One accessory I can’t live without day-to-day and during my travels is a watch. I’m such a watch aficionado that I feel bare if I’m not wearing one! My newest watch obsession? This classic wooden style by Jord. I’m collaborating with Jord to give one of my subscribers a chance to own one of these stylish watches. Enter my giveaway here! Offer ends 10/29/17 [Read more…] about A Classy Timepiece for the Road: Jord Watches Giveaway
With Hurricane Irma brewing in the southern Caribbean, I had an important decision to make: continue with my trip to Cuba or cancel it, my family’s recommendation.
Havana had been calling my name for years! Fascinated by Celia Cruz and Afro-Cuban culture, I dreamed of strolling through the streets of Old Havana and listening to the African-infused rhythms of salsa. I wanted to sit in an open terrace restaurant, devouring some ropa vieja and yucca frita. Basically, I had been having a love affair with this island for a while.
So the decision wasn’t actually too hard: let’s go! When it comes to travel, I can be impulsive, throwing reason out the window in favor of instant gratification. It was Tuesday morning, and Irma was projected to hit Cuba on Saturday. Eager to justify my decision, I reasoned that I had enough of a time window to evade the hurricane. In the worst-case scenario, I would move up my departure flight. [Read more…] about The Wildest Ride: Exploring Cuba Amidst Hurricane Irma
How I Fought Off a Stalker in Dubrovnik, Croatia
I sat at the entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, eating some vanilla ice cream to cope with the July heat. Blissfully watching tourists walk by, I could never have imagined the nightmare that would follow.
The afternoon sun was melting my ice cream so I hurried to finish it up. I was also eager to get started on my first planned activity: a tour of the city walls. It was only my second day in the medieval Croatian city, but I was already in love! Dubrovnik reminded me of those idyllic oil paintings of the Mediterranean. It seemed to be a perfect travel destination for a solo female traveler.
The Nightmare Begins
I was about to get up when a 50-something-year-old man approached me out of nowhere. He was dressed in khaki shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and dark sun shades.
“Hey, what’s your name?” he asked
“Um, Sheila,” I lied. Well, Sheila’s actually my middle name.
“I was looking at you and was wondering… Are you by yourself?”
“No, I’m waiting for some friends.”
That wasn’t entirely a lie either. I had coincidentally arrived in Dubrovnik at the same time as my Croatian-American friends from college, Cody and Clay. We had had dinner the night before, along with their friend Ting, and planned to meet up again later in the day. For now, I was going to explore the city on my own.
“Oh, okay,” he continued in a broken accent, “While you wait I can take you out to lunch, get to know you a little better. I like dark-skinned girls. Very beautiful.”
“No, thank you,” I retorted, “I’m not interested.”
“Are you sure? I’ll take you to a fine restaurant. The best Croatian food. You’ll like it.” he insisted.
“No, I’m okay. Really.” I said, walking away.
I power walked through the gate into the Old Town, arriving at Dubrovnik’s Main Street, Stradun. Then I looked around to find the ticket vendor for the city wall tour.
Spotting the little shop, I went over and purchased my ticket. Then I came back towards the city gate to join the line for the tour. He was standing by the line, staring directly at me!
“Will you change your mind?” he asked
“No! I’m not interested! Leave me alone!” I replied, feeling agitated.
The other tourists began to stare so he reluctantly walked away as I joined the line for the tour. I tried my best to cool down, dismissing him as a nuisance.
I walked the city’s stone walls, following a path at the top of the structure. The elevation provided spectacular views of Dubrovnik’s orange-roofed buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea.
It took me about 45 minutes to walk the entire wall. Then I climbed back down to Stradun and headed in the direction of my hostel. This time I was more vigilant, looking at my surroundings. He didn’t show up again so I breathed a sigh of relief.
I stopped for a quick bite and drinks at a beach bar nearby then headed back to my hostel to freshen up. After taking a quick nap, I met up with Cody and Clay for dinner. The rest of the evening was pure bliss – eating cevapi, having a laugh, and touring Game of Thrones filming locations.
The next day, my last full day in Dubrovnik, was also without problems. I met up with Cody, Clay, and Ting again, and we took a ferry to nearby Lokrum Island, where peacocks were roaming everywhere. Afterward, we went bar hopping in Lapad then took the Dubrovnik Cable Car up to the highest point in the city, taking in the sunset.
The Final Encounter
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Dubrovnik. I packed my bag and headed to catch the bus to the airport.
As I passed Pile Bay, a small boating dock close to my hostel, I spotted him. Again!
“Why you don’t give me chance? You think I’m going to do something bad to you? I’m a nice guy. I just want to treat you to lunch. That’s all.”
“Get away from me! Get out of here!” I was fuming.
“Are you going to the airport? I can give you a ride. Just give me chance. I’m really sad that you don’t give me chance. Do you think I’m a bad guy.”
Exasperated, I stormed off. I was leaving so now there was no need to argue anymore.
“Really? You won’t give me chance at all?” I heard him say from a distance.
Unamused, I kept walking.
Soon, I caught my bus, got to the airport, and caught my flight. As I flew to my next destination, Greece, I reflected on that encounter and wondered if I had handled it well. Was he a nuisance or a serious threat? Should I have gone to the police? What would I have told the police?
Although this experience was unsettling, it has not deterred me from solo travel. There are risks. However, the vast majority of people I’ve encountered have been more than pleasant. This was my first and only negative experience as a solo female traveler.
