviators and a Camera

Angie Orth, Angie Away

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Returning to Rome

I will admit, Rome in the past has not one of my favorite cities. It’s beautiful and historic, it’s big and it’s busy. To me it’s just another busy city where locals don’t have time for tourists, and tourists infest the city in groves. However, I continue to return to Rome, because i love Italy. Arriving at the airport this time, no one smiled, even my driver didn’t say anything to me except for “wait here” and “bye”. The first smile I saw was on Ryan’s (my HouseTrip.com host) face when I had finally reached my apartment.

Enjoying a city has just as much to do with the people you are surrounded by. The first time I was ever in Rome, I was in a hostel with these giggly girls I didn’t know, I did manage to find a friendly face to wander the streets with on my first night. She was studying in Copenhagen for a semester and came to Rome during her spring break. We ran into a young fellow, also studying abroad in Europe at the time, he was literally just passing though Rome for the night on his way back to wherever it was. Although I do not remember their names all these years later, we did have a great time laughing together on the Spanish Steps. The rest of that trip was uneventful and full of tourist sites. The year after that adventure, I stopped through town for a night with my boyfriend, we did all the same attractions again, and honestly, weren’t in town for more then about 14 hours and that included sleeping, I was so ready to get back out of town.

This time, my hopes are a lot higher. Mostly because of the people I will be spending my time here with. The group of us are all travel bloggers/photographers and the activities lines up aren’t the run of the mill everyday tourist activities. The idea is to “live like a local” thanks to HouseTrip.com! Most exciting is my roomie Kirsten Alana (pictured below next to the smallest car we have seen while eating gelato!

kirsten alana gelato italy

More adventures to follow soon!

Interesting links:

HouseTrip.com

Kirsten Alana, Aviators and a Camera

Dave & Deb, The Planet D

Angie Orth, Angie Away

Laurel Robbins, Monkeys and Mountains

Andrea, Destination Europe

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