I watched Meg Jay’s TED Talk “Why 30 is not the new 20″ a few months ago and I have to say of all the TED talks I’ve watched this one not only impacted me most, but also rang the most truth in my ears. As a twenty-something I see people all around me each day making choices that both positively and negatively affect the future courses of their lives and this talk hit the nail on the head on so many levels. Your twenties are not the time to be lazy and wait to “grow up,” they are the time to solidify who you are, set your feet firmly on a path of where you’d like to go and live intentionally to be able to begin to live well by the time you hit thirty. I count myself lucky that I was shaking my head yes and agreeing during her whole talk instead of wanting to hide in a closet. If you are or are close to a twenty something, I highly suggest you watch.
Meg has also written a book on the same topic that about why your twenties matter and it is equally thought provoking and filled with truth.
I’d always been interested in Sicily. A place that is by definition part of Italy, but has its own distinct separateness that almost makes it “other.” If you ask a Sicilian where they are from, they will reply that they are Sicilian, where their identity ties more with their regional area than their country. As a native Texan, I can relate to this as well. When I am asked where I am from when abroad, I almost always reply that “I am from Texas” instead of first responding “I am American.”
Our very first stop after leaving Rome on our cruise was the port of Messina, where we opted for a day trip to the hilltop town of Taormina. If you go on a cruise that ports in Messina, you have a few different day trip options including Taormina, Mount Etna or going on one of the numerous “Godfather tours” leaving from Messina.
It was a perfect first day to get acquainted with a new place. We spent the day exploring the town (aka shopping), eating pizza overlooking the water and picking up a few homemade ice pops from a small stand (pictured above). The actual town is pretty tiny, so if several cruise ships are at port on the same day it can get quite crowded. We noticed that a lot of the tour groups seemed to disappear shortly after lunchtime and the town became very quiet for the rest of our time there.
How to get to Taormina from Messina
Taormina can be a little tricky to get to from Messina if you don’t plan ahead of time. It is about a 45 minute drive from the port and you can either take a cab, train or chartered bus. Although the cab gives you the most flexibility, it is also the most expensive (cabs run at least 80 Euro each way). The train lets you out at the bottom of the hill, so you still have to make quite a hike once you arrive. We opted for the chartered bus, which ran around 40 Euro total per person and we had a guide that narrated during the drive over. The cab is the most ideal to maximize your time, but the bus provides a dependable way to ensure you make it back to the boat on time and for less money.
One of the major bucket list items that I got to check off of my list during our cruise was visiting a few of the towns on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. It seems like every time I pin a beautiful cliff side scene on Pinterest, it inevitably ends up being one of the perfect towns perched high above the ocean on the Amalfi Coast.
For our port day in Naples, we opted to hire a private driver to take us to three places in the area: Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii. After reading my fair share of Trip Advisor ratings on the best company to hire for this type of excursion, we hired Aldo Limos, which ended up being a great decision.
Positano: If I had to pick one place from our entire cruise itinerary that I would like to spend an elongated period of time at, it would be Positano. It is the first and most acclaimed town on the Amalfi Drive (or Mamma Mia road) and the views you experience while approaching the town by car are complete insanity. The town is tiny and not accessible by bus, so you don’t see large tour groups, just private tours. My mom, sister and I wished we could have spent the whole day here shopping, eating and hanging out seaside, but we had other things to see and check off of our list in the short time we were there.
Sorrento: Sorrento is the largest town in this area and is definitely more residential. It was still very pretty, but since we saw it after seeing Positano, we were a little disappointed in the town overall. It still has plenty of pretty places to eat and shop, just not as quaint as Positano.
Pompeii: For our historical portion of the day, we visited Pompeii, the ancient archaeological site that was covered by a Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption. The ruins an artifacts were remarkably in tact for being covered in ash for so long and the history of the town was fascinating as well. We opted to not go on a guided tour and listened to a Rick Steves walking tour on his mobile app he has created. It is actually a really well thought out mobile app that includes maps, commentary and lots of background you definitely would not get if you just walked around. It also downloads the tour to your phone so you don’t have to use any data!
Overall, Positano and Pompeii are absolutely must sees on your trip. I would highly recommend Aldo as your day trip provider and would spend as much time in Positano (and surrounding towns) as possible!
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Of all of the places I’ve ever been, none have ever lived up to the grand expectations I have built up in my head quite the way that the island of Santorini did when we visited on our cruise. Although we only had a day to marvel in the island’s insane views and beauty, I know I will be back for a much longer period of time someday.
We opted to visit the city of Oia, which is full of shops and restaurants and the famous views you always see in postcards and pictures. It is pretty easy to spend the whole morning wandering around and then picking a restaurant that faces the sea for lunch. The food in Greece is really lovely and you will find a huge selection of Mediterranean specialties in all of the tavernas that line the main roads.
If you are visiting Santorini on a cruise ship, here are your options for making it up the cliff:
- There are three options to get up the cliff when you make it to the port (your cruise ship will more than likely be tendered). If you want to visit the capital city of Fira, you can go by the traditional method of riding a donkey up the hill or you can wait in line for the cable car that quickly takes you up the cliff.
- If you would rather start your day in Oia and skip the line for the cable car, you can buy a ticket to a high speed ferry that will take you over to Oia and then bring you by bus back to Fira later in the afternoon (you will then need to pick cable car or donkey to get back down to the port). There are two stores that have clearly marked signs to purchase the tickets and you do not need to purchase them ahead of time. I would highly recommend this method as Oia is much smaller and more charming than Fira.
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