Hannah Drake

Casa Alma in Vietri sul Mare

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I mentioned before that we chose to stay in Vietri sul Mare during our time on the Amalfi Coast. Early on in our planning process, we tossed around the idea of getting a nice hotel during one of our stops and strongly considered doing the fancy honeymoon while we were on the coast. As we started planning, we felt it just made more sense (especially financially) to get an Airbnb in one of the lesser known towns. Since we were planning on renting a car no matter what, it was really no problem at all. In the end, I found Casa Alma in Vietri sul Mare, which is part of number of different rooms run by the same family.

WHAT WE LOVED ABOUT CASA ALMA

Being so high up made for some FANTASTIC views. We were wrapped in mountains on all sides and had a sweeping view of the ocean below. The views from the patio out front were unobstructed, and since it was so high up, we felt secluded.

The room was part of a bigger house with a number of rooms, think a motel with doors on the outside, but major B&B vibes. In fact, they might even operate as a B&B (called Casa Flora) outside of Airbnb but I’m not positive. It was a quiet space and we weren’t really aware of the other guests, except for when our immediate neighbours were sitting out on the shared patio. Each room seemed to have its own patio space as well and we definitely took advantage of that, especially for breakfast!

The room was big and really nice. The bed was so comfortable and massive. One night we actually brought in the glass tabletop from outside and put it on the bed so we could play Catan. Even with the table on there, we both could have slept on the bed still.

Despite the hills, it was really walkable to the the smaller village down below. We walked down there just about every day to get food at the little local shops. Most mornings, we actually had cheese, meat, olives, bread, and peaches for breakfast. Even though it’s not a typical breakfast, I loved it!

The land the house was on was so lovely. They had lemon and lime trees and a whole orchard off to the side with some other tables and chairs where the guests could hang out.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT CASA ALMA

The parking situation wasn’t the best. We had to park off the main road, which sometimes proved difficult to find a spot. We had quite a hike to get up to the house, including a number of flights of stairs, so it wasn’t that easy when we had our bags when we were checking in and checking out.

We were slightly disappointed that there wasn’t a kitchen, but there were dishes and cutlery, glasses & mugs, a kettle, and some other things that made it easy for us to have some food, but not do any serious cooking. Of course that was our own fault for not booking somewhere with a full (or even mini) kitchen and then forgetting that we hadn’t. Whoops! It was also a bit weird only have a glass divider on one side of the toilet. It wasn’t exactly what we were used to, but it was fine in the end and we did get a peek into some of the other rooms while the doors were opened and noticed they were different than ours.

VIETRI SUL MARE

The day after our boat tour, we decided to take it easy and hang out at our Airbnb. We read, played Catan (which we took in a bag instead of in the big box) and other games, I even worked a little bit on my blog. It was nice to just chill out for a day after quite a few busy days exploring Italy.

That evening, we drove into the main town for dinner and found a great place with outdoor seating. We had to get our daily pizza in! Though, I ordered shrimp pasta that had the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen, and we each had half of each. (Plus half a bottle of wine each.) An American couple sat down at the table right next to us and I so badly wanted to ask them which state they were from, but I chickened out.

Vietri sul Mare in particular is known for their ceramics so before and after dinner, we popped in and out of the ceramic shops, trying to decide what to buy as a souvenir. Everything was so gorgeous, but we had to be practical in terms of what we could pack in our suitcase with a low risk of breaking. Most shops in Vietri sul Mare and in fact all along the Amalfi Coast offer shipping, but we didn’t want to pay for it to get a bigger item. Although I would have loved some of those bigger pots for our future garden! In the end, we chose a honey drizzler that has a ceramic end with a painted bumblebee and a lemon ornament for our Christmas tree.

After dinner, we explored a little more of the town even though it was dark. Unfortunately we didn’t do a ton of research about the area and because it was dark, we couldn’t see much. But everything we did see was beautiful and charming. It was so much less crowded than the towns we had visited the day before, which was really nice.

WHERE WE ATE

We had breakfast at our Airbnb every morning we were there and just got groceries at the local shops on the main road below where we were staying. The shops were all cash-only, but had great fresh produce, fresh bread, and a variety of meat and cheese options.

The night we had dinner in town, we ate at Da Nando. Luke ordered a margherita pizza, of course, and I ordered shrimp scampi. We split a bottle of red wine.

WHAT TO WEAR ON THE AMALFI COAST

I decided to include this section for any ladies planning a trip to Italy in the late summer or early autumn. You might remember from my boat tour post that I recommended light, breathable clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Vietri sul Mare is essentially the same, thought the main town isn’t quite as hilly as Positano, for instance, whereas it was hillier out near our Airbnb.

