Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Footprints in the sand

5 months after flying off into the unknown, we are coming home!

It's been an incredible journey; I've seen amazing places, met wonderful people and learned a lot about myself.

Before I left I could only dream about being on the road and hopefully living somewhere different for a change. I spent my days dreaming, not sure how to make it a reality.

Now, I can honestly say it takes losing everything to find out what you really want, and whilst a life on the road isn't for me, I've still had a wonderful time.

We are about to pack up our tired and worn out belongings for the last time, so I've been thinking about my best memories from our journey. There are a lot, but here is my top ten!

1. Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne will always be special to me as its where we recharged our batteries after a stressful and emotional start to our trip. In Mui Ne we found good food, cold beers and a very chilled out vibe. It was just what the doctor ordered.

2. Hoi An, Vietnam

Walking into old Hoi An was a magical experience and one I wasn't prepared for. It was quintessential of the orient and had everything I had been craving to see; ancient temples, lanterns and even a tea house.

3. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Sailing through the cliffs of Halong Bay is top of many peoples top ten, I imagine. Travelling by boat is a firm favourite of mine too and I can't imagine a better end to our time in Vietnam.

4. Angkor temples, Cambodia

The hot weather, bugs and incredibly early start didn't dampen our wonderful day at the temples of Angkor one bit. I loved exploring the ruins and seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat.

5. Songkran, Thailand

Celebrating a festival with the locals from across the street! On Songkran we shared beers, food and laughs with the families opposite our beach bungalows and loved every minute of it! There was also a German man, but I don't know where he came from!

6. Pad Thai on Ko Phangnan, Thailand

Surprisingly the best Pad Thai we has was in a little hut restaurant on a quiet stretch of road near Haad Yeo beach. It was so ridiculously cheap and ridiculously amazing we went back for more!

7. Monkey forest in Ubud, Bali

Real monkeys stealing my bananas and sitting on my shoulder like I'm Captain Barbossa! Enough said!

8. Catching waves in Kuta Bali

I loved getting sporty (and an awesome tan) on the beach in Kuta. The water was deep and clean. There is nothing like the rush of riding a wave all the way to shore.

9. Eating pizza in Naples, Italy

7 days and I-dont-know-how-many pizzas! That was some very good eating and definitely the best thing about Naples.

10. Living like a local in Santo Stefano, Italy

Finding the real Italy after spending so much time in the cities. The life and culture in our corner of Piedmont is traditional and rich. I have always wanted to live in Italy and I'm so proud that I've had the chance to do so in such a wonderful place!

Thank you everyone for sharing the journey with me through this blog! I'll be posting about my future and past adventures as they come up so keep a weather eye on the horizon!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Turin: Take 2

Sports and cinema was the name of the game when we returned to Turin for a second visit during our stay in Piedmont.

Find out what we got up to our our first trip to Turin.

At just under an hours drive from where we were living and working as au pairs for the summer, Turin ticks all the right boxes; museums, architecture and gelato.

On our second trip we headed straight to the Juventus stadium and museum. Mark was obviously more excited than me, but I was pleasantly surprised! The museum was interactive and very engaging, with all sorts of videos, interviews and storyboarding about this iconic club.

I especially liked the video feature at the end which spoke of the characteristics of the club, its fans and players. It was enough to even make me think I wanted them to win everything, Viva Juve!

Inside the Juventus Museum

Afterwards, we joined a tour group to visit the stadium. The members club and public facing areas were impressive, so much so that you could forget momentarily that football is meant to be a working mans sport whilst we gazed at private boxes and in-seat video screens. Deep inside the stadium though, we were led down corridors and into rooms which more closely resembled the delivery entrance to a large hotel than a space for millionaire footballers to hangout. The pitch space however was great, and despite it feeling very small, I could image a great atmosphere on match day.

After Juventus we risked life and limb to drive into the city centre. To say Turin is a tricky drive is an understatement, especially when your sat nav and maps are about 5 years old and clearly a lot of road changes have been made. I am not lying when I tell you that people in Turin are aggressive drivers, honking you for the slightest hesitation and stopping smack bang in the middle of the road to pop for a caffe!

Eventually though we arrived at the cinema museum in the spectacular Mole Antonelliana.

The Mole

The Mole was completed in 1889, the same year as the Eiffel Tour in Paris and although different has a similar effect on the Turin skyline.

Inside, the Cinema Museum is a Mecca for any would be film enthusiast, with everything from the history of image capture to a hall of fame for Oscars best actress winners. One room told the story of peep shows, from the raunchy to the sublime.

Famous movie costumes and behind the scenes photos were also a big hit and there was even a nod to Lumiere with a screening of "Train pulling into a station" with a real train appearing from behind the screen. This reflected the legend that when the 50 second movie was originally shown, the audience were scared the train would burst through the screen and into the room.

By the end of the day I literally had to peel myself away knowing there were a few exhibits that I'd missed and that the silver screen had once again left me wanting more!

The archeology of cinema

I was so glad we made it back to Turin. It is a beautiful city with so much to offer tourists who have had their fill of quaint Italian cities and are looking for a true European city.