What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Have you experienced a similar mishap while traveling solo? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
How To Experience Positano, Italy as a Female Solo Traveler
As I stood at the top of a hill opposite Positano’s iconic cliffside, I felt like I was in a dream. I thought to myself, ‘This has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life!’ Colorful bungalows and villas were perched on the cliff, stacked upon one another in an asymmetrical fashion. The houses cascaded down to the base of the cliff, a pebble stone beach. There is a saying that when people from the Amalfi Coast go to heaven, they will not notice any difference. I don’t remember where I heard that, but my experience driving to Positano and exploring its hilly landscape makes me believe it 100%. Positano’s ethereal beauty and maize-like landscape make it the perfect place for a solo female traveler to wander for a few days. Here’s what you can expect on a solo trip to Positano.
The drive to the Amalfi Coast will take your breath away!
The drive to the Amalfi Coast alone is enough of a reason to make a trip down to Positano. Seriously, it is out of this world. Getting to Positano, though, is kind of a long process – a 5 hour bus ride to be exact. I caught a 7:00 am Marozzi bus from Rome Tiburtina Station. It is the only direct route to Positano. The other options would be to go through Naples or Salerno – more on that in a bit.
Although it felt like eternity, the bus ride was actually really pleasant. The first route was Rome to Sorrento. On the way, we passed Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, and the absolutely jaw-dropping Bay of Naples. [Tip: sit on the right of the bus! I wish I had] Then in Sorrento, the bus driver asked all those who were Positano-bound to switch to a smaller bus. That’s when the real adventure began! The following two hours consisted of traversing winding, narrow roads high up in the mountains. This is definitely not for the faint of heart! It was a two-way road, and a there were large buses coming from the other side. This meant our bus driver had to stop, reverse, and move closer to the cliff to make way for the other bus. There was simply not enough space on the road for both buses to pass at the same time.
How to travel to Positano
There are three main ways to get to Positano. Let me break it down for you.
Directly from Rome – this was the option I chose. It is also the cheapest option. A two-way bus ticket to and from Positano cost about $55. I purchased my tickets ahead of time on the website of the bus company, Marozzi. Then I stayed in a hostel in Rome within walking distance to the Tiburtina Station, where the bus departs. The departure time was 7:00 am, but the bus didn’t arrive until around 7:30 am.
Naples to Sorrento to Positano – From the Naples airport, you can take a direct shuttle to Positano for $100. I’m sure you don’t want to spend that so the other option is take the Circumvenssia train (this is the regional train in southern Italy) to Sorrento. Then from Sorrento, you can take the local SITA bus or the ferry directly to Positano.
Salerno to Positano – the national train system, Trenitalia, goes to Salerno, which is about an hour and a half from Positano by car. From the Salerno train station, you can take the SITA bus to Amalfi. In Amalfi, you’ll transfer to another SITA bus that goes to Positano. You can also go to the port of Salerno and take a ferry directly to Positano.
Where to Stay in Positano
When I arrived in Positano, I spotted my hostel, Hostel Brikette, right away. It was just a few yards up the street from the bus station and is also the only hostel in town. It cost about 50 euros per night, which is expensive for a hostel but super cheap for Positano. This town is a ritzy vacation spot for the wealthy so hotels range from $300-$4,000 per night during the summer. If you don’t want to stay in a hostel, there are a few boutique hotels that are also affordable, such as Casa Albertina, Hotel Savoia, and Hotel Villa Gabrisa – prices at these locations range between $200-$300 per night depending on the season.
What to do in Positano
There isn’t actually much to do in Positano but lounge on the beach and admire the scenery. There are also some great Italian restaurants in the town – Chez Black is a favorite. You will have to shell out some money for food and drinks because almost all the restaurants are upscale. Positano is a fantastic place for shopping so make sure you leave room in your luggage. The town is known for its quality leather goods! I found some affordable ones too – around the 20-50 euro range. I learned that there are some hiking trails in the area, but I’m not a hiker (going up and down the cliff side was enough of a workout for me!)
One of my main reasons for going to Positano was just to take photos of the gorgeous landscape. I spent a lot of time walking around trying to find different angles. My pursuit of the perfect angle led me to the location I mentioned at the beginning, which I believe is the best vantage point to take photos of the town. You see, it took me a good minute to find that place. I had seen it in lots of photos and wanted to get my own shot. On my first day, I took a 10-minute flight of stairs to the beach and then walked around the town. I just couldn’t figure out where it was. Then the second day, I randomly decided to walk up a hilly street and, voila, I found it! You have no idea how overjoyed I was to find that elusive view!
Although its expensive and hard to get to, Positano is my favorite place in Italy (well so far after two trips.) My escape to Positano was the ultimate dream getaway. Very few places have my breath away as much as it did. Positano and the Amalfi Coast should absolutely be on your bucket list!
If you have any questions about planning a trip to Positano, ask away in the comment section.
Unexpected Encounters on My Solo Trip To Santorini
Santorini was made for lovers. When you’re there, chances are you’ll see some newlyweds doing a photo shoot against the idyllic backdrop – blue-domed churches and jaw-dropping views of the Mediterranean Sea. I can confidently say that 99% of visitors to this island come with their significant other, friends, mom, or dog – some type of company. So what possessed me to take a solo tip to Santorini? I can explain.