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Why I'm Done Travelling for Instagram

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If you’ve been around here for a while, you might know that we went to Italy for about 10 days in September for our honeymoon. You might not have noticed at all though and I don’t blame you. For someone who shares their life on social media and a blog, for someone who lists travel and taking photos as hobbies, I’ve been so uninspired to share anything about our trip. Yes, I’m finally starting to share blog posts about our time in Italy, but I was dragging my feet for months when it came to even thinking about our honeymoon. But I’m finally ready to come clean about why I’ve only posted a handful of photos on Instagram and why it took me about six months to start looking through the literally thousands of photos I took or even think about trying to recap our trip in any form for even my own benefit.

We had a really wonderful week and a half in Italy and we are really lucky that we were able to take that trip thanks to saving for it (would definitely recommend a delayed honeymoon) and getting the time off work. I 100% know that. But there were a lot of things about our trip that failed to meet my expectations and there were a few things that down right sucked.

...a lot of our trip was driven by my desire of wanting to get the perfect Insta.

If I’m being completely honest, a lot of our trip was driven by my desire of wanting to get the perfect Insta. I was the actual embodiment of doing it for the ‘Gram. We booked five days on the Amalfi Coast and we were probably both over it by the end of the second day. I so badly wanted to go to all those villages hanging off the side of the mountains above the ocean and get the photo that all the other girls on Instagram have. And in a lot of ways, that kind of ruined my trip.

The Amalfi Coast and Capri are beautiful parts of the world. They’re so picturesque and absolutely breathtaking in real life. But that whole idea of wandering around in a flowy maxi dress, the perfect straw hat, and pretty much any shoe other than sneakers is the definition of Instagram BS. They’re completely overrated for what Instagram has turned them into and I don’t really want to contribute to that façade of Instagrammable destinations anymore. And by the way, those places are so beautiful because they’re built into mountains. If you want to go somewhere, you have to H I K E there. You’re sweating your face off even at the end of September and bumping into strangers who are probably sweatier than you. It’s not relaxing. It’s not picture-perfect. It’s probably not very hygienic.

At the end of the trip, we spent three days in Rome and absolutely fell in love with the city. I would go back to Rome for a month right now if I could. There were some things that went totally wrong in Rome too and I know that’s just a part of travelling, especially to a foreign country. But our time there was exponentially more enjoyable. Looking back, we both wish we had switched those blocks of the trip around: three days on the Coast, five days in Rome. (Just an FYI that will forever be my recommendation if you ever ask me for Italy tips.)

I think in the time that has passed since our trip, I’ve almost tried to put it out of my mind. I’m discovering that I feel guilty AF for prioritising our trip around a freaking app on my phone and some double taps from friends and strangers alike.

Since I’ve started going through the photos for my blog posts, particularly from Capri and the Amalfi Coast, a lot of happy, beautiful memories have come flooding back and all I can do about the rest is laugh. Italy was a dream we both had for so many years and I was really stupid to waste it. To, at times, focus more on getting likes or being reposted than on celebrating my marriage and exploring the beautiful country that invented pasta!

It’s no secret that Instagram promotes a picture-perfect, care-free life and I’m literally exhausted from contributing to that.

Italy has been a huge wake up call for me in so many ways. Even since our trip, I’ve found myself pinning blog posts titled “The Best Instagram Spots in Paris” or “The Most Instagrammable Cafes in London” and I’ve got to stop. It’s no secret that Instagram promotes a picture-perfect, care-free life and I’m literally exhausted from contributing to that. I’ve moved to a new country that’s rich in history, with buildings that are older that America, that provides easy access to a whole other continent full of the same. I want to live my life and experience those things wholly rather than choosing where we go on holiday because of a trip I saw an influencer take through a handful of squares on an app. I want to learn about other cultures, other cuisines, other languages rather than use foreign countries for a photoshoot backdrop. I’m really lucky that Luke and I both get so much paid annual leave and have the means to travel and it would be such a shame if I look back on my life and see that I did it all for the ‘Gram and not for myself or for my family.

This year, Luke and I aren’t planning any big trips, but are hoping to do smaller trips throughout Europe over long weekends. This year, I want to travel for the right reasons. I don’t want to go somewhere just because it’s Instagrammable. I don’t want to get more caught up in curating the perfect image to share online than actually taking in the beauty and history around me. I don’t want to plan my trip around my blog posts. I want to travel because we love to travel. I want to experience the world without a filter. I want to live in the moment instead of online.

I want to experience the world without a filter. I want to live in the moment instead of online.

And in between trips, I want to fill my Instagram feed with influencers who influence me to be this better version of myself. I want to follow travel bloggers/Instagrammers who take time to learn about the place they’re visiting and share in that history with their followers. I’m not interested in little squares photoshopped to perfection to show off a cute outfit or comped five star accommodations and to be #goals. The trade off of unrealistic exceptions for thousands of likes or even going viral simply isn’t worth it. It has created a toxic environment online and in people’s realities and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.

I’m not deleting Instagram, at least not now anyway. (I’ve seriously been considering it a lot lately.) But I want to commit to being more real on the app. I know I’ve said this before about being vulnerable and honest, but I never took the time to consider how that translates to my travels and what I share from my travels or how I share it. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to travel as much as possible literally so I can impress people back in the States because I’m OMG So European, but I’m done with that. It’s translated to a lot of anxiety when we’re not travelling, which is the overwhelming majority of the time. The reality is we’re not rich, we spend a heck of a lot more time sitting on the couch watching Netflix than jetsetting across Europe and it’s high time I be more real about that.

The Best of March 2019

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I’m back with some of my favourite things from the last month! This is such a fun post to put together because I’m able to reflect back on the last four weeks in regards to what I’m blogging, what I’m buying, what I’m reading, what I’m listening to, and more.

7 Game of Thrones Inspired Cocktails

I could have only dreamed this would have been my most popular post this month. You are truly my people! We’re closer than ever to the season eight premiere, so make sure you have your Game of Thrones cocktails planned and ready to go!

Homemade Vanilla

Last month, we decided to try to make our own vanilla extract because vanilla is actually expensive AF and it’s in pretty much every baking recipe to ever exist. We followed a recipe from The Larson Lingo (one of my favourite bloggers, but now she’s retired and solely on Instagram) and started in early February. We only made two 250ml bottles, because we simply don’t need that much vanilla, but in the end, it cost us £17/500ml to make versus £41/500ml to buy. (That doesn’t include the bottles, which were an additional £6 for the pair.)

Binge Mode Game of Thrones

My friend Taylor has been telling me about this podcast, Binge Mode, for a while and I finally got around to listen to it this month. I’ll be honest, I sometimes find the hosts to be a bit irritating, but the content is really fascinating. In season one, they do a deep dive into all 67 episodes of Game of Thrones, summarising the episodes, offering context from the books and other Westerosi cannon, and pointing out things you might have missed. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s a giant spoiler, but it’s been fun to listen to and reminisce about the days when everyone was alive. Season 3 covers the Harry Potter books so count me in for that one too!

Rediscovering The Joy of Cooking That Diet Culture Took Away - Minding My Soul

I can’t remember exactly when I started following Megan on Instagram, but I’m so glad I did. She posts from such a real and honest place and has the best tips for living a sustainable and mindful life, probably my biggest goal for 2019. She shares recipes, DIYs, and has a beautiful Etsy shop. On top of all of that, I especially love this recent blog post from her, talking about how diet culture changed her relationship with food and how she’s fighting to get back to a place of balance and joy. You gotta check it out.

You Caroline Kepnes

In January, I binged You on Netflix in two days flat. I was obsessed! So imagine my surprise when I found out that it was actually based on a novel of the same name. Luke and I walked by a store one day and it was displayed in the window, so I immediately ran in to buy it for £3 (even though it has the actors’ faces on it, which always annoys me). Much like the show, I couldn’t put the book down! I felt like it was a lot creepier than the show because you’re constantly in Joe’s head and it’s s c a r y. I also have some different feelings about Beck, but I won’t spoil anything.

Jaime Lannister

Have you noticed I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones yet? Truly, the last month has been spent rewatching season 7, diving into predictions and theories on Reddit, watching YouTube breakdowns of the trailer, reading as many articles from the press tour as I can, blogging about all of it, and planning our watch party for the finale. It’s pretty much all I think about these days. One of my favourite theories is about one of my favourite characters, Jaime Lannister. The theory is that HE is the Prince that was Promised. Check out the YouTube video with all the evidence. (FYI, it’s 20 minutes long.)

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes from Halfbaked Harvest

We made these lemon ricotta pancakes early this month for Pancake Day and boy were they good! (We left out both the blueberries and blueberry jam because blueberries in pancakes just aren’t my…jam.) We made them again one weekend for breakfast in bed and it was so lovely. Pancakes on the weekends seriously take me back to my childhood. I’ve never been the biggest fan of pancakes (#TeamWaffles), but these are a game changer and I’d make them any day of the week!

Ille De Cocos Cashmere Comb

As you may know, one of my goals this year is to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious, especially when it comes to how I spend my money. One of the ways I’m doing that is by trying to take better care of the clothes I already have so they last longer. This month, I bought a cashmere comb for my jumpers made of natural fibres. (This is an option for fabric blends.) It removes pills from the fabric, but it also strengthens the fabric, ensuring its longevity. It’s a really simple and cheap way to make sure I’m getting more bang for my buck!